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Blog by Ina Centaur 2011-10-23T04:33:46Z WordPress http://blog.inacentaur.com/feed/atom/ ina <![CDATA[Our Magic and Our Passing – Goodbye from the SL Shakespeare Company, Primtings, and sLiterary]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2011/10/22/our-magic-and-our-passing-%e2%80%93-goodbye-from-the-sl-shakespeare-company-primtings-and-sliterary/ 2011-10-23T04:33:46Z 2011-10-23T00:06:58Z


Our Magic and Our Passing – Goodbye from the SL Shakespeare Company, Primtings, and sLiterary


We begin this letter with our thanks for those patrons who could no longer be with us. The resounding spirit has always been that the 4-sim SL Globe Theatre would fight to be around — and, there are many who donated and have passed away, hoping that they might survive through their contributions to SL Shakespeare or Primtings.

Since our time of passing is due to be in the same month as that of a major RL luminary, our Artistic Director Ina Centaur, has an anecdote to share:


“Once upon a time, after one of those fundraising rounds, the avatar of someone rich and famous in RL contacted me. The patron criticized me for paying too much for SL and attempting to do everything myself, but helped donate enough (through several alt’s) to help save the Shakespeare and Primtings sims.

“In early 2009, I received a mysterious package by mail in RL — an iPhone 3G. It was rather anonymized, but I thanked the patron by IM — and, he told me that that was what I should be putting my time into. He also said that he created iTunes so that independent creators could share their creations and even turn it into a viable business — something that could exist without being dependent on donations.   

“Was it really Steve Jobs? I kept to our policy of respecting the privacy of our patrons, so I did not inquire further. Instead, I wanted to discover this from the other side — to be able to meet him in RL, of my own accord, for having done something great on iOS. I didn’t get to do that yet, but I knew two weeks ago, when he passed away, that this SL dream was over… But, it was beautiful while it lasted.”


There’s always the mystery and the hope that what we do here would reach out and change the lives of our audience – whomever they are, whether rich and famous or a moviestar or just yourself.

For a while, we held onto the odd notion that the creations in Second Life might get to live on beyond its usual time. It’s a childlike wish best summarized by the parable from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web – it’s hope that Wilbur the Pig might survive, as the world sees its wonder and magic via the brilliance of one small spider’s web.

But, all things come to an end, and it’s only in fairy tales that one small spider like Charlotte could manage to convey her message and save Wilbur before her death. In Second Life, our ventures have survived many passings – from patrons to founders to prospective actors. But, we simply do not have the significant reach to be saved.

The Shakespeare Primtings sLiterary and Skin City sims will go down on Oct 29 or thereabouts. The process in which sims are deactivated is not usually punctual – we aren’t sure exactly when the executioners would finally pull the plug, but when they do, it will be the end of our Second Life.

We thank you for having witnessed the short duration of this virtual miracle. Adieu.

RIP.
    sLiterary, 2007-2011
         Primtings, 2008-2011
               The 4-Sim SL Globe Theatre and the SL Shakespeare Company – 2008 to 2011

And, if you wish, here’s the other notecard with details about what happened and why Ina Centaur chose to quit:  

 

 

 

Dear sLiterary, SL Shakespeare and Primtings patron:

 

I realize no one likes reading a long letter, but I am going to try writing something that addresses all the questions that everyone has been asking. I am also going to try showing to you that a lot of thought went through in coming to my final decision. And, it wasn’t an easy one, emotionally, but the facts make it so that there really is only one decision I could make.

 

  1. Many of you are aware of Linden Lab’s inability to properly communicate with its customers – they simply don’t take us seriously. Unfortunately, this communications issue happens not only with support officials, but also with Linden Lab executives, and even among Linden Lab employees as well! We all have stories to share about how their outsourced customer support has made the SL experience horrible, but it’s really something when you find epic miscommunication or even conspiracy among the employees of Linden Lab.

    1. May/June 2011 - An executive makes a promise, gets fired, then no one is willing to take responsibility: In May/June, I was in contact with LL marketing executive Amanda Linden (Amanda Van Nuys). Amanda had good news on saving the 4-sim Globe Theatre. And then, all of a sudden, in June, Amanda got fired. The 4-sims went down (I am told this was apparently because they were under her protection, and at the time they fired her, they took down everything tied to her account). Chaos. Rod and Customer Support did not respond until I filed two RL complaints for Linden Lab’s early termination of prepaid sims. Without any explanation or anyone taking responsibility for Amanda’s efforts, they offered to keep my sims up until expiration, plus a random amount of time more for their mistake in taking them down. The d-date was October 29. They stopped responding to me after that.

    2. 2008-2011 - Long story short of the SL Shakespeare Company’s relation with LL Marketing: I have been contacted by many LL marketing/website folks since the SL Shakespeare Company put on its first show in early 2008 – this was the first time we finally had the #1 in the marketing department directly reach out to us. When lower-ranked LL marketing contacts you, it is usually because they want to use your imagery (for free), but since we were paying for four island sims to keep this running at a grandeur fit for Shakespeare, we naturally asked for in-kind support – tier amnesty for usage of our imagery. The lower-ranked LL marketing folks can’t help with that, of course, so it usually ends there… until, yet, another marketing drone comes along with the same request…

    3. April 2011 - Convo with Rod at a Game Developer’s Event: Second Life’s dear leader Rod is a celebrity of sorts in the gaming industry, so I more or less bump into him in RL several times each year. I caught him at a symposium in April, and I expressed to him that, just as how AAA games are defined by their imagery, it’s the same with SL, but… Second Life’s “imagery” to mainstream RL media is a bunch of DIY strip malls – something with timeless poise like Shakespeare would really help offset that. I also mentioned the issue with how lower-ranked marketing people have been asking to use our imagery, but simply don’t have enough power to help. I played ball (egahds!), and said that we’d be willing to fully comply and help if we could receive tier amnesty. Rod mentioned that he’d bring it up to the board with marketing. It was a good ten or fifteen minutes sitting on the loveseat with Rod. We shook hands. But…

    4. September 2011 - Convo with Rod at Google:rootaccess Event: After some casual convo on what he thought of the event, Rod denied everything he said in April. (He sounded like he was ill, though.) It was very eerie when Rod proudly said he was invited … just as myself and the other 50 or so attendees from early-stage startup’s. I noticed he was dressed better than at the gaming symposium, with his hair done. In hindsight, I suppose he thought his day had come when he could be rid of all this, when Google would actually buy Linden Lab. It’s unlikely that Larry would make such a myopic move, but, still, Rod’s drop in expectations at the event must have been epic. It was a ridiculous premise to begin with, as it’s about ten years too late for Linden Lab to be considered an early-stage startup – despite still being a buggy platform, they’ve received some significant series of funding, and yet, in Google’s rolodeck, they are still inching along. Anyway, back to Rod and SL Shakespeare. We agreed that it was best that Shakespeare and Primtings leave SL (actually, he offered no comment, when I asked him what I should do, and could not cite a successful comparable case of a nonprofit or arts enterprise surviving on SL). I told him that I did not appreciate the discontinuity in communication at Linden Lab – that even an executive’s word could not be trusted. I also said I did not appreciate that he would fire Amanda for trying to help save Shakespeare. We parted with that understanding.

    5. Summary of Followup to Amanda’s Gesture that would have saved Shakespeare: Even though Linden Lab has basically fired most of the Linden’s that us old customers knew way back when, I always try to know a few more – across the corporate ladder, just in case. I was surprised that Amanda finally contacted me, but I was not totally surprised. A few weeks before Amanda said she would save the Globe, two Linden Lab employees individually contacted me inferring that I should expect something like that. Rod, in April, had said he’d bring it up with marketing. So, it made sense – Amanda’s offer seemed valid. It’s just a pity that they had to fire Amanda for trying to save Shakespeare. And then, being Linden Lab, they had to pretend like it never happened.

    6. Is it conspiracy or just miscommunication? It’s discordance among Linden Lab employees, and the changing faces of Linden Lab employees – and executives. It’s the fact that even talking with Linden Lab executives could be as much of a waste of time as their outsourced customer support. How can you do anything big with a company like this?

  2. The Broken Content System of Second Life

    1. Second Life has been around since 2002, but the content pipeline is still as broken as ever. There are many more issues, but these are the ones closest to heart:

      1. Random Inventory Deletion – what’s in your inventory might be missing the next time you check.

      2. Permission bugs – an object you created might one day end up with no permissions.

      3. Collaboration issues – while it’s fun to collaborate on builds in SL, but if your collaborator set the perms wrong, and the thing got transferred, your entire build could end up with limited perms. Irreversibly.

      4. No way to export without incomplete third party tools, resulting in missing prims, broken scripts, fuddled textures (even if everything is yours/created by you)

      5. Megaprim bans even on private islands and irreversible megaprim deletion that ruin entire builds. Lack of proper inworld build tools – and mesh?

    2. Nepotic DMCA enforcement” - For those of you wondering why Merchant X selling the stolen skins of Merchant Y is still in business, the truth is that if a LL employee likes Merchant Y, Merchant X (if they’re not big enough) can’t do anything about it. On balance, if a LL employee does not like you, then they will delete your content just for the heck of it, as I discovered in 2009 – after our 2009 S4 Shakespeare Parody, when Darth Maul was deleted due to being a freebie and LL not making any money off it (see here and here). Linden Lab logs into your account without your permission, giving you a notification right around the time they make an unauthorized login to your account to delete your inventory. It’s sad that they don’t have more powerful admin-side systems to prevent having to log onto a client’s account. On that issue – one of the most prevalent DMCA issues is on texture theft, and there’s an easy solution for that: The least Linden Lab could do is implement a random pixel scanner that checks for duplicates. It’s minimal processing nowadays, and startup’s like Face.com are already doing way more image processing. Such an impartial enforcer would, of course, rid them of their selective favortism for Merchant X. Then again, Second Life wouldn’t be Second Life anymore if that were to happen…

  3. Unstable platform, borked tech – even 10 years later

    1. Second Life is still beta-level software - For old residents, this is something like Second Life culture. For newer ones, it’s frustrating, and when the sim or client crashes, they leave.

    2. Nothing more than chat for a local group of 50+ - when you have a bunch of people in a sim, gray textures, prims that won’t load, and lag ruin everything so that basically, all you can use SL for is chat. Why are we burning processor time for this, when Skype or Google Talk could do the same?

      Brain Drain and Disrespect of Major SL Contributors - Yes, I’m still not over why Linden Lab fired Qarl! He made sculpties possible on SL, and mesh SL as well. He was deeply hurt by LL suddenly firing him. I guess Linden Lab and Second Life will just continue to disrespect anyone who tries doing anything majorly good for them.

  4. $295 x 4 ~ US$1200/month – this is a lot of RL money here, and can’t be my personal project forever, and has to be run as a business. How can you do that with the above?

  5. Many of you would cite the fashion empires of SL as successful, and they never ask for “donations.” We could take such a strategy, but doing so viably would force us to resort to commercialism like this:

    1. Weekly “sale” emails/IM’s (as opposed to bi-yearly or per-production campaigns)

    2. Charging RL prices for tickets – L$10,000 or more for a single ticket (as opposed to “pay as you will” or our L$500 VIP Showings)

    3. Focus on fashion instead of our usual (focusing our talents on creating merchandise to manufacture, it’d be hard to find time to put on a show – and it already is)

    4. Aggressively market and charge ridiculous rent for everything (as opposed to free spacing for anyone who wants to hold an event)

    5. Get rid of Shakespeare for the Strip Mall…

  6. The more time you put into it, the more you become a slave of tier and the mismanaged company known as Linden Lab. You realize this early on, but you can’t accept it – just as how most of us would stick our necks out as free PR against anyone who bashes SL. The truth is that too many of you have put your trust in me, and I want to be able to make this something that’s more stable than SL – that actually has a future, and can persist by itself…

  7. It’s the end in SL because of all that and more above, but mShakespeare and Primtings on mobile is the future. I’ve been invited to major Apple, Google, and RIM/Blackberry events – and spoke with their executives. These people have kept their word to me so far, and have even implemented my suggestions. It’s a huge breath of fresh air when people just make sense – it’s not SL anymore, but RL. Yes, it’s a big wide, world out there beyond SL, but there’s nowhere for me to go but there! Stay tuned to @InaCentaur on twitter for updates – or http://blog.primtings.com or http://blog.mshakespeare.com

     

     

    Additional Q&A

    1) How much did you actually fundraise inworld? Did that cover for everything? - We only fundraised L$5 million, and I put in the other L$10 million myself through SL-related contracting projects, such as creating custom buildings for people, custom avatar and avatar accessory designs, and even some amount of RegAPI and SL-related web infrastructure support. Overall, I put in a lot of time, made very little in comparison to RL, but tried what I could to continue a naive dream. From nothing, I tried to make something, and now it’s back to nothing - we paid it all back through tier.

    2) Are you seeking shelter in other OpenSim or other SL sim establishments? - The issue with moving is that there is no easy way to transport builds on multi-sims without losing prims or prim drift or even texture issues. Moving from SL to OpenSim will probably mean that all your scripts won’t work. It’s horrible. Our scenic design mechanisms and the interactivity in builds is all due to custom scripts.

    3) We have a theatre/performance space at __ sim, and we’d love to have you. Will you come? - No, because you’ve never seen any of our shows. If you have, you’d know not to ask this question. There are lots of performance groups on SL, but the way we do things is comprehensive - the scenic design is customized to the theatre and the surroundings, and the entire wardrobe is also custom designed. and then we spend over a month rehearsing for just a single production. It’s a lot of work, a lot of time, and we’ve basically just been told all this work is worthless by Linden Lab, so we’re through with performing on Second Life.

     

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ina <![CDATA[The SL Globe Theatre becoming a SL Historic Venue?]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2011/09/09/the-sl-globe-theatre-becoming-a-sl-historic-venue/ 2011-09-10T07:34:35Z 2011-09-10T07:13:42Z If I hadn’t talked to Rod Humble in person at an academic conference in April…

Back in May, this was one of the last things I expected - nigh on impossible, given the history of SL history being as ephemeral as pixie dust, more so, even. You build something, you let it rez in a sandbox until auto-return kicks in, and you hope to the non-existent SL God that it won’t get axed by random-inventory-deletion (the aggregate bane of an unruly SQL database). For those who have an inkling for a life of indentured servitude to paying tier, you get a small break from paying real cash for a bit of virtual territory (really, a few meagre rows in an unruly SQL database, somewhere).

Some people like comparing RL to SL — in RL, you get kicked out if you can’t pay your rent, but if you pay it for long enough, your house becomes a historic venue, that no one can knock down (at least, that’s the law in California). In SL, there’s no safety net. Even after you’ve paid your rent for thousands of Internet years, everything might go poof *irreversibly* when some intern deactivates your simulators — even if you actually paid for them.

There were a few weeks when I received numerous emails from Primtings supporters asking about Primtings — “is it really gone? :-(”. A mistake was made, and Linden Lab (weeks later) apologized for it, and gave me some “time back”. The official date (go figure on a formula for SL SLA) is October 29. But, I’m side-stepping from my story — and the point of this post.

Shortly after I sent my messages to Primtings and Shakespeare patrons, two Linden Lab employees individually told me that something like this was coming along. Soon, then-Executive Director of Marketing of Linden Lab, Amanda van Nuys then announced her plans to me: “Globe Theater!! Let’s Bring it Back–At No Charge. Yes, Really… We are interested in bringing it back (at no charge) for a few months until you potentially receive an LEA grant that would extend your free membership.”

Unfortunately, days after Amanda told me she had it all worked out, she was fired.

At this point, I’d say the best analogy of SL to the Matrix is that the LL employees each act like one of those uncertain Agents from the Matrix — they operate independently, with their own agenda’s. If this is a true aggregate trend, I suppose there must have been something like a coup or a multi-threaded coup of sorts, that spawned the mass firing of dozens of LL employees just a short while ago. Reminds me of McCarthy. Anyway!

After Amanda’s departure, it was impossible to get in contact with the new director of marketing. They directed everything to LL’s Titanic-legendary Customer Support. They pretended like they did not know anything about Amanda’s agenda.

But, the thing I really don’t appreciate is that CEO Rod Humble, cc’d in all emails, would not comment at all.

Back in April, I caught up with Rod at a UCSC Game Development conference. Being an academic conference, in the gaming industry, the conference was held at a community center in Milpitas. There were undergrads milling about all over, so it was hard trying to find a place to talk. We finally sat down on a loveseat by the window.

I talked briefly about Shakespeare and virtual theatre, the miracle about a totally “for the good” nonprofit educational-historic-arts project having gained the traction of thousands of SL supporters, enough to actually pay “draconian tier”! I also expressed that, in our brief run, we’ve received many requests by LL marketing folks, et al, for usage of our imagery. These were never the powers that be, so there was always one crucial thing they couldn’t help us with. It was the one thing that’d make us happily say yes — it was a guarantee that we wouldn’t ever be put in the spot to have to disappoint our audience right after LL mass PR, a safety against our constant fear of disappearing when we can’t raise enough to pay tier.

It’s a struggle paying tier for sims designed for good, rather than for commerce, but we would be fully able to cooperate with Marketing, if only we could have some certainty and help with that. I was very easy about things, making it clear that we’d be willing to work with just tier amnesty — and this Shakespeare content has been valued at hundreds of times more, so it should be of interest to them, too. Rod said he’d bring it up with the Board, talk to Marketing about it.

So, weeks later… I thought Amanda was doing what the Board or Rod Humble or however-the-heck LL management works had approved.

Assuming that Linden Lab needed some time to recover from having to restructure, I returned the favor — a moratorium on all official talks about what happened. I even stopped updating the blog’s, holding my breath, hoping that I’d be able to give people the good news that Linden Lab would be able to help in. But now that they’ve had more than three months to figure things out, well, it’s nigh on time that they start giving me my answers.

I’m asking again if there is any update on:

1) Now that the new executive director of marketing has had some time to settle in, have they been able to look at any of Amanda van Nuys’ efforts in cross-marketing/tier amnesty program, especially with regards to the preservation of the 4-sim SL Globe Theatre?

2) If not, could Rod at least write me a one liner email or tweet saying that it’s not going to happen? I understand how things don’t always work out, but Rod Humble gave me his word that he would speak to marketing about working out something to help save Shakespeare, and the least he could do is tell me what happened — even if it’s nothing to be hopeful about.

The second point would be the most important one. If it’s not possible for the head honcho of Linden Lab to keep his word, then there really is no point in trying to do anything in Second Life.

… And that explains why I haven’t been in SL for the past few months. I hope that I’d have reason to return, but it’s really up to Linden Lab.

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ina <![CDATA[Shakespeare and Primtings deletion due to an admin mess, but what can we do?]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2011/06/19/shakespeare-and-primtings-deletion-due-to-an-admin-mess-but-what-can-we-do/ 2011-06-20T07:02:18Z 2011-06-20T07:02:18Z Long story short, it’s an admin mixup on both parts. I made the false hope belief that there was some sort of tier amnesty granted for why the sims weren’t deleted immediately months ago. Then I requested that the sims be transferred to month to month so the next fundraising cycle wouldn’t be as arduous as the one from earlier this year.

In transferring my islands from invoicing to month-to-month (IC account), the overdue from the other two sims were transferred to my account. The overdue was enough to trigger the account lock. And then the chaos ensued.

It’s true I never formally submitted a sim cancellation request for the other two sims, but all this time, I was under the false hope that LL had somehow gotten my message and was silently seeing some sort of tier amnesty.

And, it’s not even a new idea.  Since 2008, various LL  folks have been asking to use SL Shakespeare imagery for LL PR. Since we were breaking backs trying to fundraise US $1200 a month for a true-to-arts nonprofit, the natural thing to ask was, “Well, that’s cool, but could you help with tier amnesty?” And that usually ended the conversation… until another LL rep comes by with the same idea. Unfortunately, none of them were high enough up in the ranks to do anything about it.

Right now, the issue stands that Primtings and Shakespeare regions are prepaid 6 months until August 22 at $295/region/month.  That’s $3,540 paid to Linden Lab, and apparently they won’t honor the prepay because of the other two sims.

In addition, I prepaid for a premium account that doesn’t expire until Feb 2012, but my account is disabled, and I can’t even access my transaction history, or try exchanging the $L into USD to try paying off this unexpected weight.

For everyone who’s saying it’s in LL’s right to charge, well, sure, but if it’s all about the money, then it’d be nice if LL would honor what people paid you already for. And, yes, it was irresponsible of me to hope that Linden Lab might actually care. But, it’s classic of them to just hit the kill button due to an administrative billing error. 

And that’s the way things go.

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ina <![CDATA[June 4, 2011 - I stand in front of the tanks of Linden Lab…]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2011/06/04/june-4-2011-i-stand-in-front-of-the-tanks-of-linden-lab/ 2011-06-04T10:11:46Z 2011-06-04T10:10:00Z

ina centaur standing against the destruction of her second life

Twenty one years ago on June 4, a lone soul walked in front of forces much greater than himself, and gave his life in defense of what he believed in.

Today, I am doomed to join him.

~ fin ~

Several years ago, when I was twenty, I was diagnosed with two terminal diseases. One of them had a world record cap of 20 odd years or so, and the other much shorter.

Coming from a science background, where I had the tools at my capacity, I didn’t want to drain the remainder of my life on a futile cause of finding that double cure. I wanted to go for something that I thought I had a better chance at.

But, the truth was, I wanted to create something that would instill wonder in people — regular people, not just sick people — if they chanced to see it — and that that might last.

Foolishly, I thought that creating mShakespeare and sLiterary was the way to go. sLiterary, in spirit, tried to create “what Second Life could be.” After establishing a four sim infrastructure, sLiterary tried fundraising for inworld artistic endeavors — to create a good within Second Life for the world to thrive from, “not to channel funds to an overfunded RL cause.” It’s the belief that wherever you are, however ill you are, whatever stage you are in life, what you see on Second Life might be able to change your life for the better — it might inspire you, it might make you believe something you thought impossible was actually possible, it might even make you smile.

The Metaverse Shakespeare Company - aka mShakespeare - aka SL Shakespeare Company — grew out of that source of wonder. Primtings Museum was bootstrapped from that branding, and became self-sufficient on tier, to run an art gallery of 3d paintings where the exhibits are selected based on merit, and then offered a permanent space at no expense to the artist. It’s an ideal that once had no place in this world, or the virtual — merit above material. In fighting for funds just to pay tier, especially given the recent impossibility of RL USA arts grant funds for a Second Life endeavor, we had to resort to our community — thus, arose the SOS campaign, a grid-wide network of donation kiosks to save Shakespeare.

The fact that at one point in time, we managed to raise the funds to support these four sims was miraculous. For the briefest moments, I held onto the hope that my virtual endeavors might survive me.

And then came the end of 2010, and given less than three month’s notice on the nonprofit private region cost increases. A model that barely worked prior to this, now had to expand to pay double the price. That was the beginning of the end, as I started lopping off the buildings of the sLiterary sim, to rent out land.

With the increase in nonprofit tier costs, I requested that the bill be switched from 6-month prepay to month-to-month. There was grave uncertainty on whether Primtings Campaign would be able to raise US$1770 to pay the 6month prepay invoice (but, miraculously, it did). It took the bulk of mShakespeare patrons to support Primtings, so then Shakespeare tier had to be split among shareholders, instead of fundraised. Throughout, I was unable to get a response from LL support on that support ticket that’s now over three months old. (Concierge deferred to the ticket, and the ticket took forever to process.) When I finally did, it was only after complaining to two Linden Lab employees hiding in the Khronos booth at GDC, and then stalking Rod Humble down at an academic conference. And the results were essentially that I’m now due for the chopping block.

The mess of billing misconfiguration and the impossibility to switch back is simply epidemic. Moreover, it’s inevitable that, no matter what, it’d all comes to a crashing end. But, it drives home the message that I guess I was just too dumb to figure out — you’re fighting too hard, and you know it in your guts that it won’t work out.

This artistic wonder I tried creating on Second Life can’t survive in the very environment that gave birth to it. There are minions assigned to rid things like that there — the operators whose jobs are to deactivate sims and deactivate accounts, irrespective of their content. Blindly, like soldiers following orders to kill.

And yet, these sims — it’s everything I stood for. So, in the end, it all snaps into place. Ina Centaur, before the tanks of Linden Lab…

Just a number. Just statistics. The life of a cancer patient, the odds of survival, the silliness of hope. The machine churns on, as the tank rolls over just one avatar.

And, it’s all virtual, so in the end, there’s nothing left. We can say it never happened.

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ina <![CDATA[To pay or not to be…]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2011/05/26/to-pay-or-not-to-be/ 2011-05-26T08:26:31Z 2011-05-26T08:24:26Z So, the issue of the day with Ina Centaur is something that sounds… rather not so trippingly on the tongue, and it’d probably make you groan horrendously or have you shake your fist or make you feel absolutely compelled to slap me.

It’s… “To pay or not to be…”

In short: Ina Centaur’s account is due for deletion because she’s created way too much in an expensive virtual world called Second Life and can’t figure out what to do with her creations, and it’s both emotionally debilitating (she locked herself in a room for an entire year and a half to build everything herself, so it’s like parting with a pound of life-flesh) and technically painful (no easy way to back up entire sims without losing script functionality, missing prims and texture defunc’s).

In a civilized real life, if you get into money trouble, you can declare bankruptcy or get put in jail. In the jungle and in the mafia, they’d send you sleeping with the fishes. In Second Life, it’s kind of like that — if you can’t pay up on land tier, Linden Lab will kill your avatar. Or, in more technical terms, they would deactivate your prepaid account prematurely and delete your avatar and all its inventory items.

Anyway: The most heartwrenching screenshot of the month:

To pay or not to be ... that is the question
 And now, the FAQ
  • I donated X to Primtings Museum or I donated Y to mShakespeare. What happened to my X or Y? Shakespeare and Primtings island sims are safe! Shakespeare is divided up into land shareholders — the actors and top-supporting patrons, who are contributing with the understanding that this overseeing group’s goal is to keep Shakespeare Shakespeare. Primtings is completely funded by you via the pCampaign. (Go Primtings!)
    • This is absolutely amazing because these two sims are totally nonprofit and absolutely rent free. Oh wait, so are the other ones!
  • What happens to sLiterary? Since 2008, sLiterary, Inc. has tried to create and envision what Second Life can be, and has done its best to further the arts in Second Life. Tier aside, sLiterary is grateful for its founding members absorbing the RL fees in establishing a RL nonprofit. But, a real life nonprofit can’t exist purely in SL with no further external funding. Creating a nonprofit organization dedicated to “furthering the arts in Second Life and beyond” was a pipedream. The sLiterary sim is currently not funded, and is due to go down.
  • What happens to my rental at __? Our defunct rental manager has not been collecting rent from you for the past year or two, or you haven’t been paying. Second Life can be a totally creative place that’d inspire people to create, but Linden Lab makes it expensive — and it’s like a pyramid scheme, where the landlords become slave to tier, and the landworkers become slave to the landlord’s tier, and so on. We’d like to offer everyone free spaces forever and ever to create, but we’re not sure where or how the money to pay Linden Lab to not pull the plug would come from.
  • OK, Primtings is safe, pCampaign went well. Why don’t you run more fundraisers? Well, I don’t like holding failed fundraisers without a contingency plan. Long story short: Several years ago, mShakespeare held a SOS Fundraiser that included a number of creative events, but in the end, it was really one major donation from a sudden patron that made the story — the contingency plan was in piquing the interest of large-donors. It’s basically symmetrical with RL theatre fundraising demographics — it’s the big companies that sponsor the bulk of the show, and since there are no big companies in SL, it’s just high-paying patrons.
    • Long story long: Despite being virtual, land in SL is expensive, and everyone does their own thing on their own land. mShakespeare absolutely needed a dedicated theatre space for live theatrical shows with full-avatar costuming, interactive self-rotating stage sets, and a 4-sim Globe Theatre (now to be demolished to single sim), and as I summarized in my SL Shakespeare @ SLCC 2009 presentation, beyond just engaging the community to help raise funds just to pay tier, but for a cause that tried to create a good within Second Life — to be received by people, everywhere — we got a lot more people interested in mShakespeare and its quixotic endeavor. In that one failed fundraiser, I created a nyotaimori sculpture and asked a certain SL celebrity to “wear it”, as people “purchased” fundraiser virtual sushi off this virtual avatar. It took about a week to painstakingly arrange all those sushi pieces in place, given SL’s limited creation tools – lacking basic align and 4-camera-port features commonly found in other 3d modeling tools. It was a creation spree that I’d really hope could have raised a certain amount, but it didn’t. Oh well, so what, it’s a failed fundraiser, but… I didn’t feel very good about it, because from the perspective of efficiency, even the lamest thing I could have done in RL could have helped raise more funding for this cause that everyone always looks at me with these sorry eyes for in RL — I could, as Naergilien point out, go work at McDonalds or somewhere @ minimum wage CA for a day, and even then, raise more funding for Shakespeare.
  • What will you do? How will this work if you forfeit your avatar — and yet Shakespeare and Primtings are prepaid and still up? Well, Shakespeare and Primtings are prepaid six months in cash already, so, hopefully, Linden Lab will respect these prepaid islands. It’s a mess — on one hand, Ina Centaur has like 100,000+ inventory, most of which she created herself. But, much of this content, being created for Second Life, can’t really be used elsewhere, and if Ina Centaur has no future in Second Life, I guess the natural thing to do is to have her simply not be… in Second Life.
  • Wait, didn’t you talk to Rod Humble the other day in RL? Surely, he can’t say no to Shakespeare?! Shakespeare can save SL! Short answer: alas, no, he doesn’t see it. But, I did get to catch up with Rodvik at this academic conference, but he wasn’t officially there for Second Life / Linden Lab , so he deferred my pitch to email. So, I sent the obvious email pitch — 1 line summary: mShakespeare imagery and other mShakespeare press can really help improve SL’s image, press, (etc), but, it’s a painful struggle to pay tier to keep making these productions live and wonderful… please exchange for something like tier amnesty? No reply from him, but since you mentioned this, I’m faced with an alternative interpretation of the above. Maybe it’s his sadistic way to say I’ve stepped out of my bounds, that he thinks mShakespeare and the SL Shakespeare legacy is worth mere pocket change to him (i.e., the screenshot amount above)… and I either have to pay his pocket change or lose it all. What a choice.
  • Ina, are you serious? You have to snap out of it. Go walk into their office and yell at them or something. I mean, they’re in your town, anyway! Well, I’ve tried that. They wouldn’t let me in, and they wouldn’t believe that I’m Ina Centaur with these epic islands… since I kind of have this issue of being carded everywhere I go, looking like I’m a 12 yo schoolgirl in RL.
  • That is so B.S. about how you can’t get the RL nonprofit equivalent of big corporate donors. There are sooo big SL companies in SL. Have you contacted Stiletto Moody or Anshe Chung?  I’ve tried IMing Stiletto to no response, but other than that, I have no idea how to contact them. I’ve tried following up on Anshe after SLCC, but she seems to have gone into stealth mode in RL. Big donors are always appreciated — they make things like this work. mShakespeare certainly has the nice donor perks booklets and such to entice them, but I don’t know how to reach them.
  • So, you’re starting to go to events in RL as Ina Centaur. Surely you’ve picked up external funding by now... Unfortunately, I’m not very good at articulating things in RL, and most of the events I go to don’t seem the right venue for this stuff. Every time, I’ve had the chance to show people (strangers!) my creations in Second Life, they’ve gone zOMG wow. Unfortunately, the busy, busy people with the money don’t usually have time for this. :-(
  • This is insane. You are way too flip about this. What’s the point, anyway? The moral of the story is to keep in mind that SL is an expensive place to create virtual items in, and don’t go crazy creating stuff for it. Lots of more impressive builds and creations have gone down — including the Rezzables legacy. It’s less personal when it’s creations owned by a company, and created by a bunch of hired workers … and it’s different in my situation, and it’s very personal, since I just went off on a long term spree and created all that myself. I guess I just got too obsessed with creating things for a bunch of people I don’t know, and who might not really be real people anyway. The point is to… don’t do that!
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ina <![CDATA[Ina Centaur 4-Year Rez Day Party & PantheonSL Pre-Grand Opening]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2010/11/01/ina-centaur-4-year-rez-day-party-pantheonsl-pre-grand-opening/ 2010-11-02T00:34:41Z 2010-11-02T00:34:41Z Pantheon SL Teaser

My Dear Friend,

You’re invited to my quadrennial Rez Day party, Primtings Patrons Party Preview, and pre-grand opening of the Pantheon SL — it’s all day on November 1.

It’s always awkward being born in an odd hour of the day, but it was on this day on Halloween at 11:59 PM exactly 4 years ago that a megalomaniac artiste in RL (whom some of you have come to love — or hate) gave birth to the “Ina Centaur” avatar on SL. I don’t like celebrating things till it’s time, so this is why you’re getting this just now.

Of course, this is completely spontaneous and unannounced. Feel free to see it as a birthday unparty of sorts — you can do whatever you want at the Pantheon! Everyone’s just finding out about this just now — other than the Pantheon building, nothing has been set in stone, so feel free to even IM me for open stage time at the brand new, shiny Pantheon shrine of a performance space!

Meanwhile, I’d be taking the day off from RL — putting together some of the Pantheon perks (and more) you’d find in Lora Constantine’s Pantheon press release below. I know a lot of you have been trying to get access to me on SL, so consider this that open office hour buffet day you’ve all been waiting for. Due to a slurry of RL obligations, I don’t know when I’d next be this free ever again, so…

Hope to see you tonight - or sometime on November 1, 2010!

(TP: Pantheon, sLiterary entrance or Pantheon, Primtings entrance)

Love,
Ina

—-

The “Pantheon SL” opens in sLiterary-Primtings
Contact: Lora Constantine
Date: November 1, 2010

sLiterary and Primtings, Second Life—The Pantheon, “the most celebrated edifice in all the world,” in RL is now in 1000+ prim sculpted goodness on SL. Grand Opening on December 4, 2010 in the arts mecca 4-sims of sLiterary, the Pantheon SL hopes to serve as a virtual shrine—“to all the gods.” Straddling the borders of the sLiterary and Primtings sim, the “Pantheon SL” is directly east of the 4-sim SL Globe Theatre, with the portico on the southern border of sLiterary, and the rotunda on the northern border of Primtings.

Based on Antoine Desgodetz’s sketches from the Renaissance era, the Pantheon SL shows several historic features not on the modern restoration of the Pantheon RL in Rome. The attics have been ostensibly modified for SL, with easy fly-in entrances and fall-out exits. Visitors are given angel wings, and “encouraged to fly to the top of the rotunda, to the oculus and out, and in.” They also have a chance to donate to SL relics. According to Ina Centaur, executive director of Primtings and sLiterary, “For kicks, we’d also have a scripted ‘Bocca della Verita’, where those who hold weddings here can put their hands inside this stone lion’s mouth and risk having their hand chomped off if they’re lying… Due to limited space in the sims, we’re going to be putting other fun Italian-esque things here!”

Created by Daedalus Ferina as a rezday present for Ina Centaur, the building will be a permanent structure—“for as long as these four sims stand, before we can’t raise enough funds for SL tier and absolutely have to move off to OpenSim!” In a lighter air, Ina Centaur jubilantly declared, “This is one of the neatest two sim birthday cakes I’ve received yet!”

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ina <![CDATA[Qualcomm AR SDK - Real World Context Markers!]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2010/10/05/qualcomm-ar-sdk-real-world-context-markers/ 2010-10-05T08:20:32Z 2010-10-05T08:06:28Z So Qualcomm today FINALLY released their totally lonnnng-anticipated augmented reality SDK. From a first look, I’m very impressed with its marker tracking — geared for complex real world scenes, like a crowded scene, or a pile of tanbark. This is in stark difference to the various Flash AR solutions (deployable to Android/iPhone via Adobe AIR) - they require black and white markers “in a box”.

The only catch is that marker-creation is serverside. You have to upload it to “My Trackables” in your QDev AR browser console. It would be neat if there were an API for that, for marker creation “on the fly” — especially useful since virtually any off-the-shot image can be used as a decent marker.

N.B. Getting the qcar SDK setup was almost flawless (Win 7 Ultimate x64), except there was no USB driver support for my Evo 4G, so I had to download a third party x64 driver. (I initially tried doing everything on Win XP Pro x32 “Virtual” - however, JDK wouldn’t install right, among other errors, so just kept to using my x64, despite QDev warning of lack of support.) Afterwards, it was a matter of holding my device and USB cable tightly at a certain angle, to make sure the data xfer completes.. After a few transfer breaks, restarting Eclipse a few times, got tracker detection to work off my Evo cam! (My Evo is kind of beat up - USB support is intermittent and breaks unless I hold on very-dearly-to-the-device.. It’s almost like a selfish, petulant, baby. I wish I had a nexus one from io09, but I was still somewhere in recovery from my “Year of Seclusion,” so I did not get to attend. So, yes, unfortunately, my one Android device is only semi-functioning.)

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ina <![CDATA[How to Install a SDK in Visual Studio 2010]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2010/08/18/how-to-install-a-sdk-in-visual-studio-2010/ 2010-08-19T05:17:40Z 2010-08-19T05:17:40Z The old Tool > Options menu from earlier versions of Visual Studio is no more in 2010… The VC++ directory can be found @ View > property page (shift F4).

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ina <![CDATA[Installing Intel AppUp on Moblin]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2010/08/08/installing-intel-appup-on-moblin/ 2010-08-08T23:31:37Z 2010-08-08T23:31:37Z Just loaded up the Moblin operating system on my netbook (Dell Mini 9). It’s supposedly optimized for faster bootup and more efficient battery usage, but unlike NBR, doesn’t come with WiFi ready - nor any of the hotkeys (could not turn down screen brightness, for instance).

Installing the Moblin edition of Intel AppUp wasn’t a download and double-click process, but this line worked.

sudo sh /home/{username}/Download/{file paste filename

Yet to get Slaine’s Dell Mini 9 WiFi setup to work…  User error on the rpmbuild in step 6.

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ina <![CDATA[Google Checkout API - PHP Basic Digital Goods Library]]> http://blog.inacentaur.com/2010/07/25/google-checkout-api-php-basic-digital-goods-library/ 2010-07-25T15:57:07Z 2010-07-25T15:57:07Z When tragic events happen, I have this tendency to go into API-craze. Perusing API’s are like unwrapping a new birthday present and checking out the specs and seeing what it can do - it can be sufficiently fascinating enough to ward off sorrow or tragedy-confusion. For fun, I went ahead and poked at the Google Checkout API.

The PHP Google Checkout sample code is very bulky, far more than I’d need for my virtual goods transactions, so here’s a simplified API - just the basics you’d need for processing your digital goods: Google-checkout-basic-digital-goods

flowchart of a super simple google checkout library for digital goods

Usage can’t be simpler… The easy-peasy way is to create your $xml post by beginning with xmlTop() and ending with xmlBot(), then concatenate a xmlItem() in between those two, for each item you wish to have. xmlItem() takes the arguments title, description, price (USD), and quantity, respectively.


$xml=xmlTop().xmlItem('Appleberry Crispz','funky applethangs that melt virtually in your mouth!',1,10).xmlItem('Blueberry Blisset','get hacked to virtual oblivion by blueberries in the Carribean!',0.50,5).xmlItem('Cranberry Chickens','chickens that taste like virtual chickens',21,1).xmlItem('dowager dame virtua','virtual dowagers on a stik',1000,5).xmlBot();

curlIt(id,key,$xml,(0 for production | 1 or default for sandbox)) returns the result, which you’d then process using parsedArray(parseReturn($xml)) to get an array with two entries: array(serial number,redirect-url).

For safety, I’d store the serial number into a db with varchar(99), as Google hasn’t published a maxchar cap, at least not according to Jacob Moon (let’s not even think about Twilight - but, zOMG, what a name!).

Redirect your user to the second entry in that array, and they’re ready to buy!

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