Maria Korolov wrote at Hypergrid Business some interesting ideas about the Linden Lab Viewer version 2 (LLV2) and how LL is at the same opportunistic crossroad America Online was with the idea behind owning Netscape. Maria's argument is for Linden Lab allowing multi-grid support in their official viewer.

Linden Lab now has the opportunity to own the relationship with the world’s metaverse travelers by releasing a viewer that can handle multiple grids.

However, I frankly disagree. In fact, LLV2 actually creates more difficulty for all these "open grids" with regard to gaining any real popularity and it's a set-back for them in the relevancy department.

I see a lot of blog posts about all the other grids out there, including on Hypergrid Business blog. A noble effort on all their parts to champion and attempt drumming-up interest in those other grids, even though from where I stand, it appears to be a frivolous effort - but someone has to do it I suppose.

In truth, though Maria's comparison of AOL/Netscape paradigm to LindenLab/V2 is a good one to help the uninitiated understand what she is trying to say and a good summary, it also is an entirely different paradigm.

And here is why Maria and all others thinking like her are wrong...

AOL was a "walled garden" and Second Life (Agni grid) is a "walled garden": I agree 100-percent. However, Netscape (and all browsers) are just "windows" to the Internet - just like the Linden Lab Viewer is a "window" into the Second Life and other grids. Think "world-wide "grid" if you will.) And if each grid were like a web site, the idea would be to "bounce" from grid to grid as easily and cleanly as we do from web site to web site. But the Internet proper (Well, the Worldwide Web any way as it is really only a small part of the Internet) is still segregated. All grids are still "walled gardens". Until now.

Open sim and others like it are *not* the world-wide grid. They are just different "walled gardens". Albeit, what Maria is really speaking on here is in the likes of: AOL connecting to Compuserve, Connecting to Prodigy, connecting to local and national Bulletin-Board-Services...

All a bunch of walled gardens connecting through tunnels to other walled gardens, while the "world-wide-open" is still out there, outside. AOL provided "windows" to that open space outside - and so, AOL is still relevant even to this day. And so now, too does Linden Lab with Viewer 2 and the "Shared Media" feature.

Linden Lab is literally doing exactly what AOL did: Walled garden with "windows" (portals) out to that wild place we call the "rest of the Internet". This solidifies Linden Lab's place in virtual worlds. Period. Now, there is no need (from an individual perspective) for other grids. Who cares? For what reason would I go to any other grid now?

Linden Lab allows windows out to the world-wide-wonder from within its "walled garden" - that's all that needs be done, save creating a window from the outside looking in (browser-based viewer or means of getting in-world.)

Frankly, I see V2 and this Shared Media ability as actually causing the "other grids" as becoming even more irrelevant (in the "public-at-large" perspective) than they are right now, and it is that irrelevancy that they are climbing uphill trying to get away from. The problem with all these other grids is: no one knows about them, they are too difficult to get in and out of (my own preferred viewer does not have the built-in ability - so I must jump through hoops to do it - why bother?) and because of these: there is no one there.

The Second Life paradigm is social in nature. I don't want to go to an open sim grid and feel like I am a cast away all by my lonesome self. Additionally, until there is a strong monetary economy thriving... I am afraid (in my own hypothosis of course) that they will languish slowly and painfully. They won't "die" - but we are still at the very least, a decade or more away before they will become "relevant" to the public at large. Right now they are simply the turf and interest of "techno-geeks".

Linden Lab's V2, in my mind, actually causes a set-back for these other grids with regard to any real "reason" for visiting them. I can now go into "official" Agni grid and stay there - because I have access to the whole world-wide-wild-wonder from my virtual easy-chair.

I have no reason to go anywhere else.

link: Will Second Life be the next Netscape? - Hypergrid Business

[Update - see the comments below as a multi-grid experience I have not had is more clearly explained to me - which renders my comments above about irrelevancy more or less misguided, for which I apologize. As much as I follow blogs and even Hypergrid Business blog specifically, it seems the actual explanation of things as described below simply isn't happening enough. Here I am: four-year veteran of SL, adept at all things grid and viewer and yet, I was not aware of this ability. What about the average user?

The "build it and they will come" routine is a pipe-dream for anyone and "customer education" must be fast and fierce, no matter how "easy" the actual process might be.

Based on the descriptions Maria has provided there is still one glaring problem: if I can teleport from Second Life Agni grid-proper into one of the open-sim grids so easily, how do I discover where to go and learn the teleport "address"?

For instance, I intend to try-out these steps Maria describes below, but how will I know where to go? This is a real problem. Yes, there are web links provided, but the real solution would be a way to provide a directory in-world.

Maria: SLV2 has the new "Media Sharing" feature - even though it's just a cube with one face showing a web page: someone should make a HUD that shows the links you provide.]

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

Linden Lab leaves Macintosh behind, At least, that's how it appears and only partly so.

Granted, the Official SL Viewer 2 is beta, and there is a lot of work needed on it still (okay, a lot of work) - one thing that is not made clear before downloading is that it is an Intel-only application. Perhaps it states this in the "system requirements" area, but it is not made clear beyond that.

There is a lot of talk about Viewer 2 (which I'll just call V2 hence) and a lot of it is about the exciting new features. I have several Macs in my home and one Windows PC. The PC is pretty much for SL and a couple other "entertainment" things because the Mac is such a pleasure to use in comparison, I reserve it mostly for actual "productive" venture.

So I want to write about a few things in V2 that I haven't seen written on yet (such as how there are a couple "features" that will allow extreme shamming and deceit across the grid and real ripping-off of Linden Dollars). So, I download the V2 beta on the current Mac I am using so I can do a quickie log-in to do a screen-grab of that and other preferences and the first thing I notice is the odd icon:

At first I (foolishly as it is a 'duh' moment for Mac users) assumed it was a Linden Lab creation to indicate this is a beta, even though I have seen Snow Leopard show this before. The circle-slash indicates the application will not run on this machine - which in this case is a PowerPC G5 model (all my others are Intel-based).

Since the beta is widely expected to go "golden" in the next few weeks and a possible upgrade in the next few months, and with that: the discontinuation of V1 versions... what will happen to all the Mac users still on PowerPC CPUs?

No, not going to bother contacting Linden Lab directly (except a tweet to M) about it because one thing is clear: Apple doesn't sit still. They move forward at the speed of light and quickly as is possible and feasible will drop "old technologies". Most new software available on the Mac is all now Intel-based and doesn't support PowerPC at all. And in the next few years, Apple (ARM) -based so it's only a matter of time before they drop Intel as well. So why not Linden Lab? If Apple is pushing forward so hard, Linden Lab might as well also, right?

Is this an oversight on Linden Lab's part? Or, is it a "branch" (or whatever they call it) that simply has not been implemented yet (the PowerPC-supporting code)?

Is SL and Intel-based CPU-only platform hence forth?

So long PowerPC Macintosh: it was fun while it lasted, sorry can't wait for you, have a good life, whatever is left of it as you die a slow, agonizing death.

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

Arabella's Ramblings unleashes the news (for me, anyway):

An exciting new development has been released in the seemingly never ending battle that so many creators endure – theft, ripping, texture stealing, content theft – it has many names.

I agree, it is exciting news. And the copybotgrieferidiots are running around soiling their pants over it all, especially over at SL Universe forums (so I'm told - which makes sense as that is a drama-cesspool of the most high.)

The blow being dealt: in-short the "CDS" or "Client Detection System" - which is a scripted object planted on your parcel, that through a complex system of detection, scrutinizing, analyzing and otherwise complete vetting of the viewer client all visitors are using when entering your privately-owned parcel will eject and outright ban them if it turns-out that client viewer is among those known to be used for illicit purposes.

Of course everywhere this CDS system is spoken about, such as SL Universe Forums, Alphaville Herald and likely the other paranoid, rumor-control cesspools and decent blogs alike... the feedback comments are rarely indifferent. Most are rather panicky and "offended".

It's a laugh, really. The main themes follow a few basic points:

  • "It will detect legitimate viewers and ban innocents"
  • "Even if I use an illegitimate viewer, it's the copybotting activity that is wrong, not the viewer itself - I just use it to test or (insert innocent reason here).
  • "It doesn't work, I've been in and out of this or that sim already!"
  • "It restricts my freedom from visiting many places across the grid! It isn't fair that I must travel in fear of being banned from the next place I visit!"

Okay fair enough. And my simple answers to these are:

  • It is only 80% effective specifically so it won't "detect legitimate viewers". It errs on the safe side. Only known viewers with explicitly illicit design will be detected. If there is a doubt, you get a free pass. This time.
  • Perhaps you are a nice angelic person who would never copybot anything of mine, oh perish that horrible thought! Unfortunately, it's the other idiots using the same viewer I am fighting against. Sorry to lump you in with them. Perhaps you should use a "legitimate" and "approved" viewer?" Oh, and only a fool would "test" these viewers anywhere else beyond their own private property.
  • If it doesn't work because it is fearware, then I presume the creator of the device is running around from parcel to parcel anonymously sending the "Ejected and banned for illicit viewer" messages to the owners of this system?
  • Your freedom is not restricted. You may go anywhere you want on the entire grid, including my places. Except, when you come to my place, it will be on my terms. And my terms are simple: no illicit viewers.

My reply to Arabella's post is as follows:

I don’t know Skills personally. But I have had the opportunity to speak with her on occasion here and there and I respect that she is definitely a potent coder and developer. The moment this thing was released and in seeing that it is authored by Skills, I jumped on it immediately – a copy for each of all of my places.

The nay-sayers are all abuzz: “oh but it might ban innocents!” Ummm, I don’t think so. “It doesn’t work! LULZ!!!” Well, even only 80% effective is better than zero-percent effective the way I see it.

Then there’s the “It’s just fearware – doesn't work at all!” – okay, then who ejected those people from my places and sent me the IMs claiming to be the CDS system?

I understand Linden Lab’s position on how it is not the gun that kills someone, it is the person pulling the trigger. And I agree with that. As for all the whiners in fear of this system proclaiming how it’s not fair and how I am restricting their ability to travel the grid in freedom and all that? Well, on *my* land *I* get to say who comes and goes, stays or gets banned.

And my only criteria for it is simply whether this CDS system allows you in or not. For those of you who say you are experimenting with the illicit viewer: go ahead. But do it on your own land...
*not mine*.

link: Arabella's Amblings
link: CDS System at XSL

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

As is typical with all blog posts by Linden Lab, the hysterical doom-and-gloom whiners come out of the woodwork. People who profess about how much real money they pay to Linden Lab each month, how much virtual land they own and how Linden Lab's new project will "kill" their business.

I say "and you call yourself a business person?"

Any good business person will look at what's going-on and adapt to any market changes. Especially when there is a lot of lead time. As for the Linden Home project, we've had a heads-up for a couple months already. Unlike all the doom-and-gloomers, there are creators and other real "business" people who are moving quickly to adapt and turn the "doom-and-gloom" into real opportunity.

And we have done this at Zodiac House:

Ever move into a new house or apartment and before any of the furniture is moved-in and arranged you notice that strange echo? However, once you throw down a few rugs and plop the sofa and bed into place and all the rest, that cozy feeling settles-in.

One of the "complaints" about Linden Homes is that you...

"...can't do anything with only 117 prims! It's ridiculous!"

Umm, yeah. Then you are lazy-minded with a simple education and zero creativity.

This evening, Zodiac House releases the "Linden Home Edition Full House" furniture sets. The above picture shows one of the A-Frame Linden Homes with four rooms worth of furniture: Living room, Bed room, Bath room and Kitchen. All with appropriate poses and the bed is even menu-driven.

L$800 for the whole set and only about 100 prims.

We are releasing the first four sets today, with new sets based on different themes (including the Asian and Fantasy themes) and a variety of each over the next few weeks.

So, step-up to a premium account, get that L$1000 bonus, for L$800 you can deck-out your shiny new place in full so there's no echo and have some Linden Dollars and prims left-over.

Come visit Zodiac House this evening to take a look-see for yourself.

Watch the market, stay apprised of what's coming, adapt to turn potential pitfalls in the market into opportunity. It's just good business sense to do so.

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

©2007-Present, Andr'Deco & Pixietale Studios, DBA Socially Mundane; Common Sensible

Linden Lab finally released their "Linden Homes" to public consumption yesterday. A Linden Home is being provided to all premium account holders as an option, where the existing tier-free allotment of land ownership can be applied here - and receive a themed house to go along with it.

It comes with 117 prims. And this is the important part to pay attention to, as when you pay tiers, this is what you are really paying for: the number of prims you may use.

Many will complain that 117 prims is useless because one cannot properly furnish these homes. I beg to differ as we (Zodiac House) have been working the last few weeks to prepare complete home furnishings for these Linden Homes allowing you to furnish every room: Livving, Bed, Kitchen and Bath in about 100 prims - leaving some for whatever else you want to add. These will be released for sale this weekend.

But I digress...

The reason I bring-up the Linden Homes is there was a comment on the LL blog where someone had mentioned they owned some land already, then took a Linden Home and it caused them to "tier-up". Had that person used the Land Manager on their account page, they would have clearly understood this would happen long before their error.

Among all the things you can learn to do and manage in Second Life, by far the most confusing and even tricky is: land ownership and how it affects your tier - the real money you pay to Linden Lab for the privilege. This is a primer on that.

First, what I speak on here has nothing to do with Estate Regions - private islands that sit in the middle of the ocean. Rather, this little lesson is on any virtual land you own where you pay your tier fees directly to Linden Lab - which I personally feel is the best and safest arrangement for any long term land ownership.

Linden Lab will never evict you for any reason other than your account going too far into arrears. Beyond that you are free to do with as you choose on your virtual property within the confines of the Terms of Service and Community Standards. Linden Lab will let you be for as long as you want.

The tricky thing is understanding tier...the monthly fees you pay to Linden Lab for the privilege (you must be a premium account holder or manager of a group authorized to purchase land for the group).

So here is your first lesson with regard to mainland parcel ownership.

The first thing you must understand are the tier levels. And they can be a bit misleading at first. But having a clear understanding will actually save you a lot of money and allow you maximum number of prims for the least cost. Since non-premium account holders can technically buy land for a group, it should be made clear this tutorial does not involve them. Take this information as a personal instruction for personal land-ownership.

You can view the land tier structure from your account page at Second Go to and in the left-hand rail menu, choose "Land Manager"->"Land Use Fees". It is important to understand that though this is called a "land manager" - it is more or less for informational purposes only. You cannot actually "tier-up" or "tier down" solely from here. It works in-conjunction with your activities in-world.

In this "level 101" of my land tutorial, we'll cover what this page is, does and how it helps you understand what is going on with your virtual land ownership responsibilities as it pertains to real costs to you. Upon selecting this page, you will be presented with the "Land Management" page:

Here you can see what you have, what you can buy without adding to your costs and what the costs will be if you add more than your "tier level".

It is highly important to understand: Any changes you make here does not affect the amount of money you owe to Linden Lab each month or the amount of land you own in-world. It is simply an informational calculator for the purpose of giving you an overview of your virtual land holdings and helps you to plan your land-ownership transactions. There are two sections to this manager, let us look at each in-turn.

The first section is the actual tier calculator. The purpose is to show you what you have and owe now, and "what-if" scenarios:

Let us look at this section line-by-line and what each means and can do for you. First, the headers along the top are misleading. "Current Fees" and "Estimated Fees" only apply to the last line of the table. These headers should really only state "Current" and "Estimated" without the word "Fees".

  • Line 1: Square Meters Owned.
    In the "Current" column, this is what you actually own in-world. Looking to the last line in the table you can see clearly what your cost obligation is to Linden Lab. This cost is only for actual, currently-owned land. You must be careful as this is not the actual monthly billing amount.

    This is the amount you will owe on your next billing date, not the billing date coming due. If you enter a number of square meters in the "Estimated" field and click the "Calculate" button at the bottom of the section, you can see what your new cost obligation will be. It is important to understand that your first 512 square meters (M2) is tier-free. It costs you zero because it is included with your premium membership.

    Example: You own 512 and are thinking of purchasing a 1024. Enter this into the Estimated field and click the calculate button. You will see the cost obligation. However, if you plan to purchase a 1024 M2 in addition to your 512, then you should enter 1536 in the estimated field (512+1024).

  • Line 2: Square Meters Donated.
    Rather than owning land outright, you can donate tier to a group. Groups cannot own land or pay tiers, so members of a group must donate the tier "responsibility" so that the land can be deeded to the group. Then all members of the group "share" ownership of that parcel, each obligating themselves to cover the tiers required through their "donation".

    If you have any donations to groups which own land, the Current will show it. If you are thinking of donating M2 to a group - the Estimated will show you any new obligations. If you are thinking to deed land you own to a group, you must donate tier shares to the group at the same time. Enter that amount here.

    Note: groups receive a 10% land bonus. Meaning an additional 10% of the donated shares can be owned (deeded) to the group tier-free. We will cover group-shares and donations in another post.

  • Line 3: Premium Bonus in Square Meters.
    This always will show as 512, unless Linden Lab changes or revokes it (or you are not a premium account holder). It is presented here to help with your calculations.

  • Line 4: Paid Tier Level.
    This is the total of M2 that you own and are obligated to pay tier on. The estimated column forecasts the new level upon which you would be obligated should you sell-off or purchase new virtual land. Note that this number is the sum of "Owned" plus "Donated" minus "Bonus".

    Thus, if you own 1024 M2 of land that is deeded to a group and you own a Linden Home, the current column might look like from the top-down: 512, 1024, 512, 1024. meaning that even though you technically own 1536 M2, you are only responsible for paying tier on 1024.

  • Line 5: Available Square Meters.
    Probably the most important line in the entire table, next to the bottom line. If you have M2 donated to groups, you get a "land bonus" - ability to own additional land tier-free. The real purpose of this line is to help you maximize the amount of land you can own based on the money you are paying to Linden Lab.

    If you own 600 square meters, you are paying tier for more land than you own. It is a waste of real money. This field shows you how much more land you can buy without bumping-up to the next tier level, thereby maximizing the amount of land you can own for the same money you already are paying.

    The key here is this line shows how much more land you can own before you are obligated to bump-up to the next higher tier level. You can purchase this much more land and your monthly tier bill will stay the same. Of course, more land give you more prims (if it is in the same region). Had the member I mentioned above who requested a Linden Home and "accidentally" tiered-up looked at this line on his account page, he would have clearly seen that additional land would cost him more money.

    Remember: it is your first 512 M2 that is tier-free. Not the last.

  • Line 6: Monthly Cost.
    This is the actual dollar amount that applies to Line 4. Note that tier levels are fixed levels. Meaning if you own 1024 M2, purchasing 10 square meters will bump you to the next level - as though you owned 2046 M2 - even if you own that last 10 square meters for 10-seconds. We will go into detail on this concept in a future post.

The important thing is to understand why the calculator is here, why you might want to use it and how to use it to more easily manage your tier obligation to Linden Lab as you consider purchasing or selling virtual land in Second Life.

The second section of the Land Manager page is simply a reference:

These are the different tier levels available. Selecting a higher tier level does nothing but more or less show you what you have "budgeted" for yourself. Other than that, it apparently does nothing at all. You cannot select a lesser tier level than what you are responsible for, based on your actual land-holdings and donations in-world. However, if you own 1024 M2 and select 8192 M2 on this chart - nothing will happen.

Linden Lab will only bill you for what you actually own, based on your peak-ownership level for the previous month. It is simply (more or less) a reference. At least, in all my years in SL, I've not found it to affect anything one way or the other - other than to be a simple reference for my own budgeting needs.

Next article: How to buy and sell land in a way to save the most real money with regard to tiering-up or tiering-down and not get nabbed by a mistake that could cost you huge sums of real money.

Ciaran Leval, God bless him, is at it again. He suspects the potential merging of the Teen grid with the Adult grid (as the Teen grid is really just a segregated corner of Agni - the adult grid anyway.)

I have been proclaiming this is coming for a long time. Ciaran opines:

Do Linden Lab think there's no harm in doing this and that this is a sensible move? I hope not but if they start with the forums I wouldn't be surprised if a grid merger isn't far behind.

The so-called merger will happen. The only real question is when?

[rant/on] Unfortunately, "Your2ndPlace" blog runs on Drupal - which sucks and is slow and is a complete headache to leave comments on (yes, my own experience only, your mileage may vary) - Nobody Fugazi has been AWOL since memory and Sarah Nerd is never around, Ciaran: go somewhere more mainstream with respectable system performance like Blogger or WordPress. LOL [rant/off]

Okay, anyway, I have to reply to his post over there, over here because that system is a heartburn factory. So my reply to Ciaran's post at Y2P (link below) follows here:

Been blogging it since last year:

And in truth, I say just get it over-with - I support it:

MOST IMPORTANT: Every comment from Linden Lab with regard to merging adult and teen grids is always: "We have no plans at this time to do so"

"No plans" does not mean they intend to not do it. It only means it is further down the private roadmap and not ready to be divulged yet. They need more time to get the grid cleaned-up.

Why on earth would they - why would anyone think there could be any other possible, plausible reason to work so hard at segregating the grid with the Zindra continent?
/me shrugs

link: Reply to comment | Your2ndPlace

You, dear reader who frequents Second Life are a techno-nerd. Embrace it, flaunt it, take pride in it. I guess. The same boneheads who whine about how Linden Lab's effort to simplify the viewer and how to actually use it to explore and interact in the virtual world should all climb into the same bed with all the boneheaded pundits tearing Apple, Inc. a new one over what a "disappointment" the iPad is turning out to be.
  • ZOMG! It doesn't support Adobe Flash so it will FAIL! (Not supporting Adobe Flash is a good thing and it hasn't hurt the iPhone at all).
  • It doesn't have a camera! Total fail! What the hell is Apple thinking! (If you want a camera, go buy a camera. Besides, it will have one sooner rather than later).
  • But...but...but it runs the iPhone OS and not OS-X!!! (Yes, another good thing. Because it's not designed to be a full-blown computer).
These techno-nerds all believe the iPad is a complete failure because it doesn't have the features they want or do what and how they want to do it.

So damned what? If you feel Apple's iPad is not powerful or feature-rich enough, don't buy one. Why should your ideas be forced onto the rest of the known universe? Are you all that high-and-mighty that what you think is the be-all and end-all of the known world? The same can be said for a very large number (and majority of blog-vocal) users of Second Life - remeber how "Voice is a failure and should be completely removed as a feature!!!"? As for all you people: you're a stuck-up, conceited snob at best.

What Apple has created is a computer that Grandmother can use and not be afraid of it. What Apple has created is a computer a five-year-old can use and actually figure it out without much intervention. What Apple has created is a game-changer for the computing "world" as we know it and it will be the new mainstream paradigm all other "personal" computing devices will benchmark off of. It will be the new leader all others try to emulate.

What Linden Lab is trying to do is basically the same thing; to replicate what Apple is doing: creating a system for the vast masses who really don't care to deal with all the technical nitty-gritty. At least not at first. Linden Lab, along with making things better for those of us who are techno-nerds, also must find a way to simplify everything for the uninitiated. So that people aren't afraid of it.

My sister's mother in law doesn't own a computer. She sits at the iMac and rolls the mouse around able to navigate the world-wide-web. Full stop. She doesn't mess with word processors or antivirus utilities or paint programs. Not that it is so difficult to paint with a paint program, but because getting there is too technical - not in the understanging of how to do it, but rather to bother learning how to do it.

And there are a lot of mothers-in-law in the world. Which is why Apple's iPad is a "win" on such a massive scale the likes of which can barely be fathomed yet.

So when Linden Lab speaks on how "Viewer 2.0" will be more "streamlined" and new-user-friendly with a simplified interface, try not so hard to slam them down. Because for Second Life to gain any traction beyond us techno-nerds whatsoever, Linden Lab has to do what the rest of the computing "industry" have been trying to do for decades and Apple has finally found a way to accomplish: simplify.

I intend to get an iPad myself, even though I am considerably more "techno-nerd" than most. Even though I am adept and tearing down and building computers from scratch, managing server farms, able to program databases and manage networks and trouble-shoot all manner of over-complicated software and driver nonsense.

Because it frees my mind to focus on the creative process, not the engine under the hood. When Linden Lab finally gets that recipe right to where a new user can just focus on the virtual world they see and not all the ropes and pulleys that make it work, then they'll have something more people will more easily embrace. And when they are ready, those users will eventually reveal the pulleys and ropes and start to shape the direction of the virtual world to their own liking the same way we all have.

How would you feel if you purchased a brand new car, and even though all you need do is insert the key and turn it to start up the engine and make the car go - but you also have buttons and knobs and levers on the dashboard that controlled everything from fuel-mixture to brake-tension and steering control with options for suspension softness and light-dimmers?

Even though all those controls are optional, how would you feel about it? Ever sit in or see the cockpit of a jet airliner? Believe it or not, a lot of those knobs and switches are actually optional controls. But at first sight it's an overwhelming experience. However, (take-off and landing aside) flying the thing is actually a rather simple procedure not a whole lot unlike driving a car.

Hell, my Toyota Camry only requires me to push a button while holding the break and it starts-up and is ready to roll. It is intellectually and mentally liberating and refreshing. When the SL Viewer is similarly presented, new user accounts will stick to the wall longer.

Peering at the agni grid map, one can see that practically every continent built by the Lindens is more or less complete. And more specifically, where there are seas and oceans and lakes, they are more or less whole. Except that "whole" is swapped for "hole" in the sea into which I sail from my home in Neobelow. No matter, I just sail around it, making through a very tight opening to the south or loop under the world-hole in the middle of the ocean toward the east to make my way to the Blake Sea.

It's not even annoying. But it is a...curiosity.

Recently Michael Linden posted to the SL blog1 that there are some new sims added to the Linden Seas, where he said in part:
"They feature lots of open water, an island with a mysterious skeleton, and lots of underwater content for the swimmers and mer-folk. There are two rez zones, both in Ahab's Haunt (look for the docks); and no doubt some racing marks and start lines will appear soon."

I thought hey cool! New stuff to explore. The problem is I get so darned busy lately when I go in-world I keep forgetting about it. Yesterday I spotted a blog post by Peter Stindberg2 over at his "Second Stindberg" blog where he marvels at a 2500-prim skeleton that was built by Linden Lab, via Department of Public Works Moles, which gave him a nice segue with regard to megaprims, etc.
"The skeleton was built by "moles" - content creators contracted by Linden Lab. It is a safe assumption that the moles know what megaprims are, and how to use them. At the same time finding a Linden build (or Linden contracted build) that uses megaprims is like searching a needle in a haystack."
Sometimes I can be rather slow and just not put 2+2 together and the epiphany strikes far after the fact. So I finally managed to take some time for myself a couple mornings ago and I followed my usual 4 A.M. routine, starting out in my home region of Neobelow and popping open the map looking to see if there are any parcels for sale there...yet...again.

Something didn't look right... it turns-out that world hole in the middle of my sea (yes, I lay claim to it as I seem to be the only one ever sailing it) was filled-in. And in the middle of the previous hole was a fresh sim with a bizarre shape on it. I decided to investigate what I shortly later learned what is called the Leviathan Skeleton. It appeared to be some private build, but since when does Linden Lab allow private regions to connect to, much less be plopped into the middle of mainland regions?

Upon inspection I discovered what is a wonderful build!

Beautiful. And, it fills-in that gaping hole in the sea so now there are no virtual Maelstroms to avoid! I then spotted something in the distance and found Michael's abandoned, floundering hulk that uses the same bobbing motion as the giant crane platform to the far south inlet from the Blake Sea.

Oh and thank-gawd they have made the ends of each of the two docks on the island to be rezz-points, which allows me to get off and on my boat without having to delete it first and re-rez a new one when ready to get under way again, a major complaint I have about many of the islands in the Blake Sea area. But I no longer care about those and the shiniest, newest desert island is within five-minutes sailing from my home marina!

Though I think the "bobbing" script might need a little tweaking as about every three-minutes or so the "Mighty Fitz"3 seems to be weathering an invisible hurricane-sized wave. Have a look at what I mean:

So, only this morning did it occur to me that all these previous 'references' were referencing the same thing - and it is in my own front yard:

The blue star is my home in Neobelow. The two paths are how I used to sail off on my way to the Blake Sea. The yellow area is where the gaping vortex was and now is filled-in with these new "Big Fish" sims and allowing me to now take the white path toward the Blake Sea, bringing me right past the Leviathan Skeleton island, which I know claim as is my right as a Buccaneer of the area, as mine and all mine.

So I simply wish to express a "Thank you very much Linden Lab, way-to-go Department of Public Works, you rock!"

  1. Official Second Life Blog: "The 'Big Fish' Regions"; Michael Linden;
  2. Second Stindberg;
  3. S.S. Edmond Fitzerald. On November 10, 1975, while traveling on Lake Superior during a gale, the Fitzgerald sank suddenly in Canadian waters approximately 17 miles (15 nmi; 27 km) from the entrance of Whitefish Bay at a depth of 530 feet (160 m). Although she had reported having some difficulties prior to the accident, the Fitzgerald sank without sending any distress signals. Her crew of 29 perished in the sinking with no bodies being recovered. When found, it was discovered that the Fitzgerald had broken in two.

The problem with "shopping" on the Second Life grid is the lag - as vendor textures rez slower than molasses. And if you are a hunter like I am, trying to find what you're looking for is a nightmare as there is a sheer Matterhorn of stuff for sale all over the grid. So much so that it's a rare treat to go anywhere and not run into some prim blasting it's advertisement at you hoping you'll throw Linden Dollars at it.

This is why I, like thousands of others will shop via XStreet SL (XSL) - it is still a major hit-and-miss frustrating experience. But it is less frustrating than going on the hunt in-world. You are able to compare likewise products side-by-side and then - if that creator/merchant actually has any smarts at all by providing a link to their in-world location - I'll go in-world to check the product first-hand.

Unfortunately, like in-world, XSL adverts are gamed to no end with "keyword spam" and often ridiculously inflated proclamations about the quality of the product that is up for review (a reason I never purchase anything from XSL that does not provide a SLURL to review it in-world).

However, XSL has one major gaming flaw that does not exist in-world. Think of it as the counter-part to in-world traffic-gaming with traffic-bots: the all-to-common shill.

I went into XSL to check-up on one of my own listings. Then for some reason I went back to the "home" page, where there are "featured" listings. The one that caught my eyes was a "sex rug" for L$99. Zodiac House (go there and buy our stuff now, please - "ZHSL" SLURL link in the menu above!) also sells "cuddles" and "love" rugs, but certainly with the work we put into them we don't sell for that price. The headline is "Super Promo..." - so I figured it was some limited-time sale or something. I looked...and laughed.

Often in SL you will get exactly what you pay for. Sometimes you'll be shockingly surprised that you get a lot more than you pay for. But more often than that, you will get a lot less for what you pay for. In this case, your L$99 will get you an MLP script-set with a bunch of (currently) freebie animations. And that's okay.

But the shilling is rampant:
Back before the XSL web site was redesigned it was pretty easy to give reviews of stuff you have purchased as every time you logged-in there they were in your face waiting for you to rate them. Most people, perhaps 999 of 1000 won't bother writing any review at all and very few will actually bother giving a star-rating.

However, the redesign of the XSL web site makes it ridiculously confusing to find a way to review items you have purchased from your "account" page, meaning you have to make an active effort to jump through the link-hoops to go back for the purpose of reviewing. Or, however, revisiting the item page will allow you to rate and review. So a question: how often after purchasing something from XSL do you return to that same item listing...just to post a review?

Certainly some people will. But the overwhelming majority will not.

A common practice of "traffic-gaming" creators on XSL is to login with all their alts, perhaps convince some friends to all go into their product pages and give 5-star ratings with often ridiculous over-the-top commentary.
"ZOMG! This thing is the best since sliced bread!!!! OMFG I LOVE THIS!"
Uh...yeah...riiiiight. For a L$99 Sex Rug with freebie animations?

How to spot shill ratings: check the dates and times of when the ratings were posted. This is why I always go to the "Item Discussion" thread to see what real people are saying.

So, as for brand-new just-listed low-cost items with more than one or two reviews where every one of them is a 5-star rating... fasten your seatbelt and rather than a grain, swallow a whole bag of salt with it.

As the traffic bot on the grid has made a complete mockery of traffic ratings on the grid, so too has the XSL shill of star-ratings and reviews.

I have been in Second Life going-on four years. In that time I have become what I consider as being quite adept at all things SL, except writing my own scripts. I mean everything. Including the way virtual land works in all aspects from terraforming to parcelling to buying and selling and sharing through groups and all the related tier-fees and hoops and loops of it all, including the huge differences between "private" regions and "mainland" regions.

I have now officially been promoted from "adept" to "certified expert". Okay, where does the certification come from? Linden Lab themselves and explicitly: Fog Linden. Allow me to explain...

Before I go into my diatribe, I'll qualify the title of this post, even though I explain it below. Land management with regard to tier fees to Linden Lab can be hugely confusing. But here is how LL makes even more money from mainland than you might think (and this is perfectly okay and nothing wrong with it at all, as often the reverse could be true also):

Someone owns a 4096 parcel, where their tier is due on the 10th of the month. You buy it on the 15th of the month, to add to land you already own, and your tier is on the 20th of the month. The tier was already paid on the parcel at the 10th by the previous owner. You will pay the tier on that parcel on the 20th. Linden Lab makes double tier on that parcel in one month. Multiply this by the thousands of land transactions that occur every-day. Yes, I know: over simplified (detailed posts following the next few days). But you get the point (and it could very likely even-out when the dates go askew).

Now on to my diatribe and how I have become a certified virtual land expert in Second Life...

Our store (Zodiac House) Staff Group includes a very limited number of people, a few owners and all are contributing tier to cover the 2.5 mainland sims the group owns. I have owned an estate with up to 5 private regions before. However, mainland is an entirely different (and far more difficult to manage) monster when it comes to managing the amount of land you own and how it all affects the first life legal-tender dollars you owe Linden Lab. And this is a good thing for Linden Lab. It's not a bad thing in terms of being "underhanded" or "unscrupulous" in any way. If I ran LL I'd have it set-up the exact same way as it is right now. LL is in business to make a profit and this is certainly a good way to do it, and it doesn't "harm" the customers in any way, shape or form. Unless they become careless. Or confused.

So one account is donating the majority of tier to the land group: 2-regions worth. Task: have the current major contributor tier-down to zero (save the tier-free premium land afforded) and have another account tier-up. In other words: transfer the square-meter (read: tier responsibility) in the group from one person to the other. Trickier than it sounds.

I have now become a trapeze artist of the circus known as Cirque de SL_Grid!
In a nutshell:
  • Account #1 Tiers-down by setting group contribution to zero, setting web site land-management to zero-tier.
  • Group is now in deficit and does not have enough land-credits to keep all the land it owns. Someone must donate more square meters.
  • Account #2 tiers-up to a full region on the web site, but still officially only owns 512 square meters (M2)
  • Account #2 attempts to contribute 128000 M2 - but cannot as the group widget states maximum he can contribute is 0 (zero) - even though he tiered-up on the web site.
It turns-out the only way to contribute M2 to a group is to deed land you already own to a group. However, this provides a couple problem scenarios...

Private region tier dates never change. If a private region tier date is the 15th of the month, it will remain the 15th of the month forever, until abandoned. Private region tier is paid in advance for the month. January 15th's payment is for the month of January 15th through February 14th.

Mainland regions (and any parcel - but "region" for simplicity in explaining all this) are tiered for the previous month. In other words, January 15th's payment is for the period just past: December 15th through January 14th. Here is where the first part of the confusion universe rears it's head: you are charged for the peak amount of M2 you have owned during that period, even if it was only for one-second out of the entire month.

You own 1024 M2, want to move, buy a new 1024 M2 and immediately sell the first 1024 M2. However, for the period of five-minutes, you have owned a total of 2048. That is the tier rate you will be billed for. The only way around this is to sell the first parcel before buying the second - or only do the moving just after you pay your monthly tier and then use the month to try to sell the first parcel at a high price.

Back to my scenario: Account #1's tier is due the 8th of each month. #2 is due on the 23rd. If #1 tiers down after the 8th, then they will be charged the full tier the following month. So they tier-down on the 7th. This way, no giant tier payment the following month. However, if #2 tiers-up before the 23rd - they pay the entire tier on the 23rd.

Linden Lab now gets double the tier payment for the same virtual land in a single month.

Under normal circumstances: so what? Neither the seller or the buyer feels any of this and they each pay their own respective tiers. But for me: I am both the seller and the buyer. So I do feel it. Alternative: #1 tiers down. #2 doesn't tier-up until the 24th. 8th to the 24th is 14-days. That means the group would be in deficit for two-weeks. However, it is well known by experienced SL users that group-owned land can actually skate through for some time before the land is reclaimed and the group loses it. But no one really knows how long that is.

ZH is a very strong business. Would you risk the entire in-world land assets of a business that consistently rates in the SL 500 (perhaps even top 100)? Um, hell no. I am more than happy to throw another $400 at Linden Lab just to avoid the stress of the unknown.

In Concierge Live Chat, I explained to Fog Linden that I am unable to tier-up in-world (even though I did so on my account page at the web site) - and make my contribution to the group. He disappears (to do what we all can do: check the SL Wiki and Knowledge base) - comes back with no answer. States "I will refer you to the in-world team".

That's it. Nothing else from him (or her). Oh, and "I will refer you to in-world team" means "piss-off, I can't help you, go find another Linden because I don't have the time or inclination to really find the answer for you". I thought he was at least going to contact and in-world Linden to contact me. 

Ummm, no.

And this brings me back to my problem: group deficit of two-regions worth of land contribution. So based on my own experimentation, I have discovered the "rules" and "laws" of the system, specifically "Code Law" - meaning this is how the system is designed or otherwise coded to work. Thus, the following must be considered:
  • Only way to tier-up is to actually buy land. There is no other way.
  • Sell the land to specific person, he then "buys for the group"
  • However, can a group sell to itself? (Unknown and likely not)
  • If private person buys land, he can then re-deed to group and contribute. However, what happens to all 15000 prims already set-out - returned? Deleted? Oh-no!
So, discovered the following, which Fog Linden did not know and was too bothered to discover - and does not appear to be documented in the Wiki or knowledge-base or anywhere else: a live-and-learn discovery process:
  • When land is set to sell to a specific person, that person cannot "buy for group" - only for themselves. Which brings up more concerns:
    • If land is set to sell to anyone, are the landbots still around to snag it in a microsecond?
    • What happens to all the prims on the land when it goes "private" again? What breaks? Will they all be instantly returned?
So the only real answer is to set to sell to specific person and hope for the best. I was told (and have now confirmed as accurate) that Group-owned land will not auto-return all prims instantly upon sale transaction, however if autoreturn is on, they will be returned with the auto-return clock runs its course.
So, I set the land for sale to myself explicitly. I buy it. I now personally own a region and I am "warned" my tier will increase to $195 for a full region. Hurray. I now go to deed the land to group with owner contribution.
"Deeding failed, group does not have enough land credits to continue" (paraphrased).
Ummm, WTF?! Holy crappola.
Okay, go to the other full region and do the same thing. I now personally own two full regions (funny glitch, my tier is still $195 LOL!) - I go to deed it and contribute. Same failure: "not enough land credits". Holy smackers, batman!

I go to the third region where we own about a third (we'll have the whole thing over time, problem is no one is selling right now) - I buy another 4096. I tier-up again. Return to Plain Jane region and attempt to deed to group.


The deed takes, I pop over to the other region and repeat. Finally this stressful scenario of losing two-and-a-half regions worth of land because of a group deficit is no more. And I have learnt a lot in the process:
  • You can only tier-up in-world by purchasing land. There is no other possible way to do it.
  • You cannot deed land (even with owner-contribution) to a group with a land credit deficit unless the deeding and contribution completely covers the entire deficit.
  • And the long-standing rule that Linden Lab will get double the tier on this land for this month because of the way tier due-dates works. (I don't care because of some stupid glitch, I get some serious M2 worth of free land.)
    So this little exercise gives me some good blog-fodder for the next few posts. I think I will explain in detail the intricacies of land-management as it pertains to tiers and code-law, what you can and cannot do and how to go about it in a way to save the most tier money.

    Sorry for the unusually long post. but this was a rather stressful adventure that the explaining-of I hope will be helpful to others.

    Caleb Booker has a pretty good point with regard to Second Life and how it is perceived. No, not by the hilariously uninformed so-called "journalists" employed by the "legitimate media". Not even by the "regular" SL user. But rather by the "power users" and potential "corporate" users.

    Firstly, not all power-users are of the ridiculous mindset that their own opinion of how things should be applies to the rest of the universe. I like to think of myself as an SL "power-user" - but I don't subscribe to a lot of the laughable demands of the most vocal found most often at the official Second Life blogs or worse: the cesspools called SLUniverse and to a slightly lesser extent: Shopping Cart Disco and Alphaville Herald.

    As someone who works in the "education" field (commercial B2B training) - I can seriously relate to the comments and concerns of first life "professionals" with regard to the very usability of the Second Life platform as a means for immersive meeting, much less as a venue for actual training or educational efforts.
    Real Names: Face it: the naming convention was a cute idea in the beginning, but it just seems idiotic to corporate users. Let us use our own names over our heads.
    This has always been a complaint of professionals evaluating SL as a means to carry-out business. Yes, yes, yes, we know: Any one can have a custom "last name". For $500 a month. Are you serious?

    What is needed is the ability for people to option their real names. Of course this presents a problem as there are actually a lot of real life people whose names are "John Smith". So one alternative is to have your account as it is now: "Ari Blackthone" - but be able to add to (or actually replace - visually) "John Smith" - so those I interact with on the grid will know I am really "John Smith". As for all you immersion-is-king idiots who shoot-down this idea can go crawl under the rock you came from. Note how I emphasized "option" above. Your ideas, wants and desires apply to you and it is not your place to force those ideas, wants and desires onto the entire grid.

    Other items of note that Caleb mentions, which I admit I haven't thought-of (because even though I have approached my company president about SL, have NOT actually pushed hard enough to give it a go for training purposes) - would be practical requirements for any business to be able to hold any kind of meaningful meeting and cannot do without for training purposes:
    • A Whiteboard. Functionally-speaking. That works like the first life ones do.
    • A Public Address system. No, not the chat-shouters we see so often. This is in reference to voice.
    • The "Second Floor" - ability to segregate audio streams to separate channels or something. So that voice used in one primroom is actually separate from voice used in the very next primroom above the first only 10-meters away.
    • Simple ways to transfer files from one user to another user without having to upload the file into the grid first - and without blasting open a third-party application. Though even that would be a highly acceptable first step (for example: I drag a text document onto your avatar and my email application already opens, addressed to you with file attached and all I have to do is click "send").
    Yes, yes, the loudmouth detractors who scream at the top of their lungs to Linden Lab on their blogs about how "no one uses voice! It's a complete failure and a completely stupid idea, so remove it permanently now!" again can go crawl back under their rock. Why do you insist that what you don't like should also be off-limits to everyone else?

    The fun part of Caleb's post is this, though:
    When this list was originally published on my blog, I received a few passionate emails from the power user base that reinforced my perception of the problem. Their comments break down as follows:
    • Second Life was built by nerds for nerds, and shouldn’t accommodate anyone else ever.
    • Anonymity is more important than oxygen, and should be absolutely force-fed to people.
    Absolutely hilarious! There are three more laughable comments he highlights and it really goes to speak to the mindset of those so-called "power-users" and why the first comment about Second Life being built by nerds for nerds is not only appropriate, but so, so true.

    Emerald viewer is finally on steroids.

    Though some would say Emerald was the "Official" LL SL Viewer on steroids.
    It never was.

    All it did was add features but did absolutely nothing for actual performance

    Hard to believe March 1st will be my 4th anniversary on the grid. In all that time, I've experimented with different grid viewers: Nicholaz, CoolViewer, Gemini, Kirstens, can actually be a rather difficult decision to settle on just one, based on the feature-set and stability and all that stuff.

    The one that has emerged as the best viewer feature-wise is the Emerald. I used it for many months... until Linden Lab forced official 1.23 upon the world. Official 1.23 is riddled with bugs and among them, one that really cramps my style is the snapshot-to-disk bug (only the lower-left two-thirds of the image is captured).

    Emerald and all the other after-market viewers inherited this bug and all the other 1.23 bugs. Go-figure. But beyond that, the performance of the Official and all after-market viewers based on it is abysmal. You who use Emerald "proper" and all the rest of these simply don;t know it because you have become accustomed to sub-par grid experience.

    Thus, I have been using the Snowglobe viewer ever since it was released because I consistently get a minimum of twice and often up to six-times the rendering and rezzing performance compared to all the others...including and especially Emerald.

    I had been begging the code-developers of Emerald to use the Snowglobe code to no avail (so I gave-up long ago). As wonderful (and seriously buggy) as many of the fancy Emerald features are, none are worth giving-up the stunning rendering and rezzing performance Snowglobe provides. In fact, the single sole "feature" of Emerald I missed was the "double-click to teleport" (it certainly wasn't bouncing primtits.)

    So I went to download the latest build of the primary viewers, including Snowglobe and Emerald to create another 60-Second Rezzing Test so I could show how Snowglobe blows Emerald out of the water as far as performance is concerned.

    Then I noticed it; in the Downloads page, where the list links called "Windows", "Linux", "Macintosh", Source", "Signatures" and... waaaay at the bottom where no one will notice it like it's some completely different platform or something: "Snowglobe". No wonder no one is using that version of Emerald. It was a quiet, stealthy upgrade. Yes, upgrade.

    So I snagged it. And it is basically Snowglobe with all the features of Emerald! It's about damned time.

    So, if you are an Emerald fan, try an upgrade to the Emerald Snowglobe version (bottom link on the download page). The performance boost will will stun you. Unfortunately, only a Windows version for right now (A mac version would really kick-ass for performance!)
    A couple things: why these weren't set as defaults is beyond me, but you will want to activate your advanced menu (ctrl-alt-d) and go to the Rendering submenu and turn on "HTTP Get Textures" and "Multiple Threads" for an extra boost. Also, there is one Emerald-specific bug: in edit mode, selected items are not highlighted. How this slipped through I have no idea, so Snowglobe will remain my primary until this one glitch is fixed, but I will keep emerald around again.

    UPDATE: Found the preference to re-enable the highlighting of selected objects and it is quite simple to turn them back on:
    • Preferences->Emerald->Build (tab)
    • Uncheck (off) "Enable highlighting of selected prims" - recheck (on) it.
    • Click the Apply button.
    • Press CTRL-O (oh, not zero)
    I am quite positive once the word gets out that Emerald is available in a Snowglobe version, a mass migration will occur, Because in comparison, the Snowglobe version mops the floor with the "standard" version as far as sheer performance is concerned.

    Blue Linden posted the news that vBulletin is out and the garbage crap is in. Well, not in those words of course. The first curiosity is the title of his blog post: "Upgrading the Forums".

    I like and respect Blue a lot. He's helped me personally over some frivolous nonsense he and likely many other Lindens would and could have just brushed-off without a thought. And certainly his post is vetted by some public-relations folks and all that. But my and many other Second Life user issues are way beyond what Blue is saying and how he is saying it.

    Firstly, it's not only not an upgrade, it's not even a side-grade or a downgrade. It's even a bastardization of destructive undertaking.

    That bad.

    The current and most other Internet "forums" are based on the wildly popular vBulletin system. We use it at the company where my day-job resides. it sucks. No, wait...the software doesn't suck. It's good software. What sucks is the cost of it and the constant cost of maintenance (upgrades, add-ons and all the rest). But it is definitely mature and rock-solid stuff, which is why it is used everywhere. vBulletin even has a CMS (Content Management System) add-on that is ridiculously priced and actually quite ugly and very "ungraceful", but that's what you get when they try to make a solid one-trick-pony into a jack-of-all-trades.

    I understand Linden Lab wanting to forego the maintenance of vBulletin. It is not the forums per se they are wanting to dump, it's software and resources the current system is sucking-up. Old software that costs an unreasonable arm-and-a-leg to update, the hardware it is running on (and maintenance of it), the bandwidth, the man-hours to maintain the software itself and police the content and so on. I am actually surprised they haven't put the kerbosh on it a couple years ago.

    So it makes sense: kill the vBulletin software and do-away with all the resources it burns-up. Use a newer, more flexible updated system.

    (I will know emulate Linden Lab for you here and now): FACEPALM!

    The system they are using now is worse. This "Clearspace" system is most certainly NOT ready for prime-time. It is horribly buggy and a nightmare from a user perspective. It might be perfectly fine and stable as a blogging system, but for anything else it wreaks of "alpha phase" - as in it's not even ready to be called "Beta", yet.

    Why the hell Linden Lab didn't go with Joomla (or something else of equal quality) is totally beyond me. Joomla is free, open-source, highly scalable, automated, user-friendly on both the back-end and front, and smoothly extensible. It is a pleasure to use on both the back-side and front.

    However, as is always the case in these situations, someone was likely tasked with "evaluating" new systems. That person recommended highly what *they* like, regardless of the readiness of the system for heavy-duty use and there obviously wasn;t enough vetting. The Clearspace sale representatives also no-doubt made everything smell like roses while pulling seriously heavy wool over the Linden Lab buyers eyes.

    That person doing the research and evaluating and recommending probably never heard of Joomla - which speaks volumes about that person's qualifications (if this scenario is the case) regarding this kind of thing - because Joomla or any other mature blogging/forum system (a.k.a. CMS or "Content Management System") is better than the crap they have settled on.

    The current system is so whacked that practically everyone who uses it from the front-side has complained about it. It can't be called "broken" because it was never "fixed" in the first place. it is just plain bad software.

    The edit boxes for giving feedback comments is a nightmare to use with text-edits ending-up all over the place. The edit-box doesn't even load into some browsers (Opera, certain versions of Safari and OmniWeb, perhaps even versions of Internet Explorer - I don't know I won't touch that browser with a 50-foot pole).

    Not everyone enjoys FireFox (I personally find it clunky and bloated myself. I'll stay with Opera and Safari, thank you very much.).

    So, as my main browser is Opera 10.10, if I want to comment on a Linden blog post, I have to fire-up Safari 4.0.4 - which is okay because Safari is an excellent speedy browser. It's the point that the system Linden Lab is now using is so damned fugged-up that I have to launch a different application just to be able to comment.

    So: open comment to Linden Lab (Mark Kingdon, are you paying attention to this?!): Go ahead and fuggup the blog system. Go ahead and use ridiculously substandard, horrible, buggy-assed software. But, whatever you do, keep the people responsible for choosing and buying this system for your blog and forums as far the fug away from the grid and viewer code as you can.

    Oooooh. Really good post by Ciaran Leval over at Your2ndPlace about the whole rigamarole over the Linden Lab carrot-on-a-stick to get existing Second Life Basic Accounts to upgrade to Premium Accounts.

    Quick recap: Linden Lab has allowed Premium accounts, which I refer to as "preemies" to languish in terms of "features" and "you're so shpethule extra stuff" that a lot of the preemies have been downgrading to the free Basic accounts over the last few years.

    So, LL comes-up with the brilliant idea to not only allow all preemies to own 512 square meters of virtual land tier-free (though you still must acquire the land, often by purchasing) - but rather give the 512 M2 land complete with a stylish themed home already upon it.

    Filtering through the obviously mixed reactions, most if not all preemies are actually looking forward to receiving one. The goal is also to add another perk to preemie status and entice a lot of those basics to step-up to preemie status. and it is apparently working.

    However, amongst the LS (Linden Spam) all respectable residents (those who actually include their real email address in their SL accounts) receive is a fancy-shmancy pitch to take that step-up.

    This is where the confusion ensues: in the advert and special bonus of L$1000 is mentioned. However, most experienced grid-citizens (as usual) over-read and try to decipher that which should always be taken at face value. So they panic and over react when that shiny new Linden coin is not thrown at them immediately upon stepping-up.

    Read Ciaran's post (end-link) to get the full story. In part, Ciaran says...
    The complaint is that someone has signed up for a premium membership after receiving this email, they then wondered where their L$1,000 bonus payment was. Now this in itself isn't an issue, it takes around forty five days after becoming premium to receive your bonus. However what is an issue is that support staff told the person the bonus is only paid to new accounts, not to those who upgrade from basic to premium.
    Well, the thing is most people who comment on the blogs have a serious chemical imbalance upstairs, are way over-emotionally unstable or just plain stupid.

    Oh wait - that's in reference to most of the idiotic replies to threads on the official blogs about things like "why bots and camping systems are all eeeviiil".
    As to Ciaran's post, which is actually is a very damned good one, I see replies by...well... let us just move-on, shall we?

    The confusion Ciaran speaks on makes a lot of sense (as to why it's confusing in the first place) - however, as I have said time and again it is absolutely best to read what Linden Lab says at face-value. Don't try to interpret, take it all in word-for-word.

    Here is my reply to Ciaran:
    Excellent post here.

    As having been a preemie since first signing-up, I clearly recall that sign-up bonuses are for new accounts (hence, why it's called a "sign-up" bonus.)

    Though you do have a point that the email, which went to all existing grid residents should have either not mentioned the sign-up bonus at all (it doesn't), or at least clarified that it (the mentioned bonus) is applied to shiny, new accounts only (it doesn't).

    However, the devil is in the word-for-word details and I quote: "Become a premium member today and receive a special L$1000 bonus..."

    Thus, I suspect it is a special bonus offered to entice people to do the upgrade, not the usual Sign-up bonus. Here is why: when I created my shiny, new SL account way back when and jumped onto preemie status from the get-go, my sign-up bonus was sitting in my in-world wallet waiting for me the instant I rezzed.

    So, if it is taking 45-days for this bonus to arrive, it makes sense that it is a special bonus. The 45-days is to ensure you don't sign-up for preemie and then immediately downgrade back to basic. By making you wait at least 30 (in this case 45)-days, they ensure to get at least one-month's subscription fee from you.

    Read: no "gaming" the system with alt after alt after alt to rake-in that money.

    Do I *know all this for a fact? No. But if one simply steps back for a moment, puts themselves into Linden Lab's shoes and think: "how could I entice existing basics to upgrade: offer them the bonus. How can I prevent gaming which we know people will try? Make them wait at least a good full month before giving it."

    It's genius. (Not really, it's more like plain old good business sense) - but it looks and feels genius like.
    Okay, remember that statement I made above about how most people who comment of SL blogs are either mentally imbalanced, too emotionally overloaded or just plane stupid dullards?
    Check-out this reply Ciaran's post by "Anonymous" which was made before my own reply:
    Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 02/01/2010 - 05:04.

    It always blows me away how obvious and simple business practices are not within the grasp of LL. Any company worth it's salt should already understand advertising practices and consequences of swimming against them.

    I have no idea how well "false advertising" is enforced in the US , I just know that in the UK they could be forced by the courts to meet the obligations laid out in their advertising.

    Any advertising should be free of ambiguity and state clearly what it is offering, who is eligible for the offer and who is offering it. In the words of a infamous meerkat - "shimples"
    /me points and laughs hysterically while holding his nose...