Duh

Pings is really moving to blogger…. here…. http://pingsfromtheafterlife.blogspot.com/sorry for the confusion *rolls eyes*

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All’s Fair

Seventy-two years ago last Saturday, the World’s Fair opened at New York, and we went to see it! No, not thanks to time travel, it was another gridhopping trip with the Hypergrid Adventurers Club. The Club meets on Sundays at Pathlandia on Jokaydia grid. Before you start saying shaking your head and saying you could never go to another grid, oh purleeeeze, it will take you all of 10 minutes to get a Jokaydia account, make an avatar, and kit it out at the freebie shop. Once you’re done, you’re golden for many fun trips around the metaverse.  And if you have a ReactionGrid avie, you can get to Jokyadia quite easily. Here’s more about how to do that.  
 The real World’s Fair was spread out over more than a thousand acres of what had been an ash pile (yay coal fires!). Reaction Grid’s version is build over three sims and includes all the best-loved sights from the original fair including the Star Pylon, the New York building, and of course the Perisphere,

which is where the HGAC regrouped once we’d al made the jump from Jokaydia. This is Democracity in the Perisphere. What fun to be able to fly down among the tiny buildings and do the 30-foot woman thing on Yesterday’s idea of the Future Today. It made Pathfinder go quite pale.

There’s a wonderful positive vibe in the images that is reflected in the mood of the Club; we reflected on the fact that all this was being imagined at a time when both economic depression and war were at the forefront of most people’s minds.
trivia and me at WF
At the New York building, I took the weight off and struck up a conversation with Trivia Tiratzo. His dad visited the real thing back in 1939, and took over 200 wonderful photos of the buildings, the artwork and the exhibits. Back in 2008, Trivia was approached by ReactionGrid’s  Kyle Gomboy about doing some consulting for a World’s Fair project.
Trivia Tiratzo: I had no idea how to do anything in the virtual world, so it’s been a real learning experience before, I didn’t even know what a prim was but I gave it a shot. The more I build, the better I get (I think) … the hardest part is getting interior information for the pavilions, especially the murals.
The photos help so much in getting the details right, and Trivia has put on a big display of them so we can compare the builder’s work with the real thing.

Trivia has also published his father’s pictures in a book, “1939 New York World’s Fair Photo Collection”   and has a blog that provides updates and insights into the project.
Ruud Lathrop, Joey Chernov, Amber Beaver  and other talented  builders have contributed models, exhibition rooms, and a Music Hall, to help us explore in 3D this wonderful retro-futuristic phenomenon. It’s a multi-faceted build, with vintage recordings, poses, notecards, and of course tons and tons of original pictures. To bring the whole thing even more to life, this past week, a range of events have marked the opening of the build, with talks on the construction and planning of the fairground, a piece about the Royal Visit, by RG’s official Fair Historian David Cope, and a fascinating insight into the Westinghouse Electric Company, by Shirley Manning. 
 The World’s Fair build is slated to be a permanent exhibit in RG (as far as anything virtual can be permanent) so if you’ve not had a chance to go over there yet, there’s still lots of time. Trivia is optimistic about the build, and its potential.
Trivia Tiratzo: Between the web site and the grid, I have met some wonderful ppl from all over the world. Take David, our Fair historian, for example.  He does not come in-world but is a close friend of mine, even tho we have never met. I’d really like to have more people involved to make this a learning experience for everyone.

Home of the brave

Everybody has their own Freebie horror story, from the ‘cute little dress’ with the fatal flaw that you only notice when it’s way too late, all the way up to finding one of your generously donated creations being sold on some scuzzy sim. Put the words Freebie and Open Sim together and, for most people (especially anyone with a L$ axe to grind) they conjure up an image of utter tackiness, plus a boring re-hash of the whole creative rights issue.
 The free culture of Open Sim has so little to do with the make-a-buck mentality of SL that it may be hard for closed-worlders to grasp what’s really going on in places like the boutiques of Wright Plaza on OSgrid, or Greg Prince‘s Freeland megastore on Craft Grid.

Creators may outnumber consumers many times over in worlds other than Second Life, but even pioneers sometimes want a little Sears Roebuck in their lives. Vanish Tomorrow has a new website, OpenSim Creations where you can download (and upload!)  free items for virtual worlds. Straight onto your computer, so you can import them to any world you like. The ultimate in online ‘shopping’, perhaps?

Vanish Tomorrow:  Actually, my blog was kinda something like that for more than a year now. I just thought others would post their creations on their websites as well, because it’s just so easy to do. Well, not many people did, and so I thought about how to make it easier for people. There were mostly technical considerations, what software to use, how to manage users, that kind of thing. One big consideration was whether or not it was supposed to be “commercial”, i.e. allowing the sale of content. After talking with Pathfinder about it in general terms,  I just sat down and played with a lot of software to see how it would look.

Eloh Eliot‘s skins are probably the most famous free items on the web, and she has always actively encouraged others to modify and redistribute versions of the starlight skins. When Ina Centaur made some of her skins free to download and modify at OSAvatars , she worried in her press release that by “creating and releasing an open source collection of virtual goods, in an ecosystem where third party creators rely on micro-transactions, I run the risk of disturbing the economy.” The skins she’s made available are mostly male, and while not terribly handsome, they are certainly distinctive. A few weeks later, the economy seems to have handled it pretty well, but to Ina’s credit few creators with such a strong connection to SL have volunteered as much.  What about the whole ‘hey, they’re selling my freebies!’ thing? Pam Broviak of govgrid has a practical solution.
Pam Broviak: I figured people have to be pretty desperate to try that. Anyway, if we do a good job advertising the site, everyone should know they can just get it for free there.

Destination shopping is not going to disappear any time soon, though. It’s an adventure, and a fun way to meet new people, and discover new grids. It’s also going to take time to aggregate all the free things available. Many creators would like to use their items as a way to attract the public to their blogs and websites, which is why Vanish is focusing on things not offered elsewhere online.

Vanish Tomorrow:  Yes, I guess so.  It’s kind of a fine line. Right now, I’m focusing on things that are CC licensed, but only on a certain grid.  OSGrid has loads of that, and since I started OSC, people told me about things in SL too, that were CC.  When it comes to quality, well, you know, we’re all amateurs. Some make better stuff, some less good so. In the end, it’s not up to me (or anyone) to decide. You pick what you like, and leave the rest. Webspace is cheap, and code is patient, but if rubbish really becomes a problem, I’ll look into a possibility to sort stuff by rating.  I don’t think of it as “my” site, it’s a platform, it’s up to the users on how they, well, use it. That’s what I put the forum there. If someone thinks we need an extra category, or something, they can suggest it.

Speaking of suggestions, what about better clothes for men?

Vanish Tomorrow:  I see there’s such a lack of – well, anything! so I’m playing around with hair, clothes, and stuff, out of pure necessity. I’m really not made for that. I really really really would love to have just one clothing creator upload their stuff onto OpenSim Creations. They come by the thousands in SL, and there are so few in OpenSim. But honestly, men aren’t too worried about their appearances. If anything, I get requests for non-human avatars. Give men a generic shape and skin, and they’re fine mostly.

Pam Broviak and I disagree. The lack of decent clothes and shapes is a big deal for many men who don’t want to wander new worlds in prison tats and tee shirts inscribed with the grid logo all over it.
Pam Broviak: I am surprised no one seems to ask for clothing – would think that would be a much-needed item.  I know someone who tried OS, and I think he never came back because he hated going through the noob process. Well, a little more serious than clothing in his case.  This guy had trouble with his avatar and couldn’t change from a girl to a guy. I guess i can see how that would be disturbing.

Jokaydia Native Cider Jack has his own brand new site called  KJS and it offers another kind of free resource for all.

Cider Jack: No one is an island – or, no avatar is a region, as the case may be. We all need help sometimes. A person may be a programmer at heart and an absolute wizard with scripting, but doesn’t have the desire or the time to learn how to build effectively. It is a very rare individual who can master all disciplines.  KJS has just started with oars or at least empty regions, because it seems to be quite a gap in the market at the moment. Many OpenSim users (myself included) often want to just start building and planting their garden from the moment they initially acquire their new region, and this is a way to help people get started creating their vision more quickly. At this point, future plans for  KJS include offering more complex oar files with complete built environments, and  individual prim-based objects as well. I expect Kitely users to benefit from this too.

And before you turn your nose up at the prospect of a ‘freebie OAR’, bear in mind that The Far Away, AM Radio’s much visited sim in SL,  has been licensed as Creative Commons.

Vanish Tomorrow: I took the liberty to rip it from SL, and make it available to anyone who’d like it.  I actually posted that on my blog 9 months ago, just nobody noticed it at the time.

What’s the future of freebies? Among the dragons and chickens of his Jibe worldPathfinder Lester gave his verdict.

Pathfnder Lester: I think quality freebies for OS, distributed as import/export files on a website, is the way to go right now. Build awareness of your freebie products on the web,  get folks using them in OS,  then folks may be interested in buying things from you. The only thing worse than piracy is obscurity. Give away what you are comfortable giving away, and use that as a way to interest folks in things you want to *sell*.

Cider Jack: I’d love to see it continue as it has, with – I hate to say this – yet another Digital Rights Management tool in place. Something like a checkbox in the permissions of an asset that would read ‘This grid only’ which would be unchecked by default, allowing the next owner to take it off-grid either via hypergridding or by exporting to their local hard drive. And maybe some way to permanently affix the creator’s name (and possibly the name of the originating grid) & license to every object would be great as well, especially for those objects that do get taken off the original grid. I am not looking forward to the day of a universal metaverse-wide currency, although there is no doubt that day is coming. The advantages of the current freebie economy which allows everyone to share freely works in everyone’s favor and builds a strong community. JokaydiaGrid right now is an excellent example of that.

Twinity

It was homesickness, probably; I really only wanted to go and see Tower Bridge. The virtual world Twinity is famous for its precise reconstructions of  London, Berlin and so forth, and for the longest time I’ve been thinking it would be nice to walk the bridge. So in I went. And yes, yes, I know it’s still in Beta.

Obviously. It’s pretty,  their version of St Paul’s. Pretty, but not immersive. It’s very clean, too clean.

They pay you to go through the Twinizen  Tutorial (shouldn’t that be Twitizen? Oh, right, no. No.) You learn how to walk, run, see, speak to others, and shop, and you end up with a whopping 450 globals, enough to buy some more black hair (there’s a hair color option in Appearance but I couldn’t make it work), a dress and a couple of pairs of shoes. None of it would pass muster in the freebie store of an Open Sim grid, let alone in Second Life. You can’t fault them for choosing different keyboard shortcuts, but it’s all very awkward; no at-will TP to another space, no camming out to any distance worth mentioning, the volume controls are tucked out of sight, and you can’t drag the screen out to the size of your choice. You can’t inspect objects, or properly zoom in on them, and of course, you can’t build. At least, maybe you can, but if so, they have hidden the tools very thoroughly.

Well, not all the tools were hidden. Who could resist Deepak’s classic chat-up line, as he browsed the sex animation shop, and I browsed the (probably equally erotic) columns of the Brandenburg Gate. He asked me what an avie was, I found that odd.  I wonder what his 6 achievements are; they clearly don’t include finding the  ‘Hide my current location’ option in Settings. It’s also odd that you can’t change the sky without going deep into the innerds of the system to sync it with your RL location.

In Berlin there’s this quite almost interesting recreation of the Berlin Wall, but not really. Sepia is a nice touch, but it’s not enough.

Where were all the people? I saw a cluster in the Search feature and TP’d right over. It was a shop auction. I kept my hands to myself, and admired Twinity’s version of lag-induced slow rezzing. That’s quite cool; you’re a shadow of your former self.

Twinity is money-based, and so it’s back to 2007 and quizzes for cash. I wonder if they also have camping. Shoot me now. Just look at how much money you can get for answering a few trivia questions, one every 15 seconds or so! Bear in mind a pair of basic shoes is going to cost you 50 globals.

Shoes like these red ones. Totally uneditable; believe me, I tried, but the working mirror is a cool effect.

This is Singapore. I was just getting ready to look around when there was an incoming invite from Beefy. How could I say no.

Beefy turned out to be a guy in  black suit. It turned out to be a pool party. And me without my sequin bikini. Or sparkling wit. Volimkia “Dirty sex” reminds me of a painting. Or maybe it’s a photo from Belsen. Not sure. I decided not to join the Snake Mafia, and went to look for the sex anim shop instead.

Apparently sex in Twinity involves a lot of waving.

And some crying. Well, we’ve all been there, right?

I wandered around Central London, still trying to get to Tower Bridge, but it didn’t show up in Search, and I couldn’t TP there.

But on the whole, I’d stopped caring. Twinity (yeah yeah, Beta version,) has very precise architecture, but it’s like plastic fruit, photo-realistic, but fundamentally unsatisfying. Add to that a lot of bad radio, very greasy hair, some new-b friends you could probably do without, and lots of open windows obscuring the screen, and one’s left feeling oddly homesick. For Viewer 2.

Neogrid

This is Neo Cortex on his brand new grid. He makes really nice jewellery, by the way; his partner Aloe Cortex is one lucky lady. Well, Neogrid isn’t a grid, as such, just nine sims put together to make a base on the hypergrid ‘continent’ of HG 1.5. A base, a jumping off point to discover strange new worlds, and (even nicer) run into funny, interesting and kind new friends.

Neo Cortex

In previous posts we’ve talked about how there are two kinds of virtual worlds; in closed worlds like Second Life and InWorldz, you have to make an avatar specific for that grid. But there are the open sim worlds, where your avatar can go from one grid to another via portals called hypergates, often built to look like the Gate from, well, Star Gate. But – and this is a big but – not all these open sim grids run on the same system. They divide up roughly into 3 ‘continents’ or groups of grids operating on the same system, and you can’t travel from one continent to another, you need an avatar on each continent if you’re going to see the whole world. So for example, Pathfinder Lester can’t come over from his home grid Reaction Grid and break into my my kick-ass house in Craft and steal my rocking horse. Well, not without making a new avatar, anyway, because RG is on a different continent to Craft World. Also, I don’t think he is that into rocking horses. I could be wrong, though.

Vanish Seriath

I asked Vanish Seriath about the different continents and he said it works thusly: “Bellona is HG1.0, Veritas is HG 1.5 i6 and “other thingie (by which he meant Unxsia) is HG 1.5 i7”. The names were chosen by Hypergates.com’s Kidd Piko, but the whole hypergrid, they say, was developed by two people, Diva Canto and Melanie Millard, Melanie Thielker IRL, with help of course from… (catch-all phrase coming up) “lots of other people, you know who you are.” I’d always thought the whole thing grew like potatoes, in the dark and organically, but apparently not.

The freebie corner on Neogrid

Obviously, most of these little grids in Open Sim are private worlds,  they don’t have a website like SL, where just anyone can join and get an avie. So, to make it possible for Pathfinder’s Hypergridding Club to come to this continent, Neo Cortex set up a base. Much of it is built by Vanish Seriath, and Neo has set up a freebie corner. We all kind of lost out minds adding to it – everything is copyright free; I put two dresses in, as did Delenn Daines and Caledonia Heron. Pathfinder contributed a bunch of farmyard animals, a jade lion, a house, and a flying bicycle. Feel free to draw your own conclusions.

Neo Cortex: The idea for this place was born as an idea at a HGAC meeting. I tried some VPS (virtual private servers) first, but those are unreliable and slow. This one is a real one, dualcore, 2GB, located at a German provider. I have been in SL for quite a while, been a jeweler there, besides some other professions,  but this here is more like being a pioneer this is really “our imagination, our world”. I have been following the development of opensim nearly from the start. SL and open sim – each has its advantages and disadvantages. I am glad Philip had that vision, it was my start into this wonderful world, but I don’t want to pay a fortune, nor do I need any drama and both are easy to find in SL.

Gentle reader, you can imagine my stunned surprise at that revelation. For Neo, it’s about concrete collaboration, and respect for other’s right,s especially creative rights.

Neo Cortex: I love the “stonesoup” idea, ask someone for a kettle, someone for a bit water,  some fire… then add some vegetables… you get the point? I provided the stone, Vanish gave me a wonderful kettle, you add some vegetables…

So, today’s meeting of the hypergridding club was a historic occasion, and the future was on everyone’s mind. Accoding to Jeff Kelley, it’s all about version 0.7.1 , but everyone had their own priorities. Many, like El Sliven, want good open sim content for the avatar about town – shoes, hair, dresses, hair, hats and HAIR and other feel-good items, others are focused on protection across the grids, and coherent policies. Pathfinder expressed a great satisfaction in having a new base for exploration, and many voiced an interest in getting a really reliable and bang up to date mapping system for all the grids out there. Great work has been done by the likes of Pam Broviak at govgrid, Maria Korolov of hyperica and Kidd Piko of thehypergates.com but they’d probably be the first ones to admit it’s a huge task, and a constant one. So talk turned to some kind of wandering bot, keeping up with all the twists and turns of emerging and migrating grids. I said they should get something like Sasun Steinbeck’s ArtGalleriesOfSL. thing, which could be both a HUD and a website.

One thing is for certain – there’s no shortage of bright minds, enthusiasm, and good company, we’re got something good cooking here.

Lost

Sad news in Craft
Owing to a serious error during maintenance, the Craft Database has been damaged. The Grid will be restored to its status as of 23 December 2010. This means anyone who joined Craft after that date needs to sign up again. All inventories will revert to 23 December. Payments for whose who are renting land in Craft are suspended. Sims are being reviewed on a case by case basis, and wherever possible, the most recent version will be restored.
sigh my beloved chess clock; I didn’t even remember to take a photo of it before it went. Everyone’s shouting about backup in that stable-door-shutting way.
I lost a lot. But not the friends of Craft.