• 24Sep
    Gripes Comments Off

    I don’t often blog about political issues, but the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is just too despicable and infuriating for me to stay silent.

    The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1700-mile long pipeline that would carry diluted tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Texas. Tar sands (also called oil sands) are a mixture of sand and bitumen, a type of gooey petroleum that resembles tar. Tar sands can be processed into crude oil, and then refined into petroleum products like gasoline (aka. petrol), propane, and motor oil. TransCanada, the oil company who wants to build the pipeline, plans to process the tar sand in Houson, Texas, and from there will likely ship the product overseas. This plan would be extremely lucrative for TransCanada, but devastating to the US and global environments.

    Continue reading »

  • 17Aug

    Last month, Google rolled out its new “Google+” social networking platform, and it enjoyed an enthusiastic reception among metaverse residents, tech bloggers, and others. Google+’s “Circles” feature, which gives you more fine-grained control over who you share with, seemed to be an indication that Google+ would be more privacy-conscious than its established competitor, Facebook.

    Unfortunately, the appeal of Google+ quickly wore off, as it became apparent that Google was suspending accounts judged to be using a pseudonym or other “not real” name. The first highly-visible case among the Second Life crowd was Opensource Obscure being suspended, but hundreds more Second Life users were suspended within a week. And it wasn’t just Second Life residents: pseudonymous accounts of all types were being suspended en masse, along with accounts representing companies and organizations. Official statements from Google employees confirmed that Google+ users are required to use what Google calls “common names” or “real names”.

    Continue reading »

  • 13Dec

    Every once in a while, some Second Life drama will erupt about a “client detection system” (CDS), a scripted product that supposedly protects your store from content rippers (aka “content thieves”) by banning users of untrusted viewer programs. There was such an episode last week, with a certain store using a certain CDS that wrongly banned a legitimate customer using a legitimate viewer. I won’t bother mentioning the name of the store or the CDS, because this post isn’t about that specific incident. This post is about every CDS, every store, and every viewer.

    (Full disclosure: the viewer in that particular case was the Imprudence Experimental, which I am involved with. But, users of other viewers have been wrongfully banned by similar systems in the past.)

    Simply put, a CDS does not provide any significant protection against content rippers. It is snake oil: a product created to commercially exploit store owners’ fear. If you have a CDS set up in your shop, you aren’t protecting your content, you’re just paying someone to invade your customers’ privacy, drive away legitimate customers, and blemish your reputation.

    Most people don’t understand how a CDS works, but believe that it might actually be able to stop content rippers. The purpose of this post is to explain how they function, why they are ineffective, and furthermore why they are harmful to your customers and bad for your business.

    Continue reading »

  • 23Apr

    Yesterday, April 22, was my fourth rezday. It was four years ago yesterday that I logged in to Second Life for the first time, and the persona of Jacek Antonelli was born.

    Yesterday was also the last rezday I’ll be celebrating in Second Life. A recent culmination of circumstances has pushed me away from Second Life, and triggered my migration to OpenSim. I’ll be wrapping up my affairs over the next month, then putting my Second Life account on the shelf. By this time next year, I expect SL to be mostly irrelevant to my day-to-day life.

    Continue reading »

  • 17Sep

    The SL fashion world has spawned a bizarre and mysterious type of device known as the anti-inspect shield. The primary purpose of these devices is to deter other people from checking the names and creators of attachments you are wearing, so that they can’t go and buy the same things you did and copy your “style”. The shields accomplish this by surrounding your avatar in many layers of transparent prims, so that other people can’t right click and Inspect your other attachments — their click will hit the shield instead.

    Anti-inspect shields are a contentious issue for many reasons. Not the least of these is that it deprives designers of the new customers they could have gained from people seeing and admiring your outfit, and finding out who made it. But just as bad is that they severely reduce your framerate and the framerate of everyone around you, as Gabby Panacek has demonstrated.

    Hurting the creators of the items you love, and slashing everyone’s framerates in the process? Well, that’s pretty vain and selfish, but maybe it’s worth it to stop “copycats” from stealing your style? Perhaps it would be, if the shields actually stopped people from inspecting your attachments — but they don’t.

    In fact, there’s an extremely quick and easy way to completely bypass the shields, and you don’t even have to fiddle around trying to get the right camera angle. All it takes is 3 easy steps, which I’ll demonstrate with Caer Balogh’s lovely brown paper bag “Advanced Fashion Shield 1.0″, which Gabby kindly passed on to me. It’s just as useless as the real shields at stopping people from inspecting, but doesn’t hurt your framerate, and is way more stylish.

    Bypass Anti-Inspect Shield in 3 Easy Steps

    1. Enable Advanced > Rendering > Hide Selected. (Use Ctrl-Alt-Shift-D to turn on the Advanced menu if you need to.)
    2. Open Edit mode (Ctrl-3) and click on the shield to select it. It will disappear from your view (except for its outline). If the person is wearing multiple shields, you can hold Shift and continue to click them until you have selected (and thus hidden) them all.
    3. Click on the attachment you want to inspect.

    Even the biggest, primmiest, laggiest shield, whether scripted or unscripted, sculpty or nonsculpty, can be bypassed in just a few clicks using this method.

    So if you have a shield, please, take it off. All you’re doing is making SL less enjoyable for yourself and everyone around you.

  • 21May

    I’ve counted Dusan Writer as a friend (or at least a friendly acquaintance) ever since I met him in the course of his UI design contest a year ago. He’s an interesting personality, and generally an intelligent fellow and a thoughtful writer.

    So, it’s with some disappointment that I read Dusan’s recent post on Second Life’s permission system. His post is prompted by the progress of VWR-8049, a proposal to allow users to choose the default permissions for new objects that they create.

    Dusan comes out strongly against it, and although I’m firmly in favor of it, that’s not the disappointing thing; I don’t mind people disagreeing with me. What disappoints me is that Dusan has bought into the baseless FUD that certain individuals have piled onto the issue.

    Alas, not only does Dusan believe the FUD and let it color his entire analysis of the feature, but he also regurgitates it in a most unsavory and uncharacteristic manner, littered with baseless attacks, ranting nonsequiturs, and flawed thinking. I’m usually content to let this sort of thing lie, but it boggles my mind that FUD of this sort could spread when it has so many holes in it.

    Continue reading »

  • 18Jun

    I received an interesting comment from someone last night. He said that his first impression of me, from reading this blog, was that I was an “angry SL pessimist”. You know the type: no matter what happens in SL, they’ll bitch and moan about it.

    Thankfully, he said that further reading had improved his impression, and I explained to him that the reason many of my posts are critical of LL, is because the things that get me riled up enough to write about are often things LL has done which I strongly disagree with. So, my blog only reflects the extremes; the other stuff doesn’t get blogged.

    In an interesting and related occurance, my friend Goldie Katsu tweeted a link to an article by Louis Gray, The Five Stages of Early Adopter Behavior. (You might want to go read it now, or at least skim the bold headings.)

    Continue reading »

  • 11Jun

    I hate to say it, but SL5B (Second Life’s 5th Anniversary) looks to be a bust. (I was going to use a different word there, starting with an F and ending with a D, but decided to refrain, in the interest of good taste.) Continue reading »


  • 01Jun

    I don’t envy Linden Lab’s situation. Try to dodge the self-serving politicians and reporters nipping at your heels, and the Residents bring out the pitchforks and torches. It’s an impossible job, so it’s no wonder they’re doing so poorly at it. I’d have plenty of sympathy for Linden Lab. I really would.

    Except that they put themselves in this situation.

    Second Life is under external pressure because of a number of misconceptions (some more misconceived than others) that exist among the general public — the misconceptions perpetuated by the commercial media because they sell well: Sex. Weird sex! Lots of weird, kinky sex online! And kids?! What’s going on in this sick, perverted online haven of creeps and pedophiles?! Read all about it! Throw in a few politicians eager to prove that they’re “thinking of the children” on an election year, and you’ve got a lot of (self-)important people with a professional interest in painting an exaggerated, sordid picture of Second Life.

    The natural alliance here would be between Linden Lab and the Residents, based on the common interest in making sure Second Life survives, against the external forces that threaten it. Linden and the Resident, hand in hand, making a better, freer world, in the face of opposition. A beautiful image, no?

    Would that it were so. But Linden Lab, it seems, doesn’t want its Residents anymore. It doesn’t want a free, open, creative world. It wants a sanitized, media-friendly world, that universities and big corps won’t think twice about making major investments in. LL’s message for Residents now is: Thanks for making us so popular, but go away now. You’re embarrassing us in front of the cool kids.

    Continue reading »

  • 30May

    Just when the trademark issue started to fade away from public consciousness, Linden Lab has provided us with an even bigger fish. Continuing Linden Lab’s campaign to strangle your inner child, it seems from all evidence that Dusty, Everett, and/or other Lindens are stepping in and barring the SL Kids community from participating in, and possibly even attending, Second Life’s 5th Birthday celebration.

    For the uninitiated, the SL Kids are RL adults who express their inner child in Second Life, donning a child-like avatar, laughing, playing, and letting the worries and cares of adult life slip away.

    For some reason, some people find it disturbing that a grown adult might find it enjoyable to relive their childhood. Even more strangely, many of the people who decry child-like play have no objection to adults (or even actual children) pretending to shoot each other, chop each others’ heads off, run each other over, or any of the other themes that are so prevalent in video games and movies these days.

    Rampant violence? That’s fine. Hopscotch? My god, we have to put a stop to that!

    Continue reading »

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