Wednesday, 31 December 2008

I blog, you blog, they all blog

I've had private diaries with ancient instruments called 'pen and paper'. I've had a private blog and a 'friends only' blog. And now here I am waffling about SL because - in a nutshell, I like writing things down.

Lately, I've been doing a little othinking about 'types of bloggers', so here's a few thoughts.

Newbie (or just incompetent) blogger: full of enthusiasm and exclamation marks. Blurry pictures (often too big or too numerous). Links, what links? Possibly grammar- and spelling-challenged. Tends to come and go fairly quickly, although some get into their stride.

Competent blogger: great pictures, links in the right places. Interesting stuff to blog about. Doesn't lapse into hysteria. Is blogging for fun or to sell stuff.

Attention-getting blogger type A: controversial, often not too worried about facts. Attacks everything and everybody. Has a whole lot of time on his/her hands. Usually lacks humour. Sweeping, gratuitous hate that is so outrageous that it nevertheless sucks people in. Responds to comments by more vitriol.

Attention-getting blogger type B: can be controversial, but does his/her homework. Usually has a sense of humour. Innovative rather than dredging up the same old, same old. Takes time to actually respond to comments without resorting to vulgarity or counter-attacks.

Boring blogger: waffles about not much. Scroll-worthy. May have issues like incapacity to split a post into paragraphs, or to include useful things like verbs. May just be plain old boring despite being able to spell and punctuate, but if they're having fun, then so what. Let 'em blog.

And of course you get mixes: like the grammar- and photo-challenged yet far-from-boring newbie stuff, or beautifully written yet totally boring treatises on issues that have been done to death.

Me? Ermmm... probably boring.

OK, OK, definitely boring.

But of course I want to waffle and subject the world to my amazing insights or I wouldn't be blogging, right?

But I'm quite contented to make people exercise their scrolling fingers as long as I can kid myself that I might sell something one day thanks to using my blog as an amazing marketing tool (must take photos) or that I might make somebody (all one of you) laugh. Also, blogging delays that thing called making a living rather nicely at times. Like now.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Dear Ari

Dear Ari, how do I split up in SL?
Desolate Heartbroken Avatar

Dear DHA,

There are various alternatives, but it boils down to just two:

a) Say goodbye. Close or slam virtual doors, whichever is best for you. Mute if it helps. Block msn if appropriate. Move sims if necessary (and if you get a new place, examine banning possibilities).
Demolish things if it makes you feel better (but take copies, OK?). Buy a new dress / gizmo. Dress up, go out. Meet people. Cry in private rather than tell entire friends list. (Note: Whingers get irritating after a while)

Advantages: Shorter. Initially painful but ultimately can be satisfying.
Disadvantages: Moving can mean you lose things / money, but your real friends will still be on your list and are just a TP away.

b) Say goodbye. Then exchange dozens of notecards, offline IMs.
Mute, unmute, remove from friends list and add again. Have endless tearful online discussions about 'why'. Rehash every discussion endlessly with friends list (including vague acquaintances). Demolish things, but then rebuild them (but you forgot to take copies as you were crying and discussing). Mope around in same clothes. Haunt certain places. Rinse and repeat the IMs, discussions until... whenever

Advantages: OK, maybe it leaves the door slightly ajar. But not many ex-lovers are easily turned into 'friends'.
Oh, and could save you money on new clothes / gizmos / land / rent at least for a while.
Disadvantages: Tiring (for you and friends list). Painful for longer. Much, much longer.

Best of luck, Desolate Hearbroken Avatar. And believe me, you are not the first (or the last).


(and why yes, I'm busily scouring OnRez for a nice new dress, why do you ask?)

Sunday, 21 December 2008

How to be an SL snob

I admit it - I am a snob. So shoot me. Well actually please don't as I have a lot of meals to cook for the family over the next few days.

Or maybe shooting me would be kinder because (so help me) I am not a great fan of this time of year. Tradition is nice. But it would be nicer if somebody else did the cooking. Or the decorating, the present-buying, the wrapping, and finding the decorations I packed away with glee and unseemly haste last year.


Pet elitist grumbles of the week:

- Please don't call me hunny. It is guaranteed to make me scrabble for the mute button.
- Please don't talk to me in SMS-speak or netspeak or whatever you call it. Why is it so hard to type 'you' instead of 'u' or 'before' instead of 'B4'? Please explain. With punctuation.
- If I have declined your group once, there is little chance I'm going to join it on your second, third, fourth or fifth request. My fault for forgetting the 'mute', I know.
- Please don't ask me to admire anything with bling. I can't. But I can give you the scrubber script if you like.
- Glow is often showy. Too showy. Think of figures starting with a zero. Like 0.05. And if you plant something glowy on your land, like a 40-foot glowy... something (usually so glowy you can't see what it is), then you should be shot. Good way of making sure all nearby parcels remain unsold, however.
- Think carefully about compulsive freebie hunting. Group gifts are nice... when they are nice (and some really are). But really... is it worth the trying-on, the eye-rolling and the inventory-sorting, braving the blingy fray, only to find a miniature... whatever filled with what turns out to be a pair of lime-green hooker boots or Yet Another Pie Frill Skirt? No, it is not. Go mad. Invest ten Real Life Dollars. Or at the very least get rid of the sense of entitlement.
- And for that matter, stop camping. Go without a coffee or beer or something and spend the time finding some designers worth their salt.
- Or spend that time studying your slide bars (unless you really, really want boobs you can eat your breakfast off).

Back to the kitchen. Not that I'm grumpy or anything :)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

No, I am not going to 'check this out'.

Am I the only person who wants to wrestle that gizmo called a blog hud out of people's little mitts and trample on it?

Yes, I know I can scroll. I have a fast scrolling finger. I just don't want to scroll through the 'check this outs' with pictures of pretty disco lights or whatever ten times a day just to find anything with any content before it gets pushed off the page.

And why yes, I'm grumpy.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Baubles and mustn't miss the train


and mod


tiny, tiny


There's a free no-copy standing candle in my subscribo-whatsits.

Also baubles and pretty swags and wreaths and light strings (also for silly prices and copy /mod). And the cutest line of penguins ever. And if I could find the snapshot showing that stuff I would be happy. Sadly, trains don't wait for me to find an SL photo. Back tomorrow night.

Go buy them. Please?

Friday, 5 December 2008

Back to the drawing board

Scripting to me, is one of those love-hate relationships.

Hate, because I don't do maths (US translation = math) but worst of all I have a problem with anything 'spatial'. Me on skis - bad news. I can't even follow dance steps unless I'm facing the same way as the teacher.

So, getting a pair of double doors to open inwards, together - well, think 3 days of SL time. But, in the end it worked. Joy, rapture! Much, much was learned about rotation. PIs and axes and path cuts and non-controlling... well, lots of things.

The scripts I actually bought, which said 'right in, left out' etc. seemed perfect for a dope like me but in fact were useless because a) they didn't work (and I know why now.... sort of: it's all about that little minus sign and get rot and get pos, yadda yadda) and b) they were no-mod. Hmph. I really really need a tame scripter. And an SL millionaire but that's another topic.

So it was onto the 'let's modify the freebie ones', and as I said, joy. Opening doors, sliding doors... truly a Major Step for Avatar Me. That's when I really LOVE scripts.
Is it pathetic when seeing a successful compile is nearly as good as yet another pair of virtual stilettos or Slow Dance No. 7?
Yes, thought so.

Equipped with this amazing skill, I linked doors to my brand new build (the fruit of... a lot of SL time), and that worked too. So did the rezzer. More joy. Must put it sale and on SLExchange with link to my place so people can see it rezzed and I can become rich and famous and do lots of other colours and versions and get even richer and...yeah.
A girl can dream. If I actually cover my tier one of these months (cue violins...)... The house looks cute in sand, or ochre, or old rose, though. Must go do that. Except...
Clearly somewhat too pleased with myself, I made the cutest trunk with an opening lid for a little R&R after the bigger stuff. Did the bit I enjoy (much fiddling with textures and tapering and more fiddling with textures), redid the axes of one of the other freebie scripts and... it worked! Wow. More megalomaniac dreams of conquering SL with trunks that open and close (along with the zillion that no doubt already exist but again, a girl can dream).
Rezzed another. Turned it a little...

Ooops. Backflips and various other fun effects. More work on the scripts needed. Something about a local position not just a 'get position'. Too tired to care last night, so back to the drawing board today.

Friday, 28 November 2008

The art of apologising

Scroll fast if necessary. This is something of an 'all about poor little me' post.

I'm supposed to be a writer / editor (of boring, non-fiction, serious things). It tends to mean I rant about punctuation and spelling... and then mis-spell 'grammar' in my profile. It also means I type fast, which is a little like opening mouth before putting brain into gear. When will SL offer us a 'cancel that last post' button?

The above also means I need to apologise occasionally.

OK, often.

Apologising is an art, whether in SL or RL. It's also hard, particularly if you think that the fault lies at least partly with the other side. Making something sound sincere isn't easy, whether you're typing or in voice.

The head honcho of an organisation I work for once apologised to a roomful of people for screwing up on something. I was stunned, and impressed. Not the sort of thing you hear often at that level. He just said, quietly 'I can only say I was wrong, and I'm sorry. I'll do everything I can to put it right'. And he didn't have to do it - it would have been so easy to let other people carry the can.

I've had a particularly awful SL week, as in lost my main source of SL income (long story, you don't need the details), left my SL 'home' land (sentimentally hard, financially sensible), yelled at people (some didn't deserve it, some did). Got rapped on the knuckles by somebody I respect (deservedly) for taking out my crankiness on the first person to cross my path. Oh, and I put up a new store that later vanished from the sim and didn't reappear in lost and found. And yes thanks, I do know about group tags and autoreturn.

All that, however, is not an excuse for yelling and ranting at people who didn't deserve it. Arguably, that was better than demolishing a sim, and believe me, I came close. But friendships are more important than virtual buildings, so maybe a little virtual rubble...

Or no, it would have been better to take a deep breath, and let it pass. But it's not always that easy.

Fortunately, those in question accepted apologies, so despite being a little battered and tempted to do the the whole 'I'm leaving' thing, I won't. Flouncing doesn't exactly help much, right? Besides, somebody gave me gift vouchers to feed my inner Barbie and my texture obsession, which gave me the warm fuzzies, big time.

Again, apologising is hard. And doing it showily can be pretty tacky too, so my apologies (hah!) for that and for the dirty laundry stuff - but my point is that saying 'sorry' and meaning it is a good, good thing.

Accepting that 'sorry' is pretty nice, too. So thanks.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Grumpy Monday wish list

If I had my way, there would be:

- NO price increase for premium members sneaked in on us on some sort of dodgy pretext such as 'you're not using it how we wanted', after being granted some sort of 'perks' (and heaven knows what those perks will be, if anything). Besides, it's all possibly an effort to cheer us poor Premium mortals up after being described as 'immaterial' by a certain M.
I can't help being suspicious of these little treats we're offered these days. Can't imagine why.

- NO Christmas decorations, red dresses with fur on, or twinkling reindeer allowed on SL before mid-December. Really. Or Easter bunnies in February or pumpkins in early September. 'Seasonal', fine. Skating is fun. Commercial overkill, nope.

- NO more freebie hunts offering crappy stuff (and for 'crappy', see earlier rant on 'quality') being advertised all over the grid. Oh, and no idiots advertising BiaB crap on any update groups they can get into. And yes I know all treature hunts aren't for crap. But some are, and it's hitting people who actually work on creating not-crap.

- NO doctored posters in dress stores or on SLexchange (or whatever it's called now, and why did they change the name?). Exquisite does NOT describe a flexi-skirt that moves like a truck with bits of balsa wood showing on the bottom hem, either. Guh.

- NO profiteers. I've finished my 'give what you can' experiment, mainly because of one lady who could feasibly furnish a sim full of rentals with all she took, over and over. And over. And over. Shame for people who did kindly drop a few Lindens into the jar, but - I'm grumpy. So there.

- NO more camping for money.Tried it, thought it was stupid. I don't have problems with camping for items, please note, but I don't see the point in sitting on a chair for hours and hours to earn a dollar. How much is a coffee at Starbucks these days?

- NO bots. I can see the point of smaller areas using them to try and keep up with the big guys and their bot farms, but I still hate them. Particularly when a region gets clogged because of them.

(gosh, I keep this up for ever... but better not)

It's a wish list, OK? Personal one. And it is Monday and I am grumpy.

May get back to attempts to promote my stuff later, while wishing I had a virtual Uzi to shoot a virtual, twinkly reindeer or two.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Fashionistas, decoristas and obligatory plug

I watch the fashion feeds like any self-respecting SL Barbie. The accompanying drama is fascinating at times (and anyone who never ever found themself watching a drama of any kind and - even mentally - took sides or even felt like jumping on the bandwagon in some way, please throw the first stone).

So, anyway.

There's one designer I often see posting who has a really superb blog (no names, sorry, this is an example, not an excuse for an outcry). She's witty, dynamic and boy, does she get her stuff out there. I wouldn't buy it for all the rice in China, but I admire her and people like that. People with energy, who make their places buzz are - to me - more what makes SL fun than the most beautiful sim that is either empty or full of 'big names'.

Speaking of big names, of course there are some who 'market' by significant financial means, such as putting in lots of money for all kinds of advertising, smart buildings or sims (and why yes, of course I'm jealous). But if you have decent quality stuff that has a target audience, and a superb build plus and the surrounding publicity and exposure via blogs, etc., then you may well get a return on what you put in.

And yes, of course some people get their sims and fame by producing a damned good product that simply shines out above the rest. Somebody discovers it, and the crowds flock in. More power to them!

Then there are those who get it all wrong. Perhaps their bad, bad English, unfortunate ways of making a point, and a somewhat inflated opinion of their own talents will find its way into the 'news' - and this leads them into the fashionista war zone.

You can say 'no publicity is bad publicity', but I'm not so sure about that in some cases.

Those who feel sorry for such people always say 'but it's not their native language' (while others will suggest they go use the damned spell checker or find a friend who'll check it). Or 'but we all started somewhere' (the others will suggested that it's better to know the basics before telling the world how great you are are).

Those who are targeted can react in dignified silence, or outrage: "My customers love me", or fight back by hurling insults (more drama ensues, often involving banning a few people). I'm sure the temptation to yell and scream is huge, particularly when the pointing and mocking gets vicious. And boy, does it get vicious. There's no better bandwagon for some people to jump on if you can hide behind anonymity and lash out - through jealousy, boredom, or whatever. This, I guess, is human nature.

And what, might you ask, is the point to this post?

Sorry folks, none. Just a few observations. Makes me rather glad I make decor and stuff, actually. Or is there a decorista network I'm gloriously unaware of that fights over a the finer points of a well-finished couch?

Which, of course, leads me to the obligatory plug. I'm gradually revamping Vent du Sud with lots of new stuff, even though parts of it are at the 'under construction' phase. And dang I need to take photographs and box stuff and all that but I'm waffling here instead. Go check out the patio set with lots of built-in and couples poses and colour change cushions and stuff. I'm rather pleased with it (says she with total lack of modesty).

Mention the blog to me in an IM or notecard, and I'll give you da works (couch, chair, table, parasol, candle) for a silly price (depending on how flattering you are). New attempt at my own marketing!

Friday, 14 November 2008

The joys of posting to the wrong blog

My most humble apologies - just that I'm a newish blogger and thought I was posting to the Book Island blog.

Waffle intended for that group now edited out.

If you've never been there, go check it out. Great place!

Mix 'n match

Really enjoyed reading most of these, and got to know some blogs I wasn't familiar with, so it's all of the good.

Mind, in a moment of egoism, and despite having linked to where my own offering was posted, I decided to put it here as well.

RL and SL: Separated at birth or art imitating life?

The temptation here is to talk about the title as much as the issues. You have been warned.

For the first half of the question, after mature reflection over the first coffee of the day, I'd say that SL and RL can be to some extent separated at birth if you prefer, but most of the time I think there is some kind of blend. No two people are ever going to have the same 'blend' either.

So I'm starting with the 'yes and no' answers already. Second coffee needed.

Of course, you get those who claim 'I never ever see SL as more than just a game and I'm not involved in it' and those who let it - little by little or in huge leaps and bounds - take hold of their RL. It can be an addiction that ruins families, or solace for those alone and needing contact, not forgetting the attraction of the whole Barbie aspect (let it be said, SL shoes are a topic in themselves), or a case of hot cybersex, drama, rinse and repeat - and a lot more things besides.

Again, no two personal situations are alike. No two experiences of SL will be alike. Some people don't even care about SL shoes, can you imagine?

It's a statistical fact that the vast majority of those who download SL don't stay around. Some get as far as grabbing the freebies, hopping on a pose ball or three, and flying around a few sims, and then their enthusiasm fades as fast as it started. Been there, done that sort of thing with World of Warcraft. No, we won't go there, promise. A lot of those people will be inclined towards the 'separated at birth' approach, but then some experienced poseball-hoppers still claim they're totally detached from it all.

Me? I tend to think anybody who tries out SL will daydream a little even if their experience is fleeting. Could that bling-wearing, hooker-shoed poseball partner be Ms Perfect or a great person to get to know? Could it be fun to construct your own dream world / space station / whatever if you had the time or the skills? What if you just took a prim and played with the edit commands? What if you camped for a while or even put payment information on file and headed for a shoe shop (obsessed, me?) or rented a place to place your poseballs?

It's just those daydreams, which can turn into more involvement with SL or not, that mean that you can never be completely detached from it. Cliché time, but behind the pixels is a human being, and a human being has an imagination. So can you really say 'I am not my avatar'. I don't think so.

So my more detailed answer to the 'separated at birth' aspect would be a firm 'it depends' or more like a 'not really'.

Next, does this almost-no to the first part of the title mean that, given the 'either-or' structure, must SL therefore be a more a case of art imitating life?

See, I said I had a problem with the title. But onwards.

First, is SL art? Well, looking at some latex-clad bimbos, fresh-out-of-Photoshop-101-clothes or badly-textured freebie prefabs, this is a questionable at times. But then I'm a snob and I could write on the difference between quality and personal preference forever (and have, but that was in another blog far, far away, before I discovered SL shoes and the joys of texturing).

OK, to cut this short, SL can indeed be art, and there's always some element of creativity involved, whether it's choosing your newbie avatar or creating an entire world from little blocks of virtual plywood. Dammit, you only have to visit some absolutely stunning sims or those amazing little designer shops like Vent du Sud (and why of course this is a plug. Live with it. Look at the pretty picture).

Vent du Sud

So is SL a case of art always imitating life or is there another 'yes and no' answer coming up.

Dead right there is.

See, SL is a 'virtual world' so it's based on, y'know, our 'real' world. We don't have a whole lot else to use as inspiration, right? And it's still based on our world if you get into role-playing. Whether you're a furry, Gor, or anorexic-looking fashionista, you've based it on something you've seen or imagined in RL.

And yet…

SL is also a case of art, or imagination, going way further than what you can do in RL. We can be architects without needing to worry about how to place a castle 500m in the air. We can fix the weather, we can dance without having two left feet, we can design a whole world from a keyboard. Well, if we can pay for a fast computer and preferably a Rather Expensive Bit of Server Space (had to get that one in too, sorry).

So, for the 'art imitating life' part of the title, I'd say a resounding 'yes but it's more than that'.

But the two parts of this title aren't mutually exclusive, and that is, in fact, my point (between references to shoes and my store).

You can keep your SL away from your RL, or not. In my opinion, it's hard to really separate them completely, as I said above, but there are those who keep it at a greater distance than others.

However whether or not you separate your two 'lives', SL is still pretty much a case of art (let's not get into 'what is art', OK?) imitating life.

Coffee over. And now it's time or me to go shoe-shopping and to twist a prim or three.

Argumentatively yours,

Ariadne Korda
SL builder, SL and RL shoe-lover.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Grammar: the rogue apostrophe.

I can't help it - I'm an RL editor and among various peeves there is one I keep seeing on blogs that makes me want to scream. So not wanting to upset RL man and assorted cats by such undignified behaviour... I am screaming in writing here.

It's = short form of it is (like he's instead of he is). "It's mine; it's sunny; it's infuriating"
Its = possessive form of 'it' (like 'his' is to 'he'). "Its contents; its colour, its shape."

Similarly, 'hot bikini's' makes me think 'hot bikini's what?'
You don't need the apostrophe.Really. And yes I do know that English isn't every blogger's native language, and I cut them a whole lot of slack. However, if you're a journalist-type blogger and do it all the damned time, then editor-type bloggers will... scream.

Going now. Yes I am a boring grammar person ;)

Mix n Match challenge

I took part in the 'Mix and Match' blog challenge, and am pleased to host Otenth Paderborn on the subject of 'True Mentoring'.
His blog:
Thanks to ArminasX Saiman and Vint Falken for the idea - looking forward to reading some of the entries
My own entry "RL or SL - separated at birth or art imitating life" should appear on today.

Again, thanks Otenth.

Photo: Otenth Paderborn and nox Pinion in one of her current builds.

True Mentoring
by Otenth Paderborn

In February 2007, while hanging out at my home in Pruni (this was before I left the mainland for more congenial climes), I got an IM from someone named nox Pinion.

The IM said something like, "Hello, can you help me?"I was feeling unusually mellow, so instead of replying "Who is this?" I asked what the problem was. (All the while checking nox's profile: Yep, a total noob.)

It seems nox was in an unsavory location and couldn't figure out how to get out. So I offered a TP, telling her that a blue window would pop up and that she should accept the teleport offer.

The avatar who appeared before me had already managed to modify her appearance from the hirajuku which was at the time one of the default avatars.

We began a conversation about how she was liking Second Life, and after a bit, she asked, "Do you know who I am?"It is truly funny that in a virtual world where we can be anything we wish to be, I took a moment to cam around and take a good look at nox.

Of course, the number of people who knew my name in Second Life was relatively small, and of those, even fewer were likely to be trying it out themselves. I guessed on my first try. nox was my first "RL" friend to come into Second Life.

True to her motivating spirit, nox had become bored with the Linden orientation islands and had teleported out in the faith that she could figure it out on her own.

And except for that early trouble with being unable to figure out how to leave a confusing location, nox's faith in herself has been justified.I gave nox the use of a room in my house, and introduced her to a few of my friends.

Within a short while, she was introducing me to some of her friends. And she certainly took to Second Life like a duck to water. But I think it probably made a significant difference to nox's experience of Second Life that I simply shared a bit of what I had: a place to call home in the virtual world, a modicum of privacy, and a modest number of unused prims.

About a year later, Radio Riel founder Gabrielle Riel was looking around for someone to create a float for the Caledon Mardi Gras parade. I got Gabi and nox in touch with one another, and thereby mentored nox in stretching her abilities!

nox had an ambitious vision of a float in the form of a large dress. Scripts! Vehicle prim limits! Animations! Not enough time! Heh. Did nox ever learn a lot out of that experience.

I'm glad to say that nox has only continued to learn and to stretch. Having rented land of her own for a while, nox is currently renting land from me in Orcadia, an island estate, where she has the main store for her business, Tea & Strychnine: Neo-Victorian, Gothic-revivial, steampunk, warped Alice-in-Wonderland furnishings, accessories and eccentricities.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Quality is subjective. And pigs can fly.

Look quick, it's the inevitable plug for Vent du Sud and of course is the most amazing patio set with colour change and lots of poses and, well, you get the drift. However, this is a rant about quality. Be warned.

You may read this rant before rushing to purchase the set, or vice-versa (joke. Almost). You may even criticise it, but you can actually sit on it - see rant below.

Sooooo... (pause to take deep, deep breath). This morning, I saw a statement on a blog - that shall be unnamed - which stated 'quality is totally subjective'.

No it is NOT. Really. It isn't. And it's my pet soapbox.

To start with, quality is usually shorthand for 'good quality'. If you see something called a 'quality item', one presumes it doesn't mean 'will fall apart and/or cause damage to your person'.

In SL, if you open a box that says 'stunningly gorgeous, detailed, high-quality gown' and get something that is basically a few badly-textured, non-mod, non-copy prims, then you've got dodgy quality. You might like the style, the colour, but if it doesn't fit / work then there are quality issues. Simple as that. So what if it's free or cheap so it 'doesn't matter'. It's a lack of respect for your consumer at best, and downright dishonest at worst.

Good (or acceptable) quality means, y'know, medicines that aren't counterfeits that can kill you. It means cars / computers / condoms that don't fall apart at the wrong time. It means instructions for something that are clear and readable. It means food that doesn't come with free salmonella. It means that a sit pose permits you to sit rather than forces you to do a triple backflip. Just examples offhand.

You may like certain aspects of something and get frustrated when others criticise them, but that has nothing - absolutely nothing - to do with the basic criteria of 'do they perform the purpose for which they were intended', i.e. is their quality at least satisfactory.

Sure, it's great to encourage 'new designers'. A pat on the back never hurt anybody and maybe that idea, that colour is great. But have the sense, dammit, not to get spluttery and hurt if you (or your very bestest friend)are putting something out for grabs that is shoddy and people dare to say so.

Either wait until you (or the friend) master the skills to create something that at least fulfils that 'basic purpose', or expect those who acquire that item to react as consumers do: by remaining silent but never coming back, by hurling abuse (not pleasant, but human nature), or by offering constructive criticism. Yes, it can hurt if that criticism is public, but you've put your product out for the public, so live with that.

OK, stepping down from the soapbox now. Really.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

SL burglars

Edit to add: Apology sent and accepted. Nice to know that this can happen!
OK, I only have myself to blame for this, but here is an example of behaviour that makes me shake my head.

Our community is moving sim. So, we took advantage to redecorate / refurnish our residents' apartments. Let me add that the apartments aren't accessible to the public - only people who know how to use their cam could get in there. And they take some finding, too.

And... in they came: a couple who have been on SL since early 2007. They saw an apartment, furnished.

Clearly, they liked what they saw.

See, I'd set everything in there for sale at zero Linden, for the tenant to 'buy' - he's had the hassle of moving and had bought the furniture in the old place, so it seemed reasonable. But he hadn't got around to 'buying' it before our burglars came along.

Sooooooo our delightful couple roll up. Click, buy, take, and off they went. She clicks, he clicks, she clicks again. Except I looked at my transaction history this morning and noticed their 'purchases', and realised what they'd been up to (and that they were a couple). And sure enough, my tenant's apartment was missing the main furniture. Didn't like the rug, drapes, lamps or coffee table, guys?

I don't even care about the money, but I DO care about the principle. And any kind of 'oh it was a mistake' excuse... forget it. You knew perfectly well what you were doing. So, congratulations on your free furniture and your camming skills.

Again, it was my mistake for not standing over the tenant while he 'bought' the furniture in situ, but maybe I didn't count on the 'something for nothing brigade'. Actually, I can almost understand newbies doing it, but you are not newbies.

Sure, nothing on SL is really private, but maybe I'm an idealist. Considering the apartments are so obviously NOT for public visits, I'm really disgusted. If they'd taken a copy, then it's still cheeky, but to take the original? How would YOU feel if you returned home to find stuff missing?

Guys, you are a perfect example of the worst side of SL.

Oh, and by the way? The bed hasn't been properly set yet. Please don't ask for after-sales service, OK?

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Sales, what sales?

OK, this time the lament of the vendor who isn't vending (but is venting instead).

I am trying to convince myself that sales are down because it's hot, it's summer, the European football (that would be soccer to you lot across the pond) was on, the general economic decline, SL borking... any excuse, really.

Of course, the fact that I'm not doing any real advertising for anything but Venice-related stuff isn't helping (well, until this particular shameless plug, of course).

I also wish I had the budget to advertise in the SL-glossies or hire a live musician or generally the time to organize a sale or some sort of amazing event. (OK, I also wish there would be world peace and I could get a decent burrito in the more bucolic bit of southern France: both of which are possibly more likely than me becoming a SLebrity or, y'know, selling enough to pay the rent.)

Do I stamp my foot and say 'not fair'? Gosh, it's tempting. Wouldn't help a lot, would it? Even if it is frustrating that the business-in-a-box lot manage to sell ripoffs that are often clunky and.... OK. I'll stop there.
There is also the possibility, of course, that my stuff is crap. I tend to think it ain't but this could be pride talking.

Sure, there's always somebody that does things better. And there are plenty of utterly superb designers and builders around on SL. I accept that. Sometimes I want to quit, but then I gaze lovingly at my stores, my colour schemes, my textures and grit my teeth (yes, yes, I did say SL was bad for teeth), and hope that next month will be better. And then I put a few more Lindens into my account pending a millionnaire (even a Linden one) saving my from RL husband's continuing mumbles about 'aren't you supposed to be making money with this weird thing?'

Now, of course, awaiting a mass stampede at Vent du Sud.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Running a place or renting a place: some ideas

5 things that help make a good community (for those running one) - this from experience. I don't claim to know it all, and frequently get it wrong, but hey...
  • be around, available, flexible, smiling (and know how to grit your teeth and still smile when vendors /residents are having a bad day / week and need somebody to take it out on). Know when a free week or a price reduction or simply a virtual shoulder to lean on might help.
  • use the SL events calendar, blogs, and word of mouth to promote the place. Do events that involve everybody - vendors and residents if applicable (even if it's like herding cats) and get used to the fact that somebody won't be around / join in, and somebody will find fault with it. Some might even say 'thanks', which is... nice.
  • make it clear what the policies of the place are are: creators only, no particles, no hover text, strict prim limits... whatever floats your boat as owners. Then everybody knows where they stand. And treat everybody alike (except when needs must and a little exception to the rule is called for). Favouritism tends to lead to major strife.
  • Staying power. There will be times when the temptation to click on 'abandon land' and run for the hills / bring out an alt is so, so strong. But eventually it will all seem less dramatic. Really. Well... mostly. But think of that great new vendor who said 'thanks' last week, plan something, and grit teeth. Note: running communities is hard on teeth.
  • A sense of humour. It's absolutely essential for those moment when somebody shoots an essential item into the next sim and they haven't got auto-return on and the owner is AWOL, or installs 4 x 69-prim chairs into a 70-prim apartment, or accidently rezzes a 30-foot high particle flower in their neighbour's bedroom at a less than perfect moment. Few things in SL can't be repaired (except good relations with your vendors if they have reason to be angry).

And now, 5 little pieces of advice for those renting space in your utterly amazing community. To be taken with a sense of humour, please.

  • The owners may not, actually, be extremely rich and here to rip you off. Some of them may have been through months of deficit before breaking even, but they believed in the place and are trying to offer reasonable rents and good service. So look at the pretty public areas, the stuff put in to make it nice. Think about the events that aim to get vendors involved: do you make the effort or do you just think paying the rent means 'they should do their job'?
  • Putting the place in your picks, hanging out there now and then (even if it isn't your main store), all help.
  • How about organizing an event of your own? Most owners will help out: spread the world, advertise on blogs, etc. Sales, promotions, whatever. If you don't ask, then we can't guess you want something.
  • If you're not selling, then sure - the place might not be right for you. But is it all about the place? Are you actually not doing something: renewing your stock, highlighting new items, redoing your displays, advertising? If you have a few bad weeks, then is it a case of 'all is lost' or can you do something about it? Is it worth packing up and heading out? Maybe, yes, but maybe no. Talk to the owners - preferably without turning it into an attack. We have eject buttons, much as most of us hesitate to use them. But sometimes we can also help.
  • And last but not least: do you ever talk to other vendors there about synergies? About getting together on an event, a promotion? If you make clothes, how about doing a 'clothes and shoes' deal? If you make furniture, provide it to other vendors in return for advertising your stuff. Even if you have competitors in the same field, do a 'community fashion week' with a joint logo and make it a party!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Customer service.... or not

OK, small rant.

I understand the hassle of idiot customers who click on the wrong thing, or click twice. I understand the frustration of SL and the ongoing fun with asset servers.

But I don't understand the attitude of some 'famous' SL designers.

I'm polite. I am not a fashionista (but I am a builder... small plug for my lighthouse which is for sale but not got it boxed yet... but it's low-prim and cute. If anybody wants one, ask and I'll give it to you for a stupid price).

Anyway, back to customer service.
See, the customer is always right. Even if they're not, but a completely blurry prim skirt that looks nothing like the picture is... not a great advertisement.
And y'know, owners and creators who treat you like you're an idiot don't help. "It's tight-fitting" (yeah, right. So?). "It's fine on me" (great, but you aren't me). "I never had complaints about that outfit before" (well, you have now, and it's blurred and a mess). But I stayed polite, honest I did. Just... thought a lot.

I got grudging acceptance when I wore the offending item to show her: 'yes it looks a bit funny'. She gave me another colour (marginally less blurred but still nothing like the poster) but, shall we say, condescendingly. I didn't ask for it. I didn't want that colour. I won't wear it, but I'm also not going to die over - what?- 300L? but she didnt know that.

My idea wasn't a) to ask for a refund or b) to screw the designer and get freebies, but to point it out to her. Several people saw me attempting to wear the outfit, and not one of them saw it anything less than a blurry mess. I have friends who design clothes. Most of them aren't famous but their customer service is respectful.

Also, being given two colours to choose from and being told to 'return the one you don't want immediately' is - again - condescending, if not downright rude.
Shame, because I like the clothes (at least on the posters....)

The point? Treat me like a customer with a brain and I'll go back. Treat me like I'm an idiot, and however much I like the clothes, I won't.

No, the idea isn't to name names of those I won't go back to. But let me just say that designers like Aphrodite Outlander, SLink, LVS and Rett Gentil have all treated issues or questions I've had (usually due to SL but no doubt some to my own clumsiness) with exquisite politeness.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Drama, whistle-blowing, skins and stuff

Lots of it going on in SL (always, everywhere) whether to do with money or love and probably a lot of other things too.

Spotted a particularly large kerfuffle over a skin-maker and a non-SL 3-D artist that has in turn baffled, perplexed, amused and horrified me. Many thronged to comment, often - I suspect - without any knowledge of what they were talking about. Some were polite, some weren't. Some tried to sound authoritative but there I strongly suspect some of them were neither authoritative nor unbiased. Massive quantities of mud appear to have been slung, just from skimming over some blogs and comments.

Some observations, though (and yes I suppose I'm jumping on the bandwagon but this is not just about those skins but about alleged content creation theft / abuse in general).

First, whistle-blowers aren't going to be popular, whatever their motives (greater good, personal vendetta, or both, and there's usually some of both, no?).

IMHO, whistle-blowing is a double-edged sword.

YES it's good, sometimes, to point to dodgy practices (note, I said dodgy - proof is another issue entirely and what some people consider to be proof, others do not) to raise awareness of what can and does go on and perhaps deter others from thinking they can get away with something unacceptable (although again, 'unacceptable' means different things to different people).

But once you've blown that whistle - to some extent depending on where - anything can happen and usually does. Where, however is another double-edged sword. Making it public raises awareness, sure, but once the 'public' are in there... you're going to get a whole spectrum of the public reacting. And sorting out the 'reasonable' from the hysterical, totally biased, or insincere is no easy task.

Washing dirty laundry in public also brings on lots of other personal gripes and yet more mud being slung, so things escalate, get twisted, people get hurt, others dash off a post without thinking... and of course there are those who actually enjoy all this. Train-wreck mentality. Those who have never indulged in this, please throw the first stone. I confess to stopping and staring.

I used to be very active on a writers' forum and plagiarism was naturally one of the hot topics there. Sometimes people most certainly did lift chunks from other people's work, some confessed to being 'inspired' by others. There are strong parallels here.

When challenged, some confessed, period. Some issued apologies, some didn't. Some threw mud elsewhere in doing so, some dramatically 'died' and their grieving survivors (!) posted tearful messages to the forum about writer X just needing to be loved so 'borrowed some material'. Some denied everthing despite what others considered clear proof and ploughed ahead, supported by friends who 'believed in them'.

It frequently got very ugly (understatement). Some innocent people got hurt, particularly if the attacks were unfounded and/or only done for personal reasons. Some writers got more exposure (either the accusers or their targets or both). Some people even learned that plagiarism is perhaps not a good thing ;)

Money, I should add, wasn't involved but a piece of writing has 'consumers' who can identify with the writing, and at times with the writer. An author has crafted it and cares about it enough to share, hopes to get praise. Sure it's different if somebody's income involved, I agree, but the feelings are the same: betrayal, outrage - misplaced or otherwise.

So what is my point? Is this drama useful or not? I'd say no for those people who jump onto bandwagons and take sides without knowing what they're talking about, but yes if eventually some good comes of it and some people learn lessons (or stop abusing and/or cheating).

I don't know who's right or wrong in the present drama... and there are many, MANY shades of grey and side issues involved. And I'm not even convinced that the truth (whatever that might be) will ever, really, be established in full or conclusively. Even if it is, whether it will do any good after all this flood of words is questionable. It's like traffic fines or cigarettes: raise the price and you'll get results... for a while. Then people will start speeding again or simply pay more for their fix. Or maybe, just maybe, a few will reconsider their ways. For that, maybe, would it all be worth it?

On the other hand, maybe others will think 'oh, speeding / smoking might be fun - let's give it a whirl'. No easy answers, huh?

It's just the drama involved in anything like this is just so sad, and I think that's what gets to me. Particularly the added drama that just fans the flames (and in a way I'm contributing to it, I suppose). Drama can be so ugly.

But so is human nature, no?

Thursday, 15 May 2008

New, amazing, etc. etc. etc.

Summer time!

Also, corporate image time (blood, sweat and tears involved but woohooo!). Vent du Sud means 'wind from the south'. I live in Provence, France.
On to the goodies. Saw a great patio set which was a little above my budget in RL but here's a version for SL in pale cream basketweave. The chair (2 prims) has about 10 colours for the cushions (change on touch) plus 4 great built-in animations: 129L. Yes, including two for men that look like, well.... male sitting positions (see earlier rant on the dearth of the things).
The table has 5 prims and incredible detailing and only 99L.Find them at the back of the store, at
Finally (for those who haven't scrolled on yet...) a great seating corner which has five cushions each with several built-in anims and each one with LOTS of textures - plus a superb, cosy couples pose. Great for home, deck, beach, garden and only 199L. Soft, subtle colours and endless combinations
These are at OnRez:, but check out my store as I'm having a SALE of items I'm retiring up on the roof. Lots of great things at a fraction of the original price (yes, yes, running out of prims again).
And if anybody's still here, here's a prize for persistence: buy 200L of goods from my store, send me an IM mentioning 'seen your blog', and I'll send you a wall lamp of your choice free. I'm... um... not famous enough for my IMs to be capped so you're pretty safe ;)
Wandering off to make more stuff now. But I am making an effort at this marketing thing. Really.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Lighten up!

Sometimes you just have to lighten up!

So here's something that lightens up anything.
It's a tiny, tiny particle light with a huge effect, on a slender metal rod. Compose the effects you want: inside, outside, in your store, your living room... it's copiable.
Make a string of them, a row of them, pop a couple into a vase.

Monday, 31 March 2008

The sad, sad tale of land baron vs. a client

Land baron 1, friend 0.
Removed the post. She doesn't deserve to be evicted just for questioning his behaviour.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Male poses, SL frustrations and the virtual world's greatest fireplaces

Nothing like an eclectic title, eh?

Not a unique phenomenon I guess, those 'bad SL days'. Or weeks. But take a blend of lots to do (self-inflicted and try to remeber this is a hobby, Ari), prims that refuse to play the game, textures likewise, poseballs... see later..., and people doing weirder things than normal. Result? A grumpier, less motivated version of me.

And low sales don't help - or lower than usual anyway. Let's be honest about this... I'm not in it for the money or I'd be making totally amazing designer clothes instead of furniture and decor, but it would be nice to cover the rent. Still not exactly doing the world's greatest marketing campaign either because I got carried away dismantling a chunk of my house - on purpose may I add - and improving it. One needs a glamorous setting for those Barbie moments, n'est-ce pas? And still doing those, so clearly all is not lost. Quite. Yet.

However, I took some more photos of stuff I've done for friends (and then put on sale - at least I had enough wits to do that). See the pretty!

And before I run out of things to whinge about, is it me, or are most 'male seated' animations not very, y'know, male? Sure there are a few, but the price of the - albeit excellent - copiable ones is making me blink, since the odds of me selling enough pieces to even break even is somewhat remote. See, I have a friend who wants a multi-anim seat for men, and so far she's shaking her head at the freebie and cheapo ones I have and sighing."But Ari, men just don't sit like that". And she's right. My virtual feet are aching with traipsing through animation stores.

And why yes, this is quite possibly a weak excuse to get some nice, new, shiny, comfy, ridiculously high stilettos. Which is one of those little perks of SL, no?

Maybe I don't have the blues that badly after all..

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Idleness is nothing unless well carried out

Non-productive day.

  • Didn't figure out links to send people to my store or to OnRez (for the day that my readership soars from zero to millions. Hah).

Edited to add: /21/

Didn't take photos apart from this one

  • Didn't send group announcements about Venice (can't link to the place either but it will happen).
  • Didn't add lighting to new marketplace in Venice.
  • Didn't go SL shopping (this is, however, a good thing if I am to embark on a massively effective but no doubt expensive publicity campaign) (edited to add... it was stipend day this morning and there were these shoes....)
  • And finally... didn't make stuff. Or sell anything. (Edited to add: this has not changed).
But hey, it was Monday. And I had a pleasant evening gossiping on the square in Venice.

These pretty urn-vase-pot things are part of my pottery / ceramics collection, which are of course totally amazing and all about the texture. And of course I can't link to them (yet). And come to think of it I need some sort of 'line' name that is just a little more slick than urn-vase-pot things.

Today is another day, right? Just need to earn an RL living then must pick self up by scruff of neck and get on with this SL marketing thing.

Monday, 10 March 2008


Marketing, says daughter doing MBA. Marketing is important. Even if you are not a geek and much prefer fiddling around with pretty textures and engaging in Deep Philosophical Conversation (or, let's be honest, exchanging landmarks for shoes or hair).

So. The OnRez drop box. The battle over all the things you have to click on. We won't even go into the fact that SL photos are .bmp and OnRez wants .jpeg (see how these terms drip off my tongue?). And the photos: the decapitated ones, the 'oops forgot to rename' ones... But finally, that li'l lamp and that fountain up there materialised as 'for sale' along with a few other things.

Now of course wondering why the whole of SL hasn't stampeded to buy them. Right.

Next challenge is to find out how to insert links to a) the most amazing interior decoration place on SL (mine, of course) and b) the OnRez entry. All, of course, for my blog readership of one, because it would also be kinda useful to point to its existence. Mmhm.

Then of course there are the zillion other things to take photos of and get onto OnRez. Just that those textures in my inventory beckoning me back to my platform to go play. And the new chair concept, and the sounds I want to add to my fireplaces. And the apartments I still have to decorate (note to self: take photos of the 30 or so places I've done, and take photos, and make a press book and... yeah.

Marketing. Going to give it a whirl. Yep.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Um... a blog!

So what'll it be?
Terse, factual... nope
Whimsical... probably
Fun... I hope so
A totally amazing marketing tool that will instantly make me rich and famous (in virtual terms)... You never know. OK, probably not

Let's see.

*Wanders off to take a photo of something I made (see 'rich and famous') above*