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.