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Friday, May 29, 2015

News and Commentary: Avatar Trouble at the Basilique Linden Meet-Up


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Thursday May 14, Linden Lab had their "Inworld Meetup," in which a number of Lindens would show up at a certain time and space and answer questions the best they could. Before the meeting, Xiloa Linden posted in the Linden blog about a thread where residents could suggest where the meeting could be held. Early in the thread, Canary Beck suggested her place, Basilique, at the Our Island sim, "I would love to help you host a meeting here if you like." A few others seconded the idea, and so Xiola chose it as the place.

The description of the area was a nice one, "A lovely town on the shore of a northern Italian lake. Walk the square and waterfront piers, relax in the bars or cafe, or row around the lake. Meet new people that also aim for immersiveness and accuracy in a friendly setting." There was a webpage with more info at http://bit.ly/thebasilique .

I arrived late at the meeting, near the end. So all I caught from it were a few questions about the SS Galaxy that went unanswered. As the place was pretty packed, I imagine it wasn't easy for the Lindens to keep track of them all. Before long, Xiola Linden told everyone, "Thank you all for continuing to populate this place with awesome things and looks and builds and personalities!"

But not everything was awesome. Shortly after my arrival, I got an IM.

Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Bixyl, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)

What the hey?

In my over eight years in Second Life, only three times have I been asked to leave a sim because of my appearace. And two of them were probably from the same location, once a friend inviting me to a club (Frank's Place), and getting told to ditch my foxlike appearance or leave (I was halfway to the door when apparently someone decided I wasn't moving fast enough and booted me out). There were a couple other times with an astrisk, once a friend inviting me to a beach, then fifteen minutes later suggesting that we both head somewhere else as someone IMed her furred avatars weren't welcome, and once when I took part in a "Bid Me Human," and being told to avoid another beach where human avatars were unwelcome. While others whom prefered furred avatars have complained about being rudely thrown out of places, it's my personal experience it's pretty rare.

So I responded matter of factly.

Bixyl Shuftan: Um, this is the avatar I use for journalism. I only use what you're asking for activities like RFL "Bid Me Bald."

Miss Ford then responded.

Miss Ford (julietford): That's alright. You don't say.  I heard other people use what I am asking for activities like RFL Bid you Bald too.


So Miss Ford was an avatar with a greeter script and an AI to give responses based on statements to her. A bot. I would later find her tucked away in a bakery. Anyway, I was determined to stay, and I noticed other nonhuman avatars around. So apparently we weren't being given the boot. But before long, other people began IMing be about the problem. Nydia Tungsten, who was there, sent me the conversation she had with the bot.


Miss Ford (julietford): Hi Nydia, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Nydia Tungsten: even if it is a Linden meet up?
Miss Ford (julietford): Yes, even that.
Nydia Tungsten: you will boot me for my choice of Avitar?
Miss Ford (julietford): What makes you say that I will boot you for your choice of Avitar.
Nydia Tungsten: only human avatars are permitted here
Miss Ford (julietford): What about the other ones?
Nydia Tungsten: those were your words to me LOL
Miss Ford (julietford): All of them? I'm glad you find this amusing.
Nydia Tungsten: one moment while I try and find a human AVI
Miss Ford (julietford): One what?


DrFran Babcock was also there, along with her furry bat friend Areal Loonie. She got the okay for this bit of IM chat to be published.


Areal Loonie: I'm being asked to leave because of my avatar
JulietFord: Hi Areal, my name is Juliet. Welcome to Basilique. Please join our group to stay up to date with current events. Also note that only human avatars are permitted here, and there is a casual dress code in effect in the town :)
Areal Loonie: are you saying that I have to leave because of my avatar?
JulietFord: Yes, that's what I mean, isn't it clear?


It wasn't just furries who were having problems. Talun Resident, a tiny, told me about problems he had observed, "I went human, and for the brief time before I crashed (there) were several being asked to leave, they were protesting in open chat ... strict dress code/avatar rules." He told me of one friend whom had trouble, "Arabella went early to scope the place out I believe, ended up ejected and banned, furry. And (in the) early part of the meeting, they started asking people to leave." In the case of Arabella, "they meant it, ejected and banned, (an) hour or so before the event. I sent an alt to look, cos I is tiny." Talun did say this wasn't the first time he'd been given a rude reception, "I once got asked to leave an adult sim. Wrong sort of 'beaver.' (laughter)"

Arabella had posted in Xiola Linden's thread, "I have been just been ejected from the region and banned. The sim owners have a humans-only rule, and refuse to suspend it for the meeting. I have seen several Lindens with non-human avatars, as well as there being a large number of furry residents. And they seemed to be saying it's your fault for picking the venue." I sent Arabella an IM, but as of the writing of this article have yet to receive a response.

Before long, I went back to Basilique. With the meeting over, would I be tossed out, or would the people around be civil? I soon came across a small gathering of locals, mostly human, but with one domestic cat (what furries sometimes call a feral) among them, presumably talking about the meeting, just as one was saying, "and no one wanted to detach their (penises) and such." Another mused, "Well sis, it's a part of themselves." A third went "(name) didn't care to be (name) the eunuch." After a few chuckles, one noticed me and greeted me in a friendly manner, "Hi Bixyl! (smile)" Others joined in the friendly greetings as well. At least these locals didn't have a problem with furries.

Of the Linden meet-up, one local told me he had also joined in at the tail end. Another told me the event had taken her by surprise, "I was wondering why there were so many people around outside." Someone joked, "We were going to have a Linden toss, but decided it (was) best not to." She later commented more seriously, "It's hard to have anything really happen with so many people, and so little time to plan. ... I liken it to the Rolling Stones turning up to play a small club. The whole town comes unglued."

I brought up the forum thread in which the sim had been chosen to be the place for the Linden meet-up. The locals acted positively, "So everyone voted Basilique? How freakin awesome." "Thats great." I then mentioned, "There was one thing at the tail end of the forum thread though, someone saying she got booted." One looked at me surprised, "Booted?" Another responded after reading it, "Well they clearly weren't booted for not being human." A third told me, "Two people were booted out of well over a hundred. ... I don't think that is why they were ejected." A fourth, "What did they do? I didn't get it."

I asked the third person for her opinion why this someone had been booted. Her answer was, "They were just being rude and difficult. And at that point, you really do not have time to be nice about it. There was 104 at one time. But that doesn't count all the unique visitors either. And trust me when I say, Becky is slow to boot, not like me. (smile)." She told me she had enough administrator powers to boot someone if she felt it was needed. The feline mused, "Dammit I didn't know ... I've always been very very nice to you, haven't I ... ?" It seems this admin didn't think the "humans only" rule was worth enforcing.

Of the bot that was giving people the message that irked people, the admin told me, "The bot just states the rules for the sim ... but they cannot differentiate who is a furry or a tiny." Another local asked "Does Basilique discourage furries?" The admin answered, "Yes, and no kids. But like anywhere, exceptions are made. ... There was a wolf-man kind of guy here. He didn't get kicked." The feline commented, "I think the rules were suspended while the event (took place) Bixyl. I saw loads of anthro in the streets." I asked, "So either they were (booted) because of bad behavior or by accident?" "Bad behavior," the admin told me.

The conversation went on for a little longer before I bade everyone farewell and walked out. As I headed to the pier, the feline IMed me that my reception next time might not be so friendly, saying furries were not usually allowed, saying "rules are rules" and that the owner told him herself they weren't allowed. I would then send a message to the owner, Canary Beck, about the problem. She would answer later than night, and when I tried to explain she asked me to send her any questions via a notecard. I did, including one asking her to explain the reason why the place didn't allow nonhuman avatars. I would get no response from Canary.

I would return a few days later. There was no attempt to give me the boot. I didn't hear the bot message me either. Was there a change of policy? Maybe not, as there were signs around that nonhuman avatars were discouraged. I then logged in with an alt. After a few minutes came the bot message. Walking about as the alt, there were a couple of avatars who logged out when I got near, but no one complained. Dropping by the bar where a couple people were, two people were willing to talk to me.

Going about the sim, it was nicely detailed and done, with lots of fine details such as shopping stands and the peirs. There was one thing I noticed. In one corner of the sim, there was a club building where ban lines appeared when I approached. Was this the one place that was truly exclusive of non-human avatars? I didn't try to join as I was maxed out with groups, so I could only speculate.

My investigation was less than conclusive. I have yet to get Arabella's answer to the admin saying only those causing trouble were booted, but it's looking like a case of one's word against the other. With Canary not talking, it seems nonhuman visitors are okay on the sim when she's not around. When she is, I can only guess. Perhaps nonhumans are discouraged rather than truly prohibited. It's still enough to annoy many furs whom keep telling me they're tired of people questioning their choice of avatar to the point entering a room that suddenly goes quiet, they see as being given the silent treatment. Other furred folk just tale it in stride, feeling life, or Second Life, is just too precious to let people get them down for long.

On Basilique's webpage, I found a link to Canary Beck's own blog. I didn't see anything about why she would want only human avatars at Basilique. But there was one post in which she brought up a Zogby poll asking 3500 people, apparently not users of Second Life, if they would make their avatar the same as in real life, similar but enhanced, or dramatically different. Only 15% in the poll picked "dramatically different." Her own response, "Looking at this chart, something doesn’t really square, does it? ... Unless I’m reading this wrong, this chart would suggest that at least 6/10 of us are actually perfect super-models in the non-virtual world too! Do beautiful people just happen to love Second Life? Or, are we saying one thing while doing another?" Her own poll at the end of the blog post had over 50% saying they looked "dramatically different."

No Canary, something really doesn't square.

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Remembering Kat2Kit


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Thursday May 21, it was announced over Facebook that Mathew Shapoff, known there as Matt Cyanotype Shapoff and in Second Life as Kat2 Kit, had passed away. This took me by surprise as I'd only talked to him a few weeks ago, and he seemed happy, talking about future plans. His last Facebook post was only one day before, with no hints of trouble, so whatever happened must have been sudden. Kat was 42, and survived by his real-life wife.

To begin with, I'd known Kat for some time. He was part of Pooky Amsterdam's "The 1st Question" game show staff as one of the tinies in the opening act to entertain the audience before the cameras rolled for the game show. In real life, he was an artist who specialized in a kind of blue art called cyanotype. Besides selling it in real life, he also sold pictures of in Second Life. In late December 2009, I stopped by his store, and a few days later in early January 2010, an article about it appeared in Second Life Newspaper, "Kat2 Kit’’s Cyanotype Artwork for Sale in Second Life."

 *  *  *  *  *

Residents in Second Life whom have been to Pooky Amsterdam’s “The 1st Question” game show, or seen the episodes online (http://www.the1stquestion.com/) have seen a tiny panda doing the opening acts. He’s also among the tinies in Pooky’s Second Life Machinima “I’m Too Busy to Date Your Avatar” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-MVwwl2jjw ). Kat2 Kit is his name here in the Metaverse.

As it turns out, Kat is also a talented artist in real life, Matt Shapoff of New York City. He works on a kind of artwork called “cyanotype,” and makes some money selling the pictures. A notecard described his work as, “combining 19th Century printmaking techniques with 21st Century digital photography and design.” Besides in real life and on the Internet, digital pictures of his art can be purchased at the LlSound New York sim.

Kat has been doing artwork, “Officially after dropping out of collage for aerospace. ... I got into NYU photo undergrad after discovering this,  on a portfolio I made in high school under my stairs. (I) took one class in "non-silver" where i learned several processes,  but cyanotype was my favorite. In the early 1990's I was doing this. The process is a contact process so I need a negative the size of the print. Usually people do this with BIG cameras. I used a laserwriter and overhead slides. The department chair will now admit I √†was the first to do digital in the department.” Kat says they didn’t act impressed at first, but, “Now the department is Photo and *Imaging*!”

The idea of selling artwork never really came until about fifteen years later. “A dozen or so,” pictures were sold on his first try, Kat described, “It was a jewelry sale for my wife, and we put a few out to see.” What surprised Kat the most was, “I offhandedly set a price, and they paid it! Well, it was what I guess I would part with them at. Pretty high I thought, $75 for an unformed one of a kind 6" wide by 30" long print of local botanicals.” Kat used the plants themselves in the pictures, saying they worked, “but they somewhat expensive in commercial terms. My cards are created in much larger, more repeatable, volume via offset or inkjet.  I have cyanotype cards, but they are a bit pricer.”

Kat first began advertising his commercial art online in 2005, “First with etsy ( http://supermarkethq.com/designer/8511/products ) and then with supermarket ( http://www.etsy.com/shop/handmadeonpeconicbay ). He got the idea of selling them in Second Life, “pretty quickly, as I started making film again, but this time using SL as the camera.” Kat had been a part of Pooky Amsterdam’s “The 1st Question” from the beginning, “I was doing my bike tricks at ‘Brooklyn is Watching’ and she asked me if I would be the opening act for her show.” He also did the filming, “If SL years are like dog or cat’s years, it feels like 10 years.”

Kat went on to say, “We will be on real-life public access on the 31st 3 PM, in New York City. I made the tape. (For) over year I have trying to get the files. I have worked in broadcast media both at S howtime networks, and BBDO. Finally we got enough short together for 1 hour special. Pooky submitted it, and we feel honored to have been chosen for December 31st. We will stream it in-world, and have a part in-sync with real-life. We are considering a weekly show for the Dating Casino ... a real-life slot on MNN TV ... public access.”

Kat’s personal blog is at - http://handmadeonpeconicbay.com. He pointed out a short webfilm on cyanotypes at (http://blip.tv/file/341745?filename=Mattlabs-DigitalCyanotype664.flv). Kat is sometimes seen in Second Life operating a printing press with the tiny panda. He pointed out another short webfilm “Using the Pearl” at - (http://mattlabs.blip.tv/file/1884211/)

*  *  *  *  *
Just a few months later, Kat2 Kit would ask me to write about something else he was involved with. This wasn't about commercial art, but instead a charity. So I wrote "The Great Panda Heist" for Second Life Newspaper, which went up March 25 2010.

*  *  *  *  *

Among the shopping hunts out there in Second Life, there’s one in particular for nature lovers, and those whom simply like fuzzy critters, “The Great Panda Heist.”

Spooky Mistwallow is the organizer of the hunt. In real life, she is a finance analyst, whom writes novels as a hobby. In Second Life, she is a part of Pandas International. In setting up the hunt, she has had the help of Kat2 Kit, whom has been making a name for himself in his tiny panda avatar for his work with Pooky Amsterdam’s “The 1st Question” and other media.

“(The hunt) was Spooky’s idea,” Kat told SL Newspaper at his panda center in Silver Bog, “I was looking for a traveling fundraiser, and this is both fun and traveling.” He brought to attention the Wolong Panda Center, which was severely damaged during the earthquake in China in May 2008. A number of workers and pandas at the center died. Among them, one named Mao Mao, whom was memorialized outside the Pandas International hut in a sculpted statue.

Of how Kat got interested, “I originally had a miniature panda av. ... As I started to talk around, Ling Ling passed. So Cheen Pitney made me a sculpture. The one out here. Little did Cheen know I would wear him. I did a series of photos around the grid. And people started tipping me. Then after the earthquake, Elnora Newel made me a sculpty Ma Mao and baby, this one here. And now for this hunt, Bald made the greater panda up front.” “Baldtraveller,” Spooky corrected, mentioning Baldtraveller Shan.

“I have worked with Kat many times doing fundraisers for Pandas International in the past,” Spooky told, “and I have organized gridwide hunts in my store, so I thought why not combine the two. In this hunt, while every store hides a small panda with a gift inside. Most also have a donation box in the store as well. Even if donations aren’t received from every hunter, they are definitely made aware that pandas are in need, and the existence of this organization.”

Asked about what kinds of stores are in the hunt and what kinds of goods can people expect to find, “Well, I know most of the stores have panda-themed gifts made special for the hunt. Others, include bamboo or are Asian in nature. The items will range from furniture, jewelry, clothing, and anything else you can think of. The stores we hand-picked and are almost all good merchants with whom we have worked with in the past. Again, from every level of merchandise.”

“For example, we are giving out this lovely panda-framed image to visitors here,” Kat spoke as he pointed to a picture.” Spooky continued, “Kastle Rock Couture, my store, for example, is giving out a special color of my fundraiser panda gown, a panda necklace, and an Asian-themed table. I have seen some panda art, a bamboo leaf dress, and a set of ginger jars. There are a few sample pictures on the official hunt blog as well.”

“(There) was an unspoken theme,” Kat informed, “everything had to be cute to ‘ holy s*** that’s cute!’ “ He then rezzed a panda bot, a small cub holding a balloon that began floating around, making grunting cries those around found adorable, Spooky commenting, “that has to be the cutest thing I’ve seen besides Kat. (laughter). .... It’s cute like a baby.”

Spooky has been involved in other charity hunts, “My store participated as a vendor in the AIDS hunt and also provided donation items for Breast Cancer. I also sell year-round three special gowns and give the pandas fifty percent.” Spooky herself was sporting a panda necklace and a panda tattoo, “the tattoo I’m wearing is a hunt gift one of the vendors sent to me. It’s from Suzy Martinek of Love Tattoos. It’s so cute."

Spooky talked about doing a “Party for Pandas” event in the future, “what we do is schedule time at one club after another, an hour usually. We rezz donation boxes that give information about pandas and why they need support. Last time how much did we raise, Kat?”

“Over 20,000 L," Kat answered, "We were verrrry happy. I take the Lindens, cash them out to Paypal, and then make the donation to Pandas International.”

The website for the Panda Heist is at http://greatpandahunt.blogspot.com . A video Kat thought was important was Pennies for Pandas . For a takeoff on the “Roaming Gnome," here is "Ling Ling around the Grid."

Pandas International accepts donations at P.O. Box 620335 Littleton, CO, 80123. It’s website is located at http://pandasinternational.org . They also have a Facebook page.

"The Great Panda Heist” lasts from March 21 to April 30th.

“I am very excited and thankful for all this support. I an starting to find one of the keys to social media, is volunteerism.”

*  *  *  *  *

Kat2 Kit was also a regular at the broadcasting of "Science Friday" in Second Life. He would keep on being part of "The 1st Question" crew for a while. Eventually, he would come on Second Life less frequently, concentrating more on his real-life activities such as his artwork. But we did chat with one another once in a while.

The last time we would meet was March 29, 2015. He teleported me to where he was building a new art shop on a skybox, describing some future plans for selling his work online.

But of course, he would be unable to carry out these plans, at least on his own. One day after his last Facebook post, it was announced he has passed away

A small memorial has been set of for Kat2 Kit at his store in Montauk New York (128/157/24). On Facebook, many have left comments on his page. While in Second Life he might have been small in stature, he had a big following of friends.

Bixyl Shuftan

*Addition* The Jan 2010 article I did was also reprinted in skullenblog (link).

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Dinner Dating in Second Life


By Leona Kitty

Second Life, being an online virtual world allows us the opportunity to create just as the title says, a second life. We have the choice to make it anything we want. Some come here as an escape, others come here because they are unable to get out much in real life. Either way the lives we create in here can contain so many different possibilities. One of those that I have personally seen and experienced over the years is the ability to meet people and date in Second Life.

In real life you meet someone, usually go out on a date with them to a dinner, movie, a walk in the park, out dancing. So why not do the same thing here? Residents of Second Life have created so many wonderful places for us to use for this purpose. You can go out shopping for a nice outfit to wear for your date. You can then meet up for a romantic dinner followed by dancing. And all of this can be done for much less than the cost a real life date would have cost.

So you may ask, how can I go to a romantic dinner? We cannot actually eat in Second Life. Well this is where your imagination comes in. And truly, when you take that real life date out, are you there only for the food or are you really there to get to know them? Getting to know your date is what the night is all about.

 I personally have always loved the Live service romantic restaurants in Second Life because I feel it truly creates an atmosphere that is as close to a real life date as you can possibly get. You and your date arrive at the restaurant and you are warmly greeted by your hostess or server. Once seated at your table you are able to view a menu and make selections. Over a three or four course meal your server will visit your table to deliver the next course, see how you are doing and just provide general roleplay to make the experience as close to real life as possible. During this dinner which usually lasts close to 1 hour you are able to talk privately with your date and focus completely on getting to know them. What a wonderful way to live a dating experience in Second Life.

So for those seeking a nice, romantic experience where they can devote some time to their date or even significant other I highly encourage you to check into some of your local romantic restaurants.

- Leona Kitty

Pictures taken at "The Falls"

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Tonight Live WIth Paisley Bebe, 23 August (Sept 2009)


Article by Shellie Sands, originally published September 15

*  *  *  *  *

Featuring Nazz Lane, AMForte Clarity and Wiz Norberg

Our very own Nazz Lane appeared recently on Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe. A very skilled interviewer himself, Nazz was on the receiving end this time. Speaking to Nazz just prior to the show, he did not seem the least bit nervous. I, of course, had no doubt he would be brilliant as he spends much of his time here in SL interviewing others, I had every confidence he was prepared and anticipated the types of questions he would be pressed to answer.

Nazz was the first guest. After some sound checks and double checks, Paisley began. Initial bleed over (for lack of a better way to describe it) with each of the speakers made it a bit difficult to follow. The engineers went to work and quickly straightened it out, and the interview proceeded.
 
Nazz explained he began his journalistic endeavors with Lane's List, a personal account of his experiences in SL. He later stumbled across an ad for the SL Newspaper in his travels and thought he might enjoy writing stories about SL and other events in SL. He contacted the owners, JamesT Juno and Dana Vanmoer, and was given an opportunity for a trial run, for which he was both grateful and excited. This has blossomed into a nearly full time career in SL and he has produced numerous articles and stories for the paper, as well as other publications, including New Vibe magazine, to name one.
 
Paisley inquired of Nazz what it is about SL that makes good journalism and why he thinks so many people ask him to write for them. Nazz replied he believes it is the fact that he tries to get to the "who" of an individual, to understand who they are, and what motivates them to do what they're doing in SL. He also tries to uncover what drew an individual into SL and what holds him or her in. Understandably, this requires him to be able to keep track of who's doing what in SL and keep his finger on the virtual "pulse" of SL events. He does this via blogs, twitter, RSS feeds, as well as art forums, such as Pirates, Angelgate and Diablos, to keep up on events in the art scene. 
 
Nazz has recently completed the first 5 chapters of his SL book, Borders of Our Lives. The story Is based loosley on the characters in SL, relationships and experiences, from the newbie experiences on. The main character, Jeffrey Goff, is author Jeffrey Stone and RL attorney. Jeff is quickly befriended by a female mentor, who shows him the SL ropes, gets him clothes, hair, etc. Once acclimated, Jeff realizes how it is affecting his RL and finds it difficult to separate the two worlds. (A truer statement I have not heard).
Paisley asked how much of the book was autobiographical versus lives and experiences of people he has met in his SL travels or perhaps people he has interviewed. Nazz acknolwedged he has met many people here, some of whom he absolutely loves and adores and would also like to meet in RL. What Nazz really hopes to achieve with the book is to provide a vehicle by which to bring the SL experience to those outside of SL who have never experienced a virtual world. He tries to achieve this goal through the narrative and also through the dialogue of the characters. Nazz finds it mind boggling that, despite the lack of tactile senses in world, somehow we have a sense of how people feel, how something smells or feels, or the experience of dancing with someone and actually feeling like we are touching them. I think any of us in SL would agree with this, as odd a concept as it may be. This is a diffcult concept to portray to someone who has not experienced SL. It's amazing what our own imaginations can do. Nazz attributes it to the fact that many of us, in our first lives, are engaging in various forms of communication daily, whether it is for the job, via instant messaging or texting, or for some other form of personal enjoyment.

The book can be purchashed via his business office on Tranquil found in Nazz's picks in his profile, or by sending him an IM directly. (Author's Note: Tranquil has since been sold and interested persons should IM Nazz directly to get a copy of Borders of Our Lives.)
According to Nazz, he had always wanted to be a writer in RL but had never tried it. Since he began writing in SL, Nazz has taken steps to hone his craft and hopes to transcend the realm into RL in the future. I am sure we will also enjoy his book when all planned 12 chapters are completed; I anxiously await the final chapter.

Following Nazz was singer/songwriter AMForte Clarity. I have heard AM many times and was compelled to join her group. A very talented performer with a surprisingly refreshing sound, AM spoke about her life growing up in a small village in a suburb or Toronto, Canada.

After performing a song, AM took her place on the couch with Paisley. When asked how she chose her SL name, AM revealed that AM are her RL initials, standing for Anna Maria, her true name. Forte is actually her RL last name so, as she said, she does not hide anything. 
 
AM recounted a bit of her childhood, claiming it was tough growing up and schools were difficult. She noted she was "so uncool" as a kid. Family life was also a struggle for AM. Her family being very religious, she was not permitted to listen to secular music. Of course she did, being the rebel that she was (and still is by her own admission). AM believes being a bit of a rebel sort of keeps it all real and reminds us we are alive as we go through our sometimes mundane, routine filled lives, governed by schedules and "must do" activities. She left home at age 20 to go to North Carolina for school. 
 
Having escaped from the small town environment in which she was raised, AM began looking for love, admittedly in all the wrong places. I can definitely relate to that! A true poetess at heart, AM began turning her prose into songs, setting the words to music. SL has helped AM grow her RL music career. Her website, AMForte.com, includes 5 professionally recorded songs, many other songs she has written that are new and yet to be recorded, and about "300 ideas for other songs," she said, laughing. She has been putting very much effort into getting her RL career off the ground for the past 4 or 5 years, sending demos out to multiple producers, etc. , even including, in some cases, lavish gifts. This she said chuckling, claiming she had heard this was the way to go. Unfortunately, it got to be a bit pricey but she continues to try. You have to admire her tenacity. AM would love to do a RL tour with other SL musicians. My wheels started turning when I heard this. I have ideas for her. 
 
The thing that keeps AM going, she claims, is she nearly died at one point, she did not elaborate, but it opened her eyes. She decided she needed to really start living having been given this second chance at it. This has made her decide that what she really wants to do is sing and write songs rather than have a boring 9-5 job, no matter how profitable it may be. She hopes her songs may help save some lives, through people identifying with the lyrics and the emotions in her songs.

As a poet myself, I can relate to the introversion and using writing as an outlet to express those thoughts and feelings, bourne from our RL experiences, when perhaps times were not always very happy. Listening to AM describe her life's struggles through growing up with strict parents who did not allow her to do much of anything, and often feeling out of place in her environment, I truly felt as though I were looking in a mirror, seeing a reflection of myself and my own life (minus the near death experience). The similiarities were truly uncanny. This interview gave me welcome insight into this talented musician, songwriter, and poetess.

Wrapping up the show was Treettv CEO, Wiz Norberg. Paisley described Wiz as somewhat of a "quiet achiever" with not much written about him, and a real "mover and shaker in SL" due to the content of Treettv, which is fast on its way to becoming one of the biggest media outlets in SL. Wiz says he will appear on some shows, but generally he is so busy making things, he doesn't have much time. The best interviews he's done are with people who have a clue about what he does here in SL, so those interviews go well and are enjoyable for Wiz--much like talking shop to a colleague. 
 
Treettv has been producing 14-15 shows per week generally, for the last 18 months or so. Wiz stated that while it is difficult to know how many people are watching the productions at any given moment, many people watch after the fact, which is why Treettv makes media available via many different options, to accommodate the global community's schedules. 
 
Paisley posed the question that, because there is so much online media available to folks, how is Treettv planning to compete with that? Wiz doesn't believe it is a competion, TV is fun and everyone knows it's graphics they are looking at. "The real competition we have are what other people are doing with their time...because television itself is just .... we're interested in new ways people consume things." Audiences are amazingly committed to the shows on Treettv according to Wiz. He sounded very surprised by this.
Paisley noted that Treettv itself is nearly about to be launched from the former SLCN TV. Wiz clarified that Treettv is already launched and people are watching it a lot inworld. The changes are more due to better production and high definition TV, but the real change is the launch of the website, which is geared to expanding the audience and use the web more effectively. One of the problems they are facing is that so many people are involved for a mere one hour show. Treettv has 3 full time people and various others, and the whole endeavor becomes somewhat expensive. Wiz believes the website will help with this. Wiz would like to turn the virtual island they are on into a bit more of a showcase, complete with museum. The studio Wikipicture project they are currently involved with is a bit of an experience, and it remains to be seen how it will all unfold. 
 
Paisley acknowledged that much of the SL video/media available closely mimmicks RL, citing the example that her SL studio for the talk show is very like a RL TV talk show set. Wiz believes that what happens in SL is just a mirror of our real lives, using the example of journalism, and splitting things into chapters just as in RL. People have tried to do some different forms of writing, but there are "certain ways that we engage in art" and television is a reflection of our current lives. Some shows, such as Simboarding or The Snails, are ideas completely off the beaten path of what we would consider normal, reflective TV. The people factor is that we just want to learn about each other, which I personally is a normal, valid, human response.

This was a great show and to her credit, Paisley is a very skilled and talented interviewer. She exhibits terrific poise and quickly puts her guests to ease. Check out Paisley Beebe on Tonight Live weekly, some of your favorites may be the target of one her shows.

By Shellie Sands

*  *  *  *  *

Nazz Lane would write for SL Newspaper for several more months until striking out on his own in early 2010. Shelie Sands would be among those heading on to SL Newser. Paisley Bebe would continue Tonight Live for another two years, the last show being May 2011.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Interview with Lanai Jarrico, Editor of the SL Enquirer


By Bixyl Shuftan

Lanai Jarrico is the editor and owner of the Second Life Enquirer, one of the leading newsletters covering this virtual world. She recently celebrated a double milestone. Saturday May 9 was not only when she celebrated her tenth rezzday, but also the tenth anniversary of the SL Enquirer. On the day after the celebration, I met up with her near her yacht at Mont Fleuri Isle for an interview.

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did you first find out about Second Life?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I had heard about it from some friends in the Sims Online who were migrating here back in 2004, but I wasnt too interested until filmmakers ... found me there, flew to see me in my state and asked me to bring the paper here." At first I didnt want to come, but decided to take a look."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So you were in the Sims Online before coming to Second Life, and doing a paper there as well?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Yes the original paper was called The TSO Enquirer. I launched it on October 4, 2004, in the city of Blazing Falls, just weeks before Alphaville Herald. It was known as The Sims Online Enquirer."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Interesting. What did you usually cover there?"

Lanai Jarrico: "There was a large community of mafia families there, and they used the paper as a bridge of communication. That is what made it go viral there"

Bixyl Shuftan: "People were interested in the mafia there?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Oh my God, yes, that is where the roleplay mafia families were born, in my opinion. It was huge. I would say there were more than eight strong families with 25-30 members each. The mafia families migrated here (to Second life)and went underground and branched off into different things. I am still in touch with some of the old godfathers and leaders from those times."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What else did you cover there?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I would cover the things I did. I was an explorer and just documented my journrey aside from covering Mafia activities. It was just me reporting for the first year, and then I got a mafia writer. But things were getting crazy and I was getting threats."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Threats?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Yes. I was a very bold writer and reporting things that caused wars between families. I was asked to be a Godmother by a few because of the power the paper had. I've collapsed families in my writing due to their bad behaviors and antics. And in turn they would get angry and threaten me.  When I moved here, I left the mafia reporting behind and began writing about the culture and activities here and made it more mainstream."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your first days go here? The newcomer experience, and all?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Well, it definetly was a learning curve. Before I could launch the SL Enquirer officially, I had to learn how to get around and do simple things like use notecards and such. Then immerse myself in the community and meet people. Once I established some balance, I was able to slowly write about things here. When I was ready, I purched the slenquirer.com domain and made the change."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Whom helped you the most in learning how to write as a journalist?"

Lanai Jarrico: *thinks on that* "I have to say I've always written in my own style but I learned new techniques from my writers along the way and also college helped because I was writing papers weekly for four years. I also did fashion articles for a company in real life. All that practice taught me a little. I continue to learn."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What were the first articles that began to draw an audience to the SL Enquirer?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I think the articles that got the most notice were my personal entries labeled 'Lanai's Diary.' I wrote them as if no one else was looking at my innerthoughts on various topics. I think people like the emotion in them. (They were about) sometimes humor, other times just me rambling about something. Then wehn I brought a team of writers onboard, it branched out into various topics from other perspectives, and writing styles."

Bixyl Shuftan: "About when did the SL Enquirer overtake the The Sims Online Enquirer in readership?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I would have to say the transition took place in a span of six months from TSO Enquirer to SL Enquirer in Second Life. The sad thing is I had to switch hosting like three times, and each time I lost all my readship stats and tons of articles. We had close to 300,000 views in just one of those transitions. Does that answer your question? I hope I understood it."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Ouch, that's a lot. You had to put the articles back in the archives?"

Lanai Jarrico: "There wasn't a way to transfer them over from the original domain the the 2nd, so a huge loss there, then to the third. I finally settled with blogger and it is about 30,000 pageviews from 1 milllion but in all I'm sure it is close to 3 million if I carried the stats over, maybe more. Google+ stats alone is up to 13.3 million views and I have no clue how it got so high."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Nice. After that, did the SL Enquirer look more or less like it does now?"

Lanai Jarrico: "No. With each transition, I've changed the look due to each hosting having different templates. But this one I like and it has remained for some time now."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds good. What kinds of stories does the SL Enquirer usually cover?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I would say a variety of things, such as press releases from our advertisers about events and products, spotlight features on locations, and Avie Polls. In a nutshell, the culture in various forms. I see SL Newser as covering more business topics, while we cover more entertainment."

Bixyl Shuftan: "In your opinion, what have been the most interesting topics to cover?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I have to say when I do interviews on a person about what they do. Not only do I get to meet someone new and add them as a friend, but I like to see what creativity is going on."

Bixyl Shuftan: "You mentioned some of your Sims Online Enquirer articles had gotten threats. Were there any SLE articles that sparked controversy?"

Lanai Jarrico: "(laughing out loud) Well yes. One thing I've learned in media is you cannot please everyone."

Bixyl Shuftan nods

Lanai Jarrico: "While some people might like what I have to say, others get bent out of shape, and I sometimes find nasty anonoymous comments in my inbox. I find it cowardly. If I put my opinions out there for all to see I would respect an opinion from someone who uses their name if they want to challenge me. Otherwise it holds no value to me."

Bixyl Shuftan nods and takes notes

Lanai Jarrico: "Years ago, a woman told a mutual friend that I shouldn't be taken seriously because I was uneducated.I didn't have a degree. Rather than letting that woman discourage me, it inspired me to get a degree and continue to do what I do."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Has your coverage of Second Life changed any over time?"

Lanai Jarrico: " ... Yes SLE is always changing and growing with the times. I'd like to say when I started the paper, it was just for a circle of four friends as entertainment. I had no idea it would go viral, so I had to learn how to adapt and create my own system to make it work. I have no real life journalism background."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Well, looking back over the past ten years, which articles would you say have been the most important ones?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I would have to say a series of article I wrote in regards to child avatars about six years ago, or even earlier, made an impact. It was right around the time LL changed the Terms of Service about them because of the inappropriote behaviors associated with child avies and pedophiles in SL. Soon after those articles were put out the TOS changed. I don't know if what I posted had anything to do with it, but the timing was right."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Interesting. Has there been anything more recent that's gotten a great deal of attention?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Yes, a couple months ago a story broke about the Blarney Stone Pub, written by one of my writers. That seemed to kick (a) hornets nest, and we got a huge spike in readership and comments due to it. Drama and controversy will do that. I've kind of stepped back from writing opinion pieces."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did the writing ...  create drama and controversy?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Well, the story focused more about how they treat visitors and the way staff conducts business. The writer pointed out how they treat people and it sparked a firestorm in comments from both sides. Those who were mistreated while visitng their and staff trying to defend themselves: http://www.slenquirer.com/2014/09/a-dark-peek-into-once-mighty-sl-blarney.html .

Bixyl Shuftan: "Well, now that ten years have come and by, do you have any words of wisdom to Linden Lab or people thinking about giving Second Life a try?"

Lanai Jarrico: "I have to say Second Life is not like it used to be. The wide eyed wonder of something new has faded for those of us who has become established residents and learned the ins and outs of this community. I feel like the morale is declining because Linden Lab isn't as involved as it was in the beginning, and we are left to deal with newer residents who don't share the same sense of community as the elders. It makes it difficult for us to maintain what is left of the hope we have in it continuing to be the best virtual world. Now with the new SL 2.0 grid being on the horizon, peole are wary and have questions. Linden Lab could lose the trust of people if they do the same thing there that they have done here. People feel abandoned."

Lanai Jarrico: "Another thing I see happening more now is people have been so accustomed to forgetting there are people behind each avatar and aren't as thoughtful and caring as before. That's bad."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What could happen if those trends continue?"

Lanai Jarrico: "It will lead to the death of virtual worlds for people who are investing lots of money. Well, not all virtual worlds, but Second Life would fail, and become a playground for griefers. I still have hope because I still see elders here, but they are becoming more rare."

Bixyl Shuftan: " ... Was there anything else you wanted to add?"

Lanai Jarrico: "Not that I can think of. ...  Thank you Bixyl."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Welcome Lanai. (smile)"

It was then that we parted ways. Lanai Jarrico continues to run the SL Enquirer, writing about the entertainment side of Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, May 8, 2015

Commentary: The Interstellar Alliance Roleplay


By Foxythejamie

A group with simple beginnings, as the Interstellar Alliance (ISA), the fleet has a lot to live up to. However in most categories, it fell short of that goal, quite a bit. From bad administrators, to not so good role plays, among others.

The story starts quite a bit ago, with the ISA 1.0. In ISA 1.0, if you could fit a back story to your character, it was approved. The group was small, but amazing. The sim design was something to stare in awe at as well. However things started going south after a bit of trouble.

After a few griefer attacks which left the sim completely empty, and void of items, the group's owner decided to move sims. However, little did everyone know, his plan was to also move away from ISA 1.0. He turned it into a Star Trek roleplay, with 3 ships. Thus, the ISA 2.0 was born.

That is where most of the problems had started. To start off, the group owner removed his second in command, and replaced her with someone else, who proved to be a bad choice of an administrator. He then started liquidating whole groups within his now growing group, which pretty much ended up with quite a few people leaving the role plays. After a few more weeks the groups were made entirely up of people who had never even heard of the ISA 1.0.

Well then after he and his XO (Executive Officer, or second in command) scrapped that roleplay as well. They started a new roleplay, named The 12th Expeditionary Fleet. The name might suggest that everyone on the ship will be exploring far off places, and getting into loads of trouble. Well the second of that is true. There is loads of trouble. However the trouble doesn't lie within the storyline. The trouble lies within the roleplay itself.

Let's start with my first roleplay on the sim. It started out less than well. With me being a marine, trying to keep the culture of ISA 1.0 alive, there was no seat for me. So I had asked the Captain where he wanted me to be, and he responded by simply saying "I do not care." Well that got me a bit perturbed, however I stayed for the roleplay. I am now wishing I hadn't. For in the time of 1 hr and 30 minutes, we endured a Captain who thought meta gaming, god modding, and power playing were a great way to run a story line.

For non role players, meta gaming means you use things you found out, out of character, in an in character story line. For example, if someone IMs you information, and you use that information in a roleplay. Power playing means you are not letting anyone else respond to what you are doing. This means if you just walk over to someone, punch them, and walk away. God modding is the worst one yet. This one means you are role playing with someone else's character using an rp tool.

Well the meta gaming we had to endure through that first roleplay was the Captain seeming to know exactly where the asteroids were, even when they were not on screen. He seemed to know that a ship, which had not been heard from in over 50 years, was floating in the middle of space, as well as knowing exactly where the ship was. Also seeming to know exactly which way a planet, which was over 200 Light years away, was from the abandoned ship.

The power playing we endured was the captain getting mad at a lot of characters and biting their tails, or slapping them. Then he would simply return to his seat without even waiting for a response. Of course that could have been easily overlooked.

However the worst thing being done by the captain, was an rp tool being used by him, to roleplay as other characters. He role played as my character as well as a few other, prompting some to leave mid rp.

The second roleplay I was in, was with a different Captain, this one being the owner of the group, but had pretty much the same outcome. This captain was also role playing as if he had never even seen a full episode of the great series. During the roleplay we encountered a ship with a weapon that was apparently powerful enough to pierce the shields, and then burn a hole straight through our saucer section. Yet somehow, this extremely powerful ship took one hit from a Quantum Torpedo, and was not only destroyed, it was vaporized. I am no expert in the show, but for one, I know for a fact that if something were to pierce the shields, then we'd have no shields left. Also, if something really was that powerful, it would be able to withstand an entire barrage of torpedoes. In Star Trek, ships with powerful guns are themselves powerful, and able to withstand a multitude of attacks.

All in all, I was pretty disappointed with this roleplay. In my mind they took a great theme and just soiled it.

Jamie

Monday, May 4, 2015

Commentary: Military Combat News Feed


By FoxytheJamie

At this point in time, there are 13 SLMC groups. Of those 13, there are three that remain inactive unless provoked really badly. There is also one combat group, T'Koi, that fluctuates between inactive and active. Of the nine remaining, there has been a decree.

One military group Corpus Private Contractors, or CPC as it is commonly known, has demanded a blockade of one of the major groups, named Coercion. The reason for this blockade is because Coercion's leader (who will remain anonymous) has banned a CPC member, from Coercion's sim, for aiding a copybotter who stole Coercion's armor.

CPC has already employed the help of its former enemy, Kkamagwi Paramilitary Corporation, known as KPC, and another military, known as 2142. However, many militaries are standing against the triad, as a blockade is the last thing the community needs now. Groups like Ordo Malleus who could have cared less, are actually taking a stand and demanding that this childish behavior be stopped.

In other news, T'Koi is slowly dying. It is highly evident as even a member of high ranking has left the group, to seek more opportunities. However, after said member left, T'Koi's commander was less than thrilled to know that the member joined Coercion, and has issued a threat to Coercion. T'Koi's commander has threatened to shut down Coercion's server, which will most likely result in that player's arrest, and incarceration in real life.

Still more news to report as well. Other members from other groups have also started to leave their groups, for other reasons. From incompetent leaders, to an escalation of cheap tactics. The reasons may be different, but the outcome is the same, they want out.

And still more news. KPC has issued a decree that they are shutting down. However, as they decreed that, many of their members rose up and took control of the group. Meaning KPC's leadership simply changed hands. Is the group on their last leg? Or will they grow larger? Only time will tell. That is the news of the SLMC as it stands right now.

Jamie