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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

CDS Election Campaigning: 恭子 Kyoko (Samara Barzane)


By Bixyl Shuftan

Different communities have different ways of how things are run. For the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, the community has elections twice a year in which local citizens (those who own land in the community) chose who will be in the Representative Assembly and who will be their leader: the Chancellor. This election, two people are running for Chancellor. They are Drewski Northman, and 恭子 Kyoko (Samara Barzane). The part of Kyoko's display name written in Japanese kanji also spells "Kyoko."

Sunday November 11 saw two events in which both candidates had a chance to explain themselves to the voters. Drewski had his at 11 AM. Kyoko's was the second one, taking place at 2:30 PM SL time.

I'd like to invite  you to join me for an informal discussion of my platform (attached) and listen to what YOU want to see (and help make happen) in C.D.S. Ask away, but I want to hear from you too!

Kyoko has also put her case for being elected, as well as her goals, on notecard. Her campaign could be summed up as "Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness."

I am running for the honor of serving you as the Chancellor of C.D..S. for the 30th Term.

I have been a citizen of the C.D.S. since 2015 and am currently serving as PIO Head and as a member of the Land Use Commission. Last March’s successful Celebrating SL Women 2018 was planned by Brooke Brandenburg and myself. I have owned and managed The Art Cafe in Locus Amoenus since 2015 and was recently made an Estate Manager

An SL member since 2007, I have worked at a number of SL jobs, which included customer relations as well as store and sim management, marketing, public relations and events. Employers have included store Elikapeka Tiramisu of ETD (now [e]), Roslin Petion of Fleur and designer Mills Michinaga. I owned and managed Park Galleries from 2008 to 2011 and continue to exhibit my own artwork in C.D.S. and elsewhere.

I also owned and operated a translation agency, and served as sim manager for a shopping sim taking care of rentals, marketing, public relations and events. Active in Relay for Life of Second Life since 2008, I was sponsorship chair in 2011.

In that role I raised $11,000 US for Relay for Life of Second Life. These experiences have included the development of program and marketing strategies suited to Second Life. Throughout these work experiences I have interacted with diverse SL individuals and groups.

What I stand for:

RESPECT
As Chancellor I pledge to respect each citizen, as well as the history and structures of C.D.S

RESPONSIBILITY
I pledge to take responsibility for my assigned duties in a timely manner and for any mistakes that I make.

RESOURCEFULNESS
Finally, I pledge to be resourceful in problem-solving, in the judicious use of C.D.S. assets and in seeking out citizen skills to support the C.D.S. vision.

SPECIFICALLY
- Work with key members of the executive and citizenry to develop and execute a marketing strategy for Land Sales and Citizen Retention
- Encourage the Land Use Commission to continue its creative vigilance with regard to our simulators.
- Continue a program of varied events that appeal to our citizens, as well as promoting C.D.S. to others. I will also encourage citizen participation in creating new events.
- Meet with citizens for both social and discussion purposes on a regular as well as ad hoc basis.



The event was held at the CDS Amphitheatre in Colonia Nova. Earlier in the day, Kyoko had held a Maiko dance event, "Odori No Aki,: there. Now, the place was the site of a political event. Rosie Gray, whom was Chancellor earlier this year, told her, "Thanks for organizing the Maiko dance event, I thought it was really interesting, and something totally different for here." "You are welcome," Kyoko told her, "They are good people."

More people arrived, and they sat on a circle of chairs on stage, "Rosie, if we need more chairs can you move us around?"Kyoko waited a few extra minutes for more to arrive, then "OK, why don't we get started? First thank you for coming and welcome. I have a few remarks prepared, (what candidate doesn't *laughter*) But I thought I would start with a couple of stories.

"My poster slogan is Respectful, Responsible, Resourceful. You, of course, will be the just of whether I treat others with respect. It is my intent. But there are other things to respect here at CDS, our vision of democracy in a virtual world, the integrity and functioning of our political structures, as well as our traditions that pull us together.


"Okay, responsibility.  A story. I was recently made an Estate Manager. One of my first acts was to turn this amphitheatre into a water parcel." That statement got a few chuckles from some of the others around, "ha-ha." Kyoko continued, "I was so embarrassed, flattened all the land to the water (laughter). I contacted Rosie and Sudane Erato and confessed, pleading for help, and offered to resign. Their response? They said, 'don't worry. We've done worse.' That told me a lot about the quality of the people caring for our sims. And I will always take responsibility when I goof." Rosie remarked, "None of us is perfect." Kyoko responded, "Rosie while true, that was a lovely goof I made (laughter)."

It was about this moment Han Held (Hannah Marie Tempestwolf), the current Chancellor, arrived. She remarked, "they said they've done worse and I TP in, 'Speak of the devil and you see her horns.' ... I can vouch that you've got the skills, temperment and education and background to do very, very well."

Kyoko continued, "OK, resourcefulness. We don't always have a lot of money lying around for events. As a result two of our Oktoberfest events, The Pub Crawl and Friedsee by horseback were citizen-generated, a load of fun and, free. There are so many ways to to make that happen again and again. And that's one way we can be resourceful. For those of you who attends this afternoon's event, Odori No Aki, remember the last folktale about the frogs. The moral  there was that it is people who make a community thrive. And we have the people, I know."

"I had more prepared," Kyoko spoke, "But I'm happy for questions, suggestions ideas. The floor is yours." Keila Forager had the first question, about getting buyers for vacant land, "Thank you.  What are your plans to reduce the 'yellow' on the map?" After a few comments about a new keyboard, Kyoko answered, "Not my favorite color. One of the main tasks of the incoming chancellor will be to turn those to green or later snow. My three prongs if you will are Marketing and citizen retention. It takes a community to build a community. While it's the chancellor's task, it is also the task for all of us. What do we value about CDS? What might need to change?" She glanced at her papers for a moment, "Let me look at my notes a sec. ...The three prongs are marketing, outreach, and events. They are all connected. In marketing we need to refresh and refocus our advertising. I have some ideas, but the more the merrier. As for outreach, as I mentioned we should encourage citizen generated events.

"Outreach, develop ways to cooperate with other communities on items of mutual interest. Whether it's events of project we both support, that's a gain for both communities in life and vitality. Cooperating with other communities should not involve poaching, but a reputation as a good community to work with helps drive interest and hopefully more green and less yellow. I've already talked about events as a community project under resourcefulness. Marketing involves selling us, obviously. But outreach and events help sell us also. As the frogs (in the play) said, a community is it's people. We all need to step up. If I am not elected I will not disappear. I will keep working for the well-being of (the) CDS.

While she spoke, others had questions. Keila wondered about if the CDS was in the Linden Destinations Guide, and Rosie told her they were, showing them the link to the Neufreistadt sim. But Lyubov remarked, "I've never found us in the Guide." Then in response to cooperating with other communities she asked, "Do you have come communities in mind, that may share interests?  Steampunk? Victorian roleplay? ... What would be a measurable goal, or achievement, after your six month term?" Keila asked, "I think retention should be an issue also.  Once you get new citizens, how you plan to keep them.   Aside from Rosie here, I've just recently met everyone else and have been a citizen since June this time.   I've been part of CDS off and on since 2007."

Kyoko went on, "Yes, I'm a retired university professor, and student retention is a big worry. A place to start is why we each are here, what makes us stay, what makes us come back? For me it is a community that works together." "And what makes us leave?" Keila threw in. Kyoko responded, "Oh yes that one too Keila. Why do people leave? We need to understand that. ... As for metrics, I'm a philosopher, not a statistician (wink). I would hope that we make a lot of progress on banishing the yellow, that we work together as a community. I will aim for as much non-yellow as possible. If the RA were to want to see a measuring metric that is fine. But often when we seek a number we miss options to  reach the same goal by a different route."

Kyoko them commented, "Can you tell I've been on too many assessment committees? Did I miss a question?" Lyubov commented, "I'm speaking only for myself, not for the RA (smile), but thank you." Kyoko continued, "Of course my job as chancellor is to keep a sharp eye on fiances and other matters. I will do that  to the best of my abilities. But we need the citizens to work together to help us grow, not just in numbers and (money), but in community. I'm not naive. I've been in many communities both real and virtual. The important thing is not to get bogged down in the past, but to look forward. We have amazing sims and that's one of our biggest selling points. I will be as available and consistent as is humanly possible. But I will be working with you to find the energy we need to be even better than we are."

Keila remarked, "Nor could I find a list of places to visit while here, do we still have that too?" Kyoko answered, "The Land Use Commission is working on that right now, and I am hoping we'll have a working list by the next term. Rosie and I will also accept suggestions for places to list." Kyoko apologized for any typos made, "I just get excited about the projects."

Kyoko then brought up, "Do you want to know why I decided to run?" There were answers of "Yes." The candidate then began to explain, " I've been in CDS since mid-2015 as a gallery owner and resident, with absolutely no intention of running for office. I mean absolutely no intention. Rosie knows how absolute (wink). So what changed my mind? A sense of duty and a higher calling?" Lyubov grinned, "You were drafted." Kyoko answered, "Not that simple really, although my arm is still untwisting." Lyubov kept grinning, "Rosie, keep it twisted tight! don't let her go!" The former Chancellor chuckled, "Haha, no I didn't twist her arm at all." Kyoko responded, "You darn near broke it off." There were more snickers from the others.

The candidate continued, "Over time I came to appreciate the democratic ideal that drives C.D.S., and began to notice the citizens who were working for the well-being of our community. Art Cafe was part of my hoping to provide a resource for C.D.S., its citizens and our visitors. As Public Information Officer for the 29th term I attended most of the Resident Assembly meetings and was overwhelmed by the quality of our elected representatives and the care they were taking with the welfare of C.D.S. Additional experience on the Land Use Commission has only reinforced that realization. Our representatives really care. My 'vision' for C.D.S. comes from these experiences; that we need to find ways to keep the C.D.S. project fresh and vital, and that we ought to explore future options together. The fact is, the bulk of the Chancellor's job is paperwork and details, all important, in keeping the engine humming, but not glamorous. I mean no one in their right mind would run for Chancellor (laughter). The opportunity for the chancellor to effect much change in 6 months is smaller than you may think. But the avenues that ARE open are ones we can travel together and get some things done. "

"OK here we circle back to where we started. The areas we can affect most easily are marketing, outreach and events. All three are inter-connected. Of course I have some ideas and dreams for C.D.S., but my biggest hope is that we will work TOGETHER to develop these new approaches. Working together we can be more than the sum of our parts. Our major resources are the belief that democracy is possible here and the outstanding beauty of our sims. The Land Use Commission works hard to keep our sims fresh and functional. I've had a wonderful time wandering the sims lately, finding many amazing locations to enjoy, AND list for your enjoyment (wink). If elected Chancellor I promise to be accessible and responsive to your concerns and ideas, especially for marketing, outreach and events, because those are the most accessible means we have to grow as a community."

The meetup would go a little longer. But eventually it was time for it to end. So people went their separate ways.

The polls open on Saturday November 10 at Noon SL time, and will close a week later, on November 17. The election results will be announced on November 24.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 2, 2018

When A Friend Passes Away


By Deaflegacy

Most of my story will be about real-life, but it's one I need to tell.

October 27, 2018, was one of the hardest days I had in my life.  It was the day that my best friend of nearly four years passed away.  Her name has been changed to give her friends and family privacy so I will settle on Yvonne.  My other best friend, Larry (name changed for the same reason) texted me.  He wanted me to call him.  So I called Larry.  It was then Larry told me that Yvonne had passed away.  At first, I thought Larry was kidding and Larry said no.  We made an arrangement to meet. Larry's girlfriend, Beth (name changed for the same reason) and Larry pick me up.  We stopped by Yvonne's house.  It then hits me.  Yvonne is gone.  She's not coming back. 

We knew it was going to happen because Yvonne kept falling asleep.  She passed away in her sleep most likely from a heart failure.  I miss Yvonne very much.  Even when Beth told me that I have to move on, I still miss her very much.  If there is one thing that never will change, it's that Yvonne will still be my inspiration.  She was one of the few people who inspired me to write in my journal every day.  Even when Yvonne is gone, I will continue to write in my journal every day for Yvonne. 

But I know Yvonne will not be forgotten. I remember last year when Bixyl and Gemma told me about their SL friend Breezes Babii passing away. Her friends came together to give her a funeral here in Second Life. They still talk about her once in a while. A few weeks ago, Akea Grommet, another of Bixyl's SL friends, passed away. Akea's friends gathered at his partner's house here in Second Life to share stories about him. Some hadn't seen him a long time, but still they came to pay their respects.

At least, I know that Yvonne is at peace.  She is in a better place and that's why I'm tell you all about my best friend of nearly four years.  Yvonne was a wonderful and kind person, who cared very much about me.  Even though I know that Yvonne is in a better place now, it doesn't stop me from missing her.  From the day I left her house, carrying a large teddy bear, I know right now that Yvonne is with me.  Best Friends Forever.

Deaflegacy

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Interview With Cynthia Farshore.


By Deaflegacy

Cynthia Farshore and I met at her place.  She offered me some tea and I accepted.  I asked Cynthia Farshore how she found out about Second Life.  "Real-life friend," said Cynthia Farshore, "Really talked it up and said would have things ready for me.  I hadn't had any experience in inworlds so didn't know beans about it."

"Could you please describe to me what your first days on Second Life were like?" I asked Cynthia. She replied, "Mmm, first days.  I was really shy. ... October 3 was my ninth Rezz Day so we're covering about nine years in a hurry."  I wished Cynthia Farshore a happy belated Rezz Day, then she continued, "Now, one of the people to bring me in was Raschid Marenwolf who I stuck with til Eternity. But that sim group was dying. ... Well there's more to the story than that. Actually my first home was 7isles and that is my destroyed land felled by strange magic.  In other words, Linden Lab screwed things up. But that's another story.  Then I traveled to Eternity Castle where I met a few like Liska." 

"... I Looked around and had been told of the Sunweavers," Cynthia Farshore continued on, "Now I had a rough growing up, wasn't liked in High School, was bullied some. The Navy wasn't the best place to have REAL friends, so I was outgoing.  Why I say that is so you understand why I was sneaking around Sunweaver.  I didn't know what kind of people I was going to run into and my experience so far in Medieval roleplay sims was not always the warmest.  But one day, I was floating around, cause I would less likely to be seen or contacted. I ran across a pyramid building and saw a line of furries dancing in sync.  I thought I would like to be a part of that.  I began to explore the building and then realized Raschid knew some of the residents."

Cynthia Farshore went on, "'Ok so must be a good place,' so I got brave and walked in during a dance.  There, one of the first to greet me and start talking to me was Shockwave, and we hit it off right there.  On the roleplay sims you get a casual greeting. But once there, I found people actually talk to you.  Finally a place I felt welcomed and was happy.  Once I was comfortable I began asking questions on how things worked and started building my first house, and it looked like it. Thus comes in Shocky.  With his help, I learned and my skills grew.  Now Caledon, well that came much later.  I collect some antiques, so of course 19th century steampunk attracted me."

At that point, Shockwave Yareach came in and Cynthia Farshore greeted him.  I asked Shockwave  if he didsn't mind having his name mentioned in the article.  Shockwave replied, "Not a bit.  I'm proud to be with my lady." Cynthia explained that we were talking about coming to Sunweaver.  "You were.... hesitant." replied Shockwave  "And the first time I walked in to Cutlass which was the first real Sunweaver contact and the wolf was one of the very first to say hello.  So now we're at coming to Caledon. Again I sort of hid in the shadows and looked around.  This time 'cause being furry I found places like 1920's Berlin and Civil War RP to not be so happy about some one with more hair than them.  But soon I found enough to see it was open." said Cynthia Farshore.  "Place was not so populated so getting anywhere in membership and a place was slow.  Finally found some one who granted me citizenship.  It took a bit but finally got this parcel we're on and found a ready made store that would fit in perfectly."

My next question was about Cynthia Farshore's projects, especially the award winning build she did for Relay For Life a few years ago.  She answered, "Mmmm.  Ok well, I was just building small for myself when there was a disturbance in the force so to speak.  Someone who had built a lot of Sunweaver things, took their ball and went home.  So I being able and feeling I could help started by replacing the fishing deck that Zorro uses today on Sunweaver Space, in addition to having been asked to build a new Cutlass.  Course my jaws dropped off my skull.  It's the buckets of bolts hanging in the sky today.  I had the sim Pacific Waters and went nuts building there, since I'm from an aviation family: Air field! 

"Which lead to the air show idea after I joined our Relay For Life team.  Naturally once on that team, Rita the Chief, the two of us, " she pointed to Shockwave, "got called out to build.  We decided to take turns being chief builder per year.  Ohhh, my first camp nearly killed me, was fighting to get things to work to the last hour.  Was up all the night.  Learned a lot what NOT do do.  That was a couple years later and it was the theme Once Upon A Cure, so I thought story book let's just make a story then.  So this was different."

My last question was about "Bid Me Foxy." She answered, "Bid me Foxy, ohh boy," replied Cynthia, "I have been a goat all my SL life, until then.  It started with my friend Liska (doing a) 'Bid me Goat,' guess why goat (grin). So in response I got brave and put in for 'Bid me Fox.'  As Liska had basically my avatar as I am a heavy modded AV, I found her fox still available, the game was on.

"Booyy I had no idea the Sunnies would sentence me to twelve weeks!!  And if we include Shocky he also got twelve weeks as a goat!  But hey, we raised over 64 K.  So for 12 weeks me and Shocky was close to reversed."

I asked Cynthia  if there was anything else she would like me to mention in the article.  She relied, "Oh, and the DJing and two radio steams.  One is classic rock and the other steampunk or events.  For someone to have come in hiding behind trees, I now build, DJ, holder of two sims and two parcels, am a Duchy in Caledon and have a large number of friends.  Second Life has helped me in my real self. I have DJed for Sunweavers, Nydia's Angels, Caledon Nights and still do some as a matter of facts I'm DJing this weekend for Caledon Oxbridge University fund drive tomorrow night  (Saturday Oct. 20) 7 - 9 SL time." Cynthia Farshore went on to say that she will also be DJing  on Oct. 27th from 6-8PM SL time at the Goblin Cave Entertainment Center in Caledon Downs (104,89,32).

Over the past nine years, "The goat you got," as she once called herself, has come a long way.

Deaflegacy

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Interview With DJ Khyra Ares


By Deaflegacy

Khyra Ares is a DJ in Second Life.  In the past, she's DJed at places such as the Heart of Gold club. The Newser best knows her for her DJing Monday nights at the Happy Vixen beach club. There, she's best known for her "EDM" style music, and her unique "dazzle" pattern of stripes, which has given her the nickname the "Dazzlecat DJ." She and I recently had an interview.

I met Khyra on Discord instead of on Second Life for the interview. It seemed like a good idea. My first question for her was how long has she been Dj-ing for the Happy Vixen Club? “Close to if not just over a year now,” said Khyra. When I asked her if she is also a DJ in real life, Khyra replied, “Actually yes. Some of the people I have known in Second Life have gotten me a few gigs here and there, mainly at conventions.”

I asked Khyra how she found Second Life. She answered, “Back in September of 2006 I was engaged to a guy that I had been dating for about seven years. On the second of September, he took me to his house and confessed how much he loved me and how it hurt when I wasn't there with him. He told me he would always be there for me. The last words he said were 'I'm sorry.' I had looked down for a moment when something hit the floor, and the next sound I heard was the gun as he took his own life."

"I was devastated,” said Khyra, “I shut down completely and wouldn't talk to anyone, I hardly ate, I didn't sleep. I retreated to the only safe place I knew of: my computer. I found myself searching the internet randomly, not really for anything in particular. But then an advertisement on a random webpage caught my eye. It was an ad for Second Life. I downloaded the viewer and retreated into the virtual world, trying to keep myself as far away from reality as I could. I made friends, lived my life there, and after a week or so, it became more of a grief therapy than a game. I wasn't able to sleep for almost a month, just spent that time in world. Second Life helped me more than anyone will ever know.”

The question after that was how she came to have that particular avatar that she has now. Khyra replied, “I always had a vision of how I wanted my avatar to look. It took a few years and saving lots of tips from dancing and DJing to be able to get an avatar creator to do a tribal stripe design for my tigress avatar and purchase all the other parts I needed.” replied Khyra, “The avatar mimics my real-life fursona.”

I wanted to know if Khyra was planning on staying as a DJ at Happy Vixen Club for a long time. “I am indeed. As long as they will have me,” said Khyra with a smile. The last question I had for her was what are her future plans. Khyra replied,  “I think this question deserves one of my favorite movie quotes. 'The future is not set. There is no fate but what we make for ourselves' - John Connor, Terminator 2. Allow me to explain. My schedule in the real world is very hectic. One month I could have nothing to do at all other than my two day a week job. The next month I could be working 24/7 for three months straight. I live day to day, making my future as I go along."

"Aside from Djing in Second Life as well as room parties at real-life conventions," Khyra explained,  "my main job is as a Field Technician for Talton Communications, a company that provides equipment for telephones for detainees at multiple I.C.E. (immigration) detention centers across the country. I go to the facilities that I service once a week and do any repairs that are needed. My hobby, which other folks call a second job is I have a small, one person mobile computer repair business. I build computers, repair them, upgrade them, install home networks for wired and wireless internet, and install camera systems for residences. I am unsure of whether or not I will be able to DJ sometimes, but some how, I always pull it off in the end, one way or another.”

Khyra DJs at the Happy Vixen each Monday (baring real-life interruptions) from 6 to 9 SL time.
Purrfection Estates (236/219/24).

Deaflegacy

Monday, October 1, 2018

Interview With Tonya Souther of Team Firestorm


By Bixyl Shuftan

It was a week ago that Team Firestorm celebrated it's eighth anniversary party. Among those there was Tonya Souther, whom heads the part of the team that works on the Firestorm  Apple computer viewer, and is a founding member of the team. I recently met up with her to talk about her and her time with the team.

Noting that she had been around since 2009, I asked Tonya how she found out about Second Life. She answered, "I have an real-life friend who ran a club here for quite a long time. She's known as Axi Kurmin inworld, and as DJBronxelf in real-life. And yes, she will happily combine the two. I've known her for much longer than I've been on Second Life. She got me interested, and going to a furry convention (RCFM) that had some Second Life content.  I created this character before I got on SL, and was thrilled I could be the tigress I'd been playing online for years. ... .I was part of a group who'd been together on IRC for years. ... I bought the first avatar within moments, but that's because I'd met the creator at RCFM before signing up."

Tonya's first days and weeks went, "like learning any new platform, but Axi did a lot to help me up the learning curve, and so did the folks at the RCFM sim." One thing that got her attention was the futniture designed for Restrained Life furniture in mind, not just the cheeky aspect, but that people had the ability to design these kinds of things here, "that was what sold me on this platform being something that could be much broader than I'd magined." She would develop and sell her own line of RLV furniture.

Although Tonya became a user of the Emerald Viewer, "I liked the feature set ... I didn't meet Jessica until July of 2010. They had come up with a new release, but there was no Mac version available. They'd had problems getting it running, and their previous Mac developer had left in a huff. I got it working, and got invited to join the project, right before the whole Emeraldgate kerfuffle happened. I was an Emerald developer for a grand total of three weeks before it imploded.

As Tonya had just joined the team, her perspective from inside during Emeraldgate was somewhat limited, "What I saw was the fallout from the metadata data collection and the DDoS. I didn't know any of the players well, but I knew who were the big contributors. When LL issued their ultimatum, I wasn't all that surprised. The big problem for us was going to be to keep the project going. I wanted to have Emerald continue as before, minus the three people that Linden Lab had demanded depart. Two of them did, but one did not...and his refusal essentially shot Emerald in the head."

She described what happened next, "When it became obvious that we were going down in flames, I got with Jessica. She'd made comments about forking the project, and I convinced her that we were going to have to do just that if we couldn't eject that one developer. We did try. Jessica had admin privileges on the Emerald servers and she tried to lock that developer out of it, but got caught and shut off. So I talked her into starting a new project, which came quickly to be known as Phoenix (from the ashes of Emerald). She was reluctant at first. But she realized after I twisted her arm that it needed doing, and she was about the only one who could. And so we did."

Tonya called the next few weeks, "Hectic as hell! We were busting our collective butts to get something, anything, ready to release ASAP, so the users would have something to work with. Linden Lab had been very, very clear in their insistence that if their ultimatum wasn't met, Emerald would be blocked. But we got something built and running and rebranded,-that was most of the hard work, really - and released. And as soon as we did, Linden Lab dropped the banhammer (on Emerald)."

When I asked if the reaction of Team Phoenix to the Lab putting their viewer on the approved list was a sigh of relief, Tonya responded, "Yes, and not from just us, either. I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure Linden Lab was waiting for us to release before banning Emerald. They were quite happy that they had an alternative available for folks who didn't want to use 1.23." And the reaction fron the new team to what was left of Emerald signing up with Utherverse the owners of the small "Red Light District" adult-oriented virtual world? Tonya called it, "A collective eyeroll, and that was about it. We were up to our a**es in our own alligators enough, and we didn't have time to worry about what folks Linden Lab had run off were up to, as long as they didn't bother us. They tried. They released a version of Emerald, the 2600 release, that was designed to evade the ban, and got themselves thrown out of SL for their troubles. ... I don't know how many were banned just for using it; I only know that two were banned for releasing it - one of them one of the ones Linden Lab had demanded we eject from Emerald." This was Lonley Bluebird/Phox, "the other was Arabella Steadham, who was Emerald's PR person. Me, I never understood why an open source project needed a PR person in the first place, and when she started trying ot run the Emerald project at the end, that struck me as a serious case of (the) tail wagging (the) dog."

But after their hectic start, things began to calm a little. But they weren't truly out of the woods for a little while, "Once we got the first relase out, things quieted down a bit. We had some teething pains, with one developer trying to take over the world and getting run off, and juggling infrastructure. But it settled down after a few months. That's when we could start back to working on actually improving the code and fixing stuff that had been broken. I'd say we were in a state of flux for about the first six months, and then we could really get on with the business of making a viewer people would actually want to use. We were conscious that we were rising form Emerald's ashes. The topic on the Skype channel we were using to communicate at the time got set to 'Wie Phonix aus der Asche werd ich auferstehen' ...a line from Megaherz's song Kopfschuss. 'They tried shooting us in the head and we rose again.' And we knew that all eyes were on us, just waiting to pounce if we screwed up even a little bit. So we went out of our way to be squeaky clean."

So what was the feeling of the team at their first anniversary? Tonya described it as, "Surprised we'd made it that far, and relief that we'd put the worst behind us. We figured that if we'd lasted that long, then we were going to keep going indefinitely. Most of that was due to Jess. It's actually very rare for an open source software project to be led by a non-programmer, but she's done a masterful job of it." When asked what the biggest challenges the team faced since their first few months were, she remarked, "The biggest challenges have been personalities, mainly, Jess will joke, as she did at the party Sunday, about having two developers near each other who aren't trying to kill each other, but our disagreements have been ... passionate, at times. But we get through them."

I asked about the times Linden Lab stepped in and asked them to remove something, such as the feature early on that told users what viewer others were using. Tonya answered, "A few times, yes. We go back and forth with Linden Lab quite often about what goes into the viewer and what stays out. Most of the time, we agree pretty quickly. But there have been some serious arguments. That was one. The reason Linden Lab gave - that it was leading to bullying of users not using Phoenix - I think was BS, but LL does have the power to demand that we do things a certain way. And in the end, we do them if we can't change Oz's mind. Fortunately, he does listen to us and champion us internally. I asked if that was the biggest difference of opinion between the Lab and the team. She answered, "Mrrrr...that's a good question. I think it was, but there have been others almost as big. Take our 3-reelase policy, for example. We now will disable versions of Firestorm older than the current release minus two. We didn't want to do it, but the Lab insisted and said that we could either do that or else use their automatic updater. We're all about giving the user choices, so we do it our own way."

And while the team had their share of challenges, what were the parts that were the most fun? She answered, "The fun parts for us are when people discover something in Firestorm they didn't know was there that makes their lives easier. That gives us a real boost.  Events? We don't really have things that turn us on as a team. We're proud and happy when Jessica gets recognized for the work we've done."

Being part of Team Firestorm is only part of what Tonya does. She also runs a sci-fi roleplay inworld, about a group of Earthfolk whom are in a symbiotic relationship with extraterrestrials known as the Lategum, "Roleplay is alive and well in Second Life! I've got a sim I manage, and a group, that has an ongoing roleplay with some serious worldbuilding behind it. That's been rewarding, not just for its own sake, but as a place to belong among like-minded people. I'm wearing the uniform of the RP group, where I am known as Sister Alpha 8369. We spend quite a lot of time with each other, and it points out the real genius of Second Life: we can be who and what we want to be, deep down inside, and enjoy the company of others with similar interests."

Tonya showed me one of the meeting areas of the roleplay, "This is our common gathering area. ... We're actually 3 0 meters below the surface of the island nation of Jimat Pulau, in the South Pacific not far from Tahiti." There were some pictures nearby in a hallway, "We have a couple of furry artists among our members. But we are not furry-exclusive. We'll happily accept any species we can make a uniform for. In practice, that means they need to use a body that's SLUV compatible. Making uniforms for all fo the different mesh bodies is a rabbit hole that goes very, very deep. I made the uniforms, originally, and have adapted them for Maitreya and Omega."

"Second Life is a big part of my life, in general," Tonya told me, "Without Firestorm, I'd have left long ago. Yes, I'm a developer, but I couldn't do it by myself, not even close. We have a pretty large team, and every last one of them does something we need. They all deserve thanks."

Tonya Souther can either be contacted inworld, or email her at tonya.souther@phoenixviewer.com

Addition: Tonya Souther also has a blog, where she talks about "Second Life, from the perspective of a user, builder, vendor, and third-party viewer developer." - http://secondden.blogspot.com/

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 28, 2018

Interview With Markus Damone of AllFurRadio


By Bixyl Shuftan

Recently, I met up with Markus Damone, the founder and owner of the AllFurRadio station. Although AllFurRadio is considered an Internet Radio station, it did get it's start in Second Life. After about four years of operation, it closed with the intention or reopening later. In  August 2017, the station would reopen and quickly regain a following inside and out of Second Life. Among it's shows is "Two Vixens and a Wolf," which the Newser wrote about in July.

We met up at at the All Fur Radio Club, which is still under construction, in the FnF AFMedia sim. Although incomplete, the two-story club had a number of furnishings, such as dancepoles and nearby seats, a DJ booth on the first floor, and more.

When asked about where did he first hear about Second Life, Markus answered, "Oh wow.  Um it (was) early 2006, and I did a Google search for free MMOs and it was the only one on the site that was actually free. The ad showed a picture of a goth chick kneeling, and I was like 'sure why not?' Plus it stated you get free in-game currency weekly, like 100 Lindens. So it was like win-win."

Once inworld, "Well, I was a little unimpressed. But then I found the search function, and was like 'Oh hey, furries. I know those things.' I met a fur in Luskwood as I was wondering how to get more Lindens to buy my furry avatar. After the help, I was able to have a little more fun, hitting some casinos, doing some club contests, and after about a month I had my first furry av. After that, I was hooked."

I asked Markus where he first got the idea for a music station. He askered, "I found Furnation and the radio station there. They paid money, and I was like 'Hey I can be entertaining on the air.' So I joined. But my third show, the DJ manager was very rude and disrespectful. So I said, 'You know what, I can do this better.' That was about April 2006. So I started AllFurRadio." But his initial performance was basically a trial run for what lay ahead, though a highly successful one, "The first time I opened up AFRadio  it was packed. Though it was short lived due to the lack of money to buy a streaming server.  But the first airing of it, there was about 80 listeners.  And i knew then that if I had ever gotten the money up (front), I would do it again. So after a day and one airing, I shut it down and went back to work with the station I had came from."

Markus would continue working for someone else for about six months. About then "Several of the DJjs with that station who had became DJs because of my shows came to me complaining. When I heard their talk, I reached out and was like 'Well, I have this idea I did before, and it was great then. I am sure it will be great now.'" They restarted in October 2006.

The reboot in Markus' words, "was like an explosion.  I hit the air with a stream, and before I knew it we had 12 DJs and a battle for Furnation had began between us and the previous station we worked for.  The listener counts peaked and it grew fast and aggressive." The first year was a great success, as was the second, "The first year we hit peaks in the 100s and then we did a live show at Anthrocon.  And  that only peaked us more. Soon we were in all of Furnation. Then we were the official station of Lost Furest, then ZZ Studios, and so many other sims and location began to stream us when they didn't have a live show.  It was fast and crazy."

And they had some inworld locations on sims, "We had several. Our main branch was based in Furnation Kitsune as a dojo.  And then we setup small stations all around.  Furnation also set their Furnation Prime station, and I built a second one in the Ryder sims.  The idea was to make there be a place everywhere that AllFurRadio was." But they eventually closed down, "slowly. That was because the sims ended up going down, and they never got used. We had such a presence in all the sims we broadcasted in that we didn't need to pay for a location. It was just given to us for use. So we would have random shows in the middle of sandboxes because we could.  It got to the point that we had no need for them. No one used them. So I shut the places down to reallocate the money elsewhere."

It didn't take long for their listenership to spread beyond Second Life residents, "Our first convention is when we really started to spread outside. along with starting a branch in Furcadia.  And it was rather successful." But there was one development that dropped their numbers inworld for a time, when the Voice option was added to Second Life, "I started realizing that we had more listeners on the page than in-game. And it was mainly due to Voice being so new. And yes, sadly the moment Voice was enabled in SL, our numbers dropped. Everyone would rather voice with each other then turn the stream and and listen to us."

The station would recover those numbers soon, but from outside Second Life, "by the time that had taken full swing, we had already (been) down several conventions. So a large number of the base was outside of Second Life, (and) had never even heard of SL. And since there is no voice chat in Furcadia, we still increased. So overall, the base in Second Life dropped, but outside it increased.  We also found that the listeners outside of SL listened longer, and were less likely to stop listening in exchange for something else, because at that time, there was nothing else furry related on the net."

The station would have it's challenges over time, "We had  several.  Some DJ would say something and p*ss another off.  The worest though was what helped lead to the station closing   It detailed with one staff member getting so mad, I cant even remember what for, and he convinced the general manager to leave AFradio's Furcadia branch  and all the DJs as well. Overnight the station went dark. This was in March 2011. ... The station closed down." Markus told me real-life matters were part of the reason for the closing, "I had just become a father, (and) I was working crazy hours." He did make one attempt to reopen it a year later, "but it wasn't going to happen."

But in September 23, 2017, AllFurRadio officially reopened, "It was welcomed  and to my surprise many were happy to see if back." It was successful from the start, though Markus credits the "Two Vixens and a Wolf" radio show by Svetlana Snowpaw, Roxy Noir-Snowpaw, and Greigh VonGottreich,  "I was finding it hard to get broadcasters, and when they came along their excitement and enthusiasm was what I needed to refuel the fire. And yes, their show attracts a lot of new listeners each show. It's the entertainment furs want, not just  playing music like a Second Life DJ, but doing a real show that is professional in nature. They showed me what I had forgotten and what I was missing, that excitement, that passion, that form, the time I had lost due to all the things that had slowed down the station."

When I asked about what special event was being planned to celebrate the anniversary of AllFurRadio's reopening, Markus told me although officially it reopened in September, the real reopening was a month earlier, "That's the funny part. The opening was in August, so we ran as soft opened for the time. Our celebrated reopening date was August the 10th 2018. So this day to be honest will just (be) spent with the staff.and enjoyed with each other and our hard work thus far."

And what are the future plans for the station? Markus answered, "More cons for one. We are also opening up our other branches: AllFurMedia and AllFurNews.  Allfurmedia is schedule to be fully open sometime at the beginning of the year with the sitcom "Are You Furreal." AllFurNews "is suppose to be mainly about furry events. Right now, we are working with a contributor,  The Furry Times, and getting them setup as well looking for other correspondence and contributors. We are working on a lot of different things. Thinking of SL shows. full animation. live video, but most of this is in the infancy."

And what do his real life friends and family think of his radio station? Markus answered, "My wife does, and my mother-in-law are both co-owners.  In fact, I met my wife from one of my DJs back when I first ran the station." Second Life and the station had worked out well for him, "Indeed it has. To always for the best, but always great in the end."

A year after AllFur Radio's official reopening, Markus and his station are doing well.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, August 24, 2018

Interview with Treacle Darlandes


By Deaflegacy

I met recently with Treacle Darlandes.  The first question I had for her is to tell us some details about herself.  “Well, I think my inspiration comes from the tools, textures, scripts and other things we can all use to make beautiful things in Second Life,” she told me,  “My father in the real world is an artist.  He paints with various mediums.  Maybe I have some of his art genes.  As for my artworks, they just kind of develop when I make or see things that I like.”

I asked Treacle about the Walk of Art.  “Yes.  I use a lot of colours, and moving fractals.  Often the real intensity of the colours and movements are lost out in the open, such as garden, or where there is a lot of light,” she replied, “I felt the need (for myself mostly in the beginning) to look at the fractals and things I made at Midnight setting, or in dark places, so I could feel the intensity of the colours.  Then I decided to make them against black backgrounds.  I like it so much that I made the Walk of Art with a complete black background so that anyone who visited would hopefully feel the same power from the intense colours as I did.  That too just grew as my ideas for it unfolded.  People who visit often say that the 'Walk' gives them peace.  Or a spiritual feeling.  Or makes them emotional.  I am very flattered that people feel that way.  That is why I try to get everyone else who wants to visit to actually do the walk and not be camming about, as that spoils the whole meaning of why I created it.”

The next question was what the inspiration behind the Walk of Art.  “Some I made from things I had created previously and were my favourites, or other peoples favourites.  The rest just sort of grew as I worked on it.  Always though the theme was the power of colour.  I believe colour, like music, can have a powerful effect on how we feel.  I wanted people to feel the way I did when I looked at rich colours,” answered, Treacle, “There is nothing for sale in the Walk of Art, it is simply there as a journey for people to see should they wish to visit.  So, I suppose the inspiration was pleasure, and feelings.  Hopefully good feelings.”

I was wondering if Treacle is planning on keeping the Walk of Arts around for a long time.  “As long as I am in Second Life, or as long as Second Life is here, or as long as I can still pay for my land it will be h ere, yes.  It is part of who I am in Second Life,” she replied, “Some day I may build more.  We will see.” 

I asked Treacle about the other projects.  “Well, I take care of my art gallery where my things are for sale, and I also help Meredith Staheli with her gallery, which is called Triglav Gallery and can be found through my profile,” she told me, “Other than art, I like to help newcomers to join Second Life, or older residents who may like some help with things.  I also like to visit the Buddha Centre as it is a very relaxing and unique place in Second Life.  My art gallery was made to feel relaxing and comfortable.  This is where people can buy what I make.  I do not make art from mesh, maybe I will one day.  For my art, I prefer the traditional tools.”

I also asked Treacle for the landmarks, and here they are.

To the art gallery:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Lawst%20Paradise/202/209/24

To the Walk of Art:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Lawst%20Paradise/200/234/2001

to the New Resident Island:
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Lawst%20Paradise/131/28/22

Deaflegacy