Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with Winston Ackland

By Fritter Enzyme

I first came across Winston Ackland when someone posted the Post-Fact video on Facebook.  I have gone to many of this performances in Second Life.  He is a real life musician of over 20 years, having his music featured in two movies, “Lithuim” from Marley and Me.  “Psycho Killer" in Oliver Stone’s Savages.  He plays music from “the old days,” as he puts it, with an acoustic guitar. He adds in his own interesting composition to the mix from time to time.  I’m walking home is one of my favorites from him.  I had the pleasure to chat with him the other day about music, art and Second Life itself. 

Fritter Enzyme, "I was going to ask why you always end with the little fishies song, but you kind of got into that today, someone you used to dedicate it to."

Winston Ackland,"Yes, to my partner, Sesi. She and I did a lot together in Second Life in the past. And, it's true, she was swallowed whole by a pack of hungry alts.  Tried ending shows with some other song, but it didn't feel right, so fishies."

Fritter Enzyme, "How old were you when you began preforming in real-life?"

Winston Ackland, "I know that i got interested in it when I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I took piano lessons and my father eventually bought me a guitar. I started playing music for people as soon as I could get through a song."

Fritter Enzyme, "In Post-Fact you mention the north woods, did you grow up in the north?"

Winston Ackland, "Ummm. Relatively north.  That song is actually about Sarah Palin, the American political crackpot."

Fritter Enzyme, "Tell me about the source for 'I'm Walking Home.' ”

Winston Ackland, "Have you heard of the RPM challenge?  Their thing is to write and record an album's worth of songs (at least 10 songs or 35 minutes of material) during the month of February.  It’s like the national novel writing thing.  I’m walking home was from the first of the two of those that I did.  I was working at a place and felt that I was not long for that place, so this song came out.  When I first started playing it inworld, there was someone in the audience who had just lost her job *that very day*.

Fritter Enzyme, "How long have you been making art? I went to the gallery and saw it yesterday."

Winston Ackland, "Thank you for going to see that!  I made those images with blender, which is a very powerful, free 3d modeling program.  I wanted to make sculpties for inworld.  In fact, Sesi and I used to have a store called little boxes.  It took me a very, very long time to just get bad at blender.  At some point, however, I had a eureka moment, and it got easier.  What do they say? It takes 10,000 hours of working with something to really master it."

Fritter Enzyme, "When it becomes like a language I hear anything is liquid in thought."

Winston Ackland, "Liquid in thought, good way to put it.  It’s like singing a song remembering the words rather than reading them off a page.  Two different parts of your brain at work.  You make deeper associations with the words when you sing them from memory."

Fritter Enzyme, "Live music has taken over quite a bit in Second Life."

Winston Ackland, "There is an awful lot of it, isn't there?  I’ve been to a few live mixed DJ sets.  I find those fascinating.  They do it a lot of good, I know there must be other places too."

Fritter Enzyme, "I have always loved animation, hence my love for Second Life."

Winston Ackland, "I love Second Life.  I’ve learned so much being here."

Fritter Enzyme, "Nothing else like it."

Winston Ackland, "I’m going to go have some dinner. Take good care, Fritter (smile)."

Fritter Enzyme

(Click here if the video fails to play)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cyberbullying and Linden Lab

By Tiddily Winks

    Cyberbullying is something that is becoming an increasing problem.  It is happening all over the Social Media.  This has happened to people on Facebook.  Because of the bullying some people on Facebook were experiencing, they committed suicide.  The bully(s) have since been arrested.  It is something that any social network should be aware of and do something about.  So why did it take Linden Labs being threatened with a lawsuit before they would act? 

    A good friend of mine was being bullied on Second Life.  He reported the person to Linden Lab (LL).  All LL would say is it was against their Terms of Service, TOS, and Abuse Policy to do anything.  The person who was bullying my friend was spreading lies about him and telling everyone not to trust him.  The bully would also spread half truths about my friend.  This caused my friend some issues. He once again contacted LL and again they would not do anything about it.

    The bully would insult my friend in different groups for a period of over three weeks.  She would tell any group she was in.  The friend had to defend himself against the bully during this time.  He also posted several complaints about the bully.  He filed over 60 AR’s on the bully and others who had seen her lies also filed AR’s against her.  Linden labs still refused to do anything about this bully.

    My friend soon found out about the cyber harassment and cyber bullying laws for the social media.  Since Second Life is a social media, the friend contacted LL about these laws and that the laws set aside the TOS and Abuse Policies that LL had set.  LL still refused to do anything.  The friend turned to lawyers in California.  He sent out emails to 10 large lawyer firms in California.  He also sent the email to Linden Labs Corp Office and their legal division.  He presented his evidence and the notes about LL refusing to anything about the bullying because of the TOS and abuse policy.  He also cited the legal statutes.  Two days after sending out these emails, my friend received an email that the bully had been suspended for a period of time and was warned that if they did anymore bullying they would be banned from SL permanently.

    It took threatening legal action before LL would do anything.  This sounds like they do not care about their users as long as they can make money off of them.  LL should not see themselves above the Federal Laws just because they do not fit their TOS and Abuse Policy.  This bully has now lost all of her friends because she disgraced herself to everyone.

    My question to you is: Should it have gone this far or should LL just change their TOS and Abuse policy to fit the federal laws?

Tiddily Winks

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Philosophy Class: "Why Science is Right"

By Gemma Cleanslate

Tuesday the 2nd of September the Philosophy Class of Professor Herman Bergson gathered for the first time this semester. However, this is Lecture 534. With all the past themes we have completed over the years, Prof  Herman always comes up with a new one to keep us all from graduating. 

This semester will be devoted to the theme "Why Science is Right." The introduction on Tuesday was enticing and evoked a lively discussion as usual. We looked at the facts of where the Sciences developed through the ages. “This project is meant to investigate, whether these are big words indeed or not. What is really science? How should we look at science? How relates science to reality? Is science describing THE reality? What position does science take in our society?” Herman postulated in his lecture. 

Will we all agree that Science was right or will we come to our own conclusions at the end? I know each session , held every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00PM SL time will be most interesting. Already our discussion is open and thoughtful among the participants. As usual, most of us veterans believe at the end of the term we will have more questions then we began with, but the journey will be fun. Some of us have been here a long time, some come and go, some are new.

If you would like to see the past topics and discussions you can visit the blog page which goes back to class One. You are invited to visit the class and join the Philosophy Class Group by touching the Thinker statue in the front yard of the building. Visitors and new members are most welcome. This is Professor’s home and classroom.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview with Brace Coral, Founder of New Citizens Incorporated

By Wesley Regenbogen

This summer, Wesley wrote about New Citizens Incorporated. Recently, he had a chance to interview it's founder, Brace Coral.

Wesley Regenbogen: Hi Brace. You are a NCI Helper. What does a Helper do in NCI?
Brace Coral: A Helper at the New Citizens Inc/NCI is usually a staff person. They greet Newbies who come by our main campus. They answer questions and help New Folks with things like avatar appearance, UI basics and so on.

Wesley Regenbogen: oh, you are the Founder. So change of the question: When did you create NCI?

Brace Coral: Well I had some pretty basic ideas when I started NCI. There was a void in the "official" helper situation set up by Linden Lab, and I wanted to make sure that Newbies didn't fall through the crack because of it.

The official start date is somewhere in 2005, but the real skinny is I started in 2004, within my first year of being in Second Life.

Wesley Regenbogen: So you basic task is to help newbies. That's a noble cause. How do you help them?

Brace Coral: That's a big question! There are so many ways you can help a new person. The most important thing is to LISTEN. Most new folks will tell you what they want and need. What they want to do, why they've come into Second Life.

You help them attain their goals, and at the very least, you've given them a detailed crash course in the basics of SL.

Wesley Regenbogen: NCI also has different locations. Does each area have a owner or manager. Or is there only one person that manages all the areas of NCI?

Brace Coral: We have three campuses, each has a Coordinator who oversees things in each area. Makes sure the everything is up to spec, and all the information presented is up to date for example. They also help with making sure the Instructors have what they need at each location, and are there to help out in general.

Wesley Regenbogen: So, you give the newbie all the information he needs to adapt to the Second Life environment?

Brace Coral: Yes! For example. Someone might come in wanting to be a vampire. But they don't know how to make their avatar look like a vampire, or know where the vampires hang out, and all the different kinds from hardcore roleplay to more casual types. And we help them with that. From learning how to walk, sit, fly, manipulate their avatar appearance and clothing. Everything they need to help them achieve their goals.

Wesley Regenbogen: how many NCI Helpers are there?

Brace Coral: a lot :) I'd say 25-50 active helpers, but I don't have exact numbers. Instructors/Event Hosts/Helpers - there is a lot of overlap in the staff personnel. Many people have multiple roles. And they are all volunteers. We all are.

Wesley Regenbogen: So, all volunteers are doing it free without getting virtual payment. How is NCI getting virtual money to stay alive then?

Brace Coral: The NCI, and indeed most Helper organizations and groups, survive on resident donations. There are sponsorships via people buying ads at our campuses, donating lindens, donating land tier, buying items at our newly set up NCI Store and so on. I hold a weekly fundraiser event every Saturday evening 5pm SLT. Its a fun time for people to come meet, mix and mingle and donate & dance! Every little bit helps.

The honest truth is that many have had to also rely on their own real life money to keep things going. We had more support in the past from Linden Lab, but times have changed. So we rely on each other and donations from residents to keep on truckin(smile).

Wesley Regenbogen: Is the NCI places created by residents or is there someone that created all this?

Brace Coral: The NCI used to be just me, my SL family and some friends. We would help out at the main landing area for New Folks, that used to be Ahern. Then I created a group and got more people involved. The core of the NCI is the main New Citizens Inc group. I then rented a small plot of land, that grew into the huge NCI Main Plaza at Kuula sim. With multiple sandboxes and a bigger area for freebies. It was during Carl Metropolitan's tenure running the NCI that it really took off and became something more firmly established. Those who have been at the helm since and now have also contributed to make it what you see today. Amazing!

Those are residents who stepped up and used their skills to make the NCI something beyond my wildest dreams. I just wanted to help folks, but never thought it would become something so huge and varied as it is now.

Wesley Regenbogen: Is following classes with NCI really free and do you need to be part of a group before joining a class?

Brace Coral: All classes and events at NCI are free. You don't need to be in the group to participate. Just come as you are, have fun learning and be sure to ask lots of questions (smile).

Wesley Regenbogen: I'll surely will do. Thank you for this little interview. And I wish you all the luck with future of NCI in general!

Wesley Regenbogen

Monday, September 1, 2014

Meeting Furs For the First Time

By Tiddily Winks

Being new to the Newser group, I thought I would take the time to give you some information about myself.  I am a neko kitty who has a wonderful darkling Mistress and a wonderful pet/wife who is a purple wolfess. 

But when I first came to Second Life, I did not know much about furries.  Truth is I did not know about them, except for what I have seen in shows that I watch which did not prove to me that they existed.

 I came to Second Life by request of my wonderful darkling Mistress.  At first I found furries creepy (sorry to all furries who read this).  They made me think of what little I knew about them from the television shows.  It took some time and I slowly got used to seeing furries since they are everywhere.  I mean I could not go shopping without running into at least one furry. 

    The very first furry I met, I did not meet in a good way. Let’s just say it was a very uncomfortable situation.  Later, this same furry contacted me and asked if there had been something wrong.  I told her about my discomfort with furries and she apologized for it.  If she had known she would not have had me there at the time.  I have since gotten to know this same furry and she is now my Second Life wife.  She has introduced to me to many other furries and now they do not bother me at all.  I have even gone to Club Cutlass and met a large number of great furries.

Some people still bother me because of their attitudes, but I have found that furries are great people.  I started out as human but now have a furry avatar that I sometimes wear myself.  

The moral of this story is, do not judge a person by their looks take the time to get to know them.  Another moral is, do not believe everything you see on television which I am sure all of you know that already.

Tiddily Winks