Friday, July 17, 2015

Jaycatt Nico and Frogg Marlowe

By Bixyl Shuftan

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the first performance of a well-known musical duo in Second Life: Jaycatt Nico and Frogg Marlowe. Also known as Jaycatt and Frogg, or "Effnjay," they have played at a number of venues across the grid, including the Live stage at the Second Life Birthday. I recently had a chance to talk to them at their home venue in Aphibicatt Gardens in Lingmell. We greeted each other, then got to the interview

Bixyl Shuftan: "To begin with, did you both meet before or after you came to Second Life?"

Jaycatt Nico: "Before, probably when we were 6 years old?"

Frogg Marlowe: "Heh, we met in first grade, grew up down the street from each other."

Jaycatt Nico: "Was that about 6?"

Frogg Marlowe: "Yeah- kindergarten's at 5, so probably when we were 6. (We) went to the same school as well!"

Jaycatt Nico: "Elementary, that is."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Interesting. So you're known each other most of your lives."

Frogg Marlowe: "Yup- he's more my brother than my brother. (big grin)"

Jaycatt Nico: "Oh yes, there was a brief stretch when Frogg lived up farther north about an hour, but otherwise we've pretty much been nearby since we met."

Frogg Marlowe: "I was also travelling for about 6 months in '99."

Bixyl Shuftan: "When did you first become interested in music?"

Frogg Marlowe: "Mrs. Williams taught us both in elementary school, and we were both in a children's choir together, called 'The Leprechauns.' "

Jaycatt Nico: "My folks had my sister and I learn an instrument, and I picked piano. But yes, it was a while before our musical paths crossed more regularly like they do now.  Frogg and I haven't been playing music together until Second Life."

Frogg Marlowe: "Heh, yeah, we didn't actually play music *together* until SL. And I didn't pick up (a) guitar 'til after I was 30."

Bixyl Shuftan: "And how did you both find out about Second Life?"

Jaycatt Nico: "I learned about it from Slashdot."

Frogg Marlowe: "And I learned about it from over Jay's shoulder, while he watched MST3K at the 'Elbow Room' in SL."

Jaycatt Nico: "Such a great shared experience... Never knew that sort of thing was possible... I was hooked on SL."
Bixyl Shuftan: "So your first days here went very well?"

Jaycatt Nico: "Oh yes, at that time, it was just a three day trial, and on the second day I signed up."

Frogg Marlowe: :(laughter) Your weekend was a three day weekend - the trial was a week long."

Jaycatt Nico: "Ah okay (big grin)."

Frogg Marlowe: "It was 10 bucks to join, back then, but if you cancelled before the week was up, you got it refunded."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So the MST3K Theater was your most memorable expereince in your early days?"

Jaycatt Nico: "That, and just being able to be in a visual chat room. At the time that's about all I did online; chat and visit with folks."

Frogg Marlowe: "It was actually a tiny club called 'The Elbow Room.' They showed the show on the roof - not sure when the MST3K Theater opened up."

Jaycatt Nico: "Yeah, and below, people would just hang out and listen to the radio, talking or dancing. The small space made for a nice atmosphere."

Frogg Marlowe: "And kept everybody in chat range. (laughter)"

Jaycatt Nico: "It was the sort of experience I'd been looking for all my life, really."

Bixyl Shuftan: "At what point did you think of playing music of your own?"

Jaycatt Nico: "In Second Life you mean?  Or in general?"

Bixyl Shuftan: "In Second Life."

Jaycatt Nico: "For me it was all I knew how to play."

Frogg Marlowe: "I met a guy, and later showed him a video of me playing a song. He helped us get set up to play shows in SL, as before that, there were only about four people who'd ever played live music in SL (other than in the beta days, but that's a different story). He and his business partner built the 'lillypad lounge' for our first shows."

Jaycatt Nico: "They even got us our first mixer."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Those were the two people who helped you get started?"

Jaycatt Nico: "They really are, yeah, I can't think of any more instrumental in it."

Frogg Marlowe: "Yeah - though cua swore me to never mention his name again, (laughter) - (he just didn't want anybody else asking him for help - he likes his lazy-time)."

Jaycatt Nico: "Frogg started playing, and I played his breaks (so he wouldn't have to put on the radio for background music while he was away)."

Frogg Marlowe: "(and it was only because Jay noodled around a bit on his piano for a sound check that they even knew he played - the orginal plan was for radio in set-breaks) It wasn't until months later that we actually started playing a few songs together, which grew into more songs, which grew into what we do today (smile)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Perhaps I should ask about how your names and appearances came about?"

Jaycatt Nico: "My first name is Jon, and my father gave me the name Jon Cat at a very young age.  Not sure why, but I think it was because of the Johnny Cat cat litter brand, and it was a sort of joke.  It was shortened to J Cat, and I wrote it out Jaycatt.  As for the siamese, my cat back in 2005 was a tortoiseshell, and I wanted to match that color scheme, but this was the closest I could get. I grew into it, and now I don't look right without it after all this time."

"Oh, and I picked 'Nico' because I thought it sounded like 'Neko.' (grin)"

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds appropriate."

Frogg Marlowe: "I'd had the nickname 'Frogg' from around the time I first started writing songs - (my first song came from a voice I got after coughing for 6 months and had the chorus 'listen to my voice, I'm a man named Frogg') - The avatar was something I pieced together after a month of looking for a frog avatar in SL, and not finding anything that wasn't extremely cartoonish (took the head from one of Extrovirtual's tiny frog avatars, and the feet from an old free Linden 'frog prince' avatar) - and I picked the last name cuz I thought it was one of the names that's brought up when people talk about who *really* wrote Shakespeare's plays."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Interesting inspirations."

Jaycatt Nico: "It really is coincidence that both our names end in two letter pairs (big grin)."

Frogg Marlowe: "Heh- I started over-pronouncing the 'g' at the end, cuz people were mis-

hearing me when I introduced myself as frog... That's when I added the extra 'g.' "

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds interesting."

Frogg Marlowe: "(laughter), purely trivial."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How long before you were preforming at another venue?"

Frogg Marlowe: "I think I played my first 'away' gig within a couple weeks - we'd started with playing every Friday at 7pm at the Lillypad lounge, and have kept the timeslot going

for nearly the full decade. I think it was a place called 'Breathe,' but like most places from those days, it's long gone."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I take it the crowd enjoyed your music?"

Jaycatt Nico: "Quite a few wonderful comments, and we'd usually fill the sim, lots of times, hence why this venue is split across two of them."

Frogg Marlowe: "We were consistently filling sims to capacity for a good while, but there wasn't much competition at all in those days."

Jaycatt Nico: "Lately, it doesn't get that full, but I like to chalk it up to there always being a good 10 shows running at any given time, sometimes more. Simply amazing how live music here has exploded since '05."

Frogg Marlowe: "Also, we don't do any promotion, other than group announcements. It was a slow trickle of the musicians from paltalk, after the first group of them came over - Mel Cheeky, Russel Eponym, Cylindrian Rutabaga, and 4 or 5 others that didn't stick around very long."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What have been some of your most memorable performances over time?"

Jaycatt Nico: We've played a few official shows that I liked.  One was a mock tree-lighting ceremony, I think it was for CBS..? And another for a promotional sim made for Evan Almighty."

Frogg Marlowe: "Opening for Jonathan Coulton was a big thrill - and yeah, the tree lighting ceremony for the major network - NBC or CBS - that was when I managed to add Philip Linden as a friend (big grin). Also, the Relay stream show we did with the harmonica player in Japan was pretty cool."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Nice. Did he see any other performances of yours?"

Jaycatt Nico: "Philip?  We would occasionally see him at shows.  Not Coulton though, I don't know if I heard of him again in Second Life."

"We went to a couple of SLCCs, as well, for music,"

Frogg Marlowe: "There was a 'log-a-thon' in our first month or two, where LL tried to get as many users to log in at the same time as possible, and that was one of the first times we saw Philip. They only managed to get a little less than 5000 logged in that time."

Jaycatt Nico: "Playing at the Second Life convention was fun, and great to meet the other musicians."

Frogg Marlowe: "Heh, I remember Philip said hi to my mom, who we'd managed to teach how to log into SL. (her pc hasn't kept up with SL, though)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like fun, Frogg."

Frogg Marlowe: "And yeah, the two SLCC's we went to were pretty cool, though I slept through most of the one in 2007. Which was why I missed the group photo (big grin)."

Frogg Marlowe: "They were still trying to figure out how to incorporate live music, though, so some of the aspects of the shows there were kinda... odd."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So your mother was in Second Life (Frogg)? What have your families thought of your singing in Second Life?"

Jaycatt Nico: "My sister thought it was pretty cool, but it's not her style of music."

Frogg Marlowe: "Heh, yeah- that too - our style of music doesn't really interest most of the people we know outside of SL, (laughter). My mom really enjoyed it, when she could (smile)."

Jaycatt Nico: "Although it's true we rarely play in real-life."

Bixyl Shuftan: "You mentioned seeing more musicians after 2005. Were there any other trends in music in Second Life that you've noticed?"

Jaycatt Nico: "It's always been pretty simple to do a show: Set up a microphone and feed it into a computer.  But people experimented with relay streaming, where they can put two musicians together.  That happens more frequently.  I think there's even a group of four or more. It's a difficult thing to do, however, because who ever starts the relay doesn't hear any of the other people."

"There has been some video streaming as well, but it's never a pretty sight to see a musician all decked out in headphones and wires (grin)."

Frogg Marlowe: "I see more ebb and flow than trends. Every so often, I hear people bemoan that the scene is dying, but from my perspective, it just grows, cools, then grows again. The quality has definitely been improving. I was really impressed with what I heard when we had a bunch of us all together to play one song each, for the auditions for the offical Linden Labs 12th birthday show."

Jaycatt Nico: "It's incredible what there is out there.  All kinds of music, all kinds of instruments."

Frogg Marlowe: "styles... genres... the scene's definitely been maturing (smile)."

It was at this point near the end of our interview that we were interrupted by events in real life. When I contacted Jaycatt and Frogg, asking them if they had anything else to add, Jaycatt responded, " We plan to try and play more shows, and learn more material, but music and songs are an ever-changing thing, so we evolve along with it.  No two shows are the same, and practice is the best teacher!  Frogg hopes to learn more of the technical side of audio engineering, which should help our quality and diversity as well."

"As for other things to mention:  We are having our tenth anniversary 'party' on July 18th, Saturday, featuring a few musicians we have known over the years, playing before us.  At the event we will also be releasing a few new songs as well as some t-shirts and other merchandise featuring a new logo designed by Eo Fenstalker, a very talented artist from Second Life."

Frogg's response was short, "his answers were as good as any I could come up with (grin)."

This week, Jaycatt and Frogg have four shows over four days from Wednesday to Saturday, with Saturday being their tenth anniversary show.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, July 3, 2015

SL12B Inteview: Danger and Troy Linden with Saffia and Draxtor

By DrFran Babcock

Full Disclosure – I Wasn’t There

I watched a video of this interview, because I was working in First Life when it took place in the Dreamitarium auditorium. The auditorium, one of my favorite builds at the birthday, was built by ADudeNamed Anthony. A tip of the hat to this Bay City regular on a creation that is form and function excellence. The quiet colors of the interior stage provide the perfect backdrop for the interviews being conducted.

Whom is Being Interviewed; Whom is Interviewing?

This interview was part of the Meet the Lindens series for SL12B. Saffia Widdershins was to be conducting these talks, but if you watch this video, or were there, and didn’t know this, you would most likely not identify her as the lead in the event.

The video I watched showed many technical difficulties, that the team there, headed by Uccie Poultry worked diligently to correct, but to this day it is difficult to amass large numbers of residents.

The oversized Draxtor Depres was on the stage from the start, and I was surprised to see him. I adore Drax, subscribe to his podcast, and watch all of his videos. However, that didn’t stop me from being unhappy with his performance here. If he was supposed to be there, then I am sorry, but I was not sure, and it was never stated during the video I watched. Is he a Linden now, but I don’t know it?

On to the Main Event

Danger Linden is the Senior Director of Product – Virtual Worlds and Troy Linden is a Senior Producer. Both worked many years in the game and tech industries, and they began working at Linden Lab within a few months of each other in 2007. Both have prior experience with EA and the Sims.

At present, neither of them are working on Project Sansar, but Danger was part of the original team.

Draxtor tended to ask very important questions, but instead of asking them directly he would give a long treatise on his own opinions and end with his question. He asked Danger and Troy how they juggled work on SL2.0 and SL. He asked it after he spoke for a while about how he manages this task, and went on and on.
I am not sure why his behavior irritated me so much, but I am sure it had something to do with the fact that it was Saffia’s interview, and I know her to be too much of a lady to get into a sparring match with Draxtor.

Danger was a reasoned responder who was able to speak from his experience and avoided speaking for others. He explained that he could manage many tasks because he is now solely working on SL. He gave kudos to Oz, who has put together a dedicated and experienced team to focus on SL.

Draxtor then asked about the onboarding process for new LL employees, and found that there was a Boot Camp. This is a specific program run by Char Linden. Danger stated that LL’s onboarding is the best he has seen in a new corporation.

There were many questions from the audience: “How many women work in SL?” Danger handled it deftly: “We have more than two genders here; it’s San Francisco, after all.” Draxtor added that the staff at LL seemed the most diverse he had ever encountered.

Finally, Saffia got a question in, and asked Troy about the experience tools in SL. Troy then lost his voice, and we waited for him to come back while Saffia listened to him in Skype. While waiting for Troy Saffia still spoke with Troy, but we could only hear her assenting with him, and nothing he said. The experience tools are still in beta, but users can try them out. Individuals like Loki Elliot, and groups such as MadPea have been using them to their advantage. Draxtor asked if it was OK to make them so difficult, and Danger gave the correct answer, which is that not everyone in a world wants to use these tools, the experience is different for everyone, and not everyone wants to create and build.

When asked about what were the most enjoyable projects Danger spoke about how he loves the breaking down of silos so that SL is one place from the Welcome to the different sims. He looks at it as a system rather than disparate parts.

Troy mentioned the SL share project, and efforts to incorporate social media into SL. These are the tools that allow users to share from SL on FaceBook and Twitter and Flickr right from in world.

Of course this brought on a discussion about how much first life do people want in their second life, and how Facebook makes that difficult. Identity is a big topic in SL, and Saffia shared how she has solved this problem by creating a Saffia page in Facebook. This is not always possible.

There was an audience question about My.Second.Life, and Danger revealed that it was not going to be developed further.

Another question was about Oculus and Sansar. Danger said SL can barely support
It, because it is twelve year old legacy code, but Sansar is being built with the new tools in mind.


This is what everyone wants to hear about, and I think that some of what was revealed on other blogs has been inaccurate.

Danger and Drax spoke about the burgeoning virtual reality awareness, and that it is a hot space right now. Danger wants to do it right. Here are some of the things that were said:

Terrain will be Voxel-based. There will be a system to allow non-registered guests to create without paying, lowering the entry bar. Many people (not the Lindens) talked about Cloud Party and how you could get land once you demonstrated that you could build). I did not really hear a Linden say there would be free land, but that has been touted about the grid since this interview.

Danger did state that SL will still be viable in five years, and will not die when Sansar opens its doors. He added that a long life is ahead for SL, and many will use both.

Saffia asked audience questions.  How will animations work in Sansar? The animation system in Sansar will be a full professional system with avatars and objects, Havok plus.

Will people be able to own land? Yes. You will be able to own lands and rent land.

The first invitees will be Maya users, although all tools will eventually work in Sansar. It will be invitation-only.

Draxtor: To what extent will it be possible to build in world? 
Danger: that is the goal, to build collaboratively and in world.
Saffia joked about everyone getting two acres and a cow, and Marianne McCann quipped: “1024 and a hippo. “

A member of the audience asked if hypergridding is being considered, and Danger said not at this time.
Saffia and others wanted to know if there will be last names?  Danger said he couldn’t answer now. The main login will be your email, but you will be able to have many accounts under that address, and you should be able to share inventories amongst the accounts. There will be text and voice chat, but probably not a build for Linux.

Will Sansar be anonymous? The current vision for this is to have a hierarchy of permissions in Sansar, that relate to how much information you share with Linden Lab. The more they know you as a person, the more abilities you will have. Danger said this is to combat griefing. Trust will build user rights.

To close Danger revealed that the first invitees were being spoken to at this time. I guess all will be answered once Project Sansar opens its doors to alpha.

So, thanks to the Lindens for this improved transparency under Ebbe’s leadership, and thanks to Saffia for remaining level-headed, and thanks even to Draxtor Depres, who asked the right questions, but should have done it on his show.

DrFran Babcock

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Roleplay Etiquette

By Syndra

Dear Bunnies,

   Normally I am your fashionista expert, although now I am feeling the need to write about something near and dear to my heart. As we all know, Secondlife is full of amazing sims and Roleplay opportunities. I personally love Roleplay, especially that of the Gorean variety.

Now, we all have had the experience I am sure of as soon as you land on a sim, someone harping in your IMs about this rule or that rule and that is an immediate turnoff. However, what is more of a turnoff is if it is something minor that really doesn't matter in the instance.

Now, we all know that it is frowned upon to teleport into active roleplay; but we also know that we all do it and we all teleport people in for whatever reason suits us at the time. A simple (incoming) or (im tping someone in) in OOC brackets usually suffice.

Now personally I avoid doing this in a large crowd but if it is myself and one other person, it does not matter. Especially if we are the only two people on the entire sim. Yes, that happens; sometimes sims are empty but you and one other person can enjoy roleplay together.
This morning a very close friend of mine teleported me in to roleplay with him. He and one other person were on the entire sim. She just happened to be a slave character in roleplay with him and he wanted me to join in the 'breakfast scene' so in he brought me.

Instead of just going with it, and mind you; I posted a proper entrance to explain my sudden appearance:
 Syndra steps out of the shadows and looks to Saxon. "I could have killed you and you would not have even seen me." She glances to the girl before settling into a seat. "You rang Saxon?"

The girl involved immediately began to jump into my ims in a most unsavory fashion. For those of you who don't know, this is an immediate turn off and honestly looks bad on you as a person and the sim as a whole.

If a serious rule is broken, that is one thing. And even then it should be a mod or the sim owner in another player's private messages. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry with a complaint about a situation that is acceptable to ninety nine percent of players. Come on now....really? You have nothing better to do than to harp on for twenty minutes about such a small thing as me being telported into a roleplay by the main character because he wanted me there?

And after I asked her if it was truly that big of a deal she rolled her eyes at me. Well...all I have to say is, with players like that no wonder some sims die.

The moral of all of this is, can we not all just play together and get along. Leave the little things alone and stop trying to be the center of attention all of the time. Secondlife is a wonderful place. Let's play, and the more the merrier.

-Love Syn

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SL12B : Marianne McCann, Revisited

By DrFran Babcock


I received an offline message from the famous Doc Gascoigne telling me that Marianne McCann wanted me to interview her. This didn’t seem too unusual, because my last Second Life Birthday interview with her was my favorite interview since I had started work at SL Newser (,. I put it all together: Doc, Mari, SL12B all the components seemed to be in place, so I thought all was in place. I contacted Marianne, and she informed me that Doc had told her I wanted to interview her! Well, you have to love Mr. Gascoigne for his cleverness. Marianne and I laughed about this prank, and agreed to talk about SL12B.

Unfortunately for us, we were both so busy with (me) Relay for Life, High Fidelity, and First Life; and Marianne with The Arcade, SL12B, and the beginning of summer camp. As she said: “Yikes!”

The Interview

However, thanks to the wonder of notecards and Instant Messages, we present here an interview with the beloved Marianne McCann, wise beyond her young years:

SL Newser:  In my opinion, this year is a tipping point for Second Life™. Work has begun on SL2.0 (Sansar) and Philip Rosedale is in alpha with High Fidelity. Where do you see yourself positioned as things begin to shift?

Marianne: Personally, I don't see that. I do think there's a LOT of interesting things going on in Virtual Worlds, even beyond High Fidelity and Project Sansar, but I don't see that as the death knell of Second Life.

On a personal level, I have almost no interest in High Fidelity. I do have an account, but I've yet to find anything I feel enticed by there. As to Sansar, well, I need to see something before I even consider any involvement there.

So, so far, I'm still riding this wave. If something compels me, I'll go over there -- but thus far, I'm not compelled.

 SL Newser: SL12B What Dreams May Come…what does this title mean to you?

Marianne: Well, it's a little known fact that I came up with this year's theme.

Initially, I was playing off this notion that when we create in Second Life, what we create comes from our own dreams. We create this world purely from our own imaginations. At the Second Life birthday, we bring those dreams out and share them with each other. It's why I've tended to call each SL12B presentation a "dream," rather than just a "display."

There is a deeper level to it, however, and it's slightly coded into the choice of quote I used for the theme. "What Dreams May Come" is from Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, and is very much about death, and what dreams may come in dying. The Richard Matheson book that also uses the line is similarly about death. It may seem odd for a birthday.

Yet, let's go back to your earlier question: so many want to think of Second Life has having this uncertain future in the wake of Project Sansar and other things. Heck, we have a long and storied history of declaring the death of Second Life.

So, in this time, when we seem so enamored with the death of Second Life, let us instead see what dreams may indeed come. Let's really give people a taste of what makes Second Life still the best virtual experience out there, twelve years down the line.

SL Newser: Tell me a little (lot) about your build.

        a.    How did you get the idea?

        b.    What were the special challenges in putting it together?

        c.    What is your favorite part of the build?

        d.    What thoughts/feelings you like people to take away from the exhibit?

Marianne: My main build this year is the pavilion for Bay City, titled "The Bay City Dream." I wanted to share a slice of what those of us who live there see and experience.

I've always been fond of building my displays at the birthday event in line with vintage World's Fair structures, and this year is no exception. The design itself is a scaled down version of the Ford Magic Skyway, designed by WED Enterprises for the 1964-65 New York World's Fair (ED Note: That’s exactly what I thought of when I saw it). It does deviate a lot from it, but anyone familiar with the original will see some very obvious nods.

It is also a classic "Dark Ride," which is what the original was as well. You'll board a car, built by my collaborator, ADudeNamed Anthony (ED Note: who came in third in my RFL team’s build contest) and see three vistas of the city, while a narrator - we've called him "Narrator Mole" tells you about the Bay City Dream.

It was a bit of a challenge to put together. How do you portray the whole flavor of Bay City within a limited space? I had to use a lot of visual tricks to pull it off. In the end, the vistas inside are probably my favorite element of the show.

In the end, though, I hope folks who visit it get a sense of what the Bay City mainland community is, and what makes us a special place. I also hope it entertains folks, and they enjoy the whimsy of it all.

SL Newser:  What else would you like people to know about you, about SL, about the future of virtual worlds? In other words…what dreams may come??

Marianne: In the end, I'm a dreamer. I always will be. I think there's yet a bright future in Virtual Worlds, and we've only yet scratched the surface here. There's still times to be had here, and rather than hanging funerary flowers, let's celebrate what we have here, and what will be.

Once again, Marianne has shown herself to be a literate and sane resident in a world filled with every form of humanity—just like First Life.

Notecards make it easy to conduct an interview, but I will have to track down this busy girl and do some follow up.

Meanwhile, come to SL12B and take a ride into the history of Bay City:

DrFran Babcock