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Opinions and views regarding diverse topics and happenings in Second Life and its community of netizens, bystanders and passersby

white dot

A short essay on disappearance

Narcissism has been killing us for years. Us, and our SL. We all blame SL and LL every time we have to face a lagfest in any sim where an event is taking place. We all want to get in at once. Of course, we can’t wait to be the first to own a piece of our favorite creators’  geniuses (as if supplies weren’t enough for all), and bloggers without sponsorship are the most desperate of all, right behind fashion maniacs and other hysterical souls who can’t control their impulses for whatever personal reasons and are at risk of pissing their underwear if they can’t have that item JUST RIGHT NOW. But that’s the sweet part. Now imagine 40 avies (the few fortunate ones) with all their garments and banal attachments worth millions of scripts and pixels in rendering cost, and then you have the world on a standstill… forever. We can’t move, we can’t shop because clicking a vendor and waiting for a response takes long, long seconds instead of being instantaneous, purchases do not deliver, and again we blame SL and LL for their incompetence.

Take a look at the following pictures.

Regular me

The first one is the regular me. Yes I know, I’m too thin and far from being a beefy dream model, but that’s all my genes managed to come up with.

Shopping look

The second one is what I call my event’s outfit. “But you’re not in that picture.” Is that what you’re thinking? Yes I am. Enlarge it and notice that little white dot marking my trivial presence (that’s like the digital prove of our existence; it’s the same for all). I’m actually naked wearing a full-body transparent alpha mask; I also walk like a noob –I’m not wearing a AO–, but no one notices it, so nobody can laugh at me and pretend they know better.

Rendering cost

The third picture shows my avatar rendering cost (ARC), as calculated by the viewer. I can’t tell you exactly what that stands for in technical terms, but it somehow shows how much the combination of textures, objects, scripts and everything else your avatar is made of costs the viewer to render. Or to put it another way, how you (and those around you) affect the performance of SL and the viewer. Something like that. The higher the number, the worse it gets. As you can see (maybe with some difficulty), wearing that suit and all, I have an ARC equivalency of 49,036. That number may seem huge (and it is, that’s why it’s red), but believe me when I say that’s actually pretty low compared to most avatars in SL. Sometimes, only a single hair piece can have an ARC that high, and if you add to that clothes, shoes, AOs, etc., it can easily get to the six digits mark. A real nightmare.

ARC 1000

The fourth picture shows my ARC in the ghostly ensemble: a plain 1000, colored green (which means it’s good). Yes, I can’t see myself, neither can anyone else. So what? If I go to an event it’s to see what’s for sale, not to show off. I’m there –and you too– for shopping (even if it’s a single item), so I’d probably be camming around, looking for what I came for (most likely I took a sneak peek on a blog post already, so it’s just a matter of finding its whereabouts), not noticing who’s there doing what, with whom, or for how long. That’s to say, I –like all of you– don’t give a shit if there are more people in the sim (if there were none, the better, for practical purposes)… except in some occasions when I feel an urge to yell at someone “motherfucker” when it’s obvious his or her larger than life ego is contributing too much to the lag infestation.

So my event’s costume has a 1000 ARC. I don’t know if it can go lower than that. Obviously, our sole presences (even if invisible) must have an impact on SL performance because we’re still there, consuming resources. So maybe 1000 is the base value. Now, if everybody could do the same when visiting areas on high demand, it may help to create a more comfortable sim environment during events.

Do you still want to show the world your beautiful pixels and the thousands of lindens you have spent on yourself? Of course you want to do that: as everybody else, we’re all narcissistic at heart. But can we be more considerate and lower our ARC when going to events? Maybe it doesn’t make a big difference, but what if it does? Everybody will thank you for being so conscious, and you’ll thank everybody who acts the same. Just saying…

Clock

2013, a review

At the end of the long road of a “dreadful” 2013 and nearing the coming of 2014, I can say it’s been a cool period, at least in my SL. It’s been far from perfect, but cool nonetheless. It hasn’t been a year of innovations or new discoveries, but several significant changes has taken place. Let’s review some of my doings in 2013.

The woodand

January arrived while I was having fun in Lionheart Estate. I stayed there until the sim where I built my “home, sweet home” vanished at the end of the month. Nope, I didn’t do anything to provoke the closure: the estate simply needed to adapt to the times, and that situation called for the “amputation” of two sims to make the rest viable. That’s what’s been happening to most estates since the end of SL’s golden age several years ago, when the promising flow of new explorers gave the wrong impression to land barons that they were coming to stay, and in the rush they stretched their simdoms too much. Since then, the world has been shrinking, at a slow pace. During this month, I also tried a parcel in a homestead for the first time since 2008, and thought I liked it for its excellent landscaping potential I eventually gave it up because of cost factors.

cabin06

February went blank in the blogging arena, not because I was lazy, but because I was pretty busy landscaping. Back then I was holding two homestead parcels in different sims at Glenxi Estates. I may have done a hundred landscaping jobs that month (and the two that followed), but only a few got finished. That’s a “strategy” I’m perfecting (roll eyes): doing things and keeping it to myself because sometimes it’s hard to find the time to sit and write something coherent, seriously. I don’t know how other people do it, but I can’t. That’s the kind of blogger I am (roll eyes again).

From the door way.

In March I switched themes and went for a beach. I just wanted to experiment in the cool spring sun before the blazing summer arrived, to see what to expect. It didn’t last long, though; I went back inland after a short while, though I secured the usual humidity levels staying  close to a body of fresh water.

Spring 2013

And so I kept playing in my quarter homestead parcel in April. Oh, seven hells: I should consider going back to paradise again… but I’m not in the stage of isolation anymore. I need space, but not in standalone sims; I’m sure about that.

Au coin de la rue pond

May was the highest month of the year in terms of blog productivity. That was due to the Home & Garden Expo. I also moved back to Lionheart Estate after they reopened a now refreshed sim they had closed in February for remodeling. The redesigned sim looked pretty, with its cobblestone streets and mesh trees and all. I got two small parcels (one is never enough, is it?). It was a pretty good-looking suburban neighborhood for mixed purposes, so it had its residential lots, a few shops, an actual church and at some point even two libraries. It also had a large train station and an out-of-place wizard’s tower of a monument that nobody visited, but well, it was there too.

June was a chaotic month. It started quite well in SL, but my real life went berserk since day 1. I just went through one of those turning points in life I guess, when you say, “Alright, this is it; see you in the afterlife,” but I managed to survive… both the illness and the medical experience. I’ve been trying to adapt to my third life since then.

Seaside Cottage

Because of June’s happenings, I spent July in recovery mode, both from illness and from the shock of having a significant part of my SL inventory lost for mysterious reasons. In a sense, I got almost all my “memorabilia” of the last six years transported to uncharted oblivion, from where I managed to recover only a few things. Thankfully I “discovered” SL sailing and the pleasures of continental vastness, which became a nice soothing therapy that helped to lower the stress levels accumulated so far. Because of that, I started to consider moving to mainland for the first time.

In August I eventually rented a parcel in mainland after pondering for a while. SL sailing requires access to the sea, and though it would have been a matter of  just tping to a rezzing zone or renting a small slip in a yacht club to have a boat out, I chose to build my own, as usual. This new real estate phase has brought with it a long period of questionings of how things work or should work in SL, since it’s a different experience for a private estate parvenu.

New Plot

After that initial renting period, I decided to “go ahead” and buy a mainland parcel in September, becoming a premium subscriber for the first time in my six-year SL “career”. I still question myself why I did it, but I guess I just wanted to experience how it is to live under LL rule. I also wanted to save some money (if possible) because tier in mainland is somewhat cheaper than in private estates due to the land being less costly to maintain. Nevertheless, I also discovered how outrageous land prices are in mainland if you want to live in a convenient place. It took me two whole months and then some to find an affordable protected waterfront parcel not very far from Nautilus, the capital of SL sailing.

October was mostly sailing, sailing and more sailing. I learned how to maneuver SL sail boats and was willing to join in the fun of SL racing. Of course, I wasn’t expecting to win any race at all, but to have some fun trying. There’s a lot to be learned yet, though, since I know nothing of RL sailing either, and all the terms in there apply in here as well. I will have to confront  my ignorance before taking things more seriously.

HeadHunter's Island HotRod

In November I started my current cranky mode, which has spread to the month of December, and doesn’t show any signs of subsiding in the immediate future. I think that’s what you get when you live in the real SL: Mainland. I also confirmed why private estates are actually the idyllic places their owners make them to be. If you’re living in one of them, don’t dare to leave just yet: hold on to it. Mainland is like living in the streets of a grotesque metropolis, fighting for your life everyday… well, not in a literal way of course.

In December I went back to renting parcels. This time I moved to Bay City, where life feels like living in one of those exclusive (even –semi– luxurious) neighborhoods you only see in the pages of Prim Perfect Magazine. This is the community in which Lionheart Estate is based on, so adaptation took no time. I was actually looking for a place where I could get more prims for the buck, and this was the place I found that met the criteria. It isn’t a place for landscaping, but it has an active community unlike any other mainland area. For the time, I may stay here for a while… and welcome 2014 in the comfort of my humble abode.

Sleeping dog in Bay City

Square metered disadvantage

Second Life’s business model relies –basically– in selling virtual land based on square meters. It’s size what matters to the Lab, not land capacity, which, from my point of view,  would be a more practical scale because it tells you how many items you can rezz in a lot and probably how much resources you consume, though I don’t have the technical know-how to say if that’s actually true (that’s my guess). Once measured in prims, the basic unit of capacity nowadays goes for land impact, but the principle stays the same.

If you get a parcel from one of the so called mainland continents, LL charges you a monthly fee depending on how many square meters you owned during the previous billing cycle. The basic fee starts at US$5.00 per 512 sq.m., and from there parcel size duplicates in each step, to 1024, 2048, 4096 sq.m., and so on until a maximum of 65,536 sq.m., which is the size of a full sim. Of course, parcels can actually be of any size, only the corresponding fee relies on fixed amounts; there are no in-betweens for the Lab. You can check more details about Mainland pricing fees at Second Life’s website.

Now, let’s consider the following scenario. You’re a subscriber and you’re paying a land use fee equivalent to 8192 sq.m. of land holding rights over the 512 sq.m. “free” limit. That would represent an extra monthly cost of US$40.00 over the US$9.95 for a premium account, for a total of US$49.95 (given that you don’t buy Linden dollars, the inworld virtual currency necessary to acquire items created by users like you, because if you do that would represent some extra charge per order). So, if you only own 5600 sq.m., you are wasting some US$12.67 a month, according to my rough calculations.

The previous assumptions hold true regardless of where your land is located, but there are some additional distinctions to be made. For instance, there are two types of regions in mainland, in terms of land capacity: single-prim land (your regular mainland regions) and double-prim land (regions with an object bonus factor of 2, as in Bay City, Nautilus City, or Zindra –the adult continent nobody speaks of anymore). Using the old unit for measuring land capacity, a 512 sq.m. parcel in a single-prim area can hold up to 112 prims only, while a parcel of the same size in a double-prim area can hold twice that much, or 224 prims. Yet, LL will charge customers the same monthly fee to both parcels regardless of land capacity. Really?

Simply put, for LL not all premium accounts are considered equals because the company is charging some residents twice as much money than it charges the few privileged customers that are gathering and holding –not to say monopolizing– double prim land ad nauseam. Is that what it is? Sounds rough? Well, let’s say it another way: Some folks are getting half the land capacity they should deserve if they expect equal status and treatment as the double-prim elite.

Can someone please prove me wrong? By the way, I’m only talking about Mainland properties, not of private regions, which are a different kind of land service, so to speak.

In the picture:

  • +Half-Deer+ Sleepy Italian Greyhound – Fawn (December Collabor88)
  • Zinnias – “Pedro” Harvest Wheelbarrow (past hunt item)