What is Steam anyway: A Second Life resident sits on Steam’s porch and looks inside

In a discussion over at Wagner Au’s corner of the blogosphere yesterday, the fascinating question of “What is Steam?” came up. This topic always gets my attention because … I’ll go out on a limb here … I think Steam is going to become, very soon, one of the biggest software distributors around. I also think it will become, through its Workshop and Greenlight programs, the mentors of the best new indie developers, as well as the distribution channel for the best new indie work.

Also – and here’s where I stop gushing – I predict that Valve (owners of Steam) will wrap every single piece of that beautiful creative artistic work up in DRM chains so tight, locked with a TOS padlock so un-pickable, that none of those creative products will ever see the light of freedom again. Continue Reading “What is Steam anyway: A Second Life resident sits on Steam’s porch and looks inside”

Full Steam ahead for Second Life, and that’s a good thing for machinima

A lot of Second Lifers are getting steamed up about Steam, now that Linden Lab has announced it will put a portal to our little backwater enclave of Second Life up on Steam, home of 40 million gamers. D-day apears to be September 5, at least that’s what Valve, the technology company creator of Steam, says here. This has a lot of SL residents worrying we will be overrun with griefers, gun-toting hulks, and general mayhem once the “Portal” opens.

One of the more thoughtful posts along these lines comes from Darrius Gothy here who predicts that the rush of gamers into SL will erode our world into a “poor reproduction of a well-crafted 3D online game” and move SL toward game play and further away from the “My World, My Imagination” ethos. The more alarmist posts like these from Prokofy Neva here and Crap Mariner here predict griefers, mayhem, and even a shooting rampage down the Destination Guide yellow-brick road (that’s from Crap, who else?)

Well, after reading all this exciting doomsday stuff, I had to head over to Steam to check it out. What is missing from these analyses, I think, is the fact that not only will Steamers be joining us, we’ll be joining them – if we want. We will have a new playground with amazing technology, distribution structure, mentoring, and 40 million new friends to play with. 40 million! Steam is just as much – in fact millions of times more – of a community as SL is. The complexity, brilliance, and technical skill of the Steam community is dazzling.

What’s a Pansy Hopper like Bay Sweetwater doing on Steam?

Now don’t get me wrong – anyone who has watched my machinima, like Twinkle’s Journey and Pieces of My Heart, knows I’m not exactly the shoot ’em-up, mow-’em-down stereotypic gamer. In fact, when I first began talking about Valve’s new Source Filmmaker software a couple months back, one Second Lifer who shall remain nameless asked what a “pansy hopper” like Bay Sweetwater was doing on Steam. I never could figure out what a “pansy hopper” was, though I loved the name and will definitely use it for a character in a machinima someday. Even after thumbing through my urban dictionary I still don’t know what it is, but it didn’t sound complimentary. Continue Reading “Full Steam ahead for Second Life, and that’s a good thing for machinima”

I just deleted my favorite youtube video, and so can you

OK, I was tired. And it was late at night. And maybe I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been. Still, I have not yet forgiven youtube for making it soooo easy for me to delete one of my favorite youtube videos from my Second Living video channel – forever! I had a backup of the video, Tahrir Voices, on another hard drive, so I have reposted it here – but it lost all its 4,000+ views, and its historical poignancy of being posted during the Egyptian revolution. Also, since it has a new URL, anyone who clicks a link to the old video gets this ugly, unfriendly pic.

Video removal screen

Just so you know, it was not removed. It was deleted. By mistake. And despite my pleas, my desperate e-mails and calls, Google assures me it keeps no backups and cannot restore it by any means. Sob. How can a company that has a mountain of background info on anyone of us, who tracks our every move, who can offer me search hits based on what I looked up a year ago NOT have a backup of a video that retains its views? I can even see the views sitting in my Google Analytics laughing at me. I don’t believe you, Google. Not for a second. Sigh. Rant over.

Now I’m going to tell you exactly what I did so that you will never do it yourself.

It started when I was making a playlist. Simple enough. You click the big “Video Manager” button at the top of your channel, and then in the menu down the lefthand side, you click “Playlists.” So far so good.

But here’s where the road gets rocky. If at this point you click that big “Video Manager” button at the top – you do not, I repeat NOT – stay in your Playlists.

You go into your “Uploads.” These are not a playlist. These are your actual videos that you have on your channel. See that big “Uploads” title at the top? Well, I didn’t. I thought it was a playlist. So I clicked that little box to take Tahrir Voices out of the playlist, and it became history … instantly. The ironic thing is that video was history. It has clips from a video of Asmaa Mahfouz – who later became my Facebook friend and inspires my life so much – calling the world to come down to Tahrir Square on January 23, 2011, and join demonstrations that toppled the 30-year regime of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek and contributed to the domino falling of regimes across the region.But now the video itself is history. Sob. Please watch it reposted here and help it regain some of its rightful views.

The Facebook dungeon of unrecognized devices

Here I am on the road with my new Macbook Air – sleek, shiny, and tiny, running SL in Ultra – with shadows! It still has that new computer smell. I’m snuggled into my jammies in my hotel room, window open to a sweet night breeze, early starlight, and a chorus of singing crickets. I’m all settled down for a long summer’s night of surfing, blogging, and facebooking. When what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this horrible message from the noble defenders of my Facebook account:

“There was a suspicious login to your account. Your account was recently accessed from a device we’re not familiar with. For your protection, we’ve temporarily locked your account until you can review this activity and make sure no one is using your account without your permission.”

Eek! My Facebook account … locked.  My new computer does not consider this a very welcoming gesture. Just because he’s a newbie, Zuckerberg & Co. have locked him out! Too late I find out that this is a result of Facebook’s upgrade to its security system in May, 2011. Had I been one of the 6,677,333 people who like the “Facebook Security” page, which you can find here, I would have known that. Sigh.


Continue Reading “The Facebook dungeon of unrecognized devices”

“Timeline” keeping it real – sshhhhh!

Facebook’s new Timeline, like fb itself, is still keepin’ it real. The next chapter of social media history, embodied by Facebook’s new Timeline and Ticker, was announced earlier this week at the f8 (as in “fate” ) developers conference in San Fran — see the Zuck’s keynote here. Though negatively received at first (what isn’t?), changes will be coming to a Facebook page near you soon, in the next few weeks, with a target date of September 30 to begin rollout.

But what will it mean for those of us who are …  [sshhhhhh!] … on the pseudonymous side of reality? Will we use it at our peril? I think so. For pseudonymous avatars, the  Timeline presents an intriguing question: What exactly is our “life”? And how will we present it in the Timeline?

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Yes you can use a mac and viewer 2, and STILL build in Second Life!

If you are a builder who uses a mac and viewer 2, you’ve already got two strikes against you. LOL. Or so the SL lore goes.

Using a mac is always challenging in a program that’s built for windows. And viewer 2 … well, viewer 2 is just plain challenging to use on any platform. Especially if  you’re still trying to learn where things are in viewer 2 — like me, LOL.

So today I’m going to share 2 things I learned by trial and error today.

(1) How to find Local Mode on Viewer 2 (commonly called The Ruler)

Builders often like to line up what they’re building on a grid so that measurements can be exact, and placement of, for example, a beam one one side of a house will be at exactly the same relative location on the other side.

This used to be very easy to find in viewer 1.23: In the edit menu build window, just below the icons of the build shapes, there was a small drop-down bar called “Ruler” or “Grid,” depending on the version. In any case, it was very easy to select “Local” or in later versions, the grid would appear in your building as soon as you picked that “Ruler” dropdown.

But in Viewer 2? Not so easy. It stumped three experienced builders, til we finally figured it out:

1. Get in Edit mode (that’s important)

2. Choose Build, Options, Grid Options.

3. In the Grid Options menu, select “Local” from the drop-down bar.

4. You’re done. There’s your “ruler.”

(2) How to link multiple objects at the same time.

Trick question! This is not really a viewer 2 issue or a mac issue, but because I thought it was, and so spent so long figuring it out, I thought I would include it here.

The key is to get in edit mode first. That’s the step I always forget. Then it’s pretty easy. Here are instructions, using viewer 2.

1. Get in Edit Mode

2. Choose Building, Options, then toggle:  Select by Surrounding, and Select Only My Objects.

3. Then you’ll be able to draw a little yellow box around all the objects you want to select (it’s easiest if you do this from above looking down). Each selected object will be outlined in white.

4. From the dropdown Build menu, select “Link.”

5. You’re done. Your objects are all linked. Btw, the last item selected will be your root prim, and your object will take it’s name. If you want the name of the linked object to be something different, just rename it in the General tab of the Build window.

Waving goodbye to KirstensViewer

Sadly, KirstenLee must abandon development of of the KirstensViewer due to personal commitments IRL. This was the best viewer there ever was, and there are many machinima makers who will sorely miss it! The good news is we can still use the viewer; it just won’t be upgraded.

I’m sending prayers and good wishes to KirstenLee and Dawny. Thank you for everything.

Last tracks of KirstensViewer (pic by KirstenLee)

Boys and Girls! Raise giant worlds in your basement!

Back in college lit, we studied a Ray Bradbury story called Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Basement! The premise of the story was that aliens, who could take on any form, packaged themselves as mushroom spores, then sold themselves via advertisements in kids’ magazines like Boys’ Life. When the boys ordered the mushrooms, raised them, and ate them with their families, the mushrooms could take over whoever ingested them.

I thought of this story when I saw that Google over the past several years has induced ordinary people to build a world for them–Google Earth. This is the virtual globe that Google first offered as a free software download in 2005, which it still is today (although business-oriented versions Google Earth Pro and Google Earth Enterprise cost some serious money).

Google Earth–like any other social network these days–has been busy harvesting its customers as product. Dangling the lure of free software, Google Earth has enticed people with time on their hands, and an unfulfilled creative urge, to start building houses, parks, trees, water features, bridges, buildings, castles, and every kind of world landmark–all modeled in exquisite texture, size, and scale to match real world counterparts. Your grocery store clerk is probably spending his evenings modeling a 3D masterpiece for Google Earth. Right under our noses, Google is populating its virtual world–and getting us to do it!

Linden Lab’s got nothing on Google . . .

When I first began hanging out in Second Life years ago, I marveled at Linden Lab’s ability to somehow convince a bunch of hugely talented people to spend untold hours building a world that Linden would profit from. More amazing, Linden actually noodled these same people into paying for the opportunity to do so! Even now that I’m a serious Second Lifer, I still marvel over Linden’s ability to crowdsource the building of a world.

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How I outwitted the Bunny Mafia, and lived to blog about it

In my blog post here a month ago, I discussed my suspicion that it was bots, and not real viewers, who were clicking up the views on my Here Comes Peter Cottontail video once I listed in on youtube’s Promoted Video program. I promised, in Part 2, to tell you how I intended to thwart the evil Bunny Mafia plot and break its stranglehold on the children’s bedtime story market. This is that promised post.

First, I varied the geographical locations where my ads appear to avoid the bot-spots, starting with the city of Ramnicu Valcea in Romania, dubbed by Reader’s Digest (June/July 2011) “The City That Cyber Crime Built.” (Listen to the Reader’s Digest podcast here (RD does not offer the article online), or read about it in Wired Magazine here.)

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The Bunny Mafia and the Click Bots are after me!

I never meant to get mixed up with the mob. I know, all the molls say that. But in my case it’s true. All I did was sign up a few of my videos with Youtube’s Promoted Videos advertising program. And with that, I unwittingly stepped into the crosshairs of what I suspect is a bold international band of bot thugs out to protect their corner on the bedtime story market.


The Bunny Mafia: photo by TPJerematic on deviantart.net

Continue Reading “The Bunny Mafia and the Click Bots are after me!”