AutoAwesome Animates Winter Pictures from Second Life

You can get animated falling snow and twinkling lights from Google+’s AutoAwesome in your Second Life winter and holiday photos. The pictures that are picked don’t have to be from the real world – they can come from virtual worlds, game worlds, scans from old scrapbooks, even stills from movies- anywhere really.

Google Can Make Snow Fall and Lights Twinkle

For the holiday season, Google announced (on a Google+ post, of course) two new AutoAwesome features – falling snow and twinkling lights that they will add to our photos – for free! The way it works is you upload qualifying pictures to your Google+ library, and Google behind the scenes will turn them into animated gifs with either falling snow or twinkling lights. All you need to trigger the falling snow is that you have some snow in your picture. To trigger the twinkling lights, you just have to have some bright lights in your picture, like a Christmas tree.

And Here Are the Pix to Prove It!

I’m going to post a few samples here, but if you want more, visit the AutoAwesome community on Google+. Everybody proudly posts their pictures there, and there are lots of good tips too.

Here’s my first Auto-Awesome’d pic: a holiday family portrait in Second Life. Below it is a pic of some beautiful winter trees that caught my eye in my friend Willow Graysmark’s sim Serenity Sea.

Family Holiday Portrait


Twinkling Trees AA


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Google Has Decided Its Latest Product Is YOU! (And How to Opt Out)

Did you know Google is about to sell your name and picture to advertisers targeting your friends? Yup. It’s all in Google’s new TOS.

The change in Google’s Terms of Service announced two days ago are right up there with Linden Lab’s recent TOS change allowing it to grab the rights to use and sell all the content you create in Second Life. Google’s new TOS take effect November 11.

Opt Out Here

If all of this sounds a bit like organized prostitution, go here now and opt out. [Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the opt-out toggle box.] We’ve  got a month to complain before it takes effect, but our track record on changing Google’s mind is not impressive. Continue Reading “Google Has Decided Its Latest Product Is YOU! (And How to Opt Out)”

Nymwars 2.0: New Cost of Anonymity Is Irrelevance

Avatars worried about getting kicked out of Facebook and Google+ for anonymity now have a bigger concern: irrelevance.

That’s what Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt says. The Avatar Roundup that has haunted avatars since the 2011 Nymwars might be superceded in Google-land. Now Schmidt has the bright idea that it’s a lot easier just to make the anonymous irrelevant.

It’s has to do with a controversial projected Google practice called “Author Rank” – placing posts by verified authors at the top of search results. People argue about whether Google is currently doing it or not, but hardly anyone doubts that they will.

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

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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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Blogger come home

Hello, this is your blog speaking. Remember me? I’m the home where you used to live. I’ve forlornly watched you jet-setting around to fashionable spots all over the world, like Facebook, Twitter, Plurk, Second Life, LinkedIn, and the current hot getaway, Google+. I’ve left the porch light on every night, but you never come home anymore.

Sure, those clubs are fun for a night out now and then, but they aren’t your home. They don’t have a living room like I do, where you can kick off your shoes, put up your feet, and say “Ahhhhhh,” like I do.

Blogger come home! Please don’t mistake those night clubs for your home. They are dangerous and restrictive. If  you don’t like their rules, about all you can do is complain or “appeal,” and who is ever listening? And there’s always the threat that your account will be deleted, along with all the precious content you’ve created with your life’s blood running through it. Plus they break things. All the time. They’re not careful and sensitive the way I am. Things disappear from inventories. Messages get garbled or lost. Dreams are often trampled on without warning or apology.

Olly, Olly, oxen free! Imagine it’s a warm summer night, just about dusk when the fireflies twinkle and the moths flutter against the light on the porch. Your mother/father/sister/brother/friend is standing in the doorway calling you in from your play. It’s time. Build yourself an online home and treasure it. Live in it. Maintain it. Secure it. Protect your magnificent creations inside. Spruce it up now and then. Throw wild parties and invite people in.

Don’t give away all your brilliance to Google+ or some other third party. They’ll never appreciate you for who you are the way I do. They’ll never care about the magnificence of what you create the way I do. And they’ll never, ever listen to you the way your readers do.

To social media sites, you are an unpaid content creator, and an expendable one at that. You are wasting your wonderful, beautiful, incredible, irreplaceable energy building a home for someone who doesn’t even appreciate it. To them, you are a number, a source of revenue, the very product they are selling. And you will be tolerated for only as long as you fit in their package. Get too noisy, ungainly, or troublesome, and they will not hesitate to expel you. And they won’t even kick your suitcase out after you. You’ll leave with nothing, buck naked, not even a shirt on your back.

This is your blog calling you. I am your home:  your very own blog on your very own site. Sure you can have WordPress or Blogger or Tumblir host it for you. But that’s like inviting a stranger to live with you. They don’t love you like I do. They don’t wait up for you at night, shelter you through storms, have floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on dreamy vistas and distant horizons. Besides, they can quickly turn into the roommate from hell, and you know what that’s like.

Buy the domain. Host the site. Build me from the ground up.  No one is going to tell you how to design me or what widgets or plug-ins to use. Use your imagination. I’ll never monitor what you say, what you put in your profile, or what your content cloud looks like. You make the rules, or none at all. I won’t toss you out on the street because of your name. I will never tell you you’re too young, too strange-sounding, a square peg in a round circle.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m totally happy for you to hang out with your friends at social hot spots like Facebook and Twitter. But please, remember they’re just night clubs with glitzy lights and K-hole dance beats. Go out, have a great time, maybe even have a fling or two . . . but come back home to me. Your heart is waiting up for you.

Your dreams live here, and your  poems and stories and pet projects, too. My living room is big, comfy, welcoming . . .  always just the way you like it. Leave coffee cups and soda cans lying around on top of old pizza boxes. Or keep it squeaky clean. I don’t care which. This is your home. I love you just the way you are.

Google thinks I work for Linden Lab – hahahahaha

I received an IM a couple days ago from an avatar who was trying to find out if her entry for Linden’s Month of Machinima had been received, and she came across the hit for my blog (below). She hadn’t been able to raise anyone else at Linden and thought I might know something about her MOM entry because you’ll notice (in the third line) that Google says this blog entry was supposedly posted by “Bay Sweetwater in Linden Lab.”

Hahahahaha. To set the record straight, I do NOT work for Linden Lab. All hype to the contrary, not everything Google says is true! This search hit was an odd juxtaposition of my “Linden Lab” tag next to my name. Go figure.

The funny thing was, I did apply for work with Linden awhile back (ducks all the flying fruit), but never heard anything from them. Hmmmmmm. Maybe Google knows something I don’t after all?