Monday, February 13, 2017

Relay For Life of Second Life steps on SL Privacy Policies

Well that didn't take long.

Presumably using their theme for 2017 as justification, Relay For Life of Second Life REQUIRES  these First Life details if you want to register a team with them:

- What country is the team mostly from?
- Languages spoken by your team members

Do they seek to segregate or assign teams to certain sections of the track based on their origins and regardless of what the team may have in mind for their build? 

No matter, these are in violation of Second Life's many rules (as covered in my post this past January), and those rules are in place for a reason.

The info the committee requires is none of their business and irrelevant for the task of fundraising and fighting cancer. It also poses a security risk to residents.

I want to add that if you happen to know a language and have helped with guides and information, that did not involve giving personal info about you and your virtual friends or forfeit having a team.

How quickly the appearance of respect for volunteer relayers melted away.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Relay For Life of Second Life: Is There Hope in 2017?

The Relay Rap session last weekend suggested that promising changes were under way, with less committee titles and a more hands-on presence from the American Cancer Society.  I'll watch from a safe distance this year and see how things go.  Team registration begins Sunday 12 February 20.

As with last year I'll be signing up with Relay For Life of InWorldz for credit card and PayPal donations.  Very soon I'll have posters in Swing Moon and Cartoon World which launch the donation webpage.  I will remain in Relay For Life Information Only group and expect all official announcements to reliably make its otifications, be it a heads up for Relay Rap, times for ceremonies, or advanced warning of campsite registration.

InWorldz has gotten a bad rap. Many years ago SL merchants flowed into their grid, then jumped back out when a copybotter followed them in.  You're not going to be rid of them save a private server.  The difference between a place like Second Life versus a place like InWorldz is that there's less red tape and complexity in IW's staff taking swift and effective action.

Thanks to this lack of rationale, merchants such as Akeyo deserted IW residents and ones such as Truth Hair never bothered.  On the plus side, I haven't seen evidence of a malformed mesh cracker avatar.

InWorldz' RFL team tools were to have reverted to general donations after their 2016 season. Instead they self-destructed.  My goal was to maintain a year round shop in Hope Village, and regret not having anything to offer for Valentines Day.  My sole incentive in IW is to raise money to help in the fight against cancer.  Hopefully this gets resolved later long before their fundraising season.

In the meantime, those headed for same in Second Life always keep in mind:

- You are volunteers. RFLofSL is not your employer. They should be grateful to all volunteers for putting in any time and effort and investment without pay.  Many people give generously who are on a fixed income or live with oppressive medical bills from THEIR battle(s) with cancer.

- RFLofSL leads serve YOU.  Their role is to get you what you need, provide info, and make things happen so you can make things happen.  It's not the other way around

- Let no one tell you that you aren't raising enough or what you do isn't good enough.  Every Linden counts

- Hold RFLofSL accountable for failing to inform or taking a position that you should have known without them posting in all official outlets, be it all groups or social media. Cliquish behavior has no place in Relay For Life and is against its very spirit.

- Report anyone in RFLofSL who struts around too cocky or bosses volunteers (volunteers comprise individuals, team captains, co-captains, team members).  Take it to HopeWalker06, the ACS liaison.  We'll trust she is on YOUR side and will put the disrespecting party in their place.

Good luck, SL Relayers!

Tribute to Pro Recreant remains intact following rennovations

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Revelations & the Aug 2016 RFLofSL Wrap Ceremony

Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  This post definitely serves this purpose.  You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list.  I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet.  Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of the Hearts & Souls Relay For Life team, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources or preventing them from representation or fundraising is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and American Cancer Society - who have nothing to do with this post

Feedback form

1. If anything, what could be done to improve any of the special events? IE: Paint SL Purple, Kick off, Halfway There, Wrap up.

Whoever thought it was cool to hold Halfway There opening ceremony in one sim didn't have the Relayers' best interest. Also so many committee no-shows  didn't look very good.



2. What is your most positive take away from our Relay season this year?
Less lag on Relay Weekend.


3. What was your most negative experience in this Relay season. (if applicable)

complete disregard of last year's feedback, a gluttonous & nepotistic committee lineup, double standard rules re events on the track like privileged big shots re T1 events and Fight Back ceremonies. Bitching over the cost of track sims which were sponsored anyway, then having a surplus of filler parcels while we lacked a sim in the activities regions.


4. What suggestions can you offer for improving our Relay season?

Stop treating Relayers like employees when you should be [acting] on our behalf. We are ALL volunteers, many with limited abilities and income from our fights with cancer. How much more disrespectful can you be? It's as if you're being pushed because YOU have some sort of political or material thing on the line.  Each and every relayer is a valuable asset regardless of what they are able to do as long as they do something.

5. What was your favorite part of Relay Weekend?

Less lag. Also Sue and Grace were very kind and eager to help. Nevar and Kammie were very nice too.


6. What if anything could be done to improve your experience at Relay Weekend?

Move media row off the track and make them a wing of the activity area. Then they can hold all the events they want without impacting the track.

7. If anything, what could be done to improve the ceremonies? IE: Fight Back, Luminaria ceremony

Move them back OFF the Track. Whoever thought it was okay to move Fight Back to the track, and during the Relay no less - again no respect for the Relayer, and Relay weekend is all about celebrating the Relayer.  You forgot.

8. If anything, what could be done to improve the awards presented Relay weekend?

We havent seen our fundraising awards yet. How about that?  Was a time we could display those at the campsites. Tonight it's 2 weeks since Relay.

3 weeks later we got them after I contacted a committee member. 
Thinking Aloud Feedback: one copy-trans version, one copy-mod version (the captain gets a special one?)
Antipathic hipocritical dumbass did not make the copy-trans one phantom.
Most teams did not receive a trophy.


9. Additional suggestions or comments

  1. Remember that wake up call in January? Remember 2-3 years ago how much better the totals were?  It wasnt about us, so stop treating us like we failed you. It's the other way around and you drove some heavy hitters away last year. 
  2. Purge the committee & go back to objective members who are not with teams.
  3. If anyone is unable to fulfill their role then they must step aside and let someone else take it over. This isnt a status thing it's a responsibility thing. They need to get their priorities straight.


10. FEEL FREE TO SUGGEST A THEME FOR OUR 2017 SEASON.

A World of Hope

They announced during the wrap up ceremony that it would be...

Passport to Hope

Gee...


RFL of SL's Red-headed Stepchild Group


For 2016 I just wanted to be aware of official events and sign ups. As an alternative to the Volunteers Group for socializing, networking & massive advertising traffic, there was the Info-Only Group.

In addition to the purpose mentioned its group chat was utilized for live text transcription during ceremonies and Relay Rap radio programs.

It became evident that the committee neglected this group except when it came time for a live transcript.  I got on them in the Captains group for not having known of upcoming changes of Rap times and audience locations. They initially indicated that it wasn't what the group was for until I mentioned that certainly its chat was good enough for closed-captioning that someone can find in themselves to remember to post about a committee radio show.

They spent the rest of the year stumbling over attempts at inclusion. This was a recurring discussion in the Captains Group chat as the committee time and again failed me (and subsequently my teammates) and anyone else utilizing info-only.

It was as though you were nothing if you didn't belong to the clique social group.  So why make info-only? To look responsible then walk away?

It became evident yet again, when during the wrap-up ceremony, content added to the website was not shared with Info-Only members.

Transcript from audio:
[10:11]  Little Miss Waffle: Random [Darrow]: Thank you to Saffia Widdershins, Cinders Vale, Zander Greene, Elrik Merlin, Eclair Martinek, Lukeflywalker Fittinger for doing our track side interviews this year.  Keep watch on our youtube channel for those interviews and our ceremonies to be posted.    I would also like to thank Jara Lowell for doing some great videos of our Relay weekend.  Jara does these every year without us even asking!

Wrap ceremony chat logs sans gestures:
[2016/08/14 10:12]  Holocluck Henly: I guess that was missing from the captain and info group notices? best kept secret those videos?
[2016/08/14 10:12]  Rowena Dubrovna: YAY KAMMIE!!
[2016/08/14 10:12]  TS (TS Darrow): Website  holo
[2016/08/14 10:12]  TS (TS Darrow): seek and u shall find
[2016/08/14 10:12]  Tony Wycliffe-Mousir (AnthonyMousir): i saw notices
[2016/08/14 10:13]  Arizona Ballinger-Whiplash (Arizona Ballinger): itison the website and was sent out a few times Holocluck
[2016/08/14 10:13]  Holocluck Henly: Depends on which group
[2016/08/14 10:13]  Arizona Ballinger-Whiplash (Arizona Ballinger): the website is open to everyone....no group needed
[2016/08/14 10:13]  Rowena Dubrovna: Also weren't they posted on FB too? Pretty sure
[2016/08/14 10:14]  Holocluck Henly: FB likes to hide youtube links. it's really a pain. ty Row I'll look there
[2016/08/14 10:14]  Rowena Dubrovna: I thiiiinnkkk they were Holo- but def on the relayforlifeofsecondlife.org



Because everyone visits each day for 7 months to seek out any changes made in every nook and cranny of a website?  Of course they don't!  'Because they were put up' is a snotty excuse.

I re-added my block on TS after the two lines - something I forgot to do after Relay Weekend (as a captain some things are a necessary evil.  In fact for those two days I also belonged to the main volunteer group to promote our Lap hour, then dropped back off).

It was shortly after this at 10:22 I received an IM from a complete stranger:

"I have seen you make such negative comments in group chat all year, why are you so miserable?"

They went on to make desparaging remarks regarding my cancer, including details of the surgery from one year prior.

I kid you not.

Like many people in SL I hold my personal cards very close.  Among my dearest friends in Second Life I may not know real names or the exact details of one's cancer or treatments.  Others I may know everything.  It's their perogative and their right to volunteer what they feel comfortable with for the support they seek.

I'm no different. As much as I share, you know very little. That's the way I like it. I have a persona and those few times I break the wall and admit to not being a sentient projection are mine to choose. On the Internet one's privacy means one's safety.

I shared those details with less people in SL than fingers on one hand.


A Committee Member's Alt?


Who was the person? Did I know them? I never saw their name before. 

After submitting an AR with logs and profiles I looked further into it. 

- They left quickly and were not on radar when I checked. Someone logged into the account to IM me then left.

- What they said strongly suggests they belonged to the Captains / Co-Captains group and had been on hand time and again when I expressed the lack of informing members on Info-Only.   There were no captains, co-captains or volunteers listed on any team's roster by that name. Ditto in the Captains or Info-Only groups.

- The only indication of this avatar was a "Why I Relay" image in photog Catalina's collection.  It was a garden variety overbulked male avatar, the sort which defied my many years of figure drawing and anatomy training.

Conclusion: It was an alt. But whose?

- If it wasn't a captain or co-captain then only committee members could have seen my group chats.

- I had blocked TS Darrow by then. Could it have been his alt? He's not the sharpest blade in the drawer.

- How did they know?  That one I could have an answer for...

Flashback to 2015.

I had been diagnosed and needed assistance. I let in an SL friend who was on the committee and not far away in RL. We spoke on the phone a couple of times. Following surgery she was in a special skype text group for updates with a couple of other friends. Not 2 days into recovery she made a rather demoralizing outburst. She was off Skype contacts so fast. This person - who saw herself as Queen Caregiver - had many opportunities to make an apology for her behavior and was obviously satisfied with it. Some champion of the cause...


- This former friend was also a member of Harmony of Hope.  99.9% she was the one who disclosed details of my cancer to the others (that too was mentioned in the AR). 99.9% certain this was not one of her alts as the remarks betrayed a special ignorance.

But bottom line is she was the only one in the RFL community who could have done this. I sure made a slip in judgement letting that one in.  What a shame.

Linden Lab - if they did anything at all - cannot share with me any actions they may have taken.  For all I know they took no actions.  But there's plenty on file including several profiles. At the time they could glance and compare IP addresses. 


Because nobody is anonymous in Second Life.

Second Life is very clear about privacy, and privacy used as a weapon on their grid:

Second Life Terms of Service

6. CONDUCT BY USERS OF THE SERVICE
----------------------------------

6.1 You will not post or transmit prohibited Content, including any Content that is illegal, harassing or violates any person's rights.

You agree that you will not:

(iv) Post, display, or transmit Content (including any communication(s) with employees of Linden Lab) that is harmful, threatening or harassing, defamatory, libelous, false, inaccurate, misleading, or invades another person's privacy...


 
Second Life Community Standards

Disclosure
----------
Residents are entitled to a reasonable level of privacy with regard to their Second Life experience. Sharing personal information about your fellow Residents without their consent -- including gender, religion, age, marital status, race, sexual preference, alternate account names, and real-world location beyond what is provided by them in their Resident profile -- is not allowed. Remotely monitoring conversations in Second Life, posting conversation logs, or sharing conversation logs without the participants' consent are all prohibited.

Policies & Policing
-------------------
While Residents may choose to play Second Life with more than one account, specifically or consistently using an alternate account to harass other Residents or violate the Community Standards is not acceptable. Alternate accounts are generally treated as separate from a Resident's principal account, but misuse of alternate accounts can and will result in disciplinary action on the principal account.


(This includes using an alt to get around a block or to anonymously fling threats. Taking a chat to Skype for the purpose of disclosing a resident's identity or any of their personal details could still count as a violation)

As for a committee member cancer shaming via an alt:  Why should it come as any surprise?  Look at what I've documented since 2014.  Ditto someone earning trust then violating someone's rights. They've all been down a long dark road for so long they wouldn't know how to redeem themselves.

Today is the first Relay Rap of 2017 in anticipation of registration month.  Let's see whether they've learned anything.  Prepare to be nonplussed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Relay Weekend 2016 - The Pros Versus The Cons


Some of the Hearts & Souls team


Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  This post definitely serves this purpose.  You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list.  I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet.  Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of the Hearts & Souls Relay For Life team, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources or preventing them from representation or fundraising is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and American Cancer Society - who have nothing to do with this post.

Breaking down the purpose of a committee for any fundraising venture, they exist strictly to represent volunteers, provide the resources needed, and act in fundraisers' best interest.  They stand with us, not below us and most definitely not above us. Most veteran Relayers in Second Life have distanced themselves from Relay For Life of Second Life as the committee has distanced itself from those basic roles. As already mentioned, the committee had taken to treating volunteers like employees.

To review: Relay Weekend is when volunteers get together to celebrate the spirit of Relay and take time out to honor those fighting cancer, those sharing in the fight, and those who have triumphed.  It is a time of remembrance for those we've lost.  It is also a great opportunity to offer some stuff for donation at one's campsite.  Relay Weekend in Second Life has historically enjoyed a boost in revenue.  In recent years however the committee has given consideration for the Relayer a back seat while pushing the fundraising aspect in their mantra.

Relay For Life and Relay Weekend are about community and camaraderie.  There were many instances of this in SL but a majority of driving forces this year had special ways of showing that they did not give a crap about their fellow volunteers.

First, the track itself. 

As you may recall the big argument over initial campsite requirements - sims which were either sponsored or endorsed by The American Cancer Society, therefore covered - was a need to use less regions for campsites and leave out those who did not raise more than a pittance.

As per a prior blog entry, I initially requested a small campsite. However I was placed between two large spaces where our parcel would easily get lost (it was decided by the team to have an actual camping ground). Across the road was a modern tile walkway and vessels from Sail For Life.  A narrow forest between a village and an airstrip across from a pier the length of an entire sim.  We would become swallowed up.

Filler parcel
Upon wandering the track it became clear that a LOT of parcels went unassigned.  Apparently they still had an excessive number of regions with corners and empty sections throughout (there were only a couple of team no-shows).  It was easy to get reassigned a full size campsite surrounded by gardens and more forestry for neighbors.  It was perfect.

Throughout preparations the committee hawked spaces for volunteer builders to fill in; one of our former neighbors expanded to fill our former spot (or 1-1/2 of a large campsite).  Anything not claimed or assigned was turned into a simple lake area with a couple of trees or shrubs and a kiosk.


The other issue were redundant campsites for the same org.  It's no secret that the Relay Rockers is a closed team consisting of T1-Radio personnel, so why do they have an additional campsite for their station on "Media Row"?  T1 Radio is home to the Relay Rockers. End of story.

Another parcel redundancy was for Fantasy Faire. They had a sponsored sim and took up one half, then another parcel on Media Row.  At best why not just give credit where due and make it a Radio Riel campsite on Media Row for providing FF their stream?

More on Media Row later.

Last but not Least a Survivors designer sim. Since American Cancer Society region has become part of the track there already IS a dedication to Survivors.  This was an unnecessary presence, just like any staff or committee related campsite should have been replaced with more active attention drawn to the key region where this all converges and still offers the best information & spots to reflect or pay homage.  I still cringe at how they desecrated Pro Recreant's memorial to make way for the kickoff day build.


The Low Lag Pitch

As you know there was emphasis in keeping builds phantom and linked to a root prim way beneath the terrain. I visited some committee builds to view the depth of their foundations and followed suit, but the Pathfinding aspects were largely bullshit and not applicable to the track.  It was easy enough to humor them and ours was among the few campsites who complied.  Almost everyone used phantom and the water spaces helped as well.

Sue Peregrine and Grace Devin get major kudos for planning and helping teams prepare for the most stable Relay Weekend on record.  In fact Grace went out of her way to help our team get re-settled and was always on hand for questions or to check out track anomalies.

Grace also redesigned the archways and eliminated trackside infostations.  The assorted callouts and decor on the archways provided lap theme swag and information.

An archway under construction

The only problems in the design were that directional arrows appeared only once per sim and there was no center line to align automated walkers to.  These both fell under feedback in 2015 as being Relayer-unfriendly over prettiness.

Activity Sims Fail

Their idea of land conservation wasn't in the track with its zillion filler spaces (we could have had so many less but rather in having only three Activity sims instead of four.  Not only that an Activity sim turned out to be "Relay For Life", which traditionally served as the landing point for visitors.

So think about this: You have an opening ceremony which usually requires 4 heavily populated regions with the committee set in the center for everyone to follow.  This time it is three regions, one which has a forced landing point hundreds of meters up with displays and an introduction to Relay For Life for those who connected via viewer MOTD's or the Second Life Destination Guide.  The other sims were filled and this was your only means to get to the ground level ceremony.

What were they thinking? Not of the Relayer, the survivor, the caregiver, the ill participant on disability who donated some of their living expenses for their team total.  What a gesture of disrespect. Whomever planned the Activity area had a lot to answer for after that one.

Reasoning Away the Lack of Participation & Revenue

Random Darrow had decided why numbers were down:

"I picture Relay For Life in SL as a rose bush.  We were large with long tangled up branches.  We produced a lot of roses.  You could find us easily because of our size. Some roses died quite quickly others worked hard hanging on.  Yet ,we were strong and proud.

"But along came a pruning...

"...I think seasoned Relayers will agree with me that for the last couple of years we have seen a decrease in the number of teams and our totals have declined.  There are several reasons for that, but the largest I believe is the fluctuation in sl users. All of SL is feeling this."

Whatever you say Random.  Anything to turn away from the truth or for the committee to be held accountable.


The Rude & Disrespectful Lackey

Then, despite the archway and its streamline design it was decided that a BOX be placed on the track as well.  Some Committee lackey came by to place it not inside the archway but a ways and in front of our campsite.




[11:46] Holocluck Henly: hello what are you doing
[11:46] Holocluck Henly: not in front of our campsite thank you very much
[11:47] Committee Lackey: Okay listen up
[11:47] Committee Lackey: ]yes in front of your campsite
[11:47] Holocluck Henly: I'll check with the committee
[11:47] Committee Lackey: I am [Committee Lackey] and Random wanted the volunteer shrts at all 33 Landing points
[11:47] Committee Lackey: I am on the comittee
[11:47] Committee Lackey: I made all the t-shirts this year
[11:47] Holocluck Henly: I dont know you. and she didnt inform us of anything
[11:47] Holocluck Henly: I'll double check
[11:47] Committee Lackey: be my guest
[11:48] Committee Lackey: and thanks for the attitude instead of a little grattitude
[11:48] Holocluck Henly: for what
[11:48] Committee Lackey: go running to random
[11:48] Holocluck Henly: just coming here to plop a sale prim down I dont know you
[11:48] Holocluck Henly: yup
[11:48] Committee Lackey: I am doing what I was told
[11:48] Holocluck Henly: if you're right you have nothing to worry about
[11:49] Committee Lackey: I don't

According to Random, the lackey was asked to leave these boxes "at or near" Relay archways.  As usual someone was expected to use their better judgement and were incapable of exercising a minimum of empathy behind their actions on behalf of a Relay For Life committee or the American Cancer Society.  They only had one job...

...and were made to move the box into the archway rather than upstage one of my teammates' luminario memorials and its hovertext message.  Because callously dumping boxes in front of campsites not only spoils dozens of presentations after two weeks or more of hard work, it makes a mockery of cancer struggles recalled trackwide.  It was a shame there was no place for a link on the arches themselves, given their surfaces already contained clickable design elements for freebies and info.  The very purpose of the archways' design was to eliminate the need for boxes.  Her actions also disrespected those who painstakingly planned, designed and built this year's track. 

A fucking soulless jerk. Send them to this post's first paragraph following the disclaimer.  Tell her to "listen up" as to the committee's purpose.

Double Standards and Relay User Unfriendliness

Remember those restrictions to keep the track clear by limiting all events to the Activity Sims? And how T1 Radio was granted some sort of exception by virtue of committee affiliation and hosted several on the track while leading up to the big weekend?  They kept their dance machines out and touted guest DJs who in turn promoted their shifts.  Media Row became a problematic piece of lag all weekend.

One of T1 Radio's track events

The Fight Back Ceremony usually held in the Activity sims was on the track for the first time.  It monopolized a corner region, forcing Relayers to skip.  It was pointless to move this to the track other than to cause a disruption and thereby disrespect Relayers, the ACS brand, and the spirit of Relay itself. Very unfortunate.


The Fight Back Ceremony was held on the track in RFL Hope

Why did they keep extra sims for the track and pepper over 20 filler parcels throughout when they should have had 4 dedicated Activity regions with the RFL sim set apart as a landing point as it had been up until this year?

All events other than relaying belong OFF the track. Also being an exhibition sim - and no longer a vantage point for Prim Perfect or Treet TV no one live streams Relay Weekend on video any longer - Media Row should be OFF the track as well, perhaps situated beside the Activity sims and right over the border from the track at that point. 


Burma Shave style messaging along our campsite

More Bright Lights

Nevar (an oldschool organizer & co-founder of Fashion For Life) and Kammie were fantastic as Activity sim monitors.  They were kind, selfless, and seemingly tireless.  They were party to a veteran spirit all but extinct from the current order.

Our Campsite

This year I resolved to build the campsite solo and it turned out pretty well. For someone who lived in apartments all their lives it was quite a challenge to take on a forest preserve as recalled from my time in Chicago as a child.  It was a low LI backdrop for a quick journey with wellness advice and links plus cancer stories at a campfire based on actual occurrences. 

I made a machinima of it for posterity. Click the video title as it runs to open it larger in a YouTube window.

 
It was well received and a bit of a triumph considering. Thank you to those who stopped by, and a big thank you to those who never lost the spirit of Relay and what this weekend stand for.

Seven told me that campers gather with a myriad of chair types

NEXT: RFL of SL Wrap Up and the Curious Case of the Cancer-shaming Alt

Friday, July 15, 2016

Absolute Power Comes Full Circle & a Numb Farewell to a Privilege Glutton

Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  This post definitely serves this purpose.  You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list.  I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out anyway. This is The Internet.  Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of the Hearts & Souls Relay For Life team, and taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources or preventing them from representation or fundraising is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and American Cancer Society - who have nothing to do with this post or me. 

The Relay track this year. Nobody knows what the hell it's supposed to be.
 They think nobody watches, nobody notices, and that the clock isn't ticking.

They've poked and prodded the Kool-Aids to raise enough for the committee's goal, which by the way is a fraction of what we all raised together in 2014 without prodding.

So what do you think?  We arrived on the track first day the sims were ready - nay the first hour - and T1 Radio's parcel is completed over on RFL Give aka 2016's Media Row sim.  This is the other parcel representing the Relay Rockers, who consist basically of T1 staff.  Wouldn't you say there's redundant representation?  Fantasy Faire should have had a section on their supersized space dedicated to Fantasy Faire Radio IMHO rather than more of the same in a second parcel. It looks literally like a Fantasy Faire campsite annex.  And the committee expressed a need to cut back on regions to justify their initial rule of no campsites to anyone raising less than US$300.*

At any rate, it seems the sims weren't not ready yet for some time.

What if I told you it wasn't about traditional post-Relay but that Trader Whiplash - for whom being "The Voice of Relay" apparently hasn't been a high enough honor for covering Relay Rap and most official ceremonies (remember his entire radio crew were no-shows at the Halfway There Fair kick-off event) that suddenly this year he became a committee member along with Nuala Maracas, his former team captain (he is the Rockers' captain this year). 

What if I told you he's been holding events - impromptu or otherwise - ON THE TRACK?  Yes, at the T1 parcel on RFL Give.  The fact is they have dance machines there and people came over during his radio show - WHILE there were fundraising events being held at the Activity sims by those worthless peons who are only good for poking and prodding for more money.

I guess in his case it's okay to LAG UP THE REGION or BLOCK THE TRACK prior to Relay - or whatever BS made-up reason they gave us when they stopped our meager event of 8 attendees last year mid-stream to march us over to a designated Activity stage.

Speaking of which, at least last year Nuala oversaw the Activity sims. Now that she is on the committee we've barely heard or seen her.  Not only that, after all the hype and push over using the stages there in the week leading up to Relay, there hasn't been anyone on active duty to change streams.  Performers and participants have been lucky to flag someone down so their event can even begin!

You thought it couldn't get worse? There are so many ways to tell Relayers "we don't give a crap about you - just give us your fucking money," and Relay For Life of Second Life has certainly explored them all.

I already told my team that tonight when they're caching the track in a lap after clearing their viewers, just skip over RFL Give if it's full. Yes, I told them to expect this.  T1 prepares the state of their sim for mass consumption with a tailgate party on the eve of Relay Weekend.  Then again it might be held at their Relay Rockers campsite. Same difference...

I told my friends to expect Pink Floyd's "Money" to play during such and such lap on T1 this Saturday - the LP version with the word "bullshit" intact.  I called Trader out on using songs with profanity once and he took me to task.  But I know what I heard and he's repeated it since. Way to go on behalf of the ACS brand.

I rely on T1 to cue my team etc for lap changes and such.  Most Relay friends I know will ONLY tune in for the opening, luminaria, Fight Back, and closing ceremonies.  I guess it depends on how irritated I get over their DJs' obligatory use of title puns introducing a set before I switch over during the Relay. It's all via Winamp for me and I can switch to a playlist or Radio Riel Dieselpunk in seconds.

Farewell Trader from my contact list.  You're way more privileged than you need to be, much less more privileged than any volunteer representing ours and all the other teams should be.  You're no longer relevant since I no longer serve at official events.  You're just another big shot openly flaunting your position.  Not the first and not the last.

*I'll address more of how they "cut back" on the track in a post to follow.  It deserves its own discussion.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Over Halfway There, The Bubble Congeals

Our Halfway There Fair spot: low lag with lots of LI to spare

Halfway There Fair passed back in May.  Their ceremony, which had always been a combination of celebration, inspiration and peptalk for Relay For Life of Second Life volunteers was predominantly about the numbers this year.  The lineup consisted mostly of past event chairs MamaP Beerbaum and Nikki Matheison, Fantasy Fair lead Zander Greene, and current chair Random Darrow.  Not a single Relay Rocker Committee member could be found; since they comprise so much of their ranks now this was glaringly evident, not the least of which the ceremony was not simulcast on T1 Radio. Since they are not geographically connected one has to wonder why they were all no-shows for a major milestone event.


Four seats, one current committee member for this major Relay milestone event
The layout was Relayer unfriendly, with the central event spot in one sim rather than in the corner of four sims to allow more attendees. It was amusing to find committee members stuck a ways from where they had to be for most of their own thing.

MamaP Beerbaum and Nikki Matheison exclaimed how many new teams were doing so well.  I looked over at Ariel, who was now running a team of her own.  That explained why there was no CRFB DJ competition held this year by Relay Rockers.  That must have been her baby (I'm surprised Harmony from Hell didn't steal it for themselves). Ariel had hosted a variation of it earlier in the season, placing her team near the top.  Ditto photographer Catalina Straheli, who moved on from the Relay Rockers to captain her own team with stellar results.  "New" teams of these sorts made for a strong showing in the totals and these chairs were dazzled by what they thought were all first timers.

It seemed to me that because there were many new team names which appeared on the list, the committee regarded them as fresh meat to exploit.  I don't believe they realize how many of these teams were in fact reboots or spin-offs.  So they grew confident enough to press the numbers.

I saw the survivors/Caregivers setup which indicated it was time to unmute TS. It was amusing to note that most of his spot at Halfway There Fair shows Random as the owner/person who rezzed content. Hmmmmmmmmmm


Most of TS Darrow's Survivors/Caregivers content was created and
placed by top committee chair (and partner) Random Darrow. This was
initially discovered while determining why clicking givers didn't work.


Another Incident of Disconnect


It was decided our team would participate in the Relay Rockers' Relay Stock.  We registered for a tent. When I was dispatched to pick one, I was surprised to see so many tiny puptents too small for content. I had chosen that since in recent years they held our vendors and displays better than the vans.  Now it was the opposite.  To the side a ways from the stage there were two oldschool tents, one claimed by a friend, so I picked the other one.  We figured on sharing the middle space for a communal campfire.

That evening we hung out and it was good. Sometime in the night we each received IMs to vacate these. They were committee mission tents and we should not have chosen them.  Neither of us are really good with telepathy so it is understandable that we were unaware there were special plans for the tents we chose.  Seriously: there were absolutely no signs, no info on participant notecards, nothing.  When we pointed that out - while we were made to move our stuff over to a pair of puptents the following evening - they finally put signs up on their space. I wonder what they must really think of the relayers that they didn't feel they had to communicate some basics to us?  Was this another disconnect or evidence of a caste system in action?

Communal campfire before we were asked to move.
Their spot was full of mission stuff and no one manned the tents although they were set up with tables and chairs. Really folks, these could have been scattered throughout the sim if you didn't need a presence for actual avatars to help attendees.


The Navmesh Thingie


We were told that beneath the 0m line of all sims lie a Navmesh layer, and that linking all our phantom content to a root prim which intersects this area below might serve to reduce lag.

I looked navmesh up. This is a pathfinder thing which involves anchoring a scripted character to the sim for them to move around according to a game or role play situation.  There is nothing about this improving sim performance stuff.  But hey if that's what they want us to do, how hard can it be?

Seeing  this Navmesh layer is a thing unto itself.  A 64-bit TPV cannot see this except for SL's own viewer. I am using a 64bit OS. I will not install a 32-bit viewer.  If this thing is yea many meters below the sim then I'll work accordingly.


Volunteers or Employees?


Last week we were given short notice of a VERY IMPORTANT Captains meeting to attend.  - It was to be held on a weeknight USA time at the Town Hall meeting area. 

- They got the time wrong on their latest notice and neglected to promptly follow up with a correction to stick with the original time. That would have been common courtesy of course.  Apparently it was presumed that everyone wait a half hour and do nothing.

I couldn't stick around with SL13B to work on so I left. A day or so later some notes were shared with us. 

Team Captains were called on the carpet for not raising enough for the committee's goal!  I couldn't believe it.  That was a lot of nerve.  What's even worse was they exploited a sick relayer (whom for a while things looked grim) for their agenda. 

My friends know there are some things I don't tolerate, and high up on the list is using someone ill or deceased to get people to raise money or win any sort of attention.  It is absolutely abhorrent to me. I told them back when Raglan spent most of ShadyFox' memorial to beat their chests over how awesome they were that if they dared to exploit me for fundraising, attention, sales, status, or anything beyond a simple memorial with friends and acquaintances, I'd haunt the fuck out of them.  And I would.  Unless someone expressly said or left instructions "I've made a foundation or have a favorite charity so please send donations to that instead of flowers", it's dirty money.  And Random Darrow's note showed me this unethical level of pandering.

Holy crap.

I'm still not over it, and it's been over a week!

By the way they did it again. At a recent Relay Rap there was mention that larger events would have to be held in the event sims and not on campsites the 2 weeks leading up to Relay Weekend. Instructions since have indicated that ALL events must be held on the event sims.  Deceptive like last year.


Then came the Notice for Harmony from Hell's Third Annual Halloween weekend.  They better pack sunscreen in their coffins when their times come. Just saying.


Minimal Participation


Hearts & Souls took in a nice amount of donation sales at Halfway There Fair and Relay Stock from our creative members.  As for personal participation, I DJed at Fantasy Faire as planned (what I didnt expect was to be invited to play 3 sets!).  I applied for a small campsite for next month's Relay Weekend and was approached and agreed to DJ the Sunday 4am SLT lap hour for my fifth consecutive year.

I've seen a gamut of activity this year, and regretably most of it coming from people in charge who have shown themselves to be a real disappointment. Their attitude, their demands, their expectations...  It's so disheartening.  Once again it seems they have lost all perspective for the dignity it takes to represent a reputable org OR their role to serve as a liaison and not a lean-on.  The Relay community is all just fodder to them.

Imagine this: you and some friends bring a tent to some college track for a relay you signed up for on the official website and they tell you "oh you cannot be here. You didn't raise enough for us," or be turned away for not having sufficient official brochures to pass around - forget the inspirational freebies, funny hats you made with friends to lighten the mood, high fiber bars or sing-alongs.

Like my teammates said: as long as they're not skimming off donations and it's all going where it belongs, that's what counts.   Hearts & Souls have gone at their own pace without pressure as is the key characteristic of our team since its inception.  We're just fine doing what we're doing.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What 2016 holds for Relayers in Second Life

Disclaimer: When I post about negative experiences it is rarely if ever out of any smug satisfaction.  There are no winners.  It is a "buyer beware" as I stumble through the metaverse.  This post definitely serves this purpose.  You have an opportunity to learn from any mistakes I've made and spot warning signs in advance.  Those who know these people and find me relating a story: take it for what it is; there's no glory in it for me. I am sure to lose several from my contact list.  I always blog with the expectation that someone is going to find out, whether there are tattlers or not. This is The Internet.  Just keep in mind that my opinions may not be that of the Hearts & Souls Relay For Life team, and taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources or preventing them from representation or fundraising is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and American Cancer Society - who have nothing to do with this post or me. 

The First Relay Rap Gathering of 2016
Relayers waited.

Word got around that many left critical feedback as a result of the 2015 RFL season; a popular sentiment was to see what the new Relay For Life of Second Life committee would be like before resuming participation.

Many like me sat out the Xmas Expo while others made it their final involvement for the calendar year.   For the first time in four years  I didn't sign up for the Sci-Fi Convention.   No gig at Merciless Ming's.  Not until I saw true change with Relay For Life of Second Life and a committee who saw to our needs and acted on our behalf with the American Cancer Society in both words AND actions, and respected each and every one of us toward a collective goal.

The Relay committee had their first Relay Rap of the year in January and word was they would announce some changes.  Following their show would be a Q&A at a Town Hall on ACS' sim.

The Inbred Committee


As we filed in, my RL jaw dropped.  The committee was positively inbred, dominated by active members of Harmony From Hell and the Relay Rockers with little else, including both of their captains.  T.S. Darrow was once again in charge of the Survivors/Caregivers Honor Lap project.  Anybody who volunteered a service out of the goodness of their hearts in the past became a committee member.  I wonder if the minutiae of titles offered them each a tax or expense write-off?  Didn't think that's why we had a committee but you really have to wonder when you see what we saw that evening. 

The changes themselves were also the last thing any of us expected.  Looks like someone upstairs wasn't pleased with the sharp decline in donations, but rather than recognize their role in this, the committee was going to take it out of our asses.  Amazing but true: they did the math and based their 2016 objective on whomever hadn't left and our doing the same as last year.  As if.

Their platform was one of a stern drive to acquire donations. Gone was the philosophy that every little bit helped the cause. Forget FUNdraising; it was  now all about FUNDraising.  They came up with all sorts of lingo with the word "fund" in it to drive home their point. 

Were they kidding?

They added that fundraising levels and incentives were rewarded at higher numbers; teams raising less than US$300 would not only be eligible for a campsite on Relay Weekend, but not be listed on the website's totals page either.  Bronze level goal went from US$40 to US$300.  We wouldn't count for contributing to the breakdown before raising that.  They were punishing us!

What a disconnect.

They created a category called Rising Star for those raising US$100-$299.99. You still didn't rate a listing in the team totals or a campsite at the track but could get a booth for your team on some designer sim for Relay Weekend.  Tent city for the impoverished - for raising ONLY a couple hundred dollars.

They made new positions for fundraising tutors, among whom is the captain of Harmony From Hell (what she gonna teach: how to steal other Relayers' ideas for FUND and profit? LOL).  Basically more committee members from the same teams give or take a token outsider or two; I guess they added them to throw us off a painfully obviously configuration.

No more mentors/coaches assigned teams.  You've seen one team you've seen them all, right?

The only good news was the return of the inworld event boards. (UPDATE: Talk and no walk; there is only the prototype in use at RFL headquarters)

Flanked by ACTs' Bain and Cure Chasers' Sienna. Several Skype
and group chats were afire over the committee's initial decrees.

The town hall was packed. Some attendees were there because they were new, but the vast majority were pissed off veterans.  The committee responded in voice to our typed feedback and questions. They took a good look at us - slowly peering out through the filmy wall of their bubble for the first time - the faithful who cared enough to show up and who were being taken advantage of. Maybe the downward trend wasn't a natural turn or failure on our parts (ya think? Btw since the previous post a few who've read it say I was spot on.  They have a choice to remain anonymous and discrete, but someone had to say these things and it was me).  Their 2016 goal was not realistic under their imposed conditions.  About time they had that revelation.

The totals page would only display in dollars.  Many had a thing to say about that one.  I pointed out that half of my team's mid-2000s total in 2015 was raised in Lindens. Also with international participation this made it difficult for those whose common point of reference WAS the Linden Dollar.  Very user-unfriendly.

They took down all our points and would notify us of a follow up town hall.

I had made up my mind not to raise money for or donate to Relay For Life of Second Life this year.  For the first time I called RFL's hotline to get a better understanding of how the Relay structure worked and what direction to take for my team.


How being a Relay Team works


RFL of SL follows the Relay For Life model pretty closely.  First there is a scheduled Relay event such as a Relay Weekend, be it local, regional, organizational, etc.  Teams  sign up for that event and their fundraising efforts leading up to it get added to the event's grand total.

Relay Weekend is a ritual which serves to honor the survivors and caregivers, as well as a collective gesture to defy cancer's devastating impact. It is a time of celebrating victories, remembering losses, and looking to the future. Of course trinkets and stuff are offered for donations towards the event's total.  To make it clear this isn't a flea market or a swap meet.  This is about those who have fought, win or lose and celebrate moving closer to a cure.

The bottom line here is that a team cannot just exist in its own universe but must associate with a Relay event. Everything culminates towards that. You have to point to an event when you create your team for the year.  It's part of the application.


The Decision and Hearts & Souls' Objectives in 2016

There was only one other online Relay event -  the hotline representative said there was once a generic online event people could latch on to but that was gone.  So I signed us up to Relay For Life of InWorldz.  With a history of committee chairs such as Bain and OldeSoul, there was no question of their level of integrity. Our offgrid fundraising would contribute towards what was felt to be a far more deserving operation.

I crafted a notecard to my teammates, having sheltered them from most of the hipocrisy and grief of the past two years, and subsequently discussed in group chat which direction we should take for inworld fundraising.  They had two choices:

1 - Join another team with a healthy recommendation to ACTS, or
2 - Hearts & Souls would continue in Second Life exclusively for inworld fundraising and not be linked to convio, with custom posters and objects linking to our external RL team site for CC and PayPal donations. 

Their main concern was whether the committee was skimming off funds in any way.  I didn't believe so.  Also Stingray Raymaker served as ACS liaison for both Second Life and InWorldz.

The team decided to continue its presence this year.  I would provide all their tools and info, see to spots for them at major events for their vendors etc, and serve faithfully as our captain.  I would not personally post kiosks or vendors but do everything else.

My only exceptions for personal contributions would be to purchase any worthwhile offering from SF Design during Fashion For Life (done) and DJ for Fantasy Faire. Also rezzing a kiosk for placement at said major events. 

They Finally Saw the Light


At the follow-up meeting there was a great deal of backpedaling in our favor: 

- Every team with funds raised would appear on the totals page
- The totals page would display as it always had, breaking down dollars and Lindens
- Teams with a history of participation would get a campsite for Relay Weekend, even if they fell short of the Bronze (we will most likely fall into this category unless they choose to punish my teammates - predominantly caregivers & survivors - as a misdirected vendetta against these posts).

Their explanation for restricting campsites is understandable:  In previous years Teams who earned US$5 would get a large campsite (about a quarter of a sim). Others would apply and be noshows, prompting staff to fill the gaps with impromptu builds and landscapes.  Take these away and you save on sim costs reducing the size of the track.

Personally I would have offered an incentive with an option for a large campsite to Gold and higher, with the majority as smaller campsites for those who raise US$50 or higher, an obvious exception being when such a team sponsors a sim.  IMHO this should have been the policy since Day One.

There's one little question: why are they griping over the cost of sims when each one is sponsored?  It has been understood that sponsoring sims (and last year they added lap theme sponsors) covered the cost of the track, already deeply discounted. 

- Having realized we could not be held accountable for any goals they set and failed to meet, they threw out their FUND agenda and renewed their vows to respect the Linden.

Their changes on the whole were far more reasonable, and many who had planned to leave following the rap resolved to register a team.

A pity extricating T S Darrow never happened.  I'll unmute him long enough to get information for my teammates to sign up for the Honour Lap, but I'm certainly not going to run it, and he otherwise does not exist to me. 

I'd question the numbers assigned to us as team designations.  They should be on a first come first serve basis.  The first teams took days to get their confirmations, and clearly those favored got lower numbers regardless of chronology.  I was among the first to register, and landed in the 50s.  At least we're in good company!