Friday, June 22, 2018

Second Life's 15th Birthday is Now!

I’ve been practically living at #SL15B.

This year it’s been a lot of fun, with TWO historic walks - one by Marianne McCann and one by the Linden Moles - an epic Federation inspired Auditorium built by Bay City alumnus ADudeNamedAnthony, a dazzling tropical DJ stage rippling with juicy colours by Lim Pikajuna (builder of SL14B's Max Mystery Island sims) and an exquisite 8 bit chandelier “cake stage” by Mikati Slade.  Straddling the dark side in 4 sims is the Crystal Rotunda Main Stage by Linden Department of Public Works and the return of Walton F Wainright with a dark, Eastern inspired temple surrounded by serpent spirits for Stage Left.
Stage Left

The Lindens had a greater hand in participating this year and added replicas of two classics due south:  The cornfield is crawling with a handful of glytch species and one exclusive for SL15B in Common, Rare, Epic and Avatar versions.  The last Bear Island is back, although orientated  back to front.  Some old classics linger along with some new ones, most of which give free copies.
Bear Island

Jo Yardley also had double duty: Making her annual replica of Berlin for denizens and outsiders to mingle, plus a walk-thru of Time Portal featuring another historic era every few steps.
Mikati Slade's Chandelier "Cake" stage aka DJ Stage South
 As always kinetic pieces abound (with one near my exhibit I’ve nicknamed “the spinning wiener” and derendered. Don’t find yourself accidentally camming within; the effect is nauseating).  Someone placed me within close proximity of friends Marianne MaCann and Tindallia Soothsayer. Bay City lies between Tindy’s Giant Snail Races presentation and mine, “The Ascent of AV”.

The Ascent of AV art exhibit and ridable crystal ball
Cattycorner from me is Mari’s historic walk.  If any of you reading this followed last season’s Designing Worlds as they covered their tenth anniversary year by year, it’s mighty clear that Marianne meticulously keeps a record of major grid goings on and is easily one of Second Life’s most devoted fans. Not far from us are dual welcome areas for your first swag. Speaking of swag, step across the sim line just north of me for lots of freebies.
Glytch Cake Avatars caught at SL15B Cornfield

MIA this year are Loki Eliot at work on other projects and MadPea.

For those unaccustomed to or overwhelmed by so much content in one place, may I recommend the Yava touring pods.  They're everywhere and offer an effortless overview of everything.

Riding a Yava touring pod into the Auditorium's shuttle bay

Noteworthy mentions are that most of the sims - those not cast into perpetual night - appear to run on a 24 hour clock.  Also the sun is a blazing plywood cube. Note: if you don't see a cube then be sure that Atmospheric Shaders are enabled.

DJ Stage North
SL15B runs events through Sunday 24 June and shuts down with a spectacular cake stage collapse on the 1st of July.

Revisit Machinima from SL14B:
My Exhibit The Other Halloween
Mikati Slade's Epic SL14B Cake Stage Collapse

Videos from Last Year

Open letter to Draxtor Despres

I once had a friend in Second Life... I knew her alts and I knew her RL husband. I listened to her RL issues like a good friend. No drama or incidents. Then one day on Facebook she announced - on her SL avatar's profile account - she was weeding out her contacts and that anyone she did not converse with in voice would be dropped.  Suddenly I was no longer real and didn't count among the people she knew; soon I would not exist.  She was promptly dropped on social media and inworld; if someone didn't regard me as a person then they certainly weren't any friend of mine.  And they aren't.

Therefore I'm no stranger to marginalization based on my method of communication.  So when you come along and tout the wonders of diversity in Second Life and the many ways we communicate and make the world smaller despite those differences, then try to bait me into voice over and over, what should I think?   We've had discussions in Facebook and Twitter on topics that I'm passionate about, but instead of asking for clarification it always led to an invitation to your podcast.  Your sentiments on diversity are NOT sincere; if anything they are disingenuine.  You are telling me whatever I've contributed in conversation was meaningless because you don't approve of someone who will not voice chat.

Let me tell you what I am about Drax. 

The written word in peril. I am ITS champion among others.  I see the crumbling of a language where an entire generation is incapable of expressing themselves beyond a level of depth without little pictures.  They think they're clever to respond with a stock animated gif.  On Facebook they never express a unique thought but rather paste other people's thoughts in memes one after the other on their timelines, then disappear for another week.  I am about mourning the death of the soul through the extinction of prose and the marginalization of people who seek to preserve it.  The persona I use online was adopted with that in mind. It is a story of being unique yet accepted.

I used to be an admirer of you  Drax (I am not a fan. I mostly hate fans. Fanatics lack objectivity or the sense that whom they admire are people that simply stand out in a crowd). You were my goto when family and friends didn't understand how Second Life worked and were confused over it not being a game while looking like one. Most of those we struggle to explain Second Life to have played nothing more than Solitaire or Freecell after sharing photos with family via Email. With your podcast you had your hand on the pulse of Second Life Residents and discussed trends and policies each week. 

Then Sansar took over and your media output saw a shift in attention.  The monthly World Makers projects ceased and there was mention on occasion of some new project: a feature length film a la World Makers.  We saw a couple of teasers several months apart. 

Your finger was no longer on our pulse and there was no reason for me to follow any further. Certainly SL would promote your finished film in a blog and via Email once it was out there, just as they had your monthly short films.

The way I see it if you were honest about your passions and said you moved on then that would have been different. Even if you were still the best one to call on for Second Life discussion because your void here hadn't been filled, so be it.  But to claim nothing's changed in the direction of your virtual pursuits is simply not the case, and no amount of denial or derisive tone changes a backlog of social media.  I know where you'd rather be.

It takes someone like me to notice.  Someone who lost a champion.

No, I won't care to discuss it on a podcast.

Drax' response was simply that I did not appreciate he and his team working on the feature, then a block and - report?  Really?

The response was a bit mystifying if it wasn't tone deaf. We know he has a feature film project about Second Life Residents; it's right above in my text.   And tbh one cannot appreciate a project until it sees completion and has been experienced.  But the question now becomes: Does he consider working on the film a substitute for a Second Life presence and when he's done for the day does he run into Sansar to clean his palate?

I also wonder what Drax sees or wants out of a virtual world.  Is it to navigate it as close to the real world as possible? Is this what people fiercely defending VR want?

Second Life - and all 3D virtual worlds since decades - have brought people together who could not otherwise.  I have a RL friend in the midwest who I meet online two or three times a week because we can.  It's no longer just a phonecall on birthdays and holidays.

Next month will have been three years a dear friend in Second Life was lost. During the memorial service many things came to light: Her time was divided between art projects and volunteering at Virtual Ability on an alt (actually, the one I knew was the alt).  She became desperately ill and disabled from the side effects of a drug she was prescribed, but you would never have known it.  She could use her arrow keys to walk up to you like anyone else and type chat and be part of society with no hint of any deficiency. Sometimes that's all anyone needs or wants. Sometimes that's what fulfills one's dreams or brings back some functionality or humanity to someone made incomplete by circumstance.  (I've been there but fortunately it wasn't chronic)

People who cannot speak or breathe well enough to speak, or had a stroke and perhaps don't sound clearly through a microphone, or navigate English better read and typed, or are just shy and have greater spontaneity with the written word.  Or lag... there can be any number of reasons why someone will prefer to keep on typing and decline voice chat.

Likewise navigating as an avatar through a virtual world. Maybe just being able to see a representation of your deepest self walk or fly or ride a shuttlecraft. The mind fills the rest in. It doesn't need to involve turning the head or holding onto controllers.

I'm not looking to be realistic, just believable and most of all accepted. Some want to be what they look like in RL, to place their actual selves into a fantasy world. Some want to be silly and some want to be a profile pic in motion.  That's what I love about Second Life.

Those reading my blogs know I'm not looking to be some bigshot club DJ.  I'm there to bring something so that people can forget their problems for an hour or two, then come away with a smile.  I can count on one hand the number of times I put on my set list anything ripped from YouTube since the last eight-plus years.  I don't care what other DJs think and I ignore their attempts to "test" me.

I'm not looking for fights or to run a show. I'm certainly not into glory calling someone out.  But to become marginalized because someone lacks empathy (which came as a complete surprise) and drives the topic away from the point just to put on airs of indignance?  

Here it comes...


For all of you who love Second Life and what it's brought to your lives, helped you explore the real you, made your lives complete, fixed the broken, or just brought you closer to people who were otherwise out of reach: I love you all.  Maybe what it brings is all we really need.  Happy 15th Birthday Second Life and THANK YOU.

Friday, July 28, 2017

The 2017 Relay Weekend Report (Long)

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 find me relating a story involving people you know: 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 my friends or team mates from ACTS, and that taking anything out on the team or creating difficulties getting the team resources, omitting them from services or preventing them from representation or fundraising, is an attack on innocent people - both from the team and The American Cancer Society.  They have nothing to do with this post.

As an addendum to my disclaimer, I'd like to state the obvious that I work hard to provide what I can to back up what I say.  For example, for my previous post about RFLofSL's shabby treatment of Giant Snail Relay I acquired images AND video references of past involvement to show just how conditions had progressively declined.  There was no ambiguity but there was much to answer for. The big question of course is whether 2018 will mark an improvement for RacerX Gullwing's team?  btw for Relay Weekend their co-captain Tindallia Soothsayer is their team's designer and builder. Ask her what they need.

As for this post, it took some time to get ahold of logs and links to back things up.  I already had a great deal of snapshots and screen captures, and perhaps between the notes and images it was just so overwhelming.  I gave up my own team because RL had its own plans for me, so putting this together had to take a back seat, even if it is posted in chronological context (this draft had been under way from July 2017 into spring 2018).  Thank you for your patience.

Me and friend Tindy taking a break while touring the Relay sims.
There is an issue which I have been overdue to address which is relevant but have decided to make that its own post at some point.  It will be NSFW and hard to miss among my posts.  But first things first.

Looking back on Relay Weekend 2016 as the nicest and least lagged in Relay For Life of Second Life's history and the committee stumbling along following volunteer backlash, we hoped that this trend of struggling to improve their empathic skills would continue into the following year.  There were some interesting changes under new lead and T1 Radio head Nuala Maracas, but what worked and what didn't by Relay Weekend?

The first thing about any sort of leadership is that putting someone with an easy disposition to the forefront does not necessarily mean they're right for the job.  Nuala stepped in for Events coordination in the past, but with so many egos at play a personality with a balance of nice and tough was necessary to reign them in as RFLofSL Chair. I did not see this. And if I didn't then others didn't.  I happen to like Nuala and felt she was in the wrong role for perhaps the wrong reasons.

Regarding management upstream: Our American Cancer Society liaison Stingray Raymaker largely ignored us in 2017 after so many no-shows in 2016 and delegated another ACS employee with little experience in cyberculture and no first-hand knowledge of RFLofSL's past to pay attention to Second Life. More on that in a future blog post.

Fall From Grace: The Phantom Inquisition 

Phantom track meant MORE lag user side as we slagged thru the uneven terrain beneath

Last year most of us embraced estate owner Sue Peregrine's advice and wisely set phantom where possible, which basically meant non-walking/standing surfaces and whatever portions of a campsite didn't rely on solid surfaces to get an effect across.  There was also the curious matter of linking to the sim Navmesh which escaped most participants, myself included.  I emulated those campsites after gauging the depth of their core prims (Sue read last year's post and IMed me about it since I mentioned I couldn't find documentation on it beyond Navmesh's role in automation.  We had a good conversation and she cleared a lot up.  Sue's very nice, and her eagerness to enlighten and generosity in loaning out sims for RFL fundraisers over the years speaks volumes.  Thanks to her the track in 2016 was the least lagged Relay Weekend ever).

But that was then.

I want to state what should be obvious: With the notoriety and loss of support covered in blog posts these three years (not just in mine) that all eyes are continuously on RFLofSL's behavior.  That said, any time an essential member of their ranks and a respected fixture of Relaydom or Second Life abruptly moves on, you have to wonder.  Two fingers from our eyes to yours.  Her departure, regardless of the reason, sent up a red flag.

As you know there's been an ongoing issue with forced landing points since last year when Relay For Life became a quadrant of the Activity Sims.  This was applied to American Cancer Society as well. The excuse for these were rubbish; they only served to inconvenience Relayers and visitors looking to return directly to locations for help and support.  I guarantee you their number over alleged undesirables was substantial.  The Relay committee 's antipathetic reputation extended to impact that of the American Cancer Society themselves, but these people remained oblivious to their impact in Second Life on the brand they served.


Purposeful / Functional application went out the window this year with frantic directives to make everything at the track phantom.

Actual Notice. Remember you can click to view blog images full size.
Designers either ignored this altogether or mocked the committee by complying and rendering paths, bridges, interior stairs and floors - EVERYTHING - phantom and therefore unusable:

Interiors & exteriors by designers who complied with the above notice.

Even then the worst offender may have been the committee themselves.  Disrespecting the diversity of Relayers in a virtual world by causing small animals, children, and fae folk to run face deep through large portions of the track.
A Dinkie cat trying to traverse the track.
Is this respectful of cancer survivors and caregivers?
I'm still not sure whether to use "overzealous" or "fanatical" here.  Neither are redeeming qualities.  One thing's for sure: this lunacy wasn't made at the request of any Lindens.

Yes, you heard right: The path itself was phantom!  Every bump and dip and stumble contributed to the burden and lag experienced by each of us.  Depriving us of a smooth surface defeated the purpose of applying phantom in the first place.

I didn't know about collision's effect on lag until last year.  I have Sue Peregrine and the Lindens to thank for it.  Relay For Life of InWorldz will never hear the end of it from me.  But god help me if I ever descend to the depths of pointless directives for their own sake or to sound important.

Fall From Grace II: The Great Hunt Hipocracy

As one would expect from an egomaniac who did not anticipate the consequences of driving a beloved and valuable member of the community out, Grace Loudon had a different set of standards for her own builds throughout the Relay sims. 

A track hunt was in play this year.  As we explored the regions after the weekend and decided to participate, it became evident that she didn't need to check her own content for collision objects or excessive scripts.

These were builds set in out-of-the-way places in the designer sims.  They all had pointless animated textures of an avatar speaking (the mouth was a tiny portion of the whole build). Some were not phantom. Many were opressively heavy builds...

 Above: over 40 LI. · Below: Over 200 LI
Both: animated texture scripts just to have the mouth move. 

Would it have been too much to expect Grace to follow her own guidelines and do the right thing? Either she didn't truly feel the rules she imposed on other builders applied to her, or they weren't valid as decreed and she just wanted to exercise power to satisfy some urge.  Or both.

Such a talented designer but what a hot mess at the cost of Relayers' comfort and mobility. Shame on her and her team.

What Became of Media Row?

Media Row was changed to optional overpasses along the track.  For those entities who sponsored to have one: Bravo!

Music To Fly By overpass complete with mixing console.
Gorean WHIP had interview seating.
T1 Radio again had its own campsite although Relay Rockers is their team (RRs have a closed membership policy) and as usual they defied policies left and right with track parties and a perpetual space for congregating and dancing.  Each year they disrupt track caching efforts with a sim blocking and destabilizing tailgate party Friday evening.

Thing is, unlike other stations affiliated with teams and mega events, T1 Radio is RFLofSL's official stream and host full coverage during Relay Weekend.  This means that while the track is heavily attended they feature DJs from a variety of orgs, each with their own following or entourage, who will congregate on the campsite.  Despite policy regarding DJs inviting followers, there are dance machines left out to encourage participation.

Relay Rockers impromptu gathering at T1 Radio Campsite fills the sim and
blocks Relayers from entering. Pic taken on Sat 13 Jul 2013 12:37pm SLT
We et al shared sims with their RR campsite in 2015 and couldn't enter it before the Honor Lap.
Is it necessary to pose a burden to Relayers? Why does such a trade-off have to exist? Teams are asked to have no more than 8 members at the campsite during Relay or parties at the track ever, so when was this double standard set? 

The fact is T1 Radio is an essential part of the Relay Experience in Second Life. They introduce relevent contacts and fellow Volunteers in a way that brings humanity to what are otherwise names in text chat. They offer up a world of inspiration and fundraising ideas and make announcements. They inform us of events and projects we might otherwise have missed.  That said, there is a need for their presence.

I have a solution for T1 Radio, and it's something I've said before:  The Activity sims are along the track and over the border, with locations each separated by an abundance of space.  Why not place T1's Campsite right at a corner? They will be accessible from and won't negatively impact the track.  Think of it: they can maintain a small listening party on site.  They attend the big ceremonies themselves so there won't be any internal conflicts during those times when there is heavy population there.

Along this principle was this year's Fight Back Ceremony.  It was done in just that way: held over the sim border while still trackside.  It was perfect.

Of course that doesn't mean some of us won't temp-derender most attendees to stay connected; a lot more were present. The Fight Back ceremony was held just over the border from the track in view of Relayers
Let's do this for T1 Radio this year so they can offer a place for ppl to dance on site all weekend! They can have their tailgate and afterparties with abandon.  Let them be the token stage for that Activity region, sharing with gachas or vendors and a quarter of the ceremony space.  Make half of the Fight Back area part of that region too since they are responsible for broadcasting it.

You're Welcome.

Mirror Mirror On The Wall: Who Congested The Track Most Of All?

Aether Chrononauts Tiny Steps was humbled when their campsite sim ran into frequent bouts of congestion. Second Place were repeat offenders Relay Rockers elsewhere on the track.

But a closer look exonerates ACTS, and here's why:

A track sim typically consists of four large team campsites.  Sometimes there are 5 as one side will have one large plus two narrow half-sites.  Congestion may occur when a team has an enthusiastic roster and high attendance all weekend. ACTS certainly falls into this category as we are a conglomerate of communities, cultures and former teams.

The Caledon portion of the ACTS campsite.
Purple Tears was across the track from us, another enthusiastic team.  They are a closed group consisting of SL children and camp counselors from a time when Hard Knocks ran an exclusive sleepaway camp each summer which ended at the track. SL Relayers know them for their long purple kites. But also - like the tinies and dinkies on our team, the children require scripts which make their forms and identities possible; it is not reasonable to expect them to omit these.  Ditto a third campsite which joined us on the sim: Fantasy Faire, with petite faeries and wing wearers. Fantasy Faire took a proactive role beyond the Faire and were a consistent presence on Relay Weekend.

So who planned for there to be three aggressive teams in one sim?  The blame would fall on someone in the committee for that.

If it didn't get even better, and it did...

Take a look at this map for the track for 2017 and our sim (we took the NE quadrant):

To the west of ACTS was Fantasy Faire. To the south was Purple Tears. Now, take a look at the SW quadrant of the sim.  Here below is a closer look so you can see that U shape in the road instead of running straight across:

RFL Hero not long after Relay Weekend

Let me bring up something mentioned last year: Remember how originally those who would reach the new Rising Star milestone of US$100 but fell short of Bronze would get a spot on a designated designer sim for their team?  Feedback over active teams who fell short of those new and demanding milestone parameters (originally Bronze was US$40 and Silver US$300) caused the committee to backpeddle over awarding campsites. They abandoned the idea of a dedicated sim of small spots altogether.

Then imposed this in OUR sim RFL Hero this year.  That and I guess some teams just didn't want the burden of having to design a quarter or eighth of a sim.

So to review:  A region consisting of THREE LARGE ACTIVE CAMPSITES with team members always present had AN ADDITIONAL EIGHT PARCELS, many also with team members always present.  In the end our sim served as home base for TWELVE TEAMS.  Yes, you saw that correctly.  Two teams merged their campsites together and made #8 on the map. One sim, 11 campsites. One sim, 12 teams. That was us. 

And you don't think the organizers are bonkers?  If this wasn't their crowning WTF moment of 2017, it came a close second after that phantom track bullshit.

Anyway: Exonerated.  Relay Rockers? Still not off the hook for congesting their sim each year :)

Another Good Thing Though: Awards!

It was awesome.  Throughout the course of the weekend committee placed fundraising awards beside campsite markers.  Members could take copies for themselves. This was a vast improvement from the previous year, when most teams didn't even receive their awards.

Only one thing: you could take a copy of everyone else's awards too.   For some, RFLofSL award levels are a goalpost, while for others they're a status symbol to permit them to look down at others.  I just liked collecting them.  They are an apt memento from this year's theme of passports and travel stickers.  And thank you for finally making the awards phantom.

The Relay Track Hall of Shame

And by that I mean teams who pick their campsites up early.  Yes, for a change this is about some team leads and not the committee.

Most Relayers don't have access to the track before Saturday morning, then spend much of their time in Low Graphics mode so they can minimize crashes.  There is no time for them to "cache the track" and their draw distance is set below 50s.  Yet designers often make HUGE objects or set their presentations within massive environments.

The only chance anyone gets to really see the track and all the hard work put into campsites and builds are after Relay.  This way one can crank up the settings and give credit where due while appreciating it all.

Enjoying a designer sim after Relay Weekend.
The sims remain open for many days after, and it's for a reason.  You can see a little of it while you're running - because you're there to walk or run - and keep giving mental notes lap after lap: "I gotta visit this after."

That is also the time their photogs and videographers record the year's offerings for posterity.

Except there are some people who choose to pick up, sometimes while people are still walking the final Victory Lap (aka the "See you next year!" Lap).

Here are 2017's Relay Weekend Hall of Shame winners:

Guardians of the Grid and Guardian Charities. Fuck you.

Morningwood Valley. Fuck you.
RadioActive Air (in fairness someone told them to remove it right away)

Number 11 on the map posted previously: Purple Tears. They vacated Sunday. Fuck you too.

Thanks to everybody else who kept their stuff out for a few days so it could be looked at by masses of grateful Relayers.

Eclair Martinek's designer sim pick-i-nick at RFL Remission.

Can Relay Weekend Be Redeemed?

It's hard to say.  The committee has fallen so far into the pit and cannot seem to extricate themselves.  New generations of RFL participants don't know what it was like back when We Believed, when we ALL cried at ceremonies rather than the committee cherrypicking speakers for pathos potential.

I want to relate something from the 2011 closing ceremonies.  It is a portion of Stingray Raymaker's speech after everyone else had their say and some rewards were announced.  It was a year when I participated with two teams and spent the weekend with Giant Snail Relay.  It was my first time at the track proper, and my first any ceremony.  Special "thank you" to IshtarAngel Micheline, who recorded that year's ceremonies on audio. (please bear with me as I'm not experienced with formatting transcriptions)

...And I have one more "thank you" that I did save for last and I wanted it to be a surprise.

To Mama and Dwen [aka MamaP Beerbaum and Dwen Dooley],

You have both thanked everyone.  You spent the ... entire year making sure that the spotlight is on everyone but yourselves. None of us - myself included - would have been able to accomplish anything we have if it weren't for your inspirational, steadfast, dedicated leadership.

Your commitment to excellence in all areas and your refusal to accept the status quo have reignited a passion across the entire grid.

We've spent so much time over the last year together discussing and debating just about every single detail of the whole [Relay Weekend] event. We didnt always agree on every point, but your ability to not allow things to get personal and your dedication to the success of the event is the reason why we were able to get to this point today.

Many of you don't realize - and I swear this is not some cliché speech tactic but seriously - at the root of every decision, every discussion or conversation that we had - and we had conversations daily about what to do, about this or that - the consideration was always: "How was this going to affect the teams? How was this going to affect our volunteers' decisions?  If we do this, have we considered all options and all implications?"

It was never about Mama and Dwen. It was always about The Relayers.

You were The Doctor and Rose, the Jeff and Jordan of my Relay experience this year.

So for once I think it would be okay for the two of you to step into the spotlight - I think everybody would be okay with it - and take a bow.

But not for too long 'cause we gotta get started on next year pretty soon. The nuthouse is calling...

What an incredible speech, and what an experience.  Those words inspired me to become a captain the following year.  That spirit carried us through 2012 and beyond. 2014 was the last great Relay year in Second Life.

If you've lost your way or came after that time and never knew what it was like, I have something special for as long as it exists...

Relive Relay Weekend 2014!

When Treet TV was an active production company in Second Life, several of their shows had a presence on the track.  The Giant Snail Races you already know.  But so did Designing Worlds.

DW usually had a studio overlooking the track.  For Relay Weekend 2014 it became their home base for roundtable discussion in what was round-the-clock video coverage.  It featured trackside interviews with team captains and Relayers, the Tiny Snail Race, and all ceremonies.  It was such a job and they went above and beyond, but it preserves Relay For Life of Second Life at its best and even captures that moment when funds passed US$400,000 during the closing ceremony.

This stream runs in one continuous loop 24/7 and requires Flash to play.

One More Thing..

Last but not least, thank you to those who attended my annual 4am Lap Theme set at the Activity sims Sunday morning.

World Music for International Hour. Ty FF's Elayne for hosting!

Coming Soon: The 2017 Wrap Up and other things.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Last Activity

Meow Meow Meow Three, Two, One, MEOW!!!

 If you've participated in Relay For Life of Second Life for a significant number of years, you may recall a dual purpose for the Activity sims. 

They were General rated and accessible to minors at a time when a Teen Grid consisting of 13-17 year old residents migrated over to the Main Grid.  Back then those sims were the only accessible regions on the track, so it made sense that they offered robust content.

Second: There were ACTIVITIES! 
We're not talking about auctions or vending machines or performances.  Performances are events.  There were rides and amusements - interactive fare - which varied according to each year's designer.  Visitors were never disappointed and it attracted those who otherwise may not have visited the track.

Snail Racing on Relay Weekend

RacerX Gullwing was one of Relay For Life of Second Life's earliest participants, having started in 2006 with his team Giant Snail Relay.  When Relaying and Relay Weekend participation grew beyond the grass roots level, RacerX Gullwing's Giant Snail Races - the grid's longest running sport - moved over to the Activity sims and became a highlight, with several epic races throughout the Weekend and one televised live via TreetTV.

These were intended to be scaled down versions of his cross-country races of 80+ Mainland sims leading up to a 4-sim odyssey on Relay Weekend.  They promoted what the Activity sims had to offer with an incidental tour.  Naturally with only 4 sims the Tiny racing snails were introduced.  These events were televised live and were an epic battle of skill and determination against extreme lag. (look for links below to relive some of them)

In about 2013 as part of the RFL 10th anniversary theme of RFLofSL someone on the committee had a special track fashioned just for the Tiny Snail Races.  By then the last of SL's minor residents had grown up and activities in the sims were limited to performances, ceremonies, auctions and a marketplace.  And the Tiny Snail Race. The race was restricted to the custom track. This marked when perhaps the sims should have settled into their new collective identity as Event Sims. With the Snail Race track limited to a space within one sim there were 2 races held, one for the Tiny Snails and another for the Giant Snails.

2016's Tiny Snail Races track. Approximately 140-150m long
Since that time Tindallia Soothsayer - who has built Giant Snail Relay's campsites since 2010 - designs the track for Relay Weekend's Tiny Snail Races. The dimensions have averaged half a sim by a quarter sim, still cramped and indeed making for a much shorter broadcast. 2016's episode lasted less than 10 minutes versus 2010's hour and most of the decade's 30-40 minute coverage per show.

Then came 2017

Relay Weekend, a time to remember those we lost and bring everyone together in the spirit of hope and strength and challenge, which annually turned to its Event sims for inspiration at the opening and closing ceremonies, respite from stress in the form of live acts and DJs and some shopping, suddenly found itself in the hands of a designer and not a member of the committee.

Remember the 3 Mile Island debacle of SL10B?  Desolation, destruction, harm - all those aesthetics a cancer suvivor or caregiver should never have to experience more than they already have - this is who they picked to design the "Activity" sims.

"Q*bert's Post-Apocalyptic Wasteland"
First, getting from place to place has become restricted to strict teleport areas versus a long, set path. Most of the sims are hard landing points, especially (and yet again) Relay For Life region. So forget about World Map teleporting to the least populated sim for the opening or closing ceremonies.

It is a terrain of desolate blocks or grimey concrete with sections anally carved out for Auctions, stages, a Gotya Garden (they really should call it a Trench), with the only green at the center for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies.   Because we still don't know whether tomorrow's Fight Back ceremony will be there or rudely block Relayers - Remember them? They're the ones we are HONORING by having a Relay Weekend in the first place - from running their laps by having it held on the track.

Why do I put "Activity" in quotes?

Well, remember the Tiny Snail Races?  Remember past cramped space alotments of 1/2 x 1/4 sim for the track?  They designated barely half that this year!  I truly don't think these people have ever seen a Snail Race to qualify them.  And they need to ask TINDALLIA for any needs and NOT RacerX since she is their builder.  Tindy is extremely creative and has made do as less and less space has been given to this Relay legacy and become more and more disrespected.

With the limited parcel given them and difficult concrete block terrain to traverse just to take a seat or walk off the track, Tindy rallied and added a dash of colour and optimism in what is an otherwise bleak environment.  Please offer her kudos and support for the hard work and many hours she put in to please everyone while still come through with what is sure to be a worthwhile competition.

This year's race track
Come to the Tiny Snail track or Giant Snail Relay campsite for this year's commemorative Tiny Snail and donate to help fight cancer.  Then join everyone at 2pm SLT TODAY for the Shady Fox Memorial Tiny Snail Race. The event will be filmed for future release on YouTube and

Now for your enjoyment and nostalgia are a list of past Relay Weekend races...

2010 with Wiz Nordberg

2011 with Saffia Widdershins

2012 with Elrik Merlin and Saffia Widdershins

2013 with Saffia along with Fantasy Faire's Zander Greene and Dave Abbott

2015 with show hosts RacerX, Tindy, Mae Best and Shady Fox (no guests. Treet no longer covered the Weekend)

2016 RacerX, Tindy, Mae, and Oodleme Noodle (no guests)
Shady Fox passed away from cancer following a late diagnosis earlier in the year. This annual event has since been renamed the "Shady Fox Memorial Tiny Snail Race"

My connection with Giant Snail Racing began as host of a viewing platform
during a cross-country race. This was the day I learned of RFL: April 14 2010

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

SL14B Exhibit: Two Weeks of Carnivalesque Wonders

SL14B Cake Stage skyline. Build by Mikati Slade
How about that Second Life Birthday?

I scored several slots at SL14B for a total of five. Excessive? You snooze you lose. No two were alike.

I was approached a week early by Cake Stage leads regarding an event hosted by the Lindens.  It had to be to their Carnivalesque theme: mostly New Orleans Mardi Gras mixed with Rio:  I don't know how they knew I could do this, other than a wild guess from my exhibit theme ( Or Marianne? Going to have to ask her).   They said my application would be for a separate set.  I wholeheartedly agreed.

A week later came  the offer of a prime time slot Tuesday on Stage Left.  With the start of SL14B  openings trickled in and I jumped on Wed 8-10am, Friday 4-5am, then Sunday 8-9am.
DJing the World Pop set Sunday morning at the Cake Stage
On Monday morning I woke up to notices & an official Email about SL14B's big party, a Masquerade Ball.  Wait. That's my time slot.

People had a great time. Nobody walked out from the music. Word came through that staff were chair dancing.  This isn't bragging so much as reaffirming I hadn't let anyone down.  No voice just uninterrupted music. The tips - for which I am always grateful - paid my stream for July and a couple of weeks' rent. The event was a success!

I had my "regular" DJ set the following evening on  Stage Left: Swing Moon type fare consisting of vintage jazz, big band, boogie woogie, movie soundtracks, retro revival & electro swing.  It was Midsummer's eve (really it was, so stop laughing), and a conflicting event I would otherwise have attended, was announced on short notice; it pulled most of my friends and Rosehaven neighbors away at the halftime.  The fact is for timezones west of Eastern Daylight Time, summer solstice occurred at the end of their day.  The  crowd was light until the next talent arrived with their manager (jeez). I got tips from their growing number of followers, which was nice. I like to think I helped move the time more quickly for them in a pleasant way ;)

This year's DJ stage atop a festooned top hat
As mentioned earlier I grabbed Stage openings as quickly as I could and landed three: a New Wave set on Stage Left on Wednesday morning SLT (prime time Europe), Classic Funk early Friday morning on the Cake Stage, and World Pop again at the Cake Stage Sunday morning.  I kinda wished I had a chance on the DJ Stage but never saw any lists of open slots for there.  Also the Cake Stage team & I go way back, so I must confess favouritism.

Classic Funk set Friday morning - Shiva approves!
This year we had performer badges.  I hadn't noticed at first until my stream check for Stage Left that there was a box of them.  Having not noticed a box the previous day I created my own badge (Right) for the Cake Stage.  Then got the official one (Left) on Friday. Click for larger images to compare the two:

I loved being able to offer up a range of music throughout SL14B, plus bring a little Mardi Gras to those who had only heard about it via my exhibit "The Other Halloween".  Thanks to my friends who posed on the float for shots (when I'm done with it I'll link to a machinima in this post, so check back).  My exhibit was situated in a neighborhood with Bay City, Burning Man and the Ivory Tower of Primitives. A lucky spot across from the Welcome sim.
My exhibit The Other Halloween
There were some really fun things at SLB including two interactive percussion areas, a tribute to the late Ladyslipper Constantine, an awesome region (literally: SL14B Awesome) of sights & games.

Interact with images at Inside-Out

One of two Faux DJ booths on SL14B Awesome.
 This year's auditorium was based on Radio City Music Hall, Stage Left was a humongous mythical Thai guardian (I saw somewhere someone mentioned Chinese... most definitely not), and of course Mikati Slade's Hirajukulicius pixel Cake Stage.

Stage Left

Loki Eliot's party in his head
Alas all celebrations come to an end so that we may look forward to the next time. The Cake Stage collapsed the following Sunday.  Again look for a link.

Thank you SLB staff and participating Lindens.  Thank you attendees.  See you next year for the 15th!

Stage Left WiP and me
blogged on iPod over an iced Decaf venti SFV 2% latte at 7am

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Rollercoaster RFL: Fantasy Faire vs Halfway There vs Skybox Woes vs Relay Stock

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 ACTS, 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

Fantasy Faire has been - as it often is - an experience for the senses. 

The kind and selfless people running it, the vibe of a major convention with the added element of complete immersion, those caught up in the vibe and committing themselves completely (from DJs departing from their usual fare to sim creators auctioning off region content to a media entity such as SaffianWiddershins coordinating LitFest & bringing inworld published authors & overseeing writer's workshops.  Saffia's costar of Designing Worlds, Elrik Merlin, has ever served as Fantasy Faire Radio's Laird, bringing it to life in collaboration with Zander Greene.

Thank you  Fairelanders! 

Next Stop: Halfway There Fair 

The Halfway There Fair was a bit of a joke this year.

Not because teams had no spots on a dedicated region (it was held on 3 sims last year I think. You can go look it up in my archives from last year) but instead used a little area on American Cancer Society sim with prefab decor & some space for team gachas. The turnout was much less than in the past, and to be honest you weren't missing anything.  Their much touted committee hour wasn't a time to encourage relayers but to pat themselves on the back. More of an eyeroll and what else is going on elsewhere.  There really wasn't any reason for a volunteer to stick around for that unless you were on their teams or were their friends.

The attention they drew were similar to that failed 1950s weekend we had back in 2012, with teams manning kissing booths, dunk tanks and other midway amusements for donations with about the same results.  Relay Rap always delivers at least.

sigh... when will anybody learn that high attendance and mesh don't mix?
And I have far from the worst connection to Second Life.

Meanwhile, More Skybox Stupidity

I spent about 4-5 days on a Filmore style poster for my upcoming Relay Stock gig. A LOT more than I did for the Pirate Radio poster from 2015.  Finally done - and fixed since I got the time wrong on it, I submitted the event.

And was taken to that damn skybox again. 

So I IMed a committee member.  And they gave me all sorts of lame excuses like routing problem people away from ground level.  The issue is there is no direct access to the RFL building, and when someone specifically comes to complete a registration process (the SLURL is provided as part of the registration), being shucked up to a skybox on the other end of the sim is just plain rude. That and a paranoid mindset which chooses to discard one of America's disappearing policies "Innocent until proven guilty."

Unless of course they're referring to Relayers? Let's face it: What would you think is the ratio between relayers and people looking for info or support versus griefers?  Exactly.  Again someone on the committee forgot their purpose was to act on our behalf. 

I responded with this:

So far you havent given a valid reason to explain why ACTIVE RELAYERS are FORCED to a skybox when they are TRYING to complete their event set up.  I dont believe you have a realistic perception of what happens. Most Relayers are eager to get to where they need to go. They are rudely routed to some noob intro room with signs all over that look the same, some not having been fully rezzed. And Lord help those with computers not as fast as mine.  There is no clear stand-out prim or anything the average person can differentiate between a teleport to the RFL building and any other wordy poster on the wall when they DO rez. And you know something? I've tried to aim and TP and THERE IS NO DIRECT TP ACCESSS TO THE RFL BLDG which is the problem, because you send everyone who creates an event to that damned skybox.  There are only like a couple of places one can direct TP to on the island, and they are nowhere near the RFL bldg.  If it isn't a blatant statement on how lowly the committee regards people who work their asses off then it is just poor planning and user-UNfriendly.  Speaking as someone who took communication in design for a 15 yr graphic arts career and a 20 year history in customer care.  btw this response will be saved as well (not your part of the discussion and no naming names).  There is a large contingent of unhappy relayers who are being discouraged from participating because of this BS.  That's not counting the people who were driven from inworld Relaying but it DOES count many who thought "okay maybe they're back."  Not with excuses instead of adjustments.  btw Nothing personal UNLESS you have a personal vendetta against volunteers and a positive inworld Relay experience. 

*Mic drop*
Why don't they focus instead on snerts who disrupt the sim when people are actually on?
Dork shows up with a donation prim and stands before the committee during HTF Relay Rap.
At Least There's Relay Stock!

On a POSITIVE note, I've got my set coming up this Sunday at Relay Stock. Kudos for my team captain for securing a spot for me.  You know I love that era in music and it doesn't get enough respect.  During a recent Relay Rap someone must have whined over do we hafeta play 60s music tsk garrrrrr to which Trader said hey play anything you want: modern, country, it's all good.

*death stare*

Anyway if you miss that swell of happy and optimism all but gone from this millennium, if you want to hear tunes you loved back then or on really good oldies stations, come to my set this Sunday 14 May at 11am SLT (that's 2pm EDT / 19:00 BST) on the Relay Stock stage. 

And if it's Mother's Day where you are for a modest Linden donation I'll provide you the URL of my stream for that time.  Let Mom in on it: She'll love you for it!

I have an incentive - I always have this incentive, to be honest - to avoid songs that could potentially be overplayed by an ongoing lineup of DJs.  There's SO MUCH STUFF from the peace/love/hippie era that it's easy to come up with great tunes you're less likely to hear again or very much over the weekend.

It'll sound a LOT like this poster I made:

Trader is likely to host his Time Machine on Sunday evening to an enthusiastic BYOK crowd. Let's give credit where due.  It's likely that's the other place you'll get to hear "other tunes" than the 20-30 recordings everyone else will be playing - if they're not veering off to country and autotune.