March 31, 2010

Major Second Life changes - ARRRGGGGGHHHH!

Just when I thought Linden Lab couldn't get any more arrogant, non-strategic or silly, it just introduced a slew of changes to the Second Life service today. I haven't had time to review everything in detail but content creators, power users and landlords should be afraid -- very afraid. It starts with a blog post titled (with the usual Lab spin and disingenuousness), Unveiling an improved new resident experience.

Items covered include new TOS, new viewer, new region ratings, new viewer policy, new welcome stuff and new starter avatars. I'll hit points on stuff I really care about:

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy changes

We'll start with the new TOS and Privacy Policy blog post which is linked above. If you simply view it as "Linden Lab can do anything, you have no rights, you're screwed" you won't be too far off the mark. In these days of corporate non-responsibility, Linden Lab is simply taking it to the nth degree. Understandable maybe but not good. (Complete TOS here. Complete Privacy Policy here.) Some of the highlights:
  •  New machinima & snapshot policy allows anyone to take photos or machinima of anything, anytime and reuse it anywhere without regard to copyright (with confusing exceptions where Land policy prohibits it). This would apparently include flat shots of textures which could then be reused. While it seems to make it easier to take piccys and things, it  muddies the waters over texture rights. Creators beware.
  • Third-party viewer policy has formally been incorporated into the TOS. As I read it, and many others too, it would seem that viewers that don't self-certify compliance with LL's viewer policy will not be allowed to log onto the grid. Notable viewers not certified as of now include Emerald, Hippo and Cool Viewer. Logging in with them could result in your being banned.
  • No inventory backups unless ALL prims AND textures in object are verified to be yours as the original creator. Effectively, this means that if you are the creator of an outfit but it uses a full-perm sculpt somewhere that was created by someone else (and which you have the license for), you can't back it up. This would also apply to builds that use huge prims (where obviously, you won't be the creator since no new huge prims can be created. Again, if you back something using Emerald (even though it verifies the root object), it may be a banning offense since the child prims aren't checked.
  • Everything is a license. This includes $ Lindens (currency), land, software, server access, software provided, machinima & photos, user content and Linden content. While people are still trying to work out what's really at stake, I think it's a bottom-line CYA.
  • Copyrights be damned, Linden Lab can now do whatever it wants, whenever it wants with your original content including using it to promote Second Life externally (TOS 7.2). 
  • With respect to user content, it sounds to me like Linden Lab is formally distancing itself from having to police DMCA or copybot violations since they are formally disclaiming responsibiliity for ensuring copies don't exsit. Yes, you technically still "own" the copyright on items you create in world, but Linden Lab now formally says they ain't responsible for any part of it. This is probably a result of Stroker Serpentine's lawsuit.
  • Land is a license. Teh Lab now says you really don't "OWN" land any more. You just rent it from Linden Lab. Yeah anyone with a half a brain knows this is the reality. However, in the past, the Lab has used terms like "own virtual land" in its promotions. This could get ugly because some huge landowners could make the case this is a unilateral contract change. I have a lousy 512 so I don't care.
  • $Lindens are a license. Mmmm hmmm. It means that when you transfer $L from one avatar to another or to the Lab, you're really transfering the license to use those $L. It kind of boggles the mind a bit but probably clarifies things from a tax standpoint -- that $L don't really have intrinsic value until they're converted to $US.
Viewer 2 formally released

I have real hard time with this one. Viewer 2 is buggy, poor for advanced users and doesn't, in my opinion, make things any easier for new users. But, it's now the official viewer and 1.23 is the optional but still available one. Technically V2 is still beta but the next version isn't due out until "sometime this summer" so I'm really not sure what they're doing here.

New region ratings

Ahh more semantics. PG = General, Mature = Moderate, Adult = Adult. Login with 1.23 or earlier and you see the old ratings. Login with Viewer 2 and you get the new ones. I get the PG to General change but Mature to Moderate? What next, Liberal and Conservative?

Third-party viewer policy

This has now been formally incorporated into the TOS and, as usual with the stuff from the Lab, it's confusing and conflicting. The big issue for most people is that unless Emerald (or your other favorite viewer) self-certifies compliance, after 4/30/2010, you will technically be in violation of the TOS if you log in using it. And the big one that effectively kills inventory backup or content backup schemes:
You must not use or provide any functionality that Linden Lab’s viewers do not have for exporting content from Second Life unless the functionality verifies that the content to be exported was created by the Second Life user who is using the Third-Party Viewer. Specifically, before allowing the user to export the content, the Third-Party Viewer must verify that the Second Life creator name for each and every content component to be exported, including each and every primitive or other content type, is the same as the Second Life name of the Third-Party Viewer user. This must be done for all content in Second Life, including content that may be set to “full permissions.” 
I'm sure there are some content creators shouting hooray over this but I won't be. It kills being able to back up something that's used a full-perm texture unless you also created the texture!! Want to backup that castle of yours? Unless you also made the stone & wood textures, forget it. Even those items where the original creator name is gone can't be backed up. I'm sure this will push many creators onto alternate grids even sooner than they planned.

Well that's about all the energy I have for this crap. Does Second Life seem increasingly like Constrained Life to you? It does to me. :(

March 27, 2010

Second Life $60L Weekend Specials!

So I finally got the chance to do a little shopping this morning in SL to see what I could find on the $60L specials. If you haven't heard about this group, it's awesome. They post pics of ALL the items for sale so you can window shop first, then TP direct to the store. You'll often find other goodies for sale too!

So first up is a cocktail length dress that's a copy of a famous designer's outfit. I can't figure out which one but I know I've seen it before somewhere. (And for those who think this violates copyrights or something, it does not. Clothing designs are not protected by law.) The outfit is Marchesa by PB Collection / Ardigraf Design. Normally I'm not a big fan of system skirts but this one works very well in combination with the prim scarf tie. To make an outfit like this work, you MUST have a shape the knocks your regular hip & butt size down at least 10 - 20 points or so. The shoes are "Kimberly" by Inga Wind.

Next up is "Sexy Luzmila" from Eluzion. I have to say she is VERY sexy and terminally cute to boot! Sort of a school girl / gothic look but definitely not grungey. All items shown are included in the outfit (except hair). Very cool for $60L!

Also from Eluzion is Maybla -- a very nice neko outfit complete with paw boots! I love this one! Sorry I didn't have my ears and tail on for the shot but oh well. The detail in this is very good and the prims accessories are just too cool! You can mix and match parts from Luzmilla as well which makes this even better! Again for $60L!!!! Buy both for $120L and you can make up about 6 different outfits. Both skirts have resize scripts to fit just about anyone. Wowweee!

And continuing our neko theme is the $60L "Tatianna" from Ironik Kitties. Very cute in raspberry although not quite as well detailed as the Eluzion outfits. Everything shown is included in the outfit!

And finally (yay), some very spiffy $60L sandals from Jairis very simply called "Rustic Shoe". You'll have to use their TP inside the store (puts you upstairs) to find it since it's very laggy on the SIM. They also have some nice tops for $60L too.

Yeah they're not Stilleto Moody's with the prim feet and toes but then they also have a cute little ankle strap that you couldn't do with prim feet either.

Anyway, that's my shopping adventure for the weekend! I hope yours is just as adventurous!

March 26, 2010

Inga Wind - Spring Fae / Dayana in Black

OK I had promised I would get around to posting about these two amazing outfits but RL just got in the way. (Don't you hate that?) But finally some piccys! First I know I sound like a broken record but Inga Wind is really doing some amazing things with transparencies, texturing and using sculpties in her designs. Even on my best days as a designer, I couldn't come close to doing what she does. All I can say with these two outfits is WOW!

Spring Fae is part of her "Fae" collection which is mostly airy, feathery, lacy, very transparent elfin style gowns. Spring Fae is done in aqua and jewel tones so it goes especially well with darker skin colors and hair. Although, in my case, I thought, why not go with an aqua colored hairstyle (*DH* - Stephanie) just for silliness. :) Shown here in both miniskirt and cocktail length, Spring also comes with ruffled pants -- not really my style though.
Next up is Dayana in Black. So all of us have lots of black outfits (OK I do), but this just moved into my top 3 of all time. It's sort of cocktail formal goth. How else can I describe it? You decide.

Anyway, I love the big poofy shoulder pads, sleeves and wicked looking cape. The only thing I supplied for this was the fishnet stockings and Damselfly hair (Pya). Everything else is pure Inga!

As usual, both outfits come with shoes, accessories and multiple wearing options.

SLURL:  Inga Wind

March 23, 2010

A different set of hooters!

OK, it's not Second Life, it's real life and much better. The live owl box cam! I watched #2 owlet, Pattison, hatch today. The whole thing is so cute and so like, uh, hmm, totally real nature. :) You have to watch as McGee (daddy owl) brings in rabbits & other critters for Molly and kids to eat!

Free video chat by Ustream

And yes, I know "barn owls screech, they don't hoot" but my title is still funneh. I think. Kinda.

March 21, 2010

Art exhibit/retrospective by soror Nishi

Lalo Telling turned me on to this and it's very cool indeed. soror Nishi makes some very awesome sculpty trees, plants and other weirdness that just has to be seen in-person or in-avatar as the case may be. :)

My favorite is this "Flame of the Forest" tree in orange and green.
And a display of small, very spacey trees. Several are only two prims!

Mushrooms. Very Torley like.

Naturally you need a SLURL to visit -- there's lots to see: soror Nishi Retrospective

March 20, 2010

Some new outfits from Inga Wind

The lady is amazing. She keeps turning out the most fantastic items with totally innovative ways of putting the limited tools we have in SL together. I can't wait to see what happens when we can really start using alpha masks to hide leg parts and feet. No doubt Inga will do things even more creatively.

Anyway, I'm just finishing up some photos of two especially nice casual outfits from Inga. Sorry to be a tease but the shots are taking a bit longer than I'd like. Watch this spot! -->

March 8, 2010

Hope is ... a new outfit from Inga Wind!

OMG. Just when I thought I'd seen about every design technique possible in Second Life, Inga Wind comes up with something new. This time, it's in a new outfit called "Hope" -- a gorgeous peachy sort of fairy princess formal. With it's unusual sculpty peplum (the something new) to the amazing detail in the bodice, this is an outfit to die for.

Click on the (unretouched) photo for an enlarged view and you'll see what I mean by details. The prim skirt (which includes a sit script) takes transparency to a new level. Somehow, even with movement, the textures don't fight each other.

Inga has also moved to making complete outfits with shoes and accessories and Hope takes it a step further by including prim hair with tiara and jewels. While the hairstyle isn't exactly my cup of tea (or Pinot Grigio as it so happens right now), the quality is right up there with anything by some of my faves like ETD. (I tend toward sloppy/messy do's and this is très, très chic formal.) Only one color, a sort of blackish/brown, but it happens to work well with my skin!

If I have one small criticism (very small), it's that the glitch pants could be a little more raggedy and lacy on the skin so they aren't quite so obvious under the skirt. Otherwise, a total masterpiece. Inga is offering it to her group members for $800L (regularly $1200L) and with all the goodies it includes, it's a real value. Or yes, I almost forgot, it also includes something called a "Hope Swing" which I can't rez since my land is overgrown with prims. Probably something fun knowing Inga & her partner Derek. :)

Available in world via the following SLURL: