Archive for the ‘Issues and Trends’ Tag

Together We are Strong

together-we-are-strong

Another thing that frustrated me about this past week of no computer was that I had work locked up in it, in a barely-begun stage.  Thankfully, I was able to get going on it during the weekend here.  That was some badly needed free time, to figure out how to mask out the background on the basic pictures (ChromaKey green wouldn’t work in every case) and assemble the final photo.  Even after getting everyone in position, it didn’t come together until I decided to replace the background with posters.  I’m not too displeased with the final result, though.  Donald Trump likes pretty women; well, here’s seven of them, about as sexy as he could desire, and each one is strongly tempted to stick a dagger in his ribs and kick him in the teeth.

All seven are me.  These are all of the primary characters I write my stories for:  Ariel, Jo, Sharra, Latifah, Keiko, Maren and Dannta.  All seven are women, and assuredly multiethnic (Ariel is a cyborg from the 48th century, and Dannta is an alien residing in our world and time)1.  All seven are professionals:  entertainer, physician, foundation chairwoman, teacher, businesswoman, lawyer and executive director.  And, to be brutally frank, all seven are pissed at the direction current affairs in the United States are taking.  This photo shows their obvious solidarity with the goals of the Women’s March; but they also protest against the assaults on immigrants and minorities and a more science-based environmental policy; against the attempted forcing of governmental affairs toward a more big-business-friendly, laissez-faire model; against the coming assaults on education, arts and the humanities — in short, against about anything the current administration and its ultra-conservative supporters in Congress plan to do over the next two to four years.

(Yes, this blog is getting political, possibly edging toward strident.  But, babes, men and women, it’s not as strident as it could get.  You oughta see my husband’s Facebook shares; he’s so much looser than I am, this photo is pale by comparison.  He feels betrayed by his party; he’s a fiscal conservative, but liberal on social issues, and the rise of the Tea Party and Trumpites has left him disgusted beyond bounds.  This will probably be the last thing in the blog for some time, unless I get too aggravated again — entirely possible, considering the actions of the current administration — but there will almost surely be more until we can be shut of this man and all his works.)

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Full-size version available on my Flickr stream

UPDATED: See also Strawberry Singh’s article.

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1 I wish I’d had a Hispanic and an Arab or Muslim character now, but I’ve never developed those before.  My next story will need to address that.  (Anyway, I’d have needed to shrink the individual women down to fit nine women in this shot; not to mention the even longer post work.)

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Heartbleed Concerns

It’s sad to do my 1,001st article on a thing that shouldn’t be happening in a rational society, where everyone obeys the law.  Unfortunately, the Real World isn’t that rational.  If you aren’t sick about reading about the Heartbleed flaw in OpenSSL, keep going here, because this brief piece on Around the Grid concerns you.  If you are sick of reading about it, keep reading anyway; you probably have at least one account affected by the crisis.

Mashable has run a recent article on Heartbleed, and it identifies a number of sites that were running the flawed version of OpenSSL, which could render your passwords and personal data vulnerable.  This is really vital reading to everyone!!!  Most of us have a Facebook account; many of us use some service offered by Yahoo or Google, run a Tumblr blog, or do a mess of pinning on Pinterest.  And other services may be affected as well.  The Mashable article has a substantial list of businesses and whether or not they admit they were running a site with the bug.  Every one that you have an account on which is marked with a green check mark, get yourself there soon and change your password.  And make it a good one as well; there are references available to teach you how to construct memorable, reasonably safe passwords — longish phrases with a mix of cases, numbers and punctuation are excellent in my experience.  Record your new passwords in several different places that you can access easily to update them when needed — and then change them on a periodic basis, whether there’s a security crisis or not going on.  It’s just safer that way.  (I keep two separate password vaults:  one on my desktop and one on my phone.  Both are password locked themselves, and are mostly mirrors of each other.)

As for Second Life, it didn’t make the Mashable list, but I don’t know if anyone has checked with Linden Lab.  I’m taking no chances, and changing my password again with them in a few minutes as part of my overall upgrade to my security.  I’d encourage you to do the same, just as a reasoned precaution; I think the account servers can handle the strain.  I also have accounts on Flickr, Google and Tumblr, and I’ve changed the passwords there as well.  Other services I’m doing just as a precaution; I’ll probably throw in my financial accounts within 24 hours, just to really be on the safe side, although every bank claims to be safe.

Call it raving paranoia, if you wish.  I call it constructive paranoia at the worst, and sound precaution at the least.  Change your passwords!

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Reblog: Curio: Party Girl Celebration and Settlement Frustration | Its Only Fashion

Curio: Party Girl Celebration and Settlement Frustration | Its Only FashionThanks to Cajsa Lilliehook.

Being somewhat oblivious to all the details here, aside from knowing somewhat of what was happening, all I can add to this is that Cajsa wrote up a piece that describes quite well how the law works.  Unless you have the gold to finance yourself all the way through a case, sometimes settling is the only thing that can be done.  Even if you come out on the winning side in a case, depending on the circumstances, you can’t expect much reward other than feeling you’ve trounced your opponent.  My RL husband and I received a check recently for a class-action settlement we were apparently parties in due to some purchase or other.  The fund for things like this is usually set up in the millions of dollars.  Our check:  $9.22.

The hell of it is that the law is the only thing besides religion and morals that helps keep society glued together.  It ain’t too satisfyin’, Marshall — but it’s the thing that keeps us from each other’s throats.

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Hopefully Linden Lab takes note of things on blogs like this. Not all Residents are gripers full of hot air; the tier cost is really severe, especially for non-profits, who had their tier doubled this past year to standard rate. If a viable way can be found to cut tier, it should help encourage region growth again.

Prim Perfect

I’ve now got the results of the poll I set up recently and they are very interesting – and in some ways reassuring for Linden Lab.  But they also highlight what are people’s serious concerns.  I print the full data at the bottom of this post, below my thoughts on this.

Methodology
I had 246 responses, which isn’t bad for a representative selection – the average UK opinion poll is about 1,500 surveyed for 67 million, so we’re doing rather well. However, balanced against that we have to take into consideration that this was a self-selected poll, in that people had to be sufficiently interested in Second Life to be reading this blog or another that recommended the survey – which suggests a relatively high level of engagement.  There’s also the possibility that individuals could have ‘gamed’ the poll by multiple submissions – however, this does not seem to be…

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In-World Church Sacraments?

The Anglican Cathedral in Second Life is up at the top of the hill, with its associated chapel in the foreground.

Occasional discussion has been popping up again within the past months on religion in virtual worlds such as Second Life.  As I’m a believer in the validity of at least some aspects of religious practice in world — I’ve devoted over 20 articles here to my activities at the Anglican Cathedral in Epiphany region — I’ve been curious about the matter, and would like to weigh in briefly.

First, let’s get the groundwork out of the way.  Most people, at least, don’t particularly worry about church sacraments unless they happen to be a member of churches in the “liturgical tradition” — such as the Roman Catholic Church, the Episcopal Church (or its various other sisters in the Anglican Communion), or the Lutheran Church.  Sacraments are defined in the Christian tradition as “a Christian rite (as baptism or the Eucharist) that is believed to have been ordained by Christ and that is held to be a means of divine grace or to be a sign or symbol of a spiritual reality.” (Merriam-Webster Online).  Since the fracturing of the Catholic Church during the Reformation, there has not been a complete agreement on how many of the “great rites” are true sacraments — gotta love doctrinal wars, don’t ya?  The Catholics give seven:  baptism, confirmation in the church, Holy Eucharist (Mass), penance (confession), anointing of the sick, holy orders and matrimony.  Anglicans see only two, baptism and the Eucharist, as “true” sacraments, as they were directly instituted or sanctioned by Christ; the Orthodox traditions call the list of seven the “major sacraments,” but see almost anything the Church does as being of a sacramental nature.  You can see how messy this gets in the long run; arguments over such things have resulted in many a schism over the past twenty centuries.

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Strawberry Singh On the Marketplace Controversy

Strawberry Singh has weighed in on the debate over whether or not the Second Life Marketplace is a good thing for in-world commerce.  As of my last check, she’s up to 11 comments and pingbacks, including my own submission.  I’d urge you to go read this and giveconsidered opinion to the matter, then offer up your own thoughts.  Remember, shooting from the hip usually results in the shooter blowing her foot off.  Don’t just leap in with a screed, on the subject or personally directed.

Desmond Shang Comments on Land Loss in SL

In case you haven’t read this already, click through to New World Notes and read this comment by Desmond Shang, the “Guvnah” of Caledon, on why the loss of regions in Second Life may be a good thing for the Grid, instead of a tale of woe, doom ‘n gloom.  I’ve wondered myself if SL has grown too much over the years, as I see the Map expand with more and more isolated islands that don’t link together except at the corners — where you can’t cross over from one island to the next by just walking or flying in.  According to Hizzoner, a drop in land expansion might be a good thing in the long run.

(Personal thought:  if it brings people back to the Mainlands, along with a general cleaning of house there in many of the junkier sims as a form of “urban renewal,” it might be more than just a Good Thing.)

New World Notes Reports SL Profiles Now Available for Sharing On Open Web

New World Notes published an article an hour ago that Resident profiles are available, at least in part, on the open Web through their site and a special secure address.  The new page, attributed to Daniel Voyager, comes direct from your in-world profile with very little difference in content.   Mine is below, for instance:

You can see any profile by typing into the address bar https://my.secondlife.com/first.last, substituting your avatar name for the first and last, of course.  (You need the dot between.)  Besides the information shown, it will also give your partner status, if you have one.  If you log in at the normal point on the page, you can edit the information from here as well.  Daniel’s article shows a completeness bar in the editor which I did not see; either I have it blocked accidentally as part of my ad-blocker suite, or I’m pretty complete now.  You can also add in links to existing Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.  Comparisons are being made to last year’s Avatars United program, which was purchased by Linden Lab, then shut down several months later as part of the cutbacks.

Hamlet Au is right in saying that some may raise privacy concerns about this new feature.  Some may not want to reveal that they have a partner in world; others, like myself, may wonder about the publication of their payment info status (used or not used).  Linden Lab has not publicized this, and the current speculation is that this may still be in the early days of creation.  Some elements could be removed before the pages get announced officially.  For myself, as long as I keep a strong, secure password on my account, and the Lab takes off the payment info visibility, I have no problems here, and I won’t have much if they don’t alter it as I want (or give us the ability to alter it, or maybe to opt out/in on demand).  This is no worse than already having your information hanging out in front of some 30,000-50,000 strangers at any given time.  Yes, I know some will say, “Just on a larger, and more public, scale.”  Welcome to the world of social networking….

Out to explore the Grid, wear some great clothes, meet good people and have some conversation.

Married in RL only, and content to keep it that way. But open to good friendships with acquaintance.

Owner of Harper’s Fine Art and Photographs, your place for home decor artwork! Also with a Secret (Public) Photo Studio, free to all (for contributions).

I’m a hopeless fashionista and, esp., coiffurista. If you know of some WILD hairdos, drop me an IM!

Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum to Close Saturday

Me posing in front of Fallingwater at the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, September 2010.

Bad news comes in from New World Notes:  the Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum, one of the showcases of Second Life intersecting with Real Life, will be closing after Saturday, December 4. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which was created by Wright before his death to protect his intellectual property, has allowed the license they granted to Virtual Museums, Inc. (owners of the Usonia sim and the Virtual Museum) to lapse, and then issued a cease-and-desist order. Particulars above at Ham’s article, but it appears from my reading that FLLWF is holding VMI responsible for unauthorized use of Wright’s creations.

The irony here: the FLLWF’s actions are not going to stop, or even slow down, theft of Wright’s intellectual property. As I said in much briefer form in my comment on Ham’s article, the age of the computer and the Internet broke all the de facto limitations on transmission of visual or auditory material that made copyright law easy to enforce.  Everyone who has perhaps, at most, $1,000 — perhaps as little as $500 — can buy a computer and a printer/scanner/copier, scan photographs of previously published material from books, and republish it online in seconds.  This is one of the foundations of the World Wide Web as we know it today; not as Tim Berners-Lee intended it, but what the Web has evolved into.  Once something is available today, in almost any form, the genie is out of the bottle, the bottle is smashed, and the cork is burned to ashes.  The defenders of the copyrights — who I don’t deny have a perfect right to protect their work — seem unable to come to grips with this fact.  In the case of FLLW v. VMI, an innocent group who was attempting to play by the rules laid down has been punished in the process, and the over-zealous Foundation has tarnished itself.  The Foundation would have been better served by tracking down the scofflaws who are using Wright material without permission.

I’d like this question answered:  is the Foundation expecting VMI to do the policing of Second Life for them, issuing C&D orders in the name of the Foundation to other vendors using non-licensed works?  Was this part of the license issued to them?  Is that the cause for them to drop the ax on the Virtual Museum?  If so, I’d really like to know how they think a small, non-profit group can accomplish something better than their own foundation, who can more easily afford to hire lawyers to issue C&D orders?  I’ve been sorely tempted to call the Foundation myself and ask this question, but I’m afraid I’d open a can of worms in the process.

Hwaet! Hear of the Tale of Philip of Linden…

…bright-bladed Philip, colorful of codpiece
Maker of worlds, defender from doom
Far did he ride on his steed, fine and furry
Smiting the emerald-green beast….

(snort, start, glancing down at the copy of Beowulf in my hands)

Wow, what a dream….  Well, I wonder what Ham Au has to say lately…?

(snapping on computer, bringing up New World Notes; going fall-down laughing)


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