Saturday, January 6, 2007

Old Time Second Life: Part One

After I started my new Blog I recieved some strong commentary and opinions, both positive and negative, but I also recieved a request. I met with a fine fellow furry and we got to talking about Second Life in the past, and I mentioned the height tax. He commented that he didn't know what that was. He said to me, and I paraphrase, 'I've been on Second Life for two years and people think of me as an oldbie, but you've been around for a year longer than me!' So he told me I should talk about the early times of Second Life and it would guarantee me an audience. I don't want to disappoint the first fan of my Blog, and I'm only too happy to talk about the history of Second Life.

Probably the most important part of Second Life's history is the people. So much in Second Life is created by the users and so many users have done great things in the world. I'm going to start by naming some other SL oldbies and I'll tell you a bit about them. I'm going to leave some out only because I can't remember their names or the specifics of their achievements, and I don't want to misrepresent them. If you see any of these people in world, be sure to show them some serious respect, and not just for being here longer than you.

Arito Cotton - Arito started SL around the same time as I did, and we were chums in the old days. He invented the modern furry avatar, which uses an animated texture for the eyes and clumped spheres to create organic shapes. I still remember when he made my original furry avatar, and Phoenix Linden saw me blinking, and he brought every Linden in the LL office into his little office to watch me blink. Or at least, he told me that he did...

Bhodi Silverman - Bhodi's earliest famous thing (she's done a lot of famous things) that I can recall was opening an art gallery in the Jessie simulator. Jessie was, at the time, the only open-combat sim. That meant that the whole sim was damage enabled, and people both could and would shoot at you at their leisure. If you've never heard of 'damage' in SL, that's because almost nobody sets their land as damage, and Jessie and is one secluded sim among hundreds that make up the main grid.
Bob Bunderfield - Bob Bunderfield, Bob the Builder as many of us like to call him, is quite the historical figure in Second Life. I'll have to reminice over the Olive vs. Slate conflict sometime, but suffice it to say this guy has been building both awesome structures and awesome communities for a very long time. There's too much to say here, but look up "Slate" in your SL history books. He's still in Second Life and last I saw he was taking comissions to build houses, so look him up.
Cubey Terra - Cubey Terra and I both started at the same time, and we met and became friends in the Olive sandbox, back when Olive was a sandbox. He's always been into planes and he builds some of the best around. He's my next-door neighbor in world, at the Abbotts Aerodrome. I suggest you check it out. He's famous for his popular DIY flight scripts, but also for Skydiving, which to this day is a popular activity among SL users.

Darwin Appleby - I'm not sure what to say about Darwin Appleby. Like me, his contributions largely went under the radar. He was a genius. A real, certified genius. Nice guy too. If you search your inventory you'll probably find something either made by him, or stolen from him. I'm pretty sure he created the Watermelon Gun that everybody hates so much.

Derek Jones - The Original Monkeyman, Derek Jones was a near constant sight in the Sandbox back in the early days. There were no privately owned sandboxes back then, so anybody who was creating stuff either did it at their home build or in the sandbox. All of us mad scientists ended up working next to eachother. I can't think of any one great thing he did, he was just terribly cool to have around, and his builds were always a thrill to visit.

Eggy Lippman - Eggy Lippman has been around SL a very long time. He's probably most famous for his skyscrapers. While not technically impressive, they were certainly visually impressive. I believe he's still making Skyscrapers and towers on commission in Second Life to this day. He's also always been an outspoken person on SL politics and policy.

Fleabite Beach - Fleabite Beach is probably most famous for her part in Americana and the Tax Revolt. Those were great things, except for the music store in Americana which played hot jazz music at all hours of the day and night so loud you could hear them a sim and a half away, which just happened to be where I lived. ;) Also she was a catgirl and a furry before the modern furry avatar type, using only skins and a prim tail and ears.

Hikaru Yamamoto - Hikaru Yamamoto is most notable for the anime contribution to Second Life. She owned about half of a sim and used it to host an anime-themed flea-market of posters, paraphenalia, and music.

Lance LeFay - Lance LeFay, the legendary Merchant of Death, is one of the most interesting people in Second Life to me. He's actually something of a griefer, and he's always gotten away with it. He is most famous for his weapons development, and has created many of the most devastating weapons in Second Life history. He was the one who originally created the 'cage' device, the black tube that shoots people into orbit, which is still in use annoying the heck out of people today.

Lola Bombay - Lola is someone I haven't seen in SL in a long time. I think she quit more than a year ago, or perhaps switched to a different character name. She hosted the best house parties in SL history, in this squirrel's opinion. She played live music in Second Life back before streaming audio. Yes, her and her band used scripted in-world synthesizers to play all their own music!

Tiger Crossing - Tiger was something of a hero of mine. Not only have his SL contributions been incredible, but he was actually employed at Bethesda and was on the team that created Oblivion. Some of his greatest works were art pieces at the Lindenworld Theme Park and the various Burning Life art festivals that occur each year.

Xylor Baysklef - Xylor Baysklef is pretty much the reason I don't call my store "Baysklef Scripting" or something. We both have the same SL surname and we're both fantastic scripters. He might even be better than me; he was certainly more prolific. Many of the basic scripts located on the LSL scripting wiki were originally coded by him, and he created many really awesome experimental scripts and devices in Second Life. I don't know if he still plays or not.

All of these people, whatever their special achievements, are folks who made the early Second Life what it was. It was because of them that Second Life was great, even more than the Lindens who created the world.

Now I'm going to wrap this up by telling you my plans here. I'd like to continue this "Old Time Second Life" section as an on-going segment of my Blog here. I'll bring up topics I feel it's important to remember in Second Life's history, and I'll also answer sensible questions. So go ahead and ask questions in reply to this post. I look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, January 1, 2007

A Different Threat Exposed by Copybot

It's been a while and the great threat of Copybot has come and gone, but there is another threat waiting in the wings which the Copybot investigation revealed to me.

When the Copybot fiasco occured in late 2006, many people became worried about things like intellectual property rights and theft. Ultimately, the reaction to Copybot caused more damage than the program itself, and the chat spam from the ineffectual Copybot Defeaters that could be found in nearly every store in Second Life for a month escalated the chat lag problem to new heights. However, the Copybot fiasco is over, and Copybot is not the threat I'm going to talk about today.

Copybot was created by a member of a group of coders working on creating an Open Source client for Second Life with the blessings and support of Linden Labs. As well as being able to copy objects and textures directly from the client, these programmers were able to create a stripped-down version of the Second Life client with a miniscule system footprint. A Second Life Bot.

The ability to create automated users in Second Life may not seem like a threat at first. It seems like a grand oppertunity. You could program your own store manager or a robot bartender for your club. You could sync up a group of robots to perform in-world plays. There are so many possibilities, but there is also a hidden threat.

First of all, Second Life has a cap on the number of users in a single simulator region. This cap is 40 in most sims, while private islands can increase the cap if they wish. Every robot will count toward that cap. Very soon it will be possible to shut off whole sims by logging in fourty robots at a time, without the large system footprint of the full Second Life client.

Second of all, several stores are already hiring players to sit on pose balls and demonstration objects while leaving their client AFK to act as models. This is a somewhat honest line of work in Second Life, but it will go the way of the Dodo when store owners can just run a few robots complete with mild interactive scripts that AFK players couldn't do. Worse yet, every one of those dress-up dolls will cost the sim one connection. With just a few stores that have three to five models each you'll cut the number of people actually able to visit those stores in half, not to mention people who live in the simulator!

This is my prediction of a critical threat in Second Life. I hope that I'm not the only one who sees this coming, and that the Lindens are already working on a plan to absorb the impact of Second Life Bots. In any case, heed my warning and don't contribute to the problem when it occurs.

A Polite but Stern Warning to all Wearers and Makers of Bling Jewelery

I have a message for anyone who wears or creates Bling-effect jewelery in Second Life.

Amatur Scripters created the popular bling scripts with the option to issue a chat command, such as "Bling Off" or "BO" which turns the shiny particle effect on and off. This script creates a small amount of constant lag, and every time it is copied into a seperate prim or object, the lag is increased. This stacks and is considered one of the greatest non-intentional causes of lag in SL by myself and several of my fellow scripters.

Now let me explain what you can do about this problem. First of all, turning off the 'bling' does nothing. As long as the object is attached to your avatar or in the world, it is causing lag.
For a start, please take off any Bling jewelery or other decorative object that recieves chat commands. Some tools and equipment need chat commands, but not jewelery and other decorations that you would wear all the time. Also I ask you to only purchase jewelery and accessories that don't use chat commands. It would help out everyone if you would do this.

The last thing I can ask everyone here is to spread the word of this problem in SL. Most people don't know this, even most amatur scripters are oblivious to the problem. Advanced scripters like myself tend to be reclusive, which makes it hard to get the word out. Please carry this message to the clubs and malls for me.

Now I'll take a moment and explain what I'm talking about in scripting terms, for the scripters who want to make low-lag bling jewelery and similar scripts. I'll also try to explain alternate methods to make your scripts less laggy.

First let me explain how this causes lag. Chat commands depend on the llListen() function and the listen() event to function. A script which is listening accepts every line of chat spoken in range of it and runs it through a procedure to determine if it is meant for the script to hear or not. Even if it is not meant for the script, the script must analyze it to find out. This costs processing time, and creates lag.

Now I'll offer some solutions to this problem. The most direct way to prevent this lag is to not use the listen function in the first place. If your script has only one function, you can use the touch_start() event to switch between on and off procedures.

If you must use chat functions, there is another technique I can reccomend. The llListen() function returns an integer variable. This variable is called a 'handle' and if you save its value to a variable of your own, you can pass that value to the function llListenRemove() which stops the script from listening. This stops the lag, but your script can nolonger hear chat commands. I use this in many of my scripts that use the Dialog box. When someone touches my scripted objects, the llListen() event starts listening, but a timer is ready to shut it off if a user gives a command, or if they haven't said anything for a minute or two after touching it.

Finally I'll tell you about the llMessageLinked() function and Link_Message() event. Some people use listen and chat functions to communicate between several scripts. If you have several scripts on the same object, however, you can use the llMessageLinked() function. This function sends a message to one or more prims in an object set. This message triggers the link_message() event in all the scripts in the prims that are messaged. Because this event only triggers when a message is sent directly to it, it doesn't cause lag like the listen events.

I hope that everyone who reads this will remember it, and pass it on to others. We can work together to make Second Life a much less laggy place.

Relee Baysklef's Second Life

Welcome, welcome, one and all to my new Blog.

I am the Second Life user Relee Baysklef, and this blog is dedicated to that wonderful virtual world I have called second home for some three years now.

Second Life is many things to me. I originally joined the virtual world shortly after it came out of beta testing, intent on using the world to learn 3D graphics systems and practice scripting in a virtual world. I have used it for that and much more.

I have opened a store in Second Life called ATELIER, and it is located at the Abbotts Aerodrome. There I sell several of the odd creations I've finished to the point of safety. Countless other things, half-finished or dangerous beyond the ken of the average Second Life user, rest in my inventory.

I was one of the first five furries in Second Life, along with Arito Cotton, Fleabite Beach, Ralpha Gilman and Roxikat Muse. Arito and I founded The Furry Party, the oldest Furry group in Second Life.

I am full of opinions on events and trends and I have a rather unique point of view on Second Life's past, present, and future. I invite you all to join me as I discuss this wonderful other world.