Monday, February 25, 2013

Did I mention I'm now in the Green Lantern Core?

This past Friday I was privileged to graduate from 'poozer' training in the Green Lantern Core group in Second Life.  I have to tell you, it is an honor to be involved with these people.

The GLC began roughly ten years ago as a fan group for the Green Lantern comic book series published by DC Comics.  Eventually they became involved in protecting a region called 'A Better World', which is dedicated to helping educate others on the crisis in Darfur (genocides, refugees, and so on) from attacks by griefers, and became more involved in anti-griefing activities as the years went by.

But the GLC is more than simply an anti-griefing group.  We are heavily involved in charity events, including Relay For Life in Second Life, helping to raise money to find a cure.

One part of 'poozer' training was the class collaborating to put on a charity event, which tested our ability to work together to create and run a charity event.  Unfortunately my participation in that was limited because of Internet connectivity issues, but those are (sort of) resolved now, and what I was able to contribute, I'm thankful to have been given the opportunity.

(Of course, with being a Core member comes my share of griefer attacks.  Last night, for example, as I was popping into the group's sandbox, I came upon a bunch of 'bees' being rezzed, and an object caused a drop-down menu to appear ad infinitum with a link to some random blog.  This all combined to crash the region, prompting a sim reboot on Linden Lab's end.  Attacks like this are frequent enough to require Core member presence at all times, though obviously this isn't always possible.)

Thanks to GLC member, ION, and trainer Trinatiana, GLC member Cathy Gray, and others for leading the training courses and putting up with all our questions.  You all rock AND roll!

Problems with Server Side Baking

Here are some links regarding the in-development server-side-baking feature being prepared for gridwide use by Linden Lab:

As expected, there are some issues with the feature, but many Third Party Viewer (TPV) developers seem to be getting their viewers up to speed, most notably Singularity and Cool VL Viewer.

Not surprisingly, the Firestorm elitists and liars are having a tougher time getting their resource-hogging, crashtastic, low-frame-rate to work, and are claiming that it will likely be some time before a stable version that can handle Serve Side Baking will be released -- so naturally, the Firestorm clowns will release a version of the viewer that has SSB before they can even get it working properly with Linden Lab's code.  "Genius" at its finest.

Also not surprising is that some commenters aren't buying the lies Jessica Lyin' and her merry gang of suckups are telling.  "Joseph" writes:
It really does not surprise me at all that Firestorm is in such a terrible state right now. And at the meeting it sure had a tone and implied like so many problems are caused by LL’s code even though Jessica did make sure to state that many problems come from Firestorm itself. The LL 3.4.5 is a GREAT viewer and certainly isn’t some mess of buggy code like it sounds like the Firestorm devs make it out to be. If any Firestorm user or any of the Firestorm devs truely used the LL 3.4.5 viewer for a decent amount of time they would see that not only does it perform a hell of a lot better than Firestorm it has a hell of a lot less bugs. Firestorm is a crappy clunky mess in comparison. All things considered the LL 3.4.5 viewer is an awesome viewer. The problems Firestorm is having right now is because instead of just adding features and UI improvements over the past couple of years to the LL viewer, they have delved and messed with so much of the internals of the program itself thinking they can do everything better than the lab. If one looks at the commits to the code since the beginning of Firestorm over two years ago, the developers have mucked and messed with so much more of the code than just adding features and UI changes. Instead of just letting LL deal with the internals of the program they have gone in and tinkered and messed with so much of the guts of the program itself and this is why now after merging it is such a terrible mess. If the Firestorm devs had a minimalistic approach to what they changed in the code other than UI improvements and adding features, the current internal version wouldnt be the unstable horrendous god awful mess it is now. Anyone can go to their mercurial repository and see exactly what they do to their source code, and see hundreds if not thousands of commits since the beginning of the project of them making changes to the core engine of the program so to speak and that is why they are in the mess they are in today. Often times Phoenix was described as a monstrous unmaintainable collection of hacks held together by bail wire, spit, duct tape etc…and the irony is that now a days that is exactly what Firestorm has become.
As evidenced from this and other comments, not everyone believes what Ms. Lyin' has to say, and for good reason -- people know from actually trying to use Firestorm that it's an unworkable mess of code, the very same critiques used against Phoenix, which actually works on more people's computers and which has now been abandoned by the developers.

As for the Server Side Baking issues, it's clear that the official roll-out may not come quite as soon as previously stated by Linden Lab or others.  It'll be implemented across the grid sooner or later, but it seems clear that the TPVs most likely to have stable viewers that have SSB won't include Firestorm.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

One Billion Rising in Second Life: How Effective Was It?

Apparently an event took place recently that was devoted to dancing in hopes of raising awareness of the one billion human beings on the planet, mostly women and children, who suffer daily violence including rape.  It was called, "One Billion Rising", and it was blogged about on New World Notes, where Hamlet Au quoted critics and supporters alike.

The main issue critics have is the effectiveness of such an event.  It sought no donations, and I heard little or nothing about it through SL or the groups I'm in that frequently become involved in charity drives, which leads me to question just how important the event's organizers or Linden Lab think the issue of violence against women and children is given the lack of information-sharing.  As a survivor of physical and emotional abuse, I would like to have known about an event that seeks to both raise awareness of the problem and, most importantly, find solutions.

That seems to be the basis of the detractors' criticisms.  What was actually done to raise awareness of the issue?  We know that roughly one billion human beings — one seventh of the total estimated population — go through each day being beaten, raped, killed, or facing some other kind of violence, be it physical, mental, or emotional.  Most of the violence is carried out against humanity's most vulnerable members: women and children.  Okay, that's important information we need to know: how widespread is the problem and whom does it affect the most?

Missing from the event was any real discussion as to what can and should be done to end the violence.  Other than throwing a big in-world dance party (the event took place across four connected regions), what did the organizers really accomplish?  What did they really hope to accomplish?  Answers to these and other questions don't appear to be forthcoming.

I don't doubt the sincerity or the good intentions of OBR's organizers.  What I question is their effectiveness and the way they are going about their stated mission.  It's all well and good to gather survivors in one place to provide each other with much needed emotional support.  But more than that is needed if we as a species are to find ways to end violence against each other, to break the endless cycles and save lives.

Some things that can be done to make future events more effective include, but are not limited to:

  1. First figure out exactly what, besides throwing a big in-world party, organizers hope to accomplish.  Is the purpose to educate people?  What information can be provided to raise awareness not only of the nature and scope of the problem, but solutions?
  2. Plan out well in advance how many people organizers wish to reach and prepare ahead of time — at least a year.  The IFT Sci-Fi Alliance begins planning for its Relay For Life fund-raising activities as soon as the previous event ends.  It's a year-round crusade and there are no holidays.  Events are planned and, most importantly, hyped for months prior to the start of RFL activities.  Tens of thousands of SL residents learn about RFL-related events months before things start happening.  OBR could take a few pages out of the RFL playbook on this one.
  3. Is there any fund-raising apparatus in place to send money to non-profit organizations that seek to assist victims of violence in escaping their situations to better, violence-free lives, such as RAINN?  If not, shouldn't there be one?  If so, what accountability measures are in place to ensure that funds are actually going to organizations that are working to help end the violence?  RAINN and similar organizations may have a presence in SL, and if they don't, it would be very good to reach out to their members in-world to work out some kind of arrangement, like RFL and the American Cancer Society have with their donation kiosks.
  4. Generating mass discussions among abuse survivors can go a long way toward helping.  People who've found ways to escape could share their stories, thus inspiring and informing others who haven't been so lucky to get the help they need to empower themselves and get away from the violence.

These and other steps should be taken to ensure that future OBR events are more successful in achieving their goals.  It's a worthy cause, one worth devoting time, effort, and money to.  Let's work to make the cause an effective one.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Doctor Who Biopic?

Yes, it looks like there will be a biopic (biographical motion picture) about Doctor Who, with actor David Bradley cast to play the late first actor to play the Time Lord known as the Doctor.  Bradley previously appeared in the Series 7 episode "Dinosaurs On a Spaceship" playing a crippled, space-faring big game hunter.

Doctor Who writer and actor Mark Gatiss says that he's "been trying to do this [project] for years - I tried to do it for the 40th anniversary! And before that, really - it's taken about 12 years."

With the remaining portion of Series 7 set to air this spring, and current star Matt Smith's contract being up at the end of the year, things should start getting interesting for the first time in a while.  As I pointed out in my screencap-laden semi-review of "The Snowmen", the show is now going for a much more classic look and feel from what it's had since its revival in 2005: everything from the opening and closing CGI sequence, with Matt Smith's head appearing and the Tom Baker-era vortex effect, to the redesign of the console room, tells us that this year's 50th anniversary is gearing up to be BIG.

Doctor Who head writer Stephen Moffat, whose tenure as the show's head honcho has been marked by inconsistent story-writing and direction, says he's "a bit anxious and scared about getting the Doctor Who 50th wrong."  And well he should, for his inability to stick with his own established continuity within both the individual stories and the series-long story arcs has long been one of my bigger pet peeves.  Don't screw this up for us fans, Moffat.  If you need to hand the reigns of one show over to someone who knows how to write consistently, and consistently well, do it, and don't let the quality suffer.