Monday, December 20, 2010

Season for Giving

'Tis the season for giving! And with only 5 days left before that Merry day (and I think my kids are close to counting down hours now), I thought it would be nice to spread some really good cheer!

The Holidays always seem to somehow show our best side as humans. We give more to charities, we try to be a little nicer (unless we are aiming for the last SOMETHING in the store that we simply MUST have) to both our elders and our fellow  humans. We are more friendly in general, to anyone than we normally are. I was giving directions to some poor soul in Toys R Us today, trying to find Barbie stuff.

The above goes the same for VW's, at least in InWorldz the last couple of weeks. Raglan Shire has their Tiny's Holidays Tree (which I hear tell they are referring to it as WootMas now), and are preparing to go caroling all over the grid. If you get a chance, please do not miss the caroling! I've had a preview and it will absolutely put you in the season mood.... or make you laugh like crazy, either of which is a good thing  ;)

We have the Yule Tree over on Isle of Anu started by Marie Ravencrow, and I hear presents are piling up and people are sharing their best for it.

We had a great event all weekend: InWorldz Winterland Event. I didn't get to spend much time at it, but that's ok, I heard a good time was had by all who attended it. I do know, it was well attended all weekend with an avg count of about 25 people at all times, and held up beyond well all weekend.

What was very cool, is we hope a new tradition has been born in InWorldz. Over the last week, our residents pulled together more than $500 to donate to Toys for Tots, which InWorldz will match to make it over $1000 to be donated to Toys for Tots this season. It's wonderful to see our community growing and wanting to give to those less fortunate. And hopefully, we'll see this number grow immensely next year.

I both hate and love this season personally. I love to see people be so good to one another, because barring some major catastrophe, we seem to have lost our way a bit, and this time of the year brings us back to our roots. The parades, the window shopping, the snow (ok, for us in the colder northern part of the world), the Christmas Carols, and can NOT forget "A Christmas Story" ("he looks like a deranged Easter Bunny!"), the Salvation Army volunteers outside the stores with their bells, the smell of cookies in the oven, or pumpkin nut bread in my case hehe. I hate it because it also can bring out the absolute worst in people. I despise the traffic during this time of the year. I hate going physically shopping, and yeah I did part of my shopping online (someday ask me how that worked out for me!) this year, but I do like going out and picking things out and seeing what's new. And no, silly bands were NOT a part of presents this year!

But, the best part of the season, is the day itself. Yes, it's a big day of cooking, presents, family and laughter. For me, that means my girls waking me up at the ungodly hour of 6 am (and it took years to get them to that point! It used to be 5am!), rambling downstairs and telling them to be patient, let mom get some coffee first, and finally settling down in one of the chairs and to watch them open their presents. What took me hours if not a couple of days to get all wrapped, is destroyed in mere minutes between howls of happiness, thank you's galore, ooooohhhh's and aaaaahhhhh's.

At the end of this huge day, we're exhausted, probably stuffed from eating way too much food, happily sated in our beverage of choice, and we've added another wonderful memory to the book.

To our residents, this our 2nd Christmas, although many of you are new. But thank you for sharing your lives with us, on the forums, your blogs, in the world... for sharing your kindness, your thoughts and your hopes. For being patient, having humor, and most of all, for just being you. May the Holiday Season bring you many blessings, laughter and joy.

Now... let me see if I can work on getting up at 7am this year... Til we meet InWorldz!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The InWorldz History

I'm in a bit of storytelling mode tonight and my sincere apologies for not blogging last week, but I had a bit of the winter doldrums. Reading through the forums, and Whiskey's blog challenge last week brought up some old memories (and when I say old, ok, they are only almost 2 years old but still!). Grab some hot cocoa, or vodka, or whatever liquid you prefer and read on!

Once upon a time, there were a few people who saw the promise of Virtual Worlds beyond what was being presented out there. The playbooks almost identical with a twist here or there: one jacked people's inventories after breaking a deal they made; one ran by a scam artist who had a trail of unpaid bills behind them; and yet others who felt that a grid was a great way to get rich quick. Far and few between were the grids that actually were doing anything on their own, or providing awesome support, but finding them after the other fiasco's is slightly akin to having severe PTSD. Once bitten, twice shy kinda deal. These few daring souls, figured they could do a grid.

It all started back in February, 2009, when we got a very bare bones server, from GoDaddy of all places. I mean seriously, it was a 512Mb RAM system, 1 core. And on Feb. 12, we were able to actually log in, all of us, into the one little region that was our "grid". I don't even remember the name of it back then. It was a test to see if we could even get it going. We were ecstatic! There we stood, on our very own little blob of a region, saying well HEY lookie at this! Obviously, this server was not going to do what we'd want for long, but the test was completed, we knew it could be done.

Within 2 weeks, we had researched providers and compared prices and even found our first "dev". That box itself, was nothing massively special either, but it was dedicated and we started with it. At that time, the discussions started on what we wanted IDI to look like. Which btw, is where the name comes from! InWorldz Desert Island was slated originally to be a.... you guessed it! Desert! We were a tad sick of tropical. And we were gonna do something kinda romanish. So here's one of the oldest pics from InWorldz:

That is myself, Lecktor, April and Loki. Playing with columns and sculpties. As you can see, there wasn't even any formation to IDI at that point. Date there, is March 10, 2009. Now possibly Legion or Lek may have some older pics, but that is the oldest one in my inventory. I also have a picture in my inventory, nicely framed of our first InWorldz Party:

That's Legion (baldie), Lecktor, myself, and I'm fairly sure one of the other females is Circle Widdershins and the red head is Copper Rau, but please don't quote me on that, I could be terribly wrong there. And yes, the first dance ball in InWorldz is there. That's from April 12, 2009.

Then I have this picture of Bob Bunderfeld, on his rez day March 19, 2009 in a crazy shirt trying to figure out why his arms were still black hehehe:

There are the stories as well, of when one of the Founders decided to drop 3k textures into a single prim. Now mind you, you couldn't OPEN that prim, but let's throw 3k textures into one. That took us almost 2 days to clean up.

What is most interesting is that by our first little party above, we had paying customers! Not alot mind you, but a few.  Some of them have since moved on, or were only around for a quick month, but others stayed: Jim and Jo Smart, Rosa and Gaius (sorry Gaius, love you two dearly but I'm NOT typing it all out!), Bladax who came with Erasmus and stayed, Scotsgraymouser. These were the first real beta residents who have stuck with us through thick and thin, when there was NO ONE on the grid, to where it is now. They've expanded their regions, contracted their regions, but no matter what, they've always been there.

By August, 2009, we had already shed 3 Founders, for various reasons. April left, as did Lek, one we got rid of and then we got rid of our "dev" in August. That left Legion and I and one other. Scots managed in her ever so tenacious spirit to keep asking me what we needed. My response was always the same: a real dev. So scouring SL, did she go in her little mouser way. And she got to talking to PatriciaAnne Daviau and telling her that we were needing a dev. Patti then talked to Tranq, who in turn emailed me about doing dev work. This was early September, 2009.

By this time, I had gotten the groups code rolled in, gotten the currency turned on and running, and had made some huge changes so profiles worked sorta. I didn't actually finish them until Nov. 2009 IIRC. But we seriously needed a dev who could delve far deeper into the code than I was able to, and start sorting things out. Little did Tranq know what he had signed on for  ;)

We also, had upgraded to what was then referred to as The Beast. It was seriously a pretty heavy duty system, that allowed us to expand and grow. In November, we shed our final Founder. I remember Tranq working on rolling the groups code so it was all C# native rather than what it originally was with outgoing calls to PHP to run DB queries.

In January of 2010, we were only running that one server. We now run 36 servers. In the space of 11 months, that's how much we've grown. We went from excitement over 5 avatars in world at one time, to Tranq's mission to have 20 avatars online by March, 50 by June, 100 by September. I'm not sure what his next target is, but so far we've made them all.

In March, 2010, we brought Tranq on board as a full Founder with all the rights and privileges assigned to us Founders: long hours, lots of stress, massive breakdowns of systems whenever least wanted, and lots and lots of support for our customers. We signed our LLC in April, 2010 into actual formalization, which is also when we kinda sorta met. Well ok, I met Tranq, and Tranq met Legion. This is also when we had a sudden wave of new residents.

As with most things, we had a lot come by, if for no other reason than to keep their name intact, some to check out our progress, some to snipe our residents to other grids, some to try and be drama queens, and some to really find another avenue. Lots left, but quite a few stayed. And they expanded our growing core of residents. Some of them are incredibly outspoken, some of them not so much, some I rarely hear from, others I hear from often. Some I consider friends, and others are not "friends" but they are customers and they have that same open door as any one else.

But there's a bit of our history, and I've left some names out, because to be quite honest they aren't worth mentioning. We've had our share of drama, tension, stress, fights, sleepless nights (seriously, nights where I had very little sleep worrying about the grid), and a lot of fun times too. I hope you enjoyed story hour, and there's much more information in our forums in regards to when things happened as far as patches rolled out and such, just feel free to dig around until we see you InWorldz  ;)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Trouble With a Capital T

And it doesn't rhyme with P! Anyone who can name that reference btw, will truly be showing their age or at the very least, their time spent watching far too many musicals as a child  ;)  I've been doing a bit of reading today, and wow was there a TON to read and go over. It all started from this forum posting, and I actually went over and read the blog post and comments today. Exhausting work let me tell ya!

So I'm feeling the need to address this issue from a parental point of view. As a resident still of SL, the concept of bringing teens into the grid is.... monumentally scary. I remember the first few times I ventured in, my daughters wanted to see what mommy was up to. Those were some very trepidating moments and I quickly shoo'ed my kids off to do something else, because apparently I had landed at a sim that was erm, yeah. I'm not a prude by any means, but my first thoughts about SL were not flattering. And all because I wanted a decent pair of jeans.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your point of view), I happened to run into an old ex-bf there, who helped me get around SL and away (sorta) from the sex stuff. Well, that is until I visited his sim. Anyways, moving right along... And I actually settled down and started learning how to build. That's when my kids were allowed to see what mom was up to. Otherwise, SL was verboten to them.

Now, warp to one lonely day on InWorldz, on my region in fact, back when there were only 5 people online (and we got excited over that fact). My oldest daughter had asked to check out what mom was up to. So I let her make an account and I told her where to log into, on to my region. So there she was, happily checking out her inventory after I gave her a bunch of stuff. And I had to run over to the old IDI at that time. So I told her to stay put. While I was gone, someone showed up on my region and was testing building stuff. So she headed over by the male avatar, said "Hi, what are you building?". Nothing else. Nothing mean. The guy was nice at first, and they chatted for a few minutes when he asked her where she lived. Now, some of us would not think too much of that question (although personally, anyone who would ask me that within the first 5 mins wouldn't usually like my answer but I digress), however, my daughter decided it best to be very vague and said, "The United States". Well, kudos to her, she's not nearly as much of a smart ass as I am  :)  The guy got his shirt in a ruffle and asked what kind of answer was that. And she got distressed at that and asked me what she should say to him. That's when I tp'ed back and was nice and explained she's my daughter and he went off on me. I won't repeat what he said here, but it was not nice. And it was in full view of my daughter. Sadly, there are people in the world like that.

Now, I don't believe anyone should raise my kids but me. I'm kinda firm on that one. And it's not an easy job, it's a lot easier than most single mom's have it, as I'm home all day. And I completely understand that need for a parent to have their "adult" time. Whether that means being a fairy, a furry, a whatever you want, you want to do it without your kids being around pestering you for this or that. Whether it's just an hour away from the rat race, or after they've gone to bed, you need that time. That time to remember you're not someone's dad or mom, that you're not the wife/husband to someone else, that you DO have yourself. You can't lose touch with that, or everything sort of falls apart from there.

When we, as adults, agree to play in games such as WoW or GW or Lord of the Rings Online, or any other MMORPG, we sort of take it for granted there will be kids there. And we comport ourselves appropriately due to that fact. Ok, a good majority of us adults do anyways. Or at the very least we keep our adult side to private im's with other "known" adults. If you have a guild, you can set the terms, if you want kids in it or not, and kick them if you find out a member is a kid. Or join an adults only guild. So there is a way to keep away from them in a very limited way. Was not uncommon for me to keep my local chats off in public so I wouldn't have to deal with the endless crap spewed out when I was in any of those aforementioned games.

Where am I headed with all this? It's a danger as a parent, just monitoring your kids in RL. Knowing what or who is around your area (anyone done a recent registered sex offender search in their area lately??) where your kids play every day, go back and forth to school, and are out and about daily is a challenge in and of itself. How are you supposed to monitor them in a virtual world that in some ways, is MORE expansive than their real world you allow them access to? How do you rely on knowing that the people they are interacting with are not exactly the SAME people you are trying to protect them from in the real world?!

My girls have accounts with Disney's Club Penguin. I pay for this every month for them to fully enjoy it. Why? After having read through Disney's safety structure and guidelines, I felt my kids would be safe there. That Disney had gone above and beyond making sure kids would be safe there. They monitor the chats, various chat types are removed, and they are heavy on the ban hammer for anything inappropriate. So I happily pay $6 a month for each account for them. They do not have Facebook (although my oldest keeps begging for it), they do not have MySpace, they do not have personal blogs. The internet is not a toy. It's full of all the same dangers as the real world are and in some cases, far more so depending on the venue.

Now, back to the purpose of this blog. If I, as a parent, were informed by the powers that (are now seemingly lacking to) be that my teen was to be moved to the adult oriented main grid, and their security was a spotty "age verification" process, you can bet as a parent I would be livid. And their accounts terminated. I'm sorry, but no one has the right to just decide for me as a parent that my child is old enough to be migrated from one place to another without my say so. My kids already KNOW how to avoid the age problem when it comes to registrations and so on. But my job, as a parent, is to make sure I know where they are. And that includes the internet.
I would have to say, I'm actually angry at the lack of foresight in this disaster in the makings. And I don't even have a teen being migrated. I'm angry on behalf of the parents who have no idea, or who have been blinded by their kid's dazzling gloss over of what SL is. I'm angry for the adults who now are being forced to change their ways and limit themselves after years of having their own adult time. I'm angry at once again, corporate making the decision without listening to their user base. AGAIN. I'm angry that this is being done to "conserve" costs, rather than modifying the business model that obviously failed, now it will be foisted on the adults to deal with what they do not want to. I'm angry that kids who don't want to, will now be forced to be around a bunch of cranky adults. I'm angry that the first time some perv goes after one of those kids, some kid is going to get hurt. I'm angry that the first time some adult makes a kid angry, they will level charges at that adult and their life will be ruined, and not just in a virtual environment. Overall, I'm just plain angry over this idea.

I know there's lots of tinfoil ideas out there on why this move. But at this point, I don't care. It's a bad one. It ranks right up there with some doozies I've seen other corporates do, but I seriously think this one takes the cake in my book. It's reckless, stupid, haphazard and full of half-baked spin.

I have this life sized image of a very jaded board of directors facing the front of a sterile conference room, and there is little R2D2 with his flickering image of Princess Leia with this message playing: "The more you tighten your grip LL, the more regions will slip through your fingers." This causes hysterical laughter to erupt in the room and they all pat themselves on the back and mumblings can be heard regarding "the lemmings" and "the sheep have been herded". Fade to black.

Til I see you all InWorldz... give a big squishy hug to your kids. And your pets. And your stuffed animals. And wow I need to stop now!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Food Coma = Thankful... or Something

Happy TurkeyDay, or as I refer to it, National Food Coma Day to all my American compatriots! So this is my special Food Coma Blog, or the start of a new tradition I suppose. I've often wondered how stuffing ourselves at a table based on history that quickly gets mired in lots of dead people equates to being thankful. Be that as it may, turkeys, comas, dead people, here are a few things I'm thankful for (and yes, this is on a completely personal level).

1. I'm thankful for my family. Sure they drive me absolutely rant raving luatic, which they will tell you is not a long drive for me, but I can always count on them to throw some humor at me when most needed. My 12 year old has this really wonderfully warped sense of humor (I disclaim any and all knowledge of where she got it from btw) and her and my mom start arguing in fun and next thing you know the whole house is insane. Not only that, but they sacrifice alot while I work on the grid so many hours a day. They may hate it some days, ok most days, but they also realize they are luckier than most kids.

2. I'm thankful for my puppy. He is a big ball of trouble, but he's the sweetest thing on the planet, and one thing I know, when I'm stressed out during the day, he'll be there to give me a big ol' puppy hug and sloppy kiss, even if I did shower just 15 minutes before that!

3. I'm thankful for my friends. Admittedly, I don't have a ton of them, and when I do make one, they quickly get upset over the fact that my finding time between grid and family doesn't leave me with much other time. But I have a couple really close friends, where we don't require a ton of each other's time and personal touch. Sure we get together a couple times a year, and we have a blast when we do, and we keep in touch via emails, phone, im's, which really keeps us going. They say, if you find 5 good friends in your lifetime, REALLY good friends, ones you trust with your very life, you should count yourself lucky. I count myself thankful.

4. I'm thankful for our residents. More like my extended family in alot of ways, because they too can drive me absolutely rant raving lunatic, but they also bicker and fight with themselves, make up and hug after, and at the end of the day, always bring a smile to my face. They are crazy, fun, humorous, creative, and overall, we could never have asked for a better core group of residents.

5. I'm thankful for finding SL. Yup, I am. At a time in my life when I had basically closed off the outside world to focus on my kids, I found SL and got my social outlet again. But better than that, it gave me the drive to move beyond just being a resident. To do something I love doing and have the desire to do every day. Not everyone can say they love their Just Over Broke.

6. I'm thankful for all my virtual friends. There was a time, not so long ago, and in some circles it's still not considered "mainstream" (psychiatrists warn against internet addiction after all) when mentioning you had friends you had never "met" face to face, was frowned upon. But I find the people I associate myself with in the virtual reality, to be just as real as my friends above that I don't see that often. Where is the difference I often ask myself, and I know there really is none other than you may miss vital social cues from body language. Well, we live and learn that way too.

7. Last but not least, there is one person, who I'm not going to name here, that I'm very thankful for. And sometimes he doesn't get to hear that enough cause I'm just so not the mushy type. He makes me laugh when I desperately need it, he listens to me vent when I need to vent (mind you, he tunes it out, but what man doesn't?!?!), he lets me ramble about crazy ideas, and with his schedule, he's as busy as I am some days. So he let's me have my space as I need it, without either of us worrying about insulting the other.

I'm sure there's lots of other little things I'm grateful for, but seriously, this would turn into the worlds longest blog then. Whether you're American or not, sometimes it's good to review the things you're grateful for and just go over them and smile at the reasons why you're thankful to have those in your life.

Until I see you InWorldz... what are some of the things you're thankful for?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Beta Test Crash Helmets Available Here!

Yup, that's right, tomorrow starts our big beta test! At noon and 6pm InWorldz time, we have put a call out for anyone and everyone that can make themselves available for testing. We of course, will be handing out crash helmets for all our test dumm.. er victims. Yeah, victims, that's what I meant  ;)

This is a really huge test as it pertains to the network and Tranq has worked his fingers to the bone on this... which leaves him a tad funkeh looking with boney fingers and all! But he had excellent results testing on his standalone and I was in the beta grid last night and it was very cool. We'll release the beta viewer as well for this, as the two go hand in hand with things that were put in place. The beta viewer WILL work on the main grid as well, so by all means feel free to replace your InWorldz viewer with this one.

The beta viewer has some of the stuff our residents have requested as well, such as the built-in AO, radar and other fun stuff. No bouncing boobies... and no RLV either, sorry folks! The neat thing is who is working on our viewer, so you guys may or may not be surprised by that, but the good part is we'll be able to work on some new features there. Obviously we'll be keeping those quiet until they are implemented and the viewer released, but we have some really cool stuff in the plans!

On a completely different track, I went over our numbers this last month, except currency, which I'll run after the 1st of December. Things are very much where I expected them to be, considering our huge expenses we had this month. Hey, going to San Diego is NOT cheap! But was it fun!  :)  First time land purchases fell, as I predicted, to half, but was slightly recouped with the new region resells. Region resells are spotty at best right now while I bring the system into full swing over the next 30 days. Renewals increased, which was a great thing to see, and I noticed an interesting trend from Oct. to Nov. numbers: Alot of our residents did 3 month renewals to get them through the holidays. That was great to see! We also had some other major expenses come out which will be announced with the next viewer (not the new one coming, but next one, I think... I may be wrong here). And we had our licenses covered for various things, and we also started our Trademark process. So all in all, while we did exactly what I expected for numbers, we spent alot of money too :)

So on that note, I leave you with this beautiful picture we took, Wednesday night, at Cardiff by the Sea, the Beach House restaurant. We got there right at 4:30pm for dinner, and I could not resist taking this picture. I felt right at home with this view ;)

Yes, our table was RIGHT there!

Monday, November 15, 2010


Evening wonderful readers! I've been debating on what to blog about this last week, when there are so many interesting topics to go through! I finally decided on just another one of my not so famous rambles (and they aren't infamous either, so we'll just leave it at that) and see where it all leads up to!

Topmost of my brain tonight is a huge amazement at last week. It was rather fascinating to watch from afar all the outlets about InWorldz. First, we had our interview on Prim Perfect with Saffia and Elrik released (which I will of course embed below, in CASE you missed the forum postings, the tweets, FB release, etc). Then, Whiskey Day had this brilliant idea of a Blog Challenge, about the Best of InWorldz. This has produced quite a few blogs out there, which in turn spurred MORE blogs about them. I will link them all in just moment here for anyone to see. We also had requested a machinima from Celestial Elf focusing on our community, and the best way to embody that in a machinima is to focus on some of our actual communities growing InWorldz already. What a beautiful bit of work he did. So here's all the links I was tracking this last week:

Jazz Cognito's Best of InWorldz
Whiskey's Best of InWorldz
Mera Kranfel's Best of InWorldz
Rosa Dagostino's Best of InWorldz
Southie Allen's Best of InWorldz
Lalo Telling's Best of InWorldz

Which, interestingly enough, spawned off to Ener, not just posting one, but two blog posts (in a row even, watch out Ener, we'll convert you eventually *wink* ):

InWorldz Seems to be the Social Leader
InWorldz Will Never be What SL Is

What is truly amazing in these, is number 1, I GOTTA get those bouncie balls from Abraminations! And number 2, is how tight knit the community is at times. It's kind of daunting to be honest. To see how that community is felt right down to these blog posts, to people who have never logged in to our world... that is something we have worked very hard at. The last thing that hit me with these blogs, is I think Ener got something nailed very much downpat with us as the Founders:

"with InWorldz, it seems that they love virtual worlds first, then let the money come in after that. that is a huge diff (and i hope they make enough so that they don’t burn out)"

 I would say, that our hard work, our love, our dedication to not only the grid itself, but to our residents come through in just about everything. I won't say everything, as we're not perfect, and we can't please everyone all the time, but we work really hard at keeping the vast majority happy.

This in turn, has shown that our residents give back to us. Through their blogs, the humor they present on the forums with the bugs, to the polls we've asked them to partake in, to our sales and growth. To producing machinima's, and in general even battling the trolls where so needed. Our many many thanks are not sufficient to express ourselves to our residents.

Really, give yourselves a pat on the back, as each of you are the reason we've seen this growth. Obviously it's a symbiotic relationship, between us and you, much akin to creators and socialites in the world, we never want to lose this relationship with you. Ever. I don't ever want to be afraid to log in to the grid. Sure, I don't want support IM's and so on, but any one of our residents is welcome to IM us at any time, with.. whatever. Whatever is on your mind. If we can fix it, we will, if we have an answer, we'll give it, if we know the progress on it, we'll let you know. Or if you just want to say hi. That works too  :)

I think I've been more than mushy tonight, but I wanted to let you all know how much you rock. You really really do. On a completely unrelated note, we have some really exciting things we'll be letting you guys in on next week, so pay attention to the forums and so on.. as we'll be releasing some info there in regards to the viewer, the beta testing that will be going on and something that's happening in the background that we're not telling! So until then, don't break the grid and we'll see you InWorldz!

Monday, November 8, 2010

InWorldz, Trust, Future and HG?

It's been a pretty interesting week I will admit. Ok, interesting month... oh well heck, interesting year! I finally got to sit down and while I tend to do the books every month *coughs*exceptseptemberoctoberbooks*coughs*, I did some neat graphs for our residents to see, and then I have some general rambling about our future and something I'm sick of hearing about.

Let's start off with the first graph which is our 3rd quarter general snapshot. This covers July, August and Sept, until the 20th, as that's our books cut off date.

Now, as I posted in another blog, one of the interesting facts of this chart that we don't individually represent is our currency, I'z, purchases:

  • July I'z sold: 2,065,000
  • August I'z sold: 4,331,750
  • September I'z sold: 6,384,250
I stated that things were doubling darn near in the terms of currency purchases, which is what those numbers show. What's more interesting is to combine those numbers with the October, 2010 cashout chart I did:

Our numbers for October:

  • I'z purchased: 12,906,500
  • I'z sold: 8,864,500
 Which means, once again, from Sept to Oct, our I'z purchases doubled again (although do realize our graph for Cash outs ends Oct. 31). This also means our economy is healthy and growing. We have some pretty happy merchants as well, as we cashed out over $17k during the month of October.

There's another fun fact buried in all this, which is not of released numbers in all actuality, but that we're about 10k shy of handling 6 figures a month in transactions. That's a pretty big leap from a year ago... er, well from 6 months ago... 3 months ago?! I think that says alot for the trust levels from our residents, and that we're not a fly by night operation.

Downside of all this? We're in the holiday season, and already our provider is teasing me on the phone with my knowing our market trend too well. We were originally picking up almost 2 servers a week to meet our growth demands, right now, one a week. I warned them this would happen  :) The other half of this is people are waiting on me to finish the Region Xchange (which yes, I am working on! Don't bludgeon me with potatoes!), and pick up our spare regions not making money.

Today, we had alot of fun over on Treet.TV with Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin. They are really great people, and who doesn't like the UK accent, seriously?! Either the UK or the Aussie accents, I'm telling ya! Apparently Tranq picked up some fans in the interview (No, Conie, I'm not referring you... or am I?! mwahahaha), and we had a lot of fun discussing InWorldz with them. Big big thanks to Julia Hathor for letting us swipe her region, and to Johnny Night, and to Zauber Paracelsus and to Jeri Rahja! You guys are the best! The video should be released tomorrow and we'll be sure to do an embed on it for everyone to see who missed it!

On to the thing that I'm quite tired of hearing about: HyperGrid. Yup, I said it, I'm sick of hearing it. I'm tired of armchair referees who don't run their own grid, who don't understand all the nuances of IP protection, squawking at the tops of their lungs that we won't connect to the HyperGrid. There, now I've REALLY said it. I don't think I can make it much clearer than that. I'm sick of hearing about it. We're not doing it. Not anytime soon. I'm tired of hearing we're going to "control" code if we ever get to that point. I'm sick of hearing how our residents are "missing out". If our residents were missing out, be assured, they would tell us. They would scream, yell, throw things at us, and otherwise make their opinions known.

In fact, we recently encouraged our residents to take part of a poll by HyperGridBusiness, and I can tell you for most part, what our residents voted for that they missed: Vehicles, Online Marketplace, and Search. Notice, I do not mention HyperGrid.

I remember, way back when (wow talk about dating myself here!), how the internet would be made up of nothing but self-hosted websites. Guess what? It's not. Why? Well, it's simple really. Security. That's what web hosts provide to the normal average cookie. Same concept. And I'm applying the internet analogy here, because I keep hearing how HG is the next wave of the internet. Do I think that's wrong? Nah. I do see a great potential for the HG concept. Just not it's implementation as it stands. Because, like the internet, there will be hosts and providers. Companies, just like InWorldz, who will be there to step in for the security issues, to handle them correctly. A fall back for IP protection, where you can legitimately file a DMCA and have the content removed.

Now, I am totally aware I just probably irritated a whole lot of people. I'm not going to lose sleep over it. Sorry. InWorldz has it's own path and growth we're going to follow. And when the time comes that our residents say to us "Hey guys, we'd like to go from grid to grid", then we'll step up to that plate. Until that time, all those who want to scream that we're not HG connected... Allow me to introduce you to the concept of Social Networking, then point out the real HyperGrid numbers. When you put the two together, they don't add up.

This is probably one of my more brutally honest blogs, because, let's face it, I'm human. Yes, really, I don't run on cogs and such, nor do I have caffeine coursing through my veins or anything else. I'm human. And I get tired of hearing the detractors scream at us for this or that. So I need to vent once in a while. I think I've successfully done that!

So, to my lovely readers, thank you for letting me get that out in the open.... See ya InWorldz!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Beware the Prims Meshed!

It's a blog night! And for the day after Halloween I'm throwing out caution notices! I happened to pop in tonight for a quick IM catchup fest, when I got an IM asking me if I had a spare moment to pop by a region to meet someone, Nazz Lane. So I said, sure. As we stood there making introductions (ok so MY version of introductions are handling a few different IM's while trying to type out a Hallo minus typos' might be slightly off from your version, but hey it worked!), Jeri Rahja says to me something about artistide despres. Then flies off to her other region, and I'm left looking a little lost and confused... yes yes, don't point it out, I know I'm typically lost and confused! I get a TP request to Angels Loft, and WOW!

Jeri is a patron of the arts, not the first in InWorldz by far. Stefanik has his great sims dedicated to the artists. Tonight though... I said WOW. Which, yes, I do say that quite often when I'm out meandering, but this was truly a WOW moment. So without further ado... let me lead up to the WOW moment  :)

First, there's this cute little guy:

Who doesn't like a grasshopper this cute?

Then moving on further, you find this cute little bunny guy offering a script garden!

Vague recollections of Alice in Wonderland anyone?

Some more of Soror's beautiful work, I particularly like this scenery setting:

Ahhh peace at last!

Now here is the WOW... it may not look like much, but that is a full female avatar, made completely out of prims to resemble a mesh female avatar. Right down to the textures. This is almost 1k prims making her up, and you really do need to see it to get a feel for how much work was done to it over at Angels Loft:

Don't be  fooled, she won't stomp on ya!
Who knows what will inspire me next week?! Til then, see ya InWorldz! :)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Textures, IP and Copyright?

So tonight I was supposed to go and post about nifty regions and such from InWorldz, but I'm finding myself in a dilemma here, as that's not what I want to blog about, so I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to go out on a limb here and post some stuff that some may raise an eyebrow over. I think it's critical though, to bring this up as it's becoming a heated debate for people.

Over the last couple of months, I've been reading many blogs and posts and our own forum discussions in regards to IP and copyright protection. I've heard about so-called IP conferences being held to explain rights and so on. I've heard wide sweeping claims of unfairness, profit-driven licenses and claims of stolen good not able to enter worlds. These are bothersome to me in several ways, and I feel I need to vent. Now, by no means am I an expert, which is why we have an attorney to help us deal with where our knowledge may lack.

What I do know from an OSP standpoint is pretty important, and we've tried to make these things very clear on our forums. What I do not understand is why any OSP would want to avoid dealing straight on with the issue of IP protection. I do not understand why anyone would think it's wiser to bypass the laws already put in place to protect an OSP, and even better yet, why anyone wouldn't want to investigate these issues themselves.

Intellectual Property... it's kind of a daunting phrase when you think about it. What exactly IS Intellectual Property? From the wikipedia:

"Intellectual property (IP) is a term referring to a number of distinct types of creations of the mind for which property rights are recognized—and the corresponding fields of law. Under intellectual property law, owners are granted certain exclusive rights to a variety of intangible assets, such as musical, literary, and artistic works; discoveries and inventions; and words, phrases, symbols, and designs. Common types of intellectual property include copyrights,  trademarks, patents, industrial design rights and trade secrets in some jurisdictions.

"Although many of the legal principles governing intellectual property have evolved over centuries, it was not until the 19th century that the term intellectual property began to be used, and not until the late 20th century that it became commonplace in the United States. The British Statute of Anne 1710 and the Statute of Monopolies 1623 are now seen as the origin of copyright and patent law respectively."

I think that's fairly clear as to what Intellectual Property is. What starts to make it unclear though? Well, you can create "derivatives" of IP, however, there has to be some guidelines to them. There's a very fascinating article at the Wikipedia on this exact subject and I'll highlight the tidbit that truly intrigued me in regards to Duchamps defacement of the Mona Lisa:

"The most famous derivative work in the world has been said to be L.H.O.O.Q., also known as the Mona Lisa With a Moustache. Generations of US copyright law professors — since at least the 1950s — have used it as a paradigmatic example. Marcel Duchamp created the work by adding, among other things, a moustache, goatee, and the caption L.H.O.O.Q. (meaning “she has a hot tail”) to Leonardo’s iconic work. These few, seemingly insubstantial additions were highly transformative because they incensed contemporary French bourgeoisie, by mocking their cult of “Jocondisme,” at that time said to be “practically a secular religion of the French bourgeoisie and an important part of their self image.” Duchamp’s defacement of their icon was considered “a major stroke of epater le bourgeois." Thus, it has been said that the “transformation of a cult icon into an object of ridicule by adding a small quantum of additional material can readily be deemed preparation of a derivative work.” A parodic derivative work based on Duchamp's parodic derivative work is shown at"

In other words, this derivative work, while it enraged people, it DID in fact have enough impact on the underlying group of people to break apart into ridicule of these people.

So how does this all apply to what we see and deal with as an OSP? Well first off, we are not the judge, jury, nor executioner by any means. The law strictly states that we are NOT to be in fact as a registered agent. And anyone who thinks they can do better than being a registered agent, really should read up on IP laws again. By not being a registered agent, and allowing any kind of content into their world, they are risking exposure to lots of lawsuits. As a registered agent, we are protected by that, as we follow the law, and we make sure we comply with that law.

So what is that law, what are our responsibilities? Our responsibilities are not to police the content, that is first off. The law recognizes that no ISP/OSP can monitor every single bit of information that goes through their service. However, once content is recognized as copyright infringement, it is up to the original copyright holder, or their authorized agent, to file a DMCA with the ISP/OSP. Only a copyright holder, or their authorized agent, may file a DMCA. Once a DMCA is filed, it is not up to the ISP/OSP to decide if they should take it down. It is up to the ISP/OSP to block access to the material immediately, and to notify the original uploader/creator/responsible party that the content has been blocked. The other party then has the right to file a counter-claim. At which point, the ISP/OSP then gives the information to the originating party of the original DMCA filed, so that it can then be taken to court. The ISP/OSP then waits 10-14 days, if no suit is filed, then the block from the material must be lifted.

So what does that have to do with the above as far as derivative works and so on? One of the single most contested things I read about are textures. Textures, textures and more textures. Textures are vital to any build, the build is nothing without them. Unfortunately, for over a decade, Intellectual Property on these was not something very highly regarded. Mostly because back then, textures that were out there, weren't really used for much other than web page backgrounds and so on. But as the gaming industry and graphic arts industry started to grow in leaps and bounds, IP rights suddenly became a very big deal. Few years behind the trend, but isn't that always the way with hindsight?

I have seen many textures that are supposedly original works, but when you look at them, they really are not. They are a texture taken from a pack that was bought (or in the worst cases, not even bought) or found on the public domain sites, few pixels added to them, and claimed as new work. These are started to be contested more and more, and I will watch with interest what our court system has to say about this, as the derivatives that they speak of have a fundamental philosophical impact to what they do. So, does changing the color of a carpet texture from red to blue, have a fundamental philosophical impact? Little limited in the breadth of the example, but this is something to think about. In our digital worlds that we enjoy, do these things have an intrinsic value in how the new work is thought of? These are things our courts will have to decide on, and I'm guessing in the next 5 years we'll see some of this start coming down the pipeline.

Now comes the next hardest part... the licensing a copyright holder puts on their goods. Well, simple fact is, it IS their goods. Whether you like it or not, they have a right to put as restrictive a license as they desire. They have a right to limit exactly how much of it you can use, where you can use it, and anything else they want including "may only be used when the moon is blue in the designated year of 1874". Nothing you can do about it. And this holds true for virtual worlds. Just because you own something full-perm, doesn't mean there isn't some licensing above and beyond that. Only the original copyright holder can state what those terms are, and those terms be upheld by them, or their authorized agents.

It is up to the end consumer whether or not they will continue use of those items, as most of this is market driven. What does have me concerned however, is not so much the market driven basis for these licenses in VW's, as I've seen some VERY fair policies in regards to licenses being extended for a moderate price to allow the user to use them in ANY virtual world, but the concept of reversing a ToS, and not just by those copyright holders (which is a whole 'nother blog I may or may not do someday) to make more money off the copyright. This is bad juju in any business, not to mention, completely unenforceable. Case law already states that outside of humanitarian rights, you can not simply reverse your terms of service unless both parties agree in writing to the reversal. This is becoming more and more a practice. So my advice to a copyright holder: speak to an attorney first. Understand your rights as the copyright holder, and what you can limit and how best to do so, and most importantly... the wording of your license.

To merchants, or creators, looking to expand into more VW markets, do your research. One of the single biggest fallacies I hear, is that a world is secured by not allowing other viewers in. If the world is using the LL based viewer in connecting to their world, guess what, they are under licensing terms to release that code. And anything that is opensource, is never fully secure. No matter how much one wants to croak out that it is, it's not. So unless they are in violation of the licensing terms for the viewer, or using a completely rewritten viewer that is proprietary to them, the claim is bogus.

Check the business, and it's affiliation to the USPTO's registered OSP agent list. Now, true, given how slow our government works, they may NOT be listed there, but that doesn't mean you can't find out, ask them for a copy of their paperwork filed. Remember, they WANT your business, you have a right to ask anything you need to know as a consumer. This was something we missed, and it could have cost us alot, but we have since rectified it and made sure our paperwork is in place. Any OSP who doesn't do this, and to be blunt, any grid is an OSP, is going to find themselves in a world of hurt later on down the road. If the business is not registered or held in any part under the United States, find out where they are located at and check against the Berne Convention to see if they are participators. How the Berne Convention affects filings of copyright and so on, I have no idea, as we fall under the US laws. What I do know, is the Berne Convention requires each participating country to have pretty stringent copyright laws in place and how to deal with infringement.

I have heard things like IP will be obsolete by 2012, well I don't see that as being the case. I do think it's a very uphill, very challenging battle, but I have faith that we as humans, and as morally right people collectively, will find a way to negotiate these challenges and find what is a fair and balanced way to protect consumers and creators. Yes, the courts will drag their heels and the digital age is expanding by leaps and bounds, but I do feel it will all come around at some point... I just hope it's within my lifetime  ;)

See ya InWorldz!  :)

Oh, and PS. ya'll can blame Tranq and Legion for the lateness of this blog as I started it last night but didn't get to finish!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oh The Places You'll Go!

First sign of too much parenting: You can quote Dr. Seuss without thinking about it! Sad state of affairs heh.

As much as I would love to get around the grid far more than I do, sometimes that's just not feasible. Usually, the only way I get to see what our lovely residents are up to is when a problem arises and I need to head to the region itself to see what's going on. And it's not from lack of desire to go to see regions or go to events, it's just busy, busy, busy. This is not to say, that what I show here tonight is any kind of bias, or me having favorites in any way. They are regions I've had to show up and fix something on and took some pics of.

We have interesting regions abounding, we have groups that are forming their own little colonies if you will, and we have those wonderful singular sims that can enchant you, delight you, entertain you, or even make you ponder things.

Some of the bigger landmasses are of course the Victoriana Sims, with 14 regions, LittleBlackDuck has been a very busy little erm, well duck! So I was wandering around one night over there, when I happened to run across this lovely avatar, dressed to the 9's in Victoriana and I thought, HOW appropriate! So she happily allowed me to take a couple of shots of her.

Spirit of Victoriana

We also have the Magellan Colony forming together from a group of residents, and we have the Elf Clan, who's lovely regions I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting yet! But it's on my list! Really!

The other nifty spot I was at the other day, was Raglan Shire. Which begs the question, what is it with Tinies?!? The tinies are sooooo creative! Not that the rest of us normal sized avatars aren't creative mind you, but when you enter one of these regions and look at it from a tiny point of view, sort of makes you appreciate the wonders of nature that sometimes we miss in real life.

The Little Things in Nature

Who doesn't like Pie?!

One of the other really neat spots I'm watching and happened to pop by the other day (because the map tile really intrigued me as I was doing region setups), was soror Nishi Island. Now I have a couple of things from soror, I am so not sure where she gets her ideas, but I think her and Scots have a thing for really bright colors! Whatever the case, here's a little sample of what she's up to, and I can't wait to see what the whole region turns into!

Color Anyone?

Next week, I'll hit some of the other groups like Elf Clan, and a couple of other smaller areas that I've been wanting to pop in and check on from their first builds, but I'll keep those quiet for now  ;)  In the meantime, I highly encourage you to wander the world, as there's so much beauty to be seen, and I hope I can cover alot of them over the next few months! See ya InWorldz!

Monday, October 11, 2010

So What Is It with Virtual Worlds?

We have this talk a lot amongst us privately, about what drives people to Virtual Worlds and of course what drives them out. Usually, we come back to full circle about what it means to people to be in a Virtual World. Now, obviously that just doesn't mean InWorldz, it can mean games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, or even FaceBook. Short version: community.

It really all boils down to that. When you're running amok killing ogres or snowbeasts or spiders, or farming your crops, or gabbing with your friends at a nightclub, it all boils down to your friends and the portion of the community you communicate with on a daily basis. When you play in an MMORPG, you join a guild for the camaraderie, the help, and usually you make a few friends in there. When you're in a grid such as InWorldz, you meet people who help you out, you join groups, and you interact with people. These are the reasons you keep logging in. Sure, you may want to go kill 500 critters to get that neat piece of armor you need next, but you'd be bored silly doing so if you had no one to talk to (well other than those who are completely anti-social, but in current MMORPG's that won't get you through raids and such unless you join a PUG).

That community, is more than just a sense of being, it's of belonging, of friendship, of people you can rely on to help you out. And it's something we spend a lot of time fostering in our world. It's also something that drives us, as the Founders, to continue working as hard as we do every day, as many hours as we can, because we see our community, and how each and every single one of you reach out to each other. Like any big family, sure there are squabbles, sure there are disagreements, and sometimes things get a tad out of hand, but on the whole, our community is strong and helpful.

I touched on some of this the last blog I did, although not nearly in this route, but what it means to us to know our residents. But it also means for our residents to know each other, and us. So today, on my semi-quasi day off, I spent some time wandering our world and our forums. There's been one thread in particular I've been following: Disabilities - What are they? That's not the only thread I follow obviously, but it definitely caught my attention this week. I was amazed at how everyone in the thread opened up and let us all have just a small peek into their RL and what they go through. Thank you, every single one of you. What may seem to you as just a quick glimpse into your reasoning for being here, to us, it's a reason to keep going on each and every day. To bear with all the complaints, the bugs, to listen to all the upset and yet know, that every single one of you has your own special reason to be here.

The other thread I love to monitor is InWorldz Picture Album! - Share Your Photos Here. I love this thread, because it let's me see into your regions and builds (or silliness) that I simply do not have time for otherwise. Some of my favs (I've taken the liberty of just uploading them here):

By Talia Fournier

By Emilie Autumn

By Amaranthim Talon

By Koshari Mohana

By Yvette Clavenham

Well, I have a whole lot more than that  :)  I think, what's most amazing, is that no matter what you are InWorldz, be it tiny, dragon, furry, fairy, lover of fantasy, GOR, Anime, whatever you're into, that when you go to our welcome area, or hang out on our forums, there is always this incredible sense of help and belonging. Sometimes we lose our way, but I see our residents reach out a hand to someone and say, come back, or let us help.

While we tend to get alot of thanks from our residents, it's really us who should be thanking them. Without them, none of this would be worth it (and believe me when I say we never knew if it would be worth it). Without our residents retaining that strong sense of community and building on it and making sure it's given to every new resident and passed on, we wouldn't have this community at all. That, is worth more anything I can say here.

So, next week, I plan on putting some stuff out about some of our regions, both larger land masses and groups and smaller ones. I'm constantly amazed at what our residents come up with! See ya InWorldz :)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Just Random Ramblin'

I have all these things I want to talk about, but some have to wait for now, and others are probably going to stoke a fire that would not be good for anyone's blood pressure :)  So I'm going with random ramblin' tonight on a few different topics! Kinda like my puppy tears through my house which we now affectionately refer to as being Rorycaned. I think he probably qualifies as his own storm type, but I doubt the NWS would allow me to do so!

First, my apologies for not blogging last week. We were so consumed with the grid roll and the hardware changes on the back end, which got delayed, that my day off was shot to smithereens hehe. 

As you all know, we released the currency exchange this last week. Majority seem happy with it, however, we have a few who are discontent. This never makes me happy. These are the times I wish I could speed up time and have everything in place for everyone and then everyone would be happy as ducks in water. Sadly, this is not the case, and we have to move one step at a time, but rest assured, our goals are to ensure that particularly in this endeavor, we satisfy as many people as possible. I have come to learn, can't please all of the people all the time, but I do think this is one of those times, we can make a whole slew of them happy over time.

We're also having quite the discussion about the marketplace / search and how it will all tie in together. Kind of interesting, it's one of those crossroads we're at where we know we can do it differently, but will it be better than what most are used to? Hopefully so, as we continue to take in our residents suggestions and feedback so we can lay a solid foundation to work from.

The other trend I'm noticing, is region sales. It seems land is not stagnating when placed for sale, so this has me slightly intrigued. I'm looking at the things I have to do to transfer a region to a new owner (no small feat believe it or not), and how we can streamline this process for our end users so they aren't waiting on me. Alongside of this is the region moving or server shuffles I'm finding myself engaged in for the last couple of weeks. Again, another that is no small feat to do, it's like playing with one of those big shuffle puzzles, 585 regions with 1 extra tile to make everything work right. Fortunately, I was always good at those puzzles  ;)

We also released our real life info this last week. So, let me give a short intro of myself, and really, this needs to go up on the wiki, or somewhere but who's looking right? As much as I love my chosen InWorldz name (although, Llewellyn, well hmmm, yeah that's all I'll say there), my rl name is Beth Reischl (you can also see this on our FAQ). I was a hellion growing up, but was an overachiever. Didn't take much either, as I have an excellent photographic memory and the school system I was in wasn't high on homework. They believed in test grades being the proof in the pudding. My dad started his own business back when I was in High School, he wrote software for CO2 industrial lasers. For those who want to know what that means, it means they cut steel about an 1 1/2" thick. Not the kind you want to play around with.

The software was the translator between DXF file outputs (we typically used AutoDesk's AutoCAD, which back then was version 1.2 when I learned it) into CNC (computer numerical control) language for the lasers. I had this knack, for listening to his support calls and understanding exactly what the customer was asking. At that time, Windows was still a twinkle is Mister Gates' eyes. So the software was written in QBasic, and running on CGA monitors. Wow we've come a long way  :)  My first training for him was in OR over my senior year Christmas break. Zomgs, talk about learning how to roll with code and fixing things on the fly! That was an interesting training needless to say. From there, I handled all the training, wrote our training manuals, moved into handling sales, also did alot of custom work in digitizing. Don't ever ask me to draw you diddly on a piece of paper as I can't. But give me a CAD program and I can do anything on them, probably why I love VW's so much. I also spent my time that year, becoming certified in MI to teach AutoCAD to our customers, was really kinda wasted on me by that time, but was the paper cert I needed for validation. Our customers included Mitsubishi, Anorad, Amada and a few other laser companies. Mitsubishi eventually bought out the business about 6 years later, and my father was going to ghost write the code and I could continue with a new business, but I wasn't ready at that time. Too much responsibility after roughly 6 years of steady travel, little social life, and too many other things going on.

So I took my sales and support experience and went to work for Michigan Rx. They sold prescription pharmaceuticals to pharmacies. At the time they were in 6 states around MI, but the time McKesson bought them out 3 years later, I had been responsible for branching us out into 35 states by then, and handled a team of 5 sales associates. I went through our stock, made sure what we needed to get rid of, put together our sales flyers, handled support of any customer, and generally worked as a go between on accounts that were past due and the billing department. It was at this time I had my first daughter, then moved to Chicago.

From there, I worked for PowerDirect. Not necessarily a company I want to discuss, but there it is. Again, I set sales records, handled customer support, and was generally considered the closer on any potential accounts that needed a final closing on. Two years later, I had my second daughter.

My youngest, is diagnosed ADHD, Bi Polar and ODD (oppositional defiance disorder), and her diagnoses shook my world quite a bit. The mortality rate is not good for them, especially in the teen years. So, I heeded the advice of my mother and quit working to make sure she got whatever she needed in the form of counseling and so on.

Somewhere along those years of raising my kids, I got introduced to Second Life, and loved the entire concept, not to mention it gave me my social outreach I needed. The only thing that bothered me, was as a single mom of two girls, who was more interested in seeing them get to adulthood than jetsetting my own career, I could never afford my own sim there. Even owning a 1/4 parcel really stretched me thin. So my dear friend, Bob Bunderfeld (who shall NEVER live this down btw) introduced me to another grid where it was far more affordable, more prims, the whole nine yards. I was in heaven. Well, for a short while. A few of us got tired of having issues there, and nothing being fixed and false promises. So we said, we can do this better. And we set out to do just that.

Here we are today. I look at our residents, our disabled, our different, our single mom's and dad's, our older folks, and sometimes I get a little teary, because I've been there. We get your thanks, and we really do get it. We understand completely. We know for that so many of our residents, this isn't just a hobby, it's a way of life, a way to throw off the rl shackles, the way to express yourself in no other medium. It's a way to be the real you rather than what you're forced to be.

On that note, I think I've probably rambled enough. See ya InWorldz  :)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crazy Week!

WOW! That's all I can say... Wow! This weekend really blew us away in terms of concurrency! Our highest records yet for users online, and we got to see how the hardware and software would hold up to it. So I'll cover a bit of that and some of where we see things going, and something I'm working on and something I'm going to be working on hopefully this weekend  ;)

And I just realized I used a whole lot of  "somethings" in there! So I guess I have alot to cover!  :)

First, our concurrency definitely showed us some flaws both in the back end code and hardware. We're already addressing these issues with a couple of different solutions in the hardware area and some fixes to come in the software. Surprisingly, the entire system held up though, albeit there were a couple of crashes here and there, but all hands were available this weekend to keep them minimized.

One of the things I worked heavily on this past week was the payment code for region renewals and such. For anyone who's paid any attention to things (and yes I know you're out there!) you'll have noticed we have two different PayPal accounts. All of the code for renewals was ported to the newer (I won't say new as we've had it a few months now, just was severely underused) PayPal account. This was in preparation for the currency exchange that has landed in my lap. Now, while I wanted this done LAST week, we wanted to make sure we did this right the first time around. Along with this code, alot of hooks were built in by me for various other things such as estate name changes, mainland purchasing, region name changing, etc. The currency exchange part is now ready to be written and tested over the next couple of days, so long as I can keep myself off the grid!

Official word on the currency exchange will be given on the InWorldz site of course, with lots of explanations for everyone!

In other news, a few might have noticed our screens changed both in the loginscreen and on the main site. This is mainly due to a couple of blogs that circulated this weekend, of which I will not bother linking to. And since we had to change the screens, I did manage to get the original psd's from our web graphics artist who did the original layout for us. So after currency exchange, I will be going through and getting some new pics (I do have some but I intend to use those for the loginscreen) of people's regions to showcase there. Besides, we need a nice showcase area. We have some GREAT pics on the forums already, so I may pull a few of those too  ;)

So, to everyone, I just want to say, WOW what a crazy ride this weekend was, with 311 people online at once! And seriously, I read alot of the blogs this weekend, and I just have to say it's so great to see so much enthusiasm and love for InWorldz out there. We are pushing so hard to get things that people want fixed and to see how many wonderful fans, groupies, or whatever you want to call yourselves, stand behind us, is phenomenal! Thank you, you have no idea what it means to us!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Proportional Growth = Proportional Issues

Ahhh the joys of growth!  As much as I'd like to say I enjoy running around the grid and seeing what our users are up to, sadly, that just doesn't seem to happen. With the growth, comes the growing pains, the support issues, and the day to day problems that crop up that is directly proportional to the size of the community.

I typically don't tend to pay much attention to our numbers (seriously, I had to find out from our residents on the forums we hit 10k users!), outside of the financial bits anyways. Which means I track the region setups, the currency purchases, the I'z to L's transactions (which will be coming to an end soon!), and our overall financial growth and laying out our projections for expected future growth, and expected costs to be incurred. Since this is theoretically my day off, I managed to pull some numbers that I found of interest, and would like to share.

First, let me thank Anyraya for a great chart she did for our growth, up until Aug. 12, which is when we hit 10,000 users. Today, is Sept.13, and we're at 14k+, a 4k user increase in 31 days. Our concurrency is showing strong numbers as we monitored those this weekend with our average ranging over 150 and peaking at 195 at one point. 

As I said, the financials is where I look for our trends. So, without further delay here are some numbers (no, sorry not any actual values for dollars here!):

Starting around May, we had about 150 regions online, quite a large percentage of those were owned by InWorldz, such as the mainlands and straits, the sandboxes, InWorldz Desert Isle and Island and some oceans we had then, along with the 10 configuration islands. Today, we have well over 500, and InWorldz only owns about 20% of those regions now. This is a huge jump for us, which shows in the financials below:

Currency purchases, from May to June more than doubled, then doubled again from June to July, and almost doubled from July to August. Our region renewals, this is always such a fun number to calculate btw, doubled from May to June, saw a 45% increase in June to July, then just a slight increase from July to August. The reason for renewals not to see a huge growth is the combined 1 month to 3 month payments along with users who pay up 6 months in advance, so while the number doesn't appear to increase, the monies were taken already and applied somewhere else. New region orders, of course are apparent to anyone paying attention to the growth rate.

So, why do I bring all this up other than to feed the gristmill of what we're doing? Those statistics also represent something outside of the financials I see day to day. They represent human beings. Well, we think you're all humans anyways... I have heard vicious rumors, erm, nevermind, probably another blog on that!

Human beings, while we are social creatures (for the most part), we are also not immune to highway accident syndrom I like to call it. HAS is when someone has had an accident on the freeway, and EVERYONE must slow down as they go past to stare at the wreckage... omg, was anyone hurt, is there any blood I can see, I MUST text EVERYONE I know about this and take pictures too! What happens to all the ill-fated drivers behind? Their day goes down the toilet (although do note, they can't stop staring either once they get there, but usually there's nothing left to see of importance which really sucks for them), and they've been slowed down by all the HAS gawkers.

I refer to, of course, the drama! None of us are immune to it, none of us are able to go our entire life devoid of at least one memorable dramatic moment. In fact, if we didn't crave drama, reality TV would have died a very ugly death long long ago. But I digress. Fact of the matter is, as our world grows, so will it directly grow in proportion to the aforementioned blog post on griefers, trolls and botters, and the drama-centrics. I can't call them drama queens, cause really it's not always the starting of it, but the fueling of it. It's like being a HAS gawker, you just can't help yourself. You have to gawk. You have to stop, stare at the wreckage, and said... WOW! What happens though, when the drama happens? Do you get anything done? Do you sit down to work on that neat hair style you wanted to work on, do you get to go to your fav club for music that night without being embroiled in it? If you find you can't get anything done, congratulations, you are in fact human and have become embroiled in drama, whether you wanted to or not.

The question is, how do you deal with it? Some, take sides in it, then it turns into a back alley brawl, which can get really out of hand fast. Do you just decide to be a venting board to both sides? Or do you decide the drama looks like too much fun, so instead of creating bruhaha with someone, you just turn schizo and have a huge bruhaha with your inner voices? Whatever the choice you make in how you deal with it, at the end of the day do yourself a favor and sit back and say, did I change or affect anything for the better with my actions? If not, then maybe learn a lesson from there the next go around, and try to find a more practical approach to dealing with whatever drama has hit your life.

Just remember one thing in all this craziness that is called growth: we have our friends, we have our community, we have some strong bonds in our world, and we have strong opinions (and I thought I was bad!)... try to incorporate as much of that in your day to day life, both in the VW and RL as you can, life's too short for dramafest.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Imp!

Amidst all the Emerald reborn into Emergence.. reborn into Phoenix (at this point I think I've lost track of what viewer is which now with this team, or who the devs are to be honest) drama, there was one very rocking party going on in SL, for the Imprudence Viewer birthday.

Alot of our users have migrated to the Imprudence Viewer, due to the drama, and after 2 years of work by the team, it seems they're making a very nice splash for themselves. By all accounts, it runs far smoother than alot of other viewers out there, and the team is completely transparent with their users. I'm quite guilty of not using it much myself, other than today for the SL party.  I can't talk about ANY of the features other than I had purple over my head, and I even wore a hat to match it  ;)

So, without further ado, Happy Birthday Imprudence! May the next year be just as successful (minus the drama) for you all!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Griefers, Botters and Trolls... Oh My!

I've often wondered if the Wicked Witch of the West would be considered a Griefer, Botter (well, she did wanna copy her lovely sister, or walk in her footsteps so to speak) or a troll. Seriously, she's green, I think that qualifies for trollness... she threw fireballs and tried to block Dorothy's path with destructive behavior, and I already covered the botter part.

Any of the aforementioned three, can be quite irksome to say the least, but over the years I've gotten pretty good at dealing with two of the categories, and well botters will be botters, so all you really can do is be extra paranoid I suppose.  Botters are probably the most destructive though as they can completely wipe a business out in a very short amount time. I sort of throw them in the mix, because there's no joy in it for them really other than knowing they destroyed someone's work, much like a griefer. They are just more insidious in their work, as it takes a little bit of time before realizing that your work has been botted and is now full perm and free in the various markets out there.

Then you have the griefers. And you sincerely have to ask yourself their motivation in doing silly things like say covering a sim in rezzing objects over and over. Or, blocking pathways with invisible walls. Loading 16k scripts on their avatar to drag a sim down. What exactly drives them to be just plain malicious in other words? Some, are REALLY creative in their tactics, and they get a bit of grudging respect (I said a bit, let's not go off the wall with that comment). So then you have to wonder, with the creative ones, what could they do with themselves if they put that energy to something useful? Not that griefing isn't useful, it is. Seriously. Don't look at me like that, or I take the chair away!

Griefers DO have their uses, no matter how foul, or how much work it takes to clean up their messes they leave behind, you can always learn something of value. It just depends on if you're willing to look at the lesson learned. For example, how many new land owners, leave their sims open to build on, script on, the whole nine yards? And how do they learn to turn those options off when they can't be there to babysit their region? Someone comes along and whether innocently or not, builds from one prim to a script that can bring the sim to it's knees. Once the mess is cleaned up, watch how fast those little options get turned off. Sometimes, even, when they are using illegal viewers it's handy, as things can get blocked out that shouldn't be allowed through. But that's the point of saying griefers are handy lessons, if one is willing to actually fix the things they show to be broken or exploitable.  This is not to say we should welcome them with open arms and never do anything mean to them such as banning, just to look for a lesson learned in the exercise.

Trolls, are a tricky lot though. I live by the golden rule: Do NOT feed the trolls! What a tough rule that is, every ounce of you screams to either pick at them, make fun of them, tell them you're not reading or listening (when, duh of course you are cause you WANT to comment!) or say something snidely. It's tough to ignore the trolls when they've made a successful round.  They all have their own interesting tactics... Some play really stupid so you feel the need to correct them, and I think we all fall into that trap at some point or another. Some like to scream how they will grief you to no end if you don't listen to their drivel, which typically means they can't do any griefing. Some show up with just completely OFF the WALL stuff that you sort of cock your head at your monitor and say Huh? Whatever their tactic, once a troll has been identified, the only way of diffusing them is to completely and utterly stop feeding them. It's what they want. They are seeking attention in whatever medium or format they can, and they will sit behind their computer and cackle maniacally as you respond to them (I knew a troll once, this is no joke, was something to behold). Banning them, is generally a futile exercise. For every single troll you ban, there's 5 more lined up right behind them. And while it might fall into a TOS as harassment, can they truly harass you if you don't let them? If you don't feed them, do they really pose a threat? 90% of the time, that answer is no.

We've had all of the above already InWorldz, and we've dealt with the worst 2 of the three. Most Trolls, I simply don't bother with. Banning them is almost like feeding their ego. I can see the little troll sitting at their computer whooping with glee, screaming "MWAHAHAHAHAHA I irritated them so much they banned me!  Let me make an alt! BWAHAHAHAHA"  Probably in their underwear, with bad hair and breath going on, cans of empty Mt. Dew littering their floor all around them, and half eaten bags of chips, cheetohs and other unidentifiable things that should have been thrown away ages ago. Maybe I'm stereotyping (do NOT ever ask to see my desk!), but this is the mental image I have.

No matter what they are, griefer, botter or troll, just remember there is always a lesson to be learned or a mouth to be ignored, either which way you choose to deal with it, it will save alot of personal angst down the road, and seriously, stress only makes us all a bit more insane than we currently are!