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! :)