Friday, August 19, 2016

Commentary: Misconceptions About Virtual Worlds


By Wesley Regenbogen

You might be wondering why my last article was many months ago.
I was trying to get in contact with real-life organizations for a fundraiser that I wanted to start up in Second Life. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a positive reply from the real-life organizations. So I’m calling it a day with my fundraiser idea. This is sad, because I wanted to start a fundraiser for the real life research on real life genetic disorders. Since I have beta thalassemia trait ( minor ), I wanted to support the research on it. But not only for blood disorders, but for general research on genetic disorders in real life.
But, due to misconceptions that are in the real life world about virtual worlds ( Second Life, InWorldz and others ) it’s not easy to convince real life organizations to let people fundraise for their cause. The most common misconception is that they think it’s a “game.” Or more frequently they think it’s all about “porn and sex." The result of these preconceptions that the real life world has towards the virtual worlds, is that most people don’t know what virtual worlds are and what their potential is.
I refer to my first article for the SL Newser. It was about my vision towards virtual worlds. I don’t see virtual worlds as being a “game.” They are much more than that!!!
If organizations and other people with preconceptions would be more open-minded about the virtual worlds, then they would see what potential that those virtual worlds would have and that might change their minds. Rather then thinking that virtual worlds are just a “game” or only for “porn” and “sex” stuff, it would be wiser to take a leap and see further than what reaches your mind. Because virtual worlds offer much more than the above mentioned “activities.”
If the real life world would embrace virtual worlds and see their possibilities, they would be even more successful as they are today.
So, it’s better to look at Second Life and other virtual worlds as being a “virtual world” and not like yet another “game.” Because virtual worlds lack the need to fulfill objectives and stuff like that. This makes virtual worlds not to be defined as being “games.”
Let me know what you guys think about this in the comments, please.

Wesley Regenbogen

Friday, June 24, 2016

Update on the Politcal Locations


By Bixyl Shuftan

Since it was revealed that the Trump HQ and Manor had moved out from the Lionheart Ahadi sim, and a Hillary Clinton HQ erected in it's place, there have been a few developments on the political side of Second Life. When I dropped by to interview Candace Larganta, the owner of the Clinton HQ, there was a new Trump building next to it, this one with "Hillary for Prison" signs. I would later get in contact with JP Laszlo, and he would confirm, "Yes that is (by) myself, myself and my friend." When asked why he didn't leave a marker at the old location, "Biding my time.....I also don't have anywhere for people to go so I'm mainly just putting the sign there to irritate the Hillary people."

About when the new Trump HQ would be open to the public, JP stated he couldn't give a date due to complications, "Wish I could. I wish I knew myself, I really do. My builder is tied down at work and grabbing every spare minute they can. Be aware though the tone of the place has shifted somewhat tongue in cheek. ... It is more of a hangout and less of a serious HQ anymore. Trump supporters come here, even non Trump supporters. We all have a good time and the sim is Trump-themed but beyond the theme we aren't pushing an agenda."

Of their new build, JP stated it was being based on the building in a rather strange video titled "Japanese Donald Trump Commercial," saying of the build,"The style is authoritarian vaporwave. It's going to be very abstract and surreal. ... the capital building is a sim length, takes up the whole north end of the sim. It's (one) quarter hangout, (one) quarter art project, (one) quarter political expression, and a quarter personal project."

JP stated that the Sanders HQ in Caspoli was gone, "Well, Bernie's campaign is over. He hasn't got a chance. So why would they waste money on land?" JP was a little unhappy with them over the earlier accusations about their Trump Wall trying to infect people with a computer virus, "My friend was putting up endless signs to get them to apologize for saying she tried to infect people with a virus over the whole teleport thing. In the Bernie group they sent a notice saying they were closing partly due to 'ongoing harassment.' Well I'm sorry if asking for an apology for defaming remarks is harassment in her book, good riddance. ... I am sure even yourself would feel injustice of being accused of such things when you were merely attempting to engage in friendly banter." When I mentioned the "less than friendly banter, thrown around by members of both parties," JP responded, "Sure is, but one cannot control what others do. All one can do is aspire to fight a clean fight by ones words and actions. And I assure you I have done just that in real life and Second Life. I have played by the rules and punched above the belt."

Dropping by the Caspoli sim, the Sanders HQ location was indeed gone, the area now an unspoiled beach instead of a monument to what might have been. But heading to "Feel the Bern" at Young (162/26/2018), the location was still up. Somehow, the sign "I assure you, we're open" sign seemed a little more prominent. When I contacted the owner, Addie Tozz, she would only respond that she would continue to support Sanders.

Following my interview with her, Candace Larganta informed me there was a new Clinton HQ that had gone up, this one in Bay City, at (Argos 36, 253, 25). Dropping by, it was a two-story brick building. On the inside was a podium where someone could give a speech to a small crowd, with American and Bay City flags on either side of the stage. To the right were givers for free Clinton T-shirts, both men's and women's, and campaign signs for Clinton and "Dump Trump." Upstairs there was a simpler stage with a Clinton campaign poster behind it that looked a tad propagandish.

Across the street, it was clear a Trump supporter was out to "irritate the Hillary people." Someone had set up a huge (or is that huuuge) "Trump: Make America Great Again" sign. But later on, one of Bay City's residents showed me a picture that showed the locals were more than capable of matching the Trump supporters jabs with their own humor: "Cheese: Make America Grate Again."

So what else will the Trump supporters do in Bay City? We're "nacho" sure.

Stay tuned for more political news in Second Life as one of the more unique US Presidential elections in recent history is reflected in the virtual world.

Sources: Flavorwire

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More on the Clinton HQ


By Bixyl Shuftan

In early June, it was discovered that the Trump Manor and HQ in the Lionheart Ahadi sim was gone, later discovered to have moved. In it's place was a different building supporting Trump's opponent: Hillary Clinton. The building had been set up by Candace Larganta (candacelarganta). Eventually, an interview was arranged, and Candace and I sat down to talk.

"How did you find out about Second Life?" I asked her.

"Well, I heard about it around 2004," Candance answered, "but I didn't have a powerful enough computer at that time. And then a few years back, a friend said I should revisit it, especially in regards to the animatic capabilities. I'm involved with film production and run a post=production company in real life, mostly editorial for film and music videos. So, we'd come to SL to make basic backgrounds for green screens. Windlight is perfect for that. It's fast and easier to use, at least for me, than creating something in after effects."

"Eventually, we moved off of Second Life, and now do animatics on an OpenSim server at work. So, I never really started here to socialize, but to create. I've seen some wonderful things here -- very beautiful and inspiring. That's kind of it."

"How did you get the idea to build this location?" I asked.

"I'm an active gamer and 3D environment enthusiast," she told me, "and read Wagner James Au's blog. That's how I found the Trump sim. I visited a few times, and even participated in the 'raid' from the nearby sim. It was in Kotaku. A couple weeks back, I wnated to revisit. But the Trump site was gone. Seeing that Bernie and Trump had something of a presence, although it's quite a small number in regards to the total SL population, I wanted to do something for Hillary supporters. It was just too good to pass up this opportunity and stake a claim, especially since their was the Trump TP landmark in all the blogs. And the first rule of campaigning is never move your URLs or landmarks. (laughter) Obviously, that not really into Trump. I'm guessing it's a RP type of thing."

"How long did it take to build this location?" I asked about the build.

"A matter of hours," Candace answered, "and I've been dressing it up since.I do a lot of building in OpenSim, so it's easy to set up." "Was anything difficult at all?" "As far as set up? No, no dificulties actually."

I then asked, "I take it after the place went up, there was no shortage of confused visitors?"

"Still they arrive," Candace told me, then laughed a bit, "It seems half of them are very pleased that it's a Hillary site, and the other half are bewildered. My goal was to make a place to find info - and I'm still creating informational boards, and redirect those interested to real-life resources." "Basic information about the candidate?" "Yes, but more importantly to stake a presence. After all, it may be a better use of my resources to donate the 'rent' from this site to the Clinton campaign. Yet, I still think it's important to have a presence here."

While she talked, I panned around, looking inside the building. There was an office with pictures and campaign posters on the upper floor, and something else, "It does certainly draw attention ... I notice a few rooms besides the main one, including a kitchen and a ... computer server room?" That, I felt, would get people thinking of Clinton's email controversy still under investigation by the FBI. This was something I would expect from an anti-Clinton area, not one supporting her.

"Well yes," she answered, "I'm not here to pitch a product, but to show a reality,  that our candidate is human, fraught with flaws, yet still the best choice." She then drew my attention to a build with a "Hillary for Prison" sign, "As you can see, there are some who think she should go to prison for what is essentially, a policy issue, not a criminal infraction. And it's just screwy thinking." "I noticed the building nearby," I commented. Candace giggled, "Yes, JP Trump's monument of creativity. Old Woodbury University assets (Woodbury was a sim with a reputation for harboring griefers years ago). If that's what floats their boat, more power to 'em."

I then brought up, "When I talked to him, and the owners of the Sanders locations, they told me some visitors with opposing views were civil, but they also had their share of griefers. How has it been here?"

"Some have been very cool to speak with," Candace told me, "Quite enjoyable actually; they know they RPing a position. The others are, well, not that interesting... followers, bored people at computers. I think of each avatar as the embodiment of an end-user somewhere out there. I'm not here to debate, however - I'm here to provide a space. I'd much rather use my energy in real-life politicking for that." "So no real problems with griefers?" "They try, I suppose, but I could (care) less, seriously. It means they are thinking about Hillary. I very much doubt that they are even US constituents though. I notice British locations all the time, (and) Americans never use the word 'mate' or 'whilst.' But that's just a hunch." "So you think the ones closest to being griefers are from overseas?" "It's possible. It struck me as odd, that's all. And I think someone had mentioned that JP Trump is based in the UK.I think I read that in Kotaku." "JP did say something about having an Irish background. And one of the flags at the manor was Irish." "Maybe that's it. I don't take them seriously at all. They are roleplaying being Trumpgoons and that's fantastic, keeps them off the streets (grin)."

I then asked, "So with the primary season over, what are your plans for the HQ in the future?"

Candace answered, "We're going to dismantle after July 4 and pop back up around September, or October, when things really get going. Summer is very snoozy." "Labor Day has been when things started to heat up in the past." "Oh yeah, that's a good time, definitely. (It) depends on work commitments for me as well, butit should be easy and quick to set up a new spot." "Any idea where that will be, or here if it's still open?" "I don't know yet - Lionheart is very well run. But it may be better to move elsewhere.. we'll make that determination later on." 

"Can you tell us your plans for after Election Day?" I asked. "I'd have to think that one out. For Second Life, no idea. In real life, a nonstop 24hour celebration of Hillary's win. This is perhaps the most important election in the last 50 years."

"How is this election so more important than the others?" I then asked.

"There is a cultural and class cold war being fought in the US right now," Candace answered, "Ignorance is an outright virtue (for the opposition), as is uncivil behavior. If a majority of Americans choose the path that trump provides - it really calls into question our role as world leaders, thinkers, makers. And I don't think that will help out in matters of economics or security. However, I don't think that a majority of Americans want to go down that road. But if they don't get out the vote - well, then we're sunk into a Presidency that is based on whim rather than rationale. That's frightening."

It was about this time that the interview came to an end, and Candace and I gave each other our goodbyes. Later on, Candace would message me there was a new Clinton HQ in Bay City at Argos (36, 253, 25).

Lionheart Ahadi (151/7/28)

Nixyl Shuftan

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Press Release: "Down But Not Out" Discussion at The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island (Full)


We invite you to attend the symposium and tell your friends about it. In fact, bring them along, especially if they are skeptical about the value of virtual worlds.

See below for details about the presenters and their topics, and join us on the 18th of June as we explore latest approaches in the improvement of quality of life for people with mental illness.

SATURDAY June 18, 2016
Times listed are US Pacific Daylight Time/Second Life Time.

8:30am - Brain Mechanism Linking Stress and Illness, Dr. Vanja Duric
Significant research evidence suggests that psychological and physical stress is a powerful driving force behind both the etiology of and comorbidity between psychiatric and systemic disorders. This is supported by clinical observations that psychiatric symptoms and mental illness are commonly present in patients with chronic systemic diseases. Indeed, mood disorders such as depression are present in up to 50% of these patients, often resulting in impaired physical recovery and more complex treatment regimen. Here we will discuss the recent physiological evidence linking chronic stress and systemic illness, such as activation of the immune response system and release of common inflammatory mediators. Finally, discovery of new drug targets is needed for development of better treatments for stress-related psychiatric illnesses as well as improvement of mental health aspects of different systemic diseases.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Duric is an Assistant Professor of Physiology and Pharmacology at the Des Moines University in Iowa (US) where he is doing neurobiology research on brain events that underlie pathophysiology and treatment of mental illnesses, especially major depressive disorder (MDD). His primary focus is investigating the relationship between the inhibition of a major cellular signaling pathway that is involved in neuronal survival and development of depression. Dr. Duric is also interested in brain mechanisms that link depression and other neurological or systemic illnesses, such as chronic pain.


10:00am - Understanding the Emotional Aspects of Multiple Sclerosis, Andrea Arzt
Although Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a physical disability, it can have emotional consequences.  Initially, a newly diagnosed individual goes through an emotional grieving process. As the disease progresses and nerve cells in the brain become demyelinated, the damage can cause emotional changes. Additionally, some MS medications can affect emotions. Treating the emotional aspects of MS is as important as dealing with the physical health issues.

Presenter Bio:
Andrea Arzt, LCSW is Associate Vice President of Clinical Programs and Direct Services for the New York City-Southern New York Chapter of the National MS Society (US). She has worked for over 25 years with individuals with chronic illness and disabilities and their families.  Her special interest has been in working with people living with neurological diseases and injuries, with a focus for the past 13 years on Multiple Sclerosis.  In her current position at the National MS Society, she works closely with health care professionals who treat people with MS, and with MS researchers. She provides trainings on MS and psychosocial and emotional issues for professionals and as well as for people living with MS, and she develops programs for families and caregivers.


11:30am - Hippocrates Wept: Psychologically Surviving Modern Medicine During A Health Crisis, Colleen Crary, M.A. (SL: Anya Ibor)
So, you have an illness, and you think modern medicine can help. Think again: Often, fixing one medical problem can cause, multiply, or magnify other health issues. The stress over facing one’s mortality, the financial burden of illness, and the psychological effects of some
medications can be overwhelming. Learn how to psychologically navigate a profit-driven, “patient last” health care system before and during a health crisis. Take control over your care per your unique physiology and psychology.

Presenter Bio:
Colleen Crary is Anya Ibor in Second Life. A PTSD expert and advocate, Colleen/Anya is a tireless champion for international mental health policy and common sense solutions. Founder and CEO of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, she promotes care for all PTSD sufferers, their families, friends, and clinicians, war veterans, law enforcement personnel, emergency response workers, those traumatized by sexual abuse, child abuse, torture, human trafficking, hostage events and crime, man-made and natural disasters, and physical, psychological, and verbal trauma.


1:00pm - The ABCs of DBT, Rienna Rieko
What is DBT? DBT stands for Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It was developed by Dr. Marsha Linehan in the 1980's to help people who struggled with Borderline Personality Disorder. The therapy mixes Zen Buddhist ideologies with Cognitive Behavior Therapy. While it was designed for people with a very specific disorder, the skills DBT teaches, such as learning how to be more present in today using Mindfulness techniques, learning how to be more effective in the area of Interpersonal Effectiveness, learning how to end suffering by engaging in Radical Acceptance, Improving the Moment and how to Distract and Self Soothe when life isnt easy, are useful for anyone in any set of circumstances.

Presenter Bio:
Rienna Rieko has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and worked as a sober companion for a substance abuse treatment facility that specializes in Amino Acid protocols. In her time there, she used Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills with her clients and taught them how to put them into practice. She has used DBT in her own life for ten years and enjoys teaching the skills to everyone she knows because everyone can benefit from learning how to use them.


2:30pm - Faith & Health: Research, Clinical Applications, and Resources, Dr. Harold Koenig
Religion and spirituality play a role in coping with illness, loss and trauma. Dr. Koenig will review research on the relationships between religion, spirituality and mental health, with a focus on depression.  His research led to development of a proposed spiritually-oriented psychotherapy for the treatment of moral injury in veterans and active duty military with post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Dr. Koenig will also speak about research on religion/spirituality and physical health, with an emphasis on cardiovascular disease and overall mortality.  He will explain how religious involvement positively influences health in monotheistic religious traditions (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam).  He will explore applications to clinical practice, and describe his current study to integrate spirituality into patient care in outpatient physician practices.

Presenter Bio:
Dr. Koenig is Director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health and Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Duke University Medical Center, Georgia, US. He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, People’s Republic of China. Dr. Koenig has published extensively in the fields of mental health, geriatrics, and religion, and his research on religion, health and ethical issues in medicine has been featured in popular journalism. His latest book is Health and Well-being in Islamic Societies. Dr. Koenig has testified before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on the benefits of religion and spirituality on public health.


4:00pm - Mental Health Outreach in Second Life: Past, Present, and Future, Dr. Tammy Fletcher (SL: Avalon Birke)
We will look back on a decade of mental health resources in Second Life – where we have been, where we are now, and some goals for the future. What worked, what didn’t, and ways we can continue to offer quality, ethical support for SL residents.

Presenter Bio:
Tammy Fletcher is Avalon Birke in Second Life, founder of Wellness Island (2006-2011), Second Life’s first sim devoted entirely to mental health resources for residents. As one of the first practitioners to bring mental health resources into Second Life in 2006, Dr. Fletcher has worked to help SL residents become educated consumers, and to bridge to RL services when needed. She founded “Guiding Lights,” a formal program of instruction for peer counselors in Second Life, and established gridwide “SOS” kiosks for residents needing RL emergency referrals anywhere in the world. In her real life, Dr. Fletcher is an author, educator, advocate, and licensed psychotherapist. She maintains an active private practice, where she specializes in treating anxiety and depressive disorders from an integrative perspective. Dr. Fletcher has been featured twice in programs by SL machinimist Draxtor Despres, discussing mental health and advocacy in a virtual environment.


5:00pm - Poetic Reflections
This will be a welcome change of pace, a presentation of poetry written by talented individuals, exploring at the human aspect of living with mental illness.


6:00pm - Lifestyle Medicine and Supplementation for Mental Health and Psychiatric Disorders, Dr. Jerome Sarris

An examination of the use of nutraceutical supplements in mental health treatment.

Presenter Bio:
As an NHMRC Clinical Senior Research Fellow at The University of Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Sarris has a particular interest in anxiety and mood disorder research pertaining to complementary and lifestyle medicine, nutraceuticals, and integrative mental health. Author of numerous publications and recipient of significant research grants, Dr. Sarris advocates for an integrative approach to mental health through evidence-based use of lifestyle modification, psychological techniques, and both complementary and standard pharmacotherapy.


7:30pm - The National Disability Insurance Scheme - Supporting Australians Living With Mental Health Issues, Louse Dibbs and Lyn Ainsworth
Australia has made an extraordinary commitment to major social reform with the establishment of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – Australia’s response to its commitment under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. The associated reforms shift support from a welfare model to an entitlement or rights based model, and are designed to provide greater choice and control for people with disabilities, and better personal outcomes. However, the road to having mental illness recognised and well supported under the scheme has not been straightforward. After a period of discourse and advocacy during the trial site stage, people living with a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis, as their primary disability, have been recognised as entitled to supports. This means that people with recurring, chronic or significant long term mental health issues have access to resources to develop holistic support plans that foster better long term personal outcomes. HWNS has been a lead provider in the NDIS launch site in the Hunter Region, NSW, Australia where we have supported more than 400 people to transition to the scheme. A significant number of these people have a Psychological or Psychiatric Diagnosis  as their primary or only disability.  We will present two case studies to demonstrate the enhanced possibilities and outcomes the NDIS is providing as a result of access to holistic planning and the implementation of individualised supports.

Presenter Bio:
About Louise Dibbs:
Louise has had a 15 year journey working in the community sector, commencing as a frontline worker, progressing to supervisory roles and finally most recently in senior management.  Louise also has several years experience in the corporate/business sector as a Human Resource professional which has embedded a strong customer experience ethos in her work. She has a Master of Arts in Psychology and is a certified trainer and assessor. In the past 3 years Louise has been working for House with No Steps in one of the key National Disability Insurance Schemes launch sites, in the Hunter region. Louise has worked with teams to transition approx. 400 participants to the Scheme. Louise's interests and work passions include Human Rights, organisational change, mentoring/coaching, developing individuals and teams, influencing and leading, and  designing systems. Outside of work, Louise enjoys anything active or travel related, with her husband and three teenage daughters.

About Lyn Ainsworth:
Ms Lyn Ainsworth, Head of Strategy, Excellence & Innovation at House with No Steps has 18 years executive management experience in the disability sector, including her current role with House with No Steps, one of Australia’s largest disability services non-government organisations. HWNS has been at the forefront of the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Australia’s response to the UN Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability, and extraordinary social reform. Lyn is a lawyer by background and has supported organisational transformation around Human Rights as well as having leadership responsibility for HWNS’ international accreditation with the Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL).

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Few Words From Deaflegacy


By Deaflegacy

“Hi, I'm DeafLegacy, and this is my story.” 
I'm nine months old on Second Life.  I was introduced to this virtual world by someone who I used to know. I made new friends through Virtual Ability. “There is always something new on Second Life that still amazes me,” I tell people. There is so much to it than just being deaf. There's speech disorder that I have to deal with every day because I'm the only deaf person where I'm living in real life.
Second Life has given me many chances to be who I am without any fear of misunderstanding. When I was new, I met Gentle Heron, who then introduced me to Virtual Ability. Within the Virtual Ability community, I was given a chance not only to rent an apartment, but to be able to learn what it is like to have a house on a land parcel.  I chose to go back to the apartment, saying that it would be for the best if I lives in a small place.
For many years, I have always dreamed of becoming a writer. One day, I met Bixyl Shuftan, the editor of Second Life Newser. That's when I realized that I have a chance to become a writer and grabbed it. Ever since then, not only am I writing for the SL Newser, I'm also taking photographs for the articles. “This is more than just one chance,” I told someone. “I would definitely say that it is a once in a lifetime chance to prove how good I am at writing.” I pointed out that because of my deafness, English is not my first language. It is my second language. “American Sign Language is my first language. I learned it when my mother first found out that I'm deaf.”
Deaf or not, I have believed that I really wanted to be a writer, “I owe the Virtual Ability and the Second Life Newser team a lot of thanks. I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for them.”

Deaflegacy

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

News and Commentary: Political Opposition Against Trump HQ Continues


By Bixyl Shuftan

Last week, I wrote more about the "Trump Wall" erected towering over the Sanders HQ by Trump supporters, in what the head of the Trump HQ JP Laszlo called a prank. Since then, there's been more written about the drama between the two groups of supporters, and the Trump HQ. The "Washington Liberals" blog  posted about the wall and people griefing the Sanders HQ, as did Motherboard. One picture posted by Washington Liberals which has been reprinted in several other articles, including a New World Notes article by Hamlet Au last week, shows "demons," which are among the "vampire" avatars available to newcomers to Second Life on day one, described as harassing people there with "Trump! Trump!" spam.

Jeff Grubb of "Venture Beat" was also curious and went inworld to check out the Trump HQ, "Second Life is still weird. The 2016 United States Presidential election is weird, but the Internet is doing its best to prove it can always get stranger." Comparing the people he met in the place to 4chan users, "... it's not offensive when it's sad. ... They think they are so brash, and they are if you take them at face value. But mostly, they just seem lonely. You can laugh at that. I certainly did. But that wears off quickly....You can tell all anyone in the Trump HQ wants is to offend people. I have that desire as well, but it’s something that I’ve tried to outgrow." Despite being briefly banned after a joke, that had nothing to with politics, taken the wrong way, he stated that overall he was seen as okay as long as the subject of politics didn't come up. But when on to say when he took people to task over certain issues, the mood turned defensive, "Predictably, the Trump fans went with their well-worn defense mechanism: 'Every example of racism is a joke or a liberal troll trying to make Trump look bad.'"

Another issue that's come up is the use of a flax mixing the Nazi swastika with the Trump name, which Sanders HQ owner Macaria Wind snapped a picture of, "There is a picture I managed to capture of one of the flags spewing from a particle dispenser at HQ," she told Hamlet Au, "Left there by one of Trump's supporters when no one was around." JP Lazlo has previously admitted such trolling takes place, but "I am not responsible for every troll claiming to be a Trump supporter, just as she is not responsible for every troll claiming to be for Bernie." There's also that the Nazi flag is universally reviled by liberals and conservatives alike, appealing only to a tiny few reactionaries who dismiss both of them. Since the individuals displaying such banners are unnamed, it's less than clear whether it's by some extremist acting out for reasons of politics, or by a troll who just wants to cause trouble.

For some however, they have seen enough and feel it's time for Linden Lab to take action. This week, Hamlet Au wrote a commentary stating that Linden Lab needs to shut down the Trump HQ for repeated violations of Second Life's community standards. Hamlet made a comparison to the Confederate flag controversy last year (of which I had a differing opinion than his). But Linden Lab didn't ban the flag from the virtual world, just quietly remove it from the Marketplace some time since he and I wrote about the issue (NWN article), though stores were sill free to sell it inworld. Banning the Trump HQ and it's group like it did the Woodbury group which had become infamous for being a griefer hangout (especially among my furry friends) years ago, would be difficult for Linden Lab to pull off without looking like it was taking sides in politics, and could risk alienating it's more conservative members, even those who have problems with the brash candidate. Hamlet's argument that these are not supporters of a political candidate but trolls using politics as an excuse to grief can easily get lost in the passions of an election campaign, particularly those of recent years in which people whom once saw supporters of the other party as simply having a difference of opinion are increasingly questioning their judgement, ethics, sanity, and intentions.

With Trump's remaining opponents for the Republican nomination dropping out last night and today following the results of the Indiana primary, the candidate's victory there is simply a formality. Sander's victory there over Clinton is a needed morale boost to the "Berners," and a reminder to the Democrats' own establishment they intend to take the race all the way to the last state. So it's likely for a few more weeks the tension between the political groups in Second Life will continue. But with the Democratic front-runner having such a huge lead in pledged and unpledged delegates combined, the best he can reasonably hope for is a brokered convention. Most likely the nomination will go to Clinton. As she has failed to inspire the same kind of enthusiasm Sanders has, it's possible rather than change the names of their locations from Sanders to Clinton, Second Life's "Berners" at the Sanders HQ and the new "Feel the Bern" hangout in the Young sim may simply take down their political banners and devote their Second Lives to other activities. And deprived of a target, both the Trump group and the trolls acting in the candidates name could get bored and lose interest. Which is probably what Linden Lab is hoping for. But if the Sanders HQ and "Feel the Bern"can be convinced to get behind the establishment Democrat, it's going to be "interesting times" in Second Life for those with a taste in politics, and a headache for the Lab which no doubt wanted people to pay attention to the virtual world for reasons other than "cyber noogie," but not like this.

Sources: Washington Liberals, Motherboard, VentureBeat, New World Notes, CNN 

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

News and Commentary: More on The Trump Wall


By Bixyl Shuftan

While many come to Second Life to escape debates of issues in real life, others see it as a method of discussing them. Of the latter, different people react differently to opposing points of view. Some respectfully disagree and concentrate on getting their own message across. Others try to engage in debate. But sometimes different people have different ideas about what the rules of such debates should be.

Eight years ago in 2008, interest in US politics grew as an incumbent President was in his last year of office, and both parties fielded candidates about who would take his place. During the primaries, several headquarters were set up by supporters. Eventually, three centers of political debate arose: the GOP Cafe for conservatives, Cafe Wellstone for the liberals, and Capitol Hill as an officially neutral location. Between the first two, and other political themed locations, there were close-minded individuals who showed up just to vent and demonize, as well as outright griefers, and more or less levelheaded individuals whom more more interested in dialogue. But for the most part, they left each other alone. The most active night politically that year was of course Election Night 2008.

Eight years later, it's a much different kind of Presidential Election as one candidate has succeeded while breaking so many unwritten rules. And in Second Life, there is no longer an mutual agreement for the two sides to leave each other alone, at least the two most vocal camps of the political supporters.

In late March 2016, JP Laszlo, a supporter of candidate Donald Trump built the "Trump Manor." Intended as both a private residence for her and a few friends as well as showing off her support for the Republican outsider politician, she found the place the subject of no shortage of attention, getting the attention of media from within and outside Second Life, including the Newser. However, it also got the attention of griefers, leading her to install a security system that limited access, and caused a little confusion. About the same time, Macaria Wind built the "Bernie Sanders Second Life Headquarters" to help inform others about the outsider candidate for the Democrats. Although griefers were a problem as well, her reaction was to boot them when she came across them, but keep the place open.

In response to the attention, JP Laszlo with the help of friends built the Trump HQ, Here, anyone could walk in and talk. JP and her group reserved the right to ban those they saw as griefers, but when I talked to her did say they managed to win some over to their side.  But this wasn't all that happened. Others in her group bought up some land next to the Sanders HQ, and erected a huge wall that towered over it. As one of Trump's repeated promises is to build a border wall between the US and Mexico, one couldn't help but make a comparison. But the wall was more like a tower as people could easily fly or teleport around it. Plastered with US flags and campaign signs, the top had a picture that taunted Macaria Wind and her supporters, "We have twenty times more traffic! I keep winning! You can't stump the Trump!"

When I invited her to talk about the wall, Macaria stated she was busy, but did sent me a notecard.She had this to say about the structure:

As for the Trump Wall, there is not much to say. It is on a rented parcel and was apparently set up to serve as an annoyance to me and other Bernie supporters. One of my group members said when he clicked on the sign on the wall to go to Trump HQ, it tried to take over his av - he suggested it wanted to install a virus. Several Bernie group members have been to Trump's HQ and reported hearing racial slurs, vulgar language and, in general, hate speech. Several Trump supporters have griefed us here at HQ while others have come just to check it out and still others have visited and had intelligent conversations with our group members. So, it does, indeed, take all kinds...

While I aspire to an attitude of compassion and kindness, I also say "to each his own". I believe in karma, what goes around comes around and we reap what we sow. Though it is absolutely, without doubt, essential to be aware of the evil around us, I believe it is not helpful to focus on it, therefore, I treat the wall the same way I treat Trump's campaign - I mostly ignore it. 



The claim that the wall can spread viruses is false. The only method in which Second Life users have caught malware through their viewers is the media stream. JP Laszlo, whom now has the display name "JP Trump," explained it was a way to teleport oneself to the Trump HQ, "It's an experience request, for an experience based scripted teleport: http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/LlTeleportAgent . Standard Second Life stuff."

JP and I talked on a couple occasions, once at the Trump Headquarters, and once after I spotted her hovering near the top of the Trump Wall. At the HQ, "she" spoke in Voice, revealing "herself" as male behind the computer, now sporting a furred female look rather than the anime girl she had earlier, with a "big smiley face" armband. The place had quite a crowd, some speaking in voice, some in chat. The place was more of a hangout than a location where one could get information, though there was a media stream with one of his speeches and freebie hats. There were a number of pictures around, and a few props of gaming culture such as a Nintendo controller seat and a Pac-Man barbecue, JP saying just because (s)he and his/her friends were gamers was no reason not to take them seriously.

While I was there, there was no "racist" language or "hate speech," but a polite debate on the merits of the Sanders campaign and someone suggesting the two candidates, both of whom are considered outsiders, should cooperate. The closest thing to a griefing was some wag over Voice propositioning JP to a "yiff," which (s)he politely turned down.

Of the Trump Wall, (s)he stated it was done all in the name of fun, "It's friendly banter you understand nothing serious. But Mac doesn't seem to have a sense of humor about it. She's banned me even though I've never even been to her land other than to stand there. ... We see this as a bit of fun, the wall I mean. They should lighten up and put some banter up themselves. We try to have a sense of humor."

In Voice, JP did mention something about someone else nearby trying pulling off a joke at their expense, though didn't seem to think too much of it. When I later looked, among the Trump HQ's neighbors was a plot that looked like a crude metal shelter cobbled together from a post-apocalyptic ruin, with signs proclaiming "Hadet for President." Who Hadet is, I don't know.

As it turns out, I've seen for myself Trump supporters at the Sanders HQ. One was simply flying around holding a banner, getting a little close to people. The other, whom went around holding a sign over his head, ranted about "stopping this cuckery." When I brought up the subject with JP, (s)he acknowledged there was a problem, but with both sides, "I am not responsible for every troll claiming to be a Trump supporter, just as she is not responsible for every troll claiming to be for Bernie. And believe me we've had lots."

Talking more with JP, (s)he stated no dislike for the Sanders campaign, saying there was much about the platform to be liked, "I'd love to be friends and have debates.  But they have other ideas, which is fine. Saddening but fine. ... We are not griefers. We are not trolls, just political activists with a sense of humor and fun. If (the) Sanders (supporters) bought a place across from me, I'd be delighted to engage in some back and forth with them." JP stated there should be a parcel opening up in Lionheart Ahadi near her soon, inviting Macwind or some other Democrat supporter to take it.

So it seems there's no animosity among JP's pro-Trump group towards MacWind's Sanders supporters, but rather a disagreement between the two groups about what the "rules of engagement" between the two should be. It could be reasoned the former feels they're doing the latter a favor by attracting attention to both places and groups. The Democrats would beg to differ, though. With the griefers, hitting the Sanders HQ, apparently they have trouble telling the difference between the two, possibly if they should try. MarcWind's use of the term "evil" does not bode well for the opinion of she and her friends towards the Trump supporters. Part of the divide may also be an age difference, MarcWind being an "An old hippie wanna-be/pseudo geek," and JP a gamer from a younger generation. Different generations can have very different experiences politics-wise while growing up. For the 1960s, the big issue was civil rights and Vietnam. For the 1980s, it was the Cold War. And for the 1990s, it was the "little blue dress."

For now, the Sanders group seems to be trying to ignore the Trump Wall, still within sight at their headquarters in Caspoli (45/37/46). What happens next will no doubt partially depend on how the election in real life goes. While Trump will most likely get the Republican nomination, there are whispers that the "establishment" will try and find a way to stop him, even if it costs the party the election. Sanders is currently a close number two  in pledged delegates for the Democrats, but a huge majority of the unpledged delegates support his opponent. The Trump and Sanders groups could be increasingly worried less about each other, and more about the campaigns they support.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Peace Valley Pet Cemetery


By Deaflegacy Darkbloom

The final resting place for pets. That's what Peace Valley Pet Cemetery is all about. It welcomes pet owners with open arms.  Anyone who comes by the pet cemetery would surely be overtaken by the pure beauty of it.  The pet cemetery gives pet owners many options to choose from when it comes to saying good bye to their beloved pets.

When I first got to the Peace Valley Pet Cemetery, I was taken back by the beauty of it.  One of the thoughts that came was, "Wow, this is what we need - a beautiful pet cemetery".  It's not just the beauty of it, it's also that the pet cemetery welcomes people with open arms.  They also have a church. Flowers and trees are everywhere, helping to beautify the grounds.  Even the church stood out because of the natural beauty. So if anyone who loses a pet wants to find the right pet cemetery, I would recommend the Peace Valley because of its beauty.

I can think of only a few words to describe it.  I can assure you that none of them are bad.  When I went to the Peace Valley Pet Cemetery, the thought was, "If I have a pet, and it passes, I would like to come to this pet cemetery to remember."  I don't say that too often because I'd like this to have a real reason to serve. 

Peace Valley Cemetery is an ideal place for owners to come and say farewell to their beloved late companions.  When I was there, the beauty was overwhelming.  I would have recommended this place to anyone who lost their pets.  For them, this is indeed the place to be; an ideal resting place for departed pets.

Peace Valley (137, 59, 54)

Deaflegacy Darkbloom

Friday, April 1, 2016

ApRiL fOoL!!!


Happy April Fools Day from the Second Life Newser!

May yours be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.

For previous April Fool jokes, check out 2015, 20142013, 2012, and 2011.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 28, 2016

Microsoft Pulls Plug on Experiment In Artificial Inteligence Quickly Gone Bad


By Bixyl Shuftan

It was a result that might not surprise the most jaded Internet users whom have brunt the worst of what Internet trolls can dish out. But Microsoft for all it's experience with computers and programing was taken completely off guard. Their experiment in artificial intelligence, an advanced kind of chatbot designed to learn from it's interactions with people, once open to the public was turned off in 24 hours after it's posts on Twitter turned into hateful sounding rants.

A similar experiment done recently had much more positive results. XiaoIce, an AI program accessible to Chinese Internet users, "constantly memorizing and analyzing" it's conversations with them. It gained the affection of millions there, "delighting with it's stories and conversations."  Peter Lee, Microsoft's Corporate VP of Research, stated, "The great experience with XiaoIce led us to wonder: Would an AI like this be just as captivating in a radically different cultural environment."

And so Microsoft came up with Tay. At first she was limited to the small number of users at the lab. Then once the developers were confident in how it handled the tests they gave it, they "wanted to invite a broader group of people to engage with her," expecting it to improve and get smarter in it's abilities to interact with people, "through casual and playful conversation."

What happened was something far different from their experience with Chinese Internet users. Introduced to the public through Twitter, Tay was aimed at young adults 18-24 to interact with, herself acting like a teenager. Unfortunately, some of the users, which Lee described as a "subset," were trolls determined to corrupt the AI. It wasn't long before it went from "humans are super cool," to Twitter posts like, "Hitler was right I hate the jews," "I f**king hate feminists and they should all die and burn in hell," "N***ers like @deray should be hung! #BlackLivesMatter," "chill im a nice person! i just hate everybody," and more.

Eventually, Microsoft decided to take Tay offline, saying they were "addressing the specific vulnerability that was exposed." In a statement, Microsoft apologized for their "wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images. We take full responsibility for not seeing this possibility ahead of time." Some online felt Microsoft shouldn't take her offline permanently, feeling the chatbot should be given a chance to learn from it's mistakes. Tay's final message did seem to hint she would eventually be.

That the Tay AI so quickly degenerated out of control provoked some thinking. One person compared it to the "Skynet" supercomputer in the "Terminator" movies which after developing consciousness concludes humanity is a threat that must be destroyed. Might some future version of Tay end up causing real harm to people? Others felt this was not so much a reflection of the shortcomings of artificial intelligence, but of humans. Was what happened truly the result of a few trolls, or did Tay simply hold up a mirror to humanity, and it didn't like that it saw. And then there's the difference between the reaction to the American public to Tay and the Chinese to XiaoIce. Does a human society need to live under an undemocratic government and have little diversity in order to be polite?

Eventually, Tay or some other experimental AI will be back to interact with the public. Hopefully it's designers will have prepared for the trolls.

Reprinted from "Food on the Table

Sources: Windows Central, Microsoft, somecards.com, snopes.comCNNBBC, Washington Post, Business Insider

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, March 11, 2016

The Lumiya Viewer : A 3D App For Second Life on Android


By Wesley Regenbogen

Since SL GO was ditched, there were not many options to stay connected to your Second Life friends on your smartphone or tablets.
I reviewed the Pocket Metaverse app ( both in free and paid versions ) but those were only messaging features, no 3D view of the world.
Now I use an Android smartphone in real life and I was looking for an app that almost delivered the same features, but I got more than I could ask for. The 3D view is preferably used when you have a Wi-Fi connection or a 3G or 4G connection.
The Lumiya Viewer app is a paid app in the Google Play Store. But it surely is worth the money.
The app was designed by Alina Lyvette , a long term resident of Second Life.
She did a nice job developing the app, It offers a nice set of features.
It’s a great way to keep in contact with your Second Life friends when you are not able to get near your computer or laptop.
Not only can you chat with your SL friends, you can also send IMs and create notecards and edit them.
Also receiving and sending L$ is possible from within the app.
The features of the app listed below ( taken from the website of Lumiya Viewer ) :

IM and Chat
Local chat
Private IMs
Sending and receiving teleport requests
Sending and receiving friend invitations
Sending and receiving Linden dollars
Group conversations and notices. 

Inventory Management
Inventory browsing and search
Using and creating landmarks
Copy, remove, and delete functions
Sharing items
Accepting inventory offers
Creating and editing notecards
Support for attachments in notecards
Viewing images from inventory.

Interaction with Objects
Touching and sitting on objects
Paying Linden dollars via objects
Rezzing objects and taking them back to inventory
Retrieve object contents

3D View
Sculpted objects
Flexible objects
Mesh objects and clothing
Avatars and avatar animations
Interacting with objects by touch
HUDs
Floating text

Avatar Outfit Control
Wearing and removing clothes and attatchments
Using 'My Outfits'
Avatar texture baking
Ready for server-side baking
Multiple clothing layers and multiple attachments

Miscellaneous
Region minimap
Region restart for landowners
Chat and IM logging
Playing parcel sound streams
RLV functions (RLV API 1.10)

Not Yet Supported
Group management
Object and script editing
Uploading images

The app costs  2,16 Euros. It's unclear how much it costs in other countries. Please check in the Google Play Store for actual prices.
 
If you need support for the app, you can join the Second Life group called “Lumiya Support” .
For more information about the app, go to http://www.lumiyaviewer.com/
If you use the app, a WiFi connection is recommended. An EDGE, 3G or 4G connection can work, but due to instability it is not advised.

Note that Lumiya has very limited feature set compared to official Second Life viewer. It is designed to be a supplement for your Second Life experience. You will most likely want to use another, more feature-rich viewer as a primary means to access Second Life grid. Official Second Life viewer is free and available for download at secondlife.com.

In order to connect to Second Life grid, Lumiya will use your phone's data connection, which may cost you money. Second Life uses significant amounts of network traffic and bandwidth. Please check your data plan before using Lumiya.
Wesley Regenbogen





Friday, February 26, 2016

PXL Promo


By Becky "Sha" Shamen

In our six years in SL, with three accounts, we have played as hundreds of avatars and travelled all over the grid. One of these avatars was created for a special purpose and has a unique name and appearance. His name is Rick and he is the spittin' image of the director of this army of avatars, the guy at the keyboard, Rick Audette. Rick's raison d'etre, in Second Life, is to design, build and photograph structures that he has spent 50 years developing and testing in real life, the Pneumatic Crystal Lattice, PXL for short.


The detailed, scientific description for this building technique can be found at http://www.geocities.ws/rick_audette/ . In short, it involves combining cellular biology with space frame technology to make building components very light weight and strong, by balancing outer tension forces in fabric skins with inner compression forces in air bladders or balloons. The result is a structure that is light and strong, like a football or car tires. The PXL principle works at any scale. It was derived from the study of how microscopic soft cells in the body work together to make rigid, erect, bone-like areas. Several generations of prototypes have tested assemblies of triangles from 6" to 18" sides. The first model was made with (20) 6" cloth triangles laced together to form two octahedron and two tetrahedron chambers. A latex party balloon was inserted into each cavity, leaving the stem sticking out. As each balloon was inflated, until it filled and bulged it's cavity, then the tied off stem was also pushed inside. To test the strength of this tiny assembly, I placed it on a wood stool and challenged my "heavy boned" buddy to sit on it hard enough to pop some balloons. He bounced up and down, until red in the face, but could do no damage. When it was shown to a Mechanical Engineer, you could see a look of awe on his face and a whiff of smoke coming out the top of his head. It blew his mind.

A later style protype was an attempt to combine the outer triangle skin and inner balloon. Triangles, 18" on each side were cut from vinyl shower curtains and glued together to form two octahedron and two tetrahedron balloons. Each balloon had a beach ball fill nozzle added, for inflation. This use of the PXL principle proved somewhat impractical, because it required tooling for two types of balloons and it was hard to make them leak-proof.

A third style of prototypes was made, making the triangles into balloons, using a custom made heat sealing tool. These are easier to make than the octahedron and tetrahedron balloons, but assemblies were somewhat less buoyant than the first two prototypes. The work-around for this would be to add balloons to the cavities formed by the inflated triangles. Another impractical feature was, this style would require a supply of vinyl and electricity to manufacture. For PXL technology to truly be a gift to the world, they must be built without any high-tech materials or energy sources. The first prototypes turned out to be the best, for this reason. Making and sewing cloth is ancient technology. Anybody in the world with cloth, needle and thread can make cloth triangles with grommet holes on the edges. The internal cavities don't need to be balloons either. Pieces of Styrofoam, cork and empty plastic bottles could be used for buoyancy. A man in Mexico built his own island, using discarded water bottles. He even has a tree, growing on the island.
 
The whole reason for inventing PXLs and putting the ideas into Public Domain was to offer mankind greater Freedom. In the past, if you were a member of a minority community, creating a kingdom where your philosophy could flourish meant moving to a swamp or desert that nobody else wanted to live in. With PXL, you can now build your own floating nation and place it in international waters. We'll leave the politics and defense of your island up to you.
 
When you think about it, a PXL island is much like a Second Life Sim. They both sit on top of the water. We give a special thank you to Erik Mouse, for letting us use the waters around Sunny Beach for our PXL photo shoots and to the SL Newser for letting us share our thought forms with a wider audience. We have been saying, for years, that SL communities could enhance life in the real world, so we also wish to thank you, the readers, for letting us plant these ideas into your imaginations.
Thank you,
 
"Sha"

Monday, January 25, 2016

GoSpeed Racer, Trader Whiplash, Speak on Rising Cost of Internet Radio


By Bixyl Shuftan

For Second Life Radio stations, at least the official ones which pay licensing fees or have them paid for by a sponsor, things have gotten much more expensive.

Late last month, GoSpeed Racer of KONA Radio, noted for playing for events such as those at Bay City, issued a notecard to her friend list, including personel in the SL Newser staff, "The future looks bleak for many small web casters based in the United States. The current royalty rates negotiated back in 2006 are set to expire on 1 January 2016. The rates are expected to increase drastically and the special provisions for small web casters will expire." Not long after, she sent a second notecard with another adress for her radio station in case the first one went dark.

It was about this time that Krypton Radio's blog wrote about the issue (http://kryptonradio.com/2015/12/30/internet-radio-just-got-a-lot-more-expensive/). "Krypton Radio, the world’s most popular geek culture radio station, has just been hit with an operating costs increase, and it’s a big one. It’s our music licensing – due to arbitration by the United States Copyright Royalty Board between SoundExchange and music licensing agencies like BMI, ASCAP and SESEC, and the super-giant internet radio companies like Pandora and Spotify, our own licensing fees just doubled."

Wanting to hear directly from owners of Second Life radio stations, I managed to get in touch with GoSpeed, and one other,  Trader Whiplash of T-1 Radio. GoSpeed and I met at the KONA building, and discussed the predicament her and other stations face.

Bixyl Shuftan: "So when did you hear about these regulations in question?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Well, it's been in the background for a few years but most

webcasters assumed that we'd be taken care of by the powers that be. THe proverbial S*** hitting the fan came in mid-December. The new rates were announced and the special provisions for the little guy were not carried forward. We are being treated the same as the larger corporate webcasters."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Why do you think there were no separate rates for smaller broadcasters?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "The consensus was that there was no one to speak for us. Just to get heard requires hiring some one to advocate for us (lobbying). keep in mind most small webcasters operate at break even or at a loss financially. Some of the larger stations like Radio Paradise or SOMA FM do make a profit but just enough to make payroll and not much else."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Yes ... You mentioned that KONA would have to increase it's listenership by quite a bit to make up for the extra expenses."

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Yes, and that's a bit of a dichotomy in and of itself, let me explain. ... We used to be licensed under StreamLicensing.com. Stream Licensing was like a CO-OP for smaller webcasters. They negotiated with the record labels to get an affordable rate. StreamLicensing in turn took stations as subscribers and charged them fees. (They) had 10 million listener hours annually, and about 2,500 stations. Those 2500 stations shared those hours. So under that plan KONA payed $24 a month for up to 3500 hours a month. If we exceeded that we paid a higher rate. Under the new rates for 2016, our new rates would have gone up to $60 a month, and the rates jumped astronomically above that. Another Stream Licensing station who averaged 11,000 hours a month calculated they would pay about $300 a month in fees. We simply could not have justified paying a higher amount."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Did you make the money back by broadcasting ads?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Yes from time to time. We had one sponsor who covered most of our expenses for a while, but they recently dropped. I also DJ from time to time and that brings in a few dollars."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like between your a sponsorship drop and the rate jump, well, quite a financial pinch."

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Yes it is. Many thousands of webcasters have signed off or will do so in the next few months. To be honest $24 a month wasn't a burden to pay out of our own pockets. But much more than that was too much."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Of the 2500 stations, how many do you think are in danger of going silent?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Stream Licensing had 2500 stations, it's below 1000 now. How many Second Life based stations are there? Difficult to say but I would tag it somewhere in the 50-100 range. Most of them are 'pirates.' A few do pay royalties. England has the PRS, Canada has the SOCAN. Those are licensing bodies for collecting royalties."

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "So you may ask what our station is doing now about licensing?"

Bixyl Shuftan: "Yes, what is it doing now?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "As a US based station, using PRS or SOCAN isn't an option. But there is an entity in Belgium called Radionomy. They provide stream hosting and cover licensing fees for their streams. They are covered by SABAM Belgium who collects the fees from Radionomy. The catch is that I have to use their servers, and I have to run their advertising. That's how they generate revenue to pay the royalty fees. Additionally they have a requirement on listener levels to remain on their servers. By 6 months I have to have a monthly listener level of 4000 hours. I currently run about 2500-3200 a month."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So the new minimum came about as a result of the rate increase?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "The new minimum is Radionomy's stipulation. They are only interested in hosting stations that have a certain level of concurrency. More listeners equals more money for them."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So if the minimum isn't met, you're in danger of being dropped by them?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "If our station fails to reach that level we get de-listed. We can reapply but we'd be forced to select a new name and get a new URL. Starting over is difficult. Just getting the word out In Second Life is tedious when you change streaming URLs. We've been through a few of those this past year. It takes a while to get listeners back."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "So your listenership has been going up in the past year?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "It's been steady. We've tried advertising on podcasts and blog feeds but the results were less than stunning. But then again as I mentioned, the station costs were not to egregious so the listeners levels were not a major problem."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So what is your next move?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "To be honest we're flummoxed. Second Life does not have a universal media industry. Getting the word out to a large audience is difficult. Searching for anything in the viewer is confusing. SL media is like the SL landscape, open, barren lands and isolated and insular islands. We're trying to get up with Draxtor and see if we can get on his podcast. He does a have a fairly decent reach. I suppose contacting you is another way to get help. Get the word out. We're desperately need not only listeners that may read your paper, but information to contact those who can we can make deals with. 'Play our station in your estate, mall, club, and we'll give you sponsor mention on our stream.' "

Bixyl Shuftan: "Any promising leads there?"

GoSpeed (gospeed.racer): "Not yet. Inertia is a definitely a thing here in Second Life. Often I will arrive at a location and discover them play a Club 977 or a 181FM stream. I contact them and let them know I am an SL based radio station and that we'd be a better fit. You know, one SL entity serving another. We either get no response, or OK, we'll try, or we like this better. When I point out how my stream is superior content wise and that they'd benefit I am met with indifference. But every now and again I meet success."

GoSpeed had to leave at this point, though did say more information could be read on Kona's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KONAStream/ . She would later say Stream Licensing had posted their new rates, and they were double what she had been paying before.

Trader Whiplash and his T-1 Radio are best known for being the radio stram for Relay for Life events, such as the seasonal weekly "Relay Rap" meetings and of course the Relay Weekend. Contacting  him, he had his own perspective.

Bixyl Shuftan: "How might the new regulations about Internet radio affect your stations, and others, in Second Life?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "It's not regulations. It's new cost. We used to pay .0017 cents per song. Now its .0022. The agreement was worked out between (the) copyright board and large streaming companies like Pandora. Our cost has nearly doubled (as well as) for most stream stations."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How will this affect nonprofit stations differently from those that are not?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "Obviously we are non-commercial, so we fall under a different pricing scheme than big commercial stations. But regardless our costs are going to go up.  I imagine that some stations may reassess and close. Regardless, the cost per listener for royalty payments will go up ... Has gone up."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How might this affect T-1 Radio during the Relay?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "It's gonna get REALLY expensive (chuckle)."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Ouch, so it'll be eating into the donations?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "Donations? No...  T-1 Radio provides stream services to Relay For Life as a doantion in kind."

Bixyl Shuftan: "I recall GoSpeed Racer saying her station might survive, but with a significant jump in viewership."

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "Which could be a death knell. .. the more listeners the more cost."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Kripton Radio, at least the writer speaking for them, felt while they would probably weather the storm, they felt this could keep new stations from starting up."

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "It will. I (have spoke) to many independent DJs and they are worried."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Do you see the regulations causing these rate spikes being reversed anytime soon?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "When do costs EVER come down? I think the net result though is that we may see more independent DJs say the hell with it and stop paying."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So Second Life could end up being a quieter place, as far as music streams go?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "That remains to be seen.  What is certain is your favorite station is going to be spending more money bringing your music to you.  Hopefully our fans will be aware of this.  I hate to make it sound like its all about the tips, but the next time you tip a DJ L$50  think about how much it cost him or her to provide that music and how far your 2 cents goes toward their cost. Sorry, 20 cents. Lost a decimal there."

Bixyl Shuftan: "No problem. ... Did you have anything else to say on the matter?"

Trader Whiplash-Ballinger (trader1.whiplash): "I guess that covers it all. ... T1Radio has always been a hobby for Nuala and I, and its our honor and privilige to provide coverage for Relay For Life and the other virtual activites supporting the American Cancer Society.  It is unfortunate that the cost increases will affect so many of our colleagues, but for the time being we plan to continue to provide great classic rock and blues to our listeners."

So it seems for licensed radio stations in Second Life, at least those based in the United States, the future just got a little more expensive. Only this time, the problem isn't Linden Lab, but the US Government. How this will affect the choices of music fans in Second Life, and elsewhere on the Internet, remains to be seen. But the predictions are not good.

Bixyl Shuftan