Rheta Shan (2007–2009)

May 11, 2009

All too often, the budding author finds that his tale has run its course and yet he sees no way to satisfactorily end it, or, in literary parlance, “wrap it up.” Observe how easily I resolve this problem:

Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck.
—the end—

If the story happens to be set in England, use the same ending, slightly modified:

Suddenly, everyone was run over by a lorry.
—the end—

If set in France:

Soudaincment, tout le monde etait ecrass par un camion.

You’ll be surprised at how many different settings and situations this ending applies to.

— “How to Write Good,” by Michael O’Donoghue

I hadn’t heard from Rheta Shan for over a month. This was not entirely unexpected. She’d been online less frequently as her typist’s pregnancy progressed, and she was expecting to be gone for a bit when the due date arrived. I’d been patiently standing by my Twitter feed, waiting for word.

Word arrived this morning, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Suddenly, Rheta Shan’s typist was run over by a van.
—the end—

I will admit that part of me hopes that this is an exit strategy, that having succeeded in her stated mission of “crafting a story so persuasive it will be taken at face value,” Rheta’s typist has chosen the most cliché conclusion imaginable—srsly, hit by a truck when nine months pregnant?—and taken her leave. I prefer that hope to the alternative… but I also know all too well that cheap ironic twists that would be laughed out of a pulp novel happen constantly in First Life.

I’ve been proud to count Rheta among the parishioners at the First Church of Rosedale (Immersionist). The church has a slightly complicated relationship with First Life. We acknowledge that it exists, and that things that happen there sometimes have a direct effect on Second Life, but at the same time we’re committed to taking Second Life on its own terms whenever possible. The tension between the two is reflected in our name and denomination: “Rosedale” is the First Life name for Our Lord Philip, while “Immersionist” is our outlook. It was also Rheta’s.

To quote another bit from her profile, “Don’t cry for the future, when we have today.” I can’t help crying for the future. I was looking forward to conducting a partnering/collaring ceremony for her and Thaddy. I’m going to miss our discussions of everything from philosophy to language to shoes to religion to family dynamics to shoes to Linden Lab to literature to… did I mention shoes?

But we have yesterday, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Rheta was charming and witty and insightful and very, very modest, and I loved her dearly. I still love her dearly, in whatever realm she’s in now. (I trust that Zeroth Life offers the ultimate immersive experience, without all the lag.) And both my lives are richer for having known her.

Rheta Shan at the First Church of Rosedale

Rheta Shan at the First Church of Rosedale, April 6, 2008


Can somebody define “limited edition”?

November 25, 2008

I own several limited edition items in Second Life. In a few cases, this means the creator of the item in question promised that only a certain number of copies would be made. In most cases, it means the creator promised that the item would be available for sale only during a certain period of time. These items are usually sold for more than usual, which is only fair; you’re paying for the scarcity.

Back in the winter of 2006, Moopf Murray announced a special event. Moopf makes Skoopf skates, and if you’ve ever hung out with me, you’ve probably heard me say that the L$85 Skoopf double-pack is the single best deal in all of Second Life. I adore my Skoopfs.

As Moopf disputes my interpretation of what he said, I am going to reprint the notecard with the 2006 announcement in full, without retouching the broken apostrophes. Judge for yourself:

Make a note of Saturday 11th November 2006! Starting that day, and for another seven Saturdays after, a new pair of limited edition Skoopf Icicles will be released! Each pair will feature a new skate design, a new HUD design and each pair will have its own special new feature. Each new limited edition pair will only be available in-world through the Skoopf vending machines and theyll be priced at L$150 a pair. And, in case youre wondering, each pair will only be available for seven days!

Anybody who purchases six different limited edition pairs will also recieve an extra special extra pair – the Skoopf Icicle Vipers – which, amongst other things, will also include some new animations (the Vipers will be available on or before the 27th January 2007.)

And, as if that wasnt enough, youll also get a credit entitling you to a free pair of the exciting next generation in the Skoopf range, to be released around the 2nd quater 2007.

If you have any questions, please feel free to IM me!

Keep on skating!

Moopf Murray

Stop for a moment. Having read the above, do you think he was advertising a one-time deal?

Possibly it’s just me, but I don’t see anything in that sales pitch that allows for the possibility of selling the skates again at a later date. Each pair of skates was a limited edition that would only be available for seven days. Those are his words, not mine. If he’d said, for instance, “they’ll be available for seven days, after which you’ll have to wait until next winter,” I wouldn’t be writing an irritated blog post right now. (I also might not have bought the complete set.)

Should you want corrobration of the wording, see his comment on Second Life Insider from the time. “It’s actually 8 limited edition pairs that will be released, each one only available for 7 days starting Saturday 11th November.” I would link to his own blog, but he’s taken it down in the years since. And they certainly seemed to take it as meaning that it would be the only chance.

As you might gather, the skates are back up for sale, through the end of January.

This is actually their second encore. They showed up last winter, and while I wasn’t entirely happy about it, I didn’t think complaining would accomplish anything. I now regret that decision, and I don’t intend to make it again. I also took some slight cold comfort in the fact that he at least didn’t rerelease the Vipers. To quote his notecard about those: “You’ve been sent this notecard because you purchased 6 or more pairs of the Skoopf Icicles Limited Edition skates which means you’ve qualified for the extra special pair, the Skoopf Vipers! You’re one of only around 200 people who qualified and nobody else will ever get a pair!” (emphasis added). This year, he’s put them up for sale.

Since becoming aware of this, I’ve IMed Moopf. My feeling is that this is a breach of our agreement at the time of sale, and that he needs to stop selling the skates. (He’s quite welcome to create new skates to meet the demand, of course.) He disagreed with me on four grounds:

1. The skates were penny-ante items, only “fifty cents” the first time around, so this doesn’t matter.
I don’t agree. The principle is the same whether we’re talking about a L$2500 gown or a L$150 pair of skates. Either a designer is true to his word or not. And it’s worth keeping in mind that Moopf’s business model is built around penny-ante items… he’s made a fortune on L$1 bubble gum, and even L$150 is three times the price of his usual ice skates. I bought all eight, and I was joined by others on skating rinks across the grid. Moopf is the last person I’d expect to sell short the value of small transactions.

2. As the skates are no-trans and can’t be resold, additional sales don’t hurt me.
I don’t think most people buy limited-edition items as an investment; we buy them because we like having something rare. That is frankly half the point of limited edition items. I had the happy expectation that if I wore my steampunk Steamers to a skating party, that either I would be the only one there with them, or I’d be able to trade knowing conversation with another old-timer who’d picked them up way back when. This expectation has been dashed.

3. He never said they wouldn’t return.
This appears to be the crux of the matter. Mr. Murray’s contention is that “limited edition,” in the context of Second Life items, does not actually imply any limits. He contends that “each pair will only be available for seven days” would naturally be understood to mean that there would be a seven-day window of opportunity for that season, but that of course they’d be back at a later date. (When I asked about “nobody else will ever get a pair,” he repeated point 1 and suggested I get over it.) He claims that I am alone in having read his initial advertisement as I did. Which brings us to the final point:

4. Nobody else has complained. If others are upset about this, I should provide some sort of proof, because it’s the first he’s hearing of it.
This is where you guys come in. You’ve read the notecard. Did you understand it as meaning that the skates were being released for a few days, and might return at a later date? Tell me. Or did you take it as meaning that this was a one-time offer, buy now or never? Tell him.

This is not just a matter of a few skates. The issue here is whether designers and manufacturers ought to be bound by their word, and whether that word is what they say, rather than what they might have meant to say. Moopf believes that nobody is hurt when limited edition items are put up for sale again, that indeed the whole concept of “limited edition” doesn’t really apply in Second Life. He believes that even when he flat-out said that “nobody else will get a pair,” that can be disregarded without the slightest pang, because nobody will care. Do you own any limited edition items, and do you agree? Tell me. Tell him.

He’s asked me to prove that this is an issue, and specified that he would need to hear other people complaining. The ball’s in your court. His name is Moopf Murray for in-world IMs, and there’s an e-mail link on his site. (Mine is samantha.poindexter@gmail.com.) Tell us.

SL Bloggers Mix’n Match 2008: Eladrienne Laval

November 12, 2008

Pastor Poindexter has held many services here at the Church of Rosedale. After donning my vestments in the colors of the Order of St. Torley, I gazed upon the image of Philip our Creator and thought about the smiting of communities, but today I want to create positivity. WWTD? I wish to reflect upon the teachings of our beloved Saint—he who believes in the infinite goodness of watermelons, creativity, and our world with its power to change and transform us. We are in a time of trouble and turmoil, and for many of us, our lives inworld are mimicking that of our lives in RL and currently involve worry, stress and drama. We must ask ourselves, “What do we want from our precious time in here? What makes it all worthwhile for us to be present—to have a presence?”

Our lives inworld are what we make of them and this is a world of infinite possibilities if you can see them. Believe me when I say that they exist. This can be a place of wondrous imagination if you know where to look for it and change can happen even easier than it can in RL. St. Torley once said, “Second Life should be a complement to RL.” It does not take its place. It should not take its place. Reclaim your Second Life and make it work for bettering your real one. Our lives inworld can make us walk away afterwards understanding more…wanting more…or perhaps inspiring us more.

I will leave you with these thoughts: “Blessed are the travellers on this path we call our virtual lives. Forgive those who conspire against you, as your life here is not theirs. Cherish those who make life inworld a joy, as our lives here are ephemeral and every moment is to be treasured. Go forth into this world and experience all it has to offer while you can. May your inventory stay intact, your prims rezzed, your lag nonexistent, and your crashes be few.”

As I left the 1st Church of Rosedale, I thought about a question St. Torley asked, “What’s your greatest dream of being free?”


The above post is part of the SL Bloggers Mix’n Match, brought to you by Vint Falken and ArminasX Saiman. It was written by Eladrienne Laval, on the topic of “Is Second Life Truly a Second Life or an Extension of the First?” which was suggested by Kirasha Urqhart.

My own post appears on Cat Magellan’s Geta, a blog which is mostly in Portuguese. Sadly, my entry is not nearly that cool, so you’ll have to settle for English. (I was assigned “Segregation in Second Life,” provided by Prad Prathivi.)

Also, Danni Ohara has written on a topic I proposed, Religion in Second Life.

Jewelry Expo a low-lag delight

October 10, 2008

I have been raving about Jewelry Expo since their 2007 event. Often, I’ve done so at other exhibitions. The Shoe Expo and Hair Fair come to mind. There was an article approvingly noting a technique for getting around Hair Fair that involved rezzing a prim, sitting on it, and navigating via the editing tools, as the lag made it difficult to actually walk anywhere. When things get that bad? You’ve got trouble. You also end up with people coming in, starting to look around, then giving up in frustration halfway through.

What makes this particularly mystifying to me is that we know how to run a low-lag event of this kind. It’s been solved. All it takes is strict limits on textures and prims, and strict enforcement of those rules. Granted, said strict enforcement takes a ton of work and enduring a whole lot of grumbling from vendors wanting to push the limits—I don’t envy Miriel her job one bit—but it pays off.

As I write this, there’s one day to go in Jewelry Expo 2008, and it’s been a sheer delight to walk around. There are 78 vendor booths showing a wide variety of products, and lag is about as minimal is it gets. Most of the booths are arrayed around the perimeter in alphabetical order, so the textures for upcoming booths load as you look at any given one, but without loading lots of extraneous stuff in the background.

Granted, I have not seen a single treasure hunt box. I must not have been looking in the right places… I have, however, picked up a ton of freebies. And also a couple of necklaces that I couldn’t resist. And, okay, I may have won an auction benefitting Heifer International as well.

The prim and texture limits don’t mean the booths had to be homogenous or boring. Quite the contrary. I particularly like Eolande’s bathroom setup, which uses a few carefully chosen textures to provide the illusion of perspective.

I’d also like to give a shoutout to Sian Birke, who happened to be onhand the first time I stopped by her booth. She was friendly without being overbearing.

And I like Miriel’s own scripted vendors, which allow one to choose the metal, jewels, and permissions for any given item.

The single largest OMG moment, however, was provided by Little Boy Blue’s mermaid skeleton necklace. It’s not something I’d wear myself, but I admire the twisted genius it took to conceive of and create it.

If you haven’t yet been there, and it’s still Saturday, October 11, what are you waiting for? Go now! And if you’re going to either run or participate in any other product fair in the year to come, you really ought to consider insisting upon the rules and setup found here. They work.

St. Torley’s Day roundup!

September 16, 2008

The First Church of Rosedale—in conjunction with Four Kittens of the Apocalypse—had its first Major Event this past Sunday, and I’m thrilled to announce that it went really well.

For starters,  we finally got some stained glass. I realize this probably seems like a silly detail to dwell on, but I have wanted appropriate stained glass forever. When I first bought the building from the talented Julia Hathor, it came with windows that were perfect for a more traditional church, but not for one devoted to Philip Linden. She graciously pointed me to where she’d bought the textures, so I could get my own copy and modify them as I saw fit. I’d had plans to do so since Day One, but I’d failed to execute them, instead opting with perfectly serviceable but boring clear panes of glass.

Compounding my stained-glass envy, the Caledon Genealogical Society set up shop next door sometime in the past few months, and they had lovely stained glass windows. In fact, they had lovely stained glass windows on just one side of the building, the side facing my church. I looked out the church window, and there was lovely stained glass, next door. I reminded myself that envy was an abomination before Phil.

At any rate, Torley Day provided the impetus for me to go back to Photoshop and figure out how to do this stained glass thing, and I think the results turned out quite well. Alterating panels show the icon of the church—the humble prim—and the visage of Torley, in appropriate watermelon hues. And now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, I may even manage to whip up another set for year-round use.

Windows aside, the noon service went really well. Really, really well. We were recounting St. Torley’s life, times, and achievements, and having so much fun that we had to hurriedly wrap it up at the end because we’d run out of time before the party. Copies of the hymnal were provided in THiNC book form, and I’m happy to also provide a PDF version of the St. Torley’s Day hymnal, with two hymns specially written for the occasion.

The party was hosted by Alchemy Epstein and Nakira Tennen at Four Kittens of the Apocalypse, and I can’t thank them enough for the time, effort, and expense they poured into it. They created watermelon vines climbing their treehouse, a color-shifting Torley-textured platform, and several free party favors available in a scavenger hunt, including a bubble wand (with green and pink bubbles) and a watermelon hat. Also among the freebies was a T-shirt by Triana Caldera of G1rl Next Door, who unfortunately was unable to make it there herself. We were dancing to Torley’s own music, and a good time was definitely had by all.

At 2:00 PM, it was time for a show by Kala Pixie, particle genius. And much to our joy, St. Torley himself showed up for it, accompanied by his lovely wife Ravenelle. (And thank goodness they took pictures, or I wouldn’t have anything to show here.) It was fun, and laid-back, filled with reminisc— remininc— umm, nostalgic conversation about the past few years in Second Life, while surrounded by lots of really pretty particles. (Free plug: get some friends together and book Kala Pixie for a show. You’ll be forever spoiled for all other fireworks displays, but it will be worth the experience.) I’m so, so glad they were able to make it, and had a good time; Second Life would be a much poorer place without them, and it was great to be able to show our appreciation.

Finally, it was back to church for the second service, and while that wasn’t bad, I have to admit it wasn’t nearly up to the standard set by the first one, as evidenced by the fact that we finished ten minutes early. I think at our next major event either I’ll run just one service, or provide for a break along the way, because after four hours of preaching and DJing, I can’t say I was at my best. Live and learn.

Still, the event as a whole was a smashing success. I’d like to thank everybody who showed up and made it so enjoyable, and I hope to see y’all again in church really soon!


September 7, 2008


For more information, see the press release in the previous entry!

Torley Day press release

September 7, 2008

First Church of Rosedale
Samantha Poindexter, Pastor
Caledon Penzance (202, 27, 23)
Torley Linden’s “Saint Day” to Be Celebrated In Second Life
Second Life Church to Honor Linden Lab’s “Resident Enlightenment Manager”
CALEDON PENZANCE, Second Life, Sept. 7 — Torley Linden, Second Life’s “Resident Enlightenment Manager,” is being celebrated as a living saint by a local church. The First Church of Rosedale announced today that “St. Torley’s Day” will take place on Sunday, September 14, with special services to take place at noon and 4 PM. In between the services, parishioners will be hosting a party in Penning, featuring dancing, trivia, and limited-edition gifts.

Torley Linden has written innumerable posts on the company’s official blog and created over 200 video tutorials. He listens and responds to residents, holding weekly office hours and keeping tabs on Second Life content all over the Web, including blogs, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. He is closely associated with watermelons, and vivid shades of pink and green. His Saint Day is the Sunday closest to his “rezday” (the day he first entered Second Life), September 15.

“We at the church worship Philip Linden as our Lord and Savior,” said pastor Samantha Poindexter, “but Torley is everyone’s favorite Linden. He’s one of us. He’s vocal about the bugs and annoyances of Second Life, which makes him practically unique among the Lab’s employees. At the same time, he’s unfailingly and genuinely enthusiastic about our world and its possibilities.”

The services at the First Church of Rosedale are to include the recounting of Torley’s story and the singing of hymns of praise. Special pink and green stained glass windows are being installed for the occasion. Two services are being held — at noon and at 4 PM, local time — to allow residents in different time zones to attend. The church is located at Caledon Penzance (202, 27, 23).

From 1 PM to 4 PM, there will be a party at the home of parishioners Alchemy Epstein and Nakira Tennen. The party is to include dancing to Torley’s own musical compositions, a special particle show by Kala Pixie, Torley-themed trivia questions, free limited-edition party favors, and prizes for those attired in the most pleasingly garish neon pink and green. The party will be at Penning (25, 156, 76).

For additional information, please contact Samantha Poindexter via in-world IM, or via e-mail at samantha.poindexter@gmail.com. Second Life and Linden Lab are trademarks of Linden Research, Inc. The First Church of Rosedale and St. Torley’s Day are very definitely not affiliated with or sponsored by Linden Research.

About the First Church Of Rosedale:

The First Church of Rosedale (Immersionist) is devoted to the worship of Philip Linden, known in First Life as Philip Rosedale, founder of Linden Lab. It is believed to be the only church devoted to a Second-Life-centric religion. It was founded in Caledon Penzance in late 2007, and held its first services January 6, 2008. Services are held on Sundays, and those of all colors, sizes, furs, and historical eras are welcome.


In Second Life: Samantha Poindexter
Via e-mail: samantha.poindexter@gmail.com

Further Background:


– 30 –

Back to church!

August 28, 2008

It’s been waaaaay too long since the last services at the First Church of Rosedale. My First Life is still less than settled, but it’s not as totally insane as the last few months, and enough’s enough.

Normally I go with plain black-on-white signs, as I’m a minimalist, but I decided to experiment with this one… also, the above appears on signboards that update automatically around the grid, and I wanted it to be obvious that the message had changed. (If you want a copy of such a signboard for your own property, IM or e-mail me, and I’ll be happy to supply one.)

Please join us! 2 PM Second Life Time, Sunday August 31st. Bring your friends!

In the event…

August 10, 2008

Events. They’re the lifeblood of Second Life.

…yes, granted, so are scripts and textures and physics and prims and who knows what else, but let’s not quibble with the metaphor, okay? Events are important. Events give people something to do. When you want to show off your new outfit, take in a fencing tournament, play a game, meet new people, hear some live music, or just kill time, events are the way to go.

When I first entered the world, and wanted to know where I could get started, what I could do in the bewildering thicket that is Second Life, I was pointed at the event listings. And lo, I found classes, and trivia games. And lo, I learned how to make things, and also won cash and prizes. And all was well.

It’s harder to offer that same advice today. The Event listings are pretty close to useless. (Indeed, St. Torley called them “kludgy” in a recent entry.) And why are they useless? Because you can’t effectively search them. For over a year and a half, event searches have worked only on the first word in the title of an event. If you search for “trivia,” as I did on a day long ago, “Triana’s Music Trivia”—the longest-running such game in all of Second Life—will not show up, and you will not find it, and that will be sad. And this is not a rare exception; the key word in an event’s name usually is not the first word in the title.

What this means is that the only way to find an event you might be interested in is to scroll through the entire listing (itself a challenge; these days, I’ve found I can do this only by doing a search after entering a space into the search box), passing pages of events that are still in progress but winding down before getting to upcoming ones. This is less than practical for spur-of-the-moment visits, and downright excruciating for advance planning.

These days, I find out about most events via groups I’m in and word of mouth. The need to be in groups to be so notified puts more pressure on the 25-group limit, but let’s put that aside for now. This also presents additional barriers for people creating new events without an established network. What if you threw a party (or, say, a church service) and nobody came? This happens dispiritingly often; the open events listing is supposed to give you a fighting chance.

The current state of affairs wasn’t always so. Event searches used to work the way you’d expect, searching the full text of titles and descriptions. And, sure, that allowed for occasional keyword spam, but by and large—speaking both as somebody who ran events, and somebody who attended them—the system worked. And I find it bewildering that, almost a year and a half after event search got borked, this still hasn’t been fixed. It seems as if it should be relatively straightforward to squash this bug, and the impact would be enormous.

With all of that in mind, I urge you to vote for VWR-270 on the JIRA, and tell your friends as well. I filed the issue more than 16 months ago, and while it’s been assigned an internal ID, no action has been taken on it. I think the Powers That Be have forgotten the issue exists. Let’s remind them.

En Garde shirts!

July 15, 2008

It’s been awhile, I know… my pesky First Life avatar keeps demanding all my attention. But I’ve gotten into En Garde, an in-world fencing game. Essentially it’s a card game played with an HUD, with animations for dramatic effect. It’s fast-paced and involves a mixture of skill and luck. Naturally, I decided to express my love for it in T-shirt form…

En Garde shirt vendor at Procyon Games

En Garde shirt vendor at Procyon Games

The full line of shirts is available at my shop in Caledon Penzance, or from the nifty vendor pictured above at Procyon Games, home of En Garde. (Though that vendor leaves out one shirt, reading “Merde.” It’s a PG area, after all…) (If you don’t understand the relevance of that shirt to En Garde, you’ve probably never been hit with a triple-strength attack at the end of a round in which you’d been leading.) As with all my shirts, these are “sharewear.” Pay whatever you think they’re worth, and can afford.