Thursday, 30 September 2010

Fast, East MicroFun.

Rumours, via Tateru, that Microsoft are looking to buy out the Boys and become our new Lords and Masters have spawned a whole heap of very amusing stuff. Apart from Crap's blog there have been a load of jokes centred around Clippy, the most hated feature ever to have been invented (according to me) or ever likely to be invented in the whole of human existence.

So, for those of you that don't Tweet....

Clippy Linden is now the subject of a number of really good Tweets, his basic saying (for those ignorant of it) was..."bla, bla, do you need help with that?"

#ClippyLinden says "i see you're trying to lose some inventory items, would you like help with that?" from Oh Mead HBH.

#ClippyLinden says "I see you're trying to make a TPV that performs DDOS attacks... would you like some help finding the door?" ELiSchlegal... and also...#ClippyLinden "It looks like your are trying to post on the official SL Forums. Would you like some cheese to go with that whine?"

#ClippyLinden says "I see you're trying to cross sim lines smoothly. Would you like some help laughing at you while you try that?" m_ethaniel

#ClippyLinden It looks like you're trying to lay off 1/3 of your staff. Would you like help with crushing peoples' hopes and dreams? zero.

#ClippyLinden It looks like you're trying to search for something. Would you like some help realising how futile that is? aliceinthenet.

I'm not sure "micro" and "soft" would go over very well in Zindra... #IfMSoftBoughtLL from Lalo_T

...well...this will run and run, and fast easy fun was had by all...


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

WTF, Linden Lab... an answer please... (stuff JIRA)

I am speechless, well, not really...but...

In my previous posts about mesh, I have shown a sort of reluctance to believe that the Lab will leave us with a mesh product/tool that will be as ecstatically amazing as a lot of people hope it will be...

Reed even went so far, in the comments to say...
"Also, can somebody clarify how mesh could be "introduced badly"? I think its pretty straight forward what LL is doing here."

Which is a bit like saying "What Could Possibly Go Wrong?"..a phrase used to good comic effect by the team on Top gear, an english TV motoring programme.

So... the above incident with Rose....!!!

Well, here we have it. Weekly or daily things happen, that is only natural if thousands of people are online together and the people running the show, who are basically renting server space, sack 30% of their work force...BUT...

THIS is surely not possible!!

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure of meeting Rose, let me tell you that she is 100% telling the truth, of that there can be no doubt.

How can the security of my money and assets have any possible bugs or glitches which haven't been fixed years ago by those responsible who I pay for this basic service??

Now...Reed, ask me again...."what could possibly go wrong?"

Unfortunately I doubt that we will ever hear any more about this. There is no possible Public Enquiry, we are, and have consented to be, ruled by a dictatorship. Thats the rules. I am not complaining about's just that feedback is only one-way.... (non-european, since catherine went).. and the difficult questions don't get answered.

But, I, and certainly all my readers would like to know...

What the hell happened?


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Stuff from a long week.

Its been a long week, or so it seems, but things are starting to quieten down, I hope. I managed to use up all my prims at Burn 2.0 (detail above) and that's well ahead of the opening date which I think is mid October.. so that's one thing finished.

Finally got going on soror Nishi Island in InWorldz, and managed to lay down the structure, unless of course I decide I hate it and start again.. some bits are good tho, so that probably won't happen...

Loved this photo of InWorldz. Loved the fact that Elenia/Tranq posted it. All our dreams and desires in a few machines. They have all been working very hard there, expansion, at this speed is quite tricky to deal with, 600% growth in a few months (concurrency) is not to be sniffed at. The Boys would kill for that sort of growth. Where I think InWorldz has a great advantage over SL is that the Founders (IWz) know, through watching LL how not to do things. Fix things and don't sweep em under the carpet to bug you for years, is probably number one, I would think.

Good interview too with Tranq and Elenia on Metaverse TV here.... leads me to think that seeing the terrible mess LL has got itself into though the use of hype and spin is surely number two lesson of how not to run a Dusan so rightly puts it, it's a world not a platform.

Beyondthematrix Boa was the 1000th person to visit Tree of Trees at IBM C, and I offered him a sort of souvenir as a 'prize', anyway, it turns out that he and his partner Ginger Ling make the most amazing as pictured above with all moving parts etc. anyway... they like my stuff so I built a little islet for

...and my week came to a great end with The Born Again Pagans playing at Benares, courtesy of Brinda, who is surely one of the grids nicest people. I hope to have Hexx and Madame play at IBM next saturday night 3 p.m. ....I will keep you posted.

The Born Again Pagans have a free download of one of their signature songs "Run for the Money' which you can hear here, and download the MP3.

Hope you had and have a good week...


Saturday, 25 September 2010

We deal with it.

There has been a fair amount of criticism levelled at the recent video on Mesh which was brought out with good intentions, no doubt. Both Dusan Writer and Phaylen Fairchild are very annoyed at the 'mesh is with it' comment at the end of the video, but more so with the comments on Dusans blog by amongst others the insecure but arrogant fool who called me uneducated and opinionated for trying to gain some clarity on a previous post.

Luckily there are people around who helped gain a bit of clarity with regard to a couple of my queries.

Now, there are a couple of comments that suggest that, as SL residents, we oppose all changes and 'new things' that LL tries to implement, one comment says...

"Thank goodness the inventors throughout history weren’t SL residents. It continually cracks me up that people in a virtual world, which is cutting edge enough that most people still don’t get it, are all anti-change and AFRAID of learning something new.

This guy who calls himself radar needs to look at our recent history...

1) LL introduces a new viewer that is so amazingly irritating and full of bugs that people shun it like the plague. LL tries to enlist people to work for free fixing something they broke.

2) instead of fixing search, for example, we are offered voice morphing...

3) with things gradually becoming less efficient (post) we are given a name changing possibility which is a griefers charter to cause chaos.

4) SL MarketCockup is an ongoing chaos caused by LL (Snickers post)... again...they broke it.

5) Teen Grid and Avatars United get closed presumably because LL can't make money at it.

I would personally rephrase radar's remark to say..." Thank goodness inventors throughout history did't have to rely on LL....etc"

Against the background of the above history it is no surprise that LL's clients are dubious, worried and sceptical about mesh.

Anne OToole, who only a fool would call uneducated has this to say about mesh..."Everything I have seen of SL mesh thus far looks like amateur dog shit. Like that green turd looking robot thing in that video."

There are still some fairly HUGE gaps in information about mesh that an idiot would dismiss, we have no idea of the prim cost, the maximum file size, or how the poor servers will deal with collada uploads considering what trouble they have with simple textures recently. So, it is naive and pathetic to hail mesh as the best thing since sliced carrots until we see it working.

Now, as a final kick in the private parts to such fools as Steamroller and radar, I would like to point you at the most beautiful post written by Miso Susanowa today.

In spite of everything we have dealt with, in spite of terrible customer service (European office now closed), in spite of early release of dodgy products (even viewer 2.2 isn't as good as TPV), in spite of the pervasive deafness of the Lab, we deal with it, daily, and we create beauty. So stop talking crap, get your heads out of the clouds and realise mesh may not be the new messiah, it depends a lot on how well it is introduced.


Friday, 24 September 2010

The Trouble with Balance.

Nightflower has recently posted on NWN the results of her survey of her readers together with her own thoughts on maintaining a balance between RL and SL lives.... and she invites debate and a conversation on this topic... so...

Nightflower’s words are born of her own experience and so are true for her though not necessarily so for all.

The one sentence that jumped out at me was... “my emotional health also requires me to reject romanticization, and embrace the truth that my flesh-and-blood self is inherently more valuable than my digital projection.”

I have a problem with that. It may seem like semantics, me being picky, but my self, or anyone’s self is not flesh and blood, but pure psychic in nature. Similarly I would disagree that my avatar is a straight forward digital projection.

Nightflower also says “I love my avatar Night, and enjoy alternating between talking about her as if she were me, and referring to her as if she were a unique, sentient being. While there are some valuable kernels of truth in that viewpoint for a discussion on identity, that kind of talk is potentially destructive hogwash if we’re talking about balance.”

It would seem to me that some sort of viewpoint on identity would have to be reached before one can make a value judgement about how more or less “valuable” one part of my psyche is as opposed to another part of my psyche.

Is the hour a patient spends with her/his therapist more or less valuable than the 40 hours a week they have to work in order to pay for the therapy?

Her statement is very culturally based, these are the values we were all indoctrinated with from childhood, and may not be viable longer. (previous post, Angst and Addiction)

Though I do not consider myself a Christian there is an example from the bible where Martha complains that she does all the work while Mary just sits at Christ’s feet taking his teaching. So this discussion is not a new one.... and there is no answer.


Moving on from this particular point about the relative importance of atom-based work vs. digital work, I have a theoretical aversion to the idea that balance is always necessary, or even a good thing.

Does the idea “moderation in all things” also include Moderation as one of the things to be moderate about? Is it not necessary to throw Balance out of the window on occasion?

If Mozart had not been obsessed, if van Gogh had achieved more Balance, who would have gained?

Balanced can just equal Safe, and can be the refuge for those feeling they got their fingers burnt playing with fire.... and I make no apology for re-quoting this piece from one of my previous posts on addiction...

“Talking of the conflict between conscious and unconscious elements of the Self, (like yin and yang, human and avatar)... Dr Jung says....
“When this confrontation is confined to partial aspects of the unconscious the confrontation is limited and the solution simple: the patient, with insight and some resignation or a feeling of resentment, places himself on the side of reason and convention.

He means that if you can’t stand the heat, you get out of the kitchen. Addiction is then the excuse you have for being in the kitchen in the first place. The unwanted sides of your psyche that have manifested get repressed again, and you go back to “normality”.”

I am of the firm belief that I would rather be Mental than Balanced, but a mixture of the two is probably healthier..


Thursday, 23 September 2010

Me is United

This is from my post of 31st of January this year....

"Also...I joined the newly acquired (by LL) Avatars United, which is a staggeringly forgettable social media site, for avatars. It has poor graphics and its hard to see it taking off to be honest. I thought...well...that's nice, this disproves my previous idea that everyone is out to get my Real Name and sell me junk.
However.....before I left the site, I was asked if I wouldn't mind answering a survey...for feedback. Now being the Public Spirited Being that I am, I agreed.
The first 3 things they wanted to know where.... age, sex, job...... now, I ask is that gonna help their feedback, really. Duh!!"

Followed the following week by...

"Well, the big thing seems to be Avatars United this week, as I have more friends, suddenly, than I can shake a stick at, not that I would, of course,...... well....maybe one or two could do with a....

..and by the 18th February, just 19 days into my United Experience...

"Ok..well..I just cancelled my accounts... [Facebook and Avatars United]

I am sooo bored with them both.

I figure "social media" are a bit like a faxmachine...outdated. I would rather have an IM with one person in SL than 3000 "friends" on FB, and really...AU has absolutely nothing to offer.

There are privacy issues, but my data is being mined whatever I do online, it is naive to think it isn't, so it's not that that has prompted me, just boredom with an outdated , and not very social, social setting.

So, if you are a friend mine we'll talk in world..:... if you are a "friend"... goodbye, live long and prosper (if it suits)...

Avatars United is to be erased ... announcement here.

Now, it could have been Cockup Linden or Blunder who was in charge though rumours say Moron Linden was brought in specially as a vet, but the life just ebbed out of it.

Apparently some people will miss it... takes all sorts...

Now its taken 8 months for the Boys to trash something which some poor Swedish guys (well, poor rich guys now) took 3 years to build. Was it the dodgy graphix or was it just the totally obvious fact that SL needs a social media site like an octopus needs a 9th leg.

A good part of most peoples time online, (even if they live on some high altitude building platform torturing prims as a hobby) is spent socialising. Not one but many wise Educated Types have pointed out the fact that 'face to face' interaction on SL is a million times better than any other form of virtual socialising. I guess the Boys didn't know that as they don't really go inworld except for the occasional foray.

XXLMarketplace XLonMainstreet to be the next corpse?? Probably not, some people actually use it (apparently)....less laggy than the malls I guess.... but it is being refurbished. Why does that not fill me with hope... (rhetorical, so deserves no question mark).

Avatars United was fast (8 months), easy (no-one used it) and I, at least, find it quite funny...

Well, as they say in Swedish.. "hahahahahahahahahahaaahahaha .. lets go shoot an elk".


Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Bits and Bobs.

Well, theres a box full of bits I haven't posted and which those of you with busy lives and no Tweets might have missed nothing original, just recycled bobs.

My news is that I have started building at Burn 2 as an invited artist even tho I have been pretty stiff with my criticism of the event in past years, especially the land grab which I always hated and the Megaphobia which still pervades the poor souls that organise it. Anyway, they generously gave me some prims to play with and I have made a start on that.

InWorldz I have cleared the sim of my trial bits that I rezzed there as preparation for IBM and hope to start today on a new build which will be a bit different to anything I have done before, and a bit the same..... just more prims.

Re. IWz.. they had a concurrency of 300 this weekend, which is about a 600% growth in 4 or 5 months. Elenia writes about it here. Surely one of the nicest aspects of a smaller grid is that you actually get to know the Founders thro blogs, forums and personal meetings, it builds trust, a vital aspect as Tateru pointed out. ...and, with NWN diversifying into other seems.. Nightflower is right in pointing to the fact that, if your friends are with you, it doesn't matter where you rezz your hat.

Re. Mesh...thanks to Malburns for posting this ... hehehehe...

...and just as funny...reTweeted by SecondLie from Seralok...

Yep, we've all had our moments of frustration...

and....keeping you amused, Snickers posted an amusing post...

...and, on a more serious note... as a sort of footnote to my previous post on newbies... I was directed to a very good blog by Pussycat Catnap where she has really taken time out to go through everything we all need to know about SL, especially if you are new, and/or new to the Dreadful viewer too.

On the subject of "What is Second Life?" this has to be a very thorough answer to people who have never heard of it before.

My favourite art that I have seen this last while has been Scotti's show of his work, and I have no idea if it is still showing, or any record of where I saw it... just really nice images of his RL work...

I do know its called Stick in the Mud.... maybe some person with a memory will post details in the comments....

...and, as a follow on from my last post...UWA has 44 machinima

Oh, and check out Lem Skall's photos of Tree of Trees up at the top right here.....

Time to go building...


Sunday, 19 September 2010

the Viewer Screwer

I have been called uneducated and opinionated this week by a Twit, not a mile from the truth, while the Linden Destination Guide calls me a Celebrated Artist. Do I have to wear candles on my head, and can 1st April be soror Nishi Day, or is it booked already by the Public Relations department?

In a move that defies all description Linden Labs moved this week to nobble all Third Party Viewer competition...

Cockup Linden : Grrrrr
Blunder Linden : Whats up mate?
Cockup Linden : They’ve all loaded Phoenix and Imprudence.
Blunder Linden : Guess we shouldn’t have given them the code.
Cockup Linden : Doh!!
BS Linden : Tell em the code is illegal and its dishonest of em to use it.
Cockup Linden : Can we do that?
Blunder Linden : We can do anything.
BS Linden : Then we can ban all the other viewers.
Cockup Linden : Then they’ll have to use Viewer 2, the ungrateful buggers.
Blunder Linden : Brilliant !!
Cockup Linden : BS, you should be promoted for that.
BS Linden : Aww...thanks guys, I do my best.

Now, even if they were forced into it by others for legal reasons, no-one is gonna believe that it isn’t a mean-spirited move to mess up the competition.

Full details are available on Tateru Nino’s (always informative) blog here.

As far as digging a hole goes, this one is not only bad, it is totally disasterous. Calling, or implying dishonesty on the part of Third Party Viewer developers is totally uncalled for, and the backlash will be intense.

To deal this sort of a blow to your own credibility when Linden Love is at an all time low is staggering.

If you have a product that you want to be widely accepted, surely the best thing is to develop it to such a degree that the competition can’t touch it. Nobbling your competitors is only acceptable if no-one finds out about it, which in these days of blogging is very unlikely.

Professing innocence, which the Lab could yet do, will not wash as the credibility gap is currently huge and about to widen.

It has to rate as the worst move ever, even in a year of bad moves.

15000 people in wonder.


Saturday, 18 September 2010

UWA vote.

Now, I have to admit to not fully registering the details when I was first told about them, being occupied with other stuff... but I think I've got them all right now....

Basically there are prizes which will be awarded on the 10th of October for Overall Winners of the UWA Challenges.

There will be a guest speaker...

"UWA is honoured that the legendary Lumiere Noir, creator of the Ivory Tower Library of Primitives, has agreed to be Guest Speaker of Honour at the Grand Finale Ceremony of the UWA 3D Art & Design Challenge & MachinimUWA II: Art of the Artists, at the 200seater UWA-BOSL Amphitheatre, from 6am slt, Sunday, 10th October."

so...what has this to do with you...? well...there are three peoples awards which you can vote for... you have 6 votes.

"Grand Final People's Choice:
The public can help choose the People's Choice awards in all the categories via the People's Choice Vote boards.

Where to vote:
Panel judges are supplying their votes directly to Jayjay Zifanwe during September. However, the public can vote via the UWA 3D A&D Imagine & Flagship Grand Final People's Choice boards which will be open from 8th September to 30 September 2010 and are sited on the UWA Winthrop Winners' Platform

The People Choice Awards are sponsored by Bohemian Ghost (Summerland Estates) and by the Residents of Artemesia.

People's Choice (IMAGINE & FLAGSHIP)
1st Prize - L$15,000
2nd Prize - L$7,000
3rd Pize - L$5,000

People's Choice (Non-Scripted)
1st Prize - L$8,000
2nd Prize - L$5,000
3rd Pize - L$3,000

How To Vote:
Pick up a TP HUD from the dispensor at the landing point on UWA Winthrop Winners' Platform.
Wear the HUD, visit all 4 floors of the Imagine entries and TP using the HUD to the 23 Flagship builds. Return to the Winners' Platform to cast your votes on the boards there.

How to use the vote boards:
1. You can choose only TWO items on EACH of the 3 vote boards.
2. Only ONE VOTE PER ITEM on the board (you cannot give one item more than one vote).
3. Touch the item for which you would like to vote. The board will tell you alone in chat and in a confirmation menu which item it is you are voting for.
4. Click YES if it is the correct item, or NO if you wish to change your mind/have touched the wrong item.
5. You have 60 seconds to respond before the confirmation menu times out.
6. The board will confirm in chat which item you have voted for and how many votes you have cast. As you get the chance to confirm or decline a vote no discussion of "misplaced votes" will be entered into.
6. You can vote only for a maximum of 2 items per vote board."

You have to pick up a HUD to see all the stuff and that HUD is available here.

Now, in addition to this there are also a good number of machinima (16?) which have already been submitted for the prize for the machinima showing all the winning works... some are very amusing, like the Great Art Theft, ("Thieves Break into UWA Gallery")...I and II....

This one by Laslopantomik Yao, the others all available on the UWAinSL website.... here...



PIA KLAAR - Art of the Artists: A Closer Look

ED VESPUCCIANO - Lessons in Democracy

LAURINA HAWKS - UWA Art of the Artists : No Tomb for the Arts

GLASZ DE CUIR - MachinimUWA II: Art Theft done in Second Life


TUTSY NAVARATHNA - An Art Form is Born & Gladiator

MISSY RESTLESS - Yearning for the Sea & Quantum Matrix



BRYN OH - Art of the Artists

MEGAN MERLIN - Wichtels Fantasy Fly

FAKE JEWELL - Song of Medusa

PENUMBRA CARTER - University of Western Australia

AIDAN WITRIAL - MachinimUWA II : Art of the Artists & Shibas Dream


NICOLEX MOONWALL - Silken Vortex, Frames & Balloons

KAFKA MOODY - Aphrodite Visits


So, get along to see it all, it is a representative group of some of the best work in SL over the last year, and of interest to artists builders and anyone really...


Friday, 17 September 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

I had a rather uncomfortable experience yesterday, I let someone down.

The issue is the new user experience and the title taken from a comment by Yordie Sands on Botgirl's post, a second posting on the issue mentioned above.

It started a couple of days ago with Nightflower (aka Nightfire...:))) posting a blog on NWN about making new users belong by joining them to a group or clan like other games do.

Botgirl made a video showing her 'new user'

My experience happened last night at my IBM build where I was sitting playing Hostess With The Mostest as the visitors popped in, spurred mainly by Wizzy cracking the Destination Guide forms and getting me listed.
So, someone said, "where is the quest?"
Other: yes
Me: which quest is that then?
Other: The Quest.
By now the mythical nature of this convo got me to check out their profile, leaving my other IM's flashing. It was a fresh, very fresh noob.
Me: Ah, you have just arrived?
Noob: Yes, how do I get back to where I started?
Me: What was it called?
Noob: It was a big building with lots of windows.
Pause ... as I am actually stumped for what to say, brain in overdrive (it is probably over a year since I 'mentored' a totally fresh noob.
Noob: Never mind I have to go, thanks for talking to me.. [noob poofs]

Now, it is due to the Kindness of Strangers that I and many others are here.... and here I let someone down, quite simply because I was totally unprepared and didn't think on my feet fast enough.

Yesterday is a good example of how good people are generally, both Gianna Borgnine and Indigo Mertel taking the time to teach the slow girl at the back of the room (and benefitting the other 150 people in class) for no other reason than the desire to help people understand. So it has always been, and always will be, I think.

Anyway, now that the Mentors have gone, and you and I can be called upon at any time to fill that role, I was wondering what is the first thing I would say to a Noob. Bearing in mind they may not have mastered Chat even, should I give a Notecard?

I decided that the first thing I should have done was to offer friendship and then teach them to take a landmark (Could I do that, not having used Viewer 2.0?), so that even if they got lost they could speak to someone and find their way back to somewhere they had been.

But I figured that, maybe we could get a few ideas together....

What do you/would you do?

..and how can we get the Mentors back?

Can anyone get a Linden's ear?

Are all lines of communication with the Lindens now cut in their new One-Way transparency drive?



Thursday, 16 September 2010

Mystified Musings on Madame Mesh.

This is Madam Mesh, she’s a part of the recent announcement of an announcement which the Lab has issued to take your minds off the fact that things are falling apart currently (see previous post).

Now, as in 2008, when flexible prims were a faint possibility, I would certainly welcome mesh imports to Second Life, but I am not quite euphoric as some of my fellow bloggers for a number of reasons.

I am not worried about competition, pirated stuff, any of those things, I am simply wary.

I am mystified by a number of things (nothing new there then), the first being why, as a presentation, Madam Mesh is rolled out (the bug-eyed monsters I welcome with open arms).

She will never take off in SL, she is a dodo, extinct before she starts.

She can’t change her underwear, take her clothes off or change shape or size before she is re-Blendered. If you buy her from a creator, that creator will have to sell you a new sculpt map, worse than that from what I understand, 5 maps, before she can change shape or size.

" Each mesh will consist of five component meshes: four for different Levels Of Detail and one for collisions (for Havok).
Levels of detail will be needed for each object, as they cannot be generated on the fly (as they are with sculpted prims). This means modelers will need to create four versions of the same object. Starting with the most detailed version of the asset, each decrement will need to consist of around a 50% less polygons than the previous level. These levels of detail can technically be generated by the Second Life client’s mesh import tools, but this takes exact control out of the hands of the user.” [From the blog post by Sand castle Studios, as are all the subsequent quotes.]

Maya is a very expensive piece of software and I don’t expect these things to be cheap.

OK, and the next thing that mystifies me is they really think any female in SL is gonna wear hair that looks like its been carved out of concrete?? I mean.... haven’t they heard of conditioner?

Our avatars are already mesh imports ..why present Madame Mesh as an example of the wonders of mesh? Any single one of my friends dresses better than that.

...and, Boys, don’t talk to me about ARC (avatar rendering cost), I am not dressing down for anyone. I pay my Membership ... you sort out the servers, don’t ask me to look crap so you have an easier life....

Madam Mesh is an avatar from another game, she doesn’t belong here, and will never sell, why drag her out now?

I have more than one question about textures too. Texturing a mesh, which can be as big as 25x15x30, is that supposed to be done with a 1024x1024? it will look crap. Imagine an texturing an octopus.... This will do nothing to increase the resolution of SL unless they allow 2048x2048 on meshes...

" Meshes will need specifically made textures." ... that means none of the textures currently in world, in our inventories, will be of any use at all.... and from what I currently know about texturing in Blender it’s bloody complicated. on ...prim cost..

" Like other in-world objects, mesh objects will have an associated prim cost.  The prim count of mesh objects is determined by the file size of the highest level of detail, or the physics cost, whichever is higher.
As it stands, the mesh economy is governed by virtual prim count associated with each mesh object. This prim count is based on the storage (memory) size of a given object, a rough translation being the higher amount of polygons an object consists of, the greater its prim count will be. However, other aspects of a mesh object can also play a role in its associated storage size, such as smooth versus hard-edged normals. There is a hard limit of ~60k polygons per mesh object, although such an object would cost a great deal of prims."

So... if you thought one mesh = one prim, you are wrong. one mesh=X prims, X being a number the Lab will decide.

Now, I have seen written countless times that mesh imports are gonna reduce lag. The argument goes like this.... one mesh replaces many prims, therefore, less prims = less lag. This argument exactly is the one that is rejected when applied to megas.... one 30x30x1 mega prim = 9 standard prims. So...why is this argument being rolled out now??

Linden Lab get paid, by tier owners, per prim.
One mega costs one prim, therefore the Tier Payer saves money (prims) the Lab loses.
One mesh costs X prims, therefore the Lab gains, Tier Payer loses.

...and...if a mesh object can be up to 60k tell me again how that is gonna reduce lag....

So...only time will tell, firstly if they can solve the texturing problem, how expensive they are, and how much lag they make... and secondly if it's a good enough reason for people to use the Infuriating viewer. The other viewers will not be able to import em, as far as I understand.

... oh and thirdly, if it actually ever happens....

Will it be a Mass Mesh Mash-up?


Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Textures won’t load?

If, like me, you have experienced a wobble in the Force recently with the basic functions of SL not functioning properly then you would be feeling exactly like Juanita in her recent post.... confused and frustrated.

Now... I got this message for 3 days...

“.......The server is experiencing difficulties... uploading texture...xxxxxxxxx...please try again later.”.. well, something similar.

The implication in this message is “ the server has a life as hard as a wing-mirror spider and you are just overloading a poor unfortunate creature through your unceasing demands, please show some restraint.”

Anthropomorphism is a great word, however, we know that the server experiences nothing. It doesn’t know a difficulty from a fish cake. It only “experiences” either a 1 or an 0.

So, the truth of two things...

“We have sacked so many people we can no longer provide basic services”


“Our machinery is so old and borked we can’t coax them into working properly anymore.”

Were I permitted to reply to the person who sends out this message, I would say...

“I am totally disinterested in your feeble excuses, do your job or I will take my custom elsewhere.”

The Lindens have, however, issued two pieces of “good news” to take your minds off this collapse of basic facilities, namely the news about Display Names and the news about Mesh.

So...don’t worry about the present, just think how good The Future is gonna be.

...and bear a thought for those poor noobs who have had their first experience of SL over the last 3 or 4 days.



Monday, 13 September 2010

Bloggishness... the name of a new viewer, I just thought it had been a while since I had written some tosh. Not wanting my poor reader to suffer withdrawal symptoms, I thought to rectify the deficit with the further ramblings of a demented soul....

Well, firstly, to catch up on my own press... I have to mention some very kind words by Lalo, Chestnut and thanks to Brinda for the links and the many friends who twittered.

I need also to mention Loquacia Loon and Chimera Lemon among many others who have taken some great shots of Tree of Trees.

Moving on..... I could rant a little about LL's Destination Guide and how once again we are required to do their work for them because they are too demented to do it themselves, but, I won't even mention it.

Instead I'd like to point you at Tateru Nino who writes a very good blog, and this one in response to the ongoing nauseous Fast Easy Fun mantra of the esteemed leader of this weird sect of ours who suggests that SL should be like the iPhone... very funny and true...

..".Safety-scissors and glitter are all very well for some people and will do everything that they ever want to do (so long as it’s sparkly and gets all over the carpet). Give me some power-tools, and lock up your grandkids, because I want to do more, even if I have to read a bunch of books, experiment for weeks, cuss at the screen and feel like I’m not making any progress. Because that’s what usually happens when we’re trying to learn something completely new, yes?".... exactly, I could not have put it half as clearly.

Now this particular idea, that it has to be easy so more people will stay, is such patent crap. In 2 years FarmVille will have been forgotten, like Friends Reunited and Avatars United, fax machines and punch-card operators, what we need is an INCREASE in technology. I can get a new graphics card if its worth it, and if I don't know how to fit one, I will learn.

There is no point in SL reverting to a handwritten letter exchange penned with quill and ink just because it is easy. "Safety sissors and glitter" says it all.

The degree to which the Boys are "listening" to us "residents" (god , I cringe every time I write that word... I don't live in SL, I don't own anything in SL, I simply rent server services.... I'm a client.)...anyway... if they are "listening" they will notice how many people are now getting worried about Display Names, and they will drop the whole idea. The "community" (cringe factor 9) is not prepared to take the risk, period. Alex has written three posts on the subject, starting here.

....and the Viewer saga rambles on, everyone asking everyone which viewer to use and the elephant in the room, the unasked question is..."why, oh why, oh why did the Boys release a viewer which needs at least another 6 months development before it is even remotely usable" ... it has done more to depress the new-user experience than any griefer freenis attack could ever do.

Anyway, to move on to more pleasant subjects... Botgirl, and Nightflower (and possibly Nightfire) are working on a great new video/machinima ...teasing taster here. That is yet another blog I will be following...('s a busy thing this blogosphere)...

Miso kinda got forgotten in my annoyance over Crap Speaking (not an avi) at the Pop Art lab opening. In fact there is a wealth of stuff there and Miso's particular build is layer upon layer of meaning and symbolism relating to our 'place' in the scheme of things, digitally and genetically. She has taken time to explain her thoughts in her blog, and, its a guide, really, to her build..... here.

In InWorldz news...well.. on the positive side, BoHo HoBo Fashions, courtesy of Trill have arrived, her new shop is at West Artlandia 62/237/22. So you don't have to look like a hooker or your mother anymore... it's all good.

...anyway, I'm bored writing this now, I want to get inworld and you are probably bored reading the next thrilling instalment of the great soap opera we call .... hmmmm


Sunday, 12 September 2010

soror Nishi's Tree of Trees

Well, for those of you who haven't flown through the particles, mushrooms and's a little taster...


Enjoy... a nice Sunday experience.


Opening night at IBM

Tasty Hax was the first to take the decks and spin a really great set. Laid back, sweet and tuneful there were people dancing all over the sim.

...and the actually DJ desk she rezzed looked like it had been made to fit

DoubleDown Tandino took over and played some stunning good music...and a 100 people came and went in the course of the first 2 hours...

Luckily ColeMarie Soleil came and played the first tracks from her new album which was great as the Born Again Pagans couldn't show... maybe RL probs..

The great thing was the people there...we had a good laugh and there was some witty chat...all cool.

Cole kept us all on our toes with some was excellent...

Got to bed late, over 120 visitors later.. one of the best parties I've been to for ages....well, I would say that wouldn't I..


Magoo Soror dreaming

Magoo Soror dreaming, originally uploaded by kumi kuhr.

Wow, I have only just discovered this piece of history. It's from Magoo and the Temple of the Prim which I did last year. Kumi Kuhr is the photographer and I love the opening photos particularly...

Thanks Kumi...

This is the link to Kumi's sets on Flickr



Saturday, 11 September 2010

IBM, homology and Goethe.

There’s a thing about nature that I have been trying to express these last three years that is intrinsic to the way nature works.

Nature is economical. It takes matter and sculpts it in the most efficient manner to suit its ends.

Johann Wolfgang Goethe wrote a book in 1790 called The Metamorphosis of Plants, in it he points out how a stem is basically a transformed leaf, as is a petal, as is a root. The basic unit of the plant is simply metamorphosed into different ‘organs’ by, as we now know, a fairly mathematical process of the changing shape and nature of the unit cell.

This process is almost identical to the one I use in Blender. I can only do one thing in Blender, namely change the distance between vertices.

In plants this is called homology and has a lot to do with why my plants in SL look as they do. All my plants have evolved in this manner from a single group of vertices in a Blender file: this is Virtual Homology.

The prim as Increatum was very much the basis of my build at Magoo last year and this subject of homology has been in my mind a lot as I have been building IBM. press release is less philosophical...

"Tree of Trees

This build is an attempt to condense my last three years work in Second Life into an experience which demonstrates my vision of landscaping in virtual worlds.

All 11k prims are sculpties I have made in Blender and coloured with textures which started life as paintings.

I think of myself more as a landscape artist but had to first make the plants and other pieces as there were no satisfactory elements in SL for me to use.

I am very grateful to IBM for their generosity and particularly to Tezcatlipoca Bisiani for making this such an easy thing to arrange."

Avatar Architexture.. around 300 meters I have rezzed a little home. It is a sample of the type of building I would imagine avatars inhabiting rather than poor copies of RL houses. My reasons for the general dislike I have of current SL architecture I have given voice to previously.

Look forward to seeing you there...


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Tree of Trees

Well...just wanted to clarify....

...about Saturday 11th... and Tree of Trees at IBM..

Tasty Hax will be the first DJ to open at noon SLT
...thanks to her for filling a gap while DoubleDown Tandino has a chance to get some lunch before ...

DD Tandino will play from 1pm til 2pm...and then time for me to get some supper before....

The Born Again Pagans will play live at 3 pm SLT.

OK...let's hope that's the final line-up..:)))

In other me, me, me news... a very nice article by Thirza Ember..
Arbor virtualis: trees of soror Nishi.
Thirza also did a great post about Aliz.

Other gossip is that Eshi Otawara has been banned "it's all my own fault"... no more details as yet...

...and Philip says very little in a recent interview ..We're really regarding the situation as serious," Rosedale said. "We've got a lot more work to do." bla bla bla...

...and the Hair Fair gets a lot of criticism, not by me this time...tho it sounds

...and as emerald becomes illegal... a new Viewer....god...I think a post is brewing... this one is a tuna-based one called Dolphin, still, not as badly named as Phoenix (cringe)... I think its by the Cool Viewer guy, but really I have no idea, I just can't keep up.....and I'm not the only one.

Amazingly 25% of people that read NWN use the Infuriating Viewer (2.0) .....

oh well, no accounting for taste.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

InWorldz welcomes big name stores.

Fanciful Muse is pissed off...just wait til she reads this.

Fanciful Muse has decided what sort of an InWorldz she wants. It’s one of peace, love, harmony and dodgy freebies.

She has decided that people who make money are the devil in disguise and certainly doesn’t want them setting up shop in her grid. Worse....she is not alone...

Ever Astounded is absolutely right to rant, she and I have at least some common sense, which is more than can be said for various commentators on the InWorldz forum...more snivelling, tight assed fools.

In ANY WORLD there are expensive goods and cheap crap...that is the consumer society, and, if you wanna eat junk you can buy your food cheaper than anyone else... you want a crap computer...go buy a cheap one...just don’t set down some ground rules for a whole grid.

To think that your cheap spending habits should be applied across a whole grid is plain daft, and I would not waste virtual ink, normally, except I would hate people to think you represented anything but a tiny demented hippy minority.

Grow up.


Tree of Trees

We all know that the tree has been a meeting place, a landmark, shelter and a source of warmth (firewood) and food (fruit) for a very long time and, globally.

It is no real surprise then to read.... “the commonest associations to it’s meaning are growth, life, unfolding of form in a physical and spiritual sense, development, growth from below upwards and from above downwards, the maternal aspect (protection, shade, shelter, nourishing fruits, source of life, solidity, permanence, firm-rootedness, but also being “rooted to the spot”), old age,personality, and finally death and rebirth.” [CGJung].

It was a symbol taken up in many an alchemical treatise to signify the development of The Work, the Opus, and was often called The Philosophical Tree as the gold (goal) was called The Philosophical Gold. It was said to grow out of the salt water with a golden trunk and seven branches with the sun and moon as fruit.

There are not many cultures who do not have a tree included either in a creation myth or a significant fairy story for, presumably, the tree was our first home or shelter. Even in places where no tree grows naturally, their imagery is included in myth.

“In so far as the tree symbolizes the Opus and the transformation process “tam ethice quam physice” (both morally and physically), it also signifies the life process in general. It’s identity with Mercurius, the spiritus vegetativus, confirms this view. Since the Opus is a life, death, and rebirth mystery, the tree as well acquires this significance and in addition the quality of wisdom...” [CGJung].

Well, this is just some philosophical background into why I have called my build at IBM Tree of Trees. Add to that my feeling for trees, in general, and it’s not so hard to see why I have spent three years trying to improve the basic bio-diversity of the very dodgy flora I first encountered when I came to SL.

I think my build at IBM is a sort of milestone, it says, well, this is how far I’ve got so far.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I have building it.


Sunday, 5 September 2010

A week of stuff

As many of you don't have the time to trawl thro the blogosphere turning over the digital flotsam and jetsam, I am happy to give a few links to my little cache of goodies and baddies...

The biggest story of the week continues to be the viewer thingy, and I won't even write the E word anymore, so bored am I with the whole saga.

Now, what you call your product is of vital importance and Phoenix is such a corny name, I doubt seriously that I could ever download it onto my computer as the Good Taste Police might get me for violations of aesthetic decency.. and, if you think that position is rather extreme...let me say the Z at the end of InWorldz still worries me...

Anyway, Imprudence has a new trial viewer with some added bits... environmental editor settings can be saved as a notecard (thanks to Kirsten for that feature which we hope will be rolled out to all viewers a.s.a.p.), Google translation, and the ability to load a texture directly from hard drive to prim....not sure what that actually means as I wasn't able to test it, no Mac version being available as yet.

Now, while a lot of emotional stuff has been written on viewers, I love this sort of approach by JayR Cela, The SecondLife Technologist, who has actually taken time out to test 3 viewers and compare them... also note his final paragraph...

"The UI of all 3 of these viewers is absolutely horrible, In all my days of working with computers, since 1984 and the first GUI's. I have never encountered, a more poorly designed, ill concieved, worst implemented, user unfriendly human to computer interface to date! "

Dusan Writer had a lengthy interview with Esbee Linden about SnowStorm... "But things have changed a lot. First, we’ve clearly defined a product owner, which is myself. "...hmmm... owning a pile of shit doesn't change it into a rose bed...

Much weight and lots of words are used in this interview, transparency, transparency, transparency... but the overall feeling I get from this is that it will be AGES before this viewer is usable or acceptable as the Viewer of Choice. Don't hold your breath...

Leaving the Viewer Thing behind... Lab News is that a new Linden has been employed and she's a vet. Now, not apparently of the Animal Nursing kind, nor of the Army... so why the hell call her a vet? I'm a vet, you are a vet, everyone is a vet...stupid use of the english language.
Anyway, Kim Slazer says her specialities are..."Brand Strategy, Digital Marketing (CRM, social media, SEO/SEM), Consumer Insights, Product Management, Advertising, Global Marketing, Pricing Strategy, Promotions, Licensing, P&L Ownership, Packaging", then... just as well as she's VP of Marketing.

She's been working for gaming companies, apparently, ..full Lab announcement here... now while I have said several times that the Boys should sack whoever is in charge of PR.. and marketing is the same (all Dealers of BS), it seems there hasn't sack.. So..good idea to try and run a company with no-one in charge of marketing...
"Q: What are your goals for your new position as VP Marketing at Linden Lab?

A: What I really want to do here is help the Lab figure out what the “X Factor” is going to be for Second Life. When I was working on games, I always tried to choose a single idea to focus on and bring out, an X Factor that helped people get into the game and helped them discover all the rest of the possibilities there. If I can help bring that kind of focus to Second Life, I’ll be happy about how I’m doing my job."

That should be interesting, like the Boys deciding to sell SL to the business world...that went well..

But, no doubt they are thinking a bit more like this... article about virtual worlds and how many billion dollars could be earned... *sigh*...

"SL provides so many great tools to enhance and bring out that creativity, I’m really looking forward to helping foster that as we move into the next phase of the platform’s growth"...* groan*

I have this problem.... I had it last night too at the opening of the Pop Art Lab.. when people stand up and say stuff....(it's always worse on voice too).. and it's difficult for me to express just how painful it is to hear people talking crap. Crap isn't the right word, in fact I love nonsense, but when people, artists, presenters, stand up and start telling you how creative SL is and how amazing it is and how much artistic freedom there is and start using words they don't understand like immersion and interaction and how its been an amazing journey......I just want to scream in pain...

Now, it's not Kim's fault, any more than it was the fault of anyone last night. People expect to see others open their mouths and no word of any importance comes out...."I’m excited about the prospect of helping to build a product that really empowers people to express what they’re about, and that can make a real difference in their lives. I think we’ve only just started to see what can be done here, and I can’t wait to see where we and our Residents can take things from here."

Nothing!! ...and the painful thing is that it is the norm....I am the weirdo... I expect something of interest to be said, or amusing, or ANYTHING...but Inane Newspeak. I'd rather know Kim's favourite film than read this junk. ..grrrrr...

Moving on swiftly from this uncalled-for rant....

We have been waiting, patiently for THIS>>>>

......hehehhehe..... wonderful.

In other news....InWorldz passes the 500 sim mark... 1200 residents.. and Elenia has started her own blog.... which is like one of the Lindens blogging...THAT is 'transparency'.

...and as IWz grows from 250 to 500 sims since July, so SL has lost 500 sims... people are voting with their wallets.

As far as tomorrow (Sunday 5th) is concerned...UWA has its final award day so...pop over and see (even tho I can't thanks to my ISP). Its at 5...and they have raised another 33000L$ in prize money....details here.

...and...on a personal note...I will be opening my sim at IBM on Saturday 11th September at 12 noon, when DoubleDown Tandino will play (the best DJ on the grid) be followed at 3PM by the Born Again Pagans (most chilled-out band on the grid)... mark that date in your diary.

Initial reactions from a few people is that is rather good. I'm calling it "Tree of Trees" and it's sort of an 11,000 prim tree.


[footnote:.. my ISP has been down, no I rang the status line: they told me my broadband was down (thx) but that their engineers were working hard to rectify the situation and they would update the status when the problem had been solved. Now, firstly I doubt the degree of hard work anyone is gonna put in on a Sunday and secondly no-one is gonna be interested in the status once the problem is solved.....the message then suggested.."Visit our website at for more information"... what a great idea.]

Thursday, 2 September 2010

At Home at IBM

I've been chilling out at IBM after pulling out my prim hair earlier... I'm now feeling quite at home.

Started arranging some music for the opening which will be saturday week, the 11th September...

Details will of course follow in profusion..

....bed before I drop...



UWA ...the last Imagine....

It used to be possible to pop over to UWA to vote for the 'best in show' and be back home in 20 minutes....these days, however, it's a block of time (very well spent) that you have to allocate to view some of the best stuff you are likely to come across all on the same sim.

Apart from beautiful pieces whose style immediately tells you the creator, there are new works by people you/I never heard of before. It's a well spent hour (plus) followed by an impossible decision to pick out three you like most. Great fun.

Now...yummm... how could I not fall for this great tree by Zola Zsun? Absolutely how trees should be made in SL according to my opinion, of course. Great prims and exotic textures... excellent.. I thought it was Pixi's.

Snowy Hobinoo's piece was recognisable a mile off, that's how strong his style is. Better and better prims and better textures too. Love it.

FreeWee Ling always amuses. Here she's made me into a Tarot card... well up to her high standards. This is interactive art that gives a reward, not just an inane click..

Wooo..."Satirical Polemicist", thats quite a title, by Eliza Wierwight, a skilled builder who has shown stuff here before. I really loved the spinning plates and being turned into a music box girl.. quality stuff..

Betty Tureaud has some shuffling commuters on a tube station which had me watching their scripted dance for a longer while...

...and I love a bit of more classic sculpture like this great piece by Penelope Parx, 'resistance NOT futile', great..... great name too...

... and Miso Susanowa, again, classic and well composed....with a touch of humour of's called Prim Charmer.

Now, I have often neglected more '2D' ish art... with very few exceptions they would look better in RL galleries where the poor resolution we live with could be overcome.

HOWEVER, there are more and more exceptions to this as artists use tools not available in RL on their wall art (apart from Anim Smooth)...such as this piece (above) by Sledge Roffo which I really moves so you have to go see it. It's called Strokes.

Similarly this excellent one by PinkPink Sorbet. Things don't have to be amazingly complicated to succeed. This one works well... not for the visually sensitive tho..

....and Alizarin Goldflake's Quarry Hill gets a new twist with the passing of time factored in to her work... simple but v effective. No one draws this well, well, except Aliz, of course.

So...I could continue till my little figures fall off...

There are far too many to mention them all....

Ninka Darkstone's animated dragon stands facing mine.... wonderful.

Kittibee Babii does things with particles that make me green.

Lea Supermarine ... just wonderful..

Nish Mip goes from strength to strength...

and so it continues... some of the best I haven't even'll just have to go see for yourselves.

A word has to be said tho about UWA, and I know I've said it before, but...that won't stop me... In just one year, 12 months, UWA has done more to support artists in SL than the Boys have done in 6/7 years. No wonder it has become the Best Show on the Grid.

Quadrapop and JayJay have worked at this, hard..

..with a smile..

thanks from us all.


Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Emerald Death or Murder............?

Now, everyone loves a conspiracy theory...... so here goes...

Watching Poirot, rather than a reality show with Stupid People, has shown me that after a murder the person with the motive is the person who did it......even if it looks like suicide...

So... let’s look at the facts my little garlic eating friends...

1) ”Don't waste everyones time suggesting that we throw away Viewer 2, or that we revert the UI to Viewer 1. It is absolutely not going to happen, and any suggestion to that effect will be ignored.” [Oz Linden.]. 

2) Dusan Writer had the view that a lot of new stuff planned for SL is dependent on the adoption of viewer 2.0, in an earlier post he says..
“Because the new Viewer was the spring board for a whole bunch of other things:
-The integration of Web-based content into the world, through Grid-wide access to Second Life Shared Media

- The integration of Second Life with more open systems for things like groups and identity. The side panel on the new viewer would allow both context-specific help and search and the pulling in of Web-based content and was clearly a precursor to ways in which they might handle social connections, groups and, ugh, search
- A widgetized viewer: M often talked about how eventually the viewer could open up something like an iPhone marketplace. Imagine being able to choose what widgets you want to have in your viewer. No more HUDs, with the ability to “run” things in-world with plug-and-play tools embedded directly into the viewer, downloaded from an extended Second Life Marketplace.

- Increased numbers of users attracted to Second Life because of an improved usability experience.

- With the above in place, a new content ecosystem and the launch of mesh imports. With content creators now able to import mesh, create widgets for the viewer, and maximize use of Shared Media, there would be a whole new range of content that could be created and sold.

- And finally, with the new ecosystem, and the ‘pushing’ of some of the content to the Web (the Marketplace, group and event notice systems, etc.) you’d be able to push THAT content out to the wider Web."

3).... tonight we hear...”Those final two requirements that were given to us by LL, was to have a release out by Friday September the 3rd that would not support emkdu or llkdu even if one of the files was present, and that Lonely Bluebird, Skills Hak and Discrete Dreamscape be removed from the project. The alternative was that LL would block the viewer from access to the SecondLife Grid." ...from Jessica Lyons let’s assume that the Boys are not a bunch of blithering idiots, but shrewd entrepreneurs. Maeve Eiren reminded me a while back that entrepreneurs are like silent and stealthy predators, not risk-takers like people assume, and, seeing how many Dot.Com whizz kids have come and gone, the Boys were pretty good at what they do, having survived for so long.

...If 50% of the SL regulars are/were on Emerald, then Emerald could be a thorn in the side for the Boys... and eerie music...) did they do the dirty by turning a development team into Us and Them by demanding half of em should get the sack??

Divide and conquer...oldest play in the game...

Will the Boys be drinking champagne tonight? I can't see them crying into their beer (excuse me for mixing my drinks metaphors...)

...probably not guilty.......but a bit of fun, well, not for the deceased...


On being a Linden...

If you are a Linden it seems like your name will have some protection under the new Display Names fiasco.

That is the idea, however, as Buckaroo Mu points out in the comments to the announcement that it is being trialled (here)...
"No "inappropriate" names filter is going to work, and for one simple reason. UNICODE. That's over 100,000 different letters designed to display any written letter/character/glyph in use in any language. Many people get a kick out of using Unicode to write text �pısdn u�op. Guess what? It's also REALLY easy to use Unicode to find characters that look exactly like every letter used in the English language (and most others). Who's going to maintain the table that says you can't use "inden" preceeded by any Unicode codepoint that resembles an L?"

This is a very important point. It is impossible to police.

...and WHY are Lindens more important than us plebs? My name is as important as anyone elses.

Barak Obama was online (not) and ....

It seems to me as if I will not be the creator of the objects I created after (if) I change my name.... but, if someone changes their name to soror Nishi they can then change the permissions on my objects... apparently all objects in search and my inventory will have their name changed to my current preference, but objects across the grid....nope...

As Fred Gandt say.... "I could go on and on and on about this but I can't be bothered."

ColeMarie Soleil has been suspended because she was recently reported by a griefer, it will take a week for the Boys to sort this out... lol....they ain't seen nothing yet...this name change possibility is a Griefers Charter.

So bad I hardly know what else to say....

It could be the single worst "improvement" so far...