Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What We Got Here Is...

...the inspiration of Luke as an RP character. Regardless if more modern or even medieval, whether Luke or Lukas, there's always a bit of Cool Hand Luke in him. ;)


Goodbye Google AdSense!

Was going to just post this on Facebook, but turned into a bit bigger rant than expected. So here's the reason I cancelled my Google AdSense account:

Upon doing a bit of research after getting yet another "Get $100 free ad credit" offer code card from Google Adsense, I decided to cancel my Adsense account and de-monetize my YouTube videos.  Never mind that the catch is that you have to spend $25.00 to use the code on the card, thus rendering the credits actually being $25.00 of real money for $100.00 of ad credit, and thus effectively paying Google for the privilege to spam your website and videos with Adsense ads. Quite simply, after having Adsense for a couple years, it's only generated $0.99, of which even that I couldn't receive because it's below the threshold that they would pay out to a canceled account.  That basically amounted to about 2 or 3 years that Google has gotten who knows how many hundreds of thousands of free ads posted that may have attributed in some way to Google's potential $2.3 billion earned (or $9.7 billion annualized) that amounts to 28% of Google's total revenue through Google AdSense (see the Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AdSense).

So yep, I'm not going to spam people on my blog or on my YouTube feed with ads in so-called monetization that does very little to actually provide what is promised.  Especially troubling is that there are stories about how Google had disabled Adsense accounts before they had to pay out those accounts that finally made it to $100.00.  Many of these people had waited out months, even years, to generate this amount of money after allowing the spamming of hundreds of thousands of ads on their websites or blogs.  And what it their reward?  To have Google accuse them of fraud, claiming in an email that, after review, these accounts had certain questionable activities, but never specifies exactly what.  Sure, there is a process of appeal, but a good portion of those people that try get stonewalled.  It would seem Google banks on them figuring it too much a bother to take legal action upon Google for this scam. The legal fees alone would cost more than the actual money that would be fought for.  What fairness would there be to support this sort of thing or expect that I would be an exception to the rule?  Therefore, Google can scam its billions of dollars through the program without me.

As for evidence of this scam, you don't have to take my word that it goes on.  Not only can you check the Wiki link provided, but you can, in all irony, Google it!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tolkien: Where's The Hook In Lord Of The Rings?

I write this partly in argument with regards to the standard formula that many people tell you must be done to write a good book.  In particular, there is always in one writing group I try to get to as often as possible, when the question is always asked, "Where's the hook?"

Depending on what writing school of thought you come from, the narrative hook is among the top things that perceived important to get to in the writing of a book. First or second to that is the initial exposition. Some also seem to confuse or infuse the two.  But the main aspect of the narrative hook is something that sets up the main conflict of a story. It's supposed to be the crucial purpose that gives the reader a legitimate emotional reason to continue reading. This hook can be a paragraph long, or simply a sentence in length.  It is expected to, come some time withing the first chapter, and some debate that it should be the first sentence.

So let's look at Tolkien's first line of chapter 1 of The Fellowship Of The Ring:

"When Mr. Bildo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement  in Hobbiton."

Is this a hook?  No, though it is a bit of exposition in a rather run on sort of sentence.  Some would even call it passive, and it is highly descriptive.  It sets up the scene for what much of the chapter is to be about, which is the party that Bilbo Baggins is about to throw.  But it certainly does not hook a reader into any conflict  per se.  Nor do I know what legitimat emotion reason is had there for continuing to read on other than the curiosity of what this party will be like, and what may happen at it.  

The next paragraph continues in exposition of who Bilbo Baggins is, and what is the nature of his place in the society of the hobbits.  By the fourth paragraph, we are introduced to Frodo and his relation to Bilbo. The fifth paragraph furthers exposition by giving some relevance to Bilbo's age of 111 and Frodo's at 33.  It isn't until the last page and a half that you get to something of a hook. That is, the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo about the ring and Frodo's desire to go off on his own adventure.  This hook isn't neatly packaged in a single sentence or paragraph, but flows out as the events to lead on to what's to come. But a concise hook, it is not.

However, do readers of The Lord Of The Rings even care about this?  No. Why? Because the book isn't driven by the same sort of cookie cutter character progression that more modern writing has made essentially standard.  The idea is not to limit the story to the formula, but to drive it with descriptive scenic writing that give a reader the sense of 'being there' - that is, to be immersive into the world, and not getting so engrossed into the characters and the icon of persona.  Naturally, people will gravitate towards Frodo's main story as the main protagonist, but, there is also intrigue in the other characters, races, and their homes and how they live that go beyond the cult of personality that is so ingrained in our modern authorship.  

Formula should help set up the road, not drive in the roadblocks to a story.  Tolkien is a great example of how you can use formula, but also follow in the instinct of storytelling as well. 

That's not to say that the whole putting of exposition and hook in same first sentence ought never be done and doesn't work.  It has for thousands of years, such as in the Illiad's  first two verses:

μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί᾽ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε᾽ ἔθηκε

Which transliterates:

menin aeide thea Peleiadeo Achileos
oulomenen, he mnoi Achaiois alege etheke

Which translates:

Wrath, chant goddess, of Peleian-son Achilles, 
accursed of countless Achaeans' suffering sown.  

Just remember that you don't have to go straight to action and talking about tragedy, killing, and death to attract the reader's attention.  And sometimes subtleties work better than a direct approach.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

JC Compositions hits 30 videos!

My Compositions playlist is now up to 30 videos. That means, in the past year, I've uploaded 30 of my original musical pieces to share with family, friends, and whoever just happens to stumble upon them and may like them. So, go ahead, have a listen! ;)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Haven Your Wworld - Old England Building Contest

Here is the contest entry board.  It gives you a folder with
notecards for information, and landmarks to check out.

To kick off the summer events, Haven Your World is having a building contest for the next two weeks, from June 7th -June 21st. Here is the information as follows:

Haven Your World
Hompage - havenyourworld.com/
URI -http://grid.havenyourworld.com:8002
Contact: Cheryl Haven

Building contest with an Old England theme.

1st Place - A Home region for 6 months with 2000 prim allowence. (details of the regions can be found at havenyourworld.com/index.php/own-land) and your build featured on the new welcome region.

2nd Place - A Private region for 6 months with 1000 prim allowence. (details of the regions can be found at havenyourworld.com/index.php/own-land) and your build featured on the new welcome region.

3rd Place - A home plot with 6 months free rent on the Sheffield region or a store plots on Meadowhall (landmarks available in the information packet) and your build featured on the new welcome region.

4th Place - A home plot with 6 months free rent on the Sheffield region or a store plots on Meadowhall (landmarks available in the information packet) and your build featured on the new welcome region.

We may also select other creators to have their builds featured on the new Haven Welcome region.

June 7th to the 21st.

Old England building competition Sandbox, London in Haven Your World.


*Note* You must sign up for Haven Your World, and then sign into the Haven Your World grid in order to hop to this location.

Haven Your World is currently looking at creating a new welcome region for new users coming into Haven Your World. We have made a start on this on the region named Welcome. You are free to visit the landmark, which is included in the Old England building contest packet, which you receive a folder for by clicking the above shown sign found on the sim.

This is what the information packet folder looks like.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Don't Like SL's expensive land prices? Try Opensim!

For anyone who's on SL and still continuing to gripe about land prices, here's my humble assessment of what to consider, give OpenSim a try!

You can compare the costs between SL, Virtual Highway, and Haven Your World here:

SL: http://secondlife.com/land/pricing.php
Virtual Highway: http://virtualhighway.us/vhweb/land-purchases/
Haven: http://www.havenyourworld.com/index.php/own-land

Just on full region alone, having all the prims available and all that, the prices compare like this:

SL - US$195/month (15,000 prims)
VH - US$50/month (Commercial w/15,000 prims) - US$75/month (Private w/40,000 prims)
Haven - *US$40/month (City Region w/15,000), *US$50/month (County Region w/20,000 prims), *US$65 (Country Region w/30,000 prims), *US$80 (State Region w/40,000 prims)

For Haven, the * is there because it's calculated from Euro pricing, which fluctuates a little and is rounded to the nearest US$5.

 But yes, pricing does depend per grid, but no OpenSim grid asks for anywhere close to the expensive cost that SL has for a full sim.  And at places like Haven, you could have your own full sized sim, with limited prims (Haven's is 1,000prims) for about as much, maybe less than a 16 oz latte (currently about US$3.25).  That beats out even SL's least expensive tier at US$5/month that only allots you 117 prims and only 1/128th of a sliver of land.  You can find 1/64th plots of land in many Opensim grids for free, with a larger prim allotment than that.  So, hands down, on basic pricing alone and prim allotment alone, you get much more for less on Opensim than you do for similar land options on SL.

So yep, I'd suggest that anyone that is having issues with paying for SL land tiers because they are so expensive should give Opensim a serious look.  And, of course, I'd advise them to check out Haven Your World and Virtual Highway first.  And, for those daring enough, they could even try operating their own grid, which, the software is free, and they would have virtually unlimited land for free to themselves, and can explore what land/prim and pricing allotments they would like if they were to put their own grid online. The main cost to a grid owner depends on servers and how they setup getting their grid to be accessed on the internet. But even there, you could have hundreds of sims to your own allotment for the same price, and often less, than you would have to pay for one full sim on SL.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sorry Phoenix-Firestorm, But You're Fired

That's right, I'm finished using Firestorm.  Phoenix used to be my go to after Emerald folded due to their mismanagement, and I looked forward to seeing what the Phoenix team could do.  And there were some decent things about Phoenix, and I even liked some things about Firestorm. However, since January, I've become increasingly annoyed at their decision to cancel support for the viewer that got them where they are now, and becoming overly obsessed with server side baking - especially how they made themselves sound like the only crew out there among the third party viewers doing it.

Well, I have an answer for that: Singularity 1.8.0.

That's right, Ms. Jessica Lyon, while you and the Firestorm crew were all out there calling that the sky is falling, and that 1.23 type viewers are completely incompatible with Server Side Appearance (or Server Side Baking, as you've been touting it), Siana Gearz and her crew at Singularity have been working diligently (and silently, I might add!) to ensure that Singularity would not be one of the Third Party Viewers left behind when SL flips the switch to server side baking.  More so, they added mesh upload and some pathfinding goodies for SL, as well as a sure to be great asset in OpenSim with the export permissions tab and and the ability for grids to add custom menu items. All this and more on a 1.23 client!

I'm sorry Ms. Lyons and the Phoenix-Firestorm team, but you've made it clear that you don't give a hoot about Phoenix, which is the very client that initially made it possible for Firestorm to be around today.  I'm also sorry that you had to use belittling of people still using a 1.23 client as too retrograde for you and your team. And I'm especially sorry that you chose to scare people into switching to Firestorm because you made it sound like you were the only viewer that was working on Server Side Appearance, and even making people choose whether to use the SL version of the client over the OpenSim one, because you couldn't make it possible to flip a switch internally in your viewer.

But, you said it yourself quite well, Ms. Lyons, about why one should part ways, so I'll take your advice and  let everyone know of the third party options, like Singularity. For I have done everything I can think of to be supportive of Firestorm, and even thought that the OpenSim version was a good idea.  But I have decided to move on to Singularity, and wish you the best, while I find enjoyment in Singularity and it's continued support of v1.23 technology, as well as working to keep it relevant in the current versions of both SL and OpenSim.

Monday, April 22, 2013

JC Compositions (playlist)

So yeah, I have a fancy-schmansy playlist for my music compositions.  Not so much a Ioh Acta update as just a general one.  If you like music, and want to check them out, feel free. And if you happen to like any of them, feel free to like and share!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grid Places Review: Garden Cafe at Haven Your World

Every now and then, I have highlighted places of interest to me in the various grids Ioh has traveled to.  This is one of them, particularly from my home grid, Haven Your World.

Little Sheffield in Haven Your World has grown quite a bit since I last posted about it. A particular highlight for today is the Garden Cafe. It's a bio dome sort of greenhouse build that has a nice and cozy environment for a cup of tea or coffee in the morning. Or maybe a gathering for some sort event with live music would also be interesting. I a DJ or some other live performer helping to provide additional atmosphere to an already wonderful environment.

Original photo found on Flickr.

Here I am inside the Garden Cafe enjoying a quick cup of coffee in the afternoon.

Original photo found on Flickr.

Original photo found on Flickr.
A wonderful, picturesque display of part of the garden environment that can be found inside the Garden Cafe.

Original photo found on Flickr.

If you like what you see so far, the Garden Cafe can be found in Haven Your World.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I Bought It On SL, I Can Use It Anywhere! Right?

If I bought something in SL, I can use it however I want, right? Not exactly. There are some things on SL that you can buy and export, and some things that you cannot. Knowing which ones are which is important. People seem to think that if they got it as a freebie, or bought a full perm item in SL that doing so means such things automatically are ok to try and export into another grid. I'm sorry for the freebie and 'I bought it, I own it!' crowd, but what you want from SL is just simply not there.

That is not to say you can't take freebies that you got from SL and export them out to use in another grid, but that it depends on the permissions that the owner gives. Likewise for stuff you buy on SL that may be full permissions in regards to usage in SL. That doesn't mean that the item is set to be full permissions anywhere you want to use them, and however you like.

As it is, and despite how much I agree that tier for land in SL is expensive, that the upload cost is a pain, that SL lag is a pain, that OpenSim grids can be a good place to start up a new business (depending on certain factors, such as if hypergrid enabled or not) , the one thing that I do not complain about is the fact that SL has permissions rights for content creators, and that both SL and content creators have a right to use and enforce them. If anything, copybots and when permissions are compromised are more reasons for why businesses would leave SL than to stay. So certainly SL would do wise to protect the content made in SL and do their best to give content creators a reasonable amount of security and ability to choose what permissions they give out for their products. The freebie nation and 'I bought it, I own it!' crowd just don't get it, and, because of that, it's no wonder people don't trust them. For who would you trust your property irl to: Peter, who seeks to protect and secure it, or the guy who steals from Peter to give to Paul?

The freebie nation crowd are essentially techie communists who think that the internet simply fell out of the sky, and that no one should be charged to use it. Never mind that people have to pay for the technology that uses the internet, as well as the technology that gets you on the internet. Never mind that you also have to pay for servers, and the services of internet companies that give you things like an internet domain, and other type of storage space and service to be able to have a presence online. Never mind that, even while Facebook and the various Google applications for media are free, they also have to monetize by giving ad space to companies to help keep it free. Never mind that they also push programs to get you to monetize your internet presence with them so that you get a little from the ad space, and they get a little for being able to get you to sign on to use your personal internet space for advertising. Yet, the internet should be free, but it isn't. For if it isn't to pay for services yourself, then it also isn't 'free' due to monetizing and other means of pushing advertising that takes away, that is, that cost you a certain amount of virtual space, or make you take up time in virtual labor that doesn't get much, if any returns back for those hours. And here's the thing about people that hold onto their tiers in SL. They likely have jobs. I don't mean that they strip or escort in SL on the side. But RL jobs that pay well enough for them to have those sims.  

The point is that there is nothing completely for free in SL, and nor is there in OpenSim. Yes, you can download the software for OpenSim for free, and you don't even need Sim on A Stick to do it. Also, it should be noted if you do indeed want your Sim on a Stick to be on a stick, you have to pay for a USB 2.0 or 3.0 stick, which Ener Hax is more than happy to link readers of her site to Amazon to get one, which could range anywhere from $14 for the least expensive (and least amount of memory available), to a bit over $40.00 for the higher end (and higher amount of memory).

Plus, if you were to want to get your standalone connected online, you are still going to have to pay to do that. Kitely has fixed monthly prices for 1 region at $40 per month,4 regions for $60 per month, 9 regions for $80 per month, and 16 Regions for $100 per month. Or, you can pay as you go with a free region, and it would be $1 per month for an extra region. The free plan gives you 2 hours free with 1 free region. You can also get a Bronze Plan at $5 for 30 hours and 2 free regions, the Silver at $20 for 120 hours and 10 free region, and, the Gold Plan is at $35 for Unlimited time and 20 free regions. You might wonder why the pay as you go is less expensive. It's because in the pay as you go, you the owner of the regions, does not pay for the access of users that enter your regions. However, if you pay for the fixed rate, you are paying so others do not have to.

But that's the thing, you have to pay for the purchase and maintenance of a PC, laptop, tablet, or whatever you access your virtual world grid(s) on. You then have to pay for internet service – regardless on if you do so by getting your own internet connection, or go to a coffee shop and pay for the drinks needed to legitimately be there – in order to download the software of OpenSim, and the viewers that connect you to OpenSim grids and SL. If you don't want to pay tier for SL region, you have to pay for service providers like Kitely to pay their tiers for your personal grid to be online. So, no matter what, you are going to have to pay for access and services to be online and to have a grid up. It might seem cost effective to DIY and make your own grid, but remember that where you can buy region space for less than tier of a SL sim, you are now responsible for your own grid. You can't complain to SL any more about mistakes that you make. If you screw up your grid, if you screw over your visitors to your grid, and if you frankly can't manage a grid on your own, then the problems are on you. And to get people to come to your region or grid, you have to do your own outreach, or hire people to do it and compensate them in some manner – be it monetary, or in other ways, such as through giving them space to on your grid for their own personal use. The internet is not air, it is not something absolutely necessary for survival. We just put a lot of value on it in this modern world because access to it is something we want, that we demand, but not something essential to living.

So nope, things are not as free online as one might think. Nor can you use what you have bought for any and all desires you want. There are limits to the freedoms, and the stipulations are generally found in the ToS. SL has a ToS, OpenSim has a TOS, pretty much all grids have their respective ToSes. And the service providers that make it possible to be online have TOS. Content creators tend to have copyright licenses or creative commons to lay claim to their creation as their property, and the terms for use of the property by others. So, even while you may own a copy of the digital item, that in no way means that you have complete control and use of it.

Interestingly enough, our current election in the US showed how this works with the rights and royalties of music. One infamous trumps of a content creator being able to call for the cease and desist of their content not being used in public for the advancement of a public figure is Dee Snyder of Twisted Sister saying he won't take Paul Ryan using the song “We're Not Going To Take It” to be used as part of Paul Ryan's campaign songs. Now, if I 'I bought it, I own it!' was truly the way things worked, Paul Ryan wouldn't have to give in to Dee Snyder's protest for using the Twisted Sister song.

I think the point is clear that, even if you own a copy of a creation made by someone else, it doesn't automatically grant you the ability to use that creation for any and all reasons that you desire to. Now, the reasons why people irl can push the enforcement of this easier than SL and OpenSim is because the cost of litigation makes it difficult for most and so that the cons of trying to go after illegitimately got content outweigh the pros of doing so. So thus, the closed commercial grids seem to be safe havens for content creators.

Nothing is really for free, and you can't expect that everything you buy is yours to use however you want.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Virtual Highways - IC Designs Virtual Studio

This is the build setup for my photo studio on the Virtual Highways grid.

Taken from my Flickr photostream Iohannes Crispien II

Since they're all my prims, I don't have to bother with worrying about adding backgrounds.  If I want/need a background, I can either upload a texture and replace the green screen with the texture.  Or, I can filter out the green screen in Paint.Net and add a background layering that way.

For poses, I'm going to use a generic pose ball, and just shuffle through animations in inventory.  This is simple enough, and also cuts down on a need for a menu.  If I do ever put a menu in, I'd probably just have a pad in front of the green screen and add to the menu accordingly.  Beyond that, I just really don't see a reason for a whole lot of applications. The less gadgetry in a studio, the less lag. I'm fairly minimalist and prefer function over form, and functionality over applicability.

But the thing I really like is that I was able to customize it to fit my tree house studio.  This is what really makes it fun and worthwhile to do it yourself and work on your own builds, is so that you can put together and see the fruits of your own labor.  Sure, this is a simple photo studio, but it's one I created and designed to work for what I want it to do. So it's not only customized, it's personalized for both my style and needs. If I need anything else, I can always add on later.

At any rate, for those interested in seeing the studio up close, or to actually pay me a visit some time, the best way to do so is to sign up at Virtual Highways.  Once signed up, you'll want to download, if you haven't already, an OpenSim compatible viewer, and follow the directions on the Viewer Instructions page.  I personally prefer Singularity Viewer because it functions better for me in OpenSim grids, particularly with the large grid map and being able to use the old search since most OpenSim grids do not use the newer search found in the current SL viewer. Plus, Singularity has mesh support, which will be needed to see things properly on my land.  If you prefer Firestorm, remember that you have to download the OpenSim build, otherwise the grid manager won't work. For a nice, more lightweight alternative to Firestorm, I would go with ArminW's Teapot viewer. It may not be updated very often, but it has most all the things necessary, minus pathfinder for SL, and you have to go into the World tab in the upper left to edit and change windlight settings.  But it does have a nice, easy to use grid manager that actually searches out new grids and updates your current list.

Once you have selected your viewer, followed the viewer instructions, or otherwise found out how to plug in the grid settings for Virtual Highways, then all you have to do is log in, copy-paste the slurl below, and teleport on over to my land.


Once there, have fun looking around my little piece of land, and feel free to explore the rest of what Virtual Highways has to offer!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hypergrid Permissions

So I was checking out Avination's announcement of Hypergrid export permissions. They are working with Singularity Viewer to develop a way to allow or prohibit created content from being shared between hypergrid links.

Personally, I see this as a step in the right direction.  For creators, to be able to choose whether they want their items to be used through the hypergrid or not adds a bit of security that had yet been put into hypergrid capable grids.  This is at least a patch to help fix the current issues that people have with hypergrid, since you can have the grid enabled, yet creators can have some control on on their end on whether their products leave the grid or not.

However, while this is a good step forward, there are still some things that could be done that would open grids to being hypergate capable. For instance, one next step that could be taken would be in securing a way that the ownership and other content information that the creator sets is transferred when crossing grids.The more that the capacity of grid hopping through the hypergate can be streamlined in this area would ease security concerns even more.

Even still,  the greatest achievement for Opensim would be streamlining it so that crossing and teleporting among grids is as smooth as crossing and teleporting among sims in a grid.  When that time comes, the necessity of signing up to different grids would be more a matter of formalities, be it that particular grid being the home grid that they sign into the metaverse on, a matter of access for premium grid products, such as owning a sim on a particular grid, or to be a method of security for businesses so that only those that are signed up in the grid can do business in the grid, and only those that want to legitimately buy virtual goods can, as long as they sign up and agree to the particular terms and conditions of the grid and it's business model.  Grid registration can also be used as a matter of registering freebies, so that people can keep track of them, and know who has the freebies, where they got them from, and where the person who obtained the freebies comes from, grid-wise.

Not saying these things would make for a perfect metaverse, but they would help improve it in some ways, and make hypergrid more attractive the more it deals with concerns in the metaverse community about its security issues.  For once they are addressed and taken care of in a manner that respects the capital and ownership of the content creators, the content creators, and the grids they are in, might be more willing to open up to Opensim and a free and open metaverse in general.