Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Troll Pet

From their behavior, many people might get the idea that trolls are devoid of human emotion, that's simply not true.

The trolls of Violet, for instance, have so much love in them they've gone out and gotten pets for themselves.

Now, troll pets aren't the cats and dogs most of us enjoy.  The trolls of Violet have a pet alcoholic.

Xanna is her name, and she's nearly the perfect troll pet.

Like a dog, Xanna is trained to speak when offered treats.  The treats, in this case, come in the form of attention scraps, which Xanna so dearly loves she'll do nearly anything to have them.

You can't call her vocalizations actual human speech though.  They're more like growls and burps and bits of bible verses.

A favorite stupid pet trick for the Violet trolls is to get Xanna on tinychat where she will pull up her shirt to expose her long flaccid breasts or fall asleep on camera.

Troll pets don't seem to live very long though.  Their last pet, named "ratcloner" was trained to insert vegetables in his rectum, which he then ate with glee. 

I'm not sure what happened to Ratcloner.  I heard the Humane Society rescued him and he's now living in a laboratory where they test chemicals for the cosmetics industry.  That may sound like a tough gig but it beats having your "friends" talk you into eating butt carrots.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cops Agree Abba Sucks

A small but villigant police force protects Parktown from the vagrants and other troublemakers in SecondLife.

Last nights patrol was interrupted by an alien encounter.  Officer Clark Restful and his K9 Companion Wild Faith meet a man from fart.

[20:36]  wild Faith: Alerts to a stranger.

[20:37]  wild Faith hears footsteps on the roof
[20:38]  Clark Restful: ok back
[20:38]  wild Faith: (wb)
[20:38]  wild Faith: Alerts to a stranger.
[20:38]  Clark Restful: Hello Hinderer
[20:38]  Clark Restful: easy faith
[20:38]  Clark Restful: how are you
[20:38]  Clark Restful: good deal
[20:38]  wild Faith stops barking and looks at clark
[20:38]  Clark Restful: same here
[20:39]  Clark Restful: yes she is a great dog
[20:39]  wild Faith wags her tail
[20:39]  Clark Restful: by the way I am trooper Restfal

Oh Yeah, Abba Sucks

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Princess Cupcake The Troll

Most trolls don't survive long in captivity.  If leg restraints are used, they will gladly chew off their own foot to escape.  One specimen, named "MonkeyCheese" bled to death after chewing off both hands and the wrong foot trying to escape.

We were very lucky with the troll we came to know as "Princess Cupcake".  Stranded alone after Booger-Nose crashed the sim, we captured Cupcake without event.  We took it as a sign she had the will to survive when, after her first forty-eight hours in captivity, Cupcake demanded "You niggers got any food up in here?"

Cupcake was a healthy middle-aged female.  You could tell she whelped at least one troll pup because her breasts were thin and dangled like hanged men.  It wasn't unusual to capture her without her pup though since trolls are well-known for eating their young if they get bored.

The first primatologists we brought in to study Cupcake was something of a disaster. 

"Who's this faggot?"  Cupcake demanded.  "What the fuck is wrong with your avatar you Aussie piece of Crap?  Do you even have a job?"  Dr. Blinkman resigned after Cupcake defecated into her own hand hand threw it at him.

Barbara Godwin was different though.  Studied under Jane Goodall and Dianne Fossey, Godwin held the controversial theory that trolls don't use their voice for communication at all, but rather as a defense mechanism like the quills of a porcupine or the spray of a skunk.

"Who's this bitch?" Cupcake demanded.  "Where's your real life picture?  What's with your ears bitch? Can you fly with those?"

Godwin remained still and determined.

Eventually Cupcake grew to accept the presence beyond her cage bars as Godwin moved a little closer each day.

"To communicate with a troll", Godwin calculated, "you must provide them with some means of communicating besides their voice, which is solely reserved for defense, or rather offense."  Citing similar studies with gorillas, Godwin decided to try and teach Cupcake American Sign Language, with some success.

"Cupcake lonely" Cupcake signed one day.  Separated from her own kind and ignored for long hours in her cage while scientists watched Jersey Shore, it wasn't surprising to discover Cupcake felt the pangs of her isolation.

Again, citing studies with gorillas, Godwin tried giving Cupcake a kitten to keep her company.  You could almost see the smile on the trolls distorted face when she held her kitten.  She stroked it's downy fur with her stubby troll fingers.  Trolls aren't very coordinated though, and often don't know their own strength, so Cupcake soon pulled the head off her cute playmate.

Dejected, she sat in the corner of her cage playing with her own feces.  "Fagot Kitten" she mumbled over and over.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Human Oddities

Sometimes I wonder where this whole internet thing is going.

There are people who, for some reason, like to search for the most disgusting thing they can find on the internet, then send you a link.  Why would you do that?

Even worse, they can tell you, "check out this link, it's the most disgusting thing I ever saw!" and, like idiots, we still look.

It's very common.  For instance: how many of you have seen the blue waffles picture or the two girls-one cup video?  You even knew beforehand it was going to be stomach-turning gross, but you still looked.  There are whole websites devoted to this phenomenon.

I guess it's the modern day version of freak shows, or maybe exposing ourselves to the horrible and disgusting makes us appreciate the beautiful even more or maybe we've just grown so calloused we'll do anything just to feel some sort of emotional reaction.

We do it on SecondLife too.  You can go somewhere and say "don't go to Korea1, there's the most disgusting, annoying person ever there" and half the room will teleport to Korea1 to see for themselves.

I generally try not to fall into this trap.  If somebody says it's disgusting, I'll take their word for it.  As a consequence I've never actually seen the two girls-one cup video-only heard about it.  I've been sent the link probably a hundred times, but never followed it.

There's a pretty good reason for it too.  I have very high visual recall, sometimes called a photographic memory, which means if I see something once, there's a chance the image remains fresh in my mind forever, and there are some things I just don't want to remember forever.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video Game Cheaters

In the early years of PC Games, it usually took just a day or two after the release of a new game for cheats, exploits and walk-throughs to start showing up on the message boards.  There were whole BBS systems and USNet groups dedicated to them (and eventually websites).

I used to think "wow, these guys are amazingly fast at figuring these out." 

That's not what happened though.  The game designers themselves were building the cheats and exploits into the game and releasing them to the message systems themselves.

The idea was this: Even though they haven't accomplished anything tangible, people get a pleasurable sense of accomplishment out of beating a video game.  They get frustrated easily though and since the stakes are fairly low, they're very willing to abandon the game if they get stuck.

To make sure nobody gets stuck, the developers put out the cheats, exploits and walk-throughs to get them through the rough spots.

It was a vital step to the success of a game and (pretty much) everybody used them and since the game was just between you and your computer, nobody considered video game cheating a matter of honor, and the seeking out and collecting of cheats and exploits became a principal part of video game culture.

A problem developed though with the introduction of networked games like Doom.  Suddenly it wasn't you vs. your computer any more, it was you vs other real people who might get pissed if they found out you played the game in god mode or some other cheat.

In the beginning, it was something of a gentleman's agreement not to cheat in networked game play.  You can imagine how that went.  Pretty soon, the designers who put cheats and exploits into games were figuring out ways to engineer them back out of the game in network mode.

The server operators also developed ways to keep people out of the game who were known cheaters and the ban hammer was born.

Players were often fairly good coders themselves though, so they soon found ways to put the cheats and exploits back into the game (along with a few new ones) and engineer themselves a way around the ban hammer.

Users brought this culture of cheating and counter cheating and counter-counter cheating with them when they started using social applications with game like qualities like The Palace and SecondLife.

You would think, in a social application, there wasn't really any opportunity to cheat, but people found ways.

What we call CopyBot was called Avatar Stealing in The Palace, which always amused me since the Palace didn't have an economic system and all avatars were free anyway.

SecondLife does have an economic system though, so Linden Labs spent huge chunks of time and effort chasing down and eliminating cheats related to it.

The most cheats though came in the form of ways to annoy other users.  At first glance, you might wonder why anybody would want to do that, but in a live social application, intentionally annoying other people has vast implications on the social interactions, so "griefing" these became a major activity.

People who come from a video game background recognize it immediately.  It's the people who came to SecondLife without passing through that part of computer culture who take it as a threat.

Nobody intentionally developed this culture of cheating.  It came about for fairly logical and reasonable reasons.  It's moving it from the circumstance of one man vs his machine to man vs man where we got into trouble, and it's going to take a long time to work out a reasonable and reliable way of dealing with it.

When you see spinning cubes of goatse death flying past your sim, just remember it's part of computer history and video game culture and try not to get upset.

Traveling Circus

There was a short time, a brief, shining moment, when the Trolls of Ahern found solace and peace in Violet.

They got along.  They talked in normal tones without yelling.  It was nice.  But it was not to last.

Left behind (intentinally I would guess) the rest of the Ahern circus felt lonely and rejected, so they followed the Trolls to Violet, and brought the cacophony with them.

Soon the peaceful, Asian pergola of Violet rang out with cries of cat rape, missing tampons and every possible degradation of real life photos.  Crappy music from four different people at once, Arabs, Asians and several variations on Niggah, The peace was broken. 

You can't reason with a cacophony, it only wants more noise. Violet was sanctuary no more.

I don't really know what happens from here.  If the Trolls move again, the circus will only just follow them again. 

It's doubtful I'll follow the story if it moves.  I only came across it this time because Violet was already in my rotation of places to visit.

Sometimes I wonder if  human beings really just aren't ready yet for all the things the internet makes possible, but all this has happened before and will happen again.  It happens every time there's a frontier. 

There are more and more people now who never lived without an internet, as they grow up, they will probably be the ones who learn to experience it without driving each other nuts.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Troll Meter

Since SecondLife isn't a game, there aren't really any power levels or energy points to keep track of, unless you wear some sort of gimmicked hud for something kinda lame like vampires or Gor.

There is, however, a level everyone uses in SecondLife that's actually too complelx and too subtle to represent with a computer graphic.  It's the Troll-Meter.

The Troll-Meter measures how much people on SecondLife can and will make fun of you.  The best score is 100 and the lowest score is 0.

A person, new to SecondLife, starts off with a score of 50.  It's 50 because there are lots of people who will make fun of them just for being new.  As they learn to use the interface and understand the complex currents of social insanity, their score gradually increases.

There are some things that lower the sore, like:
  • being stupid
  • having a speech impediment
  • habitual drug or alcohol abuse
  • unattractiveness
  • variance from English standard western culture
  • pride, vanity, hubris
  • bad singing
  • bad joke telling
  • inappropriate or lame sexual activity
  • boasting or lying about things other people know a lot more about
  • joining the bandwagon
  • not joining the bandwagon
  • and many more

People pick up on these things and troll you about them to lower your self-esteem.  Allowing your self-esteem to be lowered also lowers your Troll-Meter score.

The Troll-Meter doesn't actually enhance the SecondLife experience in any way, but because it exists, some people slavishly tend to it, comparing their score to others and trolling everyone they can in an attempt to raise their own.  Trolling others doesn't actually raise one's own Troll-Meter score though, it just makes you feel better about it.

As your score lowers, other people begin to troll you almost compulsively.  I guess they don't want to be the last person on the grid to join the fun of trolling person X.

Some people, like Harrison Digfoot or Jonny Rumsford,  have a Troll-Meter score so low they can hardly go anywhere on SecondLife without being trolled.  Their only possible refuge at this point is a place like Heather's Welcome Area, which actually probably wouldn't be a bad idea for either of them.  It is possible to love somebody back to a healthy troll-meter score, but that kind of love is pretty scarce in most places for most people.

The other day, Harrison TP'ed into a place, and a woman who'd never seen him before began to troll him, simply because others were and, being a social creature, she figured joining in the troll might raise her own Troll-Meter score.

A friend of mine tried to point out the obvious to this woman, that having never seen or heard of Harrison before, she had no reason to troll him, but it went completely over her head.  She even tried to get Harrison to sing, thinking (since he's a fairly good musician) it would stem the flow of troll-hate toward him, but, to no avail, all they did was troll his singing ability.

There is one thing that pretty much always raises your Troll-Meter score.  That is: not giving a shit. 

Not, saying you "give no shits", but then responding by trolling back as hard as you can or trying to befriend griefers to attack your trolls for you, Jonny.  No, you have to genuinely not care what the trolls does or says.  You have to take your ego out of the game entirely.  You don't even have to say you don't care, saying you don't care is usually a signal you do, all you have to do is simply not care and the balance of power shifts immediately. 

The Troll-Meter exists because, as human beings, we evolved from ape-like creatures who lived in social troupes where maintaining a place in the pecking order often meant life and death and certainly impacted the odds of reproducing your genes.

We actually have evolved to a point where this pecking order isn't entirely necessary, but it's incredibly difficult to get people to leave it behind.  I suppose in a new environment, like virtual reality, people are insecure because it's new, so they fall back on their oldest behavior patterns to help develop a sense of themselves in the new environment.  If that's true, then the Troll-Meter will probably dissipate over time.  One can only hope so.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Trained Orangutans of SecondLife

Your mom uses nice china plates at home because she knows you and  your dad will do your best not to break them.

The people at Denny's, however, use indestructible polymer plates because God only knows what sort of insane people will eat from them and they hire trained orangutans to wash them.

Writing software for public consumption is like the plates at Denny's.

There's a theory that hackers and griefers of a software system actually work to improve the system because they find the weaknesses and cracks in the system that need fixing.  As annoying as it is to be using software when it comes under one of these attacks, this theory is probably correct.

The problem for the engineers at Linden Labs is to find ways to plug the exploits used by the griefers while still retaining the cool stuff the rest of us use peaceably.  For instance: they could fix the old griefer trick of replicating cubes by turning off the scripting ability to make one prim spawn another one.  But that would disable a lot of cool stuff that the rest of us have fun with so they had to find another way.

Recently, a relatively new griefer hit Moose Beach dozens of times.  Although one of his tricks appears to be genuinely new, the rest use the same exploits known by Linden Labs for a long time.

When a grief attack happens, Linden Labs takes the event logs for the area and examines the objects and scripts and whatever else they can find involved and try to figure out a way to plug the exploit.  It's not a particularly fast process since they're also working on a lot of other projects at the same time and these issues go into the "to do" stack with a bunch of other things.

Meanwhile, the third party viewer developers also set to work coming up with ways for their users to shield themselves from these attacks (although there's almost always one or two people working on third party viewers that make these and new attacks easier).

The result is a system that starts out with tons of exploits for griefers to use, but over time they get fewer and fewer as the engineers involved find ways to make them impotent or impossible.

Back at Moose Beach, most of the stuff Stark uses is dispatched or disposed of immediately, or people use aspects of their viewer to make them impotent and people are already looking at his new exploit to figure out how to resolve it.

People who have been around a while get kind of a kick out of seeing all the self-replicating cubes build up because they remember when just a few of those would have made the sim inoperable for an hour or more.  Now, most of them dissipate in just a few minutes, with a staff person or contractor coming along later to clean up the stragglers.

Although annoying, the system works.  You couldn't make something like SecondLife without attracting a ton of kids bent on messing it up.  Fortunately, the people at the lab have been around the block a few times and know just how to handle it.  Exploit #3724 goes into the To Do stack, and eventually it goes away.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Huis Clos

Waterfalls told me today I wasn't writing about her in the proper tone, so I decided to write this sentence in the proper tone.  That's about all I can really think to say about her at the moment though.

The question came up of why I write the things I write about SecondLife.

For me the question is more one of how could anyone see the things there are to see in SecondLife and not write about it.

A lot of what I see and write about is fairly mundane stuff, but sometimes when I log into SecondLife it's a three-ring retard circus, especially in welcome areas and info hubs.

The thing I've written about over and over, and really believe, is that the worst mistake you can make in virtual reality is to get your ego involved in the process.  Once you do that, once you start to care about staking out territory or maintaining a "position" or some sort of online reputation, you're sunk, and it's only going to get worse.

That's why I make no secret of my real life information.  This business of having people discover your real name become the worst possible thing that can happen in SecondLife is insane.  Dozens of real life people see me every day, why should it make any difference if SecondLife people can too?  They can't be any more annoying or crazy or malicious than the people at a store or in traffic.

You want to know what I really see when I log into SecondLife?

Sometimes I see Jean Paul Sartre's play Huis Clos ("No Exit" in English).  The play tells the story of four people, locked forever in a room together, never satisfied, always hating, always plotting, and they can't even escape by death because they're already dead and in hell.

It's the ego that makes it hell, and when you have multiple people trying to press their ego over each other, then they sometimes get trapped, always searching for a way to win advance, revenge, some leverage against each other, but unable to so the cycle continues.

It's worst for guys like Nero or Harrison or Dummythrust or Jonny Rumsford, who return to the same scene over and over only to become the target again and again by the same people.  They return because they've convinced themselves: one day it will be different, one day they'll have the advantage, but it never changes and the struggle continues day after day after day.

Some people escape the cycle by writing about it.  The troll manual does, as does Crap Mariner's blog and others.

Some make the cycle much worse though like Prokofy Neva's blog.  Prokofy demands people recognize her as the queen (king?) of her area and gets a little insane if anybody challenges it.  Although the perspective is quite different, the process is not unlike Waterfalls claiming the steps of Ahern as her kingdom and going a little insane if anybody challenges it.

The only sane conclusion one can make here is that "status" in SecondLife is meaningless.  If you can't do what you do on SecondLife because it's interesting or fun or funny then you're probably just annoying yourself (and the people around you).

It's not just the retards that fall into that pit though. 

There are trolls who troll because it's funny to them or to their friends, and that makes a fair amount of sense.

There are others though who figure it's all about making somebody else look bad whether it's funny or not and they end up just making themselves very negative-minded people and from it (logically) develop a nihilist or misanthropic point of view on life.

Sometimes you can almost see them going over their mental list trying to figure out how they can belittle this new person they've encountered.  One day I saw two trolls go on for thirty minutes because somebody made the arms too short on their avatar.  I guess they reached the bottom of their list and short arms was all they could come up with.

I guess I should apologize if anything I write hurts anybody's feelings.  I'm more sorry if they actually give a crap though.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Betrayal and Breakups in the Battle for Moose Beach

All good things must end.  The Bromance between Jonny and Stark/Booger-Nose/Kronos has ended in the only way it could end: with them wanting to kill each other.

Jonny found succor amongst some very patient normal people with Booger-Nose left telling a bunch of noobs and bots he's the new king of Moose Beach.

Apparantly Jonny threatened the life of Booger-Nose's E-Mate (even though he denies it and nobody seems to have witnessed it) so now Booger-Nose is determined to kill Jonny.  For some reason Kronos now loves me, even though he wanted to kill me just a day ago and I'm pretty sure he knows I've been making fun of him for weeks.

Most curious of all, Booger-Nose now claims to be the protector of Harrison Digfoot, even going so far to teach him how to evade a hardware ban.  I suspect he'll end up regretting this decision since Harrison is one of the most annoying possible people on SecondLife.

When these rejects from Waterhead first started showing up at Moose I worried that Moose might end up just like the retard circus that Waterhead was.  That seems to have come to fruition.  All they need now is for Strider to show up and the transformation will be complete.

I feel bad for the people who used to hang out at Moose Beach.  What's left is probably going to be the Jonny/Harrison/Boogar-Nose show for weeks if not months as they fight to destroy each other, but since they can't it'll just be the same drama over and over until even they get tired of it and move on to something else.


Friday, November 5, 2010

The Internet Villain

Stark the Booger-Nose hates Secondlife.  Well, really he loves SecondLife, but the girls reject him and the boys make fun of him so, he's determined to take his revenge and become a villain.

Villainy's kind of hard on SecondLife though.  There's not much you can do to cause people any real damage, so Booger-nose resolved to do the best he can by rezzing self replicating cubes with pictures of Hitler on them and crash sims.

For him, it takes about ten minutes to crash a sim and about thirty seconds for the sim to blink back into existence.  It hardly seems worth it, but it's kind of annoying so he persists.

Wednesday night when I went to bed he'd been on a rampage for about two hours spewing out dancing Hitlers and crashing sims in a hit or miss fashion with the Lindens playing whack-a-mole behind him.  I guess he thought he was really showing them a thing or two, if it weren't for the fact they were getting paid to play the game and he wasn't.

Thursday morning when I got up, my sources told me his rampage just ended a little while before.  He'd spent something in the neighborhood of eight hours rezzing dancing Hitler cubes.  At this point I realize there must be some mild form of retardation involved here, along with a fair amount of drugs.  A reasonable person just doesn't do this crap for eight hours otherwise.

We've had retarded griefers before.  Ratcloner comes to mind and I guess Booger-Nose Stark is the latest one.  For these guys, crashing sims over the internet is probably their highest possible level of achievement.

Booger-Nose claims membership in a number of griefer groups, even though none of them claim him and you never see any of them around him or talking to him.  The only person you do see talking to him is Jonny Rumsford, who's also slightly retarded, mostly drug addled and a compulsive liar, so I suppose they're made for each other.

Somewhere I suppose Booger-Nose has a caretaker.  A Mom or maiden aunt who pays his rent, bakes his chicken pot pies and keeps him in RedBull.  I suppose they think, "oh how nice, Stark's making friends over the internet."  I suppose it's just as well they think that.  It's not their fault he's brain damaged and socially awkward.

So, three cheers for internet villains.  May we all cower in fear and wait 30 seconds for the sim to restart.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Not Ready for Paradise

A lot of cultures describe heaven not all that differently from what we experience in SecondLife.

There's no war, no poverty, no hunger or disease.  You remain young and beautiful forever, you can create beautiful things from your fingertips and you can even fly.

So what do we do with this little piece of heaven?  We troll and grief and fuck every other soul around.

Maybe we're just not really ready for heaven after all.

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