December 30, 2008

A case for a universal gift card system in SL

My friend Alicia Chenaux brought up the idea of an atomic-world giftcard system for Second Life:
"You're at the store, you pick up a card because you have a little extra cash since you decided NOT to buy the double fudge brownies, and then whenever you need some $L in here, you punch in the code and there you go. Or your friends/family can buy you a card for holidays or special occasions[...]"
This is similar to two ideas I had in the past:
  1. One of the large web portals like XstreetSL or OnRez should issue giftcards that can be used on their web backends or - in case of OnRez - their in-world vendors. Once purchased, the card could be used for any purchase with any of the listed items - the merchants would get L$ put into their accounts after the purchase.

  2. Content creators should join forces and create a giftcard system that would work across shops/brands. An extension to Escort DeFarge's TMC storecard system comes to mind. Basically this would mean I could take a storecard from Insolence and use it at Truth. Of course the financial transactions behind the scenes would require quite some thought.
I gave out a few of giftcards for Christmas, and even though I got positive feedback I always was in doubt if the card for a specific store was the right one for the recipient (for example if a single woman would really enjoy an Insolence storecard with noone to show her lingerie off to).

A universal gift card system, or at least one supported by major content creators, would be a significant enhancement. Of course there are issues to consider:
  • Acceptance
    There needs to be a critical mass of shops to accept the system. In case of XstreetSL or OnRez, the individual merchants would not need to do anything while at the same time providing a really large base. In case of a content-creator developed system it would not be good if only 2 shops accept it. Again an extension to TMC would be my preference.

  • Security
    The questions is not IF, but WHEN there will be attempts to hack such a system. So there need to be tight security mechanisms, but not as tight as make the system unusable. For a web-based system, entering a simple code seems most appealing, but might be subject to brute force attacks. An in-world system might be less in danger.

  • Trust
    Gift certificates I saw (and used) so far ranged from 200 L$ to 2000 L$. Newcomers trying to establish a giftcard system might hit reluctance based on trust, especially for higher values. Again, established players will have an advantage here.
I see large potential in a system like this, and the first to come out with one will have a large advantage on the market. I look forward to it.

December 29, 2008

My Best Christmas Present

I got quite a few Christmas gifts, and I intended to make a blog post about them. But I just got the biggest and best Christmas present ever:

"Dear Peter Stindberg,
You have received a Second Life partner proposal from Skinkie Winkler.
Please visit the link below to view the proposal:"

me: lol - How romantic -:P
Skinkie: :P
me: How comes?
Skinkie: Well, I wanted to give you something money can't buy
me: /me smiles
lol, and now the SL website won't load for me
Skinkie: :-(
me: It. Won't. Load.
Ah, there it comes
Skinkie: calm down, you have a week anyway

Update: My "How comes" caused some raised eyebrows. Initially we discussed to do the partnering during a small ceremony among friends. So her taking the initiative was quite a surprise for me, and my "How comes" was meant along the lines of 'what caused you to propose all of a sudden?'.

What's in my bag

Seems I can't resist a challenge, but mostly I did this one because I did not see any guys bag yet, So without further ado - here's my bag:

  1. Samsonite laptop bag - large enough to hold more stuff, sturdy enough to survive bicycle rides and rain
  2. Moleskin pocket book - in the bag for over a year now and still virgin
  3. Business cards - yeah, call me a dork
  4. Slim bay DVD-RW drive, taken out for the benefit of a secondary battery (I usually don't carry the drive around, only if I expect to need it)
  5. A cheap Leatherman clone - I was always too greedy to buy me the original, and always forget to ask for it for Christmas or birthday
  6. My wallet - I need about one per year and I am anal about finding one with TWO sections for coins. The wallet is always too full :-(
  7. Cellphone, NO camera, NO internet plan and generally rather crappy
  8. Aloe Vera lipstick for chaffed lips, bought in Napa Valley in the last century and still not empty
  9. Lock and keys, part of the bag, never used
  10. Air France earplugs and eye mask, also never used but it seemed like a good idea to carry it around with me
  11. Bluetooth headset, as crappy as its 3 predecessors, but at least this one still lives and does not break after a month
  12. USB stick 4GB, with an essential kit of tools for emergency troubleshooting
Not shown:
  • Laptop (I write this blogpost on it)
  • Allergy emergency medication (taken out for the holidays)
  • A book or magazine (taken out for the vacation too)
  • A pen (needed it yesterday)

December 23, 2008

Nominated again

Official results are not published yet, but from inofficial sources I know that I did not make it into the top 3. Saffia Widdershins of Prim Perfect reached a well deserved 2nd place, the winner's name I have not heard before (which does not mean she has not deserved it).

A few minutes ago I learned that I got nominated for yet another award - the prestigous Vain Readers' Choice Awards 2008 in the category "Social Butterfly". I'm not exactly sure what that means, especially since I am not a party animal hopping from place to place.

There are a lot of great people and brands nominated too, I am especially pleased about the following nominations:
  • Best new designer: Skinkie Winkler
  • Best jewelry: ~flirt~
  • Best furniture design: GREENE concept
Update: I just learned that I came in a "close 4th" in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 awards - with the most votes for a male contestant.

December 19, 2008

Peer group pressure, social obligations and the loss of innocence

A few days ago, Eshi Otawara did a large event revealing her latest fashion line. I met Eshi once or twice, IMed with her a few times more. We are loosely connected through groups we are both members in and by joint friends - I was sympathetic to her cause and hardship she experienced since her husband passed away. I once outbid her at an auction. She once gave me a preview version of a shirt she designed, and I gifted her with some GREENE concept furniture. I quite like her as a genuine and creative person. In short, paying her the honors by visiting her show would be the natural thing to do, and in fact a few people asked whether I go - assuming I would.

I did not. I felt paying Eshi the honors would be overshadowed of this being a "who is who in SL" event. It got even explicitly mentioned to me that this would be a good opportunity to "be seen". I had a lot of things on my mind - my first life is challenging as ever, my second life a bit overshadowed too. And I just was not in the mood to attend a social event, to maintain relationships, to network. Instead I sat in my SL office and brooded, was in bad mood, felt compelled, even obliged to attend this event. Eventually, I got saved by a friend who needed a guinea pig to test a new product, and I had a fun hour with her, and later two fun hours with Trin and Aimee.

Fun. It's rare in SL these days. It feels as if my SLife is as full with obligations as my first life. Mostly business obligations, followed by social obligations. They consume my time, they consume my attention, they consume my mood. When was the last time I met someone new? When was the last time I went exploring? When was the last time I made a new friend? When was the last time I helped a newbie? When was the last time I got involved in a new project? When was the last time I went to a club, a concert?

The other day, out of a whim, I rezzed a rarely used business alt. I wanted to check a few things out, but wanted to avoid group IM's and a few notecards waiting for me. Suddenly I found myself in a rather busy place, with a group of new residents, and before long, I showed a few newbies the ropes and had some real fun and interesting talk with them. Of course they all offered friendship, and I felt bad for removing them secretly again as I wanted to keep the alt clean. The bottom line, however, is that I felt free and unburdened for the first time in weeks if not months. And for a split second, it seemed an appealing idea to have Peter Stindberg commit SLuicide, and to start over new, rediscover the magic new.

I wonder where and when my SLife has lost its innocence? And I wonder how I can get the fun and the magic back.

December 17, 2008

50 reasons why you should quit your real life and stick to Second Life

Here's me and my big mouth. Last week Prad Prathivi shared some thoughts of why bloggers blog and how they shape the perception of SL, as well as about his own motivation:
"When I start talking about the joys of Mono over LSL, I’ve run out of things to say and you can declare this blog dead."
In the comments I mentioned that I disagree with this statement, and that I look forward to an article on his view of LSL vs. Mono. And I was careless enough to challenge him:
"What about a challenge, our own personal Mix’n'Match? You write an article about Mono vs. LSL, and you assign me a topic too."
Well, here I am, with a topic assigned by Mr. Prathivi himself. Being an immersionist myself, and using Second Life as escapeism to get an hour of peace a day from a stressful and challenging RL situation, that should not be too hard actually....

"The problem is all inside your head" she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to ...."

  1. You can live your goddamn dream and be whatever you want to be, any shape, size, color, gender, race, species, any occupation, morale, ethics
  2. You are as young, old, athletic, fat, tall, short, etc. as you like
  3. All clothes fit, there are no annoying and over eager store clerks trying to talk you into ill fitting overprices items that need to be cleared
  4. You can cam around, and don't need mirrors to see the back of your head
  5. You don't need to eat, drink or dispose of your bodily wastes (unless you want to do all of this)
  6. That was 10% already - that's not too bad
  7. Number 6 was cheating, so I should come up with 52 :-(
  8. SL money gets you farther than RL money (at least in my case)
  9. You can die and ressurrect (and even reincarnate) at will
  10. No communicable diseases (unless you count treasure-hunt-fever), in fact no diseases at all (unless you count inventory loss)
  11. You can fly
  12. You can be an architect, clothing designer, photographer, engineer, photomodel or any other high profile occupation and gather worldwide audience - while theoretically this is possible in RL as well, it usually is hard for people at the age of typical SL residents
  13. You don't have to pay taxes (tier is in fact more a rent)
  14. Your government has no stoopid ideas of invading other countries for dubious reasons, or helping other countries to do the same, or generally stoopid ideas regarding other governments/countries/religious or social beliefs/etc.
  15. Your government has no smart ideas either, now that I think about it
  16. We have a government? I thought it was a dictatorship, or maybe a monarchy...
  17. Your penis is detachable, and you can exchange it for the latest model easily. In case you are of the female persuasion, replace "penis" with skin/hair/pubic hair/pussy/nipples/tail/ears/whiskers/wings ... or keep the penis
  18. Getting tattooed out of a whim did not necessarily involve having been to a shady bar near the harbor, is less painful (except for your wallet) and can be reverted easily
  19. You can walk through walls: on purpose using a non-phys vehicle, or for the fun challenge called "sim crossing"
  20. You can ski, snowboard, paraglide, parachute, scuba dive, etc. without risking your physical health, spending a fortune or train for many years sacrificing your youth to over ambitious parents
  21. You can do business with half naked demonesses, catpeople, aliens, robots, faeries, etc. and nobody is surprised or questions your mental health
  22. Photographing is cheaper than in RL (yes, do the math)
  23. This one is courtesy of Rika Watanabe: Making SL shopping eat you out of house and home takes some real determination.
  24. Nobody worth mentioning cares if you are gay, lesbian, polyamorous, into BDSM or all of it together - in fact being plain vanilla seems rather the exception
  25. You can have friendships and partnerships (business and intimate) with people from all over the world. While this is technicaly possible in RL as well, it is much harder to pull off.
  26. Sunshine and beaches 365 days a year, even without living in the Carribean (not coutning the Christmas craze) - in fact do your own wheather
  27. Teleporting - how could I forget that
  28. You can have cheap entertainment by going to places with advanced newbies and switching transparencies on to see what attachments they "proudly" wear
  29. You can do swordfights, firefights and all other type of combat with your best friend without having to answer embarrasing questions to their weeping SO afterwards
  30. Shameless publicity plug while I think of better answers: jewellery is much more affordable
  31. Having breasts bigger than your head, or having shoulders broader than a quarterback's in full armor, supported by a waist thin as your wrist doesn't hurt anywhere as much as it should.
  32. For men: your erection stands tall as long as you wish, and you can climax as many times in a row as you want
  33. For women: you can have sex while being on the phone with one of the girls.... erm...
  34. Most shops give you a free sample of their merchandise, to keep and use as long as you wish
  35. Banks and stock exchanges are greedy, dubious at best, and game with your money - while this stands true in RL as well, there is no need to keep up the facade in SL
  36. Marriage and divorce are significantly cheaper, and do not involve a bureaucratic nightmare
  37. Also no bureaucratic nightmares for building your house, boat, plane, prison, temple, weaponry, shop or any other abonimation you might come up with
  38. Mute/Eject/Ban gets you effective peace from stalkers and other annoying creatures without the need to hire hitmen or lawyers
  39. Vampires ask politely and "no" is an answer
  40. You can talk to n people simultaneously with each of them assuming they have your full attention (where n determines on your stack depth and multitaksing capacities - n=2 for me, your milage may vary)
  41. Nobody can force you to do anything! (Except land owners can force you to leave, and Lindens can force you to probably everything)
  42. You can have your breakfast in a space station, your lunch in Barcelona, and your dinner in Middle Earth without wondering all the time how to get out of the straight jacket.
  43. You can sit on a crocodile, ride a bird, stand in a lava stream and shop in the clouds
  44. You can BUILD a crocodile, a bird, a lava stream or open a shop in the clouds
  45. You can have a lot of fun having little or no money - if you are smart and ressourceful nobody will even notice
  46. There are no insurance agents and used car salespeople
  47. There are no elections that really change things - just fashion/design/business related elections. However one can doubt if elections in RL really change things either...
  48. Courtesy of Trinity Dechou: you don't need to move when getting a coffee
  49. Courtesy of Rika again: This is a world that can be saved, which, for the other one, is not certain.
  50. You can directly speak to SLebrities - they still can chose to ignore you, but there are no layers of agents/secretaries/managers/etc. between you and them
  51. You can BECOME a SLebrity, and all it takes is skills and communication talent (skip the skills for some SLebrities)
  52. Don't dream it - be it!
On a personal note: My first life is subject to many challenges, including a special condition of a person close to me, which makes the daily life very hard. My second life gives me a lot of things that my first life does not provide, among others respect, appreciation and wealth. Leading my second life is an act of escapeism for me. An hour or two of peace a day, an hour or two of life how I wish it to be . Naturally more than once I have thought how it would be to fully live in SL. There were moments where I would have happily sacrificed my atomic existence had a scientist offered me to transfer my mind into SL. But in fact my second life helps me with coping with my first life better. It helps me with my self esteem issues, it helps me with my shyness, it helps me with discovering my strenghts. I consider myself an immersionist, but the effect Second Life has on me is an augmentistic one. Leading a second life has a therapeutic and positive effect on my first life. Use Second Life as a tool. Live your goddamn dream!

December 12, 2008

Men and women

Dyami Jameson, my neighbour who I barely met before, and the boyfriend of my friend CeNadra, has posted a small quote in his blog that got a lot of positive comments from his female audience:

"When I asked you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked"

This advice neglects a very fundemental thing, that women time and again point out: Men and women are different! And that, in fact, as miserable as it often makes situations, is good. Men and woman can't be too similar, or our society and even our species would be in big trouble (it's a different matter if that is good or bad).

The wiring of the brain of men and women is different, and it is one trait of men that they seek for solutions. A man can't stop his cogwheels spinning - when confronted with a situation, with a problem, he WILL start to look at new angles and he WILL start to look - and often find - solutions.

Those of us who are able to suppress this - and I personally fail more often in that than I succeed - have learned so by tough training and survived fights with ther partners. And even though we "only" listen, our cogwheels spin nevertheless. We just learned by experience to better shut up.

It is not a sign of love if we "only" listen. It is training. It is not a sign of carelessness when we suggest answers and solutions. We would not suggest answers and solutions if we would not care about you. It is our way to show love and appreciation to you, to take your issues seriously, and to try and come up with solutions to ease your issues.

December 10, 2008

Dress me up!

Achariya launched a nice challenge, so I wonder what my dear readers come up with. Plus it gave me an excuse to not only show my naked butt again, but also show off the great shorts Skinkie gave me from Alphamale.

1. Post a picture of yourself in your underpants.
2. In this post, invite your readers to suggest a particular outfit (or hair, jewelry, shoes, skin, etc.) from a designer for you to purchase and write about. (Designers, feel free to suggest items from your own line - why not, after all?) People who respond should explain why they like these items.
3. In the next few weeks, look back over the suggestion list and incorporate these ideas into your regular blogging, marking these entries with the tag "dress me up." Post in as many or few suggestions as you want. It's up to the blogger's discretion to pick which items to wear, so no complaining if they don't pick your idea, K? :D

December 09, 2008

Kru Flan

I have a crush on Kru Flan. I have never met her in-world, never actually visited her shop, but I enjoy her regular "Today's Modeling Pose" blog posts on the fashion feed. I think she has one of the cutest avatars ever, and the poses she makes are just lovely.

So if you look for new poses, go and visit her shop or read her blog.

That's all I wanted to say. Photo used by permission.

December 08, 2008

Ornamental Christmas

It's all Ana Lutetia's fault! Back in October she blogged about flirting in Ornamental Boudoir, showing the jewellery creations of my girlfriend Skinkie Winkler together with some beautiful lingerie from a designer I have not heard of before - Shir Dryke of Ornamental Life.

Photo courtesy of Ana Lutetia

I visited Shir's shop on a few occasion since then, and I really like the quality of the creations. Her lingerie brings fresh colors and original concepts, and her regular clothing has a casual chique that can be combined with a lot of outfits. And - as my friend Ivanova points out - finally a designer who is "Not afraid of the color green".

Recently, Shir Dryke announced a 50% storecard sale with a rather sad photo. I emailed her and asked about the reason for the sad face, and she shared some RL issues with me. I respect and admire her request for not dragging those issues into public, but if you like Shir's creation, I would like to urge you to take advantage of her storecard sale - you really help her with that.

December 02, 2008

Nominated as Entrepreneur of the year - please vote

To my huge surprise I got nominated as "SL Entrepreneur of the Year 2008" by the SL business publication "SL Entrepreneuer Magazine". I am very thrilled about this - Babel Translations has been a challenging project for the last 18 months but one which fills me with pride and satisfaction.

If you are so inclined, you can vote for me on this website. The competition is fierce as there are some great names on that list, so many thanks to all of you who cast their vote for me. In any case, being nominated is a great award already.