Adult estate owners’ meeting

The Zindra Expo Group is  hosting an open meeting for all Adult estate owners.

Scheduled for a 13:00 SLT start on Saturday 22nd October, the main aim of the meeting is, “To connect with estate and other land owners with an interest in Adult Content. Zindra residents, and residents with an interst in Adult Content, have a voice. But estate and land owners special interests are often overlooked in the general residents’ group. This is your opportunity as a land owner to connect with other land owners and form a group.”

While primarily for Adult estate owners, residents who are age verified are welcome to attend. The meeting will take place at Distrel (SLurl). Further information on the meeting can be obtained by contacting (via IM or Notecard) Ginette Pinazzo.

Zexpo: “The Forbidden Carnival”

Zexpo – the Zindra Adult community’s annual fair – gets underway tomorrow for a 10-day celebration.

Tamely promoted (for understandable reasons) on the LL website, the event is described as:

“A mix of creative and interactive experiences for Residents, as the four regions of ZEXPO are transformed into a land of surprises and innovative creations. Games, contests, rides and daring attractions will all be in the mix, along with art galleries, concerts, live discussions and exotic play areas. ZEXPO is a celebration of Zindra, the sophisticated adult mainland of Second Life. Zindra will host this Forbidden Carnival, offering 10 days of fun. Be there as ZEXPO 2011 celebrates Zindra and everything adult in SL.”

Tame or not, it’s good to see the event getting an up-front mention on the official blog.

The official Zexpo website is very much more to the point: “The ultimate virtual tradeshow and immersive convention experience in Second Life, showcasing the best of the adult mainland and much more!”

The event will run from the 26th August through to the 4th September across four themed sims (SLurl), and features an impressive list of exhibitors. The sims themselves are heavily loaded with builds, scripted items (a lot of flashing lights and suchlike), etc., so lag might be an issue when it gets busy; you might want to divest yourself of heavily scripted attachments before making a visit – and consider turning down any high draw distance you may have.

Lord Nelson looks down on Zexpo

You can wander the sims at leisure, or opt for one of several modes of transport, including scripted pods and … elephants.

Events for the expo include talks, presentation, tribute concerts (including a Lady Gaga tribute), performance artists, a 24-hour film theatre for many types of machinima, etc.

Zexpo street-level watched over by the Statue of Liberty

for those wishing to experience the most from the event, there is even the ability to stay at an in-world hotel!

Zexpo is open to those over 18, and requires Age Verification via the SL website (ACCOUNT -> AGE VERIFICATION).

Useful Zexpo Landmarks

Switch-over today

Today is the day LL “throw the switch”, so to speak, on Adult Content – from today, all commercial / advertised content related to Adult Activities must either be located on the “Adult” continent of Zindra or on a private island sim which has had the Adult Content flag set.

Exactly how much confusion is likely to come out of this has yet to be seen – but my honest opinion is that, despite the wailing, gnashing of teeth and rending of garments by many in the BDSM community, there won’t actually be very much confusion at all and that life with more-or-less go on as normal.

I say this because, despite LL’s truly abysmal handling of the entire affair in terms of the lack of clear-cut announcements, bringing the changes to the attention of the community as a whole, the confusion evident within their own ranks (Cyn, Jack, Blondin all issuing contradictory statements at one time or another – or even at the same “press conference”), the unwillingness to engage more directly with those with genuine concerns (who admittedly had themselves to fight against a wealth of misinformation circulating within the BDSM community relating to things such as Age Verification, and who were frequently shouted down as a result)….the fact remains the those who will be most affected by the changes are now sufficiently aware of the changes – thanks to the BDSM commuity itself – that the “flicking of the switch” will barely affect them.

And that’s perhaps the saddest part of these changes: not so much that they had to be made (I’ve never actually had much against the changes in principle) but in the fact that despite the utter ham-fisted manner in which LL executed the entire “programme” the overall lack of confusion will cause those most responsible for the repeated blunders of communication, understanding and implementation within LL to give themselves a self congratulatory pat on the back and walk away in the mistaken belief that, despite all the naysayers, they clearly did “communicate” “clearly” and they obviously “listened” to the user community – and therefore see little reason to change how they “manage” such interactions in the future.

One thing I did find interesting in a quick-fire trip around Zindra some 24 hours before the switch-over was the large number of “Mature” rated sims their that were still attracting relatively new avatars (less than 3 months old) with NPIOF. Now, granted said avatars may have been age verified, but I do have my doubts as to whether they are – and the fact that they were happily enduring the already noticable lag on Zindra suggests that there will at least be some confusion after today, as people find their way barred to places they’d visited 24 hours before. Or maybe I’m doing them a disservice, and they’re aware of the changes and were making a quick “last visit” before the doors closed…

Adult Changes – getting yourself ready

Thought I’d drop a quick note in case anyone is having problems vis-a-vis search and the adult content changes, or in accessing adult-flagged sims.

The new Adult controls are contained within the Second Life Viewer version 1.23.4, which is currently optional. Earlier versions of the viewer, and viewers based on earlier versions are not affected by the changes and can continue to be used “as normal” until such time as Linden Lab force all users to update to 1.23.4 (or later).

Note that to be fully “Adult enabled” with 1.23.4 (or later), you need to complete both sets of actions below and ensure you are either Account Verified or Age Verified.

Set Your Content Rating

In 1.23.4 (and later) versions of the SL Viewer, log-in to Second Life and:

  1. Select EDIT from the menu bar at the top of the screen and then click on PREFERENCES to open the Preferences window.
  2. Click on GENERAL at the top of the tab list, the GENERAL tab will open on the right of the Preferences window.
  3. In the GENERAL tab, locate the RATING option. This has a drop-down menu next to the words “I want to access content rated:”
  4. From the drop-down make ure you select “PG, MATURE AND ADULT”
  5. Click on APPLY at the bottom of the Preferences window, followed by OK to close the window.

Set Search Preferences

  1. Click on the SEARCH button at the bottom of your screen to open the SEARCH window.
  2. Click on the ALL tab to select the All search window.
  3. Make sure the Adult Content checkbox is ticked.
  4. Repeat step (3) for all the search tabs that have a Adult Content option (e.g. Classified, Events, Lands Sales, etc.).

Account / Age Verification

To access Adult rated locations (private sims or Zindra), you must be either Account or Age verified (possibly both, depending on the land settings).

Account verification means you have either payment information recorded against your SL account OR you have deposited US dollars into an XStreetSL account in your avatar’s name.

Age Verification requires you use the Aristole Integrity age verification process. Log-on to the SecondLife website and select MY ACCOUNT from the top right of the page. When your Account Summary has loaded, click on the AGE VERIFICATION option on the blue menu to the left of the page. You may wish to read some notes on age verification before doing so.

Zindra unveiled

Zindra-2
Kama’s Civic Centre, probably inspired by a ferry terminus

June 15th marked the arrival of two new features in SL: the 1.23 “Adult enabled” Viewer and the new “Adult” continent, Zindra.

Both were announced within an hour of one another, the first by Dessie Linden and the second by Jack Linden.

Despite the trumpeting, both left people decidedly underwhelmed. The viewer in particular is stunningly unusable & inherently unstable. If you’ve not swapped to it yet – DON’T. Even bugs Dessie lists as “fixed” turned up for many of those who downloaded and installed the Viewer. Equally as bad are the pointless changes to frequently-used pie menu options and the arbitrary removal of camera functions used by the likes of Machinema creators.

Zindra-1
Prim glow, prim glow, everywhere prim glow

As to Zindra…well, while it may not (yet) be a ghetto environment, it is hardly something to leap for joy over. Here, in summary are my reactions:

  • Buildings in Kama City are so-so in terms of build quality and are blandly unimaginative in form. Many appear derivative of builds found on private islands; and why offices in what is supposedly a retail environment?
  • Prim glow in the city is totally over-the-top and completely lag-inducing
  • Roads (particularly in the city areas) straddle the sim boundaries around the city rendering them almost completely unusable when there is more than a dozen avatars on-sim
  • The countryside is boring and shows little imagination terraforming-wise. It is all largely uniform an uninspiring
  • Despite statements from LL that the continent covers some 256 regions, the number is actually 154, of which 45 are protected waterfront, and numerous others are 50% protected land – things could get very cramped, very quickly…
  • As the waterfront land is under Linden maintenance and unavailable for public rent, it’s going to be impossible for those with waterfront land on the old Mainland to get “like-for-like” exchanges.

The biggest issue I had with the new environment, however, was lag. It was noticeable when I arrived in Mosh (at the heart of Kama City), when there were around 18 residents there. By the time the sim was full with 41 avatars, the lag was intolerable – not just in Mosh itself, but in most of the surrounding sims.

Zindra-3
Not a wise move

Another cause for concern (for others as well) is why child avatars are allowed in Zindra?

Zindra is a continent promoted for “extreme adult” content. By allowing child avatars access to the continent ([2009/06/15 20:05]  Blondin Linden: No WOrries Chand. CHild avs are allowed on Zndra [sic]) Linden Lab are opening themselves to the accusation by others that they tacitly condone ageplay, regardless of whether said child avatars engage in it or not.

But to return to the land issue. For those who have to move to Zindra and were hoping this “preview” would help them select land options, I can only offer my sympathy. Information on the move is still grossly lacking, and there is absolutely nothing in Zindra itself to either identify available parcels or which informs people as to where to go and what to do in order to identify parcels they’d like, other than for people to random fly around, prod at the ground for About Land and note lot numbers.

So much for the promise that Linden Lab would make the transition “painless”.

OK… I was wrong – possibly

Not long ago I gave a possible reason as to why LL’s attempt to introduce Adult Content has come now, and possibly why it is confused.

Well, it’s now official: I was wrong -possibly. Not lesser person than Ken Dreifach (Ken Linden) – Linden Lab’s Deputy General Counsel has put me right on this (albeit indirectly). When asked about the FTC investigation by Mitch Wagner on Sunday 31st May, Dreifach responded:

“That’s not behind this, we actually learned about that…well I guess it’s this month….uhh…that there was something in the….I guess it was one of the appropriations bills back in March where, ah, Congress asked the FTC to, ah, do a study on what types of content – adult content, other content – are available in virtual worlds, and whether, um…what the accessibility to and by minors is. But that’s not focused specifically on Second Life, that’s just a study that they’re doing…and we’ll all read it in about a year…”

However, I do find Ken’s words somewhat surprising in that a) he has apparently been unaware of an investigation which received funding inDecember 2008 as a part of HR 110-920 (and not in March as he states); and that b) the outcome of the investigation could impact all virtual worlds, including Second Life. Again, to quote the specifics of the appropriation:

“In addition, no later than 9 months after enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit a report to the Appropriations Committee discussing the types of content on virtual reality sites and what steps, if any, these sites take to prevent minors from accessing content.

[Above emphasis mine.]

Given this statement, one would assume Linden Lab would be looking at the FTC investigation a little harder than Ken’s words would perhaps suggest. But be that as it may. It’s not my place to second-guess corporate thinking.

What is clear is from the comments passed during by Linden Lab representatives during a recorded discussion, is that for something that has been under consideration for between one and two years (time period dependent upon which Linden rep was talking on-camera), this entire matter has managed to become an unmitigated mess which (despite Ken’s words) now smacks of being rushed through without any clarity of thought – or real consideration of the upheaval it will create.

So…maybe I was wrong about the FTC. Or perhaps this is something LL were thinking would be something they should do back when they first foisted age verification, but they never actually got round to thinking how it could be done…..until the launch of the FTC investigation panicked them into “action”. If the idea has been floating nebulously around the LL offices for the two years since age verification was introduced, even if no direct action was taken until recently, then technically Ken’s statement is accurate.

But then, so to is my guess as to the reason behind the matter becoming an almighty rush.