Sunday, November 22, 2009

My problem with the roadmap

So, I've been pondering the real reasons I'm so displeased with the xstreet thing. The initial knee-jerk is of course "wow, fuck you for adding yet another surcharge without providing anything in return." But the real reason I really really don't like the change goes a lot deeper than that.

The freebies thing...kinda sucks, and kinda doesn't. I don't like it, but it may actually not be a horrible idea: I don't know whether it can actually _work_ (in fact, I think it stands a snowball's chance in hell of actually helping any), but it's a reaction from LL to the fact that freebies have gotten out of control, and freebies do not drive the economy. They can't ban freebies in world, where the problem has gotten to be more of an epidemic, this is one place where they can try to stem the tide and hope that it spills over- problem being, there are a LOT of freebies that benefit the community as a whole that wouldn't be as useful if they weren't freely available, as well as the fact that freebies lure new users into joining and staying, and eventually putting money into the system to stimulate the economy. I don't know for sure, as I don't browse the freebies on xstreet really, but I think that most of the free swag on xstreet is of that type, and most of the type that stagnates the economy is available only in world. So I doubt this will truly have any positive impact upon the real base problem, that too much is available for free as "promotion", but that's backfiring and causing people to not see the reason to pay for anything, period.

The bigger problem, is the 10L per month per item fee that's slipped in there. Firstly, they tried to slip it in so we wouldn't notice- note the name of the article is Managing Freebies, and that's the main thrust of the article, and this is snuck in such that many people (including myself) missed it on first reading. That is underhanded, and you don't get a warm fuzzy feeling when you realize someone is trying to hide the fact they want to fuck you over.

And fuck you over it does: aside from the fact that, quite simply, merchants will have to waste a shitload of their time delisting items to avoid fees that xstreet does not support (after having wasted a shitload of time listing in the first place on a system with a miserable interface), this also inherently changes the entire service of xstreet- it removes a service that worked in one way, and replaces it with an entirely different service that I do not think will be anywhere near as useful- I know, with absolute certainty, that it will in fact turn a useful service into a useless one, for me personally. And THAT is my deeper issue here.

I've talked to a number of people about xstreet (and onrez before that) for a number of years. Everyone that I've talked to uses these services in somewhat similar manners:


1) Web based searching, even though xstreet has an absolutely horrible search system (onrez's was far superior, which was just yet another reason killing off onrez and not implementing the better features as promised was a mistake), is still a lot easier than in world searching. In world searching will always have a lot of problems because there's simply too much out there, and it's a lot harder to find what you're looking for. You need to search in All to be able to _try_ to pick up on people who've thought to tick their vendors for search, and then you have to sift through all the things that have nothing to do with what you want to buy- if I'm looking to purchase a particular style of building, I don't really want to end up in sims with that theme instead. Additionally it takes a lot of time to go to a sim, wait for things to rez, find the particular vendor you're looking for, wait for it to rez, and then find out if you're actually interested in that, or want to keep looking down the list. There's a huge inconvenience factor when it comes to shopping in this manner- and xstreet fills a very necessary gap in services. I'm far more likely to get frustrated and give up, if I'm limited to in world options- and with less being listed on xstreet, I AM limited to in world options. It won't be worth it to even try to find things on xstreet, knowing that an already limited pool is limited even further to such a drastic degree- I just plain won't bother to even try. They should be moving towards having more listed on xstreet, not less, for a convenience to find what I'm looking for. Now, the real kicker here, is that unless there's a special deal or only available on xstreet, I would go IN WORLD and buy the item I found. There's no way to know that xstreet fostered that sale, because I wanted to see the other things people had in world, as well as the whole buying process being a bit more cozy if I can go see their place, and the way they've decorated and get a feel for the whole thing, and pay the box and get the thing instantly- instead of fearing yet another layer of failed transactions (there are still failed transactions on xstreet, far more commonly than in world, and my transaction records prove it). And if it's something I can actually _see_ physically in world, like poses? You'd better believe that xstreet fostered that sale, but could not MAKE the sale on its own.

2) Gifting no transfer items is also a huge convenience perk on xstreet- I can try to do it manually, but I have to notecard the merchant, wait for them to be online, find out how they want me to deal with it, get them to send the item, hope they actually do (thankfully I've never run into anyone who didn't, but you do need to have a certain level of trust in who you're buying from, a stranger who is doing it by hand and in whose control it entirely lies). Doing it through xstreet means I see something that I think a friend would like in SL, I know this merchant has xstreet so I bring up their profile, find the item, send it off, and I'm all done. Convenience is a huge motivator in commerce- or really, the converse is more true, inconvenience is a huge detractor. If the line at the store is too long and I don't really need what I've got in my cart, I may just walk out without buying what I'd chosen- I may buy the items there later, but on the other hand, I may buy them somewhere else, or I may simply not buy them at all. xstreet provides a very necessary way to conveniently bypass a problem inherent in the way SL has to work- especially as copy/no trans is what more people have moved towards because of transaction and asset failure (additionally there is a huge convenience factor in resizing prims and such- but that could also be gotten around if the permissions system was more sophisticated). In other words, xstreet provides a way to work around the problems that LL has never FIXED. And, the Christmas season is coming up! A time when gift giving (whether it be Xmas presents or Hanukkah or whatnot) is on the rise- this is the LAST time you want to encourage people to be taking things off xstreet. In fact, this is the time you want to be encouraging merchants to put their entire stock ON xstreet.

3) In a related point, xstreet serves as a great place for a merchant to keep stock- they can keep old retired stock, but additionally they can provide a different browsing experience- both "Textures loading slowly for you today? Browse on xstreet!", and offering an alternate organizational scheme (which, unfortunately, is another something that xstreet does NOT do well, and onrez did far better, between tags and the ability to browse tags by owner, I could easily "build" pages with different options that were related and link them in the description, in a far more flexible manner than could ever be presented in world). I had my entire catalog, constantly kept up to date as part of my releasing process, on onrez before it was bought out and discontinued. It worked as a great supplement even though people rarely bought through it. I've recently started trying to build up my catalog on xstreet again, as listing is far less friendly and takes far longer than onrez- so you've also got the pissed offedness over all the wasted time- I've spent literally DAYS updating xstreet, and will be deactivating at least 90% of what I have there, if I stay at all. The whole system with alternates (say, different colours) of an item also means that if I stay, I will be unlisting a LOT of things that LL has received sales commissions on- there's no reason to have more than one "display" colour up, even though they sell, on xstreet as well as in world, in _all_ colours.


The new system is trying to turn xstreet into a standalone marketplace- and I don't think that SL is a system that can truly support that. I know that it's not something I can actually see any benefit in having, turning the entire system just into a "spotlight" of "best sellers"- on top of that, I don't think LL really wants to be showing the world, in a forum easily viewed by outsiders without taking the time to even create an account and see the system, what ARE the top sellers. Badly made stripper wear, blinging stripper heels, that full prim schoolgirl skirt with the dropping and mooning animation that was constantly on the front page? You already have enough of a problem with SL being seen by outsiders as a den of iniquity and sex and perverts, and this is NOT an image you want, and you know this. It's the image you are more than likely to get however, because these things _do_ sell, and I could make a hell of a lot more money in SL if I sold out and didn't care and made crappily made stripper gear. Sex sells, and the internet is made for porn (the internet is also a filthy perverted place, and for the tiniest bit of proof, go to google and type in- why won't - and watch what it autocompletes. This is also why searching in SL DOESN'T WORK, until the computer can read my mind and interface with other sophisticated computers that are capable of truly understanding, we rely on algorithms, and they are always inherently flawed, it's just a case of making them the least flawed possible. Also, be very very happy I chose that as an example, not any of the truly fucked up things out there, that make clown gangbangs look tame). Now, thing is, sex doesn't sell to me, and the higher proportion of stripper wear and blingtard heels will serve to alienate me, and all the people like me who aren't interested in it, out of the market. It may not be all that's there, but it will go up in percentage, which will make it look like there is so much more of it, and so much less of anything in which I am interested. Not only will there be less I am interested in, but there will appear to be EVEN less because the things in which I am not interested will stay in a higher percentage than the things in which I am. And as that happens, it will foster the trend to continue, snowballing until there's no reason to ever use it for anything else.

People have been defending it by comparing it to ebay- without considering that ebay does offer a number of free insertions a month, it's an insertion fee, not a recurring one, and, when it comes down to it, you're comparing apples and oranges. They're both fruit, but the two systems are, and always will be simply due to the way SL works, completely different in very fundamental ways. I can't see a truly ebay like system being able to flourish in any real way in SL- limited quantities and time sensitivity are things that are more foreign to this medium, and you have to do intentionally, instead of coming naturally.

There are some other intrinsic problems here: if xstreet is such a money pit, why did you buy not one, but two of these services that were doing quite alright on their own, where they didn't have the rest of the infrastructure in place that should make this cheaper for LL to run, not more expensive. Either someone didn't do their research to start with (and a very high, higher than has happened, growth after the takeover should have been expected and included as part of this research), or something has been handled very very badly. Neither inspire any sort of confidence whatsoever in LL's ability to handle ANYTHING.

Additionally, "money" doesn't mean the same thing to LL- it is the carrot and the stick approach (mostly the stick), not what money converts to. They print the money, they control the supply, they have the money sinks of uploads, classifieds, etc. as money sinks to keep the economy moving (outside money needs to be brought into the system for it to continue functioning, additionally this means _less_ money can be taken out of the system, leaving them with the difference)- they give things worth. Textures have some intrinsic worth not simply because of the work involved in making them, but they have also an actual dollar amount (fractional as it is) added on top of that- which ceases it from being entirely "free" in any way, which instills some sliver of actual concrete "worth". Classifieds have the money system so there's a way to be "on top" by being willing to spend more than anyone else. LL doesn't "make money" directly off of these fees, instead they make money by removing this money from the system. Lindens are imaginary money until they are cashed- except to LL, when they are real money that belongs to them, until they are cashed, so they need to keep money coming into the system to keep paying for things, as well as have certain ways to keep it in the system. (Land fees are a somewhat related issue, although there's a more direct added cost on top of that that gives it more direct "worth".)

So, by instituting these fees, they're adding another money sink- but its direct result will be the stick. It actually serves as a disincentive, just as upload fees serve as a disincentive to upload trash to the asset servers. The disincentive is a mechanism of control, to mold the system into what they want it to be instead of what it is, NOT a way to make money.

And, the real problem at the end of it? The system they want it to be, is one that certainly is less useful to me, and may in fact be entirely useless. It certainly means that I have been operating under an entirely different set of assumptions when using this system, both as consumer and merchant- and the new rules don't have any benefit to me. They want to foster commerce because that's what brings them money- however I can only see them removing convenience, and placing roadblocks in the way of commerce, instead.

Friday, November 20, 2009

xstreet alternatives- a recap

So, a short form of the 6 services:

Metaverse Exchange:
My top choice, as the services are currently, semi tied with apez. Beats out meta-life because that excluded itself from being useful to me. Beats out apez (somewhat) because it has somewhat better bulk listing. Listing itself is weird and takes a lot of getting used to, may in fact be harder to list individual items than any other service, so it's not super awesome.

apez.biz:
Semi ties with MVX, in fact I'm still waffling as to which of these two I prefer. MVX has easier and more interesting bulk listings (which I like...but also kinda don't like, because you can't SEE everything at once easily), but apez has some semi decent bulk listing features, so long as you never, ever, EVER change your mind. I would say it's easier set up than MVX for singles, LOVE the collections way of grouping items.

meta-life:
Mostly a pretty damn great service. Pretty damn near totally useless for me because of the image thing. Wish it would have website image uploads, and apez's collections- with a few very minor interface tweaks on top of that meta would quite possibly be my perfect service.

slapt.me:
Of the four I could get up and running, slapt was the most lackluster. No bulk features, just about as clunky listing wise as xstreet (and if I have to choose something else, I'm choosing something with BETTER features), and interface problems that make it almost unusable for me because I have problems figuring out what things say at all.

vitty:
Suffers from the "if I need to move, I should move to something that makes my life easier" problem- listing looks similarly clunky, about on par with xstreet. Geared towards the Japanese market, _and_ has a deal on commissions for low priced items, so, as a consumer, this is quite possibly a hidden gem full of holy crap that's amazing and I need it right now. It's just not something I'd use for selling on, currently.

Cariama:
Not yet open (the website itself only launched at all the beginning of last month), so out of the running.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

xstreet alternatives- cariama & vitty

Test drive 5: Cariama

Not actually open yet! So. That was fast. Somehow someone has listed 1 item (maybe a test item in some manner?) but otherwise, this isn't running yet.


Test drive 6: vitty

I am guessing vitty's having issues with the influx of people, I'm incapable of getting a box delivered to me to try a listing. However, looking through the help docs, there is no bulk listing feature at all, so that kinda excludes it as an option for me. Additionally, I'm not fluent in Japanese (and not even barely literate), so as it's a Japanese site, I would be excluding most of the audience by being unable to list in Japanese. The website itself is set up well for English speakers though, and for people looking to expand into the Japanese market, I think this would bear looking into just for that.

Additionally, there's no commission at all on any item under 51L, so it would be a great market for cheap promos. (Standard 5% on 51L and up)

xstreet alternative- metaverse exchange

Test drive 4: Metaverse Exchange

We may have a winner, for me. It's strange, and not 100% ideal, and reinvents the wheel. But, it might be my best option.

Also, you'll see that my evaluation is coloured by previous things- meta-life plus proper image integration is currently what I'm measuring things against (in other words, I want to see them get close to that, _or_ similar convenience in another package- this approaches the second). I'm also more concerned with cursory listings and will work on more of the extras later, while skimming through each to get the overview.

For convenience (and my wrist's) sake, I'm going to be referring to this as MVX because I can barely _remember_ the full name, aside from it being long. The info from digging around the website looked interesting- a "listing here is weird, but that's because we actually let you group alternates". And listing IS weird.

Signup's a little strange because this is an "integrate all your virtual worlds into one account" thing (as well as multiple SL accounts, from the looks of it)- there's currently one other world (Legends Online? or something like that. I've heard of it, never been), set up an account, integrate it to your SL account second, and they actually USE your email address in sign up...so it makes sense to ask (maybe that's why the whole email signup process on slapt was weird to me? I don't know). Box gets sent, you don't have to leave the privacy of your skybox while wearing awesome but wacky demos and other neat things people send you while you're standing around. p.s. I'm also a fan of convenience.


Good Things:

Multiple options of the same item (like colour alts) collapse into one really easily. One listing, dropdown for all the items on that listing. Totally different system than any of the others, and a nice one- cuts down on the dreaded clutter that omg is the reason the sky is falling and we have to fuck with you. Editing the batch is also pretty quick and reasonably simple...once you know what you're doing, which is not easy.

Image uploading with multiple options, including the ability to grab previously uploaded images fairly easily. Also, you can assign a crapton of images to any single thing (I threw in all 30 alts of the shirt, just to see if I could- it doesn't have a scrollbar, so it's rather useless beyond the first 5 or so, but it DID let me), though it doesn't tell you in the thumbnail that there are other images than just the default. It automatically reorders things as you assign in a manner that appeared random to me, so beyond image 1, who knows what the order will be- this only makes any difference when you have too many images and some may get shoved off screen!

edit: I just looked back- thumbnails are smaller than before so I can see more, AND it now scrolls sideways if you have more than fit. So, something may have been hinkey when I first checked that's ironed itself out.

I think you can do copy and transfer options integrated into single listings easily as well, if you choose to. I largely avoid transfer on web based systems when I have a copy alternative because I don't trust redelivery and unscrupulous people. (Generally, this is why I don't like transfer, period, btw, and only offer it in very particular cases now.)


Bad Things:

Holy crap is listing confusing. It sort of kinda makes sense once you've done it, but even then, parts are NOT where you expect them to be, divided up between two sections- and some things in one part don't carry over but others do...generally, very steep learning curve. You WILL need to have the Help page open while you're listing, and will have to look back at it for every. single. step. The instructions are pretty good, but they are 100% necessary, and it will probably take me a handful of listings to get used to it at all to where I _don't_ have to refer back constantly. I also got totally turned around trying to edit a listing, and learned a lot the first time that will help out next time, but did a LOT wrong the first time, even going through their instructions. It would be nice if there was an easy way to integrate fatpacks too? However I think that would involve changing the system a bit- prices seem to be constant, and that should be a somewhat different option in the dropdown instead of just alphabetical...so, I don't see an easy way to do it that wouldn't just cause more confusion. This is also assuming that there isn't that ability and I just didn't see it because I'm still picking up on the system. But I was able to easily edit the non fatpack and the fatpack listings to link to each other (BB Code, not HTML- I'm more comfortable with HTML, but BB is pretty common and what most of these sites use anyway, and it's not bad)...once I figured out how to edit active listings (I also made it active before I meant to- again, first listing WILL confuse the crap out of you).

Generally, I'd overhaul the organization in certain ways and move some of the info back and forth- the setting info from one to apply to all thing doesn't make as much sense when you've also got a SECOND place to put in info that applies to all, and the division doesn't entirely seem to make sense. Some does. I also found it may not have applied things across right, and couldn't see where to change the info in the individual and apply it across to all _again_- which is useful.

Images are not bad, but could be yet less clunky. Meta-life's the only one that gets close- let me apply secondary images to all the selected at one click, please. Also, would love to see thumbnails at the item list so I had a clue which ones I'd done what with yet! I had to go through my listing repeatedly to make sure I hadn't listed everything, and some of that won't change with practice, because it isn't so easy to see how the lot of it is set up at a glance. This is less a "bad thing" and a "wish it was this way thing", of course!


All shirts, plus fatpacks, listed. Took (quite a bit) longer than meta-life because a) figuring out system, b) actually changing the pictures for each one! Proper meta-life listings WILL take longer as I didn't slot out the image for each, and c) it may still take slightly longer generally because of the way things are set out across two pages, and how that info there is organized. But, listing all didn't take much longer than one (main problem being assigning images to each)- so for colour alts and such, very good. Listing singles is divided up in the same manner, so that _is_ a little clunkier than some, but not altogether horrible. Still, this is my current personal frontrunner, with meta-life not having uploadable images supported. It has beaten out apez in my book, although single listings are probably a bit more time consuming in the long run than apez.

xstreet alternatives-slapt.me

Test drive 3: slapt.me

Now, people have been raving about this one, so I figured I would go with it next. But I started off less into it, and I'm not entirely sure why. Was it the initial screen before you can go into the site proper? Was it the "look" of it generally? The sign up process continued this slightly...off feeling. Put in a valid email...not your av name. We won't do anything for signing up with that email, go here, say this in local chat out loud on channel 0 (not that it's something that matters really...) and we'll sign you up. The whole thing is just...not the way I want it done, and makes me slightly uncomfortable for reasons I can't put my finger on.

But, then we've got nice shop profiles, yay! Mind you, it's one per avatar, the multi shop thing on meta-life spoiled me, I like that feature. There are split profits- I'm not doing that right now, so I don't know if it applies to all across the board or what (nor will I be looking into that now, as it doesn't apply to me- if it applies to you, check it out!)

Door to door box service, which is "how it should be." Something good about all of them so far- they wait to update so you aren't constantly cycling when adding a group, or changing or whatnot (I've had to change in box perms on a bunch of things before, my xstreet box went postal).


Bad Things:

The category listing box...is too narrow...and I can't SEE the categories to figure out where to list something. /facepalm Now, this is because my browser window isn't maximized, but, even with it, I can't see it all and it will cause more trouble with listings. Generally, the interface is too size dependent and has the sidebars that block it in, and this causes a lot of "wait, what's that supposed to be? Ok, first two letters...what might that spell?"- some even with my browser maximized. My screen may be a laptop screen, but it's large for one of those, so I can see this causing trouble. I could lower my font size to squinty...maybe.

The image file cutoff is _way_ lower, and my first try told me "no sir, this is too big!" Now, this _is_ a fairly large image, but is effectively 1024x1024, not above SL sizes.

I'm not seeing any way to make "bulk" listings easier. I put up with that from xstreet because it was "the" thing, there are alternatives that have it, and that means thumbs down from me. I only listed on onrez until after the takeover and killing of it, and never listed as much on xstreet (in fact, until a month ago, I had very little on xstreet, and only just started listing more with the spotlights).

It strips out HTML (oh, you wanted to link to something there? Too damn bad, you get the links that we tack on to the end of everything, and you'll like it), and ignores BB code, so looks like just text is what you get. This also...does not thrill me. The links there at the bottom of each entry auto generated? That's awesome. But, I want the ability to offer other links, for various reasons. What if this has something to do with a location that only this item has to deal with? And I obsessively link pages to the blog entry for that item- this links to the blog...but not the right page. Now- some people DO have lists. So, there may be a way around some, if not all, of this. But the obvious ways to me are not it.

Collections appear to only apply to in world vendors? Which makes them useless to me.


Good Things:

It's not xstreet? Honestly, it's about on par for clunkiness with xstreet (though it's prettier), unless there is a way I'm not seeing here. You can upload images, unlike meta-life, which continues to make me curse the world for not allowing that. In other words: not a fan, don't know why people are raving so much.

And the searching system doesn't suck- but so far all of them do it way better than xstreet, so that doesn't give it a leg up in this race.


I listed....2 shirts. And gave up. Barring not seeing a LOT of useful features, slapt is not for me.

xstreet alternatives- meta-LIFE

Test drive 2: meta-life. I'm...less of a fan.

Step 1: sign up and get a box! In fact, I ported into the one and only place listed to get started 3 times- first time, getting password; second time- got the wrong box full of stuff because I found the popup menu confusing. That was my own fault though! I also changed out of the lingerie during this as I kept porting over to random stranger being there. So, following the doorstep service of apez, minus .001, meta-life (because really, this is not something you'll do often, so it doesn't really matter! Just teeny tiny annoyance).

Rezzed the box in my corner, dumped shirts in. Headed off to the site. The site...confused the crap out of me. In fact, I still don't know if I'm listing properly.

Now, as an aside here- I am NOT interested in using the in world vending solutions provided by these services. I don't like scripted vendors generally. Scripts = lag, even low lag vendors add up if you've got a lot, and I use scrolling vendors somewhat sparingly because seeing everything is better. I think, if I liked in world vendors, I would like meta-life more.

Content management tab takes you to options for setting up stuff. First, set up the brand(s) you want to sell things under- this is great. I then made a group for the Oxfords with My items groups. Then went over to my items to start editing.


Bad Things:

Images. Gah. I HATE the way they do images. They just want you to dump UUIDs for the textures uploaded, not upload your own images. They still need to upload these to their servers...the quality is shitty. The aspect ratio...is shitty. I am not interested in making these things available in world through an affiliate or my own vendors, so this gets _me_ no advantage. Mostly I cry because the quality is shitty and I have to dig through inventory, copy the UUID, paste it in, and can't update my listings when I'm logged off SL. Images are basically my only real hate, but oh, how I hate. Also, I put in a secondary image. It has the UUID there. It ignores it everywhere on the site other than sitting in blah blah numbers in that text box.

Item groups don't appear to have searching goodness- it's great for listing, put all the things to mass edit in one place so it's easy. But, I don't see any way to _see_ everything that's in there as a consumer, which is not as useful.


Good Things:

MASS EDITS! HUZZAH! Tick your checkboxes for items, edit the slew of them at once, and boom, there you go! You'll still need to edit individual bits, but that gets you way way way ahead started on listings- PLUS you can go back and change your mind and edit them all easily. I wish Apez had mass edits _this_ way too. Annoyingthing: perms are NOT one of the things that are in the mass list...THERE. Images are...but perms aren't. Which is less cool. You CAN mass set perms, BUT it has to be a different step, which is clunky. Not seriously clunky, just teeny tiny bits of clunky, but still, offputting and seems left out in the other thing, and easy to miss. Category listings...is also weird and easy to miss, in a similar fashion.

Tags! That I can see! And use! And click on to see all the other things with the same tags!


I listed all the Oxfords, every single one, in less than 5 minutes. BUT, that's because I didn't slot out the images for each individual one. Because I hate hate HATE getting all the damn UUIDs. The image thing is quite obviously a deal breaker for me, for a LOT of reasons (hell, the image for the oxfords is fucked up because of the way I had to cheat to get it to work in SL and fix on prims). I have zero interest in also having in world vendors linked to the website presence, and always have, and have always avoided tying SL textures into vendors, even when it was _easier_ to do than this. If meta-life changed the image thing to allow uploading off my harddrive, I would probably be saying, right now, "let's all switch to meta-life". It's not as slick looking as apez (but black text on white, so better for readability), but it's got solid functionality aside from the image thing.

xstreet alternatives- Apez

I'm starting to test drive alternatives to xstreet, following today's awesome announcement. So far I've started with two, apez.biz and meta-LIFE:

Apez.biz is my frontrunner. It threw errors every so often, possibly entirely due to being overburdened with people flocking to it, and it caught up and fixed itself pretty well.

It uses a bit different listing system than xstreet, thank god. This does mean, woo hoo, learning curve. Step 1, obviously, sign up and snag a box through their procedure (it was painless, I 'ported over to set up my password while wearing lingerie to one of the list of places, it was deserted and no one saw my rumpled sexiness. p.s. Apatia Hammerer is to blame for the state of undress. And then I had the box sent to me while standing in my messy skybox server box corner).

Dumped the oxfords in the box. They sell pretty well, and they are _very_ multi listing dependent. They could be listed super easy (onrez was pretty easy!)...or eye stabbingly hard (xstreet). Then went to the website to try to figure out...what to do. The what to do was helped out by the aforementioned errors, which popped up as I tried to muddle through setting up the system and helped confuse things.

"vend" tab, then "inventory" shows your list. I got a bit lost in there, and went to "products" first (note: "catalogs", the next option, is currently not implemented). I created a new collection- with that option being at the right hand side it was less intuitive (eyes go left first. It's a super minor thing, and later it works), to put all the oxfords in to set them up together. I'm guessing this is how it's done, but it's just a guess. Back to "inventory" and clicked on the icon with the fairy wand, which now let me create a new thingie since I have a collection to put it in.


Bad things about listings:

There doesn't appear to be anywhere to fix the perms. So, it shows perms of box, which are probably none, not perms of contents, which usually are not.

The text interface for the description threw in lots of messed up characters when I was editing it, and it took a bit to find a way around the excess bullshit and crappy formatting. This may be due to copy/paste from xstreet listing. I went into the html view, because a) I know it and have more control, which continued to fuck me up with the special characters on saving, and b) I could play around with accepted tags. One really awesome useful tag that's not allowed? img. So....no images in your listings, oh people with logos and such at the bottom making things prettiful. Because yes, I was going to try that, but massively failed. Which is sadface.

No shopfronts, dammit. I liked that about onrez. Also, joint listings, branding, etc. would be nice, for side projects, partnerships, things like that. Maybe you'll get some of that ability with catalogs, who knows.

You can't select a bunch, and edit them all at once. This makes listing, even with the duplicating listings thing, take a hell of a lot longer, because I have to constantly click through and create new and wait for loading blah blah.


Good things about listings:

You can "duplicate" an existing listing and just change the bits you need to. It doesn't update the listing name when you update the object...which is not so good.

It _does_ carry images over so you can have the same extra alt views, plus you can pull down a drop down to access the other images you've uploaded on other items! Which is super duper awesome. I have only made one collection- if it doesn't limit by collection, that list will get unusably long, so we'll see if it retains usefulness at all.

It looks like you can view just the items in the currently selected box. THANK GOD. I can never find a damn thing in my xstreet list because there's too damn much of it.

Tags! Yay! And mini descriptions are neat. Ok, the downside to tags is I don't see a way to USE them other than just invisible search terms, but at least they're there, and will be useful for search terms.

Collections! YOU CAN SEE ALL THE ITEMS IN A COLLECTION AT A CLICK! For items that go together, colour alts et c. this. is. awesome.



Listing multiples of the same colour is still a little clunky as you have to click through to each item to change most of the stuff (onrez had that pop out thing that was REALLY useful, but the carrying info across thing is not bad), but still, head and shoulders above xstreet.

The look is slick- BUT it's white text on dark background. This looks cool...and is harder to read. I would strongly recommend the ability to choose stylesheets and have a nice crisp black text on white for people who aren't so wild about that. Me, I like the dark, but it's a well known _bad_ thing for usability.

p.s. I listed about half of them before I said "fuck this noise, I'll play more later." Still, even with going back and constantly editing all of them (because I was still fighting with formatting), it went way faster than xstreet. BUT nowhere near as fast as meta-LIFE.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Drowsy

Drowsy does festivals in a space that changes from time to time. They're filled with awesome.


shoot em up
i want cotton candy
dancing
drowsy horror festival
drowsy shrine
drowsy ghost girl
drowsy dancers
a horned god

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hotel Dare

An interactive art installation.

hotel dare brick

hotel dare room 103

hotel dare voyeur

hotel dare cottage


This installation at Poetik velvets. The Hotel periodically closes and changes in entirety.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Decripple your build tools

I recommend skimming through Tentacolor if you're a huge geek, there are some amazingly awesome things in there.

One of which is how to decripple your build tools.

Disclaimer: the TOS is sort of murky on the legality of this maybe? I don't think that's what they intended with that clause and it's more towards don't copybot shit, but yeah, I feel I need to give the disclaimer. But hey, it's all in xml files, so it's EASY to edit, if they didn't want us doing it, there are other ways they could have approached that instead. Basically, read Jacek's disclaimer, because I can't be arsed to write a decent one.

Go to skins\default\xui\en-us and open up floater_tools.xml with a regular vanilla text editor (unless you like Dazzle Jazz Hands, in which case you want skins\silver\xui\en-us. I avoid it like the plague, so if things are done differently, you'll have to figure that out yourself). Head down to Position (meters), and in the next 3 declarations of code, change decimal_digits="3" to decimal_digits="5" (in my testing, 5 is the max amount SL keeps track of, you just get wiggly numbers you can't do anything with if you go higher). label="X" is doing it for the x, "Y" for y, "Z" for z, of course. Things are in the same order as the actual Build menu in here.

Do the same for Size (meters)! You can up Rotation as well, but 5's probably excessive for use there. You can also play around with the decimals in the rest of the declarations, as sometimes you can get more out of it (sometimes you can't).

The other SUPER DUPER AWESOME thing to do is fix your texture tab (which is talked about in this entry, this is all Jacek's smarts here). Transparency is capped in the editor...because the Lindens think we're idiots? I don't know. There's no reason not to make that puppy 100, so you can do full transparency in one click WITHOUT resorting to another texture.

Go to Transparency %, and bump max_val="90" to max_val="100"

I also up both the Repeats Per Face, max_val="100" to more than 100 too, because it's useful for Planar mapping (normal people have no need of this, but I've passed 100 repeats more than once. I haven't had to bump past 500...yet).

Unfortunately EVERY SINGLE TIME you have to update a viewer you have to go through this process again, which generally leads to me swearing, making due for a brief period, and then telling people I'm logging off to make my tools not awful (because you get used to them being awesome, and going back....sucks).

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Adjustment Layers, yay! Also, a tad on Actions

Ever wanted to, say, change the Hue/Saturation on a bunch of layers without flattening? Or Levels? Or Curves? Or wanted to change any of those things but keep the original stuff uneditted in case you change your mind? Well then, my friend, Adjustment Layers are for you!

However, I'm a total tease, and FIRST I'm going to tell you about Actions. Actions are another way to apply the same adjustment to multiple layers. It doesn't stay edittable....but it can also do so much more!


Lights, Camera, Actions!

Actions are great when you have repetitive motions you need to go through. Say you need to go through a bunch of files, auto level them, hue/sat them to the exact same value, rotate them 90 degrees clockwise, and resize them to exactly the same size. Actions can try to save our poor carpal tunnely wrists by doing this in one bing bang boom click, once we've done the first one. Actions can record any repeated motion with exactly the same settings, and save that to be applied with one click, regardless of how many steps, at any time.

Firstly here, I'm going to assume throughout this (and, really, all my other) rambling, that your window setup is like mine. There's no real reason for this assumption, other than I think I pretty much keep the default, and you may have to.

You see on the probably right side of your screen (your right, not its right....ok, so I don't think I've mentioned this, but I have a really hard telling my left from my right. So if it's not there, look at the other right, ok?) there are these windows. One of them, possibly the bottom, is where you do your layering magic . But anyway, each of them have these tabs at the top with other options. Right now, I want you to find the one that says History. It should have another tab that says Actions.

If you can't find it, pull down the Windows menu, and choose Actions. If it has a checkmark next to it it's already center stage- if not and you click it, it becomes active, and pops out if you don't have it up already.

There are a couple of folders- Default Actions, possibly Textures. Make a new one, name it "Mine" or "Tralala I can't hear you" or what so ever you please. This is where you will keep your actions so you can find them.

Take your first file, or layer, that you will be applying all these same things to, and make it active. Create a new action in this folder with the same new icon you should be familiar with with Layers. Name it something you can remember, and hit "Record".

Now, do your stuff! Remember, Actions are reeeeeally dumb. They can do exactly the same thing, nothing else. However, they're also kind of smart, you can set your resizing to width by pixels, or percentage, or whatever, and it defines by what it sees set (so you can always scale by 50%, or always 512 wide, or set both height and width to pixels)- it also can apply identical filter settings, or adjustment settings, or pretty much anything really.

Once you're done, hit the stop button, that looks like an old timey cassette tape player stop button. (It's the box.) Now, go to whatever you want to do just like you did....and hit the play button (the filled in arrow), with that Action selected. Sit back and oooooh and aaaaaah over the magic!

You can see everything your action is doing by expanding the arrow next to it, it will show each step with a checkmark next to it. You can toggle steps on and off with these checkmarks, and some expand further to see their settings, what it will apply when the Action is played. Actions will play from the one selected down, if you select one in the middle, skipping the first steps.

Actions are useful in some cases, useless in others. They may or may not be something you want to use. But keep them in mind, for they can save you a lot of hastle, time, and typing, when you do have things you can automate.


But! To get back on the train of thought that got toooootally disrailed there, plowed through a pasture with some cute bunnies, hopped on other tracks and went around a few circles, and finally is reconnecting with what we came here for: Adjustment Layers!


How I Learned to Stop Worrying, and Love the Adjustment Layers

Sorry about that. I get distracted by shiny things, and oh! hey! that's kinda useful crap too! My brain, she is kind of a cluttered mess.

Adjustment Layers are pretty damn superduperawesomefunsauce. They've got a lot of great advantages:

1) They are non destructive. Your original layers are still intact and full of every last drop of juicy information they started with.

2) They are infinitely adjustable. You can go in and tweak that red value 2 degrees up more if you want, you can do a rough "oh, I'll shove everything in that general dirction" and go back and do settings for reals later.

3) They apply to EVERYTHING below them. All layers, without flattening or doing each by hand.

4) They can have masks. You should have learned in our last installment how damn jibbing awesome masks are. This will make you love masks more.

And probably many more, but, eh, that'll do for the sales pitch for now. Once you've used them, you too will squee with delight.

Now, to do: Look to your Layers palette. There are a bunch of wacky icons at the bottom. Mine are chain, squiggly f in a circle, box with a hole in it, circle that's half black/half white diagonally, folder, folded up page, trashcan. In real world terms that translates to:

Link (chain), which links layers so when you move one, you move all, and such things;

Layer Style (f in a circle), which lets you do fancy smacktacular things like drop shadows the easy way, none of this making a selection, filling it with black on a new layer underneath, and blurring it until it looks good like the old days;

Mask (box with a hole), which should you should somewhat understand from our previous installment;

Fill or Adjustment Layer (half black/half white circle, diagonally), which is what we want!;

and New Folder, for putting layers in folders; New Layer, which you should be well versed with; Trash, which you should also be well versed with.


Pull down your half black/half white circle. Pick the type of adjustment, like, say, Hue/Saturation. The normal Hue/Sat thing pops up, move your sliders. Every layer under what you've got selected, including what you've got selected, goes what you choose, like magic! You've got a layer now that's got a wacky sort of control panelly thing instead of a drawing box as its icon, with a drawing box full of white next to it.

If you want to hue shift everything there, we're done. If not though, we have options for applying this selectively. If you want to change your selection by masking, turn to Page 3. If you want to have your adjustment layer apply to cutouts and not a background, turn to Page 5.

Page 3 - Masking for Fun and Profit

You have chosen to play with masking! Masking is a highly rewarding way of dealing with your adjustment layer. You can do things like apply a black to white gradient on your mask to fade the change, or guassian blur selections, make selections off of other layers, or draw what you want directly on your layer. White will show the effect. Black will hide the effect. Draw right on your layer with black and white to change how the effect deals with the layers below it. You can, for instance, make an adjustment layer for shading on clothing, delete it all so it's black, and draw on it with white for the shadows, and this will apply your adjustments. You can easily shade patterns! You can change base layers instead of hue layers on top to change colours of things! And, best of all, you can go back and tweak your shading at any time without messing up your original image- those of you who dodge and burn shade may find that you can get the same effect with adjustment layers without having to start all over when the cat hops up and knocks your mouse arm!

In short: anything you can do to a regular layer, pretty much, can be done to an adjustment layer mask. It will be done entirely in greyscale, and the amount of white in the pixels will determine how much the adjustment shows. Adjustment Layer masks are exactly like layer masks, folder masks, and channels.

For the end blabbering that doesn't really make any difference, turn to Page 8.


Page 5 - You Mean You Kept the Easy Way for Last?

You have chosen the easy way, when you have cutouts! You're smarter than I am, you know, I ALWAYS forget this, and end up selecting and knocking out my selections in the mask the hard way instead.

Put all of the cutouts (basically, but this I mean "anything that isn't a full layer that covers the background and has an alpha") that you want your adjustment layer to apply to in a new folder. You get that with the Folder icon, as if you didn't know already. Now, place (or create) your adjustment layer on top of all of the layers. Still applying to the Background, and you don't want that. But, with one little tiny click...

And that tiny click is you at the top of our Layers palette, there's a dropdown that says "Pass Through". You probably already know about layer modes- if not, they're reeeeally fun. Overlay for highlight layers, for instance. Multiply when you want to make the darks pop. But I digress. Change that from "Pass Through" to "Normal", and now your adjustment layer only applies to things that are "solid"! Magically your background is now happy and free of your adjustment layer, since it isn't in the folder.

For the end blabbering that doesn't really make any difference, turn to Page 8.


Page 8 - The Mostly Unnecessary Conclusion, in which I Blabber Randomly

You're actually going to be happy I didn't illustrate this tutorial at this time. 1) It would have taken me way way longer to do, 2) I would have been illustrating everything with a really badly drawn cartoon of a mantis, and it would have been really bad as I am a totally incapable of using a tablet, as I thought through a lot of this last night as I was trying (and failing) to sleep, as my brain that makes sense decided to try to get a nap, and the other brain that suffers from really bad insomnia makes no sense, ever. Like, WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I'M NAKED! GIMME A CUPCAKE!, but worse. It sometimes involves imaginary critters and going over the same phrases of nonsense over and over like they are the most profound things in the whole wide world.

But anyway. That's adjustment layers! This has only passed on the very slightest and tiniest bit of how awesome they are. This should give you enough of an introduction to find out some of that on your own as you experiment and play with all the amazing things you can do, and enough choice words to drop in a google search for a real proper tutorial, which is how I learn 90% of the stuff I know how to do in Photoshop. Dear Google, I love you. Even when perfectly innocuous search terms drop me into yaoi websites. Or, wait, did I mean especially when?