Thursday, October 29, 2009


Yes, its that time of year and we've had gobs of fun creating this year's Halloween display. For those who wonder if scripts can run as well over here as in SL, ya'll gotta come over and visit Arkad's Home & Garden.

Ark's graciously handed over about a quarter of his region to our craziness and its really been a lot of hard work and TONs of fun. Now, all that is missing is folks to help us test out our theory on scripts and users, so come on by. We have a sign that will beam you directly into Arkad's region to check it out. We also have a great old spooky movie from the black & white movie age. Its Italian dubbed in english,k but really very well done! Surprisingly so actually! Thank Victor Hua, my right hand, for finding that for us!
We also have a Fortune Telling area that our own Butterfly Laa has offered to do. She has a knack for reading people well, so come on over and get her to give you a fee fortune telling session in the beautimous gypsy tent building.

Lora Chadbourne has helped us fill out some of the 3 levels of the Haunted House and the grave yard with her great work. Don't be shy about saying thank you to her for all her hard work. And she did it all with a horrid flue!

We've also got an awesome dance floor and a great area called, "The Gathering" just outside the Haunted House to just hand out and tell spooky stories together. So come on down before November 1st and see how well a multitude of scripts can run on an grid based on the OpenSim Platform!

- Tessa *-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is Content Protection Futile?

One of my oldest associates in Second Life, Gwyneth Llewelyn, does a great blog of her own, bringing about great discussions on timely topics that do far more than scratch the surface, like some other blogs. Yet, its not flame ridden and full of angry protest either, which is indeed a rarity. I hope one day to inspire that kind of intelligent communication from our grid supporters.

Recently, Gwyn has been talking on the subject of CONTENT PROTECTION, which, if you're a paying member of our grid, you know this is a subject my team and I have worked very hard on for our OpenSim grid. I've not responded before, because I didn't want anyone accusing us of using Gwyn's blog to promote our grid, but I felt compelled to this time. So, I opened up my word doc and dived in. After I got done, it occurred to me this would be good reading for folks who drop by and read our blog, so here it is.

While SpotON3D can't promise 100% protection from copybot or other content ripping software - NO ONE CAN - our system does take a holistic approach to grid security that so far has been very successful. Let me explain ...

But first, a little disclaimer to maybe cut off a lot of unnecessary flaming and teeth nashing. Our grid systems don't appeal to everyone and that's fine. Its not our intent to be the grid for everyone. We are a very business minded grid and we feel trying to please everyone in a single grid is just not a realistic goal. So, for those who would feel this is too restrictive and would like to argue that point, its fine. You have every right to express you opinions. Just know its not going to change our direction and remember you have many many other OpenSim choices besides our grid to choose from besides ours.

Having said that little disclaimer, here is how we've addressed content theft on our grid:

1.) Registrations of FREE FOREVER accounts with the use of our client get you access to the General Population sections of the grid, and you can chat, travel and even shop to customize your avatar, but you'll not be able to own land, rez prims. build or script.

Why? We know this is the number one preferred means of hacking, spamming, scamming and lagging on any grid and we feel our paying customers deserve to be our main focus on them rather than handling griefers and such.

****For you shop-a-holics thinking how can you unpack your purchases if you can't rez or own land we simply instruct them to attach the box to their avatar and unpack it directly from there.If you're doing the V-8 head slap, TRUST ME! I was there too, thinking of all the years I went running back home to try on stuff. :P And go figure that a very STRAIGHT male avatar GUY thought this up!!! OK ... I digress!!!

2.a) All paid memberships are verified via PayPal accounts, providing reasonable verification on age and identity in one step without being invasive or demanding your national ID or driver's license.

Why? While some kids might brave sneaking mom's CC out of her purse to get an account, we're betting they'll be much less likely to go rummaging through their parents banking statements to verify a bogus PayPal account.

2.b) All membership are created under one PayPal verified Passport Account that services and controls up to 5 avatars. This means their Passport account is linked to all aspects of their grid experience, such as land ownership, selling privileges, mature area access, and the ability to see and purchase mature content. If one of those avatars messes up it has the potential to affect all the other avatars if they are suspended or even banned. Yes, a new PayPal account can be created, but that's not an unlimited option and would put anyone using fraudulent information to establishing those accounts in real jeopardy of being prosecuted on a criminal level.

3.) We sort all other clients than our own to an isolated region, blocking potentially malicious clients from accessing the rest of our grid.

Why? If they can't see it they can't copy it. Some jump to the conclusion that we are a closed network, but that could not be further from the truth. If you'd like to hear more on that score you'll have to be clever and figure out who we are. Simply would take too long here and digress from this conversation, but suffice it to say we've made cross grip TPing and selling a reality.

4.) We support a community driven Mediation Panel of 3 to 5 randomly selected registered paying users to hear DMCA cases and even other grid disputes. They are responsible for making any recommendations to what should happen. They also have the option of turning to a real world legal agent to advise if necessary.

5.) If one or both parties are not happy with the recommendations they have the option to take it to court, or go through Arbitration with our real world judge residing, whose opinions are recognized by most courts world wide - all for a very affordable fee of $100-$300 per person. If one of the parties refuses to pay the fee than the other party can foot the bill, but per our TOS they are required to participate or settle on the Mediation Panel's resolution, or relinquish their membership account and be suspended or even banned from the grid.

6.) We educate through the mediation system by allowing the residents of our grid to witness the proceedings. Everything is out in the open as a means to keep it honest and to educate the community on the difference between mediated agreements and how the letter of the law applies to a given situation. Sometimes what is right isn't always legally possible to make right.

To all the nay sayers who will cry out that any hole can be punched into our security, yeah you might be right, but we kinda figure its like any software development, in that its an on going committment. Rarely is software made and then touched or upgraded again. Why should the security of a grid be any different?

To all those who would argue that there are other non-client ways to rip content, we'd have to agree, But seeing our content creators will get meticulous records of purchases made by verified avatars- not only of those on our grids, but those they sold to other grids - it will be very easy to point out items that have been ripped and found on grids not authorized to have their content there. Are our systems perfect? No, but we feel they create enough road blocks for those who would fain ignorance of what they are doing to think twice.

Why are we being so diligent? Because its the right thing to do. Both owners of this company are experts in their field, one being a 14+ year vetran of the 3D Web, and the other being an IP attorney out of Washington, DC. So yeah, we take this stuff seriously.

Can we promise copybot or interface copy tools will never gain access to our grid? No. NO ONE can promise that. But we feel that is not reason to give up or not even try. If we only match real world security success of 70-90% that's a huge improvement. And we still believe that if you give people enough reasons to pause and think of what they are doing, the majority will make the right choice.

Ultimately though, its time people realize that the theft of content creation ISN'T PART OF SOME 'GAME' OR A 'GAME CHEAT'. Its a real and legally prosecutable offense, both civilly and criminally. But I'd much rather they look at the many artist who make these great assets as real people who pay their bills, keep a roof over their heads, and take great pride and joy in providing us with some of the best content the world has seen to date. Isn't it time we respected their hard work and stopped pretending its JUST a game?

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Lament of Our 2nd - Lost to Growing Pains ... Dusan's Ode

Dusan Writer, the founder of Metanomics, blogged a very heartfelt missive last night. You can read it here if you wish:
I felt it was important to respond because, ONE ... no one else did at the time of my responding to it and I thought it deserved some recognition. And TWO, because I sense Dusan's ache to not loose our idealistic center.

I'd like to point out that what has made Second Life so special doesn't have to be lost as long as Linden Lab continues be a part of mending broken fences and extending themselves more to the community from within and outside their garden walls. I'm speaking here to the notion of diversity - something this blog seems to really bring home. If the lament is that rules of behavior, economics and law are changing the landscape, smothering the unique diversity in Second Life, that might be true, but I would argue that the extent of that is controllable and in the hands of the powers that be and how they enforce it.

The idea I can't get in line with though is the notion that all grids have to service the same audience, follow the same rules and goals, and that any shift to target a segment of the larger audience might be seen as ANTI-Second Life. What we should NOT do is become so enthralled with Second Life that we scorn any other cousins that grow from it. After all, wasn’t that one of the reasons Phillip Rosedale opened up the client code? We should not be afraid of these migrations and changes or the competition they bring, because they will allow the industry of virtual world/environs to expand to new audiences offering niche groups a home where none exists or clashes with others. Good competition makes businesses work harder to create a better experience FOR THEIR TARGET MARKET. This is an evitable and necessary exercise for any infant industry. Without these changes things grow stagnant and stale. If anything, these expansions should help Second life can RETAIN its openness and freedom.

For anyone who worries about Second Life’s survival due to increased competition, don’t. They will be here 20 years from now. To know this all we need to do is to look to its predecessor, Active, who after 14 years are still evolving and growing and enjoy a very devoted community. All of us know Linden Labs has to make money to keep the lights on and that means their business model will have to continue to change and morph to grow. No one wants to see them fail or sacrifice their core community in that process.

What is true is that Second Life will no longer be the only virtual destination of its kind. It would be unrealistic to think ANY ONE COMPANY OR GRID CAN OWN THIS. Business grids, dating grids, shopping grids, furry grids, naughty grids ... these are sprouting up as we speak and there are more than enough people in the world to give them all an opportunity to be profitable. That’s why I think the growing pains we are seeing and feeling are indeed very much in the spirit of Phillip Rosedale's dream, but on a whole other level he couldn't have foreseen back in 2002. With the ability to create our own grids we can gather those around us who share in our beliefs and dreams and as a community grow in new and exciting directions.. Embrace it and find your niche. Support it with your memberships and your purchases and watch this grow. It’s going to be exciting and wonderful ride I think.


Well, its been a month since I blogged. I've tried! Honest! But every time I started to sink my teeth into a good chuck of text I'd get called away. But, in the end that is good, because the results are the proof of the efforts going on behind the scenes.

The Fountain Blue event went very well and really helped us to make some important contacts. We met Zeegee Games, and hope to collaborate with them some of our upcoming projects. They have a very innovative team that brings games onto the iphone and look forward to working with them to bring some new functionality to the SpotON3D grid.

We also met John Jainschigg, aka John Zhaoying in virtual, the Executive Director of the Internet and Community Laboratory at Ziff Davis Enterprise Media and lead persons for the IBM hosted media group, Smarter Technology ( Our meeting with him turned into a tour of SpotON3D with much excitement on both sides of the conversation. It seems that John and I are very much on the same page as far as the vision for the 3D Web.

Before our time ended John graciously invited us to present at the Smart Technology Island in Second Life to showcase the things that make the SpotON3D grid different from the others, for which we are very grateful. We were very well received and has resulted in not only increased traffic to SpotON3D, but registrations, land rentals and vendors bringing in their content to set up stores.

On the heels of John Jainschigg's visit came Doug Thomas, aka Dusan Writer of Metanomics, who took a tour as well, though shorter. Dusan seemed a little cautious, but we hope he'll come by and visit SpotON3D again to get the complete picture about SpotON3D's security systems besides the technology end and all our other solutions. Maybe I am wrong, but I sense a bitter sweet angst in Dusan, as if he thought our grid was hearlding in a different era and I guess that's not far off. I just hope he keeps his great open mind and recognizes that no one grid can own all this. It will take as many grids to service all the people that will come to use virtual environs as their are web sites and that's a good thing in the end. Then we're not trying to push round people into square holes so much.

Which brings me to another point. Some have scoffed at your security without listening to the full message. Its not Just or client DNAing technology that makes our grid more secure. Its also the way we verify our memberships, the community driven Free Mediation Panel, and the fee based real world judge arbitration services that round out the solutions in this very complex problem of protecting content and the hard working individuals that use it. Does that mean theft will not occur on our grid? No. No one can promise that, and those in the know, know why. But we can make it with enough stop gaps to give the honest majority out there a reason think about their choice and make the right decision.

My personal goal in this manner is to give the user enough barriers to second guess their choices, ponder the repercussions and consider the impact their 'fun' has on the creator's life. We sometimes forget that this is NOT a game for most of these folks. Many spend endless hours perfecting these works of art we think of as props for our avies and builds, so they can make enough to pay their bills, or at the very least supplement the household incomes in these hard times. Its important that we respect their talent and their right to earn a living from this, even if OUR only reason for being here is to play.