I lost some weight...

So, how cool is this rigged mesh avatar from Plausible Body?

Yes, that's really me. Full body alpha and an actual rigged mesh skeleton. The really cool thing about it is that it's mod and copy so you can tint your own copies. For example, how's about a more traditional skeleton?

See the Plausible Body blog for more details.


The Lab stole my garden!

Okay, I'm not alone in this, and it was a hell of a shock when it happened, but the Lab stole my garden, amongst other things!

You'll also notice that Z's house is missing most of.... well, her house. What you can't see is that much of the inside of the Raven Park Mansion is also missing.

It's looking a bit sad right now. :(


A tale of three reviews

I don't know if I'm alone in this, but I tend to be pretty bad at keeping up with reviews on products I have for sale on the marketplace. Partly this is because Z&A products don't get too many reviews. I imagine, to a large degree, this is down to the nature of the products we sell. Given that all reviews left have the avatar's name associated with them I guess most people won't want to advertise that they buy BDSM equipment. The other reason why I tend to be bad at knowing they've been left, which follows from this, is the fact that the marketplace has no way of alerting you to reviews or review comments (how handy would that be?!).

But recently I seem to have had a couple of very negative reviews on my personal store (the store that has some Z&A products on it, but which isn't the main marketplace store). Now, negative reviews I can handle. If I had let someone down, if I'd failed to deliver on a promise, if the product didn't work as advertised, then a negative review seems fair enough.

But I do wish people would give creators a fair chance to fix an issue first.

At Z&A we don't get many support requests, and the handful we do get are almost always down to user error or a problem with the grid itself. These things happen. And when people get in contact with us we try and respond as quickly as possible -- it's very rare that someone has to wait more than 24 hours for a reply. In every single case that this has happened we've done everything we can to help and, so far, in every single case we've managed to help.

So I do wonder what causes someone to leave a review like this one on my RLV relay scanner. It seems odd to call something "fake" because it apparently didn't work, especially when you paid a grand total of L$0 for it. As a customer I've had things turn up before that had the wrong perms, or threw errors, it just plain didn't work for some reason. And as a fellow content-creator, every time, I've dropped the vendor a line to let them know and to seek a little help. Accidents happen and mistakes can be made (wrong perms, bug in scripts, etc...) and I think everyone should be given a fair chance to investigate the issue and correct it.

Far from being "fake", the relay scanner is a real body of code that really works. Here's a quick test I've just done. I dropped into a region where I was sure someone would likely have a relay that would respond and, sure enough:

That's it working. That's it not being "fake" (moreover, if I wanted it to be a fake product, wouldn't I just have it lie about finding relays so as to appear like it's working, wouldn't that be properly fake?).

As for why it might not work for the customer in question, it could be any of the following:

  • Nobody around them had RLV enabled.
  • Nobody around them was wearing a relay.
  • Nobody around them had their relay turned on.
  • Nobody was in range.
  • Scripts were slow to run due to lag.
  • Scripts were disabled on the plot they were stood on.
  • Anyone with a relay had the HUD-user muted.
  • The user of the HUD was expecting it to "just work" whereas the idea is you initiate a scan by touching it.
Or any number of other possible reasons. I'd actually be very interested to find out what those reasons are, if there are reasons. I wish they'd dropped me a line so we could look into it. Even though it's a free product, I'm still always happy to provide support.

I've dropped them a line to see if I can help.

Here's another example of a bad review that could easily be solved (and was) with a quick IM:

This time this was for a product with an actual price. I contacted the person who left the review to confirm things and it turns out that, yes, as the subject above says, the product disappeared when it was rezzed. Anyone who has been in SL for any length of time will know that all sorts of issues can happen with the asset servers. It's not unusual or unknown for items to not rez yet disappear from your inventory. It's not common, but it's not unusual either. Even more so if you do this while there are known asset server issues, or maintenance is happening.

Again, the obvious thing to do would have been to drop me a line. While I'd generally point out that problems with the grid are the Lab's fault, not mine, I can be persuaded to be helpful if the problem seems genuine and the hassle of them dealing with the Lab is greater than the "cost" to me (within reason, of course).

I got this customer sorted out and, they assured me, they'd fix the review.

Of course, not all reviews are all bad. Sometimes they can contain a great suggestion. Take this review of my Avatar Radar for example. That person's kind words about the build are helpful and encouraging, of course, but what really interests and impresses me is their suggestion for an improvement that'd make it work better for them. It's a great idea and I'll be releasing a new version in the next couple of days that gives them what they'll need, as a option that can be turned on.

So, please, if you have a problem with a purchase you've made on the marketplace, please, please, drop the vendor a line first. It's possible it's your error, the Lab's error or simply a honest mistake by the builder. Then, if you don't get a reply, or you don't get a helpful reply, leave honest feedback.

Never assume...

So, as you'll know, I've been rather slow when it comes to writing anything for this blog lately due to lots of work on a new product range and also setting up The Femdom Hunt III. Last night I was getting the latest update packs for the hunt ready and ran into a fascinating problem that reminded me that you should never assume that something that worked before works now.

Anyone who does hunts will know that one common way of letting people pick up the gifts is to have the object they're looking for set to sell content for L$0 (or L$1 for some hunts, even as much as L$10 in some cases). On top of this, anyone who's organised a hunt will know that, sometimes, you need to create and send out these objects no-transfer. This is normally done if the object is made with some third-party sculpt map and you want to follow their licence terms (most sculpt makers insist that the objects made with the maps are either no-copy or no-transfer -- a fair request for obvious reasons).

The object we've always used for The Femdom Hunt is made with a third-party sculpt map. So, for the first two hunts, we've always made the objects up, set them to sell content for L$0, set the next-owner perms to no-transfer and it's all been good. I pass the shoes to the vendors and Femdom sim owners and they put them out and it all works.

So, last night, I'm making up all the shoes for the hunt. I followed the process I've followed before. And then, for some strange reason, I decided to pass the shoe to a test account and test it. I knew it would be fine. I knew it would work. I knew it was a "pointless" test but what the hell, I had a moment of doubt so decided to test it anyway. It's always a good idea to test the "obvious", just in case. And I'm glad I did. After passing the object to the test account it lost its for-sale setting! And, being no-transfer, the test account couldn't set it for sale again (while no-transfer objects could be set to sell content, you can't sell copies or the original of a no-transfer object so, of course, by that point the ability to set for sale is disabled).

Something that always worked, that I knew would work again, suddenly didn't.

I went back and pulled out the shoes from TFH1 and TFH2, which had worked back then, and they displayed the exact same problem. I even pulled out an object from a hunt we took part in in August, that was set up the same, and it displayed the same problem too (whereas it had worked just fine in August).

Right now I've no idea if this is a bug with Second Life or if it's an intentional change with an unintended consequence. What is important here though is the fact that I didn't just assume that what had worked twice before still worked and, thankfully, didn't send out 60+ objects that would be no use to anyone and would likely confuse some.

As for the solution? In future we'll likely have to make a point of using an object we can send out full-perm and ask vendors to set it to sale for L$0 for themselves (yes, the for-sale state is lost no matter the perms). This, of course, is likely to result in more problems when the hunt starts as people either forget to set the object for sale, or set it to sell a copy, or the original, rather than content, or they do it right but forget to change the price to L$0 (leaving it at the default L$10). But there's no time for that right now so, this time around, we'll probably have to go with a content-giving script instead.

I assume that'll work.