I'm still trying to recover from the shock today of having to remove half the Memory Bazaar build in Ross at the infohub that has been there for more than 7 years.
There was no objective, urgent need to do this, but I was forced to do this by Guy Linden.
I'm still trying to make sense of this story.
It seems that the Lindens received complaints that people couldn't get their boats through the river in Ross and that some knowledgeable sort looked at the Linden land there, and saw that the prims were all used up but 2, and then saw me as the culprit, as I have a lot of prims on Ross -- I run one of the resident-developed infohubs there.
An agreement was made 8 years ago with the Lindens -- with Lindens who are long gone so there is no historical memory -- that in lieu of taking the buy-back for telehub land (Ross used to have a telehub), residents could develop the infohubs on those sims instead, around their community.
So as many of you know, we submitted proposals to Torley Linden, who made an open call for this development after first, the Lab tried to get some professor and his architecture students interested (and they weren't). Not many people submitted requests; most owners took the buy-out, and the Lindens then either turned infohubs back to auction land or left them as infohubs. There are about a dozen resident infohubs.
Jessica Ornwitz built the Moroccan-style bazaar there and I filled in the content, tutorials and interactive stuff. She built it about 8 years ago, then about 7.5 years ago or so, she build the extension out when the Lindens added a second parcel after they sorted things out with Anshe, who hogged a parcel there (and still does, it's extraordinary -- she took the buyout, but then left a thin strip around the build she could still use to disrupt if she wished, and advertise, of course -- the Lindens shouldn't have allowed that to happen -- it was a conflict generator and grief magnet, but they did).
So those prims are 7-8 years old. The parcels are not that big -- 4096 and 6000 something, 937 prims and 1450 somethinng. The build is not so prim heavy although it's old fashioned -- all prim, no mesh or sculpties at all (they didn't exist in those days). So things like dials on old pipes are individual prims -- it's fine work.
For years and years, there was obviously a limit on what we could put out, and nothing more than 937 on one and 1450 whatever on the other were ever put out. That was because we physically could not add more -- it would bounce back to inventory. If I put out a chess set, and somebody played, it might return chess pieces to my inventory -- frequently that would happen and I would constantly police the count there, and leave a buffer for the chess.
I constantly watched that number virtually ever day for years because I constantly refreshed the content there -- adding new voting stations, putting up books, taking down pictures, whatever. The essential build and basic activities remained the same, but I was always trying to refine the tutorials, the little pieces to it, changing a rug, adding a meal, or a thing to click on that did something, like the snake to charm, the genie, etc.
I know that we never "used prims from somewhere else" because another Linden parcel was not set to our group. I think in the old days the counting by the system worked differently -- while we all know, and have known since the dawn of time, that if you own multiple parcels on a sim as an individual, you can use the prims of one parcel on any other, i.e. borrow the count of one to place another, what didn't seem to be the case (correct me if I'm wrong) is that you could keep putting out prims on a parcel in one group if it were set to another group. Now you can; I tested it. Or maybe you always could and the issue wasn't *set* to group but land owned by Governor Linden, but in another Linden *grouped* land elsewhere that somehow got set differently. Who the hell knows.
I'm not sure if that was the mechanism by which we had the hard limits of 937 and 1450, but I know that we did not go over these. That was always understood. It wasn't just something "on the honour's system" -- I physically didn't see numbers climb over the parcel hard limits as individual parcels -- and yes, I know how to look at simulator usage as distinct from parcel usage, der. I never saw numbers climb above, being "borrowed" from somewhere.
Obviously, the protected land elsewhere on the sim in the water was needed to be kept free and available for boat traffic. Of course, a boat coming on to a parcel technically can use the prim buffer on the whole sim and not have to have a "count" on an individual parcel -- it's an object entry. If a vehicle is left on a parcel, it takes up its prim count; while it is moving across it, it works differently, as far as I know. But...maybe buffers work differently....maybe when it gets to only 2 on the entire sim from that owner it *is* a problem...maybe land impact is counting differently that just the pure numerical total of prims (please don't get distracted by the issues of mesh or scripted mesh or physics -- this is a build with no mesh.)
So what happened is that somebody made this complaint about boats. I had never had such a complaint in 7-8 years. If this situation with "overage" was truly the case before, it would have been made before -- the build has hardly been changed. In recent months, I've done little to change it as I've been very busy. Maybe one to ten prims at the most were changed. So it's odd.
I had reason to conclude in fact that this sudden flurry of complaints and interest in my prim counts could have come from the MaltaGraphics griefer -- who threatened me last night on Twitter that he would fuck with me because he didn't like the fact that back in November (!) I expelled him from his $150/week room rental in Ravenglass because I found him suspiciously interested and talkative about the griefing on the sim and I caught him early one morning with two of the griefers right at the same time, together. This could be a coincidence, but I decided for a number of reasons I was done. I get to do that. You're not required to rent to people; SL is huge. More on this in a separate post. But since then -- tending to confirm the realization about this creep -- he has been harassing me in multiple ways. Since he has bought land next to Ross to put up a grief tower advising people to boycott me (!) it could be he is involved in the boat complaints. But maybe not.
In any event, Guy Linden put this to me without any choice: get rid of 2000 prims immediately, the prims are overflowing.
Furthermore, he kept telling me that I didn't understand how prim counts work and I wasn't counting the usage on the simulator as a whole. But duh, I've been in SL for 8 years. Of course I know how prims are borrowed and how you watch the whole simulator usage.
Yet that's per group. And we had always had land with hard limits because we had one group on it, and the other parcels had other groups.
I was puzzled at this new situation on an old build, went to look, and was shocked that both lots now showed thousands of more prims than they should, 2000 sitting on a parcel with a 937 limit, "borrowing" from a third parcel. I told him this had to be a glitch, of the sort I had already seen a number of times on Erie and Winnipeg lately. Unfortunately, I had this same issue with a tenant where I found her suddenly way over prim limits in the group, which took from others. She was baffled because nothing was different. Two people moved out since they couldn't use their prims; I had to act. So we went over everything, found some temp-on-rez meals on a table that could have been the culprit, removed them -- still no change.
We ended up returning everything to inventory. But then nothing came back. The parcel went back to 0; she put the same build out. All very annoying for the tenant and for me -- I paid her a week's rent to do the return because I had to do something. After a few times of this, I began to suspect that SL isn't reading the parcel impact correctly. Some factor is throwing it. This is different than "invisiprims" but like them in that they are "showing" when they aren't really there.
Anyway, I kept trying to explain to Guy that there weren't 4000 prims on these sites, it had to be a glitch. He responded by telling me I had "44 prim benches out". In fact, they were 22 prim benches, but point taken. I had no choice but to try to get rid of them as he asked. I urged him to try starting Ross on another channel -- the channel can have buggy software. He didn't want to do that or maybe felt it was outside his competency. The sim was restarted at least 4 times today -- it made no difference.
I went into the International Bazaar section, as hard as it was to part with this area of WEEKS and MONTHS of hard work making little displays of each real-life country with sims in SL and information and landmarks and a souvenir -- because it was the most high-prim. I removed everything, it didn't hardly make a dent. I removed some lamps and other things -- still nowhere. Thousands of extra prims above the limit.
I decided the least worst option was to remove the build in the lower section that I thought I might be more capable of reconstructing than the more complex one upstairs. Actually, that was a misjudgement because I didn't realize how complex the Exposition Hall was until I went to pick it up and found it was not linked. I put those 150 pieces or so together, but they didn't link perfectly, so I ended up with three linked sets. I thought once that and the various things in it that were primmy were gone, I might make progress. Little was made.
I kept telling Guy during this that I was convinced that it was a glitch and that instead of tearing the build apart, I wondered if he could just have me free up 200 prims, which I thought was enough for boats to pass, because that wouldn't compromise the build or content that much.He was insistent on 2000 being removed and got really aggressive and harsh about it -- he started threatening me with returning all the builds by reconfiguring the third Linden parcel so that it would force back everything obviously -- if Governor Linden but some other thing like LPDW was made the owner or Guy himself.
I urged him not to do that because I said that it would force back the builds along with the invisible prims and it wouldn't chose between them. He kept insisting: 2000. I was stunned by this because only the most complex battleship with the most heavy primmage would equal 2000 in a ship. There are few ships in SL that size; Ross is not a place people come to go boating. There are many, many other places in SL specifically made for sailing. That's not to get in the way of explorers, and of course this is not my land and it's Linden land, so of course I will do what they say, but it didn't seem logical.
To make it worse, if you check the land in Ross, you will find that in fact, most of the water is *my land* in other groups outside the infohub with lots of prim room. If you sail from Clarksburg down the waterfall, you go through *my land* with free prim space in Ross, and only a corner of Linden land before you get to Biscay. If for some reason that corner was full, you could skirt it by going into Refugio. Of course, not if you were in a giant ship. And not if you were fisking this entire thing in the first place to grief with, as I suspect was the case.
Within seconds of Guy telling me he was going to return my entire build -- even though I told him that I couldn't get it back then because Jessica wasn't logging on anymore -- three PNs arrived as if on cue and began shooting me and a tenant and spamming the sim with prims. It was as if he whistled for them. It was really weird. I don't think he did; but there it is, there they were. Very creepy. We raced around trying to ban them, and then I told Guy I would remove the build and the prims and he'd see for himself that the count would remain that would be mysterious.
So I spent half the day carefully removing every prim -- there were lots of them, all unlinked. I took pictures, struggled to link, and had to rename every single prim because like all builders, Jessica's individual prims were named "object". There's a reason why these things weren't linked Jessica built this creatively, to the site, only for this site. These were unique things, not for sale, and not needing to be linked and packaged. It was all for the site.
Obviously, even having her build perms, I couldn't link stuff that she hadn't put on mod -- the system won't let you. I could take a copy of her prim, but I couldn't link it. it was just like the game of 1500 pick-up sticks I had to play with the Notre Dame Cathedral...
I got everything into folders, and looked at what remained -- some 300 prims, even though only a chair that wouldn't return for some reason remained on the sim, and some fencing.
I told Guy that there were hundreds of unexplained prims. He came and insisted they were all mine, showing on the officer's view of the menu. I kept saying they would show as mine but weren't really there. He found an invisible copy of Harry Lindens primmy piano under the build -- God knows why Harry's piano rezzed second invisible copies like that, but there it is. But even after those 44 keys were moved, there were still hundreds. I removed everything. Guy still didn't believe me. I kept showing the empty sim. He kept grumping that he wouldn't go up in the sky to prove it to me.
I urged him to return the prims. The system said "145 prims returning". I went to a sandbox and took them out. There was only one: a Tibetan flag from the edge of the sim. I sent a screenshot to Guy. He said it was too blurry and he wouldn't believe me...
Well, such is Second Life. I spent several more hours trying to link the builds on the top to get copies of them before Guy returned the entire thing and left me not even with a copy, as Jessica logs on only rarely. I believe he reconfigured one of the parcels to LDPW so that the hard limits would then be felt. So now I have a parcel of 937 mysteriously with 2000 prims on it and the mandate to get rid of the overage. And I can see what will happen: every prim will be removed, the build will not have that many prims, and there will be mystery prims just as there were on the lower parcel. But there will be no other option but to get everything returned from the server and start over...
Needless to say, this is a big pain in the ass. This infohub gets about 2000 traffic usually, not much, but enough. Just today, I got a Polish man who offered me some updates -- the links get out of date quickly and you have to update them. I try to put in a daily refresh to the infohub dispenser that gives out the recommendation of the day -- I try to tie it with events, i.e. the elections and Inauguration were American sims, then I had Middle East -- with the Algerian terrorism so that people can also see that there are Arabs in SL that are friendly and have interesting sims and clubs and shops; I try to add something "topical" whenever I can.
A lot of work is ahead, but one can always turn lemons into lemonaid and add new content and refresh the old.
I don't blame Guy for this debacle, even though the encounter was very unpleasant. He apologized for being heated and kept saying he was sorry for the confusion -- but it was clear he only thought it was *my* confusion and not *his company's software* (or maybe hidden facts of recalibration of prim counting that they don't want to advertise too much.)
He is just doing his job. He is squeezed by management that cares more about trying to bring in new customers and give them activities and content like sailing that might keep them, then about old customers and old builds even if they help newbies. So that's why I think he reacted so strenuously with this suddenly urgent need to get sailing cleared in an ancient sim where not many really go -- it was generic and symbolic of priorities.
There is no longer any Linden who liaises with us on the resident infohubs. Over the years it went from Torley to Robin to Jack to Blondin -- and then just never got picked up again. For a time, the Lindens kept their word and put all those sites in their Destinations (before it was another Picks they had). But one by one I've seen them drop out now, and efforts to send in recommendations for them to put *their own Linden land back in the Destinations* have failed. They used to all be as "chat spots"; now they were taken out, or at least the three I was involved with was.
I heard a story that the Calleta museum the Hobos had suddenly got returned. Maybe there is pressure to "do something" about all this. Maybe some manager suddenly found out about this Linden land with resident content and went ballistic about it, although I can't imagine that would be the case. The LDPW are the main team in charge of content. They have gadzillion parcels to work with -- roads, fields, parks, you name it. They don't need land; they have too much. There is abandoned land everywhere you turn that is in their ownership now. Sometimes they keep it now for "maintenance" and put stuff on it. I *think* Michael Linden knows the back story to these hubs, but I'm not sure anymore.
I think there was a better way to handle this: a) accepting the offer to immediately free up 200 prims only to solve the immediate boat passage issue for the actual mesh boats that do come through there b) trying another channel on it; c) giving more time to try to sort out the build, because taking down 1500 non-linked prims in two hours is just hell, and they will not get put back again as nicely as they first were -- I'm not a builder. As it was, I had to re-do the Pharos Plaza because of group issues there as well, and it was hugely painstaking...
This was awful for me -- at one point I had tears of frustration in my eyes trying to link the build and I was conscious that the entire thing could get returned on me. For me, Second Life is a place of stability, not change; I value it for its enduring quality, not its immutability. I lived in 7 different houses in different towns and neighbourhoods before I was 10 years old, and I grew later in life to really like just having one place to be. I like it that for years on end, I go to Ross and it is exactly the same way as it was a year ago; the little donkey never moves. I like that. I think other people who come there feel the same. There are places that always change in SL and get refreshed and that's nice, but there are things people want to stay, too.
But it's not our world, even if it is our imagination. It pays never to forget that.