Thursday, September 20, 2007

Knowing When to Deed Your Land

A land group is a Second Life mechanism that gives landowners the ability to grant certain abilities to guests who visit their land, and to prevent unwanted visitors from accessing or disturbing the property. Using a combination of settings in World > About Land and the Roles tab of the Group Info dialog, a land owner can grant a wide number of abilities to group members while restricting the general public from doing the same things. There is one somewhat confusing detail about land groups that not very many people understand: It is possible to "set your land to a group," but simply doing this does not necessarily grant group members all of the abilities that you might intend for them to have. In order to give your group members access to the full range of abilities listed in their respective group roles, you need to deed the land to your group.

Normally, only the person who actually owns the land (i.e. pays the monthly tier to Linden Lab) can deed one's land to a group. There are some private islands that grant tenants the ability to transfer ownership (and thus deed), but that is not possible on the Desperation Isle estates; only I, Wildefire Walcott, or one of my estate managers can do that for you. Simply contact me if, after reading this article, you have decided you want to deed your land. You will have to invite me to your land group as an Officer. I'll deed the land when I'm able, and then quit the group.

I have covered how to create a land group and invite members in another article. This article focuses solely on the difference between setting your land to a group and actually deeding the land.

Setting your land to a group

To set your land to a group, just stand on the land, go to World > About Land, and then click the Set button. Pick your group from the group list and then click Select. Doing this alone only serves some basic purposes. It allows group members to create objects on the land (if group-only building is enabled), and prevents objects with the group tag set from being sent back to inventory if autoreturn is enabled. It's also necessary if you want to limit land access only to members of your group, but please remember that Access lists are not allowed on Desperation Isle (refer to section 6.4 of the covenant).

Unless you actually deed your land to the group, only the following group abilities will be available to group members, regardless of what your group roles say:
  • Parcel Powers > Always allow 'Create Objects'
  • Parcel Content > Return objects owned by group (includes object's shared with group by using the Share with group checkbox in the object properties).
  • Object management > Deed objects to group
  • Object management > Set group-owned objects for sale
  • Object management > Manipulate (move, copy, modify) group-owned objects (Moving is always allowed when this is enabled, copying and editing sometimes isn't- even with objects on deeded land.)
Deeding your land to a group

Everything possible on land that's set to a group is possible on deeded land, but deeded land enables many more role-specific group abilities to take effect as well. The following abilities are only available to group members on deeded land:
  • Parcel Identity > Toggle 'Show in Find Places' and set category
  • Parcel Identity > Change parcel name, description, and 'Publish on the Web' settings
  • Parcel Identity > Set landing point and set teleport routing
  • Parcel Settings > Change music & media settings
  • Parcel Settings > Toggle 'Edit Terrain'
  • Parcel Settings > Toggle various About Land > Options settings
  • Parcel Powers > Always allow 'Edit Terrain'
  • Parcel Powers > Always allow 'Fly'
  • Parcel Powers > Always allow 'Create Landmark'
  • Parcel Powers > Allow 'Set Home to Here' on group land
  • Parcel Access > Manage parcel Access lists
  • Parcel Access > Manage parcel Ban lists
  • Parcel Access > Change parcel 'Sell passes…' settings
  • Parcel Access > Eject and freeze Residents on parcels
  • Parcel Content > Return non-group objects
  • Parcel Content > Landscaping using Linden plants
  • Parcel Content > Return objects set to group
Should you deed your land?

If you simply want to let group members build on your land while preventing the general public from doing that then setting your land to the group and adjusting your About Land options is all you need to do. If you want group members to have more freedom, such as the ability to set your land as their Second Life "Home" location, then deeding is the way to go. If you're one of my tenants and you wish your land to be deeded, just invite me to your group (as an Officer) and contact me.

A warning to mainland residents

Most of the above information applies to mainland holdings as well as rented land on private estates, but you should know that the stakes are a fair amount higher when you deed mainland properties to a group. Anyone in the group with the proper abilities (like in the Officer's role) can sell group-owned land to another player, or even to themselves. This is not much of a risk on a private island because many islands prevent the sale of their land, and estate managers can easily fix the problem on islands that do allow it- but if you lose a piece of mainland property you lose it forever. Make sure that you only grant those kinds of powers to people you trust VERY much. It's also worth noting that proceeds for any group-owned land you sell are divided between all group members who have the 'credits and liabilities' ability enabled, and those profits are disbursed all at once at a specific time of every day (usually very early in the morning).

Final words

Proper management of your rented or owned land requires your understanding of the About Land options and the abilities of various group roles. You can learn more about the abilities by taking a look at the Abilities subtab of the Members & Roles tab of your group's information dialog.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Big Changes at Desperation Isle

[Updated October 2, 2007]
If you've been to the Desperation Isle Estates recently you may have noticed that the scenery has changed. The central land mass, Desperation Isle, has actually moved one map slot to the East and a brand new island has moved into its old location. Work has begun on the new island, cunningly dubbed New Desperation Isle, and we are on track to open by Monday, October 8. We are going to great lengths (and expense) to ensure that the transition goes smoothly for visitors, residents, and mall renters. Please read on to learn what to expect in the coming weeks.

General questions

Is Desperation Isle going away?
The island you currently know as Desperation Isle will indeed be shutting down, but this is not going to happen until New Desperation Isle is completely up and running. Eventually "Desperation Isle" will become a yet-unannounced special island that I'm sure regular visitors will be quite pleased with.

How long until New Desperation Isle is ready?
We are tentatively planning to open New Desperation Isle on Monday, October 8.

Will we be able to visit New Desperation Isle while it's under construction?
The island will be restricted to members of the group Mistress Wildefire's Sub-space (which includes mall renters and tenants of Desperation Isle Estates). The general public will not have access until we're about ready for the grand opening.

What's going to be different about the new island?
While we're keeping some of our plans secret, you can expect more dynamic terrain and plenty of hidden gems to uncover. We know our audience, and I promise you that all of the popular items and areas on the old Desperation Isle will be represented on the new island in one way or another.

Why build a whole new island?
I had already been planning to add a new island to Desperation Isle Estates, and decided to take the opportunity to completely rethink Desperation Isle and produce something that more closely met my vision for a dark and intimate adult gathering place. Rather than simply shut down the old island and rebuild, I decided to take my time building New Desperation Isle from scratch while leaving the old island open for my visitors and mall renters. The way I've chosen to do things is actually costing me a fair amount of extra money, but I wanted the transition to proceed as painlessly as possible for everyone involved.

Is the new island going to lag like Desperation Isle has for the past couple of months?

Probably not. While we're ultimately at the mercy of Linden Lab, we are making certain design decisions specifically with lag reduction in mind. We hope to deliver a bigger, better Desperation Isle for you with performance that rivals or exceeds how the island used to perform before the mysterious lag issues that popped up in June. (By the way, performance on the old Desperation Isle has improved recently due to some changes that both I and Linden Lab have made.)

How do I find the new island?
At the time of this writing, the world map still hasn't updated so you can't get there by mapping it. You have a few other options, though:
  • In Search > Places, look for: New Desperation Isle and click the Teleport button.
  • Open my profile and look at my Picks. I have a Pick for New Desperation Isle with a working teleport link.
  • Just go to the old Desperation Isle and fly West. The mall is at the highest point in the New Desperation Isle sim, in the NW corner. The teleport location is on the second floor between the two signboards.
I'm not able to get onto the island!
You must belong to the Mistress Wildefire's Sub-space group. This is the same group that vendors use on the old Desperation Isle. The group is invite-only. Just contact me and I'll add you as soon as I can.

Mall-specific questions

How will this affect mall renters?
The old Desperation Isle still exists, and is still listed in Classifieds and Places Search, so you will continue to get business there until (and probably a few days after) the transition. During the transition to the new mall, you will NOT be expected to pay double-rent. Beginning on Tuesday, October 2, existing vendors are now invited to set up shop at New Desperation Isle. Claim a spot by paying your new rent box only. Any time left on your old rent box on Desperation Isle will be refunded to you (and I will take your old rent box offline so you no longer get notifications from it), and you may keep selling your items on the old island until it shuts down.

Will mall rent remain the same on the new island?
We will have a new rent pricing structure, and the result will actually mean a reduction in rent for many vendors. Our base rent price is dropping from L$200/week to L$100/week, for a reduced number of prims. The rent boxes all default to L$200/week. I will make adjustments and refunds based on your prim usage once you're set up. Here's the pricing breakdown:
  • 1 to 10 prims: L$100/week
  • 11 to 15 prims: L$150/week
  • 16 to 20 prims: L$200/week
  • 21 to 25 prims: L$250/week
  • 26 to 30 prims: L$285/week (5% discount)
  • 31 to 35 prims: L$333/week (5% discount)
  • 36 to 40 prims: L$360/week (10% discount)
  • 41 to 45 prims: L$405/week (10% discount)
  • 46 to 50 prims: L$425/week (15% discount)
  • Over 50 prims: Let's talk. =)
Will you consider profit sharing instead of a flat rent?
While I prefer a flat rental rate, if you'd like to set up a profit sharing system to cover your rental, this is a possibility. There are several requirements:
  • You must use a vendor that supports profit sharing.
  • If your sales don't generate an amount of profit equivalent to my flat rates for rent, I may ask you to adjust my cut of the profits or move out if I get queries from vendors willing to pay the flat rate.
I have more stuff than I can fit in one stall. What can Ido?
You can rent out more than one stall. If you rent out adjacent stalls, I can even remove dividing walls at your request. The price you'll pay for the additional stall will either be L$150/week or higher, if your overall prim usage exceeds what L$150 would cover. For example, if you rented out two stalls and used only 21 prims, you'd pay L$200 for the first stall (up to 20 prims) and L$150 of the second, even though you're only using 1 prim in that stall's allotment, for a total of L$350/week. If you had two stalls and used your full 40 prims, though, you'd pay L$400/week to cover your prims. This actually works out cheaper than the old mall for vendors with large items or boxes who simply need more room, and is the same price for vendors who just have a lot of prims.

All the rent boxes at the new mall are set to L$200/week but I'm going to use more (or fewer) prims than 20 prims. What do I do?
If you know you're going to use a different number of prims than the L$200/week will cover, pay the box at least L$200 to claim your spot and I will make adjustments later, based on the number of prims you're actually using. The rent box only accepts multiples of weekly amounts (for example, L$200, 300, etc.) until I adjust it. If you overpay to cover your first week's rent, I will refund the additional amount when I update your box.

I set up my stall on the new island, but I still have some rent left at the old mall. Can I apply that rent to the new mall?
Since the rent box can only be updated in multiples of weeks, I will simply refund you any remaining rent you have on your box at the old mall once you set up at the new one. I'll also remove your old rent box so it doesn't keep bugging you for payments.

How will the new mall be different from the old one?
I have redesigned the new mall to give merchants bigger stalls (both taller and deeper), provide a less cramped environment, with bigger walkways, and still provide high visibility to a number of vendor stalls when people visit the island. The teleport location is on the east side of the second floor of the mall (between the signboards), and the ground-level entrance is directly below, on the first floor. The new structure is similar in architecture to the existing mall, however it covers a larger area, and has much better-placed staircases that should drive more traffic between levels. It will also be equipped with simple teleporters for moving between the two levels.

Will I need to join a new vendor group?
If you are already in the Mistress Wildefire's Sub-space group you will not have to join any groups to be able to set up shop on the new island.

Can we see a preview of the new mall?
The mall is essentially complete, and is ready for vendors. You can find it in the Northwest corner of the island.

Will the rules for vendors at the new mall be any different?
I will be updating the guidelines for accuracy and readability, but I don't expect there to be any major changes to the rules. I will update the Desperation Isle Estates blog with the new rules when they're ready.

I currently have a free space at the old Desperation Isle mall. Will I still be able to set up shop for free at the new place?
I do not have plans to provide free mall space to anyone but members of my slave family at the new mall. While this was a tough decision, the increased price of the new island necessitated the change. Hopefully the new rental pricing structure will allow you to continue doing business with us. If you're a current vendor at Desperation Isle and you do not think you'll be able to afford staying with us if forced to pay our published rates, please discuss the matter with me.

Resident questions

I'm a resident of Desperation Isle Estates. How will this change affect me?
You'll now see a very different (and more scenic) island at the center of Desperation Isle Estates. This land mass connects all of the four rental islands, allowing visibility of the entire region from all sides. All residents who are members of the Mistress Wildefire's Sub-space group will be able to explore the new island while it's under construction. It is understandable that you may have some concerns about your view. Be assured that we're working hard to make New Desperation Isle both an attractive and fitting centerpiece to our growing estates.

Will the change affect performance on the existing residential islands?
We do not expect performance of the existing residential islands to be affected by this change, however residents of Desperation North and Desperation West should see an improvement in the speed and seamlessness of border crossings when moving between your home island and New Desperation Isle.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Protecting Your Privacy

NOTE: The covenant policies mentioned here only applied to the multi-tenant full-prim sims we used to operate. We do not have any such restrictions on our current homestead and full-prim sims, since they are all single-tenant regions. This article is for historical purposes only.

The primary reason that I moved off the mainland and purchased my first private island was that I was sick of bumping into ban lines whenever I wanted to fly or walk around my own sim. They're ugly and terribly inconvenient. Many residents on the mainland immediately enable an Access list on their land which only allows group members or specific avatars on the property. Everyone else in Second Life will be faced with an ugly red "No Entry" barrier (or a green "Buy Pass" barrier) if they attempt to walk or fly nearby. This is exactly why Access lists are expressly forbidden in the Desperation Isle Estates covenant (see section 6.4).

You do have other privacy options, however, and I will go over them here. First off, let's take a look at the land options screens that apply to privacy. (Note, I will not cover land groups and build restrictions here. That's all covered in the Protect Your Land From Grief Attacks page.)

Important: If you are having problems with specific individuals who are intentionally trying to harass or spy on you, please both alert me and file abuse reports against them in the Second Life Help menu. I can ban problem avatars from the entire estate, and Linden Lab does investigate harassment issues. This article is about general, day-to-day accidental intrusions.

Privacy Options in About Land
First let's take a look at the Access tab of About Land. (While standing on your land, just go to World > About Land and click the Access tab.) Please do not check any of the boxes on this screen. Doing so will present banlines to every resident of Second Life who isn't in your group or the list of specific avatars.

Next we have the Ban tab. It is definitely okay to add specific people to this list and check the Ban these avatars checkbox. If you have a particularly problematic individual bothering you, contact me and I can ban them from all of my islands. At the bottom of the screen you'll see the Deny by Payment Status options. These will ban anyone who meets the given qualifications, based on how much payment information they've given to Linden Lab. Do not check any of these options; they have the same negative effect as using an access list, as far as I'm concerned.

If you are a Voice user, you can limit spoken conversations to your own parcel, so that people not on your parcel can't hear what you're saying. Choose Use a private spatial channel to keep voice chat only on your property, or choose Disable spatial audio on this parcel to disable voice altogether.

Security Devices
So you're not allowed to use the access list or blanket ban options- how are you supposed to get some privacy? Well, security devices are allowed, so long as they meet certain requirements. I personally use Psyke Phaeton's HomeSecurity Orb. Below I'll describe how to set up one of these orbs in a way that conforms to the Desperation Isle Estates covenant. But the following guidelines apply to all security devices:
  • The device must warn intruders and give them a minimum of 30 seconds to leave the property.
  • The device must only sense people on your own land; it should not affect people on neighboring properties.
  • You should only use the minimum number of devices to protect your land. For example, a single orb with a 96m radius is enough to protect the ground level of an entire 25% of an island. (96 meters in all directions.)
HomeSecurity Orb Setup Walkthrough

First off, place the orb on the ground, in the center of the area you want to be protected. Next, touch the orb to bring up the menu and then click <[SET UP]>. Now click Next>> and step through the wizard, using the following list as your guide. Each numbered item below corresponds to a numbered page in the 15-step setup wizard.
  1. You can actually add orb operators any time, but this screen shows you what you need to type to do it.
  2. Read carefully. You must follow all the steps described here in order for group members to manage the orb.
  3. Remember that the scan range is a radius. In other words a scan range of 30m will have a spherical scan diameter of 60m, or 30m in all directions from the orb. You only need ONE orb with a radius of 96m to cover the ground level of an entire 1/4 of a sim.
  4. Same as step 3.
  5. Do NOT pick anything less than 30 seconds before sending intruders away. Any less than 30 seconds is too short for people to even turn around- especially if they just accidentally teleported in to the sim, in which case they may not even be able to move for 30 seconds.
  6. Read and follow the steps here closely- this will give you steps for automatically making anyone wearing your group tag 'safe.' In other words you won't have to add them to the safe list as long as they're wearing the group tag.
  7. Use these steps if you don't have a land group, or there are people who aren't in your group you want to grant access to.
  8. You can specify specific people to always target here.
  9. Teleport or Eject are preferred; push isn't always enabled, so it might not be effective for you.
  10. Just pick 1% since push isn't recommended anyway.
  11. You must pick On for this step. Your orb should only protect your own land.
  12. You only need to click On here if you own multiple adjacent parcels that are not joined and have different names.
  13. These options don't work if the object is deeded to a group (group-owned). I just pick Off anyway.
  14. No preference here. I click On.
  15. Click Next>>.

Final Words
I am just as interested in ensuring your privacy as I am in maintaining an attractive, friendly environment for all residents. If you have chronic problems with specific individuals, or you need advice on a specific privacy issue, please contact me and we'll work something out.