Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Out Through The In Door

Sunday was supposed to be a fun day for me in Second Life. I had set aside part of the afternoon to attend two trivia events, one semi-regular game hosted by fellow Trivial Corsair Lebn, and another immediately after that marked the grand opening of a new venue called Monochrome. I was especially looking forward to it not only because many of the trivia regulars are online for Sunday games, but also because I'd made plans to play both games with my friend Geoff, who I'd somehow managed to convince to be online to have some fun.

So what should happen? I try to log in to Second Life, and get a message: "The system is logging you out right now. Your account will not be available until 11:54:03 AM PST." I think to myself, "Well, Lou, that's odd, since you logged out of Second Life more than 15 hours ago!" But sure enough, I check my Gmail (where in-world instant messages get sent when I'm offline) and there are dozens of messages from friends saying "Hey Lou, you're not usually on at this hour! What are you up to!" "Wanna teleport to a music show?" "Whatcha up to?"…and then the tone changed to "Are you OK?" "Is something wrong?"

So 11:54 rolls around, and I try to log in again: "The system is logging you out right now. Your account will not be available until 11:59:31." Lovely. Around this time I get a real-life (non-Second Life, anyway) instant message from Geoff: "The system shows you're online, but you're not, are you?" Five minutes later I try logging in again—now I'm missing my trivia game, gosh dern!—and, you guessed it, Second Life says my account will be available in just five more minutes!

When I'd logged out the evening before, I was at a public sandbox with some friends, just goofing around with some vehicles. The sandbox is not known as a particularly friendly place: you can build stuff there, but locals are likely to do rude things to you just for a laugh. I have visions of my avatar passively standing in this sandbox, being battered and pummeled and pushed around by all passers-by for over 15 hours. It's not like they could really do anything to me: avatars are immortal, and since I wouldn't be talking or clicking anything most tricks and traps wouldn't really work. But they could push me around, put me in vehicles, objects, or buildings, carry me around, do rude things Lou would never tolerate if she were really there, and just generally treat me like some inanimate object. I know SL Lou is just an avatar, but it's also me, dammit. When I'm not logged in to SL, I like the idea that SL Lou isn't standing around somewhere like a virtual puppet for other people to molest.

I ask Geoff to go to the sandbox and see if I'm there, and he says no: no Lou in sight. He goes on to the trivia game, and I fume for a while, trying to log in every five minutes. Second Life does have a Support portal, but guess what? Basic accounts like mine—meaning, non-Premium as in "non-paying"—don't get much by way of help. The first ticket I try to open is immediately rejected, saying "Only premium accounts can request help with login problems." Geoff suggests opening a "special questions" ticket that's apparently available to Basic accounts. I do that, and Geoff says he'll try to see if there's anything he can do.

I reply to a few instant messages via GMail—turns out you can do that!—and let some folks know what's going on. But rather than fuming about missing my second trivia game of the day—and with my avatar apparently floating around somewhere in SL like a Bizarro-world ghost—I decide to go for a real-life bike ride. Therapeutic. Get some aggression released in productive ways.

When I get back trivia is over, the Lindens haven't responded to my support request, and I still can't log in. Geoff has checked my "home"—the default location my avatar teleports if I use its "Home" command—and I'm not there. He's just packed it in for the day when my Gmail account gets a message from someone I don't know: "Lou, could you please not fly here?" I immediately write back, saying I can't log in, could you please tell me where I am so I can send someone to get me?! The person replies with the name of a private shopping sim I have never visited before. I grab Geoff via real-world instant messaging—he'd logged out of Second Life—and sent him off looking for me. And, sure enough, he found SL Lou, hovering in some strange latex fetish store, oblivious to the world. I was flying in a no-flying area, and I was apparently non-physical, because Geoff said he couldn't move me out of the store and into a less troublesome area.

Around this time I get a message from the Lindens that they've repeatedly reset my "presence" and I should be able to log in. I try and (of course) nothing happens. I write back saying I still can't log in, and eventually the Lindens say they've reset my presence again. That time it apparently took, and I was able to log in!

I was far too late for any trivia games, but I was at least able to catch up with some of my friends who had been worried about me—a few (including a fellow Corsair!) had apparently congregated at the store to look at my ghost. I tried to teleport there to behold myself but as soon as the real me appeared on the sim my ghost apparently vanished, although for a little while there were apparently two Lou Netizens on the Second Life grid: one the real me, and one just an empty shell.

So, now I'm having a lot more sympathy for those avatars you see sometimes hovering in strange spots, unmoving, apparently oblivious to the world: I bet a lot of them are accounts that have somehow had their in-world "presence" stuck on, but the users aren't there anymore.

And if you ever see me floating around somewhere strange, ignorant of the world…please cut me a little slack.


  1. eah Sunday was weird without you actually there, Lou -- my brain kept saying, "Lou is online. Geoff is here. Trivia is happening. Where the hell is Lou?" Glad this weird issue has resolved and you're back in-world as a speaking, thinking, trivia playing Lou instead of a phantom Lou-ish presence.

    (I enjoyed Geoff, btw. Good sense of humor on that dude, and worthy trivia competition. Bring him around more.)

  2. I think you will agree my new feature request is a great idea!


  3. I should have grabbed a screenshot of Ghost Lou - it was getting towards 1 AM my time and I wasn't thinking clearly. You and your attachments were mostly grey: you weren't ruthed, but you weren't fully there.

    The oddest part: Rain and I were pondering what to do with your ghost when it suddenly vanished and the "real" Lou walked into the store. If I'd been thinking I'd have told you to TP to the boundary of the next sim to cam over and peer at yourself from afar. :-)


  4. oh my goodness this is happening to me right now! at least i am still at my home just standing around. i logged in with my alt and sure enough i am just standing there

  5. AnaMaria QuintessaThu Apr 30, 06:01:00 PM PDT

    It is Thursday night and i am all pepsied up, and here for a weekday DS event, which doesn't happen that often.

    However, this evening it is a themed event, and the theme is a topic that i know little about (althought Lou is doing rather well). So i thought i would check out this blog after it was casually mentioned in conversation.

    Fast forward two hour and i have paid very little attention to what has been going on inworld [although i am still 60$L richer ;o) ] and i have just about got to the end of all Lou's rambings.

    All very entertaining and a lots of pretty pictures for those of us with reduced attention spans (curse you, the internet!). Probably quite helpful to some people to. I don't know how you find the time to record all your adventures.

  6. I really didn't think this post would garner so many responses. >blinks<

    Mako: yes, Geoff is a hoot, but he won't believe you if you tell him that. And I also hope he's in-world more in the future.

    Chadd: Yes, I voted for your feature request, okay? :)

    Geoff: You suck. But you're also a hoot. Now guess which one of those statements is true.

    Sydd: I'm glad you were able to "find yourself" using an alt. I don't have an alt account, although lots of people suggested I create a "Lou2" or something to get around problems like this. Not sure how I feel about it; I'll eventually get around to writing about why-Lou-has-no-alt.

    Ana: at least this blog has served one useful purpose - it distracted you during a trivia game! For anyone who doesn't know, Ana is well-nigh unbeatable on most subjects unless you can distract her…so I am placing an online order to have lots of Pepsi products drop-shipped to her now.

    I mostly write the blog entries—where else?—at trivia games. If I'm not pulled into IM by people, odds are pretty good I'm writing up one of these between questions. And I don't find the time to record everything I'd like…but that's probably a good thing, because then the blog would just be longerer and more boringer!


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