Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Reader Submitted: Digital Farm System

 
 By Serenity Herold (SerenKitty Resident)


No matter where your interests lie, there are a lot of fun activities to do in Second Life. One of those SL activities that has been garnering a lot of interest is farming. Enter Digital Farm System (DFS), which started way back in October of 2016. DFS isn’t just farming, though. It is so much more.


DFS requires the use of a HUD, which is free at the DFS Main Store. The HUD keeps track of your energy. Most of the activities in DFS use a little energy. It’s easy to replenish the energy in the HUD by consuming DFS foods. Foods can be made by the HUD user by having the ingredients necessary for the recipe they’d like to make, or by purchasing the food they’d like to eat from one of the many DFS users that cook and sells their goods.

Those items can be purchased easily in one of the many DFS markets or at one of the many DFS auctions.

The HUD has an area that drops down when clicking the ‘Craft’ button of the HUD; this allows for recipe ingredients to be loaded. Recipes can be found directly on the DFS website at digitalfarmsystem.com


As far as farming goes, DFS has been masterfully set up to allow you to be as involved or apart from the farming aspect as you prefer. Would you like to raise animals, plant crops, and sell your harvest? You can do that! Would you prefer to buy the ingredients you need from farmers and just cook and bake? Done. Maybe you have always wanted your own vineyard and wine line. You can do that too. You can even focus on crafting and making dyes, rugs, and woodworking projects. The system is set up in such a way that you can really customize it to your own personal tastes. You can even role-play in DFS or choose not to. It’s all up to you.

For the sake of trying to fully understand this expansive system, let’s imagine that you wanted to role-play as a farm-to-table restaurant owner that is world-renowned for your desserts. For this example, we’re going to imagine that you prefer to do as much by hand as possible.

On this particular day, you plan to make some cakes for a special cake-tasting event that you’re holding at your restaurant later this week.

For this scenario, you tend and water your animals, harvest some milk and eggs from them, then draw some extra water from your well. Moving to your crops and trees, you gather some wheat, vanilla, and oranges. You realize that you’re out of butter, so you decide to churn some. Then, you get ready to start making cakes. Realizing that you’re out of one of the ingredients that you need, you decide to TP over to one of the many DFS markets in order to buy it. While at the market, you spot a bottle of wine with a beautiful wine label, so you pick that up too.

Heading back home, you make a couple of cakes, and then decide to start working on decorations. You make some dye and use it to dye some wool, which you then weave into fabric. You then take that fabric and a few more ingredients and turn it into a beautiful rug.

Your best friend comes over to visit. Your best friend enjoys DFS, too, but prefers to have just a couple of specific crops and to focus mainly on producing alcohol in their stills, making wine in their fermenters, and taking part in fishing tournaments. They also enjoy collecting DFS collectibles, such as some of the specially designed equipment that is only available at special events.


They have brought a beautiful DFS bouquet of flowers, a box of candy, and a nice meal to replenish your energy, all of which they picked up last week at a DFS auction in order to celebrate your special cake-tasting event.

 
As this scenario demonstrates, DFS is truly customizable to the interests of every single person that enjoys DFS.


Now to touch on the most important aspect of every system: support. I have found DFS support to be unmatched.


From the creator, Ice Dover, to the multitude of CSRs that are ready and able to answer your questions, whether that be via the incredibly active group chat or directly over IM.

The DFS team also goes out of their way to encourage farmers. From the monthly cooking contest, to promoting DFS markets on the main sim, to special events, to keeping the prices of equipment and collectibles low in order to keep DFS affordable, this team is top-notch.

DFS is also friendly with creators that have utilized DFS to build their own businesses. There are outside systems, texture packs, and rezzers that all work alongside the DFS system in order to make selling, crafting/cooking, and animal organization easier.



DFS is also kept fresh by readily adding new and fun recipes to make. Cooking contest winners and specific Patreon backers even have the option to create their own special recipe.

One of the things that really stands out with the DFS team and community is their support of causes that are working tirelessly to help others have improved lives, such as the American Cancer Society, The National Breast Cancer Foundation, and Doctors Without Borders. Go around to the main DFS sim or any of the markets and you’re sure to find kiosks, special auction boxes, and events aimed at showing their support.


It’s easy to get started with DFS. The DFS community as a whole is extremely friendly and open to questions. It is not uncommon to see people starting out in the DFS system by offering their assistance as farm hands, volunteers, and hired cooks. It’s also common to meet new people learning about DFS by visiting some of the many auctions that are held each day.

All in all, DFS provides an exciting and customizable way for users to enhance their Second Life experience.

Serenity  Herold
 
 
 
Design

Friday, January 27, 2023

Bonniebots and The Debate About Them

 
By Bixyl Shuftan
 
In recent days, there's been some controversy, notably in the Second Life Forums, about something called "Bonniebots." Some feel they're a useful tool. Others feel they're a real or potential threat to privacy.

 
The website for Bonniebots is at https://www.bonniebots.com/. What the bots do is described on this webpage (https://www.bonniebots.com/bonnie) : "BonnieBelle and her sisters are roaming bots who travel the grid collecting data. You can follow their progress on the map below." And the included map showed a number of markers going from place to place over Mainland, Bellisseria, and private sims. With the main page stating, "The worst part of Second Life is finding where everyone else is at. We're trying to come up with a better way to find the party. ..." It looks like the purpose is to check the activities of various sims, listing how many avatars are there, and mention how many have been there for more than an hour. It was unclear why these particular sims were listed. The "Regions" page would also display them with an option to go down the list of 27609 sims ten at a time.

There are other pages for most popular attatchments, which regions have the most abandoned land, which sandboxes have the most traffic, which regions have the most available Linden Homes, a Marketplace page for sales history over the past few days as well as a list of the top merchants and listing some items up for sale, and an avatar search page. At the bottom of each page was a Discord contact, the name of one of the bots to contact, and an email: bonniebellebots@gmail.com . There was also the semi-familiar phrase among longtime SL residents, "Be excellent to one another."

Looking up my own name on the search page, curiously I was the second person mentioned on the list, the first being someone who quoted an amusing comment I made. There were also two other with Shuftan as a surname, someone with one of them listed as a friend on their profile, and someone who I couldn't see why they would be there. Checking my home community, the Sunweavers, community leader Rita Mariner was the third person listed, me being the fourth, and two of the people listed I haven't see in months. Searching for Gemma Cleanslate let to a long list of names in which she only appeared after a dozen or so others.

The bots are not brand new, but according to the forum thread "Has Anyone Else Noticed the B[xxxx] Accounts?", they have been around since before August 2022. It started getting more attention, and debate, around mid-December. "They pop in, stay five seconds, and leave.  I can't image what they're doing excect gathering the number of guests at each." Eventually, a "Bonniebelle81" respoded, "We attempt to visit all regions at least once a day and are certainly not stalking anyone.  I'm sorry if we gave you guys a fright." Some people commenting didn't see a problem, "Just block them." Others grumbled they shouldn't have to or that preventive measures had a downside, "...my first thought was to allow Region access only to those who have payment info.The problem is that by doing so, potential customers who don't have such info can no longer enter my region to rent, and also friends or visitors of my tenants who also won't have pay info can no longer visit. ... why do I have to tolerate and accept your 'data collection' bots that make my customers nervous."

Skyler Pancake tried to assure they weren't out to collect anything that wasn't already done so, at least by Linden Lab, "All data collected HAS to be publicly available data. There's no way for anyone aside LL to collect data that isn't. So this is information you are putting out on Second Life. It's just data being anonymized and compiled." But the complaints continued, "This website and its avatar search provides information to the public that is not otherwise public knowledge." Not everyone else posting was against the bots, "So many words to excuse paranoia." "You people are freaking out entirely too much over a network of land survey and census bots." But the majority were either outright against them or expressing reservations about them, "I am tired of seeing your bots teleport in all the time and having to mass ban them. You are disturbing Second Life residents who are paying money to rent or lease their virtual property. You are doing this without asking permission for your own entertainment." There was also a debate about whether this was against the Terms of Service or not.

Finally at page seven on Friday January 20, Keira Linden announced the following:

Hi all, I understand some are upset by what they are seeing on the BonnieBots website.  Let me assure you that all the information they are displaying is accessible via lsl script call or openly available information on various web pages.  In other words, this is public information and has been for quite some time.  Nothing that is discoverable in this manner is considered personally identifiable information.  If you have something on your Profile you do not wish others to know, you should remove it at this time.  As has been pointed out, land owners have the ability to restrict access to private areas via the land management tools.  

If you are concerned about the safety of your account, please enable MultiFactor Authentication.  The steps to do so can be found here:  accounts.secondlife.com/mfa/status

And, as always, if you believe anyone has broken the Terms of Service, please file an Abuse Report so that we may investigate the situation.  

We are in communication with the owner of this system to ensure all it adheres to all requirements and will now be closing this thread.


But the debate didn't stop as another thread was opened the next day, "Sorry, This Is Not OK, B Bots Profile Scraping." The poster stated that her profile "is set in the privacy options to FRIENDS ONLY," and compared the limited information in my.secondlife.com to much more being available in a Bonniebots search, "I am deeply disheartened by LL's initial reaction to this. ...  This is a massive wholesale data leak and should be treated as seriously as any other security issue. None of this is ok." And debate started immediately, "But unless you're daft enough to put RL in your profile it's not a big point.  Nothing to personally identify you." There were nine pages of comments over about 12 hours until it was closed by Volo Linden after he stated, "... the information displayed is accessible via LSL script calls and is publicly available information. We would recommend removing content from your profile if you did not wish for others to see it. "

On Sunday January 22, a third thread was started, "Banning Bots From The Grid?" This time the person starting the thread wasn't so sure about going after the bots. It would be locked seven pages and less than eight hours later, the Lindens basically saying the chatter had gone off the rails. So on Monday a fourth thread started, "Open Letter to Linden Lab: Enforcing Policies?", the person suggesting there was a double standard between how the Lab enfoced it's policies on the forums and it's policies on bots, "We all know that these are hardly enforced at all, laissez faire at best.  I think we as (paying) costumers have the right to expect and IMHO even demand that Linden Lab enforces all their own policies in the same way and not only in the advantage of themselves, meaning as it pleases the company." This one lasted two days and eighteen pages, then Patch Linden stepped in.

 This post, like others has been locked for going so far off the rails of the topic that I think was originally intended to be discussed, and the outward accusatory, defamatory tones and attacks towards others, while still a thinly veiled attempt to discuss the matters behind the other locked topics is no longer going to be tolerated on our forums.   

That said, I am in direct contact with the creators behind the Bonniebots and I have consulted our legal teams and a GDPR specialist, to give me a full understanding of the situation at hand.  Out of respect for all concerned in the matter, I turn your attention to reviewing the policy at stake, and understand that we will enforce this policy:

    Information You Provide when Using our Services. Please note that our Services may offer chat functions (either one-to-one or within a limited group) or other forms of communication services (such as real time voice communication either one-to-one or within a limited group), forums, community environments (including multiplayer gameplay) or other tools that are either restricted to other account holders or Services users or that do not have a restricted audience and can be accessible by anyone. Any information, content or communications, including personal information, you provide when you use any of these features will be available to the recipients (dependent on the nature of the tool) and may be publicly posted and otherwise disclosed without limitation as to its use by us or by a third party.
    While we endeavour at all times to protect the privacy of our users and to ensure no harm is caused through our Services, given the nature of the tools, we have no obligation to keep private any information you made available to other users or the public using these functions.

I feel that I will be able to attain an ammicable and suitable solution to all soon, while preserving the spirit of the policy and allowing open exploration of Second Life to continue on a healthy trajectory.  Non-playable characters, "bots" and other automated means of roaming the grid are not prohibited in general at this time.   


By this time, the Bonniebots were starting to get the attention of Second Life media. New World Notes would write about it on Friday January 20, and the debate would follow there, "SL was always dead to me. ... Then someone goes and actually solves it ... What's the reaction? "OMG, my privacy." There would be a followup on Monday about the worries and counterarguments. Prokofy Neva would write in his Second Thoughts about the matter, "It's not enough to say 'oh, it's public'. Because what's happening is that it's being AMPLIFIED AND WEAPONIZED. When THAT happens in SL, we have a right to protest. Nobody thought when they signed the TOS and read the privacy policies that their annual sales data and their raunchy profiles would go into Google and be read by RL bosses or spouses or whoever can cause havoc in an avatar's life. So let's not be children here. AGGREGATIONS and AMPLIFICATION is the issue, NOT the mere act of scraping what is there."

Eventually New World Notes would report on Wednesday that Patch Linden met with the BobbieBots team "for a fireside meeting. It was stated that the website would be making some changes, "We'll be adding an opt-out to the avatar search and the Top Merchants listings. Avatar search will stay disabled until the opt-out is implemented. Top Merchants listing will have merchant names hidden." The time it would take to make the changes was described as "maybe a weekend or two."

The Newser reached out to the Bonniebots team to see if they could answer some quesions. They responded they couldn't at this time, but should soon be available for an interview.

It's unlikely the debate about Bonniebots will simply up and quiet down soon. feel free to leave comments below.

Sources, SL Forums, New World Notes, Second Thoughts
 
Image source: Bonnie Belle
 
Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Cynthia Farshore's Santa Sleigh Ride

 
By Bixyl Shuftan
 

 Christmas has come to Second Life, and the various communities are celebrating in their own way. This includes the Sunweaver Estates. The main venue, Club Cutlass, put up some decorations, including a tree, a gift-giving box that gives those in the Sunweaver group several presents, and a Santa that gives you a gift for those on the nice list.
 
 
Also at Cutlass is a sign advertising an attraction, a Santa sleigh ride. Touching it will give you a landmark to the location, at Farshore Field in Sunlight Bay (220/86/22).


Heading to Farshore Field, Cynthia Farshore showed me the sled.

Getting on, Saint Nick appeared, and got the reindeer to start pulling the sled down the runway.


"Clear Let's take off." And up we went.


We went past Joy Mountain.

"We'll let the deer romp through the woods a bit."



"Buzz the Bismark."


"Tried not to make just a straight boring ride," Cynthia told me, "In 20 minutes you cover all of Sunweaver and can see many of it's sights and attractions."
 

 

"Let's do a touch and go"


Flying over Sunweaver Bay, Santa would point out an amusement park, "Please do come by the place below it has a huge amount of holiday attractions!"




"We pause a moment to respect those we have lost and are not with us in body but now are in spirit."



Going into Pacific Waters and passing Mouse Hole Manor.


Passing the White Vixen Enterprises office, and approaching Gil Ottared's home, with it's ironclad ships and "Emma's Tower."


Passing the launch pad with regular rocket service to Club Zero Gravity, Glitch Troncon's "Tron house," and Penny Shuftan's "Friendly Lots." 


We went by the Newser office
 

 

The approach to the airport, "Landing on runway 9."
 
 
And back at the airport, "We have landed Back at Farshore Field of which we humbly thank her for providing us a remote base. Hope you enjoyed your ride! Merry Christmas! HO HO HO!"
 

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, December 16, 2022

Tiny Carolers and North Pole Village

 
 By Gemma Cleanslate


Over the weekend I visited a few parties and events that were so Christmasy and then went looking for Santa. I stopped over at Benny's Christmas Trees and More where the Raglan carolers were doing a gesture show of their favorite music. Here is one tune.

[12:46] Raglan Shire Carolers:
~*~ You Better Watch Out, ~*~
~*~ You Better Not Cry,~*~
~*~ You Better Not Pout, I'm Telling You Why, ~*~
~*~ Santa PAWS Is Coming,~*~
~*~ Santa PAWS is Coming To Towwwwwwwwwnnnnnnnn,
~*~ SANTA PAWS IS COMING TO TOWN! ~*~


They had many more! Of course they finished with the infamous river dance everyone loves go see.


I also went over to a skating and dancing party at Ipperwich where dj Scott was spinning tunes for everyone! The whole family was there and having a great time along with residents and friends of Mount Campion. It will be a busy few weeks coming for him!


And then I made a long stop at one of my favorite places to visit every Christmas, “Christmas at North Pole Village & Santa's Workshop – Winter”. I am glad it is always there. The walls of ice and snow carve a path down the hill, past the Crystal Ice Caves to the door of the village where Santa, Mrs santa and and his 56 elves and 8 reindeer live and work.


Once you open the door to the little town you are in a land of enchantment. The town square holds tiny buildings filled with working elves. There are always little critters and elves skating and hanging out.
I always stop in at the Newspaper to say hi to those elves. They are easy to recognized with their little human faces. The post office is always busy at this time of year, loaded with carts of letters arriving by the minute.


The younger elves are busy learning about their future jobs in the school. It is a pleasure to see them. The longest visit is to the castle where elves are busy wrapping gifts to go out on the sleigh. In the kitchen others are making cookies and gingerbread. Mrs Claus is overseeing the work.



Upstairs is the dormitory where those off duty rest and sleep. A visit to Santa’s nearby bedroom is great fun. He is rarely there so I jump on his bed.

 
I know where to find him. Outside the Castle I walk down the icy path to the reindeer barn. Here I find him working with the reindeer for the big night when he takes off to fly through the air to you. I always help him take off for a practice run. You can do that too when you visit. Before you leave drop by the bakery and have some hot coffee with the elves there. They are always happy to see visitors.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Porvoo/217/133/128

Gemma Cleanslate

Monday, December 5, 2022

Christmas Locations, Part Four

 
By Gemma Cleanslate

A visit to Tayren’s Holiday.


Tayren has such a marvelous region at wintertime. Her large shop is full of wonderful period clothing for both women and men.. I own several of her outfits from years back. It is a great place to get outfits for role play in medieval settings. Once outside again check out the little sheds in which you will find wonderful holiday items she also makes.


Then head up to the top of the hill. Here a little village of shops invites you to go in. Do that! In many of the shops you are going to find boxes of freebies under the trees. Santa is watching you grab those boxes and smiling. In one shop I sat to visit with some elves who were supposed to be working but I think were having a coffee break.


Wander farther down the hill and into the woods and find yourself entranced. Fairies live here in tiny homes in the trees and rocks, each one individual in design. They are sweet and delicate and friendly. It all adds to the season in the snow. Take your horse for a ride in the snow. 
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wind%20Struck/141/217/29


I get a real kick out of visiting Never You Mind. I have not met the owner, Harley (Harleywan Haggwood), but his name really makes me think he would have to be the creator of the cute creatures he makes. They are funny and endearing. One of the reasons I think I have never met him is that he is an Aussie so rarely the time zones meet. His creatures are everywhere singing and smiling as you arrive


He also makes things that fly and other things to ride on water or land. He has very unique Christmas scenes too, like the cake cart above. Take a walk all around to see the quaint buildings, trees and all Harley has to offer for your regions and your fun travels. If you join the group you will get some great little critters as gifts.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bundaberg/181/197/23


I also went shopping in Maine, Portland Maine SL that is. It is the first time I have been shopping here and I loved it. It is so quaint. I have a special fondness for Maine as I like to visit it every spring before the crowds arrive. The entrance is near a New England Church with a few homes and a post office near by. The little cabins of many styles are showplaces for so much nice décor for sale. I saw more beautiful snow globes but controlled myself. It is fun just to walk in the falling snow and peak inside each one to see what they offer. There is outside and inside décor all over . I saw some furry Santas and other characters as furries too. How about a box of 22 grinches ! An Advent calendar is at the entrance too.


Santa was there with a whole line of children waiting to tell him what they want. There are many cute comical scenes to be found here for the fun loving people to put outside their homes or on an island or in a club. Cute little buildings are for sale too at great prices. Take a tour and take a spin on the large skating pond. I also found presents in various places so look for them too.
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Portland%20Maine/180/177/10


The famous Macy’s Christmas Parade is running now on tour at Unincorporated Oregon. 70 Floats, many interactive are making their way down the street. They are so sweet. It is a great place to take photos and take family and friends for fun riding along the parade route.


Also see the teleport to take you up to the lovely little ice skating pond. It is another great place for a snowball fight! There is a bill board near the beginning of the parade route where you can accept the experience. Santa is up there too. Look for the sleds for down hill racing. ]Thanks to Franny DJ and the owners and managers of Oregon for hosting the parade this year. It will be running every day with its own music. http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Enchanted%20Isles/23/63/23
 
Gemma Cleanslate