Friday, March 22, 2013

Islands of New England (03.21.13)

This will be a good opportunity to discuss a contrast between real-life live music shows and Second Life shows, and the challenges and benefits of each.

At a real-life show, all manner of things can go wrong. You can get stuck in traffic on the way to the show. You can throw your back out while loading amplifiers and drums onto the stage. Your gear can decide to stop working right before your set. These are but a few of the perils of real-life performing. At a Second Life show, you never need to worry about travel time to the gig. You probably don't have to do much setting up at all. And chances are that your gear will be well behaved when you're not slinging it around town in the back of a van.

But real life has at least one big advantage over the virtual world: real life tends to have 100% "uptime". While Second Life is slightly more well-behaved in its general performance now than it was when I got involved in 2006, we do have to remember a basic tenant of computers and software: they break sometimes.

Typically, my show begins an hour before my scheduled start time. That's when I stop whatever I'm doing, and begin to get warmed up to sing and play guitar. I then get my microphones and music stand set up. At 20 minutes before the hour, I get in world and go to the venue, so I have plenty of time to do whatever I need to be settled in and ready to play at the start of my show.

All this assumes one important detail: that SL is functioning. Last night, as I got ready to play at the Islands of New England, I fired up my Firestorm viewer and then... loading... loading... loading... nothing. Uh oh. I popped onto Facebook, and already had a message from my manager Maali Beck.

"I can't log in...been trying for 28 minutes. Will continue to try. Grrrr."

Uh oh.

I looked around some more, and saw this heart-wrenching (for me) announcement from Linden Lab:

"We are currently performing unscheduled inventory server maintenance. During this time, some residents may be logged off and will be temporarily unable to log in, or experience inventory loading issues. This maintenance may also disrupt transactions and logins. Please check back here for updates."

Uh oh.

Not to spoil the end of this tale, but all came out well as it usually does. Photo by Kat.

So, as far as I could tell at that moment, I couldn't get into SL for my show. My manager couldn't either, nor the person who manages the venue, Christine Haiku. And perhaps most important, nor could any of my friends/fans who I'd invited. This wasn't shaping up to be one of my better shows. However, I've always been a big fan of "the show must go on", and fortunately the gods of technology must agree, since a few minutes later, I managed to log into SL. My avatar never rezzed for me; I looked like a little orange cloud the whole time I was there. To me, that is; to most others, I looked "ruthed", meaning I was some weird small being that had both male and female gender characteristics. Lovely!

Yes, that's me, not quite looking myself. Top Ruth photo by Kat, bottom photo by Triana.

But that didn't really matter much. The point of all this is that once I got in, I didn't despair. Instead, I went to the venue, got the stream rolling with the few others who'd managed to get in, and started my show right on time. I didn't care that there were just four people there; it didn't matter. I had a show to do, and I was going to do it regardless of anything else. Sure enough, as people who'd been trying to log in eventually made it, the crowd increased, and before long we had a nice happy audience at the Islands of New England.

Islands of New England set list...
Man of Constant Sorrow (Traditional)
Perfect Girl (Zak Claxton)
Take Me To The River (Al Green)
Old Man (Neil Young)
Things Behind the Sun (Nick Drake)
Fire & Rain (James Taylor)
Big Yellow Taxi (Joni Mitchell)
You're Like a Cloud (Zak Claxton)
Man on the Moon (R.E.M.)
Just Like Starting Over (John Lennon)
Fade Away (Zak Claxton)
California (Joni Mitchell)
Broken Day (Zak Claxton)

Extra special thanks to the people who somehow made it into SL and came to my show (including a few that crashed and came back in multiple times... you all rule!)
Curious Ireman, Sassy Nitely, Triana Caldera, Aurelie Chenaux, Barbara Mixemup, Celeste Ewing, Benjalina, Richy Nervous, Sesh Kamachi, Kat Claxton, my great manager Maali Beck, and my friend and IONE manager Christine Haiku!

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