Paying Invisible Avatars?

Okay, this is a new one for me.  On my Reader feed, I saw a post about someone getting scammed at a store.  When they paid for a product, it brought up a name they didn’t recognize.  After waiting a few moments, they realized the product had not been delivered.

They went to the redelivery kiosk and tried to have the item redelivered.  The item did not show as a purchase.  So now the person is trying to figure out what happened, where her L$ went, and where the item was.

I thought nothing of it, and went about my day.  Later, I was looking through Flickr and noticed a post with this same name mentioned.  The post stated that somehow, someone was able to rez an invisible prim in front of a store vendor, and then people would mistakenly pay the scammer rather than the actual vendor.

I wondered how that was possible, since I would assume stores would only allow certain people to have rez rights to avoid this very situation.  Reading through the comments, it appears the guess is that the scammer made themselves invisible (by wearing alpha layers?) and then stood in front of the vendor and collected payments.

Criminals are creative, I’ll give them that.  This would never have occurred to me, but then, I’m not a criminal.  Also, how do the buyers not notice that they are paying an avatar rather than a vendor?  I can’t remember for sure, but wouldn’t the pie menu have some different options when you click on an avatar (like add friend or something) than a vendor?  Are people just so busy spending L$ they don’t notice?

If you have names turned on, wouldn’t you see the name of the invisible avatar, even though they’re invisible?  Maybe that’s different depending on your viewer.

As thieves get more creative, I guess we all need to start paying more attention to the details.  Know what you’re buying and who you are paying before hitting that pay/buy button.

Different Strokes

Busy Bee
Me this week!
Image Source: http://www.clipartpanda.com

One of the things I love is going to different places in SL, exploring and taking photos of all the amazing sims I find.  I follow blogs of fellow explorers and and lots of people on Flickr so I can find cool places to photograph.

It’s always interesting to me when I see how differently each photographer experiences the same place.  As new sims pop up, people will go explore and photograph, and their photographs will inspire me to go to the same place and explore.

Sometimes, though, even though I find other people’s photos beautiful and amazing, when I visit the same sim, I’m hard pressed to find anything I want to photograph myself.

Nothing wrong with that, of course – different strokes for different folks and all that.  But it is often frustrating, because I have limited time to explore these days, so visiting some place without taking any photos is an aggravation I don’t need.

For instance, yesterday I had some free time to explore, so I did.  I visited probably 12 different sims.  Of those 12, 5 were a bust – I could tell immediately upon landing they just weren’t for me.  Again – this is not to say that there was anything wrong with these sims, just that they weren’t something I was interested in photographing.

Of the 7 left, I wandered around 2 of them, hunting for something to shoot.  Nothing caught my eye, so I left without taking any photos.  So, down to 5.  I took a few photos at 2 of them, but once I had time to sit down and look at the photos, I didn’t really like any of them.

That left 3 sims that I actually took photos of.  The first sim I visited was amazing and I took a load of photographs.  Maybe that’s why some of the next ones were disappointing.  However, I persevered and ended up with some good shots I will be sharing here and on Flickr.

If you’ve visited any fabulous sims lately, please share!

Increased Marketplace Fees

Image Source: marketplace.secondlife.com

At the beginning of every month, I print out a report from my small Marketplace store.  I have small items for sale – rugs, particles I’ve made for a routine, etc.  Most of the items I have run between $5L-$15L.  I’m not looking to make a living, just make back a few $L here and there to help defray some of the costs of SL.

A few months ago, LL announced that they would be raising the fees charged by Marketplace.  The commission they charge was raised from 5% to 10%.  At the time, there was some outcry by creators, because of course this will affect their bottom lines  – which for some is already pretty marginal.

I just shrugged my shoulders, because what can you do?  If I want to sell on the Marketplace, I have to abide by their rules.  If I don’t like them, I don’t have to use the Marketplace.  I could sell in-world only, or just not sell at all.  Since my MP income is just extra for me (and pretty small), I decided to just wait and see.

Honestly, I’d forgotten all about it until I logged in to download my sales reports.  I noticed as I was working that my $5L items had a $1L commission – which is unusual, because for the last however many years, if I sold a $5L item, I got the whole $5L.  The commission was rounded down, I think, so I only had commission taken out if the item was $10L or more.

This month, however (well, December), pretty much every item I sold had commission taken out.  Which, again, I understand – their MP, their rules.  However, it made a pretty significant difference in my own income, which I hadn’t expected.

For most of 2019, my store averaged $850L in sales income.  The commission fees for most months averaged $50L.  For December, my sales income was only $642L, which is a low month.  Lower than usual, but not alarmingly so.  However, when I looked at the commissions, there was a significant difference.  The commission fees I paid in December were $103L.  On the surface, that tracks.  If I normally pay around $50L in fees, $100L in fees with the doubling of the commission fee accounts for that.

The kicker is that I actually made less in sales than I usually do – so if I had made my average $850L in sales income, my commission fees would have been even more than the $100L.  Which means that while LL may have only doubled the commission fee from 5% to 10%, in effect they will likely collect more than that.

I still plan to sell on MP, and I don’t plan to change my current prices.  However, I will be keeping a closer eye on the fees in the coming months.  I don’t pay for any extra advertising on MP, so my only fees are the commissions.

As I said, I don’t plan to make changes, but for large stores and/or people who make their living from SL, this seemingly small change may have a ripple effect as people discover exactly what impact it has on their income.  Some creators have already stated that they will raise MP prices, close their MP store, or leave SL altogether.  2020 may be interesting. 😛

Flickr in Trouble?

FlickrCameraI was browsing through the blogs I follow and saw a post about trouble in Flickr land.  So I hopped on over to Flickr to find out what’s going on.

I have a love/hate relationship with Flickr.  I’ve always hated Yahoo, and when they owned Flickr, I was very hesitant to sign up, especially since they required a phone number.  I finally bit the bullet and signed up.

Then a year or so ago, SmugMug bought Flickr.  Yay! Because then I wouldn’t have to deal with Yahoo.  Or so I thought.  I missed the window to migrate off of my Yahoo account and I still haven’t gotten around to changing it.

Now, it appears that the old saying is true – There’s no such thing as a free lunch.

I wish my kids understood this.  They are GenZ’ers – or the iGen as they are sometimes called.  They think there’s an app for everything – a FREE app.  And if there isn’t, there should be.  I’ve explained about the costs of running a business and the perils of handing over your personal data just to get a free app, but most of the time it falls on deaf ears.

Anyway, it appears SmugMug has discovered that, while people love Flickr, lots of people don’t want to pay for it.  Which, understandably, makes it difficult to keep Flickr afloat.  When SmugMug initially bought Flickr, they made some changes, which included that free account holders would be limited in the number of photos they could upload.

Fine with me – I just deleted a bunch of old photos to put myself under the limit.  I keep all my photos saved on my own external hard drive anyway, so it wasn’t like I was losing anything.  Since I’ve not been in-world as much, I haven’t had as many photos to upload anyway.

I do understand SmugMug’s dilemma.  They want to keep Flickr going, but it takes time and effort and money to do that.  I’m just not sure I use Flickr enough to justify paying for the service.  I am naturally resistant to subscription services – I don’t use Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Adobe CC, or anything like that.  If I want something, I want to purchase it, own it, hold it in my hot little hands.  Which is why I’m still using my Photoshop CS6 – the last version you could purchase.

It remains to be seen whether Flickr manages to convince enough people to purchase Pro subscriptions to keep it afloat.

Furillen

Furillen is a sim I’ve visited before, but it is constantly being reinvented.  One constant, however, is that it’s always an amazing place to take photographs, and this iteration is no exception.

It is a wintery, bleak landscape, but it is easy to lose yourself in the grandeur of the scenery.  These trees seem to touch the sky as you stand underneath.

There are a lot of places to sit and reflect in Furillen, including this eclectic collection of chairs near the edge of the water.  I can almost smell the salt on the air and feel the spray on my face.

This seemingly abandoned caravan looks so lonely underneath the bare branches of the tree, yet somehow also welcoming.

I’m always fascinated by which pieces of ‘real life’ make it into sim design.  These utility poles are a great example of things that add realism to the sim – things we see every day, but don’t even think about anymore.

Judging by the multitude of pics I’ve seen on Flickr, many other SL’ers find Furillen as fascinating as I did.

When taking photos, I often spend quite a bit of time playing around with windlights.  Not so here.  The region windlight seemed perfect for the sim, and I couldn’t find anything I thought looked better.

So if you’re ready to spend a bit of time wandering in the cold and snow, make sure to add Furillen to your travel list.

 

The Last Dove

After seeing lots of pictures of this sim on Flickr, I added the Last Dove to my list of sims to visit.  As a resident of a very rural town, and a very rural state, in many ways, this sim feels like home.

You can almost smell the wood smoke and feel the dust coating your face as you travel across the bridge into the town proper.  I love how the building on the left has a large board propping up the signage/facade of the building – like you’re walking onto the set of an old spaghetti western.

I think this house/shack is one I pass on my way to work every day – including the chickens in the road I have to dodge.  -.-

We don’t have longhorns where I live, but we do have plenty of cows and bulls.  A long ago piece of advice I received:  If you find yourself in a field with a cow or a bull, and you don’t know the difference – run.  I don’t know if it’s true or not, but thankfully I’ve never had to worry about it.

There’s a lot to see at the Last Dove, so hit that tp button and go see for yourself.

VUK and Author’s Point

This fall, I made a decision that I would spend more time in SL.  I wanted to explore, practice my photography, and just generally have fun.  However, given my almost year-long hiatus from SL, I’m finding it hard to work the time for it back into my life.

Once I wasn’t spending time daily in SL, that time of course got filled up with other things – RL things.  And it’s been difficult to carve out that time in SL again, much as I want to, because things in RL take precedence.

Once school started back up, I thought I would have more free time, but I’m discovering I have less.  I haven’t taken on any extra commitments, so I’m hard-pressed to explain why my free time is suddenly at such a premium.

In any case, I do want to spend more time in SL, so I’m going to have to figure out how to do that.  I did manage to spend a little time exploring last week, visiting some sims that I discovered via Flickr.

It’s funny how some sims make me want to take a photo of everything, and other sims I find myself searching for something to take a photo of.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

So although I didn’t get a lot of photographs of some sims, they are still worth visiting.  VUK was one such sim – I did take some photos, but I’m still experimenting with my photography and I ended up with only one photo I felt was worth sharing.

I loved the windlight on this sim – grey and hazy, but it fit the landscape very well.

I also spent some time exploring Author’s Point, but I was rushed and I only took one photo.  When I came back to look at them for editing – ugh.  I was rushing and it clearly showed.  However, the sim is definitely still worth exploring, so head on over and check it out for yourself.