Beware the hair thieves – a quick tips guide

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Dec 222016
 

It will happen to all of us eventually, especially those of us who hunt for bargains. We’ll find a fabulous cheapie on Marketplace, and the ridiculously-small amount of money the creator is charging for it will leave our virtual wallet so fast you won’t see that cash for dust. The item arrives in our inventory, and… whoops.

We’ve just paid for stolen goods.

It happened to me last night. I was just looking through the latest cheapies and freebies on Marketplace, and a lovely blonde hair popped up for just L$32. Since I’d already picked up a few cheap hair gifts (and since it was among a load of other results for other things) I thought “Bargain!” and threw it into my cart. I was on a freebie/cheapie binge, and I just didn’t think. Just glossed right over it.

As soon as I unpacked it, I realised that I’d unwittingly purchased copybotted (stolen) hair. The clues were simple to follow:

  • The hair description began ‘LeLutka’ – a well-known designer in SL
  • It was full-permission (always a HUGE sign that something’s amiss, especially if the Marketplace description says otherwise)
  • Checking the creator properties of the hair took me to the profile of an avatar with an angry disclaimer about not coming to her about stuff you’d purchased from other people

The first thing I did was to check whether LeLutka did indeed have a hair of that name on Marketplace. They do (a demo only), and it’s identical to the hair that I had purchased. Also, the hair that I purchased is full-permission and the Marketplace description where I purchased it from states that it’s no-transfer (a lie calculated to throw off the possibility of it being stolen). So I immediately contacted the CS representative for LeLutka to alert them to the possibility of copybotted versions of their hair on Marketplace. Back came the reply that yes, it was stolen. The CS representative also told me that LeLutka don’t even sell full-priced hair on Marketplace; they only have a ‘demo store’. Their full-priced hair has to be purchased at their in-world location.

She also gave me a useful tip to help spot a store full of stolen hair: if the store features lots of different hairstyles in the same colour, then it’s very likely that it’s all stolen.

To that, I’ll also add a couple more tips of my own: things that I’ve learned from this:

  • If the hair is a dollarbie (L$1) then it’s most likely a genuine gift from a hair store. However, if it’s an unusual (but still low) price – such as L$32 – then you should investigate further.
  • Check out the full store. You do this by clicking on ‘visit the store’ on the right-hand side of the page, between the store name and store-owner name (underneath the orange purchase buttons).

Things to look out for, and be especially wary if more than one of these applies to a single store:

  • Lots of hairstyles, all the same ridiculously-cheap price. A few dollarbies in an otherwise genuine-looking hair store are not going to be stolen, but 50 hairstyles (all at strange prices like L$32) probably are.
  • No typical signs of a genuine hair creator: demos, full-price packs (L$150+), no multiple-colour packs (all blondes, all browns, etc).
  • Lots of hairstyles, all in the same colour (or, at most, two or three colours). Be aware that some genuine hair designers use the same image for different hair colours, and just change the item name to denote which hair colour it is, so check the item names as well.
  • No hair colours listed, just the name of the hair itself. Or, if a colour is listed, it may simply say “[style name] black hair”.
  • Lots of hairstyles, all with different types of design. Most hair designers have a ‘signature style’. If you can see a few long blonde styles with wispy fly-away strands and a few more that are more solid and chunky then you’re possibly looking at hair stolen from different designers.
  • Lots of styles in the same hair colour but with different textures. Maybe the roots look longer in one blonde than they do in another, or the shine is different. Maybe one black hair is a solid black and another has a lot of highlighted-shine. While some designers do create new hair texture sets occasionally, they’ll be clumped together because the designer will swap to using the new style of texture at a specific point in time. Sort the store by ‘recent first’ to see if the different textures are all located together.
  • Styles that look very familiar, because you could have sworn you saw them in Truth, or another hair store, last week! (If you actually own those styles, try them on and then angle your camera to the same way the advert is angled. You’ll soon see if the hair is identical or not.)
  • Very professionally-made hair with very simple ads. I’ve blurred out all identifying information in the ad at the top of this post, purely because I don’t want to publicise this seller of stolen merchandise, but all of her hair ads are set against that white background with no store logo, just a simple name in a black font.
  • Personal items being sold alongside lots of cheap hair. In this case, I found gacha resale items being sold at the end of the listings.

What to do if you’ve spotted (or unwittingly purchased) stolen hair:

  • First, verify as much as you can that it is stolen. The above hints will help you, and if you’ve actually purchased the hair, look for clues such as:
    • The item name including a well-known store name, but the creator name not being associated with that store (either its owner or a store alt).
    • Defensive words in the creator’s or seller’s profile about their items.
    • Different permissions on the item you’ve purchased (usually they will be full-permission) than the permissions listed on the Marketplace page.
    • No store group listed in the creator’s (or seller’s) profile, and no store or contact info in their picks or main profile.
  • Contact the genuine store owner/item creator (or their CS representative; check their profile for their preferred point of contact). Send them a notecard titled something like “Possible copybotted [store name] hair on Marketplace” and give as much info in that notecard as you can. Make sure you include a Marketplace link to the stolen hair..
  • If you receive confirmation that the hair is, indeed, stolen, ask the creator (or their CS representative) if they want you to leave a review stating as much. If they say that’s fine, then go ahead and leave a review. You’ll have to give at least one star in order for the review to be posted, but you can state that it’s a no-star review in either the review title or the main review text. Simply state that it’s copybotted (stolen) hair and advise others not to purchase it.
  • If you unwittingly bought it, then trash it. Don’t walk around wearing hair that someone else (who likes it!) can inspect and then purchase from a thief.

What will happen next:

  • The genuine creator will file a DMCA request, to have that specific hair taken down (and any other stolen copies of their hair on that Marketplace store). Only the original creator (the owner of the Intellectual Property, or IP) of an item can file a DMCA request.
  • The genuine creator will probably post a link to the store in one or more large designer groups, so that other designers can check it for their hair that may have been stolen. In my case, the store had hair from Truth and Lamb, and very likely several other stores. Those designers will also file DMCAs.

Eventually (with a bit of luck) the store will be removed entirely by Linden Lab. Unfortunately, though, this doesn’t usually stop the worst culprits. Most copybotters will have a new store set up under a new alt account within a few days. DMCAs are a way of life for many creators, both in the virtual and real worlds. All we can do is to help out where we can, by letting them know when we’ve spotted thieves selling their work for a quick (Linden) buck.

The bird is about to die: a post for Phoenix users

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Apr 272013
 

Hi peeps :)

This post is aimed specifically at people who use the Phoenix Viewer to access Second Life. If you haven’t heard yet, then I’m afraid that the beloved blazing bird is about to stop working.

I don’t mean that the Phoenix Firestorm developer team have stopped updating the viewer (that news came a while ago, and you probably already know about it); I mean that – very soon – Linden Lab will be deploying new code to the main Second Life Grid, and that code will finally break the Phoenix Viewer (and other viewers that haven’t been updated to work with that code).

The code is called Server-Side Baking, and it’s a fix for a lot of long-term issues in-world. In very basic terms, what it will do is move the responsibility of ‘baking’ textures onto the server and away from the viewer. This should fix a lot of rezzing issues, not least:

– Ruthing (rezzing wierdly, with ‘grown’ hair and boobs – even on the guys!)
– Rezzing as a cloud or egg and not being able to edit appearance
– You seeing yourself just fine while others see you naked

It’ll be fixing a lot of other issues as well, but those are the big avatar-related ones. But what it means is this: all viewers (both the official one and TPVs – Third Party Viewers) – have to update and include a lot of code in order to work with Server-Side Baking (SSB, for future ease-of-typing!).

So, what happens if you’re still using a viewer that hasn’t been updated when SSB goes live?

Hop behind the cut to find out. And, Phoenix users, this post is primarily aimed at you (I was one of you, once, and clung on for aaaages!) so you really should hop behind the cut. I have a pleasant surprise waiting for you behind there! ;)

NOTE: This is an image-heavy post. Open it, then go make a cup of tea while it loads!

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Farewell, Magic Box! Mar’s guide to using Direct Delivery

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Apr 132013
 

Hi peeps!

This post is for anyone who sells (or wants to sell) on SL Marketplace. The old method of selling (the magic box) is being phased out, and a new method (direct delivery) is bring brought in. In fact, all magic boxes will cease to work from Tuesday 16th April – that’s just a few days from now. So here’s a quick guide to migrating an existing magic box, uploading new items to direct delivery, and writing listings.

Hop behind the cut!

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Dec 132012
 

There seems to be a disturbing upward trend in the number (and methods) of panhandlers in Second Life.

We’re all used to seeing them pop up in large, free-to-join groups, asking for “just L$50 until I get paid”. Indeed, one of the main reasons why so many groups that were once free-to-join now charge a minimum of L$50 (and, in some cases, multiple hundreds of L$) to join is to prevent both spammers and panhandlers from annoying their group members.

In recent months, though, I’ve both experienced and been notified about, new panhandling tactics. I hope this post will serve as a warning that they are out there, that they are getting more and more skilful, and hopefully I can help you to spot some of their tactics.

The main difference is this: The new panhandlers are far more willing to spend time, one-on-one, with another avatar, be it in person or (more usually) in IM. I’ve heard reports of upwards of 10 minutes’ general chitchat before the panhandler gets to the point: they just need x amount of money to help them out.

Hop behind the cut.

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Hints and tips: I blog, therefore I am

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Dec 102012
 

The idea for this post struck me on my way to work this morning, and it would NOT leave me alone! So, here it is!

Sometimes we all get a bit bored with our daily SL routine. Maybe we signed up a few years ago and many of our friends have drifted away to other grids, or are simply not around anymore. Perhaps our partners live in different timezones and we have hours to kill before they log in and we can be with them. Or it might simply be that good old ennui has set in for a prolonged stay. It happens to all of us at times!

So, what’s to do?

Well, how about giving yourself something new to do, in the form of what you’re reading right now. A blog!

“Oh gawd, Mar,” I hear you mutter. “I wouldn’t have a clue what to write about! I can’t write anything interesting to save my life! My SLife is soooo boring; who’d want to read about it?!”

Yeah yeah. Cry moar, as the meme goes ;)

Everyone has something they could blog about, and finding your niche could be the very thing that boots the fun back into your Second Life again! Sure, sometime bloggers need a break, but blogging can be a lot of fun.

Hop behind the cut for some hints and tips and ideas!

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Those Little Questions: another general grab-bag!

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Jun 162012
 

Hi peeps! Here’s another in my ‘Those little questions’ series, where I try to give answers to the questions in search terms that lead people to the SL for Nowt blog. There are no silly questions in SL. We all started out as complete newbies, and we all wondered the same things, so here I hope to help you out with some answers :)

You can find the questions on the old blog archived here, and a special Those Little Questions all about skyboxes here. Check out this post’s tag for more :)

Today’s set of questions is a general grab-bag. Behind the cut you’ll find out…

– In Second Life do I win on lucky chairs or lucky boards with my display name or my avatar name?
– How to say your avatar’s doing something in Second Life
– How can you tell if someone is chatting with someone else on Second Life?
– How to get back to the starting point in Second Life
– How can I stop people from camming into my house in Second Life?
– How to wear shoes in Second Life without a shaper
– How to tell if someone else has used your bed (!) in Second Life
– Can I use my Second Life premium account toward rental property?
– Do I have to send someone my real life picture when they ask in Second Life?
– What do I do when someone I bought something for in Second Life deletes their account?
– What happens when you ignore/block/mute someone in Second Life?
– How do I know if someone’s ignored/blocked/muted me in Second Life?

Hop behind the cut for some answers and tips!

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The Absolute Beginners: Basics – The Camera Controls

 Beginners, Hints & Tips, SL Basics  Comments Off on The Absolute Beginners: Basics – The Camera Controls
Mar 032012
 

One of the things I’ve noticed recently in Second Life is a lot of newer avatars that struggle to view things up high or down low, especially ad boards in stores. I see them walking right up to the wall where the board is, or flying to get up to higher boards, and I can only think that they’re either skipping the (generally good) basic tutorials at the Welcome Island they first arrive in SL at, or they just don’t understand them too well.

UPDATE: It turns out there are no tutorials when newbies first land in Second Life now. They arrive in a circular area with portals directly in-world, and have no guidance whatsoever!

One thing that all residents need to get to know and love is the Camera Controls panel. This is a little floater that you can move anywhere on your screen and it will help you no end in controlling your camera so you don’t have to fly up or walk into walls to see things. This post is a little tutorial on how to find it and how to use it.

If you do nothing else, then save this image to your computer where you can reference it until you grow accustomed to using the controls –

– and hop behind the cut for how to find the Camera Controls!

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An important heads-up about scammers in SL

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Mar 012012
 

Hi peeps. I have an important post to make here, so please read it.

No doubt you’re used to seeing people spamming group chats with links to their stores, but there’s a new scam going around now. This was just posted in a large group:

GET 2000$L Instantly, Just Verify Your Avatar [URL redacted] Click, Verify, And WIN 2000$L !!! 

Of course it’s too good to be true. For one thing, the only verification your avatar should do is age verification on the official Second Life website. What you would be logging into at that link sent to the group is a scam site that will harvest your avatar name and password. Other ‘links’ that are being given out include things like, “Check out my items on SL Marketplace! [URL here] – They’re all adult, so you’ll need to log in.”

Yeah, right. You’ll need to log in to the link they give you, with your SL name and password. And guess what? Before you know it your L$ balance is zero (and any associated payment method, be it credit card or Paypal account, is cleared out) and they’re using YOUR avatar to spam the same crap to other groups, thereby getting YOU reported and in trouble (and probably ejected from all your groups and banned from a lot of land).

If someone posts a link to Marketplace like that, just open your own personal bookmark to Marketplace (one that you made, that you know is safe), or go from the official SL website, log in, and then search for their avatar name. If they’re genuine, you’ll see their products.

NEVER LOG INTO ANY WEBSITE OTHER THAN THE OFFICIAL SL ONE (or the official SL Marketplace) WITH YOUR AVATAR NAME AND PASSWORD. AND CHECK THE URL OF THE PAGE; THESE SCAM SITES LOOK EXACTLY LIKE THE REAL SITES!

In short, be VERY careful out there. If you have clicked on a link, then log into the SL website and change your password immediately. Also change the password on the email account associated with that account AND any important websites that you used that email account for.

Stay alert out there, and make sure your SL account stays safe. Here ends your PSA for the day :)

UPDATE: Ironically, I have to disable commenting on this post, as – in the few hours since I published it – it has already attracted half a dozen massively long spam comments that my Askimet filter caught.

 Posted by at 10:12 pm  Tagged with:

Hints & Tips: One user liked this – Make a creator’s day by leaving them a Marketplace review!

 Hints & Tips  Comments Off on Hints & Tips: One user liked this – Make a creator’s day by leaving them a Marketplace review!
Feb 282012
 

I got to thinking today about SL Marketplace and the fact that I see so few reviews being left on it lately. There was a time when good products, both old and new, were actually reviewed by those that bought them, but I just don’t see that these days, unless it’s an item that already has hundreds of rave reviews already.

Here’s the thing: a good review, no matter how short, is encouraging to a creator. Imagine ‘selling’ hundreds of copies of a free item you took the time and energy to make and put on Marketplace for no charge. You know it’s a great item (both because you made it and realised it was good, and also because it’s flying off the virtual shelves) but not one person bothers to leave you a review on it. Not one. No “Thanks so much for putting this great [thing] out as a freebie!” No, “Love it! 5 stars!” No thanks or feedback whatsoever.

I know, I know. I’ve been that Marketplace shopper: the one who loads up four carts one after the other, unpacks everything and then forgets (or doesn’t even think) to go back and leave a review for the items I liked. I know you’ve been that shopper, too. So why don’t we make a small change, starting right now?

Log into your Marketplace account, and go to your Order History page. Open up the last five (or ten) items that you bought in new browser tabs, then go to each one in turn and leave a review. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. Even a quick “Loved this, thanks!” and a click of however many stars you think it’s worth giving is enough. Especially leave reviews for items that have no (or very few) reviews at all. Do this a couple of times a week, and maybe between us we can turn the tide of No Reviews, No Feedback, No Encouragement for all those fabulous creators out there.

If you liked it, tell the creator, and tell fellow shoppers, too. You’ll be helping everyone out!

Those Little Questions: a general grab-bag!

 Hints & Tips, SL Basics  Comments Off on Those Little Questions: a general grab-bag!
Feb 182012
 

Hi peeps! Here’s another in my ‘Those little questions’ series, where I try to give answers to the questions in search terms that lead people to the SL for Nowt blog. There are no silly questions in SL. We all started out as complete newbies, and we all wondered the same things, so here I hope to help you out with some answers :)

You can find the questions on the old blog archived here, and a special Those Little Questions all about skyboxes here.

Today’s set of questions is a general grab-bag. Behind the cut you’ll find out…

– How can I find out my friend’s location in Second Life?
– How do I make a landmark in a building in the sky in Second Life?
– How do I remove the group name from above my head?
– Can you change the landmark on the picks in Second Life?
– What’s the busiest welcome area in Second Life?
– Can anyone teleport into your home in Second Life?
– I can’t get my underwear off in Second Life!
– Can I preview Second Life without being a member?
– I don’t have a house in Second Life. Where should I leave my avatar?
– Do I need membership to have a skybox in Second Life?
– Is it cheaper to rent land or have a premium membership in Second Life?
– Why can’t I send a gift from Marketplace?
– Can anyone see how much L$ I have in Second Life?

Hop behind the cut for some answers!

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