Mosquitos and Alligators

When I first started practicing law, I was always stressed out about not missing any of the deadlines that came with the job. The law is full of deadlines. Statute of limitations determine when a lawsuit can be filed, petitions have to be served within so many days of filing and if an Answer isn’t on file with twenty days then it’s a win by default. Oh, but before that any jurisdictional defenses or affirmative defenses have to be filed or else they are waived. My head used to spin with keeping on top of all these and hundreds of others. Finally, I asked my dad (who was also my law partner) how he dealt with it. His response was simple: you have to know the difference between a mosquito and an alligator.

A mosquito is something that is annoying but not deadly, such as a deadline that exists on paper but in practice is usually honored in its breach. An alligator, on the other hand, is something that you only know was there after you’ve been eaten. It lies beneath the surface, keeping the waters calm until it strikes. By figuring out which deadlines were mosquitos and which were alligators, I was better able to keep my eye on the essential rather than get distracted by the superfluous.

I was reminded about this all day yesterday when my cell phone kept dinging, the sound I have assigned to play whenever I get an email. They were emails being sent to my Niko Donburi Yahoo account from Second Life. There were dozens of them, with three or four of them being sent each hour. The culprit: a bunch of mosquitoes known as group notices.

A Second Life resident’s relationship with group notices–or groups in general for that matter–is a love/hate one. Groups, for those of you unfamiliar with Second Life, are really the only method which exists in Second Life to allow users to form communities. So, for instance, a virtual world clothing store will almost always have a group to which its customers can join to learn of the store’s new offerings, events, and so on. Even I have a group, two actually now that I think about it. If someone liked my music and wanted to “get word” of when my next show would be, I could add them to the “Niko Donburi Fan Club” group and then just send a notice out to the group and they would get it.

The problem with groups, however, is twofold.

First, there is a limit on the number of groups to which you can belong. This used to be 24 if I remember correctly, which caused you to have to drop a group if you wanted to add one when you were full or create an alt so you could use their group slots. I read online somewhere that now you get 48 groups.

Second, every time someone sends a notice to the group (or utilizes a “group chat”) then everyone else in the group gets sent one. And, if you haven’t disabled the “send group notices to my email when offline” function, then all of the group notices that you get when you are offline will be forwarded accordingly. So, if you belong to ten groups and they all send out five notices a day, you wind up with fifty emails. You can see the problem.

This was the cause of my phone dinging all day. In my excitement to hop back into Second Life, I had joined a couple of live music groups and had neglected to disable the notice forwarding capability. It was a stupid noob error on my part, which I guess is fitting given my current renoobification. I was just glad I wasn’t in court today when it started going off.

On a more serious note, however, group notices were one of the things that caused me to originally flee my main account and take refuge in alts. This is because there is no way to not receive group notices sent when you are in Second Life. So, as happened last night, I’m in Second Life figuring out what to do and I get bombarded by group notices from the Live Music Enthusiasts (LME) group with performers or venues announcing different shows. Then I get the same one from the Second Life Musicians Group, one from Live Music in SL, and also from Second Life Music. It makes having a conversation with someone next to impossible. [Note: actually, I made the last three groups up because I can’t remember their real names, but you get the picture.] I don’t mind being told that performer A is playing at venue B, but I do mind getting four notices telling me the same thing. I suppose it is comforting to know that group notice spam is still alive and well, but it is sort of like finding out that your high school bully trolls facebook–yeah, some things haven’t changed. Now go away.

Which got me thinking: do I even need to belong to any of these music groups in the first place? My sending out a notice of a show to them is no doubt equally annoying (albeit much better written than most notices). I doubt that a general blast out that “Niko is playing” is going to garner any attention. If, instead, I focused upon renewing and building my own group, those individuals who have indicated a specific interest in my music rather than just a general interest in live music would get the word. Any venue I performed at would undoubtedly have their own group that they could notice if they wished, thus ensuring that new ears might show up and become a fan.

Now to some of you this might be obvious and possibly quite boring. But to me, the thought of dropping LME from my groups is… somewhat scary. Back in 2006, people weren’t just added to the group willy-nilly. You had to be vouched for by another active performer who was already on the list and Astrin Few or Flaming Moe would actually check up on you to confirm that you really were a performer. Astrin was the first person to perform live music in SL, back in 2004. My leaving the group would represent a complete break with the live music scene from the past.

As for alligators, in the flurry of SL group notices being sent to my email I fortunately noticed one from godaddy that my domain name of theSLman.com expires on March 5th. Not renewing it would be akin to being bitten by an alligator, particularly given this blog to which it now forwards. I learnt this lesson the hard way with nikodonburi.com. I blogged under that domain for years but when I dropped my account from premium to basic, I figured I might as well not bother keeping the domain also (since I was done with Second Life for all intents and purposes, right?), so I let it lapse. Big mistake.

Due to the traffic that unbeknownst to me the site was generating, someone snapped up the lapsed domain and–get this–put up a store selling some sort of pheromone-laden cologne or perfume. I could never figure out who it was since they had privacy shielded the domain and were vague on identity on the website they put up with my old domain name. They still have the domain name but the site is down. I thought it was somewhat humorous that they would think that a website for a virtual person would be a good place to sell pheromones to attract the opposite sex since  fans of my music would presumably have no trouble in that department. [cue rim shot]

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