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Maxwell Graf's shop on the Rustica sim.
Maxwell Graf’s shop on the Rustica sim. Click on the image for its full-size version.

UPDATE: We have great news. The donations to Max’s GoFundMe, along with contributions via PayPal have reached the desired goal. Now Max and Lyyric have a home. Many thanks go to everyone who donated and amplified his call for help.

Back in 2017, beloved and esteemed Second Life content creator Max Graf (Timothy Jackson in RL) of Rustica fame (marketplace storein-world landmarkblog) needed our help, as he and his wife, Cheryl (Lyyric Fei in SL) became homeless. A campaign to help them was started, which escalated to the touching #ForMax shopping event that was set up very quickly by a considerably-sized and considerate group of fellow content creators and merchants. The campaign was a success: Max and Lyyric managed to settle in a new place, found jobs, and started their life anew.

Sadly, in the “free market” economy if you don’t own your home, you can lose it if your landlord finds something more profitable to do with it. So, the owner of the place where they lived decided to sell it to an “investor” who’s about to turn the property back to a commercial building, so Max and Lyyric need to leave very soon. They’ve been searching far and wide, but housing is both (artificially – thank you, “investors”) scarce and expensive.

They eventually found a place that they can move to. It’s nothing fancy, and it’ll certainly need some work. However, as I wrote earlier, even this is more expensive than what they have. So, Max has started a GoFundMe campaign (disclosing his RL name in the process) to raise the remaining money that’s needed for them to secure it. There’s not much time, and – unfortunately – they don’t have many options.

What I’m asking of you all is to help in any way you can. You can contribute directly on the GoFundMe campaign. You can purchase stuff at his in-world or marketplace store – even if you don’t “need” it. After all, we buy lots of stuff we don’t need in SL (which itself is a non-essential expenditure for those of us who aren’t making a living out of our in-world activities). You can spread the word by sharing this post, by sharing Max’s plurk where he made his campaign known, by blogging about it, by rallying people on the official and unofficial SL forums to help. Below, I’m reposting what Max wrote on his GoFundMe campaign’s description:

I (54) and my wife Cheryl (63) are trying to cover the down payment & closing costs on the mobile home above, to start our lives over again. First, why this situation is so dire for us that we felt the need to ask for your help:

  • In 2017 we lived in Washington state and lost our home and all our possessions in a disaster.
  • We lived in our truck for several months, not finding anywhere that would rent to us as we drove across the USA to start our lives over again.
  • 3500 miles away in North Carolina we found an old brick diner downtown which I was able to convert to residential use. The owner agreed to a month to month handshake deal, no lease.
  • I got a job at Lowes. Cheryl got hired at the local Hospital where she has worked on the front lines during all of the covid 19 pandemic.
  • In 2018 she was in a head-on car accident on the way to work which almost killed her. She survived through several surgeries and continues to have nerve and minor brain damage as a result. She falls over a lot now. For many months I drove her to work and back while also continuing to work my job.
  • We worked on and improved our credit scores, sold both of our owned vehicles and purchased older ones, putting the difference into an account for a down payment on a home.
  • We were approved for a home loan and began putting out offers in the area we could afford.
  • Then, disaster: In August we were told the row of buildings we are in was purchased by an investor who has informed us that he is converting our home back to a commercial property; we must vacate the premises soon.

 We just had an offer accepted this week on the mobile home you see in the picture, our lender approved it but today we found out our total costs to go into contract are about twice what we have in our savings account. We have not been able to find housing close enough to let her keep her job, renting or buying, until this one. We are so close to having some stability. We need your help desperately to be able to keep from becoming homeless again. Please fund us if you can.

So, again, I’m calling on all of you to help Max – like you did before.

Links:

Ebbe Altberg, 1964-2021
Credit: Linden Research, Inc.

Today, the passing of Ebbe Altberg was officially announced by Patch Linden:

Hello, Community of Second Life

Second Life found new highs in 2020 between a worldwide pandemic taking grip, through the times of a tumultuous leadership change in the United States, and during movements of civil changes that will forever live in history books. Second Life provides many with the comfort of a normal that continues to exist for all of us, where many use it to escape real life pressures, stressors and day to day challenges.  In Second Life we can be our ideal, our best, celebrate all that is good across the world together.  Sadly we have also seen some people go, and they will never be forgotten as they touched us, gave us their best from their hearts, minds and souls – this thing called real life sometimes knocks on our door and makes a call.

This is one of those calls.

Ebbe Altberg started with Linden Lab as our CEO on February 5th, 2014.  He took the helm of the company and immediately went to work on reinvigorating our spirit and culture.  Ebbe brought a profound openness, and transparency in his operation which was key and that had many effects on all of us internally, and externally.  Lindens were encouraged to be part of the vibrant community in Second Life, to participate in and to cherish it as part of our daily duties.  Ebbe also worked internally on embracing all aspects of Second Life, learning about its many nuances to understand impacts of decisions we make; while being sensitive to those and utilizing all of our resources, which firstly included you, the community, and many of us who are deeply embedded in Second Life.  Ebbe’s goals for Second Life included promoting Second Life as the world’s best virtual world, community and platform.  He also sought new adventures in building next generation products.

As I am here before you today, it is with profound sadness that I share with you Ebbe passed away yesterday evening restfully and surrounded by the love of his family. 

I commit to all of you to carry forward with our mission of making Second Life the biggest, best, most vibrant virtual world that there ever can be.  Together, myself, Grumpity, and Brett, along with Oberwolf at the helm and the entire team, our mission is clear.  To grow Second Life and to ensure the Residents in Second Life continue to be respected and happy.

Rest in peace Ebbe, our fearless, kind, loving, gentle leader, and friend.

Patch Linden and The Linden Lab Team

These are indeed very sad news; Ebbe was, at least to my eyes, the best CEO Linden Lab ever had. He was methodical, hard-working, understood Second Life much better than most, and he also made it his priority to allow users to feel safe and welcome within this virtual world. He will be sorely missed. All I can say is that I’m truly shocked at his untimely death. Even from this little soapbox, I extend my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Goodbye, Ebbe. Goodbye. And thank you.

PS: I’ve written more on this here.

NOTE: Post co-written with Odysseus Giacosa.

One of the most popular demands among Second Life’s community, and especially the content creators, has been the development, installation, and deployment, of technologies and technical means that would prevent the upload of content that infringes on their own intellectual property. Such a technology, which computer developers and internet experts call an “upload filter”, is supposed to work as follows:

When you attempt to upload something to an internet platform, the upload system analyses it and compares it to a database of copyrighted material. If it is found to bear any similarity with a copyrighted work, then it is rejected and you are told what a naughty something you are for attempting to rip off a poor creator. This is pretty much what YouTube’s Content ID system does: you upload some music, it checks it against its database and, if you can’t get an ad-powered licence for it to be uploaded, it’s rejected. You may appeal the automated system’s decision if you think your upload was rejected in error, but don’t hold your breath.

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linden-lab-logoThe talk of the day was #berryCopyright, a (erroneously named, as the dispute was about trademarks and not copyrights) hashtag encompassing a trademark complaint Linden Research Inc. filed with YouTube against a tutorial video by blogger/vlogger Strawberry Singh, who shared on her blog what had happened to her. Thankfully, sanity prevailed and Linden Research Inc., after considerable outcry by community members, bloggers, and commentators, reversed the ill-advised takedown notice and publicly apologised to Ms Singh. The trademark complaint which was filed with YouTube by the company’s IP specialist, who goes by the “Tia Linden” name in-world, was revoked, and an encouragingly-worded post was made on the company’s official blog. This trademark complaint honestly made no sense whatsoever, as the appearance of LL’s trademarks (most notably, the “eye-in-hand” logo) in the “offending” video had every hallmark of fair, informational use, as one can easily understand by reading the International Trademark Association’s material on the subject, and the material provided by Nolo (the latter was contributed to Strawberry Singh’s original post as a comment by Alana Onyett).

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UPDATE: The situation described herein has been resolved; please read the follow-up post here.

facepalm-005-blog.jpg

You had one job. How could you fuck it up so badly?

Perhaps thinking we had missed its worst, Linden Research Inc. decided to file a trademark complaint with YouTube against one of the biggest promoters, supporters, and advocates of Second Life, blogger/vlogger Strawberry Singh. The “offending” video is a tutorial, included in her “Introduction to Second Life” blog post, in which she explains to new users how to create an account, download the official viewer, and move around in their 3D surroundings. Since she unavoidably screen-captured her web browser to show people around the official website, the video obviously displayed SL’s eye-in-hand logo. The logo was also featured prominently in the 3D walkaround, as the in-world welcome area itself includes it.

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