The Wolf who worked for ABC

27 02 2014

I would like, if I may, to take you on a strange journey

The Criminologist from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

They all kept telling me that I should do it, they told me over and over again, those friends of mine on a forum I was on, It could do this, it could do that, I wasn’t interested, because Second Life looked too much like a game, and I wasn’t a gamer, there would be no way that I’d ever use it.

Then I saw it on “Beyond Tomorrow” on Channel Seven, and decided that I could try it, and if I didn’t like it, I could simply leave.

I signed up.

I found myself on an island where avatars were born, and I couldn’t get off that Island, I was getting frustrated and may have logged out forever, except a friend found me and teleported me, to her.

Things started to look better, except I was still somewhat lost, but I found other friends were already in there, and they helped me get started. One of the first things I wanted to do, was to shed my human form, something many of us furries would eagerly do in real life, if it were possible.

One of my friends felt he could see the potential of Second Life and so bought us an island, which would be our home base, I was kind of shocked, buying an island was expensive, but I couldn’t stop him from getting one, and about a week later, there it was.

We were just feeling our way around, the experience was like being on another planet, and one where we were free to be ourselves completely, like some sort of hippy commune, we would walk around “naked” in this world. It’s funny, but it doesn’t take long for the avatar to feel as though it’s an extension of yourself, so when someone catches you naked, it’s a little bit embarrassing.

Furry culture thinks that sex, of any kind, is quite a normal thing, and that genitals are merely another part of the body.

I had genitals, multiple kinds for each avatar… human, equine, canine and dragon and we wore these proudly and flashed them about with gay abandon.

Psychologically it was quite interesting, there was a certain child-like thing about this stage of our lives in this virtual world.

Then I found out, via a friends forum, that ABC were investing in an island, and they wanted help, So I offered to help which was accepted, but it took months before the island opened, and there was lots of speculation and rumour about the island.

Abi, who was going to be the owner of the island, met with us on our own island, and we had a talk about how we’d set up our island, I think in general, most people want newbies to set up an island just like theirs, I think it’s an ego thing, I think we had a certain amount of pride in our island too.

The island did finally have a grand opening and loads of people went in to see it, I thought it started off really well, and I would meet some new people that day who I would get to know well over the next few years…

…Oh yes, did I say I was using Second Life every day now? It was now my main reason for using the internet, it ate data like crazy.

Later that day, a group of us were made Admins of the island, which allowed us to look after it, the fact was that ABC staff couldn’t keep an eye on it 24 hours a day, but the users could.

We could remove pests from the island, if we needed to, and we could report any technical issues with the island if anything went wrong.

Once something went very wrong, the island had pretty much vanished, and we thought that it was due to “Griefers” (a sort of internet vandal). Before we could get a definite reason for what went wrong, the story, and a photo of me flying around a deserted island, was published… but of course the story was laughable, it was a complete cockup, but loads of people read the story and many believed it.

The real story was that the computer which runs each island on Second Life, makes a backup of the island, every twelve hours or so, and during one backup, either the power failed or the computer crashed, resulting in a partial backup… so when the faulty backup was used to re-start the island, it looked as though someone had destroyed the place.

The people who run Second Life were told, and the island was started using an earlier backup, and everything went back to normal.

That’s all it was, but it’s not as exciting as the first story, is it?

I was on ABC Island a lot, trying hard to get people to come in and use it, but most people, like me at the start of this story, didn’t want to, and refused to even try it.

If they did, they’d get to the difficult first stage and give up.

Or their computer was too old and too slow to cope with Second Life.

Some people found the learning curve too steep, they either just wanted to play a game, or chat, this was over-complicated.

Or they lived way out in the country with extremely slow, or no broadband.

I knew that If we had the NBN back then, Then Second Life would have been wonderful for people in small communities around Australia, but sadly, with the woeful internet we have in regional areas, that wasn’t possible.

The Admins worked hard to get people to try Second Life, and especially our ABC Island which we were very proud of.

I should say at this point that many people thought I worked at ABC, because I was on ABC island so often, I told them that wasn’t the case, but  I did work *for* ABC, though only on a voluntary basis… Oh yes, it was work, it was surprising how much work there was, just to keep it going. If I had kept my own home that clean, the place would have been spotless.

But it was like having a really serious hobby which I was heavily involved with, so I enjoyed it.

I never had been put in a position of responsibility before, and because I wanted this project to work, I put as much into it as I could. and now I was dealing with new psychological changes, I found myself becoming strict, and if anyone disobeyed the rules, I’d get cranky about it and they’d suddenly “leave” the island.

Eventually there was another point where I gave myself a really good shake-up and told myself to lighten-up, I didn’t like what I was becoming, I wasn’t nearly as nice to people as I ought to be, at least that’s how I felt, I’ll let any of you who met me in world be the judge.

I had also, mostly been left with the job, You see, the other Admins, although they liked ABC Island a lot, and certainly helped me when I needed it, had found other creative interests and had decided to set up their own islands. They had developed and wanted to do their own things, which was great, but it had the effect of fragmenting the group.

A documentary crew had asked me to make a film about Second Life with them, which I did, but sadly, a lot of the facts about what I did on Second Life were dropped, I knew this at the time, but felt that making a film would still be fun. There was no mention of ABC because the film was made for another network, so a big part of what I really did on Second Life was left out.

I don’t blame the Director, She was under pressure from the network, who, after all, were funding the thing, but I was really quite unhappy about the result… ahh well, at least I had a few free meals and some fun.

The Doco involved Katie, My Alaskan Malamute, She had a few car rides out of it so she was happy.

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Katie and I, Taken during filming of Alter Ego: Photo – Matt Calissi, December Films.

I waited for a long time to see this Doco on air, and find out what people thought, but the network held onto it for ages, and then had some sort of review and changed from a station which played documentaries, into something which was more about general entertainment, the doco was shelved until one night, at 11pm on a December 23rd, thus, very few saw it.

As a good friend says “That’s Showbiz”.

Alas ABC was getting fewer visitors in later years, and I found myself standing around for hours, hoping someone would turn up, it was clear to me that Second Life wasn’t working, I had created Rockit, a music quiz show which did get people back to the island, but I was the only host, for what would always be a very small audience, as only a small number of people could ever be on an island at one time, We needed more hosts and more shows, Whenever anything was done which would draw an audience, it often did… but the logistics of getting it done were always difficult, there were roadblocks from ABCs side which couldn’t be overcome.

Second Life was an idea which came along at a point when computers weren’t up to the task and the internet wasn’t up to it either, If Second Life can hang in there for another ten years, then maybe it can regain some ground, but it’s going to take some imagination and some serious forward thinking, something we might have, but our government (like any right wing government) completely lacks.

This was also a time when I thought the ABC could do no wrong, but I have since seen it’s other face, and didn’t like it one bit.

When ABC Island closed down, I left Second Life completely, I had no purpose there anymore.

Wolfie Rankin

* I didn’t explain what Second Life was, Those who were there know exactly what it is, and those who weren’t, won’t care.

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Never post videos to Facebook

29 05 2013

Son, take a seat and let old Wolfie explain a few things to you *Puffs pipe* (promptly has a coughing fit because he doesn’t smoke) Son…(coughs some more) One should never, NEVER upload a video to Facebook.

Facebook is for talking and sharing, it’s not for photos and videos, photos and videos go on YouTube or Flickr, Like Milk goes in the fridge and Pasta goes in the panty, am I making myself clear?

Why?

Because, Son, If you were to post a video to Facebook, you won’t get nearly as many views.It works like this, If your Facebook friends see your video and they like it, they can share it with other Facebook users, which is all fine and good.

But, if one of your Facebook friends wants to share it on Twitter, and one of their friends sees his tweet and thinks the video might be fun to watch, but they don’t use Facebook, then they can’t see the video, which sucks for them because they miss out on the fun, and it sucks for you because you don’t get as many views as perhaps you’d like.

Always upload your videos to YouTube, copy the link from there, and paste that into your Facebook status, Then when someone else watches your video and wants to share it with others, all they need to do is just copy the link on your video, and paste it on their Twitter, Google+, WordPress or whatever else they may have.

That way your video can be watched and enjoyed by everyone equally, from whichever social network they use.

Make sense?

Good lad, Run along now.

*Sigh* ahh, kids today.





Snow Dropping

19 09 2012

My readers would know that I’m a Furry, and I identify myself via my Furry name and Avatar, which I use on every social media network I have an account with.

The thought had occurred to me that one day I may be browsing online, and see my own Avatar being used by someone else, and wondering how I’d feel about that.

This week, it happened to someone I know.

Someone had recently set up an account on a social network, found a drawing of a fox, and decided they would use it.

But they were caught.

The friend who has legitimate claim to the Avatar had paid an Artist to draw his character, and was quite miffed when they spotted this other user, using it.

A Furry Avatar in general is one which people have created themselves, not something that we just grabbed from the internet and decided that it would represent us.

If the image was not created by the owner, then it was either a commission from an Artist, or a gift from an Artist… which happens frequently in Furry circles.

Avatars are crafted with care, and can often have a long history. My “Wolf in a Circle” design goes back to 1989, when I first sketched it on a notepad with a biro.

Using another persons Avatar, to me, is a bit like leaping a fence and pinching clothes off someones washing line, and wearing those clothes out in the street.

Imagine how you’d feel if on the way to the shop, you bumped into someone wearing all your gear.

While reading this, some of you have correctly thought “Identity Theft” which is what this is, Our Furry Names and Avatars are indeed our identities, which are recognised by Furries and Non-Furries alike.

If you should see someone using a Furry Avatar which belongs to someone else, please inform them that what they’ve done is not on, and gently persuade them to get another Avatar.

If they really want a Furry avatar of their own, then there are ways and means of getting that done, simply starting a chat with Furries can put them on the right track.

Otherwise, a photo might just be enough?

Wolfie!





The Spam-o-Phone

5 09 2012

I’ve decided to do something radical this week, and not answer the phone.

It’s not like I need it anyway, there are three people who contact me by phone, and that’s a rare thing, everyone else reaches me via my Social Networks, rarely via e-mail.

When the phone goes, it’s always when I’m in bed, or the shower or I’ve just pressed my bottom against the toilet seat. I’m sick of having to run and answer, only to discover it’s those twats who have “detected” my windows computer is slow, I think they want tuning as I use a Mac.

Or it’s some sort of survey, or other type of spam.

I can remember days long gone when the phone could ring quite a few times during the day and it was most often for Mum, and if it was my Aunt (who had been vaccinated with a gramophone needle, or so it was commonly said) those chats could go for hours.

But now, with so many online, what is the point of the phone?

I only have it because I can’t have ADSL without it, and apparently we can’t have naked internet in this area because of the old exchange… that and it’s a bit pricey for me anyway.

I loathe paying a phone bill, it’s entirely too much for the use I get out of it.

So, a few days ago, the phone went, and I simply ignored it, and it went again, and I kept away.

I don’t really mind, and to be honest I also hate talking on the phone, I’d far rather write down my thoughts and edit them, so I can get across what I really want to say.

And if I do want to actually talk, there’s skype.

The only thing which bothers me is there is someone who phones, who cannot use a computer, he’s
what they used to call “Backwards” not too backwards mind you, I often thought that had he lived with a family, he would have been ok… but My Cousin had looked after him since he was a child, He’s now in a “home” (for similar people) in St. Kilda.

If it wasn’t for him, then it wouldn’t matter so much. He also can’t afford to call me on my Mobile, as he has a very limited budget.

(I don’t use my mobile for anything other than the odd photo and social networking)

This technology, for me, is teetering on the edge of a cliff, oh how I’d love to give it a foot and send it on it’s way.

Wolfie!





Tasteless and Tawdry

1 09 2012

I know that many people are a little lost when it comes to using some social networks, they’re very often new and don’t know about all the pitfalls.

With Twitter, there is a false idea that in order to be someone, you have to have a lot of followers.

And some, with that idea in their minds, will do anything to boost their numbers, including buying followers, which is a tasteless and tawdry way of doing things.

Why? Because an experienced twitter user might like to see who follows you, and if they see that actual people follow you and enjoy conversing with you then that gives you a certain prestige.

If you pay for followers, all you’ll get are bots, and all bots are, are computers which tweet random, shallow, computer generated tweets about Bieber or Ga-Ga all day long.

Twitter needs to brew, like a good coffee, so give it time and allow it to do so, and those numbers will soon rise.

Tweet about some of your deep thoughts and your funny ones, don’t be shy about it.
Tweet about Politics, Religion, Gardening, Your Cat, That strange bloke down the street… Whatever you like, so long as it demonstrates that you are a real person with real views.

People like you, will see your tweets and start conversations with you, and then, if they like you, they will follow.

There’s absolutely no need to pay to get followers, and in my opinion, it’s a lot nicer to have sixty followers who you talk to each day, than six thousand who are only there to clog up your twitter.

There is also something called #teamfollowback, avoid this, as you’ll be followed by a lot of random people with no sincere connection to you.

And finally. do some weeding from time to time, go into your followers and block anyone selling things, or fake people (an experienced user will generally spot these, people with eggs for avatars and very little in their profile are generally not real), the neater and nicer this list looks, the better you do.

Wolfie!





Sad and Lonely

14 07 2012

I saw some news article as I was browsing the internet, all by myself, one of those news stories which claimed that people who sat at home and used the internet a lot were a pretty miserable sort, you know, not meeting people, always alone (as the meme goes).

What utter crap!

I’m sure it was written by the type of person people call “An Extrovert”.

An Extrovert, would practically die, if left on their own for a few hours. Whereas I, like many Introverts are happier at home, where it’s quiet and where we can put our feet up.

I don’t mind being out now and then, It’s perfectly lovely to meet friends… but I prefer it in a small group, never in a place with a crowd or really loud music.

I want a chat over a cuppa, that for me is plenty.

And if it’s with my dog, all the better.

I like to hear myself think, I like the internal chatter… if there’s too much going on, I get over-loaded and want to escape to somewhere quiet.

I went to a friends wedding once, and I was really glad to have been invited and to go… but as the night wore on, the music got louder and louder and I hated it, I spent most of the evening on the steps outside, and was very glad to be home.

What I find strange are people who somehow don’t know how to make actual friends online, I’ve done it heaps of times and have met some of these people (who could make it over here, not everyone online is local) and they’ve been perfectly lovely.

How can people have all these social networks and not find at least three really good friends, are they doing it wrong or what?

I have made some really good friends simply by chatting to people on the social networks, I’m on… It’s no big deal, talk about what interests you, and people just sort of turn up.

Making friends online is no different to chatting to someone in a cafe, and I think it’s better really, as I get to know what’s going on in a persons mind first, rather than what they look like. (Not that I’ve been disappointed by how my friends look).

So here I sit at night, chatting away to people I like, grabbing a bite, patting my dog, snuggling with the cat and not feeling sad or lonely at all.

Being the introvert I am, I wouldn’t have bothered going out of my way to meet people, I would have stayed at home, cooked my own meals, watched some TV, walked my dog… if there’d been no internet, and that would have been that.

Lonely on the internet? Nah.

Wolfie!





Wolfies guide to talking to the media

11 07 2012

I’ve been thinking about Furries and the party line which is “Don’t talk to the media”.

I have always felt this isn’t the best way to be, because not talking to anyone creates the illusion of being some sort of dark cult and before long, nutters start spreading tales about Toad Licking and doing odd things in your garden shed at 2am.

You should speak, but do it carefully!

Several years ago, I was invited to be in a documentary about Furries and Second Life, A Virtual World/Social Network sort of thing, and I said I’d do it… but I already knew a few things.

Shelley Matulick, The Director, Had already made a short film about Second Life which had been on television. This new doco would be much like that one, but run for a full hour.

The Network it was to be shown on, SBS has always treated minority groups with a great deal of respect.

Shelly and I had several long talks about how the documentary would be structured, and during this time, we got to know each other really well, I also got to know our Camera Man – Peter Zakharov, and Sound Recordist – Bart Bee, as we spent quite a lot of time together.

Marko T Rat also had a lot of questions to ask, and decided that he might like to be in the doco, despite a few other furries advising him not to.

We had a lot of fun making the doco although sadly, a lot of the good stuff never made it into the end product, plus it aired very late at night and not many people saw it.

And none of the Second Lifers could remember what a Television set looked like. 😉

What I’m saying is that nothing was rushed into, We had all done our homework and everyone was fine with it.

Always research who you’ll be speaking to, Google and Youtube can usually assist you.

Are they people who produce interesting and factual work?, or are they shock jocks?. Is the station, newspaper or network in the habit of publishing reliable material? or are they in the habit of calling people with interesting new ideas, crazy?

If they check out, do the interview, If not, walk away and save face.

If you decide to do the interview, Here are a few things to consider.

No elephants in the room, say what you want to, be honest, but don’t be defensive (Shelley told me this).

“What’s a Furry?” “A person who portrays themselves as an animal”

Some Furries have written entire novels on what a furry is, painstakingly making sure that no stone is left unturned, save it for your blog or wikipedia… it will not work for a thirty second news story and isn’t suitable for a documentary either as your audience will quite literally tune out and learn nothing.

You are explaining The Furry Fandom, not The Higgs Boson.

“Do furries have sex?” “Yep, Just like everyone else”

Furries are usually hot blooded young people, of course they have sex, it’s a silly question.

“Do Furries have sex in their costumes?”  “Yes, but only a small group of furries do, it’s not for everyone”

A lot of “normal” people prepare food, naked… It’s a strange world. If you could float like a ghost through walls, I can tell you that you’d see a lot of very strange things. If people are having sex in their costumes, in private, they’re not hurting anyone.

“What does Yiffing mean?” “It’s furry slang for sex”

If a Furry saw two people having sex on the beach, The Furry would say they were Yiffing.

Keep answers brief, Imagine that answers have to fit into a tweet, Sound-bites are great in a news story, but if you’re doing a documentary or long radio interview, feel free to elaborate.

I would like more ideas on this, what are your thoughts?

And before I finish, I would like to say that I was heading for my own career in Media, until my health failed me.

I went to Radio School, and then ran my own radio program on Community Radio for about three years.

I also wrote Community Service Announcements and produced recorded work.

Many of my Twitter followers are media people, mostly from Radio and Television, Especially the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation…. Who are not at all related to the US Version).

I also assisted with ABC Island in Second Life.

If anyone is not afraid of the media, it’s me.

Wolfie!

8750931 Click to see a short from Alter Ego