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Following the disappearance of Zero Point [read the article], we have been looking into how residents of the Second Life®  virtual world can protect their assets.

[July 23, 2008] People were incredulous when they heard that Zero Point had vanished. On the blog there was a comment from Prokofy, who experiences build losses constantly: "I usually have it happen at least twice a month on my sims." and was under the impression that a normal support ticket requesting a rollback would solve the problem, suggesting "...perhaps you'd just prefer to fulminate and make a drama out of all this?"

A "rollback" means that Linden Lab® takes the backup copy of data on a simulator from before the loss occurred and restores it to that state. The problem that can occur is when the loss is on a parcel and others own parcels that have changed since the event. Their data will revert to the previous state as well, causing them to have losses of recent changes.

We are not aware of the technical reasons, if any, why the code for a single parcel cannot be copied from the backup and pasted into the current simulation.

Garret Bakalava wrote that his log-in was closed because of a two cents account deficit, but he accepted it as normal business procedure. He also assumed a rollback was possible.  

We have not received any word from Linden Lab whether the reason a rollback was impossible was technical, political, or a business decision. It may have been art criticism. One SL resident in Metanomics Group chat was glad to see Zero Point gone, calling it "A flashing neon sign on an otherwise tasteful shoreline." 

Whatever your opinion of Zero Point, or of the system in general, if you want to create in Second Life then you need to protect your investment. What happened to Sabine could happen to almost anybody. Your build can disappear and your inventory can be wiped out, whether from a technical glitch or an accounting error, either on your side because you didn't notice you were in the red for two cents or because their computer hiccupped. 

Sabine's inventory was returned in the incident, but the issue with inventory return is that it clumps inventory items into small bundles, named for one of the items, and you have to rez each one and see what's in it. That means opening each returned object in the virtual world, seeing what appears, examining all the pieces, figuring out what they are and where they should go, and saving each one anew. Then all the pieces need to be reassembled into the original form, like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle. In a complex build with thousands of pieces, it is nearly impossible to sort that out.

There are tools that can help. Sabine was just given Rez-Foo, a utility created by master scripter CrystalShard Foo. This enables you to box a construction up to 192 meters in diameter--96 meters from the box in any direction. You can move the entire construction by moving the box, save a copy of  the construction, and give a copy to someone else to hold for you in the event of a disaster that includes loss of your inventory. You can buy Rez-Foo at the Script-Foo shop.

We will report soon on more ways to protect your investment in Second Life as a SLART Business Feature.

9 Richard Minsky