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  Official Web App Adds Read/Write/Visit Layer to ‘Second Life’  
 
 
Posted 2006-02-23 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world Second Life, has launched "SLurl," a web application that gives the general public read/write access to an interactive overhead map of Second Life. Existing users of the virtual world can also use the map to "teleport" directly to an annotated location. Linden Lab's Reuben Steiger broke the news yesterday, offering two examples of the service at work: 1, 2.

As a tool that can be easily operated by the general public, SLurl is very powerful, and is bound to have some interesting and inexpected applications. Much like a Google Maps link, anyone can create their own SLurl link. For example, here's one I made (fictitious locale, real pic). Like any excellent tool, SLurl is a double-edged sword with amazing potential to cut both ways. Either way, it's still driving interest in Second Life, and that can't be bad for Linden Lab.
 
     
 
   
 
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  27 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by Walker Spaight
February 23, 2006 @ 2:06 pm
     
 
Wasn't this already possible with the secondlife:// URL thinget? It seems like all this adds is the map API. Or...?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 23, 2006 @ 2:13 pm
     
 
It was already possible to visit a location directly. SLurl not only adds the map API, but a dead-simple way of adding detailed annotations through a custom URL. It's adding a contextual overlay that didn't exist before.

What I'm mostly curious about is whether residents could duplicate this functionality themselves.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Walker Spaight
February 23, 2006 @ 2:21 pm
     
 
I'm sure they could. Which is the problem with LL: they concentrate too much on these high-level functions and not enough on creating a stable, open platform. But I'll blah on about that in the Herald. Linking to you, of course :)
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 23, 2006 @ 4:07 pm
     
 
Yeah I was thinking about how it's great that we can get this great web layer of access to Second Life, but that I can't stand logging in any more because of the terrible client performance.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 24, 2006 @ 1:13 pm
     
 
Tools like this clearly come from the web team, which probably has little to do with stabilizing the grid and other open grid architecutre initiatives. I like to see the LL web team be more productive and creative than most web teams who focus on changing the homepage to maximize marketing.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 24, 2006 @ 1:27 pm
     
 
Tru dat. SL Map API + User-Created Annotations = Crazy Delicious!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 24, 2006 @ 8:43 pm
     
 
True, before, we could already do this on the SL forums (a neat trick that I only belatedly learned and immediately shared with other sheepish long-time players who didn't know this)-- by writing the formula:
Lutestring (M) Prime Waterfront

Using that on the forums at least, you can be delivered "right there" -- if you have SL installed, now that we have p2p.

What this SLURL thing seems to add is an infomercial and a link to join SL if you don't have it, the ability to put up a jpeg advertising your parcel (I'm not readily seeing how that uploads but I'll play with it), and a pop-up of the SL map with your location marked with a come-hither icon. All pretty neat!

Tony mentioned the double-edged sword. Already, we see part of that in Reuben's infomercial for Snapzilla and SLboutique, the FIC businesses of choice for third-party site activity, which he touts in his column (thus leaving out sites like SLexchange.com which are not FICy, or anshechung.com which aren't FICy, which of course could also be expected literally to do a land-office business if they bypass the whole hokey SL home page experience, with its long, babbling messages from Jeska about the resmods and the mentors on the community page and the "showcases" etc., and use a feature that headss straight to your own web page port.

The idea is to lower the barrier between SL and the Net. That's partly a good idea. In theory, there will be less dependency on Linden Lab itself as a gateway, and resident businesses can just organize their customers more directly.

Of course, there's still the problem of how when you send a screenshot out of SL, you are frog-marched to the sluniverse.com website, and can't send it to any other address (they kept promising to remove/broaden that feature but haven't yet AFAIK).

Another edge to this sword is that your hated McDonald's and whatnot could presumably just buy up lots of basics or buy relatively cheap $1000 sims and just fill up lots of webpages with links and get people to come in and see their advertising and products you hate.

Oh well, like the rest of the Internet, they had to figure out some way to pay for this thing, Tony.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 24, 2006 @ 8:47 pm
     
 
Re: "Tools like this clearly come from the web team, which probably has little to do with stabilizing the grid and other open grid architecutre initiatives. I like to see the LL web team be more productive and creative than most web teams who focus on changing the homepage to maximize marketing."

This is an old chestnut of an argument, Satchmo, and as a veteran resmond now even, you should get beyond that. Game players are always grousing about cheesy new features that distract from game's deep problems of just lag and crashiness. Game devs and fanboyz are always telling players to shut up, that the staff that made those cheesy new features aren't the staff to apply on bugs and stabilization anyway, so shut up.

But customers rightly raise the question about the stability of the grid and software itself as a *budgeting and time-management priority*, and even if customer service/web team/community team employees don't actually work as programmers or grid monkeys eradicating bugs, etc., by placing resources into all these *other* staff and teams, LL doesn't place it on the programming/bug catching/stabilization that many of us want to see.

Recent patches have come far too often, with lists of "known issues" as long as your arm. I mean, please, shiny new features are always fun, but some of these shiny new features in fact only worsen the stability problems -- like no one ever wants to admit that gray squares is a direct function of p2p?

And what's so creative about a homepage that changes, but keeps featuring Flip and Aimee, over and over again?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 24, 2006 @ 8:50 pm
     
 
Oops it's not just the SL forums, but apparently any blog that gives you that formula. So let me spell it out:

1. Type a bracket: [
2. Type [url=second life
3. Type ://Lutestrong/158/118/
4. Type Lutestring (M) Prime Waterfront
5. Type [/url]

No spaces in between the things you type.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 24, 2006 @ 9:24 pm
     
 
Re: "Tru dat. SL Map API + User-Created Annotations = Crazy Delicious!"

I totally agree. I am also really digging the code bounty you posted to the forums for an easy SLurlBuilder. I was about to match your bounty when I kept following the thread and realized Ordinal already stepped up to the plate and accomplished it. SLurlBuilder
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 26, 2006 @ 11:08 am
     
 
Prok, my replies to bolded excerpts from your comments follow:

True, before, we could already do this on the SL forums...

Yup. The news here is the availability of user-created map bookmarks. Not so much the ability to visit SL directly--as you mention, this ability has existed for a long time. The SLurl system gives non-SLers a chance to get more info without going in-world.


What this SLURL thing seems to add is an infomercial...

This is only true if a user adds their own infomercial. The content of a bookmark is up to the person who makes the bookmark. As I demonstrated in my example, it can be used to point out instances of trademark infringement. Since Linden Lab doesn't currently prevent or filter user input, the possibilities for commentary and content are virtually endless. Infomercials are only one possible use.


the ability to put up a jpeg advertising your parcel (I'm not readily seeing how that uploads but I'll play with it)

The content of the bookmark is specified in the URL. A user can add content from any online location, such as a web page, text, a graphic, a video, a Flash game, etc. If someone wanted a JPG advertising their land, they could simply upload the pic to their own web directory, and link to it in the SLurl bookmark.


Another edge to this sword is that your hated McDonald's and whatnot could presumably just buy up lots of basics or buy relatively cheap $1000 sims and just fill up lots of webpages with links and get people to come in and see their advertising and products you hate.

Second Life content and the content of SLurl bookmarks are not necessarily connected. One can create a SLurl bookmark without being a resident. One can create a SLurl bookmark whether or not they own land or any other SL items. Nobody can force us to look at a SLurl bookmark--we'd have to click a link first, and what are the chances of me visiting a McDonald's web page, finding a SLurl bookmark, and clicking on it? Since I don't currently seek out information from potential SL advertisers, I am not likely to be bothered by any possible SLurl links the advertisers might be using. SLurl is not "push" technology, it relies on the user seeking out the information, and it only exists outside Second Life, having no interaction with the virtual world other than sending willing residents to a specific location.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 12:07 pm
     
 
Thanks for that thorough information, Tony, that's helpful.

I'm still wondering why anybody outside the SL world would be interested in clicking on what amounts essentially to merely a map of that world, with a pop-up jpeg and text of some kind. For example, if you told me that World of War craft had some kind of map available in which I could click somewhere and see somebody's house or avatar or monster killed or whatever, I guess I'd say "ho-hum" unless I played that game. I mean, the map of Columbus, Ohio on mapstart with a blow-up on somebody's webpage of their carwash and diner isn't of any interest, right? Except to those who live in that environs.

I suppose it could become of interest on other pages of social software that link up all the carwashes across America or all the killed monsters across all games or something. I'm just thinking interconnectivity doesn't always lead to something stellar, it can lead to the banal, too.

I think the main use of this feature would be by bored SLers at work who can't log on to the game and are sick of fighting on the forums, so they cruise websites with various map pop-ups.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 26, 2006 @ 12:22 pm
     
 
I'm still wondering why anybody outside the SL world would be interested in clicking on what amounts essentially to merely a map of that world, with a pop-up jpeg and text of some kind.

Just prior to the SLurl announcement I mentioned a case that is exactly what you seem to believe will not happen. It does.

This is viral.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
February 26, 2006 @ 12:23 pm
     
 
SLurl is probably of most use to in-world businesspeople or web-based services that link to in-world locales. I will probably use it in future stories about Second Life to add context to linked items-- for example, I might describe an event in Second Life on my blog, and include a SLurl bookmark that shows the location of the event and a screenshot of what transpired. This allows non-residents to see what I'm talking about in the context of the world map, without actually having to log in. SL residents could also visit the location directly. I admit that this wouldn't add a massive amount of value to an average story on Second Life, but it might be fun to play with for a while.

I think there will be some creative uses for SLurl developed over time. I can see some value to the SL Escorts Ratings blogger, who could link directly to an escort's place of business along with a picture of the escort. For outsiders, this gives some additional info that might be of interest. Residents could of course go directly in-world based on the review, and the content of the bookmark.

I was also considering griefing possibilities here. Imagine a stalker who keeps a weblog about his exploits, and links directly to the doors and windows of his victim's residence along with a "peeping tom" screenshot from each viewpoint.

Then there are the recursive possibilities. When SL finally supports a web page on a prim, SLurl bookmarks could be displayed in-world as a visual teleport tool. An example would be a mall directory: When the mall name is clicked on, the prim face refreshes to display the SLurl bookmark with a list of products.

Anyway, lots of untapped potential here, I think.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 2:09 pm
     
 
Just because something's viral, doesn't mean it's good, Csven. As Tony is pointing out, the main use of this feature is likely to be to sell more more porn and more escorts, more land, and more clothes for the porn stars starring in their own movies to wear on their pixelaed Bermuda private islans. Oh, well, it's OK, it's business. I'm sure there will be ah, all kinds of educational uses put to it as well.

To be honest, I've always wondered whether the time I'd have to put in creating and fussing with and refreshing a webpage constantly for real estate, including with features like this, wouldn't be better spent providing live customer support to real estate shoppers. I find that most of my customers in the virtual world want the live interaction. You can make it all self-service, and they don't really want to click through all the stuff. They want someone to hold their little avatar hand. Seriously. I'm just telling you how I've found it works. There are those who are going to create massive interactive, pop-up webpages linked to scripted devices in world and never actually enter the world and just keep cashing out their vendors remotely and playing WoW. But others might take the slower old-fashioned approach of human contact.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 26, 2006 @ 3:06 pm
     
 
SLurl is probably of most use to in-world businesspeople or web-based services that link to in-world locales. I will probably use it in future stories about Second Life to add context to linked items-- for example, I might describe an event in Second Life on my blog, and include a SLurl bookmark that shows the location of the event and a screenshot of what transpired.

This is one of the reasons I am really excited about it. When people blog, vlog or podcast about interesting things in Second Life they can provide a neat clean link that not only shows the location in world, but quickly shows viewers how to sign up. A non-SL resident who reads about a cool event like the ACS Relay for Life and wants to see it, now has a simple path to get directly there.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 3:50 pm
     
 
A note to non-tekkies (that is, most of us, even given the tekkie self-selected readership of Clickable Culture).

If you're like me, you clicked on the links in this initial post, here: offering two examples of the service at work: 1, 2. And when you clicked on the 1, 2, you just got something that said "www.tinyurl.com" gobbledegook alphabet soup -- in other words, it was NOT a template or model for how you might set up a SLURL.com type of effect for your blog or webpage or just anywhere, i.e. a business card.

SO...if you're like me, and remained curious, and even had a college education, you then pressed on the other link, that was this:
http://slurl.com

Once there, you might have clicked around aimelessly, and wondered, hmm, how does this work? It doesn't seem to tell you how it works.

So, be persistent, and get this link in "about SLURL"
http://slurl.com/about.php

And to cut to the chase for you, if you're wondering, but how can I make a SLURL thingie of my own, the hidden recipe is:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/<region>/<x-coordinate>/<y-coordinate>/<z-coordinate>/

So the welcome area is this:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Ahern/50/50/50 <-- The final z-coordinate is optional.

This same 'about' page tells you that there are added features, but doesn't explain how you actually upload a picture/jpeg of your very own. Oh well, I await some helpful person to put in the step-by-step explanation since it's not intuitive.

Oh btw "Lutestring (M) Prime Waterfront" linked above as an example of how the existing template works sold today for $30,000, thanks for that viral free add space, Tony, works great : )
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 26, 2006 @ 5:45 pm
     
 
A Quick SLurl Primer

This is a quick and dirty primer describing how to use SLurl. I'll probably clean it up and put it somewhere that is easier for people to find.

A quick note to start: To use a space in the location, title or description, you must use in the URL. represents a space.

Step 1: Location

As Prok noted above to display a location you do:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/<region>/<x-coordinate>/<y-coordinate>/<z-coordinate>/

So for Sheep Island we use "Sheep Island/128/128/150"

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150

Step 2: Image

First thing we want to add is an image.
Here you append:

?img=http://youserver/yourimage.jpg to the URL

So to add the Electric Sheep Logo I have on myserver I append:

?img=http://futureprototype.com/eSheep.jpg to the URL.

The result is:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://futureprototype.com/eSheep.jpg

Step 3: Change Size

We just added the logo AND now we want to change the size of box. My sheep logo is to big for the default size. Let's make the box 250 x 350

We append this with an "&" so we add on:
&x=250&y=350 (where X and Y represent the size of our new box)

The result:
http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://futureprototype.com/eSheep.jpg&x=250&y=350

Step 4: Title

We have an image AND we rezied it AND we want to give it a title. Again we use the magic "&" to append the title on the above URL.

To represent "Sheep HQ" we need to use "Sheep HQ"

We'll use &title=Sheep HQ

The Result:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://futureprototype.com/eSheep.jpg&x=250&y=350&title=Sheep HQ


Step 5: Description

We have an image AND we resized it AND we added a title AND we want to add a description. To say "Electric Sheep Company World Headquarters" we must use the to look like Electric Sheep Company World Headquarters

The actually description is called a "msg"

We use: &msg=Electric Sheep Company World Headquarters

End Result:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://futureprototype.com/eSheep.jpg&x=250&y=350&title=Sheep HQ&msg=Electric Sheep Company World Headquarters
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 5:55 pm
     
 
Sigh. I'm supposed to be grateful for this set of step-by-step instructions (ones that I could have figured out myself but it would have taken some time.) One of the things I *hate* about Second Life is how arrogant and presumptious the people who make it and work it at the technical end are about the rest of us.

So...Stop right here, sonny:

"So to add the Electric Sheep Logo I have on myserver I append:"

Um...Most people don't have their own servers. In fact, I suspect A LOT of those 148,000 people supposedly "in" SL don't have their own servers. The more enterprising of us have, of course, figured to go to photobucket or tripod or Picture Trail or wherever the freebies are.

The problem is then sometimes that other than photobucket, which I *think* will work with the image tags (have to check) put on to this SLURL thing, you can't figure out the route always. It's just mundane, routine, stupid rote knowledge, but tekkies often make a fetish of holding this sort of thing secret so you can keep paying them.

Anyway, SO glad that the Electric Sheep, grazing as they do where they do, have their own servers! Until then, "the rest of us" will check out photobucket...

At least this exercise illustrates that what you do NOT do is go inside the game. It's hugely confusing when you click around that SLURL site. It keeps taking you into the game, as if you'll fetch a screenshot there.

Ideally, the Lindens will get over their total exclusive monogamous love affair with Snapzilla, and free up this function of sending screenshouts out of Second Life...to WHEREVER we want. Currently, we are frog-marched to sluniverse.com and have to put pics@sluniverse.com into the email template to appear on the front page.

It would be nice if the Lindens, in their zeal to "make less friction between SL and the rest of the Net" would make it possible to have a template for screenshots that would make it possible to put in OTHER addresses -- and not just for email. I can understand they wouldn't want to store endless screenshots on their own servers. But they could make it possible so that template accepts an ftp address or the image tag addresses out of photobucket -- something to enable you to send your screenshout out of the game SOMEWHERE else besides the ONE fansite where of course it can be subjected to comments beyond your control, and ratings.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 26, 2006 @ 6:03 pm
     
 
Um...Most people don't have their own servers. In fact, I suspect A LOT of those 148,000 people supposedly "in" SL don't have their own servers.

At first I used Flickr as an example, but substituted by server for readability.

I have the following photo on Flickr.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/satchprototype/104856528/

I right click that photo and choose, Copy Image Location... it gives me this 104856528_2f7074ae52.jpg?v=0

I use that to create:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://static.flickr.com/38/104856528_2f7074ae52.jpg

And then follow the steps to create:

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sheep Island/128/128/150?img=http://static.flickr.com/38/104856528_2f7074ae52.jpg?v=0&x=250&y=350&title=Sheep HQ&msg=Electric Sheep Company World Headquarters
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 6:05 pm
     
 
WOW GREAT NEWS and important update from Reuben -- this is the third time I've asked this query in as many months on the Linden blogs, and Reuben has finally answered:

http://reuben.typepad.com/reuben_steigers_weblog/2006/02/hurl_a_slurl.html#comment-14386975

Turns out we DO NOT have to write pics@sluniverse.com to show up on the Lindens' home page anymore. WOOT. We can just email the photo to ourselves, click off "post to web" and walla, it's on the web.

Now...of course we still need MYSERVER to do more with it, but of course there's always just saving it on your hard drive and posting it to your commercially-owned public blog site that way.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 26, 2006 @ 6:09 pm
     
 
Ideally, the Lindens will get over their total exclusive monogamous love affair with Snapzilla, and free up this function of sending screenshouts out of Second Life...to WHEREVER we want.

You can actually send photos wherever you want. I made a quick tech demo of this at Slindex.Com and you can just as easily send photos straight to Flickr. You can test it out with Slindex, instructions Here.

Let's not jump all over the shortcomings of Slindex, it was a demo to see how this stuff works.

In-world you use the Snapshot function, then send a postcard, and then put any email address you like in the recipient's email address.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what your saying. But for a long time now you've been able to send photos to whatever email address you want.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Satchmo Prototype
February 26, 2006 @ 6:16 pm
     
 
Turns out we DO NOT have to write pics@sluniverse.com to show up on the Lindens' home page anymore.

Ahh now I see what you were saying... Good News Indeed.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 26, 2006 @ 6:59 pm
     
 
Actually, NO, Satchmo, it's not true that you could send "for a long time" to "any email you wanted" AND get it on the home page, I do hope you're getting that.

Yes, for a long time -- probably at least a year -- you've been able to send yourself or anyone else the screenshots out of SL -- just by typing any email into it.

But what's operative here is whether you could get on the FRONT PAGE or not. Before they had the map, it used to be actually even more visible and more fun -- BUT you were forced to only use pics@sluniverse.com -- LL made an agreement with Snapzilla to do this. That meant that if you wanted to get on the front page of Second Life's home page, you had to send your screenshot to a third-party fan site -- the only one! -- that would then subject your photos to fanboy comments and ratings like MySpace. Annoying.

FINALLY -- and it is ONLY very recently -- I'm guessing in the last 2 patches -- they've gotten rid of that hog-tie and you can now email yourself a screenshot, click off "publish to web" and get on the home page without the homies hooting and hollering -- or so they say!!!!

This REALLY needs to be checked thoroughly. Why? Because several things on the client now, including your avatar's description and your classifieds' ads say "publish to web" as a click-off option, but it isn't wired up yet. It looks like some day, perhaps soon, the Lindens are going to have some kind of feature on their website where you'll be able to post your avatar's picture, his classifieds, maybe his picks, or whatever -- and it will be kind like MySpace I guess, for those who like that sort of thing. Let's just hope they don't combine ratings with it.

So I'm going to test this now and see if indeed it's true -- of course only PG-region screenshots work to get on the home page.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
February 27, 2006 @ 11:36 am
     
 
{i]Just because something's viral, doesn't mean it's good, Csven.

That's what a double-edged sword implies, Prok.

I'm glad you finally figured out what Tony said in the very beginning!
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Prokofy Neva
February 27, 2006 @ 2:20 pm
     
 
Um, Csven, I got what Tony wrote the first time: "SLurl is a double-edged sword with amazing potential to cut both ways." But he didn't spell out -- what's the cutting in the other way? And I thought it through and spelled out some of that "other side of the sword" -- it's a good thing for those who have their own servers or access to servers at work, and privileges them; it's a good thing for commerce but might contribute to what some might view as over-commercialization of SL, and so forth. Did you come up with any other examples of the double-edged sword? No. Instead, you celebrated one side of the sword, and said it was "viral". Viral almost *always* is used in breathless tones by the tekkies I find -- they love the concept of "viral". Tekkies who might otherwise hate things like spam in IMs to them about real estate, or Tringo on the events list, love the idea of their multi-gadgeted scripted devices announcing their arrival and their maker's name in green chat, even before a avatar rezes -- something many find truly annoying and disruptive of events in particular. No matter, it's "viral advertising," etc.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
March 5, 2006 @ 10:54 am
     
 
Prok, in your comment you attempt to inform me and others that "because something's viral, doesn't mean it's good". You obviously seem to think that the world has missed the whole computer viruses are *viral* thing.

"you celebrated one side of the sword"

I gave an example that answered a specific question as to why people would opt in.

I assumed that between Tony's example and mine, and his comment of it being a two-edged sword, saying "This is viral" would be sufficient. I should have known better.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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Advance warning: this frivolent comment is NOT RELATED or even worth your time ... But whenever i hear "Collada", i think of that SCTV…
in Electric Sheep Builds Its Own Flock


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