Dec 192014

I’ve recently returned to using the official Second Life client. Well first of all, let me recap, there was a stage when the official client was the only client I really liked using, I was wary of those third party clients, despite all their bells and whistles.

I’d tried them, I didn’t get on with them and then one day I tried Firestorm, and quite frankly I never looked back when it came to taking photographs in Second Life. The photo tools, the sheer amount of windlight settings, I was as happy as Larry playing around with these and ramping up my graphics for the right shot, moving the time of day slider to cast shadows. Awesome sauce.

Then one day I noticed my AMD graphic drivers were a tad out of date and updated them, and Firestorm made a very sad face at me. However I saw some light on the horizon, a new version of AMD graphics drivers were released and I updated again. Alas, this was a terrible mistake as Inara Pey pointed out. However the investigative Inara Pey also points out that there may be hope on the horizon.

The thing is that may my main issue with Firestorm was not regarding rigged Mesh, well it is now, but the issue I had with Firestorm after updating my graphics drivers was that if I set my settings to Ultra, my scene looked like something rendered on the Sinclair Spectrum.

So I returned to official Second Life client and that’s where my head scratching started.

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Dec 182014

Some former Lindens are making the news or quietly making moves in certain areas. Hamlet Au over at New World Notes reported : Cory Ondrejka Leaving Facebook to Launch New Company: Second Life Co-Creator Helped Drive Oculus Acquisition. Cory, who was once Linden Lab CTO and played an extremely important role in the evolution of Second Life. Cory, whilst praising Mark Zuckerberg as his best ever boss is also quoted as saying :

December 22nd will be my last day at Facebook. From high-performance javascript through mobile to virtual reality, I could never have predicted a journey quite like this one. I will miss working with everyone, but I am excited about building my next company from scratch.

We’ll come back to that quote later because it’s not an easy step to make. Meanwhile, VentureBeat reports : Metric Insights’ $2M funding reflects the feisty nature of the business analytics market. Metric Insights are, as the title of the linked article suggests, in the business of business analytics. The founder of Metric Insights is not a name I’m familiar with, his name is Marius Moscovici. However the article provides the link to Linden Lab :

Moscovici originally got the startup going in 2010 after he had been frustrated by the lack of extensive and consistent usage of analytics tools at Second Life developer Linden Lab, where he was head of the company’s data warehousing and real-time-analytics group. Previously he had run a business-intelligence consulting company.

I’m not sure if Marius was ever a Linden we’d know from inworld. Maybe someone else knows. However rather interestingly the article also suggests that Philip Rosedale participated in the funding.

Meanwhile, the Fort Mills Times Informs us : Tom Hale and Larry Kutscher Join ReachLocal Board of Directors. ReachLocal are a company who specialise in online marketing for local business. Tom Hale is currently the chief product of officer of HomeAway, a company who specialise in vacation rentals such as Beach Houses and cabins. Tom Hale was Linden Lab’s Chief Product officer between September 2008 and some time in 2010.

Then, a more quiet development that involves a certain Rod Humble, former CEO of Linden Lab.

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Dec 172014
An Image Should Be Here

SL GO Comes To Firestorm

Last Friday’s Drax Files Radio hour is well worth a listen because it featured Cubey “Not the Grandfather Of Aviation In Second Life” Terra. However it also featured something else, Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley dropping hints about a big secret regarding SL GO from Onlive.

I’d actually forgotten all about this until I saw a post on New World Notes : SL Go Streaming Now Available Through PC/Mac Versions of Firestorm, Second Life’s Most Popular Viewer. SL GO can now be used with Firestorm as the client. This is further explained by the Firestorm team themselves in their own blog post : Firestrom On SL GO!

It should be noted that SL GO is not yet available on mobile devices with Firestorm. However that is promised for the future. Wait a minute, isn’t SL GO aimed at mobile devices such as Tablets? Well yes and no. SL GO can also be used to bring more life to Second Life on older PC/Mac hardware. The Firestorm blog post explains how this all works, I’ll quote some of that here but you really need to read the whole blog to get the full picture :

Onlive is essentially a streaming service. They host Firestorm and the SL Viewer on their many servers and stream video of a viewer’s interface and graphics to your computer screen while relaying your key and mouse inputs back to the viewer. This allows you to use graphically intensive games and applications without weighting down your own computer. In many ways it is like a remote desktop allowing you to manipulate the computer you are connected to with your own computer or mobile device. And since the computers on which OnLive hosts Firestorm are very high-end machines, you can run SL with full ultra graphics, shadows and everything without the drop in performance that highly detailed graphics usually cause!

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Dec 162014

Back in April 2011 Linden Lab announced : Introducing the Updated SL Viewer Beta with Enhanced Avatar Physics. In that post they explained the arrival of a new feature in Second Life, that of avatar physics :

In this viewer, you can now configure the amount of movement that you would like for your avatar’s soft body parts, making your avatar much more (ahem) realistic. Since the physics are controlled by a wearable object, you have the ability to easily customize and personalize your settings just as if you were editing any other clothing item. So whether you want lots of movement, or only a bit, you can adjust your settings and they will apply only to your avatar’s targeted body part.

Of course, we continue to smash bugs and make strides in viewer stability and performance, but we figured that you would be much more interested in avatars bouncing and jiggling.

The idea behind Avatar Physics is of course to make parts of the avatar body move in a more realistic fashion. Second Life, being user generated content of course, saw people create some very extreme physics for giggles. However over time things seem to have generally calmed down so that people try and use avatar physics in a sensible fashion. An example of the extremes of these physics was produced by Seraph Linden :

People in Second Life are familiar with avatar physics these days, some people use them well, some people don’t bother with them at all. That’s the same with a lot of avatar features in Second Life, plenty of people still happily go about their business without an AO.

Unity 3D allows avatar physics too, but they have found themselves in hot water because of it. The problems started when Unity Asset Store Tweeted :

Apply physics to bones, joints, hair or breasts! #AssetStore 24 hour deal : 50% off Dyanmic Bone

The offending part of the tweet was that Unity Asset Store had mentioned the word “breasts“, even though avatar physics does actually apply to breasts. The Tweet appears to have been removed and therefore a lot of the conversation is now in picture form or on archive sites.

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Dec 152014

I’ve mentioned this before but here we go again. Second Life could do with more ways for people to share information about events, places and sims by allowing people to easily embed that information into blog posts.

Flickr allows you to embed or copy the code of a picture easily so that you can included it in a blog post :

Cracked Mirror

YouTube makes it easy for you to share or embed videos :

These quick and easy ways of sharing content from social media sites help to not only promote your own content, they help to promote the brand of the platform you publish on. Second Life is a little lacking in this area when it comes to sharing content from Second Life on blogs. Let’s look at some more social media examples.

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Dec 132014

Centre Of Dublin

Virtual Dublin in Second Life has been around for a long time but it’s still a joy to visit. The first sim was opened on 29th April, 2006. There are now three sims joined together, Dublin, Dublin 2 and Dublin 3. The regions have gained attention outside of the virtual world environment,  a St Patrick’s Day parade organised by Tourism Ireland back in 2008 was held there and it’s not difficult to see why this would have been considered such a good location for that event.

Box Junction

The theme of the Sim is of course based on Dublin In Ireland and they have attempted to recreate the look and feel of part of the city, mainly O’Connell Street, Trinity College, St. Stephens Green, Guinness Brewery and Temple Bar area of Dublin including Grafton Street, Halfpenny Bridge, and Millenium Spire.

Looking Across Dublin 2

The Mayor of Dublin in Second Life is also the owner, Ham Rambler. The impressive recreation of Dublin has led to many Dubliners who have visited the sim saying “it’s just like being there!

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Dec 122014

Linden Lab’s invite for people to send suggestions to them via a new feedback process is gaining some interesting commentary outside the suggestion box. Indigo Mertel has gone for greater web functionality for Groups and communications whereas Hamlet Au over at New World Notes goes for achievements. Neither of these are new territory but they are good discussion territory.

I’m very much onboard with Indigo’s suggestions as they are largely suggestions I’ve made myself in the past. The benefits of web based groups are many but some key areas would mean that you wouldn’t have to receive a notecard, landmark and texture advertising events. The idea would be you’d get a notification pointing to the group web page. This allows communication channels to do what they do best and web pages to do what they do best.

Indigo has added some depth to the broad based group web page idea suggesting that they could have a forum, a wiki, an option for people to subscribe to notifications and the ability to make the group page viewable on the world wide web or not.

In short Indigo is thinking along the lines of the functionality that Facebook and Google + offer. Now you may think that if Facebook and Google + already offer this added functionality then why not go with them for Groups? Many people do, I get event invites sent to me on Google +. However not everyone has or wants an account on Facebook or Google + whereas people who are members of Second Life groups are already happy to be members of Second Life …. one would hope!

Now obviously this isn’t easy to achieve but going forward, I think there might be a pointer or two on how to try and manage groups in the future. Groups are a social experience and they require greater resources than the inworld Second Life experience can provide. Groups are essentially a social media tool and they really need a social media solution but one that can link into the inworld experience.

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Dec 112014

Linden Lab have slowly been trying to make peace with the education community in virtual worlds after the price change controversy a few years back. This has of course been reversed as Linden Lab seem to value the potential of educators using virtual worlds and this is further exemplified by the news that Ebbe Altberg will be the opening keynote speaker at VWBPE 2015 :

Great things are happening again this year at the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, so don’t miss out! We are very pleased to announce that Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, will be back on March 18, 2015, this time as our opening keynote speaker.

Ebbe will be joined by many other noteworthy presenters such as educators, researchers, professionals and instructors representing a broad range of areas including non-profits, sciences, IT , artists and of course, education.

Virtual Worlds Best Practices In Education will be running from March 18th – 21st 2015.

I decided to dig a little deeper into the educational institutions currently active in Second Life. Unfortunately the Official Wiki is hopelessly out of date in this area. However the ever improving Destination Guide is very much relevant to the current market and better still, it includes lots of places that aren’t traditional places of learning. I decided to start my exploration at the DePaul College of Computing and Digital Media

DePaul University

The  thing to note is that this is a bloody impressive build. If you hadn’t intentionally teleported into an education sim, you would probably think it was some sort of roleplaying environment or a place where some serious content creators were at play. This is a very photogenic location.

DePaul University, College of CDM

See what the students at DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media have created on the school’s official campus. A monastery, pirate ship, manor house, and bell tower are just a few of the attractions to explore.

Visit in Second Life

Next up I headed over to The Cystic Fibrosis University. This is another impressive build and has a winter holiday theme going on at the moment.

Cystic Fibrosis University

The Cystic Fibrosis university is ran by the Boomer Esiason Foundation and they explain a little bit about the purpose of their build in Second Life on their community portal section of their website:

Second Life is a 3-D virtual world – set up and monitored by the Boomer Esiason Foundation – with virtual characters (avatars) in a cyber community. The online world allows people to socialize and communicate (via typing) “face to face.” CF University, located on Second Life, is an educational and resourceful tool that also allows people with CF to have social interaction.

Cystic Fibrosis University

Presented by the Boomer Esiason Foundation, this region aims to educate the general public about cystic fibrosis, provides valuable resources to sufferers, and is a fun place to relax and socialize with the CF community.

Visit in Second Life

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Dec 092014

Linden Lab have announced that they are now offering A New Way To Share Your Suggestions For Second Life. “The Tier Is Too Damn High!” will probably not receive much of a response. The blog post opens with :

What’s the one thing Linden Lab could do that would have the biggest impact on further improving your Second Life experience?

Whether your suggestion is small or large, Linden Lab will welcome the feedback. I’m pretty sure we used to do this with a new feature suggestion on the Jira and in a galaxy far far away, on the Second Life forums. However attempts by Linden Lab to receive feedback from their community are most definitely welcome.

The new way of submitting feedback is to go to the feedback and suggestions section of the Second Life website. There, after logging in, you will be presented with a fairly simple form that informs you not to use this form for support requests.

Please note: this form is intended for suggestions, not support requests, bug reports, and other inquiries.

If you are trying to get in touch for a different purpose, below are links to the most appropriate resources.

Support and Downloads: Second Life Support Portal Bug Reports: JIRA

There’s a helpful dropdown on the form to help you categorise your suggestions and feedback. “The Tier Is Too Damn High!” isn’t there, but land is. In all seriousness, unless you’ve got a bloody good plan on how Linden Lab can lower tier and keep revenue stable, “The Tier is Too Damn High!” isn’t going to get very far. The Maths simply doesn’t add up for the idea that a reduction in tier cost would see an equivalent increase in demand and I say that as someone who very much believes that “The Tier Is Too Damn High!“. There’s no easy answer to that one, it involves Linden Lab being able to create more revenue streams.

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Dec 082014


Immerse yourself in the beauty, warmth and spirit of the holidays at Calas Galadhon Park’s Noel. Take a sleigh tour though this magical winter wonderland, all the way to the the beautiful Christmas Pavilion. Relax with a cup of hot chocolate or brandy, chat with friends by the fire or listen to one of the scheduled live music events. Don’t forget the flying reindeer ride!

Visit in Second Life

Calas Galadhon Park in Second Life has long been a place of beauty and wonder. The park itself isn’t just a single sim, there are eleven sims and one of the beauties of the park is that it changes with the season. December is no exception with the appearance of the winter wonderland of “Noel”.

Calas Galadhon Park's Noel

The sim itself is best viewed with the region windlight, I mess around with that to try and bring more light into my pictures but the darker skies of the default region windlight help to highlight the falling snow and give the sim a nice winter feeling.

There are activities you can engage in whilst exploring the sim, such as sleigh rides, ice skating and even hopping on a flying reindeer.

Daytime At Noel

There are also a series of events at the park, including live music with Antonio Galloway, Voodoo Shilton and Duncan Bagley all pencilled in for live performances.

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