Oct 312014
 

Raglan Shire Graveyard

One of Second Life’s more serene locations is Raglan Shire. Home of the tinies, a place where you imagine birds singing, workers singing, animals singing, sun shining, a place of general happiness. However not during October, during October Raglan Shire celebrates Shocktober and a shocking experience it is indeed.

We’re talking zombies roaming the streets here, yes, in Raglan Shire! You still spot a few tinies around, and they do seem to be merry, but there are strange happenings afoot here with ghosts floating around and a very worrying fog enveloping you.

Raglan Shire Zombies

 

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Oct 302014
 

Linden Lab have posted a new blog post : Performance, Performance, Performance! The post details some impressive improvements to Second Life from Linden Lab’s metrics. In terms of the Second Life Marketplace the post informs us :

We recently deployed infrastructure upgrades for the Marketplace, and the site has since shown some of the best performance we’ve ever seen from it. Even during peak usage periods over the weekend, when in the past performance would degrade, we’re seeing response times that average 70% faster and page load times that are 30% faster than before the changes.

Then we see a bold claim, I mean this is a very bold claims, it’s so bold that I’m almost speechless, but Linden Lab are improving Group Chat! Indeed they’ve recently deployed new chat server configurations which metrics show have resulted in dramatic improvements in group chat performance. Now before we all get too excited, they also acknowledge that some groups are still seeing a reduction in performance but early indications suggest that group chat is improving. Linden Lab aren’t washing their hands on this matter though, they are still very much working on continuing to improve group chat.

Faster texture and mesh loading has been facilitated by Linden Lab utilising a content delivery network to the whole grid. This is more likely to be felt by people further away from Linden Lab’s data centres in the USA and the initial reports do indeed sound very impressive :

Our testing showed dramatic improvements: average download times for textures and meshes have been reduced by more than 50% on average, and the improvement is even more dramatic outside of North America.

The final improvement mentioned in the blog post is with regards to the HTTP Project. This has been a long ongoing project that has slowly but surely brought improvements to Second Life. The basic concepts is that the way the viewer communicates with grid services has been improved. The blog post once again posts some impressive stats :

With the HTTP Project Viewer out now, the faster content download times you’ll see thanks to the CDN change get even better – we’re talking 80% faster!

However there is one more improvement highlighted via this blog post, although it’s not one Linden Lab are blowing their own trumpet about.

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Oct 302014
 

Halloween in Second Life has always been a popular time of year and this year is no exception. Whereas many of you will already have plans for parties events and such like, the Second Life Destination Guide will also help you to find some gems which will be around for a few days at least, after the event.

Linden Lab have added a new attraction to their impressive Portal Park, a Haunted Halloween Tour.


Haunted Halloween Tour

What will you do this Halloween? Help children with a sugar fix? Buy overpriced masks from big-box stores? Do something different, something frightening and fun. Linden Lab is proud to present the Haunted Halloween Tour. Strap in and prepare to experience haunts, ghouls, death, scares, and a descent through madness itself. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart!

Visit in Second Life

This is an attraction that takes advantage once more of the experience tools and allows you to ride a coffin up to the house and get spooked with shadowy figures appearing in the windows and much more.

Haunted Halloween

SLURL To Portal Park : http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LR%20Portal%20Park1/113/126/23/

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Oct 302014
 

Philomena Library

The Alexandrian Free Library consists of community-based libraries which have agreed to…

  1. Support each other’s efforts.
  2. Provide fully-permissioned info materials to their patrons and use Open Source scripting, in order to give maxium access to good information and good information tools.
  3. Be right quick with tea and sympathy.

The libraries are scattered throughout Second Life and their collaborative work can be found in places such as :

  • Caledon
  • Winterfell
  • Steelhead
  • New Toulouse
  • New Babbage
  • Amatsu Shima
  • West of Ireland
  • Steeltopia
  • Deadwood
  • Al Andalus & Constantinople

Whereas there are many people involved a special thanks needs to be shouted out to JJ Drinkwater. The libraries not only offer the opportunity for people to explore literature and story telling in Second Life, they also offer people the opportunity to visit some fabulous locations and make new friends.

Upcoming events for the next fortnight are listed below.

ALEXANDRIAN FREE LIBRARY EVENTS
October 29 – November 11, 2014

—————————
CONTINUING EXHIBITS
—————————

None!

——————————–
EVENTS OF THE FORTNIGHT
——————————–
Sunday, 2 November 2014

Town of Philomena
Philomena Public Library Weekly Book Discussion Club
Sunday, 2 November, 2014
3:00pm – 4:00pm SLT
Where: Philomena Public Library
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Bruda%20Plateau/15/38/57

Philomena Library

Description:
We are currently reading “Riders of the Purple Sage” by Zane Grey

Jane Withersteen is a good Mormon woman trying to make a difference in her small community of Cottonwoods, Utah. She battles to overcome her persecution by members of her Mormon fundamentalist church, a leader of which, Elder Tull, wants to marry her for her vast inheritance. Enter Lassiter, a gentle-voiced, sad-faced gunslinger looking for answers to a long-ago past.

This book was written in 1912 and is considered the father of the western genre. It features gunslingers, cattle-rustlers and beautiful descriptions of the Southern Utah area.

You are invited to attend the informal discussion. We often assemble in 1900 – 1920 period clothing. We meet over tea and often talk over other topics as well. All are welcome to attend.

Schedule:

November 2: Chapters 22, 23 and wrap-up

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Oct 292014
 

Whilst I was on holiday an excellent article on High Fidelity appeared in MIT Technology Review : The Quest to Put More Reality in Virtual Reality. Ok first of all let’s get a couple of questionable parts of the article out of the way. Tom Simonite seems to talk of Second Life in the past sense, which will rub many a Second Life user up the wrong way as Second Life is still going pretty strong, despite reports to the contrary. Then there’s this claim :

Some of what his company is creating is much the same as Second Life. You download some software and then enter a virtual space where you can steer your avatar around and build stuff. This time, though, building is much easier, the lag mostly eliminated, and the graphics more impressive.

Anyone who has had a peek at High Fidelity will know that the building is not much easier and nor are the graphics more impressive at this stage in the development of the platform. High Fidelity is making some bloody impressive strides right now but it’s still very much an Alpha product.

Then there’s the stock photograph of Philip Rosedale that is used, we need a new modern Philip photo, I’ve seen that one umpteen times! However the above aside, it’s an excellent article that captures so very well the fantastic enthusiasm Philip Rosedale has for virtual worlds. Admittedly I’m an unashamed Philip Rosedale fanboi, despite not always agreeing with him, but the man has a long held dream and it’s one that captivates me. Whereas some may think of Philip Rosedale; “Dreamer, you’re nothing but a dreamer, well can you put your hands in your head, oh no!” the answer to that is that with the right peripherals, in High Fidelity you can put your virtual hands in your virtual head, oh yes!

The article explains how High Fidelity is taking a very different approach from Second Life in some areas and this is where I believe that High Fidelity is most definitely on the right track :

High Fidelity’s business model is less developed. Most of its software and platform will be open source, so anyone can use it or set up a virtual world using its technology. High Fidelity plans to make money by charging people to include their worlds in a kind of directory for the metaverse, similar to the domain name system for the Web.

I’ve said this before, more than once, but where I feel Second Life failed to adopt mass appeal is because it’s Second Life. Mass appeal may well come for a Linden Lab product running Linden Lab created technology, but I’m not convinced that mass appeal will come for any virtual world being a one stop shop. In terms of Second Life I’ve said that it needed to reach the stage where people weren’t thinking they were visiting Second Life, they were thinking of playing an elf on a platform running Second Life technology, or going to a concert, running Second Life technology. The technology being a discussion area for techie types and the experience itself being something people enjoy for the experience itself.

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Oct 282014
 

Episode 42 of The Drax Files Radio Hour sees confirmed staunch socialist Draxtor Despres and red under the bed, Jo Yardley, getting their teeth into a number of issues and getting the hump with the BBC, an organisation long accused of being lefties ….

Jo and Drax take umbrage with the beeb over an article in their technology section : Podrift: Is podcasting ripe for virtual reality? Podrift is a technology aimed at taking podcasting into a virtual world setting, however not everyone is convinced by the concept and in the article they quote Todd Cochrane, head of podcasting specialists RawVoice as saying :

adoption into Second Life may be more appropriate

That sounds fair enough but the author of the article, Dougal Shaw writes :

This is something of a damning comparison, as virtual world Second Life has become synonymous with virtual reality’s false dawn. After creating a huge buzz when it was launched in 2003, it has failed to live up to its potential. Other than a hardcore of loyal users, few are giving it a second chance.

Personally I think Dougal Shaw is missing the point by a country mile if he comes to that conclusion and I can understand why Jo and Drax take umbrage with that comment. Second Life is over eleven years old and still around. Second Life has hosted talk shows such as Tonight Live With Paisley Beebe in the past and is perfectly viable as a venue for a podcast already. However I’m not dismissing the potential behind Podrift here, I just find Dougal Shaw’s dismissive comment about Second Life odd.

The show is the usual mix of commentary, fascinating interviews, virtual reality discussion and via the website itself, some very interesting links and clips. The discussion between Jo and Drax about virtual reality gadgets is interesting because they discuss some of the challenges of these peripherals, such as the difficulty of using many different peripherals at the same time and how cumbersome that may become. This is an issue that will have to be tackled because people are not going to be comfortable wearing headsets, VR gloves, grabbing peripherals and trying to communicate. However there’s a long way to go with this sort of technology and how it all fits together will be improved over time.

The interview with Leap Motion CTO David Holz encountered a few technical glitches but Drax manages to salvage some very interesting points. David actually highlights some of the above issues and labels this stage as the first generation of VR. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who will disagree that this is the first generation of VR but his point is that there are currently a lot of peripherals around and at this early stage the current generation of VR is going to be a mixed bag whilst the technology is developed.

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Oct 272014
 
Blood Letters Promo Poster

Blood Letters

MadPea Games are well known in Second Life circles for their interactive games and hunts. However on November 1st they are taking a small step into unchartered waters as they unleash their first ever adult hunt in the shape and form of Blood Letters.

Blood Letters

This isn’t the first time MadPea Games have ventured into the world of noir, Mad City had a very noirish feel to it but this time they are stepping into a new dimension with some very adult themes. This is more than just a find the objects hunt, Blood Letters is billed as an erotic thriller.

Chinese Takeaway

Writing on the MadPea blog, Kess Crystal wrote :

Samantha “The Mantis” Mason, is an internationally infamous serial killer due to her particularly gruesome hobby. Seducing men and women alike, she lured them with the promise of fulfilling their lust, only to appease her own thirst for blood with these hapless pleasure-seekers.

Society breathed a collective sigh of relief when, after 8 brutal murders she was finally apprehended and brought to justice. However, a year after The Mantis was put behind bars murders have started occurring again, and the sadistic killer operates in a way that keeps everyone in fear.

The players will take on the role of a Private Detective and get prepared to solve a grisly series of shocking murders to test the boundaries where eroticism meets morality.

The game will take place on the very impressive and R3Volt sim. I’ll include the SLURL for that in the official press release below the cut.

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Oct 272014
 

Matanzas Dock

The recent Designing Worlds 250th edition grabbed headlines for Designing Worlds reaching such an impressive milestone and for an interview with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg. However the carefully selected location of Matanzas has been somewhat overlooked, so I decided to visit the sim to see just why this impressive location was considered the ideal venue for the landmark edition of Designing Worlds.

Matanzas Cafe

The sim was chosen not just because of its undoubted beauty but also because in a very early edition of Designing Worlds they visited Skate Foss’ parcel on the sim and gave it a makeover. Skate Foss was so impressed with the location that over the years she became not just a parcel owner, but the owner of the whole island and it’s a very impressive sim indeed that exemplifies not only what can be achieved within Second Life but also how much you can pack into a sim without leaving visitors with the impression that they are treading in treacle.

Matanzas Lounge

Part of the challenge of most Second Life sims is to engage visitors and strengthen community. Matanzas manages to do both with a mixture of public and private areas. The private areas are for tenants of the sim and visitors are respectfully requested to avoid these areas but that’s not a problem because of the impressive amount of public areas on the sim and the impressive design that makes navigating the public areas such a pleasure. Amongst the early public areas are a public beach, Island dance floor and Cafe.

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Oct 122014
 

I’m taking some holiday time over the next fortnight so this blog is also going to take a holiday for a fortnight too. Fear not faithful readers, I shall return triumphant with tales of many drow, dwarf, wizard and human adventures upon my return.

Pirate Ship

I have been taking a look at a couple of sims which I intend to blog more about on my return. The first is Morgan Straits which is a pirate themed sim. Yarr! I like pirates. This is a well presented sim but obviously you need to tread carefully because of those pirates.

Pirate Houses

The other sim I’ve been taking a look at is the stunningly picturesque Matanzas.

Matanzas Dock

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Oct 112014
 

A few days ago I blogged about the delays people are experiencing in getting their accounts verified for account and tax information requests issued by Linden Lab. However new information has came to light which suggests that it’s not just an issue for account and tax information requests, it seems that the broader issue is that off payout requests full stop.

The tax and account information requests are often tied to payout requests, so this explains why there are delays there. The information was relayed to me via Pete Linden in a comment on my earlier blog post :

Due to a significant volume of payout request in recent weeks, payout requests may take longer to process than expected. We apologize for the delay, and we are working hard on clearing the backlog and process requests as quickly as possible. In the meantime, we advise residents to please address any specific questions through their Support cases. We appreciate the cooperation and patience from all residents, and hope to have payout request processing times back to normal soon.

I’m not sure why there is a significant volume of payout requests in recent weeks, some people have suggested it is related to the new skill gaming policy and there will be people who are putting payment information on file in order to engage with skill gaming regions.

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