Apr 282016

Notre Dame Cathedral

Over at SLUniverse Tatiana Dokuchic explains how an April 1st contact turned out to be no fool :

I was interviewed for this article and didn’t really know what to expect. It didn’t help that the journalist, Morgane Tual, just happened to contact me on April 1st. I had already received an invitation to a new “Marquis de Sade” roleplay that morning and was on the lookout for more April Fool’s fun so when she said she was from Le Monde I took it with a grain of salt.

The article by journalist has now appeared on the website of the famous French Newspaper Le Monde :Absurde, créatif et débauché : dix ans après, « Second Life » est toujours bien vivant, or to put it another way, “Absurd, creative and debauched: ten years later, “Second Life” is still alive“.

Those of us who use Second Life know very well that it’s still alive. Alas I don’t speak French, which is a shame, so my take on the article is based upon usage of Google Translate, which means something may very well be lost in translation. The article does start quite well and this exemplifies that Morgane Tual did actually enter Second Life and take a considered look around :

I expected to find , a decade later, a deserted world, aging technology and a few cobwebs in the corners. It was exactly the opposite.

This is a warts and all article, it doesn’t shy away from the adult content in Second Life and yet it manages to get beyond that and not run screaming that everyone is a freak because adult content exists.

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Apr 262016

NeoVictoria Roleplay

Roleplay plays an important part of Fantasy Faire and this year is no exception with four groups roleplaying within the Fairelands.

The Neo-Victoria Project are offering dark steampunk roleplay by way of The Sidhe and The Soul-Eater :

Thousands of years past, a sidhe failed in their duty and let a nameless terror into the worlds. It cost them their life, but not their soul. That was put into a mechanical marvel, and so began their long service as a sentinel against the darkness.

But after so long, their mechanical body has begun to fail and that nameless evil escapes its bonds. The automaton sends word to the Sidhe Empire for assistance.

Will help arrive in time?

Here’s a video trailer :

Whereas the roleplay has already begun, you’re not too late if you want to catch up. The next scheduled event is Scene 4 – Battle Against the Soul-Eater and takes place between 6pm-9pm on Wednesday April 27th at The Cathedral on The Serenity region.

SLURL : http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/FF%20Serenity/127/45/68

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Apr 232016

Nonprofit Commons

Episode 37 of The Drax Files opens the door on The Nonprofit Commons in Second Life. The episode opens with Drax asking Rhiannon Chatnoir (AKA Joyce Bettencourt) to quickly explain what the Nonprofit Commons is. The answer is that the Nonprofit commons consists over 60 global nonprofit organisations using the virtual world to fight for social good. This sounds very noble.

We get to learn a little about the sort of organisations that are part of the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life with people talking about organisations such as :

Transgender Veterans

Transgender American Veterans Association, which plays a role in ensuring transgender veterans receive care for any medical conditions that may arise and that they are treated with respect and dignity.

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Apr 222016

Caldeonia Skytower Reads

My first day at Fantasy Faire 2016 had been the traditional mixture of awe, mead, more awe, more mead and keeping a beady eye and a worried ear out for Elves, especially singing Elves. So far, so good on that front.

Today, I decided, would be a good day for a beard trim or some culture. I opted for culture, the beard trim can wait. A kindly being pointed me away from the nearest tavern and in the direction of something called LitFest, muttering something about my health. Apparently LitFest is a celebration of all things literary and if there’s one thing a Dwarfin likes, it’s a good old tale or two.

The location of this literary fest was a pavilion, where a crowd had gathered to hear tales from a little red monster by the name of Caledonia Skytower.

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Apr 212016

Me at Tinker's Hollow

My bags were packed days ago, but after making an arduous journey I found the gates locked. Fluttering my eyelashes, offers of much mead or rather menacing frowns would not tempt the guardians at the gates to let me in early, but as of just over an hour ago the day finally arrived when Fantasy Faire 2016 in Second Life open!


Between today and May 1st a wonderful celebration of many things fantasy in the Second Life virtual world will be taking place and I’ll be there to capture moments, as time permits! Pesky thing time, I think the Sci-Fi community should help us out a bit.

The event is also for a good cause as it’s part of the Relay For Life fundraising effort within Second Life, which raises money for The American Cancer Society. Last year Fantasy Faire raised US$ 31,642 as part of that effort, this year, US$5,927 has already been raised as the gates open.


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Apr 182016

Inara Pey recently reported that participation applications for Second Life’s 13th birthday are now open. A thirteenth birthday for Second Life is an extremely impressive milestone, especially when you consider how many people are still surprised that Second Life is still around.

Meanwhile, Fantasy Faire 2016 in Second Life is on the horizon and they will once again be holding a literary festival (Litfest) which will include readings, poetry, discussions and on April 23rd, Shakespeare Day. More details will appear on that page soon.

I’m a fan of storytelling, as I’ve said many times, I’m also a massive fan of Fantasy Faire in Second Life and I always like to delve a little bit into Second Life’s history as Second Life’s birthday approaches. I’ll combine history, storytelling and fantasy to look at an event that took place in Second Life back in 2007, an event that I didn’t know anything about until I read an article by Michael Calia and Mike Ayers : How ‘Game of Thrones’ Became the Most Viral Show on Television. The link to Second Life comes at the start of the article :

In May 2007, a few months after HBO optioned the rights to a book series by George R.R. Martin, executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss joined the author for a surprise appearance in the virtual community Second Life.

“Game of Thrones” wouldn’t hit the screen until four years later, but Second Life was a vital hangout for gamers, fantasy role-players and fans of Mr. Martin’s novels. The two producers appeared on screen as digital avatars in a forum moderated by one Beelzebubba Rasmuson and reassured fans that they would remain respectful of the beloved books.

Second Life was of course a lot more popular in terms of media coverage back in 2007.

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Apr 062016

Tyche “Statto” Shepherd has published her first private estate survey for over two years and it makes for very interesting reading. Tyche’s last private estate survey was published in November 2013. This survey covers Second Life only.

The methodology for these surveys is, to quote Tyche :

these results are based on a sample of 5000 randomly selected private estate regions designed to estimate full/ Homestead/ Openspace penetration.

So with that said let’s get straight to comparisons.

November 2013 

  • Full Regions : 2,368
  • Homestead Regions : 2,005
  • Openspace : 29
  • Closed to Public : 598

March 2016

  • Full Regions : 2,266
  • Homestead Regions : 1,921
  • Openspace : 21
  • Closed to Public : 792

Now remember that this is a survey, not a comparison of the overall number of regions, the above comparisons designed to gauge an idea of how the land lies regarding the type of regions in terms of the percentage of the grid they occupy.

November 2013 Accessible Regions (4,402)

  • Full Regions : 53.8%
  • Homestead Regions : 45.5%
  • Openspace : 0.7%

March 2016 Accessible Regions (4,208)

  • Full Regions : 53.9%
  • Homestead Regions : 45.6%
  • Openspace : 0.5%

Tyche comments further on the methodology for this survey :

The Margins of Error are +/-1.30% , +/- 1.29% and +/-0.21% respectively for the three figures figure at the 95% confidence level.

Remember the above is part of a survey, not an overall comparison of the number of regions on the grid. Tyche does comment on the numbers overall in her commentary, but we’ll come to that later.

As we can see from the comparisons, the shape of the grid in terms of the percentage of Full, Homestead and Openspace regions has changed very little in the period between November 2013 and March 2016.

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Apr 042016

Protest Gnomes

Linden Lab appear to be unleashing evil plans to make some of the protest gnomes redundant with a new announcement regarding a way of reducing tier payments. The reduction does come at a cost, but let’s look at the blog post : Want Lower Tier? Now You Can Get Grandfathered Land Rates!

In November, we lowered the set-up fees for land purchases by 40%. Today, we’re introducing a limited-time offer that will make land even cheaper by allowing you to lower your monthly tier payments (aka land maintenance fees).

From today until October 4th, 2016, you can “buy-down” your Full Islands and/or Homesteads to the grandfathered maintenance rates. By paying a one-time fee up front, you’ll be entitled to lower tier rates on your land for as long as you hold it (and remember, we now also allow transferring grandfathered land).

The pricing for this offer is as follows:

  • Full Island:
  • One-time buy-down fee: $600
  • Grandfathered maintenance fee: $195/month (regularly $295/month)
  • Homestead:
  • One-time buy-down fee: $180
  • Grandfathered maintenance fee: $95/month (regularly $125/month)

Note: This offer cannot be combined with our Education and Non-Profit discount program, and cannot be applied to Skill Gaming Regions.

If you plan to hold onto your land for longer than 6 months, this is a great deal for you!

To take advantage of this offer, you’ll need to submit a Support Case using the Land & Region -> Region Buy Down case type. In that case you can provide us with the names of the regions you would like to buy down, and we will assess the appropriate buy-down fee per region.

This is certainly a good deal if you have the upfront money and plan to hold your region for the next six months. The overall cost for the next six months would be the same as if you were still paying your current tier rate, but you’ll pay the one off fee and then see $100 knocked of your tier bill (for a full region). After that six months, you will start making savings.

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Apr 042016

The Terms of Service (TOS) that accompany the Oculus Rift have raised concerns from users and potential users. UploadVR report; Oculus ‘Always On’ Services and Privacy Policy May Be a Cause for Concern. Gizmodo report; There Are Some Super Shady Things in Oculus Rift’s Terms of Service. techdirt report; Oculus Users Freak Out Over VR Headset’s TOS, Though Most Of It Is Boilerplate.

The concerns raised will sound rather familiar in parts for Second Life content creators. This is especially the case for parts of the TOS such as this :

Unless otherwise agreed to, we do not claim any ownership rights in or to your User Content. By submitting User Content through the Services, you grant Oculus a worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual (i.e. lasting forever), non-exclusive, transferable, royalty-free and fully sublicensable (i.e. we can grant this right to others) right to use, copy, display, store, adapt, publicly perform and distribute such User Content in connection with the Services.

Sections of a TOS such as this can sound worse than they actually are. A lot of those rights are required for companies to carry your content and transmit it to other users. The article over at Gizmodo suggest that the result of the above is :

If you create something using Oculus’ services, the Terms of Service say that you surrender all rights to that work and that Oculus can use it whenever it wants, for whatever purposes

I’m not convinced that’s quite true but it’s not hard to see why people come to that conclusion. techdirt point out :

The problem with getting hysterical over the TOS is that this language is essentially boilerplate, and attached to the terms of service for pretty much every service in existence so they can make a sharing technology work without being sued over copyright. While certainly worded poorly there’s no real nefarious intent; it’s CYA lawyer language.

The UploadVR article takes a closer look at the privacy angle and the privacy policy that is incorporated into the TOS.

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Apr 012016

The US government have been inviting comments regarding the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and how it works. The comment period has been extended until 11:59pm Eastern Time today, you can see more here.

The main document describing the reasons for comments is Requests for Public Comments: Digital Millennium Copyright Act Safe Harbor Provisions. Comments are closed there, but as I said the commenting period has been extended, so follow the first link if you want to comment. The main document however is summarised as :

The United States Copyright Office is undertaking a public study to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of the DMCA safe harbor provisions contained in 17 U.S.C. 512. Among other issues, the Office will consider the costs and burdens of the notice-and-takedown process on large- and small-scale copyright owners, online service providers, and the general public. The Office will also review how successfully section 512 addresses online infringement and protects against improper takedown notices. To aid in this effort, and to provide thorough assistance to Congress, the Office is seeking public input on a number of key questions.

This should be of interest to Second Life and other virtual world content creators, although I suspect it’s intended for an American audience, being an American law being discussed on an Amercian Government website. The results of this discussion however, are going to be of interest to content creators worldwide.

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