Sep 032015
 

Marsha, me and a precarious ledge

I’m stood on a ledge at the HQ of SL Goth magazine in Second Life. Next to me on the ledge is Marsha Warwillow, editor in chief of the magazine. Marsha is sporting a dress made by her friend Moeko, for the Lovecraft Festival. The tentacles and the fact that the ledge is rather high up make me somewhat uneasy, but Marsha assures me that she’s not a pusher.

I have talked with Marsha before, all the way back in January. Then Marsha had explained to me the history and concepts of SL Goth Magazine. The magazine is available inworld, via Issuu and they even have their own website. Marsha is a fan of magazines and writing and yet she’s fully aware of the changes in how media is being consumed.

Would you ever read a book in virtual reality? For instance… let’s say, you could open a book of the Hobbit, and then a virtual reading room that looks like a hobbit hole materializes around you?“, Marsha asks me.

This takes me by surprise, but yes, I probably would do that, although I confess to Marsha that I really do prefer books to book reader devices. I love the tactile nature of a book and dusty old book shops make me happy. Marsha informs me, somewhat mischievously, that a book scent spray is on the market to create the real book ambience.

Marsha Warwillow and I chat

Marsha continues with the book and virtual reality theme; “My focus is to.. have you heard Neil Gaiman’s talk, about how he quotes Douglas Adams on ‘Books are like sharks..they will survive because a shark is good at being a shark.’ I’m focusing on how to get magazines and books into virtual reality, outside of SL, in different environments, because I want them to survive, it can’t all be roller coasters and space games.

This bring me to a theme I’m fond of in Virtual Worlds, storytelling by voice. I ask Marsha if she is aware of the work Seanchai do.

Yes, I’ve been there a few times, I’m a fan!“, Marsha replies enthusiastically, “Recently I also went to the Chelsea Hotel, it was an open mic event.

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Sep 032015
 

An Image Should Be Here

So there I was, minding my own business, reading the official Second Life blog page. Something did not feel quite right and initially I didn’t quite grasp what it was. The colour scheme was the same, there were no shocking new blog posts and then I noticed a section that must be fairly new; “Latest Photos Inworld“.

The widget that contains the photos is a clickable and there are a couple of places you can click. Those places are on a picture itself or by clicking “View All“. The only real difference is that by clicking on a picture, that picture becomes the centre of the next screen, whereas when you click “View All“, the first picture in the series will be the centre.

An Image Should Be Here

Hopefully you can see the above image. One picture in the centre and a series of pictures at the bottom. There are a few things you can do from here.

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Sep 022015
 

Image for Bright Canopy

Bright Canopy, the company behind running Second Life (and OpenSim) in a web browser, recently announced that they were ready for launch. An inital price of $17.00 a month was announced, with an advisory that this may change if demand exceeded expectations.

Linden Lab then blogged about the service :

This weekend, an exciting new service is launching: Bright Canopy. With Bright Canopy, you can use either the official Second Life Viewer or the Firestorm Viewer to access Second Life in your web browser, and you can enjoy great performance and graphics, without a high-spec PC.

Customers flocked to the ship on the ocean, sailing with an inventory of love and devotion for the bold new product. Alas, it quickly became apparent to the Bright Canopy that customers weren’t just going to rock the boat, they were going to tip the boat over. This was of course not the desired outcome, forcing the Bright Canopy team to blog; We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat :

We’ve had so much response that we are going to have to make a change and offer a different plan to make sure we are sustainable and can be around long enough to take advantage of much more affordable hosting options from Frame in a few months.

New signups were put on hold and Bright Canopy were transparent about what had happened :

We burned through our contingency in a few hours. We tried modifying some things, but it just wasn’t something that could be fixed with a knob. We talked over our options and looked at the numbers. In order to be able to offer a service of any sort, we knew we would have to make changes.

There will be a limited time offer of a $10 credit for the first month, meaning the first month will be $7. This is our way of thanking you for bearing with us. This offer expires 12AM SLT on Sunday, September 6th. After that, each month will be $17. The plan comes with 20 hours, and additional time is available for $0.013 per minute.

This isn’t what we planned, and making the change is hard, but we believe it is the only way to keep this service available for the people who need it.

One thing was very clear, there was a larger demand for this service than had been anticipated.

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Aug 282015
 

Country Festival

This weekend, 29th – 30th August, Romea have organised a Country and Folk Festival featuring live musicians and DJ’s. The festival will take place of the Manifesto region, which definitely has a country feel to it.

Country Music

The lineup for Saturday is :

Saturday 29th August 2015

  • Live Singer – Jeffah24 – SLT 10 PDT/ 10 AM – Europe: 19:00 / 7:00 PM
  • Live Singer – Jade Berry – SLT 11 PDT/ 11 AM – Europe: 20:00 / 8:00 PM
  • Live Singer – Clyde Barrow  – SLT 12 PDT/ 12 AM – Europe: 21:00 / 9:00 PM
  • Live Singer – Nance Brody – SLT 14 PDT/ 2 PM – Europe: 23:00 / 11:00 PM Live Singer
  • Live Singer – Zoree Jupiter – SLT 14 PDT/ 2 PM – Europe: 23:00 / 11:00 PM
  • Live Singer – TUKSO OKEY  – SLT 15 PDT/ 3 PM – Europe: 24:00 / 12:00 PM

There’s more on Sunday.

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Aug 282015
 

The Band

Strings by Cica Ghost is a delighful art installation in Second Life. The premise is straight forward :

In the courtyard of an ancient villa, set amidst a surreal landscape, a band of musicians performs for onlookers and visitors.

The delivery is impressive to say the least.

Balcony Viewers

What makes this impressive though is that beyond the initial premise you can explore the homes in the area and get a glimpse into the lives of the people watching and observing the entertainment. This leaves much to the imagination, but that’s the beauty of it.

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Aug 272015
 

The Taxman’s taken all my dough and left me in my stately home, lazing on a sunny afternoon.

In a pleasing but rather bizarre announcement, Linden Lab have blogged; Cheaper Monthly Premium & the End of VAT Charges. First of all let’s take a look at those cheaper monthly premium charges :

Now, we’re reducing the standard cost of a monthly Premium subscription to just $9.50 a month. Enjoy all the benefits of Premium Membership for less!

The price of a monthly Second Life premium membership has been reduced by 45 cents a month, down fro $9.95 to $9.50. The quarterly plan remains $22.50 for three months and the yearly plan remains $72.00 a year.

On a month by month comparison the quarterly plan works out at $7.50 a month and the yearly plan works out at just $6.00 a month, so they both offer better value than a regular monthly plan but some people prefer a monthly fee, there’s a good choice for different use cases here. The rates and other Second Life related costs can be found here.

Premium Membership in Second Life offers some perks, including :

  • A personal and private home or free 512m tier if you want to buy a plot of mainland.
  • Expanded support, including Live Chat.
  • Exclusive Experience: Magellan’s Grid Hunt.
  • Exclusive Activites: Dune Buggy Racing in Racer’s Gulch.

For more details on Premium Membership perks in Second Life, go here.

Where the blog post gets bizarre is with the next part of the announcement :

We will also no longer charge VAT for Premium subscriptions. If you live in a region where VAT applies, this means an effective savings in some countries of more than 20% below what you would have previously paid!

I’m not sure what exactly Linden Lab mean by this. Are they really saying the aren’t charging VAT or are they actually absorbing the VAT? Let’s go into speculation mode and look at a couple of scenarios.

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Aug 262015
 

YouTube Gaming Second Life

YouTube Gaming has officially launched and Second Life has its own channel. I hope that link works, the URL is rather convoluted, if the link doesn’t work then just do a search for Second Life from the main YouTube Gaming page.

The about page of the Second Life channel tells us :

Second Life is an online virtual world, developed by Linden Lab, based in San Francisco, and launched on June 23, 2003. By 2013 Second Life had approximately 1 million regular users, according to Linden Lab, which own Second Life. In many ways, Second Life is similar to MMORPGs; however, Linden Lab is emphatic that their creation is not a game: “There is no manufactured conflict, no set objective”.

The virtual world can be accessed freely via Linden Lab’s own client programs, or via alternative Third Party Viewers. Second Life users create virtual representations of themselves, called avatars and are able to interact with other avatars, places or objects. They can explore the world, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, build, create, shop and trade virtual property and services with one another. It is a platform that principally features 3D-based user-generated content. Second Life also has its own virtual currency, the Linden Dollar, which is exchangeable with real world currency.

Now make sure that you take note of “Linden Lab is emphatic that their creation is not a game“, part of this before complaining that Second Life is not a game so what is it doing in the gaming section of YouTube. The fact of the matter is that virtual worlds end up in the games section because there’s no other category that is more suitable.

I should actually rewind a bit here, because some of you may be wondering what on earth YouTube Gaming is.

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Aug 252015
 

Festival Of Sin II

Festival Of Sin II in Second Life opened on August 22nd and runs until September 5th. This is a shopping extravaganza with a side order of Gacha with themes based around the seven deadly sins of Envy, Gluttony, Greed, Lust, Sloth, Vanity and Wrath, well if we’re being technical it should be pride rather than Vanity, but Vanity is a better fit for a shopping event!

Greed and Lust

The sponsors for the themes are brands such as Decoy, Essenz, Noodles, Katat0nik, Junbug, Haste and Exposeur.

Wrath

There are well over sixty merchants selling their wares here and on top of that there are over twenty who are also taking part in Gacha.

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Aug 242015
 

A couple of Avatars have ran foul of Facebook’s real name policy, which at first glance might not sound unusual, but in a bizarre twist on the naming policy, the couple concerned actually have a last name of Avatar.

Madison Malone Kircher published an article on Tech Insider; This guy claims Facebook has banned him from using the site until he proves his unique last name :

A couple in Arizona claims that Facebook has banned them from using the site until they verify their unique last name: Avatar.

Earlier this week, Balizar Orion Avatar claims he tried to log into Facebook and discovered that his account had been deleted, KTVK reported.

Avatar is recently married. His wife, Audry, says she has not been able to change her last name on Facebook, though her account remains active.

The reasons why Avatar is ringing alarm bells are almost certainly due to the film of the same name, but according to Tech Insider, there may be another source of concern for the name being flagged :

The Cameron movie isn’t the only reason Facebook tends to flag “Avatar” as a fake name. Digital communities like “Second Life” refer to people’s characters as avatars. For this reason, it’s one of several names that the site flags as potentially fake, a Facebook representative told KTVK.

I should say at this point that I can’t see any quotes in either of the linked articles that actually seem to quote a Facebook representative suggesting Avatar is flagged due to Second Life. Indeed if Second Life names were being flagged then “Resident” would be a more likely cause for concern.

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Aug 222015
 

Giant Octopus

The good news for those of you who haven’t yet visited the H.P. Lovecraft inspired LoveFest 2015 in Second Life is that it runs until August 23rd. The bad news is that if you’re planning to travel by sea you will have to ensure your captain steers a tidy path away from a Giant Octopus!

Welcome To Hell

Things wind down tomorrow in terms of events, but today’s calendar includes :

  • The Elysium Cabaret Dancers delight with a repeat performance of their burlesque spectacle!
  • Cordie and Beth’s creep show where they will delight with their combination act of dance and standup comedy! This is a Voice event!
  • The Carella Ross Hour, singer  Carella Ross (http://carellaross.com/) has prepared a selection of her music, Hosted by F尺モれ乙ㄚ.
  • Cabaret Sybarite Finale, Music After Dark with DJ Fitch Lekvoda, the DJ entertains with her choices of music dark and gothic in this, the final act at the Cabaret Sybarite!

So plenty of entertainment choices, otherwise you can explore, shop or talk to people!

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