Oct 312012
 

Earlier this month Buzzfeed ran an article entitled: Tech Confessional The Secrets Of Second Life. The article has a byline of:

A former employee of Linden Labs, the creator of the virtual world, talks about walking in on users having (virtual) sex, being a Second Life celebrity, and why it was such an inspiring job. Also, furries!

Oh here we go, I thought, even down to the Linden Labs faceplam, but no, the article is extremely positive about Second Life and although its fairly brief it manages to capture the essence of excitement about the way Second Life broke through boundaries by allowing users to create the world … oh and walking in on furries having sex!

The former Linden Lab employee was a design lead on the marketing team and talks of how exciting it was to work for Linden Lab during the so called Golden Age, before that waned and he eventually left to form his own company in 2010, but he has no regrets and still feels Second Life is a wonderful concept.

There’s also a comment from former Linden, Jeska, in the comments section, who also still sounds positive about Second Life. The shift in culture at Linden Lab seems to coincide with growth, or aims at growth, you do get the sense that some of the fun left the building as the company matured but that’s really not unusual, more bosses, more procedures, more meetings, more focus.

The thing is, the only Linden who seems to talk to the media is Rodvik and whereas that’s good, he talks to the media in places other than the Second Life blog.

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Oct 302012
 

Daniel RavenNest has started a thread over at SLUniverse with a link to a PDF report regarding virtual currencies, in their report they use two case studies, Bitcoin and Second Life. The PDF report can be read here. The report has misconceptions and inaccuracies in the Second Life section but I must admit that I get the heebie jeebies at anything EU related with Second Life, when Linden Lab introduced VAT to comply with an EU directive on electronic services I contacted MEP’s, MP’s, The UK government, The UK tax office and had communications with EU officials. They completely ignored the fact that the legislation they had introduced actually created the issue that the legislation had been introduced to prevent inside Second Life, namely Europeans being put at a competitive disadvantage due to tax laws. That such a basic concept went over their heads, gives me little faith in their investigations into virtual currencies.

However there are some valid concerns and although people may find claims of money laundering far fetched, it is feasible and it’s not just Europe that has concerns over this, The FBI have apparenly had similar concerns too.

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Oct 292012
 

I was listening to Digital Human on Radio 4 on the way home from work this afternoon and this week’s edition was about how storytelling is changing, rather interestingly one of the people interviewed claimed that storytelling is taking a step backwards to older times with people telling stories they’ve heard from others in different mediums, similar to how stories would move from place to place as people travelled but now travel can be a digital step, rather than a physical one.

A lot of the episode was about something I’ve never heard of called Slender Man, which has apparently got a large following. However another part of the episode involved Alison Norrington, who has in the past used Second Life as part of a transmedia storytelling project, that was back in 2007 so it isn’t new. Transmedia is using different formats to tell your story, each one delivering a unique piece of the project, so for example, in Alison’s case she used blogs, emails, Second Life, YouTube etc. to tell the story, rather than having the whole story on each format … I think I’ve got that right!

I don’t think Alison is in Second Life anymore, maybe The Blarney Stone was too much drunken debauchery for her, but the project and use of Second Life was an interesing concept.

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Oct 282012
 

LSL HTTP Server is a lovely concept, unfortunately it has drawbacks. This works great when you want information from external servers, but it’s a pain when you want information from inworld objects. I’ve been working on making a notecard giver that you update centrally and it updates your remote boards, HTTP is a great way of doing this, the only problem is, URL’s are temporary.

What we really need is for these addresses to take advantage of DNS for simple tasks, so instead of the address being an IP address, it is something along the lines of http://www.secondlife.com/region_name/objectAddress. This is why DNS is such a great concept.

Currently I have to use a system of updating my remote boards using llEmail to inform them of the new URL. This means that I need to store the extenal objects email addresses and use llEmail to update them, this is not only cumbersome, it’s a waste of resouces as I have to communicate with a system that Linden Lab themselves recognises as having serious bottleneck issues.

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Oct 272012
 

Over in the merchants forum Steve Atlanta has created a thread claiming that CBS are clamping down on copyright violations within Second Life, the thread can be read here. CBS have every right to do this, being as they own the intellectual property rights along with their partners.

If you’re selling Star Trek material without permission from CBS then you’re treading on very thin ice. Where matters are always a little more complicated, is when you’re producing items for roleplay. Insignias are probably out of bounds and you should have a disclaimer that you’re not official somewhere in your covenant or parcel, but general roleplay is usually good for the franchise and is usually encouraged.

We’ve been here before, Battlestar Galactica roleplayers in Second Life felt the wrath of IP infringement and were then given the green light to carry on as long as they played by the rules. I seem to recall a similar issue with Dune roleplay.

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Oct 262012
 

So I was staring at my bookshelf and wanted to pick up something to read, House Of Cards by Michael Dobbs stared back at me and having just watched the series again on Virgin Media on Demand I reached for it but got sideswiped by Philip K Dick’s “Do Avatars Dream Of Electric Sheep?” … ahhh yes why not, I thought. This also ties in with a blog post from Hamlet Au over at New World Notes and listening to people on the radio pondering whether any of the real world is real or are we in a simulation, sort of like Second Life but with much better graphics and technology would be the answer if that were true, of course it’s an argument you can’t win and probably best saved for a night down the pub because that’s a debate with no end.

Philip K Dick came from an era where Mars and Alpha Centauri were the Kings of Sci Fi. Mars is no longer fashionable, to such a degree that I’m told that the remake of We Can Remember It For you Wholesale Total Recall doesn’t even include the Mars component. Alpha Centauri might be back in fashion in the Sci Fi world though now that they’ve found a planet the size of earth orbiting it. However, a theme in Sci Fi has been inhabiting worlds elsewhere, another one has been replacing human to human emotions with virtual ones or machinery. Even Woody Allen’s Sleeper and the movie Barbarella touch upon this.

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Oct 252012
 

The in thing in the workplace these days, the big headache generator for IT Support departments is bring your own device, or BYOD as it is affectionately known, or pain in the arse bloody devices (PITABD) as it is unofficially known. I was in a meeting this week discussing how wonderful it is that people want to link their own devices to our work network, how cost savings can be made on our own hardware purchases and how we need to have a list of policies as long as both arms to deal with issues such as data leakages, insecure devices, unprotected devices, authenticators to login, acceptable use policies yadda yadda yadda .. several cups of coffee later I came away with a headache and a feeling that the more control we seem to pass to the user, the more control we need to get back by investing in even more security and polcy documents

Which brings us to Second Life and what some see as it’s insular approach to the wider metaverse. Hypergrid Business is a great site to get the lowdown on other virtual worlds, collaborative projects between owners of different grids, sims. There are examples of great business and education projects using worlds other than Second Life. However I can appreciate why Linden Lab have been reluctant to join the party. The wider metaverse has been discussed at Linden Lab, Robin Linden discussed others joining the Second Life grid back in the day when she was here and running office hours. However controlling access is a problem and the bottom line really is, Second Life is not the right project to join other grids. However that doesn’t mean Linden Lab could never engage.

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Oct 252012
 

Yesterday’s rollback on the Magnum RC channel meant that some potentially decent fixes to large groups were not unveiled. These fixes are designed to deal with issues such as large groups not loading, so you can’t change your preferences etc.

However, Linden Lab seem determined to get these fixes out into the wild one way or another, so they’ve designed a workaround. The workaround includes the sometimes used Snack release channel. This code has been unleashed on some sandboxes, to test the large group fixes you will need to use a development viewer, be a member of the Second Life beta group and visit one of the listed sandboxes. Which listed sandboxes you may be asking, well the full details (including how to join the Second Life beta group and how to get a development viewer) can be found in the forum thread started by Oskar (where you can leave constructive feedback), the thread is here.

However be warned, the reason Magnum was rolled back yesterday was largely due to a bug with llSensor() in the code, that bug exists on these regions.

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Oct 242012
 

In the help and about section of the Second Life viewer you will find the credits, lots of names:

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Second Life Credits

Now how you get on this list I have no idea, I once read it was from logging into the beta grid. The Lindens, well that’s obvious and the translators, who do brilliant work, that’s obvious too. However the middle section, the Opensource contributions, I don’t know how you get in there. So, for a bit of fun and frolics, I’ve sorted these lists alphabetically.

There are names of long left, but not forgotten Lindens, well except for the ones we’ve never heard of, which will be a few I’d imagine, but they all made contributions. Then there are amongst the opensource list, long left avatars too, although some super awesome avatars are in there, I’m still confused as to how they get there.

Let’s also not forget that Second Life is brought to us by basically everyone who enters the world and that many people make valuable contributions whom aren’t listed in the credits, I’m just doing this for a bit of fun. I compiled the list using copy and paste and then transposing the results, so apologies if my mousework missed some in the cut.

The lists are under the cut…. of course if you’ve came straight here from a link, there is no cut!

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Oct 242012
 

The usefulness of Linden Lab running release channels has been exemplified well this week The Magnum channel being rolled back due to problems with llSensor(), this seemed to impact breedables. Now as only magnum sims were impacted, plenty of people have been happily going around with llSensor() working perfectly fine, whereas if this code were all over the grid, we’d be seeing far bigger problems.

The issue was first highlighted by Lucia Nightfire in the technology forum thread on this week’s server deploys, Oskar and the team investigated and decided the issues were serious enough to warrant rolling back the new code and aligning magnum with the current Blue Steel code.

The release channel system is of course not everyone’s cup of tea and it does lead to issues, for example the current release channel of LeTigre has a newer version of the Havok physics engine, this has caused an issue whereby mesh objects, such as vehicles, get stuck when trying to move from a LeTigre sim to a sim on a different channel that is running an earlier version of the Havok physics engine. The mesh objects won’t cross over.

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