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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Mar 312016
 

Pakistani comedian Sami Shah has been featured more than once by Hamlet Au over at New World Notes. Almost a year ago Hamlet posted : Comedian Who Got His Start Performing Live in Second Life from Pakistan Gets His Own Show on the BBC.

More recently Sami has been talking to John Bailey of The Sydney Morning Herald : Sami Shah’s second life as a comedian. The reason Sami is talking to the Australian press is because he has been performing in Australia and will be performing, I MIGRANT & Other Stories by Sami Shah at The Cooper’s Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne April 5th – 17th as part of a comedy festival.

The reason “Second Life” is in the title of The Sydney Morning Herald article is of course because Sami used to perform in Second Life at a comedy club :

It was just people coming on and reading joke books, so I started performing there two or three times per week. The audience was all from America and England, so I’d wake up just to be there when they logged in, and in Pakistan that was six in the morning. I ended up earning a few hundred dollars doing comedy in Second Life in Pakistan for at least a year or two.

What this really exemplifies is how Virtual Worlds such as Second Life can give an artist worldwide reach. There’s no two hour drive to the venue involved and if you bomb in a virtual world, well, you have another advantage, you can reinvent yourself.

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Mar 302016
 

Image Should Be Here

One of the cool things about The Fantasy Faire team is that they provide all these banners for you to publish (but please keep the aspect ratio), which is nice. Anyway, more importantly, Fantasy Faire 2016 have published posts asking for applications from artists, writers, DJ’s and bloggers for this year’s event, but the clock is ticking on applications.

During Fantasy Faire they have, Fantasy Faire Radio and recently they asked for Songweavers to apply for this year’s event :

Do you want to join the Sound of the Fairelands, be one of the voices weaving songs together to conjure audible magic? This is your chance!

In the link you will find an application form with further details, important details they are too, so if you are interested in being a DJ, read the application form in full.

Wildehaven Marsh

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Mar 102016
 

Following The Signs

Episode 36 of the Linden Lab sponsored Drax Files World Makers series takes us to the creative landscapes of Sominel Edelman and his creations under his brand of Landscapes Unlimited. This episode is slightly shorter than most episodes, coming it at just under three and a half minutes, but it still manages to pack a lot in. I will embed the episode at the end of this post.

Looking at Landscape

Sominel Edelman creates landscapes for Second Life, bringing life to regions and areas of Second Life but there does seem to be a basis from his professional work with regards to Sominel’s creative art, he’s a physical geographer. This gets raised as Draxtor Despres points out that he has created Yosemite National Park landscapes and yet never visited the place in the physical world.

What is interesting about this episode is that although there is talk about virtual world representations of physical world landscapes, we also get informed about how the immersion within virtual world landscapes brings people together, with or without a head mounted display. Sominel points out that “You don’t need a fancy gadget to connect to each other“.

This is something oft missed by those who don’t inhabit virtual worlds, the power of community and connection.

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Mar 092016
 

Balloons!

Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education 2016 is kicking off right about now. The conference starts with a grand opening event that includes live music. This is before we get to the education aspect of the event.

VWBPE Directions

From 1pm SLT today we get into education, with A Virtual Course Using Communities to Study Cultural Diversity. That is the first of many sessions being held at this year’s event, you can see the full calendar of events here.

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Mar 082016
 

Linden Lab yesterday announced : Faster Credit Processing & Upcoming Changes to Fees. The devil really is in the detail with this one, first the good news :

We’re happy to announce that we will significantly improve how quickly we’re able to process a majority of credit requests.
Based on current data, we estimate that the upgrades we’ve made will allow approximately 75% of process credit requests to be completed within 2 business days.

For a minority of requests, the process may still take 5 business days. Because we’re dealing with sending real money to users around the world, we may require additional information and perform other processes that could impact the time needed. A good rule of thumb is that the better we know you as a customer, the more likely it is we’ll be able to quickly process your credit requests.

Many will say that this still isn’t quick enough and other online services do offer faster cash outs. I used to be able to get money out of Diablo III faster than this. However, Linden Lab have procedures and are compliant with laws and regulations, those pesky things can slow matters down. I’m sure plenty of people will be happy about being able to cash out in two working days instead of five.

On the other hand, there’s some bad news :

In addition to taking time, processing credit and paying real money to users’ PayPal and Skrill accounts incurs costs to Linden Lab. Each transaction actually costs us more than the $1 (USD) fee we have been charging. To address that and in light of the significant investments we’ve made to improve the related systems and processes, we will be making some adjustments to the fee structure, beginning next month.

As of April 5, 2016, instead of charging a flat fee of $1 (USD) per transaction, we will charge a fee of 1.5% of the transaction value, with a minimum fee of $3 (USD) and a maximum of $15 (USD). Additionally, the fee for purchasing L$ on the LindeX will increase 10¢, from $0.30 (USD) to $0.40 (USD) per transaction.

People do not like paying increased fees and here we are talking about fees for buying and cashing out Linden Dollars being on the rise. The increased fee for buying Linden Dollars probably won’t raise much of an eyebrow, the rise in fees for cashing out will most certainly raise eyebrows as well as raising ire.

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