AltspaceVR Appear To Be In The Right Place At The Right Time For Microsoft’s Purchase

AltspaceVR yesterday announced they would be joining Microsoft in a deal that looks to suit both parties. This is quite a turnaround in fortune for AltspaceVR, which bid the world a very sad goodbye on July 28th before announcing on August 15th that AltspaceVR is Back!

The new deal with Microsoft looks good for AltspaceVR :

AltspaceVR will stay AltspaceVR. Microsoft is most interested in preserving the current community that uses AltspaceVR to connect and interact with new and old friends. These first few months will focus on fostering our community and making sure AltspaceVR remains a friendly, welcoming and vibrant place to hang out in virtual reality.

Sometimes when a company gets purchased it gets incorporated in another company and we never really hear of it again. This isn’t the case with this deal and that’s good news.

I do not know why Microsoft have purchased AltspaceVR. but it’s fun to speculate and with my speculation hat on it looks to me as if AltspaceVR was in the right place at the right time to take advantages of developments in Software and Hardware that Microsoft are heavily involved with.

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Microsoft Buy Havok From Intel, What Does This Mean For Second Life? Hopefully Nothing!

Microsoft have purchased the physics engine Havok from Intel, report IGN, several other good news outlets (and some bad ones). There’s also a blog post from Microsoft in which they state :

Microsoft’s acquisition of Havok continues our tradition of empowering developers by providing them with the tools to unleash their creativity to the world. We will continue to innovate for the benefit of development partners. Part of this innovation will include building the most complete cloud service, which we’ve just started to show through games like “Crackdown 3.”

Havok shares Microsoft’s vision for empowering people to create worlds and experiences that have never been seen before, and we look forward to sharing more of this vision in the near future.

Now if you’re wondering what this has to do with Second Life, it’s because Havok is the physics engine that Linden Lab use in Second Life to simulate physics, gravity, collisions, etc. So what does this purchase mean for Second Life? I have absolutely no idea, but hopefully it won’t change a thing.

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I Have Upgraded To Windows 10 And I Feel Fine

Hurry Up!

So I fired up my PC when I got home from work and checked my notifications, to find Windows 10 was on its way. This was all rather exciting, I could hear the voices in my head :

Hurry up and get it installed“.

However the voices on Twitter were a different matter :

No no no“.

Insane in the membrane

You must be marbles and conkers“.

However I resisted the urge to stop the update, again my own voices speaking, although at times conflicting :

One Windows to rule them all“.

My precious, my precious“.

Turn back Dick Whittngton“.

Umm I think you’re confusing stories now and need to stop this!

Eventually, files had been downloaded, updates had been run, apps had been configured, settings had been configured and I logged in.

Windows 10 Success

Hurrah! Success. Now I should say at this point that this is not my suggested method of upgrading an operating system. I’m a big fan of the clean install. However I decided to let the Microsoft process do its work and I was rather impressed to discover that the apps I largely use seem to be working fine, without any need to reinstall them.

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The Cost Of Windows Updates For Developers And Users

Oz Linden’s recent blog post on Tips for Reducing Viewer Crashes urged people to upgrade their operating systems :

Upgrade your Operating System

There is a very clear pattern in our statistics – the more up to date your operating system is, the less likely your Viewer is to crash. This applies on both Windows and Macintosh (Linux is a little harder to judge, since “up to date” has a more fluid meaning there, and the sample sizes are small). Some examples:

  • Windows 8.1 reports crashes only half as often as Windows 8.0

Those of you who stuck with Windows 7 (roughly 40% of users of our Viewer right now) rather than upgrade to 8.0 made a good choice at the time; version 7 still has a much better crash rate than 8.0, but not quite as good as 8.1 (now about 15% of users), so waiting is no longer the best approach.

  • Mac OSX 10.9.3 reports crashes a third less than 10.7.5

OSX rates do not have as much variation as Windows versions do, but newer is still better, and there are other non-crash reasons to be on the up to date version, including rendering improvements.

Upgrading will probably also better protect you from security problems, so it’s a good idea even aside from allowing you to spend more time in Second Life.

However there’s a massive elephant in the room here and it’s the cost of upgrading Windows. OSX is a different kettle of fish and the recent Mavericks OS was even free. Microsoft Windows is different and this highlights an issue for developers as well as end users.

Here in the UK, Windows 8 upgrade for Vista and XP users is £99.99. The upgrade to Windows 8.1 after that is free.

Windows 8.1 itself, which is the path Windows 7 users will likely want to tread, is also £99.99.  These are hefty fees in all reality and a lot of people would rather wait until their computer reaches the end of its life before upgrading.

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Flickr Take A First Step On The Road To Redemption

When Flickr launched their new awesome last May I was far from impressed, indeed I pondered at one point whether Yahoo/Flickr were trolling their members. I wasn’t alone in this sort of view, as the official feedback demonstrated.

After this Flickr made more changes, changed groups, changed the layout of the photostream, changed colours, moved things around and generally seemed to be going out of their way to annoy me with their totally unnecessary bandwidth hogging designs and practices.  As someone who is used to the Second Life experience and realises how unnecessary bandwidth hogging textures can undermine the user experience I was somewhat befuddled as to why Flickr were abandoning the thumbnail.

Putting this in Second Life terms, think of the initial rollout of viewer 2 and you may start to understand the horror I experienced. The big difference has been that Linden Lab were far more responsive than Flickr in terms of trying to get back on track.

However a few iterations later and Flickr seem to be showing signs of seeing a limited degree of sense with regards to their new Photo page. The new photo experience, or NPE as it is being dubbed, has been very warmly received. Flickr staff explained some of the thinking behind this latest change :

Because of the feedback from you, we’re moving the photo page in a direction that more closely resembles previous iterations of the product, but with contemporary design and the new framework that delivers photos so much faster than before.

These are the most important issues we have fixed from your feedback:
*Moving too much information to the right rail on the side of the photo.
*The narrow space for comments on photos that have lots of comments makes it hard to scroll and read them.
*The white text on black background makes it hard to read.

Now not everyone will like the changes, just as there were some people who liked the Flickr changes last May … I suspect these people may well be gluttons for punishment or members of the Flickr FIC (Yes it does exist), but some people liked the changes. The new photo page offers a fresher look, has comments below the photo and they are easy to read, the flow of photo, discussion, information all seems to fit together better with this design.

This is all very encouraging but Flickr is still a lot more annoying to use than it was prior to the changes of last May.

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