May 132016
 

Airship Pirate Town

It’s that time of year when I had off to sunnier climes and embrace sun, sea and sand. I shall be AFK for a couple of weeks topping up my tan and hopefully enjoying myself.

The Virtual World of course continues to orbit too of course and you can read about wonderful places such as Airship Pirate Port Town, which is a wonderfully picturesque location.

I’ll be back soon!

May 112016
 

Over at Road To VR there’s a post up by Kent Bye : Open vs Closed Metaverse: Project Sansar & The New Experiential Age. This is a dual media post as it contains text and an accompanying Podcast where Kent speaks to Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg. The interview took place at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference in April this year.

The text isn’t a rehash of the interview with Ebbe Altberg, it explores many deep issues and concerns regarding Virtual Reality, information and whether walled gardens or open systems are the best approach. There’s some fascinating discussion material here. For example when it comes to the trade in the Information Age between users and providers, Kent writes :

One of the primary business models of The Information Age has been that information is freely available, and that it’s supported by ads. There’s an explicit agreement that authenticated users are volunteering to be tracked and surveilled by companies in exchange for all of this free content and social connections that they are enabling.

There’s a lot of discussion here, I am not a fan of the way data is shared and collected by many platforms, but I accept that in exchange for access, I need to give up some information about myself. This is an exchange, it’s not a free lunch.

Kent goes further and talks about how with VR we can embrace the Experiential Age, which has a different trade :

While there’s a level of consent for data that we are explicitly sharing on websites within the context of the Information Age, the Experiential Age is going to be tracking behavioral and biometric data that is a lot more unconscious but yet still revealing. Virtual Reality has the capability to gather an enormous amount of biometric data ranging from our heart rate data, our emotional states, identifiable body language cues extrapolated from head and hand tracking, and eventually our eye-tracked “attention” for what we’re looking at and getting impressed by.

While we have had no real pause with sharing abstracted information with companies, then perhaps we will be more cautious about what type of unconscious medical data from our bodies that we’re willing to share with companies. That means that Facebook, Google, or Linden Lab could start to save vast repositories of personal biometric data that could become a target for governments or hackers.

This is meaty stuff and deserves to be read in full at Kent’s article.

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May 112016
 

Lab Chat 6th May 2016

Inara Pey has posted the transcript and audio from the most recent edition of Lab Chat, held live in Second Life on Friday May 6th. I’m not going to go into all the details, there’s plenty of information in Inara’s post.

Inara’s post is split neatly into sections so that you can listen and read the parts you find most relevant and for a lot of Second Life users, that’s going to mean the parts about Second Life. There’s plenty there and no signs of Linden Lab stopping work on Second Life.

For example they talk about continuing to work on improving inventory robustness. There’s also talk of fixing existing issues and sometimes that means updating technical aspects of Second Life, as Oz Linden explains :

We’re continuing to dig very hard to try to fix existing problems; one of the things that’s going to be coming out over the next few weeks is some changes to the protocols between the viewer and the back-end inventory system. We’ll be removing support, over the next couple of months, for some of the older, more fragile mechanisms, and making sure that everything is beginning to transition to using the newer and more robust methods, so that we can continue to make the whole system more reliable.

These are the sort of non headline grabbing improvements that help everyone to enjoy a better Second Life experience, so on a personal level, I like reading about things like this.

There is also talk of making improvements on the animation and sound file front. In answer to a question about the length of sound files in Second Life, Oz said :

Actually, this is something we’ve recently been talking about. We’re going to have to make some changes to how sound files are delivered to the viewer, which incidentally will make the download faster and more predictably [via the Lab’s CDN services], and once we’ve done that, then we can make them without and adverse impact.

So, yes, we’re definitely looking at this. I can’t pin it down to exactly how big a difference we’ll make, but we’re going to do something.

We’re also going to allow larger animation files to accommodate Bento. We’ve got more bones to animate, so we want to give people a little more room to do that with. But again, that’s part of the same change to how things are delivered to the viewer before we make them any bigger, otherwise we’ll just be adding lag.

So there are two examples of Linden Lab continuing to develop and improve Second Life. There’s a lot more in Inara’s post including discussion of the new Grandfathered tier offer, having more estate managers (generally for large events), group reports of abuse and a hell of a lot more, really, read or listen to this.

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May 062016
 

At LEA Entrance

Lab Chat took place today at the LEA Theatre in Second Life. I’m not going to delve into the details of what was said in this post, I need to listen to the recording again when it’s available, but I do want to talk about how Lab Chat draws crowds and the format works well.

Lab Chat 6th May 2016

Saffia Widdershins and Jo Yardley ask the panel questions that have been submitted via the Second Life forum. This format means that there is not a lot of shouting at the panelists and gives them time to answer the questions.

Saffia Widdershins at Lab Chat

The panel today included Oz Linden, Ebbe Linden and Troy Linden and they all sit in comfortable looking armchairs. One complaint may be that the seats spectators sit in don’t look quite so comfortable!

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May 032016
 

On April 4th Linden Lab made an offer many estate owners couldn’t refuse : Want Lower Tier? Now You Can Get Grandfathered Land Rates! The offer, which remains on the table until at least October gave estate owners to permanently lower their tier rates for an upfront fee :

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)

So how is this going? Well Tyche “Statto” Shepherd has been on the ball and reveals some of the progress in an awesome Private Estate Survey April 2016. The survey revealed that since the March 2016 survey there had been a net loss of 35 regions (down 0.2%). However when it comes to the new buy down rate, Tyche reveals :

20.8% of Full Regions of all types are now at Buy Down tier rates while 3.8% of Homesteads are now Buy Down, homestead uptake of this offer has been low because most homesteads are already grandfathered (85% of them) .

Overall to date I estimate there are 1960 buy down full regions taken up since announcement and another 302 Homesteads , the margin of error on these estimates is +/- 145 and 117 regions respectively.

As Tyche points out, there were already a high number of Homestead regions with a grandfathered rate, to be honest I’m surprised that 302 have been converted to the new rate. When it comes to full regions, 1960 is quite an impressive figure.

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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!

Lucentia

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.

Dangamon

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