Apr 162014

The new transaction history page is back, but as an alternative page for the time being. Linden Lab have blogged about this, it’s a brief blog so I’ll copy it:

Last week, we made a new page available as a replacement for the old Transaction History page. Due to your feedback, we rolled back the changes to this page to allow us to gather more feedback, and we are now providing this new page for review, without removing the old Transaction History page.

We have not yet made any changes to the new page, because we would like time to collect your feedback and review it. We have created a wiki page giving background on why changes were made to this page, where the new page is, and how to provide feedback. We will be closing feedback on April 30, 2014, so please take a look before then.

The link in the blog post at this stage for the new transaction history page actually links to the wiki, which then has a link to the new transaction history page. I don’t know if that’s on purpose or not, I suspect not.

The new transaction history page was initially panned by some users, to such an extent that Ebbe Altberg stepped into the thread and LL then rolled the changes back. Now it is back and rather strangely it’s back in its original form, without any changes. This seems rather odd as a starting point.

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Apr 142014

Daniel Voyager and Inara Pey have both posted excellent coverage of Virtual Worlds Best Practice In Education (VWBPE). There’s plenty to read and plenty to listen to but I want to focus on something that is closer to home for many Second Life users, the controversial Second Life terms of service changes. Inara quotes Ebbe Altberg as saying the following regarding the terms of service :

I am working with my Legal Counsel to try to try to figure out how we can make it more obvious – or very obvious – that the creators of the content own the content, and we obviously have no intent of ever stealing your content or profiting off of your content independently of the creators in some fashion.

The current terms might indicate that we might somehow have some plan to steal people’s content and somehow profit from it for ourselves, without benefitting the creator, and that’s obviously not our intent at all. It would be very damaging to our business if we started to behave in that way because this whole platform is all about the content you all create. And if you can’t do that, and trust that it is yours, that’s obviously a problem. So I’m working on that, and I can ask you right now to trust us that we’re not going to do what the current clause might suggest we’re going to do, but we’re working on some simple tweaks to the language to make that more explicit.

We also have no interest in locking you in; any content that you create, we feel you should be able to export, and take and save and possibly if you want to move to another environment or OpenSim, that should be possible. So we’re not trying to lock you in either. Obviously, it’s very important to us to get content both in and out, so I just want to put that right out there.

Whereas that mostly sounds reassuring and is completely plausible, the ownership aspect hasn’t ever really been at the heart of the TOS debate, the ownership angle hasn’t really changed but as the new terms allow Linden Lab to do anything they like with the content that somewhat undermines the ownership clause. The prior TOS granted rights to Linden Lab in order for them to provide the service, that’s a perfectly reasonable clause, the changed TOS goes way beyond that and that’s where hackles get raised. Linden Lab’s intent is not the problem, the wording however remains a problem :

Except as otherwise described in any Additional Terms (such as a contest’s official rules) which will govern the submission of your User Content, you hereby grant to Linden Lab, and you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service. The license granted in this Section 2.3 is referred to as the “Service Content License.” 

That simply goes way too far and undermines the concept of ownership that the content creator retains. In all reality Ebbe Altberg should have a meeting with Richard A Goldberg who in his interview during The Drax Files Radio hour episode 13, explained in a calm, constructive, non-confrontational and informative manner why the new terms of service are problematic.

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Apr 112014
Image For Fantasy Faire 2014

Fantasy Faire 2014

I’m currently listening to The Drax Files Radio Hour Episode 14, which is all about Philip Rosedale and High Fidelity. The thing is, as funky as High Fidelity may turn out, as technologically brilliant as it may turn out, it won’t be magical until it has Fantasy Faire! Now who does have a Fantasy Faire? Second Life of course! Drax knows all about Fantasy Faire!

Draxtor Despres

Now in this post I’m going to talk about blogging Fantasy Faire because Sonya Marmurek announced on April 1st in a serious post : BLOGGER APPLICATIONS ARE OPEN! First of all, let’s take a closer look at Sonya Marmurek because if you’re going to blog Fantasy Faire, you’ll need to know Sonya :

Sonya Marmurek

Ok now you’ve seen Sonya! This year they have changed the blogging details. Traditionally you would apply to be a blogger and if you were accepted you would likely be assigned to some stores, last year they started to change this  and this year they have changed it further, this year bloggers will get blogger challenges as an option. The beauty of these challenges is that they are open to official and non-official bloggers.

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Apr 112014
Image For Fantasy Faire 2014

Fantasy Faire 2014

Ok first of all a disclaimer, I’m not an organiser of Fantasy Faire 2014, so my information may be out of date! However as it stands, there are no opportunities left for sim sponsors, but there may well be opportunities for event sponsors.

The sim sponsors are :

Cerridwen’s Cauldron, Creators of Fantasy, Dwarfins, Fallen Gods Inc., Fuubutsu-Dou, The Looking Glass, NeoVictoria, Roawenwood and Solarium. The event sponsors are Curious Kitties, Dark Goddess Designs, Epic, .Luminary., L’Uomo and Spyralle.

View From Bridge

So what about creator spots? Well, back on March 15th Sonya Marmurek blogged : CREATOR APPLICATIONS NOW OPEN! In that post Sonya links to the actual creator/Event Sponsor application form, which is a most important document to read as it details the costs and rules for participation.

In an additional blog post on March 26th Sonya wrote :

we do still have some limited space for creators of fantasy and steampunk. Yes, steampunk! We have several steampunk sims this year, so don’t think it’s only about magic and fairies here!

At this point I tried to hit Sonya with a curse of agony, steampunk in fantasy land! Pah! … Oh wait, this isn’t new for Fantasy Faire at all … hmm I better cancel that curse of agony.



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Apr 112014
Image For Fantasy Faire 2014

Fantasy Faire 2014

I am miles behind with my coverage of Fantasy Faire 2014, Sonya Murmarek and the team are way ahead of me! For those who are not familiar with Fantasy Faire in Second Life, I advise you to take your time to make yourself familiar with it. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 1 being pretty damn rubbish and 10 being awesome, Fantasy Faire rates as an 11! My favourite Second Life event by a country mile.

So in the next few posts I’ll start catching up with the news so far, hopefully I’m not out of date with the news, from what I can see there are still openings for merchants who want to participate.

The best place to start is with the official press release, which I’ll post below the cut.

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Apr 112014

Earlier this week Linden Lab made changes to the transaction history page on Second Life accounts, this didn’t go down well with many a merchant. Indeed Linden Lab have decided to roll back the changes and revert to the old transaction history page for now : Update on the Transaction History Page

So what exactly was the problem, well the backlash started with a post on the Second Life Forum : THE WORST THING THEY HAVE DONE YET  .. yes the title is all caps!

Now I have to MANUALLY total the days sales — no longer does it show the total.

Now I can’t download XLS files, only CSV ones.

And it takes a long time to load.

The time the page took to load was a minor complaint, the lack of functionality was another charge with users complaining that the reports always downloaded 30 days of data, this prompted people to wonder if the changes were incomplete.

There were also complaints about this over at SLUniverse :

The format has been changed and now tries to load every transaction for the last 30 days. You can only filter it for fewer days after they have all loaded. The transaction number is no longer visible. The only format to download the transactions is CSV; the program I’ve been using for nearly 7 years uses XML. I log in every morning to view my transactions to check my sales and expenses, and it no longer gives you a total. 

The complaints prompted Ebbe Linden to post on the Second Life Forum thread :

In an attempt to improve we made a few mistakes and caused some misunderstandings as well. We rolled back the changes and will work on getting it right. The team is looking at feedback and will communicate a plan for how to get there. 

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Apr 112014

The heartbleed bug has been causing mayhem this week, many a headache has been felt in IT departments the world over. Second Life users were obviously concerned about this and Linden Lab have produced a blog post relevant to Second Life : Account Safety and the Heartbleed OpenSSL Bug.

There’s some really good news from the lab about this:

You do not need to take extra action to secure your Second Life password if you have not used the same password on other websites. Your Second Life password was not visible via Heartbleed server memory exposure. No secondlife.com site that accepts passwords had the vulnerable SSL heartbeat feature enabled.

However it should be noted that Second Life properties were not immune to this issue, as the blog post explains :

Supporting sites such as Second Life profiles are hosted on cloud hosting services. Some of these sites were previously vulnerable to Heartbleed, which may have exposed one of these servers’ certificates. As an extra precaution, we are in the process of replacing our SSL certificates across the board. This change will be fully automatic in standard web browsers.

Initially this may seem confusing, but login to Second Life profiles is done via the main website login, rather than a login directly on those servers, so the initial advice that there’s no need to take extra action stands.

However there are circumstances whereby you may want to change your Second Life password and that is if you use that very same password on a site that may have had login information exposed.

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Apr 102014

CommerceTeam Linden has posted an interesting blog : Help Customers Buy Clothing that Fits their Avatars. The idea is for merchants to help customers to find the right clothing for their avatar by using standards when it comes to labels and descriptions for Second Life clothing and avatars.

This is a noble aim because the rise of Mesh clothing has left many a consumer confused as to whether an item will work with their avatar. Merchants are encouraged to use both icons and text to aid consumers. The blog post advises merchants to use the following terms for the appropriate item :

  • Classic avatar: original default (non-mesh) Second Life avatars.
  • Standard mesh avatar: a classic avatar wearing a rigged mesh attachment, created using the standard fitted mesh model.
  • Custom/branded avatar: an avatar of either type (i.e. that does or does not use mesh) that is a custom size or shape, requiring custom-made clothing to fit it. A brand name for the shape will help users easily identify which clothing fits which custom avatar.

Initially many edge cases will be raised where items don’t seem to fit a single category, which may lead to some confusion but the categories appear to work from where I’m sitting. Over at SLUniverse some points have been raised in a thread there. Tamarsk raises a point regarding the initial confusion :

So, say I have a fitted mesh jacket – is that classic or standard or both? It seems that the market space for the two last categories is very small. Aren’t 95% of the items out there just classic? Somehow I don’t think this solves much of a problem but again, I am confused.

I would say that was Standard mesh avatar myself, as long as it has been designed using the standard fitted mesh model, but I could be wrong. I’m not quite sure where  mesh clothing made prior to the introduction of fitted mesh goes though, it is custom made so probably in the custom/branded category.

However Linden Lab do provide more information in a knowledgebase article, although I feel Linden Lab have missed a trick here in terms of promoting these concepts after reading that knowledgebase article, but I’ll come to that later.

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Apr 092014

The next episode of BBC Radio 4′s Digital Human sees presenter Aleks Krotoski takes a look  a voice, or rather the lack of voice in online communications :

In this weeks Digital Human Aleks Krotoski asks if the Digital world is robbing us of our voice. When we’d rather text or message than speak to someone are we still listening?

While radio may well be thriving look at just about every other digital device and its pictures , video and text communication that dominates. So what is the future for the voice?

This has potential to be interesting, although this show runs for less than half an hour so they may not be able to squeeze enough in but voice is an issue that has been raised in many a virtual world and has been a bone of contention in Second Life since it was introduced.

So why is voice a second class means of communication online? I haven’t done any research into this but I would hazard a guess that some of the reasons are to do with identity, some of the reasons are to do with language barriers and some of the reasons are to do with the online experience being so visually rich, text simply has more mileage in the tank. However as virtual worlds become more immersive, this may change.

In February 2007 Joe Linden blogged : Bringing Voice to Second Life and over 500 comments appeared below the post, many of them disagreeing with the addition of voice. Some of the comments on that blog post explain why voice isn’t as widely accepted as text :

“The voice ‘improvement’ avoids one obvious issue… In what human language are all the voices to use? English? Chinese? Spanish? Portuguese? It’s bad enough bridging the language barriers when we are IMing (where one has time to think, compose, and apply rules of grammar and remember foreign words over a span of time)… But speaking demands faster recall and faster integration of language elements in real time… tough in one’s own language… sometimes almost impossible in another language… Good luck, but I have my doubts….”

“I suppose this was inevitable, but it will further divide those for whom Second Life is a truly second life, very possibly a fantasy life, from those for whom SL is an extension of their first life. I wonder if there will end up having to be a grid (from LL or someone else) where those who don’t just want another first life will be able to go.”

“Anoynimty has always been one of the main points of SL. Until it can be perserved then their should be no voice like Philip Linden originaly said.”

“But you have to understand the emotions and fear of the other people playing here that don’t want to use voice, either if they can’t speak well or don’t want to show their identity. SL is in my opinion a place used for leisure, fun, relaxation and even psychotherapy.

If you introduce this babylonian tower this will be the first step of isolation by nations. While chatting you still can look up the dictionary or take your time to answer. This is not possible while having a live talk. And don’t forget the dialects. not everybody speaks a clear tongue understandable even for foreigners.”

There are other objections there, people in homes with families where they don’t want to engage in voice chat because others are in the home. Females in particular have complained of being harassed about not using voice and then been accused of not really being females.

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Apr 052014

This week’s Drax Files Radio hour covers a variety of topics, Oculus Rift, SL Go and the Linden Lab terms of service being the big ticket items.

There’s an interview with Dennis Harper of OnLive about the SL Go pricing changes. Dennis explains the reason for the changes, feedback from surveys, blogs and comments suggested that people love the idea, love the concept and are impressed with the technology, but the only really big problem people really had was with the pricing model.

However OnLive went further than people expected with their pricing changes, in the interview Dennis Harper says that the price they’ve announced is around half of what people said they would pay to use SL Go for a month.This suggests that plenty of people said that they would pay around 20 bucks a month for SL Go, rather that the just under 10 bucks a month that has been announced. Dennis also comments on Second Life being free to play and therefore some resistance around paying for Second Life usage does exist, but it doesn’t exist to the extent that some may think. Discretionary spending in Second Life is the big money maker and SL Go fits firmly into that category.

Jo Yardley talks of her personal experience of using the Oculus Rift in Second Life. Jo is impressed by it, although she points out that if using dev kit 1 the resolution is bad, but the experience is still wonderfully immersive.

Jo also points out that use of the keyboard whilst trying to use the Oculus Rift is pretty much impossible for her, which is something that will eventually need to be addressed. However on a positive note, Jo didn’t experience any nausea. Hower Jo makes the extremely important point that people really need to use The Rift before forming an opinion and that’s really the crux of the issue at this stage. Jo’s feedback and the feedback of those who use the device will be crucial to its development, although as in most technological cases, there will not be a solution that pleases everyone.

However the really big interview this week comes with Richard A Goldberg who has done work for Madpea Games in Second Life. The interview is about and Richard’s views on the Second Life terms of service change from last August.

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