Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Emerald Blocked at 10am PT Wednesday, September 8

Philip Strikes down the Emerald Troll.
The final steps by Linden Lab to remove Emerald from the Second Life Grid have been announced, starting with a block of all Emerald viewers at 10am PT Tomorrow, September 8. It comes with a warning that circumventing the block could result in losing your account.

The warning is interesting because the last version of Emerald came with a feature that would make circumventing the block easier. It was made easy to change the message  that viewers use annouce to LL what viewer they are. A resident using Emerald could just change that message to what the LL viewers have. LL might have other ways to detect what client you are using though.

Not all hope is lost if you are a Emerald fan, the Third Party Viewer list has been updated, and we see that both the Emergence Viewer and the Phoenix Viewer have been fast tracked on to the list. Both these viewers are based on the Emerald source code, with supposedly all the bits removed that LL objected about. I can't tell how trustworthy the developers of these two viewers are, as many of them come from Emerald. Supposedly these developers where not part of the devious acts that happened around Emerald, but they did stand idly by and did little when they happened. Time will have to tell if they stay on the right path this time.

Today's announcement incited Arabella Steadham, Communications Manager of the Emerald viewer, to lash back at LL and other Viewer developers in a post on the Emerald blog. She is furious at what she describes as LL's dictatorial attitude and that LL turns a blind eye to other and new third party viewers that she claims are also being developed by people with questionable history. Which is interesting because many of those developers come from Emerald, and thus she admits that there where many questionable developers on the Emerald Team.

All of this makes me recommend everyone to try out the latest LL 2.1 viewers and give it a real go to get used to it.

Let me end with quoting the Block announcement by Joe Linden on the SL Blog:
As of 10am PT Wednesday, September 8, the Emerald Viewer will be blocked from logging in to Second Life as a result of violations of our Policy on Third Party Viewers. Residents who have been using any version of the Emerald Viewer will need to use a different Viewer to access Second Life. You can download the official Second Life Viewer, developed by Linden Lab, here. Or you can learn more about alternative Viewers, developed by third parties, here. There are several new Viewers listed in the TPV Directory, so there are many alternatives available to you.

We take Residents’ privacy, safety, and security very seriously and will take action to enforce the policies that help protect it. As our CEO, Philip Rosedale, has blogged about, we recently removed the Emerald Viewer from our Third-Party Viewer Directory due to violations of our Policy on Third-Party Viewers.

Since then, we have been in communication with the Emerald development team and have requested several changes in order to remedy violations of our policy, including changes necessary to meet our privacy requirements, and to address GPL license violations. Unfortunately, the team was unable to comply within a stipulated time frame. As a result, we have decided to block logins from the Emerald Viewer in order to protect our Residents. All versions of the Emerald Viewer will be blocked from logging in to Second Life as of tomorrow at 10am. Please be aware that attempting to circumvent our blocking to access Second Life with a banned Viewer is a violation of the Policy on Third-Party Viewers and may result in the loss of one's account.
SL Blog: Emerald Viewer to be blocked for Second Life
Third Party Viewer Directory
Arabella's response on the  block
Dwell on It post about the block

Friday, September 03, 2010

Philip comes flying down on his caticorn, slaying the Emerald Troll

Philip comes flying down on his caticorn, slaying the Emerald Troll
Philip comes flying down on his caticorn, slaying the Emerald Troll

This is a artistic interpretation of last weeks events regarding Emerald, by Free Xue, who added Philip Linden into the original artwork. If there ever is a movie about Emeraldgate, it should be retold like this.

Via a Epic Emerald thread  on SLUniverse where Free Xue posted this.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Emerald viewer's login page used as a Denial of Service Attack [Update: Emerald Devs Apologize]

Graphic representation of ddos attack by a giant hand coming down a building marked .com
I have been getting reports that the Emerald Viewer had been using their login page to perform a Denial of Service Attack on iheartanime.com . Why they did this is unclear to us now, but it looks like some geek drama at its core that has been going on for some while.

If you look at the source of the google chache of their login page from august 9th you can see that they use a 1px iframe to pull about 20 dynamic page and a dozen images from the site, just to put high load on the targets server.

What is important to note is that they used every Emerald user to participated in this attack. All a Emerald user had to do was just login in the Emerald viewer to be a unsuspecting vector of attack towards iheartanime.com . A attack like this results in the target page to become unresponsive, and have massive amounts of bandwidth and cpu cycles wasted. And it should be noted that a Denial of Service attack is a violation of the law in many countries.

From wikipedia: Denial-of-service attacks are considered violations of the IAB's Internet proper use policy, and also violate the acceptable use policies of virtually all Internet service providers. They also commonly constitute violations of the laws of individual nations.

This should bring up serious doubts to use this viewer if you do, and if you should trust them with your password and to 'do no evil'. I rather forgo the nifty features in Emerald than support behaviour like this.

Update: The Emerald Devs apologize, but it shows a culture of ego boosting that skews the sense of right and wrong.
Two weeks ago, amid an atmosphere of pride and boasting about Emerald traffic, a silly idea was hatched.

This idea was to target a blog owned by a creator of a malicious viewer, and boast of the traffic Emerald has captured. The method for doing this was to add links to the Emerald log in page linked to said blog. Each time anyone logged in, our page loaded up and also the other page loaded up – simply to show off our volume of traffic.

This was not a DDoS. This was a poor attempt at boasting that failed miserably. Once we discovered this, these links were deleted and the dev concerned was disciplined.

The entire Emerald Team offers it’s sincere apologies for concern, panic, worry, mistrust and disappointment felt by our users because of this. I can most strongly assure you that this will not happen again.


The Emerald Dev Team
This apology doesn't make much sense, they wanted to "boast of the traffice Emerald had captured" by sticking 30 links to iheartanime.com? In no way does this show off their traffic, it sends a thirty fold of their traffic to a random site. If they want to boast their traffic why not make their Stats public.

Even if the site owner it self is making a malicious viewer, it is in incredibly poor taste to use your entire userbase to perform a DDoS attack on it. One crime does not cancel out the other.

Picture of source view of page  
Google cache of Emerald Login page(click only if you want to confirm for yourself)
Denial of service attack
SLU post by iheartanime.com site owner
Apology by Emerald Devs

Friday, July 30, 2010

Rough Notes on Philip and BK's Inworld Meeting and Q&A

These are my Rough Notes on Philip and BK's Inworld Meeting and Q&A. I missed some stuff and might have summarized oddly. I will add a full transcript and video when they become available. A common thread in the talk was making things Fast, Easy and Fun.

Bob 6 months at LL, first change to meet the community

Philip, why back, and feel.
Why is SL not gone,
VW are going to profoundly change the world

Nothing that philip has seen has changed his belief in vws.

Philip think he can help with growing Sl and vws.

Philip profoundly believe in this thing.

Improving the basic user experience, is about tearing down the walls. It is more apt now then 30 days ago. It is so important that we pull back and fix the basic experience.

Internal plan
250 at LL
What is a single slide, set of statements, and organize our work around it.

To make a statement that is so clear that we can all remember it.

3 words at the top for our strategy
Fast easy fun, these words capture what SL can and should be.

In so many areas we are not living up to Fast easy and fun.

Beneath those 3 words we have 3 big bullets,
Back to basics
Winning back the lead
Very important to grow the virtual content economy

Back to basics:
what it means in the next 2/3 quarters, is a intense focus on crashes and lag.

regarding crashing hardest is the viewer, there is also the server.

We are going to work, to have the 2.1 code base to have fewer crashes then 1.23

We are going to work to drop it well below 1.23

Set a target goal, if the crash rate rises above the goal we are going to work in right away again. we are monitoring this week by week.

We are going to turn on http texture next week, make loading texture a lot faster.

Focusing on restructuring chat and group chat, to have it not/less depended on the sims. So they won't impact the chat.

regaining the lead
Greatly increase the interaction of new releases. Very short release cycles. Iterating, doing it in small steps, week by week. We are going to change all our systems to allows us to iterate in that way.

And completely opening the code, so the code will always be visible by you while we are developing out product.

The second big area of our focus is the viewer 2.
We clearly have a big challenge there. There are lot of people who are frustrated with and we do apologize.

The things with v2 is that it does have technology features that we don't want to loose. And we are going to work hard on making the viewer better for both builder and explorers.

Help us rapidly develop the viewer, to develop everything we need.

We are going to bring in the open source community in a short loop to help us develop the viewer and regain the tech lead.

The virtual economy, It does not mean SL is only about making Money. Fundamentally SL is a system where we create and experience content. That means the success the content creators is the key driver.

How we measure that is hard.

If we add a new capability like Mesh, the question about that, is that useful to everybody. Not every body will use t

Optimizing the process, find try buy. Is a place where we can and need to make positive change.

Search, we greatly increased the size

One problem is having to go to a sandbox and rez a box to try on a pair of shoes. We are directly going to address that issue.

SL has more amazing content, then a new user can get to.

We are going to switch the new user process. A link in the destination guide should be a first step for a new user.

We are going to change registration and welcome islands in the coming weeks.

Second Life Enterprise:
We don't know exactly who is using SL, it is used by business, education, etc.

Crashes, lag impacts business education too, improvements there will also improve the experience of those uses on the main grid. We are stopping work on the behind the firewall solution.


Economy, is the entire economy.

We do need to create a really great 2D shopping experience. The existence of the web metaphore will have some impact for sure. But like Offline and online shopping can compliment each other. so can here.

Search, gotten a bunch of smart people with domain expertise we are focussing on it day by day, week by week.

Region crossing, and scripted objects. We have a entire scrum team working on this.

Mesh, we are very exited about mesh impact on the economy. We are careful to implement Mesh so it has a huge impact, but so that its impact on lag is either zero or less.

Im profoundly committed to get some kind of make over of my avatar. I am aware that it negatively impacts all the work that you do if my avatar appears like it is in the media. It is my alter ego, so I will be careful about it.

The other aspect that we need to do.
There are a lot things going on in the day to day, what we focus on, what we deploy.

SL is fundamentally a immersive experience, our focus is going to shift is to completely improve that experience.

So we are going to look into how we can

User growth is critical, because that is part of the feedback loop in finding out if we are doing good work.

We are fundamentally change how communicate about changes. More messages will come in the coming weeks and months.
Bob and I won't talk about any more specific technology because we can't micro manage all the things in development.

Doesn't Fast, easy and Fun miss the sense of meaningfulness, which set SL apart from other products.

We don't want to change the depth of system, we want to make the capabilities fast easy and fun. Add simplicity, speed and elegance.

Are there any plans to make sl a multi platform experience? Like a browser.
Let's start with a browser, fundamentally full 3D in the browser is coming, but not for a few year.
We have a few people looking at it.

We are going to focus on the browser for the next 2 or 3 quarters.

Fast easy and fun, is that directed at any community?
We are not focussing on community. But take teachers as a example, it is very hard for teachers to come in take content from a friend and do a class. These are the basic features, fast easy fun will help them.

Everyone together on the maingrid, business education, if we need to create a feature set to accomplish that we are going to do that.

How does the organization handle complexity

On the open source side, we are going to change the open source direction to focus on specific work on the production viewer. We will increase the impact of the open source viewer.

When we talk about making v2 work for new and existing users. That might means different UIs for the 2. When you are in build mode you are in a completely different mindset then when you are newby learning to put clothes on and explore a amazing castle.

Can Philip confirm if he is back for the long term? My activities are completely focuses on the user experiences, we have not began on selecting a new ceo. I'm here full time and tremendously enjoying the work I'm doing.

Closing comments,
We are going to look at every way we can effectively communicate to help us do our work better. We are going to try different things. You can email us about that. This format is great but is not effective for all uses.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

RFL 2010 Closing Ceremony

RFL of SL 2010 has officially come to a end. So far the tally says that almost $215,000 US Dollars has been raised by Second Life Residents this year. A lot of people and teams are involved in making it a success every year. The closing Ceremony thanked these volunteers and listed the success of this Relay. I have recorded the audio of the closing ceremony for you all to listen too.

In the closing ceremony Relay teams get awards for their builds, participation, etc. Congrats to all the winners and all participants for successful Relay.

Winners and awards as listed on the RFL of SL blog:
Team Awards and Build Awards for RELAY FOR LIFE Second Life 2010
Thank YOU to ALL for a Job Well Done !!!


DESCRIPTION: Awarded to the most unique and creative way of fund raising at a Relay campsite. This requires more than a simple vendor board. Must include some RFL / ACS Mission information at campsite

DATE JUDGED: July 15 & 16

JUDGES: Pituca Fairchang, Phelan Corrimal, BigMike Bukowski

1st: BOSL Relay Team
2nd: Tie NY Healthscape & DVI, Relay Raiders, Team Caledon
3rd: None


DESCRIPTION: Awarded for all-round design interpretation of the Wishing On A Cure…Relay for Life theme and sub themes for each Region.Must have RFL / ACS information

DATE JUDGED: July 15 & 16

JUDGES: Pituca Fairchang, Phelan Corrimal, BigMike Bukowski

1st: BOSL Relay Team
2nd: RELAY for HOPE
3rd: Tie Harmony of Hope, NY Heathscape & DVI


DESCRIPTION: Awarded for the design that captures the essence, the reality and scale of the real or imaginary worlds they represent, and truly give us a world to call our own for a brief and unforgettable moment in time.
For over-all atmosphere, ambiance and detail
For the clever way they took difficult requirements and made them into a center piece
For the tasteful and enlightening way of incorporating cancer awareness into a theme
For the best storytelling of Wishing On A Cure…Relay for Life theme

DATE JUDGED: July 15 & 16

JUDGES: Event Chair, Co-Chairs & ACS Representative, & samantha Ragu from Design

1st: Helena Kiana
2nd: Uni Ninetails
3rd: tie between: Total Lunar Eclipse - Alice
Alix Stoanes - The Daffodil
Tari Lander

New Team Participation (Relay Day) Award

DESCRIPTION: Awarded to the new team that displays organization and participation during the Relay Day event. This award is not about how much money is raised, but how well the team participates in their planned activities as well as the Relay activities. Must include some RFL / ACS Mission information at campsite


JUDGES: Mentors

1-Global Hearts United
2-Teens Fighting For A Cure
3-Radical Hope For Life

Returning Team Participation (Relay Day) Award

DESCRIPTION: Awarded to the Returning team that displays organization and participation during the Relay Day event. This award is not about how much money is raised, but how well the team participates in their planned activities as well as the Relay activities. Must include some RFL / ACS Mission information at campsite


JUDGES: Mentors

1-Purple Tears
2-Relay Rockers
3-Team Caledon

Longest Running Teams

DESCRIPTION: This year is awarded to Teams who have been participating 5 or more years in Relay For Life of Second Life

Circle of LIfe
Passionate Redheads
Relay Raiders
Relay Rockers
Relay Racers
Sail for Life
Spirit Chasers
Team Caledon

RFL Start
RFL of SL Blog

Saturday, July 17, 2010

RFL Started Today!

Wishing On A Cure logoToday(Saturday) at 10am(PDT) the Main Event of Relay For Life of Second Life 2010 kicked off. Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society's signature fund raising activity. Since 2004 there is also a yearly counter part that in Second Life takes place in July of each year. Each year has a different theme, the theme this year is Wishing on a Cure.

Volunteers form or join teams to have fun while fund raising and raising awareness from mid-March through mid-July. In July teams build camp sites and walk a track, just like in a Real World Relay. The teams, set up and decorate camp sites, and sell small items to help raise money just like at a local relay. Since this is a virtual environment however, there are some activities that are special to Second Life, such as, snail races, sail boat races, etc. In 2009, Relay For Life of Second Life raised $274,000 for the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life has become an international movement in RL and in SL. In 2009 participants from over 26 countries took part in Relay For Life of Second Life.

RFLSL 2010 trackEvery year the track is on a continent of sims that are donated by Linden Lab. The track has a different shape each time, this year the continent consist out of 34 sims shaped like a giant O. Which is probably the most effective shape that can be used for this event.

There are 7 additional sims in the middle of the O. 6 of those are event sims where live music and other events are held, to keep people from crowding the track sims. There is also a sim called Relay For Life inside the O, where you can get all the info about the event.

The following is from a note card about what to expect at Relay For Life 2010:


The Relay philosophy is: We are here so that those who face cancer will be supported, that those who have lost their battle will not be forgotten, and so that one day cancer will be eliminated.

On July 17th & 18th we will do just that.   Below is a list of Ceremonies and Activities that will take place at the  July 2010 Relay.    It is a Relay tradition to keep one person from each team on the track at all times. We know that your teams will have a member walking the track  all through the 24-hour period, as is the tradition of Relay any place or any time, but do take some time to participate in the ceremonies and various activities when you are not walking the track.

All ceremonies are broadcast live on the Official Radio Station for Relay - T1Radio and we encourage all camp sites to turn their streams to the station so everyone may hear the ceremonies.


Saturday, July 17th:
10:00am - 11am - Opening Ceremonies
11:00am - 12:00pm  - Survivor Hour
12:00pm - 1:00pm - Caregivers Hour
9:00pm - 10:00pm - Luminary Ceremony
4:00pm - 5:30pm - Inspirational Storytelling Play

Sunday, July 18th:
6:00am - 7:00am - Fight Back Ceremony (The Cape Story)
7:00am - 8:30am - Live Auction done in Voice (entertainment sim)
9:00am - 10:00am -Closing Ceremonies
10:00am - FIREWORKS!

Themed Hours - Various stations and signs placed around the Relay sims will display which theme is scheduled for every hour.  Get in the spirit and have some fun while walking the track!  Have your banana suits and bicycles ready!

These activities will be happening around the clock:

Live Music - 4 sims are dedicated to stage area where all of our favourite Second Life live music artists will perform. A specially designed stage  for the performers and a large open dance floor and dance machines for all to enjoy! Watch posted signs for scheduling!

The Scavenger Hunt - Hidden on each of the 4 corner sims on the Relay track (Dedication, Acceptance, Imagine, & Survive)  are clues with a question related to cancer. Find the clue, answer the question correctly and get a prize.  You may even learn a few things you did not know.    Each question has 4 responses and you get 4 tries to answer it correctly, so keep trying till you get it right.  You will then receive clues about the location of the next hidden question along the way.

Auctions - Silent Auction and Art Auctions. Silent auction will be going on from 10am - 10am, a full 24 hours!- Make your Bids! Incredible art items by some of the best artists in SL are up for bidding at the Silent Action.   Memorable pieces honour survivors, caregivers, victims, and the fight against cancer itself, along with other  pieces.    The Silent  Auction features clothings, one of a kind items,  and so much more!   If you have something you would like to see auctioned, please contact  Mike Burleigh, all proceeds go to this year's Relay for Life! 

Fishing -  You know a diet healthy in fish is good for preventing cancer, so come catch your virtual dinner.  Design has set up a beautiful area for fishing in our Water Sailing and Fishing sim. Visit the vendor on the dock, buy the supplies you need and fish!  You may even amaze yourself with what you catch and the stories are good for a year about the one that got away!   All proceeds go towards the Relay total, and it's FUN too!

Mining Roller Coaster in the Sky - Located on the Wish sim.  Many  cancer patients feel like they are on a roller coaster when they first discover they have been stricken by the disease.  Take a ride on this wild  coaster in the sky and see for yourself what it can be like.

Storytelling Play in the Park (4pm, sim to be determined)- An hour and a half of story telling fun. "The Fire is a haunting 18th century tale of murder, mystery, and mayhem. Follow American brat Frankey and Pete the peasant as they visit 1789 during a famine. Will Frankey redeem himself?"  This play sends a message of strength and willpower, much like a cancer survivor, these traits are not an option, but a necessity.

Surfing - Catch a wave and ride it through! The tide is high and and perfect for a surf board to sail it to the end. Cancer patients can experience some rough waters as they work  their way through weeks, months, and sometimes years of treatments.  This also signifies the waves of emotion that come along with surviving these treatments.

There will be a few other attractions as well, such as  a Riverboat on the sim named Treatment, and Water Slide Tubes on the Unity sim! Be sure and check it all out!


I would love to see your picture and videos!
Go Relay, donate and have fun.
TP to Relay For Life

RFL of SL Blog
SecondLife team page
Historic donation figures for RFL of SL
RLF SL wiki

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

New Last Names

Periodically Linden Lab releases new last names in a effort to differentiate and to give access to popular first names again, as most common first names are usually filled very quickly.

Historically Linden Lab only allowed 150 avatars with the same last name. The idea was that this would give a sense of a tribe relationship, and would increase social behaviour. Which might have worked in the early days when Second Life was small. Eventually they increased that number, likely just out of practicality. I would assume they switch out names now just when they are saturated.

About a week ago 148 147 new last names where put in rotation. These times are always a good opportunity to create new alt accounts. Maybe you just want a new alt with a different first name, or one of those last names will make for a excellent/funny new character. You could be Pang Pang or Large Spot. (if they aren't taken yet) ;)

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Will Cory Ondrejka Return? [updated: Cory says not returning as CTO at LL]

Cory Ondrejka headshotA common sentiment after the return of Philip Rosedale as (interim)CEO at the Lab, is that a lot of people want Cory Ondrejka to return too. If that is in the works remains to be seen. Cory's departure of Linden Lab in December 2007 was not one of his own choice. No, it was Philip himself who decided that they should part their ways over irreconcilable differences on how Linden Lab should be run. The rumours afterwards suggested that part of differences was about open sourcing the server code, implying that Cory wanted it to be done sooner.

This is the email Philip send to his employees, telling them Cory was going to leave:
"Cory is going to leave LL. He has been with us for 7 years, and was the fourth person to join. So this is a big deal. Cory has been a huge part of the company, having designed big parts of SL, hired many people, contributed greatly to the culture, and given a powerful voice to SL and LL. Among other things, he had the original design idea for the love machine, single handedly wrote the scripting language, and got us all doing A&Os back in 2001. Losing him will be hard for the company. I will miss him a lot. What's worse is that ultimately his leaving is my decision.

Cory and I have differences in how we think Linden should be run, differences that in the past few months have become irreconcilable. These are tensions that were more manageable when we were smaller, and there have been times that they have helped us do great work together. But now, as we change and grow as a company, I feel that we need a different set of strengths in engineering leadership. I strongly believe that this is the right decision, although not without pain, for both LL and Cory. Of course, I'm not going to go into the details of these differences. This is one of those times when, in having me as your leader, you will also have to trust me in my decision. I will hold a brown bag as soon as possible to talk about this with anyone who would like, and will schedule time both in-world and in person here in San Francisco. Please send any external questions you get about this change to Robin who will make sure they get answered.


An interesting fact you can get from the email is that Cory came up with the original design idea for the Love machine, which Philip developed as his star product at LoveMachine Inc in his time away from Linden lab. It is unclear to us if something unresolved is lingering there as well. In any regards, any differences left now would have to be reconciled first, and ego's kept in check. It might be difficult to come to a understanding where Philip and Cory could work closely together again.
CoryOndrejka 1
This does not mean that relations has completely cooled down though, recently on the 17th of June, Cory met with Linden Exes, hardly a week before M 'stepping down'. We can only speculate wildly about what was talked about in these meetings, though it seems reasonable to assume the recent past and future where discussed.

Cory made the following two statement on twitter about these meetings:
CoryOndrejka 2
"Today was a full collector's set of Lindens."
"For those who asked, no, u only get bobblehead collectable Lindens if u meet with execs."

More recently Cory seemed pleased that Philip replaced Mark Kingdon, by sending these tweets:
"good news for #lindenlab according to @slhamlet: it's welcome back Philip time http://bit.ly/c6ABJx"
"Officially official RT @SecondLife: Philip Rosedale returns to Linden Lab as interim CEO: http://bit.ly/d93FHP #goodthings"

While some may want Cory to return, the question is why? Could Cory give a new inpluse to improve Second Life technology faster and better, or are the current technical developments(mesh,mono,plugins, etc) in excellent hands already?

What do you think?

Update: Troy McConaghy alerted me in the comments that Cory has updated his blog today. Cory list several projects he is involved in, and non are Second Life related, as if he was spurred on to do that by this blog post. A question arises though, why doesn't he say he is not involved with Linden Lab and Second Life. Or is this all a coincidence?
Cory's blog post: What's Cory Doing Now?

Update 2: 1:25pm(PDT) 28th june: I have since been told by Cory that the initial disagreement had nothing to do with open sourcing the server code. He also appears in the comments, saying the following:
"Cory Ondrejka said... Frans said:

"It is unclear to us if something unresolved is lingering there as well."

There's nothing unresolved there. LoveMachine's a cool company/project and Philip has done a fine job running with it."

update 3: 5:45pm(PDT): Hamlet on NWN is running a story on Cory today, where he quotes Cory saying:
"Haven't spoken with Philip since the announcement. Exciting to see him return as interim CEO -- he and the board definitely made the right call -- but I don't know what his plans are.

"I don't have any interest in returning to Linden as CTO."

Hamlets story on Cory on New World Notes.
Cory's recent tweets #1,#2,#3,#4
Dec 11th, 2007 - Massively breaking the news first
Dec 11th, 2007 - Second Thought with some historical anecdotes about Cory
Dec 12th, 2007 - New Worlds Notes on Cory leaving
LoveMachine Inc.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Philip's second speech 23-6-2010

While Mark Kingdon was scheduled to speak, Philip Rosedale was suprisingly filling in for Mark, because of a emergency at the Lab. We know that the next day the official word came out that Mark 'stepped down' and Philip replaced him as interim CEO.

As with the first speech I attempted to record a machinima, but even though I could hear Philip he only rezzed for me at the last second, when he was saying goodbye. Thanks to Torley we a have podcast and a transcript.

Text transcript of Philip's second speech:
Transcribed by Torley, delightfully polished by Samantha Poindexter (thanks again!).

Yay! I've got a dot, I'm very happy. I hope everyone can hear me alright. Well, I guess if you can't, maybe — ha-ha! — as before, well, we'll do our best. Somebody can be kind enough to transcript me. Hey, as I said, so welcome to Second Life's 7th Birthday! If it feels like Groundhog Day and you're seeing me again, well, you are. We had an emergency and I am filling in for M right now. So I'm "virtual M". So welcome to the birthday celebrations, I hope the last days have been great for everybody.

I hung out and heard some great — I heard a great DJ in here in the evening, Monday evening, and it was totally inspiring to have the avatar count and everything kind of down to a point where I could sit in the audience at this stage and watch a great performance — I know for me that was really just inspiring to just be able to kinda sit in the crowd and enjoy some live music — it was amazing. It also really inspired me in thinking about how live music as an example, is something that can get better if we refocus our efforts and do the things we're trying to do right now at the Lab, to just kind of back up and make Second Life just work. Work better for everybody. I think live music is just a super example of that, we're so close, there's a a few things that work — I should say there's many things that work in Second Life, and then there's a few things that still don't work quite right. And if you look at something like live music, you can just imagine how if we could just take away a couple of the barriers — for example, broadcasting a stream is pretty difficult with live music, and of course, having a bunch of people — having there be 20 people sitting at your event and [echo begins at this point] have to tell their friends, and try to bring another 50 people into the event is something that today in Second Life, just doesn't work very well, that max crowd of people that shows up and shuts off the servers. I'm hearing an echo here — who else is hearing that? — it'd be great if somebody turns that [echo stops] off. I'm a pretty good public speaker but it's very difficult to do with a two-second delay on my own voice.

Hey, so I could tell you I see a nice avatar out there in the audience. Let me take a second and turn my memory back a little bit as I did on Monday. Many of you probably don't know I actually started the company in 1999, so that means as I said on Monday, that this has been more than 10 years as a project. And for me it was basically my 30s, I'm turning 42 this year so I spent my 30s working on Second Life which is pretty lucky. I mean, I think to have been in that really productive — I guess, as an engineer and as an innovator, your 30s, what a wonderful decade where I was able to put all my creative energy into something as amazing as this and so, thank you to everybody. Thank you to all the Lindens. Look at the world that's grown up around us in those 10 years. I was saying on Monday that I can't imagine anything I would change because I wouldn't want the precious and wonderful things that have happened and that we've built here to not have worked out the way they did. In other words, even the tiniest sort of changes that you could imagine in the past might've screwed things up and not brought us at least as far as we are today.

So yeah, when I look back on this 10-year project now, I was mentioning my avatar — my avatar was a construction on the afternoon of some day in 2002 when I, we all challenged ourselves. There were about 30 Lindens at the time and we all challenged ourselves to build, like, the coolest avatar. And whoever built the coolest avatar was gonna — we were all gonna buy him dinner. And I knew I was gonna lose, 'cuz I'm just not much of an artist, and a bunch of the people, a bunch of the engineers, and a bunch of the folks at Second Life were formidable artists so you knew that in their hands, the avatars they were gonna create were gonna be pretty astonishing. So I kinda figured I wasn't gonna make it but I could at least do something fun and quick and I remember getting a pair of jeans and going into Photoshop — somebody had this pair of jeans that I'm wearing right now, and I went into Photoshop and painted out the crotch of the jeans so they became chaps and, I thought that was a pretty funny idea. That was about the depth of my creative contribution that day, and my avatar did not win. I wasn't the most popular Linden Lab avatar. I believe, for the sake of history, that was Andrew — or Leviathan Linden at the time as his name was — but yeah, nevertheless, I've never taken these jeans off and they've become something of an icon for that 3 or 4 minutes that I spent Photoshopping.

So anyways, it's been a 10-year journey. It's been an incredible amount of work together. All of us in the world as content creators, as participants, as parts of the community, as consumers of all the magical stuff that's all around us here — and for the company, as product innovators and operators, designers — we've been building this enormous piece of software. I'm not going to do it again but on Monday, I listed off, like, 50 — that is, somebody could probably say here how many it was, maybe it was 42 to the earlier nerd reference there — I listed off a huge number of modular components which are big, freestanding chunks of Second Life that have to be kept working. And it was striking, even when I made the list, how many things there were that have to be kept working for Second Life to stay up and running. And so, that's a — it's proof of, or it's an examination of, why it's such a challenge to keep this project moving forward.

There are so many parts of Second Life and we as designers of the experience — or of the software at Linden Lab — are so enthusiastic about doing everything at the same time, we just don't want to let anybody down. There's literally a million people yelling at us about every different little piece of this system with good reason, and I think the fault that we make sometimes is just an enthusiastic kind of desire because we love the world so much, and we love the community, and we love our participation in it — to do way too much at the same time.

And so, as I said on Monday, we just went through a very difficult process, one we've been through only once before in the company's history, where we laid some people off. We reduced the size of the company by about 30%, that's about 100 people. That's a huge change. And it's a change that you can't take lightly, you're saying goodbye to a bunch of your friends that you work with. But looking forward, that change is consistent with — but not sufficient to capture the sorts of things we need to do next. Not only do we need to be smaller and more focused as a company, we have to do a lot less. In other words, we have to do with 2/3rds of the people — we have to do less than 2/3rds of the things we were doing. We are working on too many things at once. And so as we've said in the various public discussions about this, we really need to fight and work super-hard to focus on simply enabling the basic experience that we're all having here today to be better. We want to refocus ourselves on a smaller set of objectives that address exactly the experience that you as Residents are having today and having right here, right now. We can only have so many people listening right now. If there's too many avatars or too complicated avatars, the framerate slows down to a point where this thing becomes unusable. It's hard to put your clothes on. It's hard to walk around when there's a lot of lag. These are the basic problems that make Second Life difficult to use right now, and probably are the basic reasons that we're not growing faster.

So stepping back and refocusing our efforts on the basic problems that we're seeing with Second Life today and the most obvious, immediate things that we can do that are inspiring, that are creative, that move the product forward — that's what we're going to try and do. And I talked about this on Monday, I guess I'm just gonna take the time here to say it again now: I also made the statement on Monday that I think of Second Life as being like this amazing city, a very beautiful city, filled with all the wonder that we're celebrating today. But it's a city that's surrounded by a fortress wall and a moat. Hah. It's very hard to get in there. It takes a tremendous time commitment, an incredibly good friend, a call to action, the desire to have a job — some very strong reason why you would come and jump into this world. And what I think we've been doing enthusiastically and out of love but a little bit in the wrong direction over the last couple of years is we've been kind of getting ahead of ourselves building bridges and ladders — and rope ladders and scaffoldings — that cross over that fortress wall and get you into the magical city. And we've been sort of doing that for little groups of users, whether you're talking about reaching out to a particular group of international users, or educational users, or enterprise users — we're sort of trying to build a stairway for each of them to kind of climb over this wall.

When maybe, what we need to do is backup, regroup ourselves as we're doing right now, and tear down the wall. And fill in the moat. Make these big changes to the fundamental experience that simply makes it easier, simpler, faster, smoother — for everybody. And I think that if there's a change in strategy that makes sense, it's that one. To regroup, to simplify, and to focus on the things that affect everybody. I just saw the word "basic accessibility" there in text, I think that's a great way of capturing it. The basic accessibility of the world simply needs to be fantastic. And we're not there yet. And it's a huge mission, it's okay that we're not there, I'm absolutely delighted that we have a million or so people in here doing amazing things. We have 450 terabytes of content, we have $700 million a year in US dollars in transactions between people in here. We have livelihoods for several thousand people. One of the things that's happened in these layoffs is return ourselves to strong profitability. Strong profitability means the world is not at risk. We don't think it would be responsible for the decision to hire a small group of people at Linden Lab — it wouldn't be responsible to do that at the risk of the overall economy and the livelihoods of all the people who are having so much success in Second Life. So we respect that, and that's part of why a tough decision like layoffs is the right one.

So I think that looking forward a bit to the future, I've explained there what I think we need to do: regroup, focus on the basics. I think as we've had over these last 10 years, judge us by our actions — I said this yesterday — let's all work together. Let's make small, measurable steps every day to make Second Life better. Judge us by our actions — and I think this goes for Resident-to-Resident as well as Resident-to-Linden — judge us more by our actions than our words. What matters most is that we continue to make and hopefully accelerate the steady progress that has gotten us to where we are today. This is a big, big project. So let me stop there and, in text, if anyone's got any quick questions, I can take about 5 more minutes and then, I too have to run.

And thank you, thank you all for being here, and again, I'm sorry for being "virtual M" and boring anyone who was there on Monday as well.


[09:32] Jahman Ochs: What will *your* role be, going foreward?

A question there about my role: I've always tried to find the best way to be involved with the company in a way that maximizes my strengths. First and foremost, I'm a designer and an innovator. A lot of the little parts of Second Life over the years have been things that I've been involved in making. I want to keep doing that — that's always where my heart has been around — (voice cut out) — practically speaking, I'm on the board of the company. I'm there all the time, I'm there right now. So I'm still very involved, although as has been the case over the last couple of years, not as formally, and not in the same roles.

[09:33] Youri Ashton: Philip: how will you try to tackle the lag problem? Something we all may like to know :-)

To the question about lag — how will you tackle the lag problem? — the team, and it's a fantastic team in the company now, and a lot of great people here that weren't here two years ago that I'm really proud to see here, but I'm also a lot less worried about our ability to move Second Life forward. We've got a really well-rounded team now that we didn't have before this, just one of the treasures that we have going forward. So that team right now is hard at work thinking about what needs to change and what we're going to do differently with a smaller group and a different focus. So to the question of how we fix lag, that's what they're thinking about right now, but I don't want to second-guess them. Lag isn't a simple problem. Lag is a cluster of 10 or 15 different related areas of impact that slow us down so it's strange because it's this single word that has a whole bunch of actually fairly balanced — that is to say, similarly impacting things behind it — so we need to work on all of those, so I don't want to shortcut an answer like that with, "Hey, we just need to work on avatar rendering" or something like that. It's actually a much bigger problem, but I respect the team we have to figure out a great plan for it. And look for that from us in the weeks to come.

[09:35] Frolic Mills: Philip, what can you say to the many content creators in SL who do make a living from SL ... any words of encouragement about the stability of LL?

So Frolic says, "What about the content creators who make a living? Any words of encouragement about the stability?" Well I think I just said the most important thing, which is: by reducing the size of the company, we return ourselves to strong profitability, meaning that — and that's the most important thing that can be said about the stability of Second Life, when you get right down to cases. We as a company are running a lot of pieces of this infrastructure, and we gotta keep ourselves going, so being profitable — and we're incredibly fortunate and successful as a company to be able to do that, we don't need to borrow money from investors anymore, we are profitable — and that's a wonderful position to be in, and I think that's the biggest thing I can say about the stability.

[09:35] labella Farella: Linden curency dropped , will you see it going back up

Regarding the changes in the currency — which is related to stability — the currency price changed a little bit last week. It's amazing that it is fairly stable again now, though. I think that the monetary policy and the way that money supply is handled in Second Life — although it's certainly a very new experience — we've never had a $700-million economy that existed in a virtual world before. No federal reserve bank has ever had to deal with something like that. (Coughs.) Honestly, I think the way we've managed the economy and its stability has been very impressive. Even if you look at the pricing changes that happened last week, they're very small. I mean, the typical day-to-day fluctuation in pricing is very small, even compared to something like the fluctuation of the dollar against the Euro — which of course in the last year or so has been alarmingly greater than it should be — but even if you go back, Second Life's currency has always been amazingly stable for foreign exchange. I leave that to the statisticians to drill down on, but it's obvious just looking at the graphs.

So to the content creators, what I would say is: we are going to keep trying to make the basic system more capable, easier to use, more inviting to people — which means more customers, more capabilities for you — if we can deal with things like lag, that means that your meeting spaces and your stores and your events are going to be able to have more people in them and run more smoothly. And that, coupled with the great work that you're doing building content, I think, will continue to grow the economy.

I'm going to wrap up at this point. And thank you very much everybody for having me. I hope you all continue to enjoy the birthday celebrations. I know I have. I hear some clapping there, I always love the virtual clapping. It sounds wonderful. (Laughs.) I remember the first time we did that. But yeah, thanks everyone. Let me type that as well. It's been a pleasure to take a minute and see you all this morning, and I hope to see you soon inworld.

(Resident on voice: Thank you, Philip!)

Take care, everybody.

Philip's first speech 21-6-2010

At the Second Life 7th Birthday Philip Linden made two speeches, this is a machinima recording I made of the first speech. Transcript is below the video and Q&A, audio version by Torley is at the bottom.

Philip's speech was followed by a short Q&A in text chat.

Dousa Dragonash: Is there any truth in the rumour that Second Life is preparing to be bought?

Philip Linden: Dousa.... nope.

Honour McMillan: thank y ou Philip - what is your ongoing involvement?

Philip Linden: Honour.... I am always working closely with Linden, and lately focusing on how I can help with product direction.

Gazanfer Jehangir: people are thinking sl is headed in a direction to end up as a 3d facebook? any enlightenment on this please

Philip Linden
: Hmm..... well SL and facebook are very different. But we certainly do need to make it easier as an experience, in manner similar to how easy FB is.

Youri Ashton: Philip: Could you tell us what kind of things you still do with the Lindens, besides your new project

Philip Linden: Youri: I'm active as board member, and am also often at the office.

Zol Link: I am wondering if SL will have any new graphics updates? And will there be a way to reduce lagging and load times during play, I noticed some places lag less and have less Issues then other areas, I would like to see if you could pull off what Eve online and or Entropia Universe has, where over 1k + players could stand in one area with little to no lag

Philip Linden: Zol: The graphics work we've been doing lately is state of the art, in terms of shadows and the like. I agree that 1000 people in one area would be incredibly great. what we need is higher frame rate for the complex builds and avatars in SL

Full Transcript:
Transcribed by Torley and polished by Samantha Poindexter

Philip Linden: Okay everyone! I realize not that everyone there can hear me and I'm sorry for that, but I've got until 11:30 this morning and then I've got a drop-off at summer school to do, so I absolutely have to leave. So I just wanted to get started and again, I'm sure somebody will — maybe if we're lucky here — will do the favor of recording and translating me. I can't type as quickly as I can talk, so I'm not going to try to. I'm just gonna speak a little bit here and then let everybody — well, let's get on with the experience of celebrating Second Life's 7th Birthday this week!

It's amazing for me personally looking back. I sat and thought about this 7th year of operation — you know, for me, it is, of course more than 10 years. I started the company in 1999, so in fact I've been at this for 10 or 11 years now. In fact for me personally, my 30s were basically spent building an experience — experiencing and growing alongside Second Life. It's remarkable that entire decade of my life has basically been dedicated to Second Life. This year, I will turn 42. (Laughs.) So it's an amazing thing looking back and looking at the troubles we're having even just being here together today. I would say that those 10 years have been incredibly hard. They've had incredible moments of frustration. But they've also been incredibly rewarding and inspiring and I wouldn't take back any of it or even do anything differently. And I think that's something that not a lot of people are lucky enough to say.

You know, you might jump up and say, "Hey Philip, of course there's so many things you could've easily done differently that in these last 10 years that would've made things better — or executed better — but you know, changing history has the risk that you might have done something that broke everything in some way, and I wouldn't toy with that. I think what we've achieved here is a magnificent accomplishment together — all of us, the Lindens, the Residents, the Lindens that aren't with us anymore — we've all worked together to build something just incredible. And I wouldn't even take any chance at anything that might mess it up, it's unbelievable what we've achieved.

I was thinking about this — what to say today and what to talk about — and I had a thought. I wanna try something. I wanna read you guys just a quick list that I made this morning, so bear with me and let me read you a list of stuff here:
Our financial fraud detection systems; the systems we use to transfer assets from the Teen Grid; the central databases; our dark fiber backbone; our asset servers which have about 450 terabytes of data; the 40,000 simulator cores in the system; the group chat system; the LindeX Market placement and fulfillment systems; the physics core; the visual rendering system; the scripting engines; the ability to transfer and move land; the region conductor that manages all the sims coming online; the map servers; the inventory servers; the client UI; the content takedown tools; the monetary policy, processes and systems we use; the customer support tools; the Department of Public Works; our international payment systems; our backup systems; Linden Homes; the Welcome Islands; the Infohubs; the grid monitoring tools; the localization systems; the private regions; our land auction systems; forums; search appliances; the Support Portal; metrics dashboards; our Phoenix, Dallas, and Washington, D.C. data centers; our 3rd-party Viewer directory, open source repositories and programs, and our internal build systems.


So I'm just gonna pause there. That is an incomplete list of major components that make up Second Life that I was able to just sit and kind of bring up from memory this morning while I was thinking about us. Now, the reason that I read off a list like that is to kind of — looking back — to sort of beg everyone's forgiveness and explain that this is an incredibly complicated system. And we have been building all of these different systems, these core components — they're all part of the Second Life experience, they all hold it up — together. Over all these years, this team of Lindens, and for some of these things, the Residents as well. They're all important parts of the experience. Probably in the years to come, some of the things I just said will become whole companies in their own right. As Second Life in this experience grows another order of magnitude or two, these things that I just mentioned are probably standalone companies, some of them.

So this is — so Second Life is an incredibly complicated system. We face an enormous set of parallel challenges and I just wanted to take a moment to remind everybody of that. Again, it's a magnificent accomplishment, but the sheer length of that list is one of the challenges that we, as a company, have faced historically, and we very much face it even moreso today.

You know, overall, I would say that our fault as Lindens has been to be overly enthusiastic. We have tried, as a company — because we've been so excited about virtual reality, about we've already accomplished together, what we've seen everyone do, what we've seen you guys do — it's been so exciting that we have tried to fix it all at once. We've tried to make everything better at the same time. I think one of the nicest things about the company is that it's all done out of enthusiasm, it's done out of excitement, it's done out of love for the world. And everything and everyone that's in it. But I think the challenge we've had is that over and over again, we've been this small, smallish company trying to work on something that is just unbelievably complicated and figuring out how to restrict and serialize and sequence and prioritize all of these different pieces has been a huge problem and frankly, one that we've done our best — we haven't done as well, I think, as we could — but it is just a huge list.

I wanted to speak for a couple of minutes and touch a little bit — obviously — on the layoffs we just did. We sadly reduced the size of the company by about a third — by about 100 people a week ago, and that's a big deal and a huge change. But I wanted to say that standing here today in the midst of such a rich world and such continued creative — and for some people, financial — success that's here makes me realize that, that choice is the right choice and one that though it is hard to make, is definitely correct and obvious. We're never going to — as a company — risk the world and the businesses and the livelihoods of the thousands of people who make money working here by growing too quickly ahead of profits. By doing the difficult process of restructuring the company and making layoffs, we'll return ourselves to solid, very solid levels of profitability.

We're safe, the world is safe. As smart as we may think we are, we are not always going to be able to predict Second Life's rate of growth and hiring is something that you tend to do something in a linear way, but the growth that company goes through — especially something as amazing and phenomenal as Second Life — tends to be punctuated, that is, you're gonna have periods. And we've been in one of those periods now for the last year or so, where the world grows very little because we're trying figure out together — you and us — what to do next, how to make it better. The growth, when it comes, is typically non-linear. Growth happens very fast. A company, of course — and we've been through these days as well — reels as it tries to provide a solid service offering for everybody as that growth occurs. And then in other times, you know, you have to hire with the anticipation that there are things you can do that are gonna drive growth. And sometimes that doesn't happen. So I think this combat between linear company growth and sort of non-linear world growth is, again, one of the big problems that we face. And so, to be safe, we have stepped back — reduced the size of the company — and kept everything safe.

Looking ahead as we've talked about, what are we gonna do beyond stepping back? I mean, I think a high-level way to describe it is that we may have sort of two-thirds of the people that we did a couple of weeks ago, but we need to actually do less than two-thirds of the things that we were doing. So the process of restructuring and replanning that the teams are engaged in right now is fundamentally to figure out how to do a lot less a lot better. And also to step back for a moment and readdress our efforts — and refocus our efforts — on simply improving the core product experience that we are having right now, together, as Residents — here. We need to focus on the things that matter most to the people who are here, to ourselves as users of this system. We need to make the basic features and capabilities of Second Life work really well. And so, the planning process that we're going through right now — of retrenching and deciding what's gonna happen next — is one that fundamentally focuses on that, on improving this core experience for everybody.

I think that Second Life — addressing that sort of core experience problem — I still think of Second Life and the past few years as being something like this: Second Life is this wonderful, beautiful city — once you're in it and you're having this amazing immersive experience, you're just totally blown away by it. But the city itself is surrounded by huge walls and a moat. It's like a medieval city. To actually get into it you have to invest an enormous amount of time and energy getting across that moat, and over the walls, and into this amazing new world of people inside that are waiting inside. And I think that in our excitement about the success of Second Life — in its amazing initial growth and the amazing things that you guys have done and that we've done together — we were getting ahead of ourselves a bit as a company and this is what we really talked about in this restructuring. We were building these sort of rickety — we were in many cases building these bridges and scaffoldings that sought to get different types of people across that moat and over those walls, whether we're talking about international Residents, or the community welcome areas, or enterprise or education users — we've been sort of building these little, thin bridges that try and quickly get everybody kind of over that wall and into Second Life. And of course, you can understand why we'd do that, because it's just so fantastic an experience once we can get people there.

But I think what we have to do — what I know is the kind of thinking that's informing our planning process going forward — is ask whether instead we can stop doing those many, many peripheral, highly usage-specific things to get people in here — and instead just take a step back, look at the basic problems that we are all faced by, and by fixing them, fill the moat. Tear down the walls. Stop trying to build over them. We have a product here that can deliver an unbelievable experience to everyone if we simply make the basic pieces of that experience work. Whether we're talking about how many people can stand together in a meeting like this, or how to put clothes on, or manage your inventory, or build basic objects inworld, or how voice works, how parcel media works, live music — all of these basic features are things that are amazing experiences when you can have them, but they're not easy enough yet. They're not — they just in many cases don't completely work, and we — it's so easy to get ahead of ourselves as a company and forget that. So going back to those basics and just trying to make this thing work for all of us is what you can expect to see from us next.

I want to stop because I don't want to run out of time before being able to maybe take a few questions — if the text works. The last thought I had, and it's kind of a thought that always comes back to me in these times: the reality is, slowly but surely, virtual worlds are working. We are still growing. We have grown slowly and steadily over all these years. We may not have a trillion-dollar economy together, but we have a $700-million-dollar economy that is bigger than a lot of countries, continues to grow, people continue to innovate and build amazing things inside it.

So one thing I would say is: looking back and looking forward, let's just keep all working together. Let's keep making this thing easier, more solid, a better experience together. And then, as a final thought, I would say: again, looking back on even the first birthday ceremonies we ever did, that we should all judge ourselves, Residents and Lindens alike, by our actions more than by our words. The actions we've all taken together speak loudest and the wonderful things that we have built together — successfully over these years — nothing can take that away from us together. So let's just keep working together, watch and expect us to keep making the world better for you, and just hang in there and keep going. And I think that every excited statement that I've ever made about VR and about Second Life and about what we're doing together — I believe every one of those — and I think that we may have these funny periods where we have to wait for things to happen. It is all going to happen, and we are going to get everyone in here eventually. So, let me just say again, thank you for all being here, and maybe via text — perhaps we could try via voice — I can take maybe a couple questions before I have to run in about another ten minutes here.

Original audio source (philip-speech-sl7b.mp3)