Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Update: Googleising the Client.

Falk Bergman, who you might know for winning the NWN Book Expo, wasted no time when he entered Second Life after the update. Eager to test out the new F1 Help using Mozilla.
And quickly he discoverd that the url was saved as plain text in the Secondlife.exe, a bit of hexediting later he opened google from within SL.

He wasn't completly happy with this because you can't just input a url to open. No time wasting he made a simple page where you can do exactly that. And what we have now is a working browser, right inside the Second Life client. Offcourse some sites might not work properly, but we already had sites with shockwave, flash and java running.

This is not something that you should try if you don't have any idea what i'm talking about. And for the others i have probably already told enough to figure out how to do it themselves. But if you are curious you can read Falk's forum post here, about what to do. He also shared the web pages so you can put those on your site and point the browser there.

Good job Falk!

A little Linden birdy told us we where doing it the really hardway. Because it turns out to be real simple to change the homepage of the F1 help browser.
Open: c:\Documents and Settings\WindowsUserName\Application Data\SecondLife\user_settings\settings.ini
and add: HtmlHelpHomePage
Or any other website.
Our mucking in the exe did help us find the proper name of the setting, so not all was pointless. :)

Thanks Chandra Page for the quick thinking. She posted a simple explanation on her blog as well.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

SL Updates.

My Gmail notifier just popped up telling me that there was a Second Life update mail. Curious as I am, I opened the mail and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw.

Release Notes for Second Life 1.10.1(0) May 31, 2006
* F1 Help using Mozilla
** Help for all Second Life users now available in a Mozilla window
accessed by pressing F1

Bug fixes:
* Improved avatar lighting to more closely match in 'nearby lights' and
'sun/moon only' modes
* Improved flexible attachment behavior while crossing a region boundary

After a long wait, the first step towards Mozilla integration is finally here! :-)
Now I know that it isn't Html on a prim yet, but it is good to see that LL is testing the waters.

Website update:

This was just posted on the annouchment forum.
Search the Second Life Database!

As some of you have noticed, last week we quietly launched a new ability of the Second Life homepage: you can now search the Second Life database!

Quiet no longer!

Currently indexed on about a 4 hour basis, the search allows anyone to search for groups, Parcels, Events and Classifieds. The results are sorted by relevance, except for Classifieds which are sorted by listing fee. Most results return a handy-to-use SLURL bringing you directly to the search results in Second Life!

LL has been busy for a while trying to bring more information out of the client and into the web. They added the classifieds and improved the friends online list earlier. But I'm not sure of the usefulness right now. All these features feel hidden away, it might help if they opened it up more and let other sites access it easily. I'm sure the community sites that have sprung up will be able to some nice things with it.

After testing the Search a bit, it seemed like it was working correctly at first. But it looked like it was handling the Parcel information differently. While I was writing this blog and testing the parcel search there where a lot of parcels not found, including mine. I was almost finished writing and did some searches to verify and suddenly my parcel was found and also others that weren't at first. This a bit weird, and make me wonder if the searches itself make both databases sync up, or that the website db wasn't complete yet, and that it got updated while I was writing. We will have to keep our eye on it, and I encourage everyone to try it and see if their plot shows up.

-Meet you in SL.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Grid Up, What do i do now?

... with this title being a direct riff-off of Frans's most Charming compilation of SLinema (I'm not fond of "machinima).

Today, Second Life 1.10 was given birth to. After gestating for weeks—and the seeds that sown it having germinated even longer—I now speak in past tense about looking forward to all its wondrous benefits. And yes, I'm unabashedly joyous to be working for Linden Lab. A question that I can't answer is, "How does it feel to be a Linden?" Well, of course I can say "It's great!" but that doesn't cut to the core. It's like saying watermelons are "nice", or to be healthy and alive is "pleasant". I will foremost state my gratitude to my coworkers, the Linden family, for being SCEP (an acronym). And firstly, in this online community, the Residents (affectionately known to me as "Resis") of Second Life have helped shape the path of development—like classic rock songs you can sing along to, "CALL AND RESPONSE!"

There's a lot of times where a problem, such as a bug, is reported prominently and very vocally from the Resis. But Linden Lab in turn does not frequently trumpet when a solution has been found—you are beginning to see this change. Personally, I make it a blunt point to go "Damn, that 'known issue' was like a barnacle on my ass for weeks/months/years, and now it's been scrubbed off!" Does anyone here remember the sheer agony of the previous generation of Local Lighting? "Pretty for photos, but just like their still namesake, you'll crawl to a slideshow!" ARGHHHH! And today, glorious day, how this has changed; read what Sabrina Doolittle had to say!


+ + + +

I do not program Second Life; I'm what's called an "Enduser Linden" on the Community Team for the simple reason that, not only am I prone to myriad kinds of everyday problems encountered inworld, my personality is one that keeps me naive and encountering "everyman" troubles.
For example, that black teleport screen—it scares me! Does that sound silly? Think about it for a moment. SL is a lush, evolving world with pockets of order and chaos, but when you teleport, the monitor goes black, save for a little pale blue bar. It's like being clubbed over the head with a seal and quickly being resuscitated shortly thereafter.

From the viewpoint of someone who's wandering in here for their first day, it's confusing. More to the point, I remember first logging into Second Life Preview 1.6 many moons ago, and was immediately warmed by the crossfade upon entering. So from a common-sense standpoint, I'm inclined to think: "This code, or something like it—already exists in some way. And teleports are a lot quicker now than they were last year (remember all that attachment loading time?)."

With this blended approach, you'd never be left in the dark (literally), and beaming from one joint to another on your jaunts would feel more cohesive. Even if "geographically", that isn't true. It's kind of like the iris wipes in Star Wars. We come back to my love of transitions, like a DJ mixing records instead of tearing off A and recklessly tossing on B—in spite of having two decks! Or even, think of many multimedia programs that allow you to pick-and-choose your transition effects. Even the early HyperCard has this! It could generate a new market, much as particle poofers have. And it'd make trips more enjoyable. To sum up, it doesn't seem all that hard, and certainly sounds well worth the effort to have CROSSFADE TELEPORTS!

I don't know if that's totally true. That's simply the conclusion I draw, based on my enduser experiences. This is not a point I've inquired with the expertise of the Linden developers yet—I'm letting it gel. But it feels good to me and I wanted to share it, and I think it'd make the SLexperience a smoother one. I don't think it'll come to pass for awhile, because broken teleports, while rarer today, do happen.

But like another longtime fave of mine: GROUP TELEPORTATION to bring a party of friends over without having to do "Offer Teleport" over and over, some far-flung beloved child of it seems inevitable to arrive—in the far future of Second Life.

+ + + +

Ah. *sighs*

It's been awhile since I SLogged. When I do so, I'm in a somewhat different mindset than writing on my own blog, which is more individualistic. This is a group blog, so I like to bring up issues of concern and fundamental to the community at large.

"If you are going to weigh actions, then you must also weigh consequences." -Some other me

Earlier on SLOG, Frans covered the new Groups system. Start thinking in terms of MRA: Members, Roles, & Actions. Imagine an easy matrix layout so that your group can be greater organized. ALSO important: it'll do away with some redundancy, like needing several club groups for Owners, Managers, Promoters, VIPs, etc. You can fold that into a single group now, which compounds the gains of having 25 max. groups. This is a teaser of what's coming! More light will be shed on this when it comes to pass, and I'll personally be assisting with explaining the changeover from my enduser standpoint, aka "I'm new to this, what do all these buttons do?". I've been experiencing the blessed bounty internally, and have nothing but the highest of praises to celebrate the achievements of those I'm honored to be working on the project with.

It really is a puzzle that gets assembled. With something like this, I get firsthand feedback from Resis, dig deep inworld to see what gaping holes need to be filled, and how to empower people and genuinely have them help make a difference (as opposed to "I suggested a lot of things and none of them were ever listened to!"). I coordinate with members of the Development Team on some of the finer points: let me tell ya, some of the backstories behind why certain design decisions are made are genius. And others yet, well—they're great technically but don't make sense to a layman... so they get fixed, one after another. BTW, HAVE YOU LOOKED AT THE NEW LAYOUT OF ABOUT LAND > OPTIONS IN 1.10 YET!? :D

Hopefully that'll reduce land edit vandalism due to unintentionally leaving it on. :)

I am big on little things that make a YUGE difference. It's the accumulated toxins, like drops of mercury in your daily bowl of soup, that cause lasting damage. Ever wonder why in About Land > Options, the checkbox logic for enabling combat on a parcel is [X] Safe (no damage)? Why is it this way if the majority do not wish to be assaulted on their land? I personally feel it should be more descriptive:

[ ] Unsafe (combat allowed)

defaulting to off.

+ + + +

I observe. I used to use the term "bomb-sniffing dog" to describe my hunches, but now, it's more like this:

In my first and Second Lives, even 3D looks flat at times, and if I squint my eyes closely enough, I can "extrude" a visual model of what I'm really looking for. I can extend my perception of it, similar to the relationship between a tesseract to a cube, and do a shift. I see a kaleidoscope of colors emanating, glows and auras radiating from hotspots of interest. To me, in comparison to "higher levels", the three-dimensional world now appears to be a cardboard cutout, and with my senses, I camscan for signs, wonders, patterns. It sounds crazy, I know—it is! But if you've ever wondered how I do what I do, this is precisely how.

This seems to be uncommon amongst humans. So perhaps this is why I find no grounds in "Everything has been done in SL already!" or "OMGZ FAVORITISM!". And how does that relate? Ah, that's a thread of a greater thoughtline.


Everything is laid out.

People have dreams. While awake, they have daydreams, and fantasies too: sexual, sensual, and all manners of hopes. You may already know that one reason why there are so many Torley avatars is because they represent separate components of myself which I am "binding" into a whole. At a young age, I fragmented myself personality-wise, like taking a painting and scattering the pieces to the four corners of the world. I did it because I couldn't accept who I was.

Heady stuff? But ah, here's where it gets fun! Something I haven't been very obvious about—until now—is how SL has been therapeutic for me in bringing dreams into reality. My TORLEY LINDEN bare (IM or email me if you want one) was one of my bolder forays into manifesting something I saw in my head. For I know on occasion, I babble about my dreams, and SL makes sense of them. And the more I can bring to life—in Second Life—the more I can come to terms with being myself.

And... I'm really a reflection of others. A composite alloy. If I wasn't believed in, like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, I wouldn't be here. When I say "I feel your pain", I really get sick to my stomach. You know how people get seasick? I get lagsick. It makes me nauseous, it makes me puke, and in experiencing this, it makes me desperate to find what'll cure the ails. People are more inclined to find a solution if they're personally affected.

It also makes me more passionate about bringing dreams into reality.

Not just for myself—but for others too. People are so full of secrets they know others would be happy knowing—they just don't know which others.

+ + + +

In time, these sociotechnological advances, Second Life included, will seem as obvious as water is wet. You will only notice them if they're not here.

But why wait?

Grid Down, What do i do now?

Watch SL Machinima!

Let's start with some Movies that show the new Features in 1.10.
Ben Linden escapes 1.9
Watermelon Glow Grow Flex-Ability
SecondLife 1.9.1 Preview by Trep Cosmo

Toast Brad made 5 Trippy movies some with flex prims and the new lighting in preview.

There is a large music scene in SL, But sadly no video clips of our Live artists.
Here are some music related vids:
U2 in Secondlife.
Tao Takashi on Air, a video blog.
Golden Oldie Thriller.
The Port - live group musical performance.
Solo flute performance at The Port

Challenge for the Live Music Enthusiasts, make video clips!

We will be right back over these (zOMG) Commercials.
Sick And Wrong Commercials (Take One)
Office Chair demo
Reloop (SL)
Gone in 30 Seconds
Random AD [NSFW]

And there are Instructional Movies as well.

Castle wars Instructional
Override Help
Making things in the Virtual World: Second Life Primer
A Tour Guide from Heaven (PILOT)

Here are 2 classics that you might have seen before.
Better Life
Silver Bells and Golden Spurs

Some random links.
youtube - secondlife
secondlife machinima forum

As you can see there is a lot going on in the SL Machinima scene. I'm going to try to do a weekly roundup. Do you have a new video, shoot me a IM inworld. ;)

Edit: Sorry some links went wrong, blogger didn't seem to like my linkage. Hopefully it goes alright now.

See you in 1.10!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

[Update] Progress on Group improvements.

Kelly 'leaked' some information about the work he is doing on Groups in the Second Life Answers forum.

What we are addressing is group structure. In many ways this needed to be done before many of the others[improvements] could because it changes drastically how groups work.

We are replacing the fixed Officer/Member system with a FAR more flexible roles system that allows for multiple roles per group, each role with definable action powers. Any member in a group is always part of the 'Everyone' role, and can be in 0 or more other roles, and yes the action powers of the everyone role are definable. There is also always an Owner role, which must always have at least 1 person in it and always has full powers. Other than those 2 roles there can be up to {TBD small number, like 10} user defined roles.

There are on the order of 35 - 40 selectable action powers currently. They are additive only - if you are in any role that can do action X, then you can do action X.

This will be excellent, we will be able to delegate tasks to other members without fear of them selling the land from right under you, or any other nastiness. This could even be a boosts to jobs inworld, because we will be able to match the permission to the job, like prim clean up for instance. Only downside having so many powers will be that it could be confusing if not properly explained.

Btw, this sound a lot like what Tiger Crossing suggested a couple of months ago on several blog posts.

There are 2 other new things in this project:
Group Notices: Notices are announcements to the group that may include an inventory attachment. They are sent to email if offline and show onscreen when you next login, or if you are already online. They are opt-outable on an individual basis or per-role as defined above. Past notices are saved for 30 days and available from the groups window.

Finally we don't have to use the voting system anymore. But I'm curious how this will be implemented, will we get announcements through those ugly blue pop up boxes, or is something more fancy in the works. Same goes for the attachments that can be include, another blue pop up box?

Ideally i would like to see a window like in your email client. A list of messages that you can click to read and attachments that can be dragged/clicked in to inventory.

An increase in the max number of groups to 25. Groups are complicated and resource intensive things. Unfortunately the group roles stuff does not improve that. Increasing the max number of groups has a significant increase in needed resources: each new group slot means between 1 and {total number of active residents} new groups. That can be a lot. We will be upping the limit to 25 and we do know there is a desire for more so we will be watching carefully to see what the next step will be.

This project has been progressing nicely, however as you can guess there is significant testing needed and I am not sure when this will reach public preview or release.

Finally another message about increasing groups. I was there when the group increased from 10 to 15, and it took me several months to fill those extra 5. And with all the group chatter you don't want to be in to many groups. But even i have bumped into the 15 groups limit and some extra room will be welcomed by a lot of residents.

This has been long promised and was supposed to be soon after 1.9 . But I suppose that was a llSoon. :P Let's hope it is in 1.10.1. I suppose that at first the group increase was a separate project that they later joined with group permissions overhaul.

Oh, for any one who hasn't noticed, 1.9.1 is renamed to 1.10.

While Kelly wasn't sure when this would reach public preview, Robin on the other hand does has an idea.
the group tools which will help you with organization and management of your groups are in internal preview and will be made available for general preview in the next week (barring some substantial bug that holds it back).
I assume she means here, the week starting from monday the 29th. But anyway, if everything goes smoothly we will be testing this stuff soon.

See you in SL.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Second Life in the blogosphere.

Since we are so busy blogging here, i will post some links to interesting posts. (Yes, this is a jab at myself and that big list of names on the right. ;)
  • Gwyneth Llewelyn has written a interesting article about LLs gamer culture and how and why that needs to change to a more Corporate culture, where "favoritism" is just called partnership. It is a very thoughtfull and indepth piece, that (atleast for me) has a lot of truth to in it.
  • A place of refuge is also a place of kickass. And i totally agree with Torley on this. I visited the island Suffugium after reading Torley's review about it. It really is a fantastic place with a great atmosphere. What sticks out the most to me, is how well everything works and belongs together. All the pieces are carefully crafted to fit the theme. Read Torley's post and visit the sim, it is well worth your time.
  • Alice of Wonderland has several posts about the Big Weekend Event the BBC did this weekend in Dundee and Second Life. There was a lot of dancing and a Dalek invasion. To bad i missed that part, i have done some Dalek invasions in the past. :P If you where at the event, the Avalon crew who set it up are requesting for some feedback here.
  • And finally some help and advice from Willow on PixelPinup, with a subject that we all can relate too, Inventory management. Willow claims to have one of the biggest inventories in SL, and shares with us how she keeps it tidy. A must read for everyone who spends to much time searching in their inventory.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Detail in Design

ContentConfessional, a blog about in-world design (primarily furniture and the sorts) will now be carried over ocassionaly to SLOG at the request of Forseti the Titmouse. You can also read it at

(Feature article from SecondStyle Magazine)

I first saw Amelie Fonzarelli’s furniture at one of Wuvme’s big sales and was very impressed with her work as a whole. Since then I have been harassing her to set up a shop and sell her furniture. Amelie has an eye for detail that surpasses almost anyone I have ever seen in SecondLife for furniture; she effectively unifies all her sets with amazing attention to detail, form, color, and pattern.

To start off I will just show a simple piece of Amelie’s. It’s a gazebo type structure with hanging curtains and pillows called “The Play Pen”. The idea isn’t revolutionary but what really makes it stand out is the details, not only do they bring it all together but add a realness to it with variation. Look at the variation in the twisted fabric draped on the outside, instead of just copying one piece she created unique twists and folds in the panels. Also the textures leave you wondering if they are photo sourced, hand made, or somewhere inbetween. Either way they are outstanding and refined without that crusty ripped from google images look.

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Although all her furniture isn’t really my taste, as we all know I have an extreme preference for modern, especially classic modern mid century stuff, but I really cant get over how unified her pieces are. For example this dining set; notice how the chair, table (especially the corner detail), and the accent candles’ forms all compliment each other with the loose ends, angles, and clean lines.

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This red set is what initially caught my eye when I first saw her stuff. The lipstick red color and the warm cherry wood really give it some charm. Again the details just get me off.

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Not only do I love the general rounded cushy form of this set but the structure and support (although not necessary in SL) is really cool. I love the modern sleigh style feet on this set, with the cherry wood runners, it’s totally cool. Also the other elements brought into the set, like the rounded steel accents on the shelf and the accent fabrics really bring it together and make it feel like a room, which is something I personally have trouble with when making furniture so I really admire how unified and purposeful everything is.
Amelie’s “Seduction in pink Couch” and accent pieces really have seduced me. Again it’s not the usual style I mess myself over, but come on look at it.

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It does have a more modern minimalist ring to it than the rest of her stuff; I like the simple fabrics and shapes in it. Also yes, those are little bows on the pillows, it may be over the top adorable, but so am I (hahaa). The accent pillows are in fun shapes and placement which really adds to the couch. There are only so many ways to make the basic form of a couch with the primitives in SecondLife, and what Amelie is doing here is bringing up the presentation of that basic shape with textures and accents that really make it special.

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This couch and accent lamp actually has some texture baking on it, but its subtle so it works even in a room/house where everything isn’t baked. Notice the texture on the couch for the cushions, also the base of the lamp with the pool of light at the bottom (hard to see but look closely).

So where can you find all this fabulous stuff? For now I have personally given Amelie space on my city land to set up a small shop. It can be found at: Barcola (68, 138, 25)

TOS Change makes it possible for LL to sell L$

Sunday 10:45PM SLT, Robin made the following announcement. Link

Updating Terms of Service

Tomorrow we'll be pushing an updated version of the terms of service. They've been rewritten to separate out the billing terms, and also to be easier to read overall.

We have also made a change (see paragraph 1.4) to enable the L$ sale by Linden Lab. We are considering the sale of L$, but only within the context of smart economic policy. In other words, we will only sell L$ if we think the economy can absorb a new infusion of L$ because either other sources have been reduced or sinks have increased.

Quickly the forum speculation and panic began. 2 possible scenarios seem to be predominantly emerging.

When LL decides to sell L$ directly to users, they will do this independently from the Lindex. This would mean that someone wants to by a 1000 L$, presses the button in the clients and the L$ is directly created. And LL could sell it for whatever price they want, even for a better rate then the Lindex offers.
Most users don't look at the Lindex and just use the inworld option. This would make it hard for every content creator to convert their L$ to US$ and pay their tier, or their RL bills.

If this only happens a few times, to introduce new L$ in the market it won't have such a big influence. But LL has flirted with the thought of doing away with stipends and if at the same time they keep all/some of the sinks, this would mean that a constant new influx of L$ would be needed by selling directly to users. This scenario will cause a lot of trouble for who ever depends on trading their L$ on the Lindex. And that would certainly slow down content creation to a crawl. Which would be bad for SL on the long run.

The second scenario is that LL will be selling on the lindex when ever the L$ starts to rise quickly compared to the dollar, and just use it as a tool to stabilize the market. Essentially creating a cushion, for whenever there is a suddenly influx of demand/users or when a big businesses for what ever reason hoards ten millions of L$ in the hope to influence the market and sell them later for a better price. But what is dangerous, when LL would do this they create a hard max price for the L$ and that would hamper free trade.

What it boils down to is, do we trust LL to do no Evil.

And at the moment that is hard to determine either way, because there hasn't been much of a LL response after their announcement of the TOS change. It would help people to keep their trust in LL if they told us what the circumstances would be to and how they would infuse new L$ in to the market. Right now everyone seems to be concerned, confused and some people are panicking. As a result the quantity of L$ on the Lindex went way up and the price dropped. And we will just have to see if this will be absorbed in the next days or that as more people become aware of the situation, will try to cash out as well.

I would like to point out that LL would also have other tools to stop a to rapid demand of L$, and that would be cutting/removing sinks or increasing stipends. Those seem reasonable alternatives with only one drawback, it won't make LL money. And i think that is what worries people most, that this will be used to make LL money in the expensive of content creators. Even if they don't intent to now, they have opened the gate to do so in a future where competition might be around and profit margins become important.

A lot more can be said about this and a lot more is being said on blogs and forums all around. But will just have to see how the next days will play out. And do we trust LL?