Thursday, October 19, 2006

the turning point

The days of "lets return Second Life back to the giddy, hey-day of..." are fanciful longings now that we are past the 1,000,000 resident sign-ups mark. We are now in the midst of the scaling-up period that Phillip and others have talked about. Linden Lab has always taken the confident stance that they can indeed handle such a thing, but the grid seams are showing some wear from the bulging of all the recent new residents. Almost 50,000 in a 24-hour period of time. This mostly due to Reuters official announcement of it's virtual news bureau presence within SL and this news systematically hitting international news outlets and being featured on Yahoo. Could anyone of us imagined that quick of a jump in numbers? I know I couldn't. There wasn't even that many total in game when I signed up.

I will resist the lamenting, "good ol' days" comments. These aren't necessarily worse days, they are just going to be entirely different ones.

The early, fairly artisan, population lived in wonder of all the things we could create or amazing places we could go and all the personal connections we made along the way. Those experiences all still exist; they are now just tempered with the increased volume of people. It is sort of like adding more background noise that then makes you need to hone better senses in order to sort through things as effectively as you once did.

This is made evident in the current experiences of a newbie.

Last night the grid was awash with them and most of the ones I encountered were very lost and confused. I always try to lend a hand to a new SL resident. The learning curve is steep and often they need some nudging or tools to help them along in their new virtual life. Usually I get the questions of how can they earn money or how to build things or buy land. Often they are just wandering off on their first adventure out of the 'welcome area' nest and want to stop to say hello. I own most of my land in the Darkwood sim, (one sim away from the main welcome area) and Mahulu (one sim away from the New Citizen's center) so I get a fair amount of this type of newbie traffic.

Yesterday was different though, or maybe it made visible the tougher kinds of newbie problems. People who just either had completely skipped any of the orientation stuff (which I know happens a lot) or user's who just didn't get SL much at all, were hopelessly wandering looking for any help or glimpse of understanding. Part of this is due to the overflow of the Orientation and Help islands because of the increase in login numbers to a support system that had to try to quickly respond to it. I know a friend in 'Live Help' was swamped almost to the point of frustration last night. I met a new resident from Turkey who wasn't even able to figure out how to chat aloud, even after a friend, and I tried to explain to him how. Luckily he sorted out how to talk in IM's so he was not totally isolated. Imagine walking around a foreign country and you can not even talk to anyone you encounter.

Some of the responsibility for this lies with Linden Lab needing to rise to the scaling challenges as of late by:
  • Increasing the rank of their Mentor & Live Help support ranks.

  • Creating community liaison positions in even more foreign countries and customer support that is friendly to these other time zones.

  • Creating a survival manual to refer to when in need of essential skills for moving, talking, and user interface navigation that is easy and concise enough for even a non-native English speaker to grasp.

But also some of this responsibility lies within us as citizens of this ever-evolving space. Anyone who brings in a large-scale project that intends to draw substantial numbers of users needs to also offer support materials & staff. Upon visiting Reuter's sim last night, aside from encountering the lag and extremely slow rez period of the build, there were probably 20 - 30 avatars at any given point wandering around. A high percentage of these visitors were newly signed up, since that is how they heard of SL in the first place. Some were hanging out in the main lobby just conversing and wondering what there was to do. Others like myself, were looking around trying to find the new Reuter's HUD. During my time there I spoke to a few new residents, including a business student from Palestine who had heard of Second Life from the Arabic site AITNEWS and from Reuters. But, in all this, no one associated with the Reuter's sim was there. Even if there can't always be an actual person behind an avatar helping to direct people some sort of resources should be made available.

I have often seen the same need at virtual conferences and publicized events that happen within SL that draw crowds of new users. Having a concierge-like helper present staffing the event could relieve this. The most popular SL nightclubs and Slingo game hosts have learned this…now SL developers and companies coming in world need to see the reason behind the concept of ‘event hosts’. They are really support staff. Ask anyone working at the Edge, I bet they get it.

Don't get me wrong; this is not a commentary against Linden Lab, Reuters or even a xenophobic rant about outside parties becoming interested in SL. In fact it is a cautionary tale for all of us. As this space evolves more into the platform LL sees it as and is steering it to be, thought and care need to be put into these concerns. In the end, any build within SL and Second Life itself has to function by the same principals of good user interface design. There needs to be a way to help navigate and support the user/visitor, not only to keep them from being frustrated and leaving, but also help them learn foundation skills, understand the existing community and want to invest themselves within this space.

It's the same overall stuff/principals most of us realized as we came into SL, there was just was a little less noise then and things were easier to understand.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


To date, much has been said about cyberspace, online worlds, virtual realities, and soforth. The Internets (which, if powered by Mesa Boogie, would be a series of vacuum tubes) knows no shortage of such views. When I come across, I usually like to say what I do. This may take some aback, but is it agreeable the opinions I henceforth express are my own alone? With blobs like a hungry Venn diagram linking me to the shared beliefs of my fellow people.

Inshort, I'm not out to replicate what perspectives someone else has on a given set of topics, nor is it accurate I'd take an idea and put a "twist", altho it sometimes ends up being similar. Think about the Olympics. Think about multi-rows of swimmers, side-by-side. Don't think about the competition aspect because that is irrelevant for this portion of the exercise. But do consider parallel existence: a world besides our own.

Not "besides" as in "an alternative to", but "an additional choice".

You cannot shoot (most) guns without bullets, and when you do, in a video game, you're often offered a choice of ammo. Or, as the famous Contra model goes, various upgrade that arrive in eagle-shaped containers.

Consider the eagle: symbolic of freedom, power, perhaps patriotism. Consider the turkey: symbolic of Thanksgiving.

If I could eat a meal every day, it'd be turkey with lush stuffing. Now why's that? Because I have a lot of thanks thanx to give, and turkey's a good meat. Tasty. But domesticated turkeys aren't generally regarded as the prettiest avian: they're rather rump-heavy. Turkeys are high in tryptophan, and lead to sleep. And from sleep, comes dreams.

I'm nearing the end of My Tiny Life by Julian Dibbell. It's a great read. I like how he's written the "RL" sections of the book in a manner which appears like simulated LambdaMOO descriptions. In doing that, he's flip-flopped reality and the dream. Or is it a dream, for some?


Waking Life. Second Life.

Thick in the heart, some of you may be familiar with "Augmentation vs. Immersion". I can see how other people may choose one predominantly over the other, but for me, I've long wielded both like the quadruple-barreled shotgun of the Phantasm films (Halloween draws nears, kiddies). For I am more of an AND person than an OR person. My RL has become much better because of Second Life, but I also enjoy using it as a fantasy space; not to much to "get away" from anything, but to explore deeper into aspects of myself which were frozen in time years ago, and which I'm only recently rediscovering.

Avoiding idealogical incest, however, is fundamental. I make it a point to visit more online worlds like There: Virtual Laguna Beach and simply and empirically experience. Often, it doesn't make sense to me what is happening, or what has happened, until some days, or weeks afterward. Chronologie (spelled the JMJ way) gives perspective, sequence, and insight.

I get bored easily. Pass the haiku please.


Part of the thrust behind a word's train is in its propagation: if noone else knows what you're talking about, it may as well be meaningless to you. A term like "avatar" has a precise gravity denoting your inworld incarnation in Second Life, but to someone not familiar with computers (and it still does happen), yet acquainted with Hindu philosophy, their perception will clash with what they come to learn, when you bring a high-powered laptop their way.

In getting bored, I came up with terms to describe things. "Camscanning" (camera + scanning) is when I'm maneuvering the camera around with varied permutations of Alt, Ctrl, and Shift modifier keys to get a better view of my surroundings. When I think of non-graphical worlds, this the difference is absolutely astounding: you may know "look" is a popular command in text adventures, and you can often look at the room (or other thing) you're in, as well as zoom into places (e.g., a mailbox a la Zork). But, your granularity of choice, aka angles you can take pretty pictures from, thus preserving your memories... unfolds. Beyond this, the Snapshot controls become more than just a "tool": they're a facilitator to sharing actual human warmth. Which I'd argue is both augmentative AND immersive, so I can't wait to use a tool like Scrapblog (thanx Baba!) to elevate this type of emotional technology.

Couple of threads here: (1) I immediately think of Dibbell's ride in the scarlet balloon as recounted in MTL, with textual descriptions being pulled from the surface; and (2) the Welcome Area balloon tours that used to happen long before I ever joined. This was in the classic Ahern-Morris WA, before it underwent a complete redesign to become the earthy, vine-laden construct with synthetically aged tiles it is today.

Had I read MTL before I came to SL, I would have been able to use it as a point of reference before enjoying my first balloon ride. And I haven't taken any rides lately. But what gives me awe, something that sends emotion surging through my veins is seeing the landscape from so high above, in an ever-growing world. It's personally reminiscent of the vid to Bjork's "Joga", or even Cassius' "The Sound of Violence", but with a lot more personality.

Seeing what people are doing below — not hearing but taking guesses — is, in some way, like watching aliens make out (but not recognizing it as such). Trying to figure what is going on here, overcoming cognitive dissonance, all of these things.

Sitting in a vehicle and watching the world go by makes me feel good. It reminds me that no matter how big, how expansive things get, you need to have time for yourself, quiet reflection on your own thoughts + feelings. You — or at least, I — need to be able to throw everything on the table, like all your old toys from the closet, then begin to sort them out. So it all makes sense.

Monday, October 09, 2006


If you have read the LL blog, then you know another grid attack happened this morning and SL opened up again as i was writing this. It doesn't look like this storm is going to settle soon. But that's not all.

Yesterday's grid attack had some unfortunate consequences.

"Unfortunately, during the course of the update, we discovered that it included a bug which caused objects purchased in-world to be fully permissive.
After we reproduced the bug in-world, we kicked everyone off the grid and restricted login to Lindens only (this was at 2am PST). Next, we identified the bug and created a fix for it, which was deployed and tested while the grid was down."

It's sad and i doubt LL will do anything to resolve the issue, and some peoples products will become open source or resold. I already heard some people talking about quiting over this, all that i can say to them is, Stay! Your products are more then their scripts, prims and textures. They are part of you and when a person buys it, they get a little of your dedication you put in to it. By staying you will give people a reason to buy the originals from you.

Jeska clarified that last night's rolling update fixed the permissions as best as possible.

"I apologize if this wasn’t clear from the initial post. Part of the rollout last night involved inventory transformation to help repair permissions on most of the objects purchased with the permissions bug. Given the nature of the bug, it is hard for us to determine if everything was transformed or not, but it should have captured most of the affected objects."


The second thing i want to respond to is if I and other bloggers should be even covering these attacks. As Hamlet pointed out it is a ethical dilemma, should we give the losers the attention that they grave.

There are several ways you can report about grid attacks. I think if you keep it factual and avoid dramatic posts you won't be encouraging the idiots. They get there attention orgasm any way from the different forums where people are making ridiculous demands to LL.

What has annoyed me in the past, before the LL blog, was the lack of information about grid attacks. Often you had to piece together from different reports on the forums on what was exactly happening. It always left me a bit with a feeling of being lost, and that in the Information Age. And while now the LL blog does a good job of reporting on what is going on, it also omits things. For instance about the fact that the particle attack was done with a texture of tubgirl. Which makes much more clear why people needed to be told how to turn particles off on their client.

Also it is important for a historical record to have independent reports about this. While LL is as far as I know not in the business of covering up past events, sometimes important statements from LL do disappear as Csven discovered about his trademark questions. While i assume they where just lost due to the forum changes, valuable info was lost about LL's position about trademarks. You never know what information becomes important when, better keep some records of what you think is important.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Grid Attack 08-10-06

Wii! and another one! :P
"Jeska: There were reports of grey-goo type objects in-world. We are currently investigating. As such, we have temporarily moved to a Lindens-only login. Thank you for your patience while we handle this issue. I will be sure to report back as soon as I have further information. "
Will update this post when more becomes available.

update 12:06pm PDT
"Jeska: We have identified the issue and were able to take care of it. Login has been reopened and anyone waiting to login should be able to do so at this time. Please note login may be slow while everyone who was waiting logs back in."
And we are back.

Update 1:38pm PDT

Word on the street(irc), new grid attack. Let's see what happens.

update 1:45pm PDT

Seems like the old spamming replicator again, multiple owners. Reports from the main grid as well as Caledon. DB is severly slowed down, no skin texture and my balance is says nothing afterI logged in to take a look.

Message from the LL blog:
"1:40pm PST: There are new reports of grey goo in-world, which may be causing teleportation failures and other slow-downs. We have temporarily moved to a Lindens-only login. Thanks again for your patience and as soon as I have more info I will post it here."

update 3:11pm PDT

LL Blog:
2:45pm PST: We are still in the process of handling the recent attack of grey goo, but teleportation and other in-world behavior should be back to normal. As soon as I have more information, I will be sure to post it here.

(more info on history of the word grey goo)

Seems like particles where added into the mix this time.
Inworld message:

[15:00] Jeska Linden: Hello everyone - there have been reports of particle griefing, to turn off particles, go to View Menu and select Beacons then Hide Particles. Thanks for your patience while we handle this situation.

But on the bright side, the load on the DB has become less, the map loads again and I can teleport.

update 3:26pm PDT

And the doors are open again, my friendslist is being repopulated!

Update 4:01pm PDT
[16:00] Char Linden: We are going back to Linden log ins only. Grid will remain open but just to let you know we are still investigating this current grid attack. Thank you and sorry.
And closed again. *sigh*

update 4:14pm PDT

LL blog:
4:05 pm PST: Soon after the last post was made, we realized there was still some grey goo loose on the grid and have had to move login back to Linden-login only. I will be sure to post any additional information as it’s available.
Inworld message:
[16:12] Jeska Linden: Hello everyone, we are investigating grid-wide griefing attacks, as such we have momentarily disabled scripts on the entire grid. We apologize for this and thanks for your patience. As soon as I have more information, I will pass it along.
It must suck having to work right now, 5 hours of downtime already. I hope they get some overtime benefits. I know i'm getting tired of just updating this post. :P

update 5:44pm PDT

Grid has been open for a bit again, scripts are still off though. And a rolling update is in progress.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Grid Attack 06-10-06

Grid attack number 3 this week. LL Blog.
"Jeska: There were several reports of self-replicating objects in-world. We are currently investigating. As such, we have temporarily moved to a Lindens-only login. Thank you for your patience while we handle this issue. I will be sure to report back as soon as I have further information."
It must be fun to be a counting on SL for your income this week.

Will update when more news becomes available.

update 6:53pm PDT
"Jeska: We’ve identified the problem and should have it repaired shortly. Thank you for your patience."
Response time seems to be getting quicker.

update 7:54pm PDT
"Jeska: Login has been reopened and anyone waiting to login should be able to do so at this time. Please note login may be slow while everyone who was waiting logs back in. During the course of our investigation, we also identified a bug on a small number of regions which prevented Residents located there from being able to save their attachements. We were able to fix the issue while the login was restricted. Thank you for your patience during this issue."

And we are back in business.

update 8:26pm PDT
"[20:16] Jeska Linden: Hello everyone - we are bringing close to 100 regions down in order to recover lost objects. Sorry for this inconvenience. Please check the blog for more information and updates. Thanks for your patience."
A couple of the sims effected where, Lusk, Rizal, Samurai Island and Icedragon. These sims where completly wiped of all the content.

Picture of empty Lusk and Rizal
We all gathered to see it with our own eyes.
Let's hope there are good backups, would be a shame is if these sims would be lost.

update 9:06pm PDT
8:40pm: We’re still in the process of fixing the wiped regions, which are still down. As soon as I have more information I’ll post an update.
8:20pm: While fixing the bug mentioned in my last post, we accidently lost the content on several regions in-world. We’ve brought these regions down in order to investigate and recover the content. Thank you for your patience.
Nice bug fixing guys. ;)

update 11:15pm PDT
10:00 pm: The fix has been tested on several of the troubled regions and appears to fix the problem. This means that all of the regions which have been down should be back up with the lost content returned.
The grid seems to be fine again, atleast everything in Lusk is back, the big tree once again stand tall over SL. Another exciting day. I wonder why people still try to bring the grid down, it hardly effects anything afterwards people just go on with their business. I helped a couple who wants to get married in Big Easy. Why worry. :)

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Luna Oaks/Busy Ben Lottery

Not sure why this hasn't been annouched yet on the LL blog or the forum, but the new Lottery for free plots in Luna Oaks Shoppings Center and Busy Ben's Vehicle Lot is open. This time around instead of posting in a forum thread you have to click a lottery station to get to enter the lottery.
A little bit harder for the people who read forums and stay put on their land, easier for people who frequent these places to know about the lottery.Luna Oaks Galleria Tenants Group Notice From: Data Linden
It's time to have a new lottery again. So I would like you to clear out your parcel before on Monday, Oct. 16, 2006.

Off course you can all enter the new lottery again. The procedure has changed a little. There is now an inworld station where you can enter the lottery.
You can find the lottery stations in the middle of Luna Oaks and the NW corner of Busy Ben, good luck!

Guess i just had to wait a little bit longer. It's Now on the LL blog.

Vivox-Skype: 0-1

Vivox's a million minutes campaign did not go unnoticed and Baba, Eric and Moo where eager to try it out. But it seemed not such a big succes as hoped, and they quickly reverted back to skypecast.
"Moo: I REALLY wanted to like Vivox. The hype was there, my curiosity piqued. With a billion announcements of their million minute giveaway, I anxiously awaited the day when I could obtain this mysterious “microphone” and start chatting with other residents. What a letdown."
"Baba: Vivox recently launched their VOIP service in Second Life. It's got a couple standard features..You got the buddy list, you got the chat window and you got…. well that's it!
We don't need no fancy schmancy bullhookie from Vivox..Back to Skype everyone! It may not be integrated into Second Life, but at least it works."
Too soon and too little, it seems. I'm sure they just thought release fast and fix later, but we are a picky bunch and only accept that from one platform at a time. ;) And you better come with a superior product when people are allready using many other VoiceChat programs next to SL, such as Skype, Ventrillo, Teamspeak or the call functions in many of the im clients.
Back to the drawing back for Vivox and better hurry before SL comes out with their own integrated VoiceChat support.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Grid Attack 03-10-06

Another day, another grid attack. I don't have much on it, other then what is posted on the Linden blog.
"Mick Linden: The Second Life grid has been restricted to Linden-only logins whilst we address a replication attack. Our technicians appear to have the situation well in hand and we hope to reopen logins shortly. We apologise for the inconvenience."
"Jean Linden:We are aware of a potential grid attack that occured at 19:55 PDT and we are currently investigating the issues. We will keep you updated with more information as soon as possible. Login will open again very soon, sorry for any inconvenience."
Will follow up when my more news become available.

9:15pm PDT

quote from IRC:
"kageseraf:Same message, plus some sort of "fag finder" device that apparently calls everyone in the sim a fag.
kageseraf:quite similar to yesterday's attack, if not the same indeed"
And Kage made also a bloghud post.
"The spammy "Terror will rain down upon the unfit gods and the flock that they govern, from now until the End of Days." thing is back, apparently made by a Katamari Kyger alt created yesterday."
Fun times. :(

9:26pm PDT
"[21:25] Mick Linden: Hi folks, logins have now been reopened. Thanks for your patience whilst we addressed some issues resulting from a grid attack. Please refer to for additional details. "
Looks like this one was contained much quicker.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Grid Attack 02-10-06

After one of SL's hottests months with problems, October starts off with much of the same. A grid attack is currently in progress, logins are down and live help is being spammed by confused residents.

This is another selfreplication attack which also gives objects to avies nearby. Not only bringing our beloved grid down, but also clogging up our inventory.

Will update this post when more information becomes available:

6:28pm PDT
"[18:27] Jack Linden: Login is currently 'Lindens Only' so if you log out, you won't get straight back in.
[18:27] Jack Linden: Just an FYI
[18:27] Jack Linden: We're removing the objects from the db."
6:42pm PDT
"[18:39] Milo Linden: This grid will be closing shortly for some cleanup work, please keep checking for more information, thanks"
And everyone was logged out at 6:40pm PDT.

6:56pm PDT
After reading throught the concierge group chatlog from during the attack that, it looks like, the objects have multiple owners, random names, are invisible, follow avies and shouting "terror will rain down upon you".

Turning object creating on your land off didn't seem to work, but that might just seemed like that because they could have been flooding in from neigbouring plots.

7:11pm PDT
Picture of the little cubes by Amulius Lioncourt:
Not very exciting, if any one has better pictures, send me a link. ;)

And a live report from inworld by Rhiannon Chatnoir.
"trapped here in Darkwood in the midst of a grid attack.."

Ed baron has a good picture of the chat spam.

8:37pm PDT

The grid is back up and login is open.
"Jean Linden: Logins have been reopened. Please note - login may be slow when everyone tries to login at the same time.

Thank you for your patience!"

Sunday, October 01, 2006

11000 concurrency

Tateru just reported that we reached 11k peak concurrency.

"The actual peak concurrency is interesting, but not quite as interesting as the mean and median, both of which have been above 8,000 (lowest 8,276 mean) for the last couple days."
It looks like more and more people are spending more and more time in SL. Good times! Even after one of SL worst months.

Links 1-10-2006

I was reading through some resident blogs, and 2 things catched my eye that I hadn't seen reported anywhere else.

Max Case reported on some screenshots he stumbled upon, that appear to be a new login sequence. They look like screenshots from a animated login screen to me. Very cool.

Other thing I read about is that apparently when SL is down for a update, the frontpage screenshot changes to a SL version of the famous ape scene in 2001:A Space Odyssey. Look at it at VTOR