Thursday, January 31, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 30-Jan-2008

SL Stats 30-01-2008

Statistics compared with Wednesday, January 23th:
Peak concurrency grew 978 users, a increase of 1.73%, and is also a Wednesdays peak concurrency record.
Minimum concurrency grew 158 users, a increase of 0.50%.
Median concurrency grew 835 users, a increase of 1.93%.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 29-Jan-2008

SL Stats 29-01-2008

The Second Life server code upgrade went badly yesterday, causing significant concurrency drops around peak hours. The upgrades will continue today with rolling restarts of most regions. The Support portal was unavailable during some of the time as well.

Statistics compared with Tuesday, January 22nd:
Peak concurrency dropped 1031 users, a decrease of 1.79%.
Minimum concurrency grew 56 users, a tiny of increase of 0.18%.
Median concurrency dropped 984 users, a decrease of 2.23%.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 28-Jan-2008

SL Stats 28-01-2008

No Monday concurrency peak today, actually a obvious decrease in peak concurrency occurred. Website problems might be the cause of that.
Compared to Monday, January 21st:
Peak concurrency dropped 2367 users, a decrease of 3.93%.
Minimum concurrency dropped 163 users, a decrease of 0.50%.
Median concurrency dropped 1039 users, a decrease of 2.31%.

Our Second Lives

...they now became a movie.

Second Skin sort of explores the psychology of MMOG players, and although the trailer mostly shows scenes from World of Warcraft, apparently they haven't forgotten Second Life residents. The name, of course, is really a dead giveaway...

At least from the discussions on their blog and the trailer, it seems that we're not all depicted as paranoid outfits of society, but that at least we interact socially and even find romance. Not too bad for a movie!

Thanks to the happy twitters who pointed me to this!

Monday, January 28, 2008

New Concurrency Record - Second Life Statistics: 27-Jan-2008

SL Stats 27-01-2008 -  New Concurrency Record

Compared to Sunday, January 20th:
Peak concurrency grew 336 users, a increase of 0.54%.
Minimum Concurrency dropped 870 users, a decrease of 2.53%.
Median Concurrency grew 694 users, a increase of 1,94%.

Paving the road for a more open SL?

Work on OpenSim has been slow, but plodding along. Recently I read at Reuters that a lot of banks were moving out from Second Life (due to Linden Lab's banking ban) and joining Central Grid instead.

So I wanted to see how advanced it was. My previous experiments with the many OpenSim-based grids were not so fantastic, but I thought that if people were confident enough to use Central Grid for "alternative banking", it's because it should be working well enough... for what? I didn't know, so I registered and logged in.

Everything worked far better than I thought. Registration was a breeze, and soon I was using SL's regular viewer to drop into the Central Grid — where 500 avatars live on 250 sims. Well, not at the same time, of course. And we're talking registered users... anyway, things work pretty well. The above image shows a few of us intrepid explorers, with our cool 2002 fashionable look. Still, I'm pretty sure you can figure out who I am on this picture :) (the others are Eggy Lippmann and Thaumata Strangelove)

The basic functionality of OpenSim is all there — you can upload textures, sounds, and animations, and entering appearance mode works to change your shape, skin, and clothing, and you're not going to lose any of those. You can build, and even limited scripting functionality is available — you have to create the scripts on your inventory first and drag it to a prim (by default, all prims are called "Primitive", which is a nice touch ;) ), but they work. Attachments are not supported by OpenSim yet (so, no nice hair or shoes — nor Animation Overriders, which I was trying to create), neither are Gestures, nor changing your Profile. But — surprise, surprise! — IMs seem to work across regions, which has to be a recent development.

Cool things are the physics engine (it isn't Havok 5... but hey, it works!), the almost-seemless border crossings (without attachments it's easier to make it work), and the way you can use the WindLight client too. The above picture is not particularly nice since I'm on a way-too-slow computer for WindLight — and don't let the image fool you, there is a lot of content on Central Grid, this was just taken at a "sandbox area" where Eggy was trying to set up the first soccer game on a brand new world.

What doesn't work at all is — money and permissions. So what are all those shops doing there? Why are the banks on Central Grid? Why are people already buying and selling sims on the auctions for as high as US$550? This totally baffled me. You can't transfer inventory between avatars (yet); you can't place things for sale; and even uploading textures costs L$-1, so your starting money (L$1000) will actually increase over time. Which will not make you rich, of course, since you can't spend it anyway.

Speculation besides, Central Grid Inc. are being very clever. They're using a "virtual data center", where CPU, memory, and disk are shared among several dozens/hundreds of servers. No waste of CPU power to render empty sims! It'll be interesting to see how well this scales. But they're doing more: you can either buy a sim (or part of a sim) from them, host your own physical server with them (if you don't trust Windows to be running your beloved OpenSimulator and prefer something more robust; I managed to crash the whole grid today just by crossing sim borders very aggressively...), or, which is fascinating, pay a small reasonably fee to interconnect your own sim with theirs.

Even if Central Grid ultimately fails their promise to bring back libertarianism to the residents (if they become hugely successful, government will go after them, too — just capture "a few million" residents and you'll have exactly the same problems as Linden Lab...), at least they're showcasing a completely new business model. Who knows, someone at Linden Lab should pay close attention to the model — in fact, they should have long adopted the same model themselves.

So many people predicted that 2008 would be "the year of OpenSim" (assuming OpenSim version 1.0 gets released this year), and this might be a stepping stone towards that. At least some people do believe that — Azure Islands has bought a lot of sims on Central Grid, which is fascinating, for a virtual world with one sim per two inhabitants and no money to fuel an economy...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 26-Jan-2008

SL Stats 26-01-2008

Compared with Saturday the 19th:
Peak concurrency dropped slightly with 180 users, a decrease of 0.31%
Minimum concurrency grew 615 users, a increase of 1.82%
Median concurrency dropped 73 users, a decrease of 0.15%

Saturday, January 26, 2008

AfterLife: Thousand users at a event

afterlifeYesterday at Orange's Geekend, Metaversatility's Frank Bogomil(RL: John Plevyak) for the first time publicly talked about AfterLife, a project he has been working on that will make it possible to have single sim events with hundreds or thousands of users. One of the limiting factors of events in Second Life is that the only relative small group can attend a event. In the current system anything above 40 avatars is very laggy, and the there is cap of 100 avatars max. If you want to do anything large you have to shard, and open up a lot of mirror sims. Which brings confusions like, in which sim the artists or speakers are really interacting with the audience. AfterLife intends to improve upon that.

Frank Bogomil:
The idea is simple: insert a proxy between the client and the server. The proxy intercepts communication with the LL servers and talks to the afterlife server. There are 2 types of afterlife users: representatives and ghosts.
So, let's say you have a concert and you want 1000s in attendance, you set up and island and you grant only a few "representatives" the right to view the concert. Those send all the events they receive to the AfterLife server then the ghosts login. They use the proxy which logs them into at whatever location they happen to be at, but they SEE the event... and all the other ghosts on the same server. They can still Chat normally... local chat is handled by afterlife, global by secondlife. The ghosts add no overhead to the island, the proxy is a very simple bit of code which uses SLProxy from libsl. You use your regular client... you run the afterlife proxy and it spawns the Second Life viewer, connecting to the proxy is just double-clicking on the afterlife icon.
There are still bottlenecks in this design though, a main one is that the Second Life client can't render 1000s of avatars well or at all. One possibility could be using low rez avatars for the ghost, similar to Snowcrash's low rez avatars. Or as Stephane Zugzwang suggested, the ghost don't need to have visual manifestation at all.
Frank Bogimil admits that the viewer is still going to suffer and that they will allow multiple servers so the load can be partitioned, creating independent groups of ghosts. This will still breaks things up, be will at least be a step towards a more massive experience.

How well this is going to work, will have to be seen. Will the immersion and the experience be better or worse then it is for "representatives" avatars. I could imagine the Afterlife server could be a lot more fun and hectic then the actual Second Life sim. But even in something as simple as a chat channel there is a limit on how many people can chat before it just becomes to busy for most people to follow. A truly massive event might be just a spectators game who can chat with their friends and move a camera around in 3D environment.

AfterLife is currently in alpha testing, updates will be posted on Metaversatility's blog or you can email:

Second Life Support Portal Down

support portal down

I have been trying to submit a ticket for the last 24 hours, but the support portal is having technical issues and is down. Which is annoying because we can't report that now either. I don't understand why there isn't a message on the Second Life Blog about it.

Edit: It seems to be working now. There was a post about it, I must have glanced over the support portal part.

Second Life Statistics: 25-Jan-2008

SL Stats 25-01-2008

The last 2 days the peak concurrency was down from the week before, this Friday compared to Friday the 18th we see a growth of 396 users or 0.69%.
Minimum concurrency compared to the 18th, grew with 1225 users, a increase of 4%
The median increased 0.39%

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mono deployed on the Beta Grid

At the Linden Lab Q&A today, following Joe 'Linden' Miller's podcast, Joe just announced that Mono had been deployed on the Beta Grid. It's now running on some of the sims there.

Congratulations to Babbage Linden and his team for rolling out Mono on the Beta Grid.

An official announcement will be coming shortly... in the mean time, download the SL Beta Viewer, hit the Beta Grid, and break the scripts there :)

[UPDATE: The official announcement was made by Babbage here].

Second Life Statistics: 24-Jan-2008

SL Stats 24-01-2008

Routing Issues between 2:15 and 3:15 disconnected almost of all of the logged in users until 1,791 where left. Concurrency recovered quickly when the issues where resolved.
Compared to Thursday the 17th, peak concurrency dropped with 93 users, which is a decrease of 0.16%
The routing issues happened after a minimum concurrency of 31,246 which is 207 more then the 17th, a increase of 0.66%.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Havok 4 Returns.

Last week the Havok 4 Beta Early Adopter program was announced, but shortly after servers where updated a critical bug was found. This forced the Havok team to revert those server back to Havok 1. Yesterday the bug was fixed and redeploying of Havok 4 commenced.

One comment Sidewinder Linden made peaked my interest:
By the way… I’m really curious to see what region “capacity” turns out to be once we work on performance a bit. Today, region capacity is mostly based on where the Havok1 simulator crashes. Where is the region capacity limit if the simulator doesn’t crash under load any more? *wink*

I guess we will be having big 200 avatar parties in the Havok 4 sims this weekend. ;)

Second Life Statistics: 23-Jan-2008

SL Stats 23-01-2008

We see a slight decrease in peak concurrency, compared to Wednesday last week, which breaks the recent trend. Peak concurrency was 460 users less then last week Wednesday, which is a decrease of 0.81%.
Nothing to worry about though. Interesting is that minimum concurrency grew slightly compared to last week. It grew with 411 users, which is a growth of 1.32%.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 22-Jan-2008

SL Stats 22-01-2008

A slight growth of the peak concurrency this Tuesday compared to last week. It grew with 556 users which is a growth of 0.97%.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 21-Jan-2008

SL Stats 21-01-2008

This Monday was the first time that the Concurrency passed 60k on a other day then Sunday. This is actually only the 3rd day that 60k was passed. Peak concurrency grew with 2460 users compared with last Monday, which is 4.26% growth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 19-Jan-2008

SL Stats 19-01-2008

This is another day record, will be curious what today will bring. Sunday is normally the highest concurrency in the week, we will need another three thousand users to break the overall Peak Concurrency record. Sunday last week had a bit over three thousand more users logged in on peak compared to Saturday. A other concurrency record should be possible.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008

Havok 4 Out — Yes, At Last!

If you're an Estate Owner, rejoice — after 4 1/2 years of waiting, you can finally enjoy Havok 4 on your private island. All you need to do is ask Linden Lab to upgrade the software for your sim!

You can read more on Linden Lab's Official Blog.

Second Life Statistics: 17-Jan-2008

SL Stats 17-01-2008

You might be wondering if 57,019 was also a Thursday peak, and you would be correct if you thought so. ;)
I should just code that automatically in the graph. It is nice to see though that concurrency keeps growing overall.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 15-Jan-2008

SL Stats 15-01-2008.png

Keeping with the concurrency trend, this Tuesday concurrency peak was the highest measured concurrency on a Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 14-Jan-2008

SL Stats 14-01-2008

This is actually the highest concurrency (I measured) for a Monday.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Passed the 60k - Second Life Statistics: 13-Jan-2008

SL Stats 13-01-2008 - Record Concurrency
The stats confirm it, Second Life is not dead. For the first time Second Life concurrency passes the 60,000 logged in agents.

Second Life is Dead, Welcome to the Post-Mortem Era!

If you look around in the news, people are trying very hard to "prove", without a shadow of doubt, that Second Life is basically dead. The economy has stagnated; nobody wants to buy land; companies are moving out; other social networks are catching up; every tiny company that has one programmer and a designer are launching their own virtual world, and they all will be "faster, better, cheaper" than Second Life.

Linden Lab is also getting more tyrannical and shutting down everything attractive in SL. From gambling to ageplay to age validation to banking, with each blow, SL becomes poorer, and hordes of people are leaving. The markets crash. Insatisfaction rises. And, well, there is now only the mature content left to entertain the masses; with age validation, or the lack thereof, this will naturally also be deleted.

With nobody around having fun, everybody's closing down shop, and moving away, never to return. Or at least that's what I get from everybody I talk to: the media, the potential customers, the opinion makers. Even some of my partners frown upon me and ask if I haven't lost my mind and are too stubborn by remaining faithful to Second Life.

Enter the post-mortem era of Second Life. The virtual world is dead, but now you have to attend to the corpses as well. And, surprisingly, the corpses are a nice market. In fact, they're buying sims, and expect a return on their investment. And they do invest a lot! My company, a developer for Second Life, is getting more contracts in just these couple of weeks of January than on the same date a year ago (where the economy was blooming, according to the analysts). And they come from all areas — media, government, land rentals, small businesses, service industry. And they don't even discuss prices a lot; they want it done, quickly, and pay well.

So what's happening? Are people basically ignoring what the media are saying? Well, not really, because the first words I get when sitting down on a meeting are invariably: "Before we start... everybody says that SL is dying or even already dead. What do you think?" I point out to some statistics, like saying that there will be more registered users in SL than on Facebook by the end of the year; and that, overall, there hasn't been any visible reduction on either the economy or the land sales or the number of new accounts registered daily or the peak usage... so it's just the media panicking...

The strangest thing is, they listen. And after a few days or weeks, depending on the company, they are ready to start committing to an investment in Second Life. Weird. Why flog a dead horse?...

Well, perhaps, after all, the horse is not dead yet. It's just the bookies that are changing the odds. And perhaps it's now the time to place a bet and reap the benefits later, when people suddenly find out that, after all, the dead are still alive and kicking... and making the world spin.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 12-Jan-2008

SL Stats 12-01-2008

Sorry for the delay, I was working on a 48 hour movie contest that was keeping me mentally occupied.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 08-Jan-2008

SL Stats 08-01-2008

A small dip in the morning which seems to be logins issues. Later in the evening logins where closed again because three databases went down.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Content Creators Association

Content (mostly textures, which includes all clothing and skins) get copied every day, which is a fact of life. Talented artists and creative designers are way less affected by it than most people think, because they don't invest all their future income on doing a single texture (ie. one set of clothes that will be sold for ever and ever), but, instead, they will continuously release new material. A brand's reputation comes from the ability of the artist to be developing fantastic new things over and over again — most content designers are fully able to do so, and that's why they became references.

On the other hand, sometimes a specific product becomes extraordinarily good. It becomes unique, a masterpiece, and very hard to achieve that same level of creativity. It's normal and human; we're not "always at our best", but here and there, we have better days. Content creators might thus become associated with that "special masterpiece" that everybody talks about.

They also become immediate targets for scammers, armed with CopyBot, and ready to copy just the masterpiece and resell it thousands of times.

Well, blaming Linden Lab for scammers will not lead to nowhere. At this stage, people should have noticed the phenomenum of the "Analogue Hole": bluntly put, if you can view it on your computer, you can copy it. This is something many people have a hard time to understand. Once an image/object gets decoded to be displayed on your screen, a digital copy of it exists on your computer — and everything on your computer can be duplicated (fairly easily). Encryption techniques, data rights management systems, or any other complex software only works on two occasions: data transfer (ie. protecting digital data while it's being communicated between two computers, in case the communication gets intercepted) and storage (while it's safe on your hard disk).

But once you open that bit of digital data and display it, "some" software needs to decode it, send it to the video card, and have it displayed. Once it's on unencrypted form somewhere in your memory, anyone can copy it with the proper tool. It's effectively impossible to "protect" anything that way. You have to unencrypt data to be able to display it!

Putting pressure on Linden Lab to "deal with the scammers" and "forbid CopyBot" is thus as worthless as taxing the air we breathe. Instead, what people should do is engage in legal action.

Nevermind for a moment that "information should be free" or that "in a better world there would be no copyrights" (one wonders if this means that in that "better world" we wouldn't have any art, either, but that's another — political — question). This might happen in the future (it's very unlikely, but stranger things have happened), but this the now and here. And these days, creative people have an unalienable right to control how their creations are used by others. It's called copyright.

Any person who violates that unalienable right is not simply "being nasty" or "abusing a loophole in the system". You can't put the blame elsewhere. Under the current set of international laws, if you copy anything without explicit permission of the creator, you're committing a crime.

Again, my point is not to lecture on the merits of the copyright system, or discuss if there aren't better systems that allow people to share their creations, or if Linden Lab is protecting copyrights adequately (or the reverse)... it's good to talk and discuss about it, and we might even be the last generation living under the 122-year-old Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (again, we can discuss if that document, signed in 1886, is still adequate for our modern, digital world or not).

But the mere truth is that we can't wave that complex item of international law away. It's not something that you can simple ignore for your convenience, or saying "oh, who cares, I'm not doing anything illegal anyway, it's not as if someone dies if I copy a texture". We can invent whatever excuse we wish to convince ourselves that we're "right".

The plain and simple fact remains: if you copy anything — anything at all — without explicit, written permission of the author, you're a criminal.

What does this mean? If the content creator is willing to get some advise from a lawyer and file a DMCA request, and is serious about it, you're liable to pay them compensation. In some cases (if you're extremely unlucky), you might even go to jail (this being specially true of people in Second Life that make a few thousands of US$ monthly distributing textures copied from others).

The very naive petty digital criminals have no clue about the laws. For them it's just a "game". They feel "secure" in their anonymity (when they forget that Linden Lab can, with a court order, reveal all their data — and IP addresses and their use are logged by LL). And one day they might get a visit from the local police to answer in court for what they have been doing. Trust me, pleading "but it's only a game!" won't get you far with the judge — specially if you're making a lot of money out of stolen content.

And the truth is, the petty criminals are usually gangs/groups that target a lot of creative artists, and redistribute, under their own name, lots of cheap copies of stolen content. It happens all the time, but the ones that are seriously making money with stolen content are organised. They're not really "kids with CopyBots" any more — they might even become classified as organised crime and be charged with that on court. They just think that the risks are worth the price.

Well, are they? Indeed, often they are. Filing a DMCA claim with LL is hard and complex. Following up in court is difficult. You need a lawyer and pay expenses; you need to be willing to go to court, present your claims, and go through the inherent complexity of the whole system. You might try for moderation/arbitration (alternative dispute resolution) if the "texture stealer" is really clueless and wasn't really making a lot of money (most aren't), but if that person is not willing to come to ADR (most will laugh at the idea), going through the motions of a full-scale lawsuit is hard.

Recently, a few top content creators joined forces and did exactly that. They obviously won the case (through a settlement). If you read that post, you'll see that the values involved are small — so, yes, people are willing to sue others for a few hundred US$, because it's the principle that is at stake. And with a few lawsuits under way, all successfully won by the content creators, it's time to spread the message around: kids, don't play with CopyBot — now you know you can be sued in court, and will almost certainly lose.

To help content creators out — specifically by giving legal advice in how to file a DMCA claim and pursue it in court — a group of content creators have joined forces and created the Content Creators Association (CCA). Take a look at my friend's Gwen Carrillon's post on how she was affected and how she is dealing with copyright theft with the help of the CCA.

Several similar organisations already exist(ed) in Second Life before, of course, but this one is a bit different. Its purpose is to help content creators to enlist the help of real life courts, real life lawyers, and real life lawsuits against criminals. It's not a "black list" system to blackhole/ostracise texture thieves, like so many different SL-based organisations in the past. No, it's a group of people that are standing up for their legal (real) rights and helping out people to fight for them — in real life courts.

The message should be getting out, loud and clear: copyright violators, your time is up. Cease and desist on your free will, while you still can.

Or face the consequences in court.

Second Life Statistics: 07-Jan-2008

SL Stats 07-01-2008

A relative normal day yesterday. The plateauing in the morning might have been a short issue with logins.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Robin Linden To Be Interviewed in Metanomics Event

Today (Monday, Jan 7) at 11 AM SLT, Beyers Sellers will be interviewing Linden Lab's Robin 'Linden' Harper, VP for Marketing & Community Development, which is to be broadcast live to several locations in-world. Robin has been called "Adult Linden" in the past: she's the one with her feet firmly planted on the ground, surrounded by a crowd of talented "kids" playing around with high tech using the Tao of Linden. She's also the sweetest and nicest person ever.

Combining those two roles, Robin's the "caring mother" for Linden Lab, and, indirectly, through her job dealing with the SL Community, she's also the loving and guiding parent for all residents. The Metanomics interview will very likely focus on asking Robin how she views the complex social environment in Second Life developing, and what measures will Linden Lab take to keep the very busy community alive and healthy. Don't expect a highly technical interview — Robin's the one to ask how the residents are faring in the social development of our virtual world, not on how badly the asset servers are performing.

Second Life Statistics: 06-Jan-2008

SL Stats 06-01-2008

Yesterday was another record peak concurrency, though barely, despite Intermittent asset server issues and Login Difficulties. As you can see in the graph Second Life was even closed for all residents for a while. Hopefully Wednesdays update will help prevent these issues.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 05-Jan-2008

SL Stats 05-01-2008 - Concurrency Record

Yesterday had a Record peak concurrency, usually Sundays has the highest concurrency of a week, so who knows, we might break 60k today.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 03-Jan-2008

SL Stats 03-01-2008

Yesterday Second Life was plagued with inventory issues, logins where closed between 10:45 and 12:05 which resulted in a big concurrency drop as seen in the graph.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Second Life Statistics: 02-Jan-2008

SL Stats 02-01-2008

The rolling restarts of yesterday give a bit of a jagged line in the graph, but don't seem to have effected concurrency much.