Statistics compared to Wednesday, February 20th:
Peak concurrency dropped 460 users, a decrease of 0.78%.
Minimum concurrency grew 317 users, a increase of 0.96%.
Median concurrency grew 51 users, a increase of 0.11%.
This book has been a labor of love by Sean Percival (SL avatar: Sean Voss) for some time. We've conversed several times in world, and (far too briefly) at the 2007 Second Life Community Convention, and he has mentioned it. It is clear that he is a lover and believer of virtual worlds, and wants to be a curator of the transient beauty that often exists in them.
Many of the books I have read about virtual worlds, or Second Life in particular, tend to focus on success stories: how to make money, how to do things within virtual worlds, or extremely general overviews. This book has a very different dedicated focus: must-see locations within the Second Life virtual world that are some of the most impressive uses of the blank virtual canvas we call "the grid." It is laid out much like one would lay out a tour guide to any major metropolitan area, creating a format which can be recognized by most people.
The book is 6 inches wide, 9 inches high - it literally looks like any other travel guide for a foreign country I've seen. This isn't a coffee table book - while printed in friendly, brilliant color, it isn't quite as big as "The Official Guide to Second Life." It clocks in at 190 pages, and many feature color photos, which are clearly the highlight of the book. This book has the clearest, most color-true screenshots of Second Life I have seen from the over ten Second Life books I own. The publisher, Que, deserves a lot of credit for giving the same treatment to Second Life that they would to any other travel guide. The quality given to the screen shots is the same a real life travel guide would give to the world's greatest cities. The book contains eight chapters, and some very valuable extras.
One of the strengths of the book is the breadth of subjects covered. While nothing is presented in much detail, a good overview of Second Life as a whole is presented. The different chapters cover shopping, entertainment, education, real life inspired locations, places for "mature" audiences (or should that be immature?), as well as a guide on where to live depending on your interests.
Everything I've mentioned above is fantastic, so I don't have too much to add, but I'll go into a few specifics.
One of the best parts of the book is the first chapter, which I didn't mention above: Virtual Boot Camp. In about six small pages, with plenty of handy photographs, Percival presents you with everything you need to know to be the next grid explorer. He covers the basic topics: moving, using the map, using the camera, and a few other very basic topics. I couldn't help by remember the travel guides I had during high school and college which covered foreign culture in a few pages: how do you get a beer, how do you find a toilet, how do you find a place to crash?
Second Life and virtual worlds have a very different local culture, and this crash course can get the n00biest new resident ready to explore in a very short time. He is also extremely friendly; before the book's introduction, is a "I Want to Hear From You!" page.
What's Not So Good?
It is the nature of the beast: Second Life changes so rapidly, that by press time, Second Life has already changed significantly. All tech books suffer from this: I'm pretty sure the IBM DOS 3.0 manual I have is only worth the laughs I get. The "Black Swan" sim, which I consider the most incredible piece of art I've seen in Second Life, was in development at the same time as the book, and thus is an notable omission. Maybe in the second edition? Percival should author a follow up, dedicated to hidden gems that older residents may not have seen, perhaps presenting us with the top 100 locations that not many people in Second Life know about.
Who Should Buy It?
Wide eyed new users: absolutely. This will show you some awesome locations.
Jaded old users who don't hang out much: yes. This will show you places that might bring back your spirit.
Users over two years old who still are frequenting SL: probably not. You've seen these locations.
Old users who want to show new users what SL is all about: yes. This is the book we've been waiting for that answer the annoying questions we all get from our friends and family.
Never logged in, or curious: maybe. This book cuts through the hype and shows what virtual worlds, and Second Life in particular, are actually about, regardless of interest type.
Non-English speakers: no. Sorry, but these things take time, as with SL itself!
This book will be a worthy addition to my increasing shelf of virtual worlds books, which I started back in 1994, with the book, "The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality." Over the past year, it has becoming quite a collection, but this is the first book I can show my mother that she would actually understand. I've already shown it to friends of mine who aren't of the geek persuasion, yet are curious about these virtual worlds I'm constantly babbling on about. The quality of the photographs and the descriptions included with them pique curiosity and make this a winner. If you are a new user, a curious onlooker, or a hard core user who finds yourself trying to explain what the hell we're all so interested in is, this is a book for you.
Over and out!-FlipperPA Peregrine
Tonight I read about a new First Look Viewer for Second Life, Dazzle, downloaded it and played around with it a bit. (Picture to the right by Torley Linden.) First Look clients are not Market Research. All of the features, Linden Lab releases with First Look Viewers so far, have been incorporated into the main version later. Scary ... read on!
I was very much excited to test this out, as this new version was announced with words like:
We’re pleased to announce First Look: Dazzle, a “refresh” for the Second Life viewer’s appearance which makes the UI (User Interface) more accessible and pleasing.
It is my strong belief, that the shortcomings of the current user interface of Second Life are one of the major issues leading to the extremely low user retention especially in the first 30 - 90 minutes. Learning Second Life is NOT easy for the average internet user. ANY improvement of the client's usability would be extremely welcome to me. Alas ...
... after playing around with Dazzle for 30 minutes I can only say: deeply disappointing!
What has happened is basically nothing more than the application of a new skin and color scheme. Cosmetic changes. Pure facelifting. Some icons have been changed. The style of windows, buttons and other interface elements is now basically that of a "polished Windows NT/XP" and everything has been made a little brighter.
Nothing else was changed in a substantial way! The illogical grouping of commands into menus with arcane or misleading names is still the same. Some important commands are still well hidden, rarely needed ones appear in the menu top levels. I wonder, how one can say, that any of these changes improved usability or accessibility at all (some texts are more readable maybe; stronger contrasts).
This leads me again, to question the way this company, Linden Lab, is doing user experience design. I honestly wonder
To be honest, I very much doubt that anything like this happened. This looks like a bunch of enthusiastic engineers got together and attacked some weaknesses of the current viewer/client - guided by their own taste or suggestions in publicly available literature and eager to demonstrate the relatively new feature of "XML-based customizability" introduced to the SL viewer last year. Disappointing. Deeply disappointing.
We’d like to invite you for a public test of a puzzle game that we’ve created called Wheelwright! This test is not to focus test the game itself (it is not in a complete or polished state) but to test our platform technology. We will be testing our platform’s ability to create and maintain a large number of singleplayer game instances. Additionally, we will be testing chat between instances and persistence.
The link to visit will be:
We hope to see a large number of participants help us with this stress test. Please join us on Friday, February 15 at 5pm PST for a brief chat before playing the game, then followed up by a short wrap-up chat. See you there!