Tag Archives: Linden Lab

Linden Lab announces anaglyph 3D compatibility!

So… can’t wait for Oculus Rift? Fed-up with no 3D capability on the Linden Viewer with nVidia 3D glasses?

Well, fear not! On April 1st, the Lab announced FULL SUPPORT for anaglyph glasses! This great news was announced in a blog post which reads in part:

As we’ve previously blogged, we recently integrated the Oculus Rift with the Second Life Viewer; users with the development headset can try out the beta now and experience Second Life in a uniquely immersive way. Today, we’re happy to announce another exciting new way to experience Second Life: anaglyph 3D mode.

We think this will appeal to literally dozens of Second Life users nostalgic for the kind of 3D experiences provided by comic books, cereal boxes, and B-movies.

Hungry for nostalgia? Linden Lab's new project viewer brings you just that!

Hungry for nostalgia? Linden Lab’s new project viewer brings you just that!

The post goes on:

A key immersion feature of the Oculus Rift is the ability to look around the world by moving your head. This works with the anaglyph 3D mode as well. Simply attach the monitor to your head and coordinate your camera controls with your head movements.

Those wishing to take advantage of this latest innovation from the Lab, a company which demonstrates it can look backwards as well as forwards, can grab the project viewer today – but be quick, this is a one-day opportunity only!

Three in ten: a look back over Rod Humble’s tenure at LL

It’s been a great 3 years! All my thanks to my colleagues at Linden Lab and our wonderful customers I wish you the very best for the future and continued success! I am starting-up a company to make Art, Entertainment and unusual things! More on that in a few weeks!

With these words, and a few personal notes to the likes of Jo Yardley, who broke the news to the SL community as a whole, Rod Humble’s departure from Linden Lab entered the public domain.

Rod Humble, with a little reminder from his past

Rod Humble, with a little reminder from his past

Rod Humble officially joined the Lab as CEO in early January 2011, although according to BK Linden, he had been logging-in during the closing months of 2010, “exploring and experimenting in-world to familiarise himself with the pluses and minuses of our product and the successes and challenges faced by our Residents”.

Prior to his arrival, and under the much maligned Mark Kingdon, the Lab had been investing in hardware and infrastructure, with Frank (FJ Linden) Ambrose being recruited into the company to head-up the work. This continued through the first year of Humble’s tenure as CEO, paving the way for a series of large-scale overhauls to the platform in an attempt to improve performance, stability, reliability of server / viewer communications and boost the overall user experience.

Much of this work initially announced in 2012 as “Project Shining”.  It had been hoped within the Lab that the work would be completed within 12 months; however, so complex has it proven to be that even now, more that 18 months later, elements of core parts of it (viewer-side updates related to interest lists, the mesh-related HTTP work, final SSA updates) have yet to be fully deployed.

Even so, this work has led to significant improvements in the platform, many of which can be built upon (as with the HTTP updates paving the way for HTTP pipelining or the SSA work already generating core improvements to the inventory system’s robustness via the AIS v3 work).

SSBAsaw a complete overhaul over the avatar rendering process in order to eliminate the bane of users' lives: bake fail

SSA, aimed at eliminating the bane of users’ lives,  bake fail, was one of a number of projects aimed at benefiting the user experience

It might be argued that these aren’t really achievements on Humble’s part, but rather things the company should have been doing as a matter of course. True enough; but the fact is, prior to Humble’s arrival, the work wasn’t being done with anything like the focus we’ve seen under his leadership.

A philosophy he brought to the Lab was that of rapid development / deployment cycles, as he indicated at his first (and only, as it turned out) SLCC address in 2011. This saw the server release process overhauled and the three RC channels introduced, making it easier to deploy updates, patches, and fixes to address bugs, issues and exploits.

Humble referred to this as “putting the ‘Lab’ back into Linden Lab”, and in fairness, it didn’t always work as advertised, as with the initial experience tools deployment in June 2012, which resulted in a spate of grid-wide griefing. However, it is fair to say it has generally resulted in less grid-wide disruption and upset.

More recently, this approach has also been applied to the viewer release process, allowing the Lab to focus more sharply on issues arising within the viewer code as a result of changes or integrating new capabilities. This in turn has largely eliminated the risk of issues bringing viewer updates to a complete halt, as happened in the latter part of 2012.

One of the more (to many SL users and observers) controversial aspects of Humble’s tenure was the move to diversify the company’s product brief. When talking to Giant Bomb’s Patrick Klepek in October 2012, he candidly admitted his initial attraction to the post was born from the company being “ready-made to do a whole bunch of other products, which I wanted to do.” He’d also forewarned SL users than the company would be diversifying its product brief during his 2011 SLCC address.

Many objected to this on the grounds it was “taking away” time and effort which might be focused on Second Life while others felt that it was a misappropriation of “their” money, or that it signalled “the end” of SL. In terms of the latter, the reality was, and remains, far from the case. In fact, if it can be done wisely, diversification might even, over time, help SL by removing the huge pressure placed upon it as the company’s sole means of generating revenue.

Diversification isn't in itself a bad idea; the problem is ensuring that a company diversifies wisely. Some of LL's initial efforts under Humble's guidance mean the jury is still out on that matter

Diversification isn’t in itself a bad idea; the problem is ensuring that it’s done wisely. The jury’s still out in that regard with some of LL’s initial efforts

The problem is that the direction that has been taken by the Lab thus far doesn’t appear to be the most productive revenue-wise, at least in part. The apps market is both saturated and highly competitive (and even now, two of the products in that sector have yet to arrive on Android). Similarly, it might be argued that Desura could be more valuable as a marketable asset than as a long-term investment), and dio appears to be going nowhere. All of which leaves Patterns,  which in fairness does appear to be carving a niche for itself, and has yet to be officially launched. It will be interesting to see what, if any, appetite the Lab has for continuing with these efforts now that Humble has departed.

There have been missteps along the way, to be sure. Humble’s tenure has been marked by a series of ongoing and quite major issues with the SL Marketplace which the company appeared to be completely unable to bring under control. These prompted me to wonder if “putting the ‘Lab’ back into Linden Lab” might actually work in all cases.  Worse, they led to a clear and continued erosion in customer trust where the Marketplace was concerned and quite possibly damaged Humble’s own reputation. Despite promises of “upping the tempo” with communications and updates, all merchants saw was the commerce team reduce communications to the bare minimum, and refused to hold in-world meetings which might otherwise have improved relationships.

Similarly, some projects were perhaps pushed through either too quickly or without real regard for how well they might be employed. Mesh was perhaps prematurely consigned to the “job done” basket, particularly given the loud and repeated calls for a deformation capability which were spectacularly ignored (and are only now being addressed, after much angst and upset in the interim, all of which could have been avoided).  Pathfinding has failed to live up to the Lab’s expectations and still appears to be something that could have been pushed down the road a little so that other work could carried out which might have left people more interested in given it a go.

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LL launch “New year, New You” competition, Facebook-style

Back in January 2012 the Lab ran a “New Year, New You” makeover photo competition with some L$5000 on offer to the first prize winner, and which I reported on at the time (and if they ran it again in 2013, I missed it!).

This year, they’re doing it again, as a blog post on Thursday January 2nd announces.

The "New Year, New You" 2013 competition poster, courtesy of Linden Lab

The “New Year, New You” 2013 competition poster, courtesy of Linden Lab

On offer this time around is a “Grand prize” of L$10,000, together with a “First prize” of L$5,000, and L$3,000 and L$1,000 going to the second and third prizes respectively, and the deadline for entries is 10:00 SLT February 10, 2014.

However, there is something of a controversial twist this year: people must log-in via a Facebook account in order to enter.

Possibly in light of the issues surrounding the 2012 competition, which saw people have problems trying to upload their photos to the competition pages, the 2014 event is being hosted over at Votigo, (and is visible from within Facebook). However, if you want to do more than just look at the entries and read the competition rules either via Votigo or via Facebook, you’ll have to log-in via Facebook. Additionally, those entering the competition are also required to “Like” the Second Life Facebook page if they have not already done so.

Whether the Facebook log-in requirement will extend to voting as well, remains to be seen (voting has yet to open), although I suspect it may.

The competition is hosted on Votigo, and requires a Facebook log-in to enter / vote

The competition is hosted on Votigo, and requires a Facebook log-in to enter / vote

Given Facebook’s past record vis-a-vis the use of avatar accounts, etc., within their pages, and the general apathy of SL users towards Facebook as a whole, this is liable to be seen as something of a controversial step by the Lab. It has already lead to some criticism on my.secondlife.com, where questions have also been raised on LL’s ability to police the voting process to ensure fair play.

For my part, while I can perhaps see something of a promotional value involved in leveraging Facebook as the vehicle for the competition, I can’t help but feel disappointment that the Lab are (again) running a competition which would appear to be exclusive (in the bad sense of the word), rather than being more inclusive of its broader user base.

In the meantime, and for those not put-off by the Facebook element and who opt to enter, I can only say: good luck!

The Lab looks back at 2013

secondlifeLinden Lab has issued a blog post looking back over the course of the last 12 months, noting what have been, in their eyes, the high points of the year.

It’s an understandably upbeat piece – and there is nothing wrong with it being so. It’s possible that some will see it as a reason for more grumbles and complaints about X, Y and Z. Certainly, I’ll be offering my own look back over the year as seen through the pages of this blog in due course, and not all of it may be as positive as the Lab’s post. But all things considered, this has been a reasonable year for the platform, particularly on the technical level, as the post points out, referencing as it does Project Sunshine (Server-side Appearance), Project Interesting (the interest list updates, the last of which will be making their presence felt in viewers in 2014), materials processing and CHUI.

There’s good reason to point to these items, and several which pass unmentioned, such as the Lab finally deciding to get behind a methodology by which mesh garments can be made to fit, and the ongoing work to overhaul the Lab’s network communications protocols, as taken together they all demonstrate that the Lab still has the interest Second Life in order to try to substantially improve it and to address users’ needs.

And while the decision over which approach to take in order to get mesh garments to fit may not be pleasing to everyone, at least we now know that we are going to see mesh garments fit our assorted shapes, and it’s not going to be too much longer before it is available to everyone. We can even take some comfort in the fact that while it may not be the easiest to work with from the creation standpoint, it can be used (and indeed, is being used), and it is likely to stand the test of time in terms of maintainability.

The Lab’s introduction to Project Sunshine from earlier in 2013

Server-side Appearance (SSA) in particular was deployed as it should have been: without being tied to specific time frames or “to be done by” dates, while fully involving the TPV community in order to make sure that everything was not only on course, but to also help ensure the Lab didn’t miss any glaring holes or make any damaging omissions. Yes, there were issues and upsets along the way – the loss of the “z-offset” height adjustment capability, the introduction of the less-than-ideal “hover” option to replace it. But on the whole SSA was perhaps one of the smoothest deployments of a substantial change to the platform rolled-out in the history of Second Life. Not only that, but it appears to have helped forge new levels of co-operation between the Lab and TPVs.

This year, thanks to SL’s tenth anniversary, also saw the platform regain some attention from the media – and while some of it was the same old, same old, it’s fair to say a good part of it was fresh and positive.

Of course, there are the things which are left unsaid: Marketplace sales may well have been good, but the Marketplace itself still remains a sore point for many merchants – as does the long-term silence of the Commerce Team when it comes to outward, ongoing communications. In fact, communications from the Lab have remained at rock-bottom throughout most of the year. Had there not been a raft of projects going on under the “Shining Project” banner, one wonders how much actual communication would have taken place between Lab and users outside of the in-world user groups. We also have the unfortunate situation with the Terms of Service still to be sorted through; while some things like the changes to how third-party L$ exchanges can operate could have perhaps been better handled than they were at the time – but that again brings us back to the most awkward of “c” words, and I’ve banged on about that enough in the past.

Facebook may not by everyone’s cup of tea (it’s certainly not mine), but that’s no reason to get upset over the SLShare capability introduced this year and which provides the Facebook users among us with the means to share their SL experiences with friends and family if they wish

Tier hasn’t been quite the cause célèbre it has been in the last couple of years, but it has still been a worry for many, despite the fact that there really isn’t a lot the Lab can do about it without potentially hurting themselves more in the process. something which is probably unlikely to change any time soon. It’s also something I’ll likely have more to say about myself in the near future, if only to update (and complete) my post on the subject from the start of the year, which I never quite got around to finishing with its “second half” despite periodically working on it.

But even with these not-so-upbeat aspects of the the year, we’re all still here; or the majority of us are, and many of those who have departed have not necessarily done so out of annoyance or anger with the Lab, but simply because times change, interests wax and wane and life inevitably rolls on.

All this is not to dismiss the issues which have occurred during the year; 2013 hasn’t all been a bed of roses. But then again, name a year in the public history of the platform that has. However, this year has been positive in that it has seen the Lab put good, solid effort into making Second Life more robust, and more predictable than perhaps it has been in a good while, and added some decent nips and tucks to capabilities across the board. Hopefully, in 2014, we’ll see the same approach taken towards unravelling the thorny issue of ensuring more of those coming into Second Life “stick” (to use Rod Humble’s expression) long enough to become fully engaged with the platform, its user base and its economy.

After all, contrary to the opinion held in some quarters, it’s not just (or even necessarily) the cost of land that’s the key to SL’s sustained growth – it’s the numbers of people using it. But that’s a blog post for another day.