Category Archives: News

Dolphin viewer bows out of Second Life, Adams style

dolphin-logoSometimes it takes us humans quite some time to admit something to ourselves that we don’t want to admit, but eventually there’s no more putting it off.

It is with a heavy heart that I have to announce the end. It’s over. No more new Dolphin Viewer.

Thus opens a blog post dated June 22nd, from Lance Corrimal, which I am ashamed to admit I missed when it appeared.   It serves as an introduction to Lance officially announcing the end of all Dolphin viewer development / maintenance work at his end of things.

He goes on:

With my current RL job and all the travelling that I’m doing there are more exciting things to do with the little time I have to spend on SL and other hobbies, than maintaining a third-party viewer… especially when most of the “maintenance” involves fixing stuff that shouldn’t have been broken in the first place.

I have been porting a few of the things that used to be in Dolphin Viewer 3 to Firestorm in the last few weeks …  I invite the FS team to grab anything from there that they like.

TheDolphin Machinima Toolbox was one of the last additions to Dolphin to be release (in beta form), and held a lot of promise

The Dolphin Machinima Toolbox was one of the last additions to Dolphin to be release (in beta form), and held a lot of promise

This is sad news; over the years Lance had built the Dolphin viewer into an excellent offering (it was my second viewer of choice of a good while). But time has conspired against him, even though he did attempt to get the viewer back on track (and in doing so started implementing some nice additions, such as the Machinima Toolbox, seen on the right).

But the viewer is very much a living, evolving things, and playing catch-up, even with the best will in the world, can become increasingly hard (and probably more than a little demotivating when the “to do” list constantly remains longer than the “done” list). This being the case, we can hardly blame Lance for wanting to spend what free time he has to devote to SL in enjoying things in-world that he finds fun and relaxing; I know if I were in his shoes, I’d have given up a long time ago.

Lance closes his blog post with a paraphrase of a Douglas Adams quote, saying, “Goodbye, and thanks for all the fish!”

I’ll add a small response of my own, “thanks, Lance, for all of your work over the years. May the wind be always be at your back!”

With thanks for the pointer to Nalates Urriah

A further look at the Experience Tools viewer in Second Life

secondlifeUpdated, July 2nd: A series of questions were asked at the Simulator User Group meeting following the release of the Experiences Tools viewer. A summary of those asked and which I’ve seen asked elsewhere has been added to the end of this article for reference.

On Tuesday, June 30th, the long-awaited Experience Tools viewer was promoted as the de facto release viewer by Linden Lab.

An official blog post announced the move, indicating that while experiences created using the new capability will be open to all, the ability to create new experiences using the tools is available to Premium members only, who have the opportunity to create one Experience by default.

For those not previously aware of Experience Keys, I’ll simply quote from the blog post issued by the Lab back when Experience Keys reached release candidate viewer status:

Experience Keys are a powerful feature that allows creators to build more seamless and immersive experiences in Second Life. Without this feature, you need to grant individual permissions to every single scripted object included in an in-world experience, and that can mean a lot of dialogue boxes interrupting the fun! Experience Keys make it possible for creators to build experiences that ask your permission just once. In other words, you can opt-in to the entire experience, rather than having to grant individual permissions to every single scripted object included in it.

A number of Experiences are already available across the grid for people to use. The Lab’s Cornfield shooter game available through the Portal Parks, for example, utilises Experience Keys, as does Loki Eliot’s outstanding Childhood Dreams, available at SL12B through until Saturday, July 4th, 2015. There’s also a growing section of the Destination Guide devoted to Experiences.

You don’t actually have to use the Experience Tools viewer to visit and participate in any Experience. However, the viewer does provide a lot of additional information to users than viewers without the code, and is essential for those who wish to build Experiences – so expect TPVs to be updating with the code as soon as they can.

An Experience dialogue box. On the left, as it appears in an Experience Keys enabled viewer, with options to display the Experience Profile (by clicking the Experience name link) and to accept / refuse the Experience and to block the Experience (so you'll never see a prompts anywhere for it again) or to block just the current inviter. On the right, how the same dialogue appears in a viewer that is non Experience Keys enabled - you can only opt to accpt or refuse the invitation

An Experience dialogue box. On the left, as it appears in an Experience Keys enabled viewer, and on the right, in a “non-Experience Tools” viewer. Both will allow users to join  / refuse experiences, and indicate the levels of permissions the Experience is requesting, but the Experiences Tools viewer provides additional options

As explained in the Lab’s video, once you have accepted an invitation to join an Experience, you never need to do so again; the fact that you have accepted it and the permissions you have awarded it in respect of your avatar are remembered – so each time you re-visit, you’re not hampered by having to accept. If there are HUDs and other attachments applicable to the Experience, these are automatically applied to you on your return; if there are scores or points associated with the Experience, these are also recorded and restored on your next visit. When you leave, HUDs and other attachments belonging to the Experience are removed and any permissions you’ve granted are revoked.

If you spend time in a place that has an Experience you’d rather not join, and don’t want to be bothered by invitations to do so each time you visit that place, you can opt to block the Experience (or specific objects offering invitations to the Experience). This will prevent further invitations being sent.

The Experience floater (left) can be used to managed the Experiences you've joined, blocked, own, etc., and allows you to see what events have acted on your avatar and to search for Experiences.

The Experience floater (left) can be used to manage your Experiences and to display more information about them through the Experience Profile (right) – click for full size

For Experience users and creators, the viewer introduces two new floaters – the Experience panel and the Experience Profile, both shown above.

The Experiences floater (Me > Experiences) helps you keep track of the Experiences you join or block, or which you are involved in as an owner or collaborator. It also allows you to search for Experiences in SL, and tracks the actions taken on your avatar by the Experiences you’ve allowed.

The Experience Profile provides additional information on a specific Experience, and can be displayed a number of ways. You can, for example, highlight an Experience in the Search tab of the Experience floater and then click the View Profile button. You can also click the Experience’s link in the Allowed / Blocked / etc., tabs to display its Profile.

The Profile allows you to Allow or Block an Experience, make an Abuse Report if it is doing something intentionally abusive (such as repeatedly orbiting you). If you wish to leave an Experience, you can use the Forget button. Note that the next time you visit, it will treat you as a new joiner. If an Experience Profile includes a SLurl, clicking on it will open the Places floater, allowing you to teleport to the Experience.

The Experience Keys viewer introduces additional Estate and Land tabs to allow management of the Experiences enabled at estate / region and parcel level.

The Experience Keys viewer introduces additional Estate and Land tabs to allow management of the Experiences enabled at estate / region and parcel level.

Experience Keys – which allow Experiences to run – are currently restricted to the region / parcel level. There are currently no keys which automatically allow an Experience to run across the entire grid, although this may change in the future. To help land owners to decide which, if any, Experiences they wish to have running on their land, the Experience Keys viewer also introduces two new tabs to the Region / Estate floater and the About Land floater (shown above).

Adding an Experience to your Land should only be done if you’re actually an active collaborator / participant in providing the Experience to others, or have created it yourself. Do note as well, that a hierarchy that exists between regions and parcels; if an Experience is blocked at Estate level, it cannot be run within a parcel on that estate.

Loki eliot also has an Experience based game available at Escapades Island

Loki Eliot also has an Experience based game available at Escapades Island

In terms of creating Experiences, and as noted above, this is limited to Premium member. There is a lot of power involved in the capabilities, and so maintaining some degree of accountability with those using them is vital; so limiting the creative element to Premium members is a good way of ensuring that accountability (providing accountability is also why there are options to report abusive Experiences in both the Experiences floater and individual Experience Profiles).

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SL12B: Ebbe Altberg on Second Life & Sansar – transcript and video

Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)

Ebbe and Saffia get ready for the discussion (Jo was off-line at this point)

On Friday, June 26th, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg faced questions from Saffia Widdershins, Jo Yardley and the audience in the last of the Meet the Lindens series sponsored by Prim Perfect.

The session lasted just over the hour, after initial teething problems in getting everything working, in which he addressed a wide range of question on both Second Life and Sansar, and offered-up some information of his own.

The following is a transcript of the event, based on a video by Chakat Northspring, which is embedded at the end of this article. My thanks, as always, to North. The official video will be available in due course via the Prim Perfect website.

Are there any things that have changed since you’ve been in charge that you are especially proud about?

[0:01:04] There’s a number of things. I think primarily it’s the relationship between the Lab and residents., I think is much better today. It was a little bit tense, I would say, the relationship, when I came on board; and it seems to be much more casual and fun and collaborative. And I think many of you have seen  more of us than you had for a while previously.

I’m also proud of the quality of the product. The performance, we’ve made lots of strides, the quality; [group] chat had lots of issues. So we’ve made a lot of progress on just making it a more stable product, a better performing product.

And I’m also proud of the focus we have at the Lab. When I came aboard, there were quite a few projects sprinkled about, and today I feel we have what I call four very strong focus areas with really good drive across each of them. So it feels like a healthier environment, not just between us and residents, but also amongst us Lindens, and a better quality product, and a better focused organisation. So I’m pleased with the progress.

Can you tell us what those four areas of concentration are?

[0:02:56] Obviously, continued to improve Second Life is something that we do. And you guys often hear from Oz and Danger on our progress there. We have Blocksworld; a fairly small team working on this neat little app for a younger audience to be able to build virtual experiences on the iPad. We have obviously a very huge investment in Project Sansar, our next generation experience platform, and we’ve worked really hard for over a year now, and we’ll start to get some external customers on-board in just a month or so. Just a few, but it’s great progress.

And the forth one, I would say, is compliance; making sure we run a tight ship when it comes to the linden dollar and who can cash out, and just running a tight ship when it comes to compliance … whether that’s fraud controls, identity controls – a number of things we need to do to make sure we and banks are comfortable with the business that takes place in Second Life.

So those are the four areas of focus.

The last thing you said about cashing out. You’ve said before that you want to speed that up. [do you have] any idea when this is going to happen, or how is the progress to that?

[0:04:39] The progress is good. We’ve now managed to automate a lot of things so that we can see what percentage we would be willing to pay out rapidly in an automated fashion. We’re still tuning the rules as to who we would trust to pay out; to make sure that we’re 100% certain that people who would be paid out should be paid out. And we continue to increase that percentage by continuing to dial the rules and make tweaks,

When we get to a significant enough percentage, then we should be able to start automating the process as well. not just the data saying we could, but we actually will pay out. I don’t have a date for exactly when we can turn that on; but it’s our goal for the vast majority of people that we have a trusted relationship with, to be able to pay within 24 hours or something.

I mean, there’s obviously external processes a well, that we’re not 100% in control of; but on our end, when someone clicks the button that says, “I want to be paid out”, we hope to, within 24 hours, to be able to automatically say, “start the process”, and then like I say, there’s actually some external dependencies for how quickly that actually takes place.

I think it’s interesting that you’ve given on compliance an equal status with the other three projects.

[0:06:14] Well, I wouldn’t say they’re all equal; but it’s a focus area, and it’s very important for us to run a trusted, large-scale business, to make sure that fraud cannot take place. For the sake of us as a business, as well as for the sake of you not having bad things go on. So it is an important aspect.

Danger Linden was actually saying that it’s one of Linden Lab’s advantages coming into Sansar, because all the new virtual worlds that are planning to come on-line, and you’ve got to get this right, and you have a head start.

Ebbe-6_001[0:06:59] Yeah, we are pretty much alone in having had a virtual currency with a floating exchange with cash-out and all these capabilities. There’s no-one else like it. so yes, we have a pretty significant leg-up compared to others if your intent is to have a virtual economy as we do. I mean, there are other business models that one could apply, but the way we are doing it, there’s no-one else really doing it as well as we do. And so that’s something we’ll certainly leverage; both operational experience and [the] technology, as we move forward with Sansar.

Second Life still gets some negative feedback in the media, although it seems like it’s become a lot less recently … but which kind of negative feedback do you pick-up [on], both in the media and form people in second Life themselves, that annoys you the most.

[0:08:15] Well, it’s not that much that annoys me … I’ve only had the opportunity to hear negativity for about a year … but I hear very little of it. whomever I talk to, it’s mostly … surprise that it’s still around, or more neutral. It’s very rarely that I’ll run into people that start off with the negative. So that’s a very small percentage of the population. Usually the negative people tend to be quite loud, but it’s not something I stress about.

I guess my biggest annoyance is people intolerance for various types of content. and when you look at the content in the real world, and people’s tolerance for that content in the real world. Then suddenly, when it’s in a virtual space, then it’s, “Oh my God!” Then there’s like a different level of acceptance for all kinds of content for some reason.

And that annoys me. So whatever the subject matter is, I can always draw a parallel to how it’s always “so much worse”, or it has just as much interesting stuff going on in the real world as in Second Life, whether it’s art, whether it’s sex, whether it’s whatever it is, all of this stuff is all around us in the real world, so why would it not be completely reasonable and acceptable to also have it in a virtual world. That’s maybe the most annoying part; when people don’t get that.

I know that your family have come into Second Life as well, and you actually have a family home here in Second Life and have actually had that for some time before you became CEO. So presumably, they get Second Life as well. But when you talk to friends … when they’re new to it, how do you explain what your job is?

[0:10:31] Well, it sort-of depends a little bit on the context of whom I’m trying to explaining it to; and it also really depends on their experience with various things. Bit generic when I explain that we’re trying to create a three-dimensional canvas that users can chose how to fill it, and how to populate it with what type of experiences, and that we want to create as much freedom as possible to allow people to create as much stuff as they can imagine.

So, kind-of suggesting that in something like Second Life, you can be whatever you want and do whatever you want and create whatever you want, as long as it’s legal and as long as it’s somewhat appropriate for the rest of us.

But then you can go into the incredible breadth of things that are really already working so well in Second Life; whether it’s education, health, art, role-playing. There’s almost as much variety of hobbies and interests and creations and experiences in something like Second Life like people can enjoy in their real lives.

So yeah, sometimes it’s tricky because it’s so broad. It’s so many different things to so many different people. So usually in a conversation, you usually have to figure-out what is of interest to the other person and figure-out how to relate to them with subject matter that they can get into or understand. And that’s part of the challenge of trying to explain something that’s so broad, because it’s obviously easier to explain a product that is narrow in its application or focus. So it’s usually a bit of dialogue that usually makes it easier than just a simple statement; it’s hard to think of a simply statement that sort-of captures it all for everybody.

Have you had a chance to Look around SL12B yet?

[0:12:50] I was around, I think it was two days ago. I was probably in there about half an hour or so; so I didn’t get too deep into too many things. but I really enjoyed some techno music over in the corner somewhere for a while. saw some fascinating art and creations, all kinds of interesting music, but not really enough time to have a chance to see all of it.

Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves

Many Lab staffers have been exploring SL12B and enjoying themselves

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Celebrating historical communities in Second Life

Commencing at 12:01 AM on Saturday, June 27th is a special 24-hour event celebrating historical role-play and educational communities in all their forms throughout Second Life.

Decades is a collaborative event involving a core team of 12 people who have come together to develop and build an incredible region of event areas, builds, exhibits and landscaping in  which no fewer than 19 live and / or interactive events will be held over the 24 hours (see the schedule below) amidst a total of 11 exhibition and activity spaces.

describing the event when inviting me to a special preview of the region, Sister (SisterButta), one of the organisers (and the co-conspirator in the original idea from which Decades grew, along with Freda Frostbite), said, “Most of us can think of at least one historical and/or educational region or RP community in SL that has been lost forever due to difficulties of financing these very precious and specialized builds and communities. We hope Decades can play a part in stemming the tide, increasing awareness and build bridges between people from all around the metaverse who celebrate history of whatever era.”

Throughout the event, people will be able to join-in with activities, tour exhibits, enjoy live performances, and more. There will be balloon rides and pony rides, even a zip line.  There is an historical ship to explore and an aerospace museum which – I can honestly say – is perhaps the best of its kind I’ve seen in Second Life; put together in less than 3 weeks and incorporating the guiding hand of a genuine NASA engineer.

Donations and funds raised through the kiosks scattered across the region will go directly to Historical Communities and Royal Courts,  which is designed to be an umbrella website for historical communities in virtual worlds, with the intent for it to become a clearing house for information on communities, events and activities. A place where people throughout the metaverse with an interest in historical RP and education can brain-storm and which can provide resources to for educators and historians in the use of immersive virtual environments.

Decades actually started quite modestly just a few weeks ago. “Originally, Freda and I thought, ‘oh, let’s have a dance to raise money for Royal Courts,” Sister told me as we wandered through the gardens of the region. “Then I said, ‘I’ll do an art exhibit of paintings from different time periods…’, and then…and then…voilà. it grew! Fast!”

Decades offers plenty to see and explore

In Memoriam, one of several places to visit at Decades

As it grew, so Decades attracted more and more support, with  Jacon Cortes de Bexar, Cloee Heslop, LadyFandango, Merrytricks,  Robijn, Claire-Sophie de Rocoulle, Aldo Stern, Heximander Thane,  Serenek Timeless and  Lucerius Zeffirelli all playing key roles in establishing the region and its associated activities, together with Freda and Sister.

Touring the region, I couldn’t help but be taken by the care with which everything has been put together and presented. As already noted, the Regional Air and Space Museum in the north-east corner of the region is simply mind-boggling in the exhibits it offers, drawing on content creators from across Second Life – and it is something I’d love to see preserved well into the future.

Towards the centre of the region there’s the main pavilion, with a display of historical horse-drawn and road vehicles, again from creators across SL, to one side, as well a a small display of vehicles of war from Da Vinci and the two World Wars; and an art display on the other. And that’s just the start – there really is a lot to see; I’m only going to make passing mention of Merrytricks’ delightful House of Cards maze, the fashion pavilion, the observatory, and the arts and period exhibitions going on throughout the event – so if you want to know more about them, make sure you set aside time on Saturday to visit Decades!

Decades: the Observatory on the hill

Decades: the Observatory on the hill

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