Thursday, May 27, 2010

Artistic Fimicoloud Memorial Dance


It has been two years since Second Life resident Artistic Fimicoloud, Fimi as she became affectionately known, passed away from cancer. In real life, she was Stephanie Koslow, an artist whom did a number of pictures whose work can be seen in the Metaverse to this day, in both an art gallery and private homes. Battling the illness for years, the woman behind the pink fox avatar kept up to the end. She was 49. A member of the Sunweavers and Passionate Redheads, she remains fondly remembered by both.

A year ago, the anniversary of her passing was marked with a candlelight service. Recently, a number of people in both the Sunweavers and Passionate Redheads have had family members pass away. So instead of a solemn service, it was decided to hold a memorial dance in her honor. The event was held in the Southern Colorado sim near what is now known as Fimi Falls, land owner and Passionate Redhead organizer Daaneth Kivioq explained, I only met Fimi a few times, but I was abel to show her this place, and she fell in love with it - so I dedicated the falls to her memory.

Come join us on Wednesday, May 26th at 6PM for a wonderful live music event
Celebrating the Life & Art of Artistic Fimicoloud. The event will be held by Fimi Falls
in the beautiful Southern Colorado Sim. There will be Music, Dancing and Fireworks!


At the beginning of the event, there was a snag when the musician for the first hour was unable to show op. So Shockwave Yarearch took over, offering a mix of songs, including Smurfer Girl and a few other parodies, Fimi loved my little silly songs. No formal wear was required. Come as you are, Daaneth told people, normal human and furred, dropping in, Im wearing T-shirt and jeans. One lady dropping in had been absent from Second Life for months, her computer busted and then busy with college.

Relay for Life in Second Life
Celebrate
Remember
Fight Back!
GO RELAY

Throughout the event, people talked about Fimi, her art, and her life. A Relay for Life kiosk collected donations as they came in. At 7 PM, Shockwave stepped down and Vaughan Michalak stepped in with live music. At one point, Daaneth handed the crowd a challenge, Fimi spent many years fighting cancer before she lost her battle - as a result, she often hid pink cancer awareness ribbons in her paintings - now a few of you know where it is already - but there is one hidden near here too - can you find it? Several people spotted the hidden ribbon.

At 8 PM SL time, DJ Nydia Tungsten began spinning her mix of tunes. During this time, there was a fireworks show, the sparkle of lights exploding all around. One sparkle of lights didnt fade, but kept going, changing color, occasionally appearing as pink as Fimi. Eventually, the end of the event approached, and Nydia put on her last song, I Run For Life.

As the event closed, Daaneth thanked Nydia and everyone who came, You are all my heroes! thank you for being here tonight! ... FOR FIMI!! Thank you Nydia! And thank all of you for your support and generosity!

Over 34,000 Lindens had been raised during the event for Relay for Life.


I run for hope, I run to feel,
I run for the truth for all that is real.
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife.
I run for you and me my friend, I run for life.


Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Svarga Back in Second Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday afternoon, March 21, just after logging on I heard some great news. The Svarga sim was back! I looked it up on the map, and there it was, so I ported over. And there was a sight I hadn’t seen in many months. What some people called one of the Seven Wonders of Second Life was back.

Svarga was started early, around 2004. By 2006, it was complete and further construction ceased. It’s creator, Laukosargas Svarog, created a grand island of waterfalls, mountains, rivers, stone temples, and the artificial life experiments, the “Eco System” project, gave the sim it’s own cycle of life, with clouds raining on the plants, bees pollinating, and occasionally eaten by a flytrap lily, and other aspects. It was considered one of the most ingeniously built places in the Metaverse. More can be read in our April 2007 article .

In December 2008, Laukosargas made her decision to look for a buyer for Svarga. Running the sim was just too expensive for her, she felt, and Second Life seemed no better to her than when she first went about on it.

Some months later, the sim vanished from the map. It seemed that this wonder of the Metaverse had vanished into the virtual nether forever, much to the sadness of many who had seen the area and marveled at it’s details. Until now, that is.

Checking Laukosargas’s profile, she says the sim has a new owner, even though Svarga still lists her as in charge. She also asked not to be contacted, saying she plans to return to Second Life only sparingly, once in a few months.

As time goes on, someone will figure out exactly what happened and what we can expect. But for now, we can take heart that once again, this gem of a sim is once again open for visits, and not just a memory.

The entry point for Svarga is at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Svarga/5/124/22 .

By Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Virtual World There.com to Close


In an announcement on March 2, 2010, There.com’s CEO Mike Wilson announced the virtual world would be shutting down on March 9. Wilson cited the troubled real-life economy as the reason for the decision.

 “There.com's customers were hardest hit by the recession, and, so was There. While our membership numbers and the number of people in the world have continued to grow, there has been a marked decrease in revenue ...  at the end of the day, we can't cure the recession, and at some point we have to stop writing checks to keep the world open. There's nothing more we would like to avoid this, but There is a business, and a business that can't support itself doesn't work. Before the recession hit, we were incredibly confident and all indicators were "directionally correct" and we had every reason to believe growth would continue. But, as many of you know personally, the downturn has been prolonged and severe, and ultimately pervasive.”

There was launched in October 2003, not l ong after Second Life. It was founded by Will Harvey, whom was noted for writing the first commercial sheet music processor for home computers “Music Construction Set,” and work on several computer games. The Instant Messenger IMVU was also founded by Harvey. Jeffrey Ventrella was There’s co-founder, noted for his programs on artificial life, whom later worked as a developer at Linden Lab.

In it’s early days, There did well, possibly because of the prestige of it’s founder and starting out with more funding than Second Life. But it soon ran low on finances, and Second Life gained the media spotlight. It ran into trouble starting in 2004, and in 2005 the company split in two, Makena Technologies which continued to operate the virtual world, and Forterra Systems, which concentrated on “private and secure” virtual worlds for government and corporate clients.

There distinguished itself from Second Life as a more family-friendly place with “controls on adult content and griefers,” which attracted some users too edgy of it’s more noted competitor. It also aimed at teenagers, whom were too young for Second Life’s main grid. The language on it’s info page included, “Feeling awesome today? You can look awesome. Feeling like you want to make some heads snap around? You can look knock-down gorgeous and totally buff.”

There also advertised itself as more corporate friendly, having places such as Club Scion and Coca-Cola Skate Park. In 2006, There partnered with MTV. Other brands with a presence in There include Cosmogirl, The Humane Society, Paramount Studios, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Like Second Life, residents of there moved about in avatars, and could communicate in text and private Instant Messaging, or voice for those with Premium accounts. Unlike Second Life, avatars could only be modified from a basic human form: hair, skin, and eye colors, head and body shapes, etc. Avatar graphics were a little simpler than those on Second Life as well. People could get around on foot, or on vehicles such as buggys , and hoverboards. There was an emphasis on sports, such as the paintball games in the video on There’s introduction page on it’s website. There were also virtual pets, although limited to two breeds of dogs.

There also had it’s own virtual economy, with it’s currency called “Therebucks,” which could be bought and sold from and to the company, with one US dollar equal to 1,800 T. There were also virtual banks, which unlike Second Life remained legal on There. People with Premium memberships could build and sell items, such as buildings and vehicles, as well as being able to own and rent homes. There had it’s own newsletter at http://www.therefuntimes.com/

Unlike Second Life, There was never available to Mac users.

In Second Life, Torley Linden named his personal sim “Here” as a tribute to There. The surname “Thereian” is also available to Second Life residents.

In the statement, Wilson stated there would  be refunds on “All purchases of Therebucks and member program updates” between February 1 and the moment the closing was announced, “We will attempt to continue a Therebucks buyback for developers.” There also appeared to be a subtle jab at Second Life, “many things ... made There special, accessible, and attractive to people from all over the United States and the world -- not just the privileged with high-end machines and broadband connections.”

There have been a number of comments by former users. One “on again off again” user felt there were several reasons for it’s decline, including that suggestions for new activities were often ignored, and the corporate endorsements to make up for a stagnant membership might have brought in cash but also ruined the “ambience” of There, and some changes “helped kill off some of it’s most popular activities and communities ... One of the last lingering, saddest memories I had before quitting There was to see the once thriving hoverboard park a ghost town.” More common were expressions of sadness over the loss of the virtual world.

Of final thoughts, those from CNet writer Daniel Terdiman are as good as any, “For me, though I hadn't gone into There for quite some time, I always enjoyed the idea that I could go back in, jump in my wonderful hoverboat and go for a nice long ride. I recall the early days of There when there were regular hoverboat flotillas and when you could easily find people riding around on flying dragons. To all the fans of There who will now be without a digital home, there is perhaps only one suitable salutation: 'wave. “

Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, February 27, 2010

New Third Party Viewer Policy Runs Into Backlash

 

At the same time as the Beta of its new viewer, Linden Labs also announced a new policy concerning the use of third-party viewers in general, such as the Emerald viewer. The Lindens say they are willing to accept the use of these viewers, though a number are raising questions about the wording of the policy.

The policy was a long list of legalese that this blue collar worker in real-life found hard to understand. Going through the Linden blog, readers expressed similar confusion. Some thought things looked fishy.

Well, not one single instance or version of the 3rd-party clients that I have ever seen or used can meet a strict interpretation of the new rules for an "approved" client, So you have, despite all your noise to the contrary, effectively banned ALL 3rd party clients, as they exist today. At least, banned their use by anyone that plays by the rules. The thieves will still use fake tags and pretend to be an LL-approved copy of Snowglobe and have a field day.

And you know what? LL's OWN CLIENTS can't pass those restrictions!

One of my friends came to me. He thought that the Lindens were making the use of a third party viewer punishable by suspension or ban, and pointed out an entry in the Boy Lane blog. Boy Lane called herself one of the people behind one of the 3rd party viewers, and had this to say:

What happened now however is going way too far beyond a reasonable policy. Besides making some clear statements about content "backup" LL also introduced some funny terms they could not legally enforce previously. Such as not using the generic term "life" which one has to explicitly agree upon by signing LL's new policy.

But unfortunately not all can be labeled "funny". To come to the (at least in my opinion) main point. LL introduced one killer clause:

7. Your Responsibility for Third-Party Viewers
If you are a user or Developer of Third-Party Viewers:

a. You are responsible for all uses you make of Third-Party Viewers, and if you are a Developer, you are also responsible for all Third-Party Viewers that you develop or distribute.


What this means is that a viewer developer has to take (legal) responsibility for any action of any viewer user. That's something GPL specifically allows to exclude, now LL forces such responsibility back to software developers. It is pretty much impossible for anyone to take such a responsibility. Besides many other questionable points this clause renders the whole 3rd party viewer policy unacceptable.

Boy Lane stated she refused to comply with the new policy, and recommended others stop using third party viewers, saying they were risking being banned from Second Life.

Tateru Nino in Massively called the new policy, "the worst day's work that we've seen come out of the Lab to-date. ... the TPV policies have a number of glaring flaws, chief among which are multiple incompatibilities with the existing source licenses, so that you can't actually build and distribute a viewer from the open source code-base while simultaneously being in compliance with the TPV policies. That's quite an astonishing oversight. In fact, not a single release of the source-code made by Linden Lab to date complies with the TPV policies. An unmodified build from the trunk code-base would be violate the policies as they presently stand."

Why were the new policies so poorly written? The question was summed up between comments between Tateru and one of her readers. He thought the Lindens were too proud to admit that their viewer was inferior to that others could build. Tateru thought this wasn't the case, but rather a blunder, wondering if, someone on the legal team just phoned this in half-asleep.

Word is, Soft Linden is writing up a more clear policy. Hopefully this will clear up a good deal of confusion and suspicion, and quiet fears the Lindens are trying to ban third-party viewers without saying so.

To go to the Linden Blog post, Click Here

To go to the comments, Click Here.

Other sources: Massively, Boy Lane

 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Virtual London

One of the great things about Second Life is that you can travel anywhere in the world without suffering jet lag or having to eat airline peanuts. I decided to take advantage of this and visit London last week. I started at the London Freebie Store. (Knightsbridge, 108, 114, 22)

They have some great clothes at a great pricefree! The selection for gals is awesome. Dresses, pants, shoes--even British hair. For the guys there are business suits, a tux, and some cool shoes. There are so many Ts they are boxed in Collections and found at two locations, London Freebies and the Knightsbridge Club. I picked up all 5 Collections. You can never have too many Ts!

The t-shirt collections have something for everyone, especially music fans. Elvis, The Beatles, Kiss, Led Zepplin, Bob Marley, Grateful Dead, and more. There is a T for every taste. There are lots of free jeans to go with them, too. As soon as I put on a new outfit, I was ready to tour London. 


My first stop was the Knightsbridge Department Store (231, 126, 22). There were no freebies here, but beautiful evening gowns, Bridal gowns, and some boots to die for.

Just down the street is the Underground Club (Knightsbridge, London 175, 135, 22). With brightly colored lights and lots of dance balls, it looked like a great place to party. I was there at an off-time for the Brits so I had the dance floor to myself. But even at an off hour, the lights and music were great.

Further down the street was a SL Sister Cities display. A variety of sites were listed: Moscow, New England, Munich, Luxembourg, Swiss City, and others. The teleport looked like a convenient way to try out some other sims, but I didnt check it out on this trip. I still had a lot left to see in London.  


At the edge of the town I found a replica of the UK Military Memorial Park (London England UK 99, 26, 25). It was small, but very interesting and moving. There were rows of crosses listing the name and service branch of many of their fallen heros. At the base of the memorial, some SL residents had left crosses for their loved ones.

No visit to London is complete without a visit to Hyde Park. (Hyde, London England UK 159,228, 21) At SL Hyde Park there was a Memorial Garden and a Tribute to Princess Diana. A Royal Parks Donation Box was there to collect Lindens and help maintain the RL memorial to Diana, Princess of Wales. Nearby is an Orientation Hub for new residents and a sand box, too.
  
Grey Lupindo

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Second Life Viewer 2.0 Beta Released


Theres been some talk about it in recent weeks, wondering what it might bring. Well, its finally arrived. The Beta for Second Lifes Viewer 2.0.

Today, we're excited to announce the launch of Viewer 2 Beta, the next generation of Second Life viewers -- combining an easy browser-like experience with shared media capabilities -- providing what we believe is the best experience yet for accessing Second Life, and a new option to choose from among Viewer 1.23 and other Third Party Viewers. We looked carefully at the experience design of other successful social media and technology platforms--such as the web browser, Facebook, the iPhone, Twitter, etc.--and the key elements that enabled them to reach mass adoption. You'll see much of that thinking baked into new Viewer 2 experience design. Our primary goal was to create a more consumer-friendly viewer--an imperative to bring in a new wave of Second Life Residents. After all, more people in Second Life means that there will be more amazing content, more customers to purchase virtual goods, a thriving economy, more friends and communities, and we can do even more to improve the experience. All very good things for all of us.

Taking a look, I saw they remembered Mac users, and downloaded the beta viewer. It was notable that the icon had a yellow bar with black stripes on the side, as if to signal under construction. It took a minute for the viewer to initially appear after double-clicking on the icon, though later on it came on normally. One friend when downloading it only got a string of binary code.

I managed to log on okay, but my friends list was a bit quirky, people listed as waiting, and I was cloudy. Eventually, the list appeared, though some were listed as offline whom later turned out were on. When I logged on later, there was no waiting period. My avatar remained a cloud, even on the second time I used the beta. So it looks like the beta needs improvement there.

Using the new viewer took some getting used to, and the side-to-side movement and crouch & jump buttons were missing from the movement toolbar. But there are interesting features. On the right of the screen are tabs, which can be clicked to open a window with information. Bringing up someones profile will reveal both their Second Life and real-life pictures (or whats used in place of them), which can be useful for those who wish to better mix their virtual lives with their real ones. Ones teleport history is stored, so if you forgot to make a landmark at a place you visited the previous day, you can check the history to return.

One feature should be of great interest to non-human avatars, such as furries and tinies: Alpha Masks. Meant to be used in place of invisiprims, they can render parts of your avatar invisible. For digitgrade avatars, this means no force field effect around their shins.

Being cloudy the whole time, my impression the beta still needs a good deal of work. But it does have some cool features that show good potential for it.

For the complete Linden blog entry, Click Here. To go to continued comments, Click Here. To go to a Second Life Youtube about the Beta viewer, narrated by Epsy Linden, Click Here.

Bixyl Shuftan