Saturday, December 31, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Tonight 2011 comes to a close. Numerous locations will be having New Year's Eve parties, and some such as Club Cutlass here will feature their own ball drop at 11:59PM.

It's been a year full of events for the Grid (stay tuned for our Year in Review in a few days), and we've had some great entrances and sad goodbyes. And now, time to say goodbye to it with a blast.

Have a great New Year's Eve.

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

Opinion: Will SOPA Wash Away the Internet (and Second Life)?

A youtube of a chubby bearded character has been going around a number of friends of mine. Despite his similar looks to left of center figure Michael Moore, this man’s cause is more Libertarian: the SOPA Bill in Congress.

The SOPA Bill in Congress, he charges, threatens to shut down the Internet as well know it by making people liable to a multimillion dollar lawsuit just for *linking* to a song or other material. Ironically enough, some of the top SOPA supporters he charges were distributors of some of the software tools used by downloaders, CBS/VIACOM, ABC/Disney, Microsoft, and others. The purpose: entrapment. He charges the distributors of conspiring to put a chokehold on the Internet in order to control entertainment markets by “taking down Youtube, Twitter, and all other websites and networks you use.”

He certainly sounds over the top and easy to dismiss. That he was previously noted only for his “Epic Fail Toys Funny Videos” doesn’t exactly help his cause. But the more I looked into SOPA, the less I liked.

SOPA is short for “Stop Online Piracy Act.” Checking Wikipedia, the bill would allow copyright holders to sue websites they accuse of “enabling or facilitating copyright infringement.” Actions they could take include Payment sites like Paypal from doing business with targeted websites, baring search engines from linking to them, and requiring Internet Service Providers to take them down. It also would make “unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime” punishable by five years in prison. Debate in the House will continue when Congress returns from winter recess.

Fortunately the “Epic Fail Toys” man isn’t the only one talking about SOPA. There was another video sent to me, made by “The Cynical Brit.” There was also an article on the Forbes website, “How SOPA Could Ruin My Life” by Paul Tassi, a writer, and a small business owner operating from his website, “a movie/tv/video game site that I started with a partner about three years ago.” SOPA, he feels, will cause him and others to close down. The bill, he fears, “reeks of Chinese and Iranian Internet policies that allow the government to simply censor the Internet the way they see fit ... their definition of what piracy is ends up including most of the Internet, including my own site, and the punishments for even minor infringements could be catastrophic and run me out of business completely.”

Also opposing it is David Ulevitvh, the head of the Internet business Open DNS. "The legislation has the potential to create the great firewall of America," he told a CNET reporter. The bill “is written so broadly that it will invite abuses,” and would be bad for businesses like his, which would have to reincorporate as offshore companies.

So why is this bill making any headway in Congress at all? Tassi claimed many of the Representatives who went over it in committee “admitted to not knowing how to use the internet. The consensus among them was merely ‘ piracy sounds bad, therefore we should pass this anti-piracy bill ‘ without any further investigation into its deeper implications. Implications that would in effect, destroy the entire idea behind the Internet.”

Ulevith himself went to Washington to talk with Congressmen. What he saw was not good news, "Everything they were hearing from people who came to their door every day is fervent support (for SOPA) ... There was nobody sitting on the other side of the table opposing it ...The amount of perspective and influence we have in DC is essentially non-existent. it's not serving us well anymore."

Amendments to the bill have been rejected, and Congress is set to debate it sometime “early next year.” How it will affect Second Life is unclear, though as the Grid has been targeted before for copyright infringement, some are predicting a chilling effect as radio streams and roleplay regions shut down out of fear of lawsuits. Among those expressing worry, Nydia Tungsten, whom worried she would have to give a certain announcement:

Because the US goverment has been bought by the recording industry, KVXN will be off the air until further notice. I am sorry to have to do this, but I don't want solders kicking in my doors because i am playing music for others to hear, so until we know how and where this is going....this is KVXN Signing off.....

“KVXN Shutting down forever is a REAL possibility, we need to let those fools in Washington know that WE know this is them lining their pockets again.”

Big Business can be beaten. This week, less than a day after Verizon Wireless announced a fee for paying their bills, a public outcry brought it down. Will this also be the case for SOPA, or will the United States join China in censoring the Internet? Tassi went on to write about a "VETO SOPA" Petition that got over 26,000 signatures in two days (as of when this article was written, it's over 44,000). He wasn't sure what the White House would say, but, "Until then, keep signing. It can’t hurt."

I can’t tell others what to do, but I have sent emails to my Congressman and Senators asking them to oppose this dirty SOPA.

Sources: Youtube, Wikipedia, Forbes, CNET

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, December 30, 2011

CNN iReport Island’s Last Event

Two days after it's closing was announced, CNN iReport Island held it's last official event. Part freeform discussion and part party, it was the farewell to the inworld location of the real life news media business, attended by both people in Second Life media and regular folks.

Read more in Events.

Skiing! More Winter Fun!

Gemma Cleanslate closes her December articles with a look at more wintertime fun in Second Life. This time she did some skiing. She went to several locations in Second Life offering this and other wintertime activities. Or one could just warm up in the lodge.

Read more in Places.

Tales from Podex: If You Give a Mouse a Linden ...

It was a late December day at the Podex Bank. It was after Christmas, and the influx of people coming in to get cash to buy presents had slowed down. So the tellers had more time to chat, talking about what they had given or gotten for the holiday, or for Boxing Day in the case of people from a few countries. They also talked about wintertime activities from skiing to ice skating, and some Christmas events as well as some upcoming New Year’s Eve plans.

In the middle of the talk, a short mouselike figure walked in. He was dressed all Christmasy in his green shorts and red shirt, wearing a Santa hat between his huge ears. He looked around, then headed to one of the tellers, whom greeted him “Hello?”

“Hi. I don’t suppose I can put some cookies in a safe deposit box?”

“Um, Sir, we’re an exchange service. We exchange US Dollars and several other world currencies for Linden Dollars, and vice-versa. We don’t store virtual goods for safekeeping.”

“Oh darn. I was hoping I could eat them later before lag does. I don’t suppose I could trade some Czech korunas for some Lindens?”

“Certainly Sir.” The clerk brought up a form to fill out, and in a few minutes, the electronic tramsfer was made.

“Thank you very much. I don’t think I’ve seen a client like you from the Czech Republic before.”

“I’m not. I’m from the USA.”

“Then what are you doing with korunas?”

“It was a friend’s idea of a Christmas prank. I asked for a bowl of Chex mix, and instead, he gave me ‘Czech mix.’ “

The clerks groaned, and the mouselike client chuckled a bit before turning around, and leaving the bank, going about his way while the tellers went about their business.

The Podex Exchange is located at Moonbeam (26, 223, 34), with a website at . Jacek Shuftan is the CEO.

Note: The preceding is a fictional story, written for the dual purpose of advertisement and entertainment.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Steelhead Community: Mindy and the Sasquatch

The Steampunk-themed community of Steelhead is noted for it's variety of characters, from elves, to mad scientists, it's werewolf sheriff, and others. Today we look at two of the people in the roleplays there: one of the local children, Mindy, and one of the quieter but more unique residents, her friend in the woods "Mr. Sasquatch." So what does a Sasquatch do in a place more noted for it's steam engines than it's trees? We went over to ask him.

Read more in People.

MORPG Review: Rift

Xymbers is back after a short absence. And with him back, he has a story to share, his time in the "Rift" MORPG. Is it any better than "World of Warcraft?" He writes about how it's different. Xymbers also has an announcement at the end those looking to make a few extra Lindens in are interested.

Read more in Extra.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

CNN Closing Down Second Life Location

Second Life Newser was informed by CNN iReporter Any1 Gynoid that CNN Island would be closing down. The news came from two CNN producers known inworld as Nichole and Henry ireport at an iReporter meeting at the place yesterday on Tuesday December 27th.

Janey Bracken, who wrote about the closing for iReport, quoted Nicole as saying, “We set up shop here in 2008 because we wanted to see what it was like to participate in a real-time community, in a virtual world no less. We didn't know what to expect. The prospect was a little scary, to be completely honest.”

“We've realized that there's a whole culture in-world, and we met so many people and acquired amazing threads and dance moves. Our comfort level grew, and we really feel like we've come to know you. It's been a few years now and we're thoroughly appreciative of this community we've had a privilege to be a part of. We are all proud of what we accomplished here and excited about the future. Just wanted you to know that.”

“We wanted to let you know that we'll never forget our meetings, amazing hair and of course the incredible figures on our avatars. (laughter) We wish we looked like this in real life. It's truly been one of my favourite projects at CNN, and I think others will agree.”

Janey, felt the reason for the closing was “the hectic politics of today’s real world leaves CNN people with little time to cover everything, let alone a fun thing like Second Life.“ But the political season in 2008 didn’t seem to affect iReports then ( the SL iReports page though hadn’t updated since 2008, though). There were some whispers in March that the location would be closing, but the rumors turned out to be false.

CNN will still be publishing articles on Second Life, though it’s unclear if Nicole and Henry will still be logging on, “There are still some of the finer points to work out, but CNN will let us know very soon what else is happening. There will be a farewell party on CNN Island on Thursday at 2pm SLT.”

CNN has been one of the last real-life businesses to retain an in-world location in Second Life, most having left the Grid after the media spotlight largely drifted away. In April, IBM closed it's three art exhibition sims.

CNN’s location is at CNN iReport Island at (128, 128, 24)

Source: CNN

Bixyl Shuftan

Get a Meeroo at Sunweaver Air: Rita Mariner’s Meeroos

If you’re a Second Life resident, you’re probably familiar with one of the most popular virtual pets on the Grid, if not the most popular. Looking at you with their adorable puppy-dog eyes making those “churrrrr” sounds, they never fail to get an “Awwww” from passersby. We are of course referring to those lovable Meeroos.

One doesn’t need to go far to find a Meeroo breeder looking to sell some of the critters. Right next to the Second Life Newspaper office, Rita Mariner keeps a number of Meeroos. She enjoys them a lot, but is looking for good homes for some of them.

Asking her what the attraction was, “First thing I like about them is that you can actually pick them up and cuddle them.” With the Meeroo HUD on, Rita told the critters will seek you out and beg to be snuggled. To those who think breedables cause too much lag, she answered, “These breedables are designed to work, in that they go into reduced activity mode, should sim dilation be detected. Also they act like real pets, that when the sun goes down, they go to sleep.”

Rita commented in several ways, the Meeroos were like a game, “You have to match up various traits to get them to breed, they way you want them too. They come in various species, coats, sizes and personalities. You can get ears shapes, tails, eyes and head shapes. You have to check the chart to see all that is available. They just added several new species and coats to the mix, I think only the oldest breeders are getting them right now and they are fetching premium prices right now. I have seen prices on some of the rare Meeroos as high as 250,000L. You need two to breed, and siblings can’t breed with each other, nor with their parents.”

Rita told that one can get most varieties of Meeroos from her, “I just got my first Jubilee.” For beginning owners, she recommends, getting individual Meeroos, “the fun part is when you get a new nest is you never know what you get until you toggle it. I have been surprised several times to see a totally different species Meeroo come out of a pair of my ‘roos. I have to look at them and wonder what those two have been up too, behind my back.” Rita explained a new Meeroo owner could easily end up with a rare after a couple have offspring, “I got a Jubilee out of my Pharaohs.”

Meeroos come in several sizes, “teacup, toy, small, average, medium, large, giant. Giant gets almost as big as my little daughter.” To add to the fun, “The Meeroos also dig up treasures for you to find and click on. At holidays, they creators add in special treasures just for the holidays. These gain you regard points. Regard points are like experience points. The more you get, the greater chance of unlocking different traits in your Meeroos. Your Meeroos also gain regard points through petting. They max out at 7500 points, so the faster you get them maxed out the better, since they only breed for 55 days, about once every 5 days. So you can get about 11 nests out each pair.”

Besides petting one’s own Meeroos for regard points, “you gain them by petting others 'roos, coaxing a nest, answering the oracle correctly, releasing a 'roo to the wild.”at age 60 days a 'roo becomes elderly and will not produce anymore nests. you have a choice to make. 1) keep them as is, but they still require food. 2) "Meepet" them, and that requires the 999L Meepet option, but they become a permanent pet and no longer require regular food 3) Release them into the wild. the last 2 you gain their stored up regard pints for yourself.”

“It is surprising how addicting they have become. *laughs* They are a lot of fun to have around, but watch out, they are very addicting. Like the old saying, ‘You can't eat just one’? You can't have just one. *laughs*”

For those truly addicted, Rita mentioned there are Meeroo avatars available. Or rather, anthro Meeroo modification kits for the furry chinchilla avatar, “available only on Curious Sim.” The kits come individually, or in “fat packs,” “Limited Edition ones are available only till Dec 31st.”

So if you’re interested in getting one or more pet Meeroos, go see Rita Mariner at Sunweaver Air.

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Events this Week in Second Life from Dec 27th to Jan 2nd

The Holidays come to a close this week, and with them the old year as we ring in 2012 this Saturday night. Many sims continue to host Christmas-themed events for those who couldn't see them earlier, as well as winter themes. Plus there are some art exhibitions such as "Wave Fields." And of course there are the usual noted club music events, plus talk shows and races.

Read more in Events this Week.

Arch Rivals?

When I worked for Dana Vanmoer at Second Life Newspaper, "The Herald" were considered our arch-rivals ... sort of. They were a tabloid, feeding off the drama at the bottom of the Grid, and we were the paper with standards. We made an occasional playful jab at them, for the most part keeping our rivalry low key. The harshest words about them came not from us, but by some readers, saying they gave Second Life journalism a bad name. Eventually, SLN closed, Second Life Newser opened, and the "Herald" began to slow down in it's number of articles per week.

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago when I met their editor Pixeleen Mistral at the set of the political talk show "Virtual Speaking." I had seen her a couple times at Luskwood, but she was Away from Keyboard. This time she was chatting with someone about economic inequetties and how she felt they hurt the Grid. I wasn't sure what to expect, but she greeted me politely, and actually complemented our coverage of one particular subject.

So what does one do when your "arch rival" greets you with praise? I greeted her politely in turn, and when matters required me to depart, I wished her well.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 26, 2011

Rod Humble’s 2012 Outlook: Better NPCs for the Grid, Linden Labs to Launch “Products Next Year Not Related to Second Life”

In the latest Linden Blog post, Rod Humble looked back at what he considered Linden Labs best accomplishments for 2011, and had some announcements for what lay ahead in 2012.

Most of what Humble had to say was about noted accomplishments of Linden Lab. Considering his roots in the gaming industry, it was perhaps no surprise the first he mentioned was the making and launching of “Linden Realms, the Lab's first-ever game prototype.” For new residents, it was a chance to earn a few Lindens. For the Lab, Humble called it a way for the Lab to “learn more about what tools Residents could use to develop richer experiences in Second Life — and boy, did we learn a lot!” Humble states Linden Realms would continue to be worked on, with new tools released. There would be one catch: “to prevent abuse of these tools,” only “verified members” would have access to them.

Rod Humble also mentioned the development of Mesh, which he claimed had “more than a 16 percent adoption rate.” He stated he expected for it to continue at a strong pace (though many residents would probably be highly skeptical of this claim). He also talked about new versions of the official Viewer, which included features for newcomers, and the increase in Premium account benefits, notably Linden Homes. He told readers to expect additional “features and content” for Premium members.

For 2012, Humble stated “the primary engineering focus of” the first quarter “will be server side performance and fixing bugs. In fact, you may have noticed one upgrade deployed this week which should reduce the number of restarts and increase performance for all regions.” My observation for the latter is that it hasn’t. He also promised that land tiers would not increase in 2012. He went on to state, “For creators our first new feature for 2012 will be pathfinding,” what the Lab calls it’s new artificial intelligence programs for “artificial life and artificial people,” one example being NPCs for game areas.

The last thing Rod Humble stated was especially interesting: “we will be launching some completely different products next year not related to Second Life.” In short, Linden Labs will no longer have Second Life as it’s only product. This is not unexpected as Second Life is currently Linden Lab’s sole source of income, and open-ended virtual worlds haven’t really caught on with the public.

The question is, what will this mean for Second Life? Hamlet Au wrote this was Linden Lab’s best chance to stay profitable, predicting land sales would eventually crash, and with it the Linden’s source of money. “... a successful second or third product besides Second Life would help keep SL alive, since it can then be cross-promoted to this large new audience, while new revenue sources can help finance whatever changes are needed to keep SL stable.”

Any1 Gynoid, however, had a more dismal prediction. This she felt was a sign Linden Labs was giving up on Second Life, and looking for greener pastures, planning to close it down once they found something more profitable. She advised people to head on to alternative virtual worlds like OpenSim.

My opinion is closer to Hamlet’s on this matter. Unlike him, I feel Second Life could easily survive as a niche product (as does Tateru Nino). Diversifying from a single product is good business sense, and doesn’t mean the doom of the original. Blizzard for instance is known for “World of Warcraft,” but continues to market It’s earlier games, Diablo and Starcraft. This might not be the best comparison as we have no idea how successful these other goods the Lab will offer may be. But it does illustrate just because someone’s new product hits the jackpot doesn’t mean they’ll abandon what was selling before.

My Second Life friends have expressed differing viewpoints about these alternative virtual worlds. A few have set up a place there, in one case a man wanting to set up a casino where it would be outside Linden Lab’s restriction. Others I’ve heard balk at the idea of moving there, saying the graphics there aren’t as good, the choice of appearances is poorer, and leaving friends behind.

On one last note, it’s been a year since Rod Humble became the CEO of Linden Lab. His appointment was greeted with cautious optimism then. A year later, although not all is well with the Grid, on the whole things are looking better than back them. His first year has been a success.

Sources: New World Notes, CNN

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

While out shopping, some friends and I found a mall Santa, so they decided to get on Santa's lap to ask what they wanted for Christmas. ;-)

Merry Christmas from Second Life Newser

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Cartoon of the Day: Bah Humbug

By Bixyl Shuftan

SL Machinima: A New Babbage Xmas by the "Designing Worlds" Team

A little Steampunk Xmas story, by Saffia Widdershins and Elrik Merlin

"Saffia and Elrik are visiting New Babbage to deliver a shipment of seasonal gifts from Prim Perfect Publications to the urchins of New Babbage. Saffia will be meeting our old friend, the Assistant Maceholder of New Babbage, Victor Mornington, to deliver the gifts, while Elrik hopes to get a look at some of the exciting new steam-powered technology developed for the winter season by their ingenious engineers. And this is New Babbage, after all, so absolutely nothing at all can go wrong…"

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Science Experiment in Second Life

Those joining the Science Center and Linden Research groups will occasionally get an invitation to join a science experiment. Funded by a university's department, the experiment is one way Second Life is having some real-life applications, as well as providing a few lindens to the volunteers for their time.

More on the experiment in People.

The Curious Prim Main Store

Netera Landar recently came across a curious store named appropriately "The Curious Prim." It's wares can be described as a mix of generes, not just the variety but sometimes the items themselves, a combination of Steampunk, Fantasy, and others. Built by Grey Kurka, it's a place that offers the Second Life explorer something new and different.

Read more about the Curious Prim in Places.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have Yourself a Tiny Little Christmas

Remember the "Tiny Carollers" whom entertained the audience at the last show of the season of "the 1st Question" during technical difficulties? Well, their whole performance was too long for the article then. So here it is now.

~*~ O' Little Sim of Raglan Shire, Where Tinies come to Playyyy ~*~
~*~ To run and chitter endlessly and RiverDance all dayyyy ~*~
~*~ And in the Snow of Winterfest, Tinies are heard to Call.. ~*~
~*~ To Visitors of Biggie Height, Asked Why Are You So Tallllllll? ~*~

* ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ *

Read more in Extra.

“And Finally ...” Kristen Viewer’s “Crowdfunder” Effort Falls Short, Development Ends

There was some sad but not unexpected news for fans of the Kristen third-party viewer this week. The effort to raise funds for further development fell short of it’s target. On the Kristen Blog, the developer announced the news, and stated he would be refunding what cash was raised to those who donated.

The Kristen Viewer was one of the more popular third-party viewers, but earlier this year the real-life partner of developer KristenLee Cinquetti (Lee Quick in real life) fell ill, and KristenLee announced in September development would be ending so he could take on additional employment in order to support her. But friends of his suggested a fundraiser, so he decided to do so through a British fundraising website “Crowdfunder,” offering to work on the viewer full time if 25,000 Pounds (about 40,000 US Dollars) were raised within two months.

Initially, the effort was successful, eight percent raised in a day. But then the cash flow began to slow. By the time the two months were over, only 28% of the goal had been met, with just over 130 people contributing cash. As promised, he would be giving them their money back.

Efforts to fund Second Life development have succeeded before. Also in October, New World Notes reported mesh developer Maxwell Graf started a fundraiser for cash to pay the former Qarl Linden (Karl Stiefvater) $5400 US dollars to fix some mesh issues. In less than three weeks, the target was reached. With 25,000 Pounds a much higher amount, Hamlet Au stated he had suggested to KristenLee smaller amounts of 6,250 Pounds for three months work. But KristenLee reportedly answered, "The big issue is then, every 3 months, I have to come cap in hand to justify another round of funding."

Hamlet Au thought the big reason for the failure to meet the fundraising goal was that too many people had become used to getting goods for free, or what they thought was for free. Kristen reportedly stated, "People don't see the connection between free software and paying developers. Even free software is not entirely free." And noted in his blog in the final week, 217 people had downloaded his viewer, “I do wonder if the 217 people who downloaded the old client last week from sourceforge ever decided to fund.. we will never know.”

It should also be noted that the economy, in the United States, Britian, and elsewhere, has been rather poor. Although officially in the US unemployment is about 9%, the official rates do not count those whom have given up looking. “Real” unemployment is believed to be in the teens. And even those employed struggle to pay their bills. While Kristen still might not have met his goals in better times, it’s a good bet more people would have been willing to part with some money, and in larger amounts.

In any event, KristenLee/Lee Quick, has found real life employment as an engineer, starting in the new year.

“Warmest Regards and wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.” - (KirstenLee Cinquetti) aka Lee

Sources: Kristen Blog, New World Notes

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Art of Judilynn

I was sorry to miss the opening of the exhibit at Eclipse Arts Complex. Judilynn India is the artist of some stunning pieces. She is an artist in real life and also in Second Life, so has imported some of her works into SL.

I met her in the gallery and she told me about her feeling for the art and sharing it in Second Life, "All of the paintings on the far wall from us are acrylic on canvas. No digital. I also work in mixed media. The computer as a tool is amazing: It lets me do things that I can't achieve with my hands.” In some of her pieces you will see layering of texture sand some are reminiscent of Van Gogh One of my favorites was an abstract with subtle colors.

Judilynn donates part of the proceeds to the homeless and hungry in her home town in the USA where she is located, ”I decided a long time ago that my art would not just be for hanging on a wall. It will serve a purpose. It will raise funds for those who need assistance..human and animal.” There is a lovely piece called "All My Children,“ and if you buy that, half of the proceeds go to the poor.

You can visit the exhibit here:

Gemma Cleanslate

"Hot Cocoa" at Steelhead

At Steelhead City on Saturday Dec 17th at 7PM, there was a "Hot Cocoa" dance. This may not sound unusual at first, but in this town with its share of mad scientists, they went over the top. A cup of hot chocolate was enlarged and the surface of the liquid solidified to walk on. But the marshmallows remained soft and fluffy.

About a dozen attended the dance, human, elven, lycan, and young & old. The music was provided by Sheriff "Fuzzball" Ortega, whom found some "sweet music" for the chocolate lovers. Tips got a comment from a message machine, "Thank you, now I can afford a bigger cup of hot cocoa."

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach was among those attending the dance. Some of the others had some unusual costumes with marshamallow themes, including one woman whom came all in white including some make up. Another wore an outfit with matching smiling marshmallow hat and backpack. A third wore, "In case anyone can't read my shirt it says, 'I torture marshmallows.' "

Everyone had a "sweet" time that evening.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Events this Week in Second Life from Dec 20th to Dec 26th

Christmas is coming, and for those not seeing family out of town (or whom need a break after seeing too much of certain family), there are numerous holiday and winter themed events and places on the Grid. From the Fifth Annual Winter Festival at Areo Pines to "Who Melted Frosty?", there are too many to count. And of course we have the Christmas events at the featured music clubs, whom deck the walls in a different light.

Read more in Events this Week.

Opinion: A Look at What Went Wrong With Mesh

Okay, I should have written about this a long time ago, but better late than never.

In Daniel Voyager’s Blog, the launching of Mesh in Second Life was listed at the top of his list of biggest news stories in Second Life for 2011. While certainly an important development, just how big an impact did it have for the average resident

In my opinion, Mesh has been much less important to Second Life than the earlier hype implied. Compared to earlier major updates such as Voice and Windlight, it has been much less important. Blogger Tateru Nino expressed similar views, “the new Mesh content type has had less impact on the Second Life grid than any other new content type that I can recall. In fact, it seems statistically insignificant.”

I haven’t written much about Mesh. This is mainly because Mesh was designed for use by Viewer 2 and 3. My computer cannot use those, as well as the Firestorm third-party viewer which is based on Viewer 2 technology. The viewers I’ve used, mainly Singularity to cut down on lag, have been unable to see Mesh objects as anything but distorted shapes. I once saw a mesh avatar, and to me it looked like a head next to a huge pillow. While Team Phoenix has been working on a mesh-compatible Phoenix Viewer, 1.6.0, I have yet to see anything Mesh. When I tried the Mesh-compatible Phoenix, it kept crashing.

I’m not exactly alone. Someone once stated 90% of Second Life residents are still using either the old Viewer 1.23, or third party viewers. This might be an exaggeration, and doesn’t take into account Firestorm and it’s use of Viewer 2 technology, but this shows the main reason Mesh hasn’t had the impact on the Grid that was earlier predicted: most people are not using the viewers that can see it. Naturally, this would discourage people from building and buying mesh objects.

Another problem is what builder Lomgren Smalls called “Prim Equivalency.” Mesh was touted as making builds that were a more efficient use of computer power. One lady tried making a tree using mesh, and it ended up the Prim Equivalent of 500 prims! Loki Eliot also had a few words on the matter:

“Mesh on the other hand is a weird creature compared to the familiar prim. It does not have a set shape, does not have a set numerical count. You rez a mesh and the viewer tries to calculate a Prim Equivalence (PE) so it can conform to the current system and this PE is effected by a number of factors - Size, Physical Weight, Number of Textures or whether it has a script inside. If you Link two Mesh together the PE may increase or decrease depending on factors of the linked mesh. If you link a normal PRIM to a mesh, it may not even seem to count towards the Mesh's PE.”

“A Mesh Objects PE is not set in stone either. You could have an object made with 5 Prims and have a Mesh version that comes in at 4 PE, if you enlarge the Mesh version by a metre or so, it's PE could jump to 8 PE. The Bigger your mesh the more PE it costs. It's a bit confusing and really kills off mesh for large scale use not to mention griefing potential of an object that takes up prim count when enlarging.”

Although Mesh objects can still have a much smaller Physical Weight than their prim counterparts, Prim Equivalency is another reason most builders are sticking with prims.

Then came another issue, one that sank the hearts of many of those who looked forward to Mesh clothing. Mesh outfits will sometimes be a poor fit with one’s avatar, unless one adjusts the shape to fit it.

Vaki Zenovka had a few words on the matter, “mesh opens up a very significant can of worms that Second Life had never really opened before: that of body image. SL always allowed us to create, within certain limitations, the body that we wanted. We could be slender, youthful, and girlish. We could be stacked, sexy, sensual. We could be wiry, androgynous, angular. We could be voluptuous, curvy, womanly. Men, too: from skinny youths to muscular manly-men to pot-bellied bears, SL allows an amazing range of shapes…and that’s just the humans.”

“here’s the mesh problem: so many of us have struggled for years in real life with our body images, for whatever reason. So many of us dread the chore of going shopping for clothes and wading through options that don’t fit, or hang funny, or gap in places they shouldn’t gap. We hate it because society makes clothes for an ideal shape which is not our own. We hate it because it reminds us that our bodies are not easily mutable, and we cannot change the things about us that feel, for whatever reason, alien.”

For some, the Mesh upgrade has meant an uncomfortable detail of real life has crept into Second Life. That is, unless Mesh clothing is not considered an option.

By all means, Mesh is still a useful feature. If nothing else, it's shown the promise for new and better graphics. As some such as Pooky Amsterdam have demonstrated, the detail it allows makes for some great Machinina effects when everything works well. Unfortunately for use by the masses, it still needs work. And because of the bias of many residents against newer official viewers, it will need the assistance of third party viewers to reach the majority.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 19, 2011

Be the Ninja! The Nexus Core System RP Sim

For those looking for a new place to game, Grey Lupindo took a look at a combat roleplay sim: The Nexus Core System RP sim, owned by BioBlaze Payne and Silicon Plunket. Led by a team of builders and roleplayers with years of experience in Second Life, the group behind the game and sim numbers in the thousands. Gray took a look at both the beautifully designed village and countryside, in addition to the game taking place there. This included getting her hands dirty with whacking a few troublesome critters.

See Grey's adventures in Design.

Picture of the Day: Cellandra's Xmas Show

Cellandra Zon held a Christmas show on Sunday afternoon. Any1 Gynoid was there, and sent this picture of Cellandra skating.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

FJ Linden Departs Linden Lab

Last week, New World Notes reported that Frank Ambrose, known as FJ Linden inworld, Linden Lab's Senior VP of Global Technology, had left Linden Lab. He was in charge of Grid stability and user support. His technical updates were praised by some, Blogger Inara Pey calling him an "Unsung hero" of Second Life.

Daniel Voyager brought up his First Quarter update, noting the praise it got from residents, notably about the group limit raised from 25 to 42. Hamlet Au noted FJ's departure comes just after Kim Salzer's leaving the Lab. He thought of two reasons this might not be a coindidence. One was the possibility of a continuing trend of moving away from the Lab's early idealism. The second scenerio was the two getting the hint the New CEO Mark Humble prefered to deal with people appointed under his watch. Either way, it means two major figures have left in two months.

Sources: New World Notes, Daniel Voyager's Blog, Inara Pey,

Bixyl Shuftan

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

SL Machinima: "Freeta's Farm"

"A day in the Life on my Virtual Farm," by Freeta Kayo of Steelhead.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happy Rezzday Nydia

On Monday December 12th, Nydia Tungsten, the owner of Club Zero Gravity and the Happy Vixen clubs & the KVXN SL radio station, the head of the FCA club alliance, and a longtime friend of Second Life Newser, had a surprise rezzday party thrown for her by her friends.

The party lasted for a few hours, giving those not in the know a chance to show up and join the fun, including a number of FCA DJs, Green Meadows Ballroom owner Perri Prinz, and Daaneth Kivioq of the Relay for Life team "Passionate Redheads."

Nydia was very happy for the party, thanking everyone for this display of friendship.

SL Youtube: "Mesh Noir," "Flufee on a Meshion - Episode8":

From Pooky Amsterdam and Draxtor Despres, "Raymond Chandler and his writings especially stories featuring detective Philip Marlowe have fascinated our hero Flufee since his early childhood. As expected it was not long before he inserted him and friends into a noirish black & white mesh-up of semi-epic proportions...."

Friday, December 16, 2011

"Your World, Your Imagination" Is Back

Yesterday, I was talking about the new introduction page to the Second Life website, which for me showed a vampire. There's a couple arrows to dial to a couple other pictures, but for me the fanged goth girl keeps showing up first when I bring up the page.

I had been so busy wondering if this might scare off newcomers, I didn't notice one subtle but important development, Linden Labs is using the slogan "Your World, Your Imagination" once again.

To newer residents, Linden Labs for most of Second Life's history used the slogan for the virtual world, describing the place as run by the residents freely as they liked to travel, create, and interact as they pleased. A few years ago, the Lab stopped using it. Possibly in response to criticism to their safeguards from the gambling and bank bans to age verification, "I thought this was supposed to be 'Our World, Our Imagination.' " But longtime residents still remembered it.

New World Notes quoted Linden spokesman Peter Gray as saying "Our thinking was just that the tag-line fits Second Life, so we decided to bring it back ..." A subtle move, but for a longtime user like myself a welcome one.

Bixyl Shuftan

Happy Holiday Freebies

It’s that time again. Time to get the Christmas and holiday decor out of storage, or go get sparkling new decorations. As usual, Vickijo Rivera has arranged for a collection of awesome freebies at the Corner of Revolving Time. Saucy Loire and Sweetsister Silverstar have put out some wonderful items for both inside and out of your home, and for your avatar!

If you have the prim space you can put a whole skating rink up, or a gazebo, or a north pole with penguins at no expense. There are trees and ornaments and so many more low prim textures for you to grab. Three floors of items are waiting for your visit and be sure to go all around the outside of the building too.

I picked up some delightful snow globes and a full size Nativity Scene inside an ornament that reminds one of the real meaning of Christmas. You can grab some cute outfits on the second floor , for both female and male. Have fun collecting your presents! Start here.

Gemma Cleanslate

SL Machinima: "Artwashers"

Artwashers from 2sense Productions

At the UWA's Open-Art Challenge last weekend, there was a contest for machinima. The one that took second place, written about by Rowan Derryth was the film "Artwashers," a clever parody about one advantage of a virtual art museum by Friday Siamendes.

"In many ways, though, this works the same way as visiting a gallery or museum. The work is physical, but we do not usually smell or taste it; and we usually don’t touch it either. In fact, virtual art is even MORE interactive–we can ‘touch’ is and be part of the work. And we don’t have to worry about caretaking and conservation in the same manner as physical work (although virtual works opens whole new problems in these areas). One of the machinima from the UWA challenge that I absolutely loved played upon these ideas was ‘Artwashers’ by 2sense Productions.

"By introducing us to the fictive cleaners at the UWA, the parody cleverly highlights how such a space is so much less complicated that a real museum, allowing the administrative energy to be focused on creativity and education. And that freedom to focus on the creative work has created a wonderful, happy accident."

Even those of us with a poor sense of the artistic can appreciate the humor. Well done, Friday.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Welcome Screen With a Little Bite

For about a year and a half, we've seen those "Be a Vampire" banner ads for Second Life, advertising the Grid as a place for roleplaying the creatures of the night. Well, when going to the official website today, this is what greeted me.

Now the vamps in Second Life pretty much keep their fangs to themselves. But I can't help but wonder if some newbies might be scared off by the image, at least as is. Perhaps a collection of avatars, with vampires being one example.

On the other hand, a wag might joke this is Linden Lab's way of warning the Grid can sometimes "suck."

Santas on the Playa!

Saturday if you are looking for Santasssss they will be having fun on the Playa! From 9:00 AM SL time to 9:00 PM, there will be snowball fights, skating , music and lots more going on in Silver Seed.

It looks like a great day to join in and get more holiday spirit! Don’t worry if you don’t have Santa outfits you will find some at the entrance. I took a look and also saw free skates, and snowballs ready to throw. Snow blowers are working furiously to get the snow there in time! Everyone is invited to join the fun!

I bet all your favorite builders will be there too, I know the best djs wil be around spinning tunes all day too...and your friendly greeters and rangers!! See you at the gate!

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cartoon of the Day

By Bixyl Shuftan


Recently, Netera Landar visited a dark place in Second Life, the Crossroads. Halfway wondering if she'd end up needing to buy a vampire's wardrobe and a coffin as a result of her venture, Netera braved the dangers and talked to the people behind this gothic-themed roleplay community.

Read more in People.

Winners Announced in UWA Open-Art Challenge

On Sunday December 11th, the University of Western Australia announced the winners of it's Open-Art challenge. With three contests for machinimas, non-scripted art, and exhibits that took advantage of the nature of Second Life, there was a lot to see and a number of awards given. But only one could take home the top one hundred thousand linden prize.

Read more in Design.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Breaking News: Last Names for New Accounts to Return

In Rodvik Linden's comment feed, or social network page, the Linden Lab CEO posted that plans were under discussion on how to bring back surnames for accounts.

Last names under active discussion. We are trying to figure out how to do it in a way which would be excellent rather than just ok. We want it intuitive with extra features. Hopefully we will roll out what we are thinking early January latest.

Identity is very important so as we touch it we need to make sure we are adding something great.

So far, responses, such as on the Linden blog, have been overwhelmingly positive. There have been some voices expresses skepticism, wondering just how easily can Linden Lab correct it's decision. But for now, most are cheering, and looking forward to the option for newer residents to have a last name like those before them.

Click Here for the Linden Blog thread.

Source: Daniel Voyager's Blog

Bixyl Shuftan