Giant Prim Escapes From Second Life

•March 29, 2009 • 5 Comments

A giant prim has escaped from Second Life and was last seen heading off to sea. I have no idea what’s going on here – it comes from a Japanese web site, and Google translate doesn’t help any. See the original here…..



UK Government Planning In Second Life

•March 23, 2009 • Leave a Comment

The Telegraph posted a story with the headline “Ministers spend thousands on virtual site which is not promoted online“.

It says “The Second Life innovation centre cost £20,000 to build, and it costs a further £12,000 a year to maintain, according to figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions.”

So I went to have a look. And what there is is a pair of semi detached houses, one developed, one not, with lots of info buttons on the developed half, which tell you about the planning & building regulations for particular things (sewers, satellite dishes etc.), and when you click on them they take you to a web page with further details.

While the build is a touch bland (though that could also be said for most real life new house builds these days) it seems like a useful thing, but I doubt anyone is going to go through all the trouble of signing up with SL, downloading the software and then go through the steep learning curve to get started, just to get some advice about building regs that is more easily available via a website.

There is a noticeboard there where you can leave your comments if you wish, and the traffic count was 13 when I visited.

Visit it here….

Government Planning  01

Government Planning  03

And there’s a cute little lolcat in a basket in the kitchen.

Government Planning  02

Landscape Of The Wind – Art From The Atmosphere

•March 19, 2009 • 4 Comments

Landscape of the Wind

This is a variation on my Art from Clouds & Wind piece.

In this one I’m using the wind to change not just the colors of the components, but also letting the wind velocity adjust the height of the  individual components of the landscape to obtain a kind of rolling hills effect that is constantly changing..

Just to give you a sense of scale, that’s me in the middle of the picture above.

In the gallery below, I was playing around with changing the attributes of the actual component parts.

I would love to show you a video of it in action, but SL was working against me and ruined every attempt that I tried to video it. Boo hoo.

Shape Collage – A Free Automatic Photo Collage Maker

•March 7, 2009 • 1 Comment

Just been playing around with Shape Collage by Vincent Cheung – a free little program for collaging your pics together into shapes. It’s easy to use, just select which pics you want to collage, select the shape from the templates, or draw your own, or use text, and a few clicks later it’s done.

The only thing to watch out for is using the automatic features – the first collage I made ended up 15,000 pixels wide – far too big for my puny computer to display.

Shape Collage  05

Shape Collage  04

Shape Collage  02

Shape Collage  01
Download Shape Collage for free here…..

Shaping the future by Charles Stross

•February 27, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Science fiction writer Charles Stross tries to imagine the future in this piece originally given as a speech in 2007.

There’s nothing here specifically about virtual worlds, but his thoughts about the future of computing might come as a surprise. It’s not computers that the future belongs to, but bandwidth.

” It’s like the difference between having an experimental test plane that can fly at 1000 km/h, and having thousands of Boeings and Airbuses that can fly at 1000 km/h”

Interesting and thought provoking stuff……

Windows Vista A Bigger Fiasco Than Second Life?

•February 27, 2009 • 1 Comment

According to, Second Life is up for an award as one of the biggest fiascos of the year. Go and vote if you think differently.

“The hope of the organizers is that the Fiasco Awards become a popular Award. Since its launching, the project has received through the web 23 nominations for the 2009 Fiasco Awards. Among these, the jury has chosen nine finalists: Google Lively; Windows Vista; Second life; Autonomix, the Free Software packs distributed by Public Administrations; Maresme Digital;; DAB, the digital radio; and SAGA, the Administration and Academic Management System of the Catalan Government.”

Although it seems to me that classing Second Life (been around for almost nine years now) in with Google Lively (lifetime five months) is a bit harsh.

Beneath The Tree That Died By AM Radio

•February 20, 2009 • 2 Comments

There’s a new build by AM Radio – “Beneath The Tree That Died”.

It explores the same themes that his other works explore – deserted landscapes, old cars, radio parts, things floating in the air, with some nice Twilight Zone style doors as teleporters and a landscape of radar dishes.

Well worth a look – and don’t forget to pick up your own free Mary Poppins umbrella…..

Beneath the Tree That Died by AM Radio  01

Beneath the Tree That Died by AM Radio  06

Beneath the Tree That Died by AM Radio  08

Beneath the Tree That Died by AM Radio  09

Beneath the Tree That Died by AM Radio  12

Scott Adams Pontificates On Virtual Worlds

•February 10, 2009 • 2 Comments

Scott Adams*, the creator of that geeky cubicle dweller Dilbert cartoon strip, has written a small piece about the future of Second Life and other virtual worlds, and while he comes to a well trodden conclusion, it’s nicely put…..

*Scott Adams is no stranger to Second Life, as he once came in and invited everyone to kick his avatar in the groin.

Second Life Buys XstreetSl – Some Thoughts.

•February 8, 2009 • 1 Comment

It’s been a little while now since Linden Labs bought and, and mostly all the fuss that the news created has died down somewhat. So maybe now is the time for a few considered thoughts about the takeover.

First of all I have to say that I think it is generally a good thing, both for merchants, customers, and for Second Life itself. But only if certain things are done – and done well. I was in SL for months before I ever heard of SLExchange as it was known then, and it’s probably the same for a lot of people – and bringing it within Second Life and available from there has to be better for both creators and customers.

But first the bad news….

It’s bad news for content creators who had their products only on OnRez and hadn’t duplicated them on Xstreet. It means a lot of work for them to move the stuff over, and I’m sure there’s a lot of people who just won’t bother. They have my commiserations.

Then there’s the currency conversion. Both Linden Labs and XstreetSl are in the business of converting Linden dollars to real US dollars. And of the two, XstreetSl is the more efficient. L$ transferred from your XsteetSl account to your PayPal account happens almost instantly. Doing the same thing through the LL currency exchange takes from several days upwards (or so I read on the forums, never having used the LL exchange myself, for exactly this reason.)

Now when the news of the takeover was released, the Lindens were keeping very quiet about the future of the currency exchange, despite it seemingly the one thing that was causing the most fuss on the forums. From which I can only draw this conclusion…..

It’s not going to stay the same, otherwise it would have been mentioned and a lot of fuss would have died down instantly.

From my position, and from that of most of the people that use XstreetSl, the preferred option would be that all currency conversion would go over to the Xstreet version. Instantaneous conversion is better for the customer than one that takes days to complete. However the silence from LL on this would be odd, because this would be an improvement of service, and that is something that surely deserves shouting about.

You might think that the only alternative to this is that the LL exchange would be carrying on and the Xstreet exchange would be closing, which would be bad news to be buried. But I actually think that there may be another thing going on here.

I’ve always preferred the cockup theory of history to the conspiracy theory. And I think that when they bought Xstreet, LL hadn’t given the currency exchange thing a lot of thought or maybe no thought at all, and were probably surprised at the amount of fuss it generated. The previous history of LL announcements shows there is sometimes little idea of what the consequences of some of its decisions will be – the  recent about turn on openspace sims comes to mind. I suspect that these days very few of the decision makers at LL are people that came into Second Life as customers and used the services of Xstreet.

Now on to the good news (mostly)…..

As I’ve already said, I think the takeover will be a good thing for content creators – so I meet it with guarded optimism. God is in the details on this, so it might be an idea to have a look at how it already is, and maybe extrapolate from there.

I was logged in to Second Life when I started this, and I decided to see how easy it is to actually buy something from Xstreet. I typed the Xstreet url into chat, opened up my chat history, and clicked the url. Now in an ideal world there should be a SHOP button on the search popup that takes you straight to the Xstreet front page, and we can hope that that’s in the pipeline for the future, although it’ll mean a new version of the client.

I don’t know what your SL experience is like, but for me and my aging computer, opening a web browser while SL is running is a fools errand. The SL client is so memory intensive that opening up any other program while it’s running cause SL to freeze, and there’s such a wait for the browser to get started that I can make a cup of coffee, drink it, and go for a walk before everything is working again – so I always try to use SLs built in browser.

XStreetSL Front Page

And the good news is that the SL browser popped up almost instantly and the Xstreet front page appeared quickly. And the front page bears some examination. There’s the paid for adverts on there, and one link that goes to the marketplace. Note there are no links to the categories pages and no search box. Which is not a great start as it’s almost impossible to find something specific.

XstreetSL Inner Page

And it then it gets worse. When you click through to a page that you want to buy something from, there’s a message that says “To Purchase Click “Open” above – but there’s no open button to click on (I’m using the Nicholaz viewer, and I’m assuming that it’s the same for the latest SL browser).

The only way to buy something is to open up your normal browser (no thanks, for the reason above) but there’s no instructions and no indications of how to do it. Confusing for all of us, let alone for noobs. This leads me to wonder how many sales Xstreet (and all the merchants) are losing through this. If I was a noob I’d have given up at this point, and gone shopping at an in-world mall.

Also, you can’t click on the “View more images” link, because this opens in a new window in a browser, so doesn’t open at all in the SL browser. Again, at this point I would have given up and gone elsewhere.

Of course, all these problems go away if you’re using a normal browser, but the potential shopper who’s opened up the page within SL doesn’t know this, and it’ll be the shopper who goes away.

The XstreetSL website is best described as functional rather than a thing of beauty, but it works well enough in a normal browser. I’m sure it’s going to get a redesign for the integration within SL but I should strongly recommend whoever is doing it to make sure they try it out in the SL browser before going live.

Then comes the matter of how XstreetSL appears in the search engines. I’m pretty sure that just before they changed the name from SLExchange to XstreetSl the website allowed the search engines to crawl the pages for the first time – there’s a lot more pages for Xstreet than for SLX ( 445k/217k in Yahoo, 268k/46k in Google – which filters duplicates) .

So I made a Google search for a word that is common within SL but rarer outside it. And that word was “Skybox”.

I got to page 5 before I gave up looking for any mention of XstreetSl, let alone Second Life. So I changed the search term to “Skybox Second Life” – without the quotes.

Google Search Skybox

This time – success! An XtreetSl page popped up on page 4 of the results. Of course, most people won’t click through that many pages, so the listing will be wasted. And this is important, both for the creators and for Linden Labs.

As a creator, I want my stuff seen as much as possible. I want as many people as possible to see my stuff, andI want people finding my stuff through Google searches because that is where most people search from.

And this is important for Linden Labs too, and I don’t know if they’ve thought about this (cockup theory again), but by buying XstreetSl LL have bought a potential quarter of a million new ways for people to find out about Second Life. Every page on the Xstreet site is a potential gateway page into Second Life for a new user. From my own experience with this blog, I get a certain amount of hits from people looking for real life garden lights. How many of them will be intrigued enough to look at SL I have no idea, probably a pretty low figure (less than 1%), but with a quarter million pages to lead people in with, the figure should at least be countable.

But this isn’t going to happen until XstreetSl gets a redesign.
Most of the pages that show up in a search are useless to real people.
See below…..

Google Search Xstreet

Nobody is going to click on any of these pages because the listings don’t give you any useful information. LL really needs to employ someone who understands search engine optimisation before a redesign.

And then there’s the potential in-world vendors.

Xstreet were working on their own vendor system before the buyout, but the strong money is that they’re going to use the the OnRez vending system, which are said to be very good. This is very good news. One of the pains about putting things for sale in SL is that I have to make a web entry for all my information at XstreetSl, then I have to duplicate the work to put much the same info into, whose vendors I use. The Apez vendors have been very good, but having to duplicate the work is a pain to do, and if Xstreet can introduce vendors that work from their magic boxes, I’ll be happy to switch over – Sorry Apez, you’ve been good, but the end is in sight (but only if LL get everything right).

Some people have been complaining that the commissions from their sales will now be going to Linden Labs rather than XstreetSl. And this is true, but I don’t mind. I was happy to pay to one, and I shall be happy to pay to the another, especially if they do things right and the shopping experience is improved.

And then there’s the monopoly question – LL taking over the two biggest marketplaces. I really don’t have a problem with this. If they make a cockup with this, then everybody will go somewhere else, and somebody will make something better, and we’ll all use that until LL buys that out too, or Fox buys us all out.

So in conclusion, I think the takeover is a chance to increase user satisfaction  for most of us, and I welcome it because it’s got the potential to improve things for me, for shoppers, and for Linden Lab. Just don’t forget – God is in the details, but so is the Devil.

“They’re Made Out Of Meat” – The Video

•February 3, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Further to my post about the short story by Terry Bisson “They’re Made Out Of Meat”, I’ve just discovered there’s a video of the story. Good Stuff.