Category Archives: News

HealthlinkNY: health education through Second Life

HealthlinkNY: using Second Life for healthcare education and patient welfare since 2008

HealthlinkNY: using Second Life for healthcare education and patient welfare since 2008

New York state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE), is an initiative intended to gather patient records from across participating healthcare districts and make them available to doctors, hospitals and healthcare specialists – and the patients themselves – as and when required, in order to greatly improve patient healthcare and treatment in all situations, including emergencies.

However, getting people give their consent to having their personal records and histories to be electronically stored and available isn’t easy. There is often a natural distrust of “big brother” type record systems, even when they are intended for the betterment of those whom they serve.

So how do you persuade people to give their consent to having their records stored and shared at the push of a button? HealthlinkNY has chosen to do so by in part using an infomercial filmed entirely within Second Life.

At under three minutes in length and produced by Pooky Amsterdam’s Pooky Media, with graphics support by Skylar Smythe, Consent and the HIE clearly and concisely spells out the benefits of the HIE programme and how it works. As you can see for yourself here.

Why use Second Life for a project like this? Because it is a proven, cost-effective means of presenting to facilitate qualitative patient education to those who might otherwise be unable or unwilling to access that information due to mobility or other difficulties. This work has been spearheaded under the HealthScape NY programme, initiated by Southern Tier HealthLink New York (now a part of HealthlinkNY) and which has been in operation in Second Life since 2008.

Over the years, this programme, which centres on a 20-region presence in Second Life representing various locations in New York State, has not only allowed HealthlinkNY to produce a range of videos on a number of healthcare issues, but also to reach out directly to patients by staging presentations on chronic illnesses, fitness events, and health assessments, and even interactive, health-based quest.

You can find out more HealthScapeNY and the New York regions in Second Life by reading my articles from June 2011, and January 2015.

Second Life land set-up fees reduced

secondlifeLand costs in Second Life are one of the most controversial issues to discuss. While it is often claimed that “the tier is too damned high”, the Lab has always been somewhat hoist by its own petard in having virtual land fees as the mainstream of its income. As I explained at length in January 2013, this actually limits how much the Lab can actually do with regards tier without potentially hurting its ability to function.

However, one area that has always seemed unaccountably high is the one-time set-up fees charged for private regions. These have stood at US $1,000 for a standard full region and $375 for a standard Homestead region (both inclusive of the first month’s tier, and ex-VAT where applicable) for many years, which has always come across as an exorbitant  amount to charge. There have been numerous calls over the years for these fee to be reduced; in my 2013 article linked to above, I went so far as to suggest a reduction in set-up fees coupled with a modest reduction in tier might be a way forward for the Lab.

The Lab, though, seemed steadfast in its approach. Tier would always be difficult to adjust, and they appeared reticent to play with the set-up fees. But on Tuesday, November 17th, that latter point changed.

Crossing Sands; Inara Pey, October 2015, on Flickr With immediate effect, set-up fees for all private island products (unthemed and themed) in Second Life have been reduced by 40% (image: Crossing Sands MarinaFlickr)

As announced in a an official blog post, the Lab has confirmed that with immediate effect set-up fees across all private island products (Full, Homestead and OpenSpace, both developed and undeveloped), have been reduced by 40%. This means that the set-up fees for all classes of private island product are now (ex-VAT, where applicable):

  • Full Private Island US $600
  • Themed private island US $629
  • Homestead region US $225
  • Themed Homestead region $250
  • OpenSpace region US $150

What’s more, anyone who has paid a region set-up fee in the past 14 days will receive the difference in fees back as a credit(in US Dollars to their account balance.

This is undoubtedly a step in the right direction – although how much of an impact on land usage it has will be interesting to monitor. In October 2011, the Lab abolished all set-up fees for a period of one month in a “land sale”, which saw  689 added to the grid, a net growth of some 508 regions for the month. Unfortunately, such was the situation then that, as the realities of tier kicked-in, the increase in regions was all but negated in a few months as the heavy decline in region numbers continued through 2012.

As it stands, it is fair to say the global economic situation has improved since 2012, and people have again found themselves with more in the way of disposable income in their pockets they can put towards tier. This has likely to have been a contributing  (but not the only) factor in the slow-down in regions losses seen in 2013 / 2014. But will a cut in set-up fees be sufficient to fuel a further sustained slow-down in grid shrinkage which has accelerated slightly in 2015? That’s something only time will tell, although I’m admittedly sceptical.

Which is not to negate the move by the Lab in any way – rather the reverse, it is most welcome, if perhaps a little overdue.

Venexia; Inara Pey, June 2015, on Flickr Tier has been a significant contributor to the loss of regions in SL, including places such as Venexia (above) and its sister region, Goatswood.  Whether the reduction in set-up fees will help slow this situation down is an open question.

Changes to Transferring Regions

Alongside the set-up fees reduction for private regions, the Lab has also announced changes to transferring regions with grandfathered pricing, with the blog post stating;

Previously, Private Islands with grandfathered pricing would lose that status and revert to the usual schedule of land maintenance fees when the regions were transferred to a new owner. Today, we are changing that policy to make it easier for these regions to remain on the grid if and when they are sold to new owners.

Effective immediately, both Grandfathered Full Private Island regions ($195/month) and Grandfathered Homestead Private Island regions ($95/month) may be transferred to new owners without losing the discounted pricing.

However, this news come with a caveat: the one-time transfer fees for grandfathered regions are increased, with grandfathered full regions costing US $600 to transfer and maintain the grandfathered tier, and homestead regions US $300 (both fees per region, and exclusive of VAT where applicable),

Lab announces Marketplace search beta

secondlifeOn Wednesday, November 11th, the Lab announced the trial of a new Marketplace search. In particular, the Lab states they’ve been working on infrastructure changes to improve the relevance of search results and have made changes for search to scale better as more content and categories are added to the Marketplace.

Search has always been one of the large issues with the Marketplace over the years, as likely most who have used it will be able to attest. There have been attempts to improve / tweak / amend search over the years, but none have really seemed to hit the nail on the head in terms of generating appreciable improvements, which has potentially been the biggest annoyance faced by anyone using the Marketplace.; so it will be interesting to see how the new updates fare.

The updates can be tested using a special beta search Marketplace  – note they are not yet a part of the main Marketplace, so don’t expect to see changes there just yet -, with the Lab noting that further work is still in hand for boolean searches (or at least, excluding keywords from searches).

When testing the updated search capabilities, make sure your using the beta search marketplace, not the "main" marketplace

When testing the updated search capabilities, make sure your using the beta search Marketplace, not the “main” marketplace

Users are invited to use the beta Marketplace “to perform all your regular Marketplace activities”, and to report and specific issues via a JIRA bug report with the SLM Beta Search component.

In addition, there is a forum thread available for general discussion on the new search capabilities, which currently offers some mixed feedback, with ChinRey in particular (at the time of writing) offering considered feedback on some of the pluses and minuses she has observed / can see. There is also an interesting note from Grumpity Linden on why the beta search might appear to be a lot slower than the “main” MP, which is worth keeping in mind when trying it, because it is currently very slow in responding.

Again, if you do give the search beta a good try, and want to leave feedback,  make sure you use the Lab’s forum thread to do so. Comments left here aren’t likely to be read by the relevant staff at the Lab.

Announcing Lab Chat – a new Q&A show in Second Life

Lab Chat LogoOn Tuesday, November 10th, the Lab announced the forthcoming launch of Lab Chat,  “an opportunity for you to ask Lindens your questions during a live taping that will be recorded and archived for everyone to view.”

The new show has been in planning ever since SL12B and the successful Meet the Linden chat sessions hosted by Prim Perfect and which featured opportunities to meet Linden Lab staff such as Pete Linden (Peter Gray), the Lab’s Director of Global Communications; Xiola Linden from the Community Team; Patch and Keira Linden; Product Manager Troy Linden and Senior Director of Product, Virtual Worlds, Danger Linden (Don Laabs), and which featured a Q&A session with CEO Ebbe Linden (Ebbe Altberg).

Draxtor Despres, Danger Linden, Troy Linden and Saffia Widdershin at the Meet the Lindens at SL12B, the series which acted as a precursor to Lab Chat

Draxtor Despres, Danger Linden, Troy Linden and Saffia Widdershin at the Meet the Lindens at SL12B, the series which acted as a precursor to Lab Chat

The blog post announcing the new series, reads in part:

The first Lab Chat will be Thursday, November 19th, at 10:30am SLT at the Linden Endowment for the Arts Theatre – with guest Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab.

Residents from the Lab Chat production team – Draxtor Despres, Gentle Heron, Elrik Merlin, Petlove Petshop, Inara Pey, Aisling Sinclair, Devin Vaughan, Saffia Widdershins, and Jo Yardley – will pick questions to ask Ebbe from this forum thread  – so be sure to get your questions into the thread no later than Friday November 13th, 2015. Authors of selected questions will be invited to ask their question live at the in-world show. Time permitting – additional questions from the audience will be answered.

If you are unable to attend the live show, a recording will be available shortly after the first Lab Chat wraps, so no one will miss out!

We’ll see you on November 19th at 10:30am SLT. Don’t forget to add your questions to the forum thread and mark your calendars to join us!

My own role in this series is relatively minor – I’ll be producing transcripts of each Lab Chat session, which will be available, possibly with audio extracts, on these pages most likely on a forthcoming Lab Chat website.

If all goes well, it is hoped that Lab Chat will go on to become a monthly series. So if you do have questions you’d like the opportunity to perhaps ask your questions directly to Ebbe Altberg, hop over to the forum thread and leave them there, as noted in the Lab’s announcement.