Second Life Amazon offer & arrival in UK and Germany

The Lab is making a further offer to US residents this weekend, with a three of the Amazon Second Life packs on special promotion until Sunday September 8th.

The three packs in the offer are:

  • The Premium Vehicle Pack –  which includes L$4000, thee hoverboard, premium sailing boat and dune buggy – is now 30% off at $17.49
  • The Hoverboard Bonus Pack – is now 60% off and $5.19
  • The Troobles Pet Pack – is now 60% off at $3.95.

I’ve commented before on why I feel that these packs are potentially a missed opportunity, and the promotional offer would perhaps suggest the packs aren’t proving particularly popular.

Perhaps of greater interest, although only warranted a passing one-liner in the blog post, is the fact that the SL viewer and the above packs, together with the “deluxe” vehicle packs,  are now available through Amazon in the UK and Germany.

The viewer and SL packs are now available on Amazon in the UK and Germany
The viewer and SL packs are now available on Amazon in the UK and Germany

While the current offer does not extend to either country, likely as a result of local management boundaries, etc., within Amazon itself, rather than anything on LL’s part to limit things, the announcement that SL is now available through Amazon in the UK and Germany does carry the promise that future promotions may well include both countries.

Idobata: talking Second Life

During my time blogging, I’ve had the good fortune to be able to review various tools developed by Yuzuru Jewell for use with Second Life, notably Rokuro and Tatara, both produced under his Kanae Projects brand, and aimed at supporting content creation.

Yuzuru recently informed me he was working on a new tool, which represents something of a departure from his other apps – a text-to-speech conversion tool which allows chat entered into  Second Life (in open chat) to be converted to speech and listened to via headphones / speakers. The tools is now almost ready for release, and Yuzuru kindly allowed me to have preview access to a beta version of the application and take it for a test drive.

The app, Idobata Pro, will be available for both Windows 7 32-bit and 64-bit as a ZIP download, containing  a Readme file and the program executable. No installation is required; simply drop the EXE file in the folder from which you want to use it & create a shortcut as required. However, it does require Microsoft Speech Platform 11 is installed on the PC.

Idobata: text chat-to-speech
Idobata: text chat-to-speech

Once “installed”, simply double-click on the EXE / shortcut to launch Idobata.

Options and Set-up

The application runs in a single window, no tabs or anything to fiddle with, and set-up is a simple matter of using the presented options.


  • START/STOP – starts / stops the text-to-speech conversion. Note that settings cannot be altered when conversion is active
  • Interval – set the delay between text chat and voice conversion
  • DEFAULTS – reset Idobata to its defaults.


Comprises three options:

  • Voice: allows you to select a voice option the application will use for speaking the chat it obtains. The default for this is Microsoft Anna US English
  • Volume: volume of the voice playback
  • Rate: the speed at which chat is spoken. Positive numbers mean faster playback, negative numbers means a slower playback.

Chat File

Select whether you wish to have chat converted directly from the viewer (requires you select the viewer and avatar) or from the chat file (requires you provide the chat file location). Currently, only Firestorm and Second Life are recognised by Idobata, so if you’re using another viewer, try using the convert from chat text file option.

Chat Mask

Allows you to define a chat mask:

  • Secondlife chat – the app will only read back an avatar’s Display Name (if set within SL)
  • [YYYY/MM/DD hh:mm] – the application will not precede chat with timestamps
  • Custom(RegEx) –  allows you to set regular expressions which will not be read back by Idobata
  • Speak translated chat – if you use translator within SL, Idobata will only read back the translated text, not the original language text.

Using Idobata

Click the START button to use the application. You’ll get a brief thank you message, which you can use to adjust the rate of playback, if required (click STOP to adjust the settings).

That’s it!

In Use and Feedback

Idobata works well, although the voice can take a little getting used to – adjust the Rate option in settings if you have problems understand what is being said.

The app potentially has a lot of uses, particularly if you’re engaged in something and don’t keep track of button flashes in CHUI or things like console messages , chiclets, etc., or indeed, if you’re off doing other things. For example, I spend a fair amount of time logged-in to SL but working on other windows, and so have the viewer minimised a lot. Idobata has already proven worthwhile for me as it allows me to hear who comes on-line, so I can flick back to the viewer if someone I need to IM comes in-world without my having to constantly flick back and forth with the viewer.

There are a couple of minor irritants – neither of which are Yuzuru’s fault per se. One is that Idobata has no way of determining the origins of what is being entered into chat – it simply converts everything in  the channel. This means that in places where there are a lot of spammy objects, it can get a little annoying (I was at a region where a greeter bellows out every single new arrival and how far away from it they arrive; that got particularly old very quickly, both with the announcement appearing in chat and Idobata reading it back). The other is the US Microsoft Anna voice – but that’s purely personal!

Idobata will be available from Monday September 9th via Yuzuru’s Kanae Projects website. The app can be used in a trail version for three days on a “try before your buy” basis, and licences for the full product will be available for L$1250 through Yuzuru’s in-world store.

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Take a ride on the wild side

Ah, the fun fair! The Ferris wheel, carousels,  and rocket rides; the roller coaster; the zombies, malevolent-looking giant clowns and staccato gunfire; the ….

Hang on…

…”The zombies, malevolent-looking giant clowns and staccato gunfire” …?


No, I haven’t taken leave of my senses. I’ve decided to drop-in on DeadPool, currently in the Editor’s Picks in the Destination Guide.   It’s an amusement park where time seems to have been frozen in the 1970s, or as the Destination Guide description puts it:

Aged elegance is re-animated in DeadPool, a new experience ripe for exploration. Watch as the bygone disco days rise again! Zombies roam the overgrown and wistful spaces of a forgotten amusement park, see the old roller-disco flash and strobe while amazing DJ’s pump dance-worthy beats.


Thematically, this is the place which sort-of picks-up where MadPea’s magnificent Carneval left off, although it is of a different colour and experience, and so shouldn’t be written-off as a variation on the theme; it is as unique as Carneval ever was, and comes with very different risks. At Carneval, for example, the roller coaster was actually ride-worthy (I use “worthy” here in the sense of the ride being in one piece); however, the roller coaster at DeadPool takes the warning, “Patrons ride at their own risk” to a whole new level – and it has some interesting pose positions hidden within it! :).

The amusement park covers the entire region and offers a lot to see; in this I do recommend fiddling with windlight, as while the default is very atmospheric, it does mean you risk missing the smaller details if you’re not careful. There are a lot of opportunities here for the SL photographer to enjoy; although you may need to keep one eye on your surroundings. The aforementioned zombies can be a bit of a pain in the neck … or wherever else they opt to bite you when they find you :).


Which leads me to the gunfire. Some of the zombies are evidently “shootable”, and during my visit several people were availing themselves of this fact …

For my part, I kept myself occupied by dodging the zombies and playing around with windlight to grab shots. I was actually unable to make up my mind as to whether I should keep it light and airy in order to catch the details, or dark and atmospheric, to match the environment; hence the reason some shots may appear to be somewhat removed from my usual fare.


There are some safe areas if you want to avoid the zombies. Standing under the two giant clowns at the entrance to the park is one of them. OK, so some with a specific phobia of clowns might find the definition of “safe” somewhat lacking in this context, admittedly. If this is the case, try the decrepit theatre across the region, up on the hill. It’s also zombie-free and offers something of a place to rest a while, and even to have a sit-down…

The park is the work of the region’s owner, Xjetx Chrome, together with Megan Prumier. It’s an altogether different destination, and one worth checking out if you’re into clubs, photography, amusement parks, a ride on the wild side – oh, and zombies, of course! Now, where exactly did I put my shotgun … ? 🙂


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