The Drax Files Radio Hour: examining the Ebbe and flow of SL

radio-hourUnsurprisingly, the fifth broadcast from the attic-over-the-former-post-office-next-door-to-the-police-station studios of The Drax Files Radio Hour focuses on the announcement of Mr. Ebbe Altberg as Linden Lab’s new CEO (profile here,  for those wanting background info).

As well as this, the show takes a fascinating look back at the teen grid through the eyes of two people directly involved in it throughout most of its lifespan, and pokes at Project Spark for the Xbox and Windows 8 (and a few other things).

Communications forms a central theme of the coverage of Mr. Altberg’s appointment as the Lab’s new CEO. Hardly surprising, given it has been at the heart of the vast majority of Tweets and blog posts about his imminent arrival at Battery Street.

Robin Harper, formerly Robin Linden, provides insight into what has contributed to Second Life’s longevity, and offers words of advice for Mr. Altberg. I confess, I’m not entirely comfortable with all that is said, particularly with analogies between the CEO and a “mayor” of Second Life.

Ebbe Altberg: takes-up the reins on Monday February 10th, 2014

But overall, in terms of communications, I agree with sentiments, and very much hope that one of the first tasks Mr. Altberg will try to tackle is the complete reticence within the Lab for broad-based, pro-active and consistent communications with the Second Life user base.

As Vic Mornington points-out in his comments on the show, Mr. Altberg doesn’t have to do it all himself (although the occasional update blog post from him would be nice), just so long as an individual (or team) is put in place to ensure communications are used as an effective, positive and informative means of engagement, one which can go an awfully long way towards preventing upsets, misunderstandings and even miscommunications (which have been somewhat prevalent of late).

Mr. Altberg’s lack of experience (or possible lack thereof in terms of in-depth exposure to VWs and games) has already been pointed to as a “negative”, and the show touches on this. My own feeling is that judges based on his past experience are premature, and I can only again agree with Canary Beck’s comments.   A nice excerpt from an interview with Frank Zappa certainly reminds us that “corporate types” are not necessarily out-of-their-depth just because we perceive them as “not understanding” something.

Elsewhere in the show, Drax (rightly) pokes at Mitch Wagner for referring to Second Life in somewhat derogatory terms which have little to do with the subject on which he is writing.  True, SL didn’t achieve the dizzying heights which it was expected to reach (heights heavily over-hyped by the media as much as anyone else, I might add), but that’s no reason to take a swipe at it in the tone taken. It’s a shame, as I’ve said before,  that noted journalists and commentators prefer to fall back on cliché rather than exercise their grey cells when visiting the subject.

Project Spark for the Xbox One gets a mention. This is a digital canvas on which users can create games, movies and other experiences, either from scratch or using pre-defined levels for the Xbox and Windows 8. As well as providing the ability to create original content, users can download  other user-generated content and mix it into their own work. It offers an interesting on mixing creativity with gaming, and could be one to watch.

The interview with Mike Mikula is a fascinating piece on a number of levels: history of the teen grid, the accidental wonder of “early” Second Life, the issues of copybotting, and the painful realities that can accompany the transition from teens to adulthood aren’t only confined to real life.

The real and virtual Barry joseph
The real and virtual Barry Joseph

Similarly, Barry Joseph offers a unique and informative look at Second Life, past and present, the teen grid and the work of Global Kids within SL.

For me, one of the most fascinating elements of Mr. Joseph’s comments are on the psychological aspect of engaging with Second Life, and he uses his son’s use of Minecraft as an example, noting that his son initially played that game in its creative mode, with all the resources he needed but quickly switched to using the survival mode, in which resources must be acquired. He goes on:

There was something that motivated him to find value in creating and finding things. There is nothing in Second Life that is structured in the same way from a psychological perspective, from a motivational perspective, that helps users engage in the space and find meaning in it. Its magical promise has always been that you can do anything, but i think that’s always been a heavy burden to lift.

Interesting food for thought, particularly when it comes to his follow-on comments about the manner in which young people are being taught today. As i commented on the show’s blog page, there’s enough in this interview for an entire programme.

Feedback

Another well-balanced, informative piece, particularly with regards to the interviews with Mike Mikula and Barry Joseph – both of which really should be listened-to even if you’re not that interested in thoughts and feedback concerning LL’s new CEO.

Announcement

Have you experienced bullying / harassment in virtual worlds? Whether it has happened in-world or through the SL feeds or forums  or in other on-line communities / platforms, TDFRH would like to hear from you via Skype, Draxfiles Resident or e-mail.

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Visiting the Visitors

The Visitors
The Visitors

The Lost Town – La Città Perduta – has some new temporary residents waiting to meet you. The Visitors is a new piece  by Cica Ghost which features some twenty-ish of her popular cartoon-like stick figures scattered around the streets, alleys and buildings of the town.

This time in colour, the figures are a pretty happy bunch, despite the rain, all going about their lives under the guardianship (for the most part, at least) of umbrellas held over their heads. Couples stand hand-in-hand or kiss, individuals are walking their dogs – and perhaps use the walks as an excuse to meet – or stand as if waiting for a friend or loved one.

The Visitors
The Visitors

Finding all of these quirky characters may take a little time; not all are out on the streets, but may be watching from windows or standing on balconies, while one determinedly rides his bicycle into the wind and rain, scarf flapping behind him.

There’s an innocence about these creations which is both charming and somewhat at odds with their surroundings with its old buildings, some in a bad state of repair, and its crashed and overturned vehicles. It’s a creative juxtaposition of moods, in which Cica notes her characters, “with their colorful energy, and open the windows of the Lost Town La Città Perduta on the sensitive and poetic vision of their creator.”

The Visitors
The Visitors

When visiting, do be aware that it can take a handful of seconds for the characters to render. There’s a lot going on in the region (including the rain!), so do give these charming people a little extra time to show you their smiles.

The Visitors officially opens at 13:00 SLT on Friday, February 7th.

Related Links

SL projects updates 6/2: server, Fitted Mesh, misc items

Server Deployments: week 6 – recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest updates / changes.

  • On Tuesday February 4th, the Main channel received the server maintenance package previously on the three RC channels, which includes a crash mode fix and a fix for llModifyLand() modifying the wrong location in region, when called in a child prim. See part 1 of this report for further details
  • On Wednesday February 5th, all three RCs received a new server maintenance package, which includes a crash fix.

It seems there may not be any RC deployment in week 7. A number of things are being worked on, but there’s nothing ready for release as yet, but that could change between now and Wednesday next.

SL Viewer Updates

Fitted Mesh

As expected, the Fitted Mesh RC received a further update on Wednesday February 5th, with the release of version 3.7.0.286015. This update was to incorporate a further fix for issues relating to FITMESH-6 and FITMESH-20, after Latif Khalifa of the Singularity team spotted a coding error in the original fix.

Other Items

SL log-in Servers Redeployment

Coyot Linden: SL log-in server updates
Coyot Linden: SL log-in server updates

On Thursday February 6th, Linden Lab redeployed the log-in servers. The aim of this work was to bring them up to a current operating system version (the one they have been running on being some two years old). There was no change in functionality, and as the work was seamless from a user perspective, there was no blog post on the matter.  Commenting on the work at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday February 6th, Coyot Linden said the work involved

Newer versions of standard apps like webserver, caching app, etc., and all of the better functionality and security fixes that go with that. But nothing has changed about the login code or process.

This work was actually the reason log-ins on Aditi were broken ahead of the Server Beta meeting on Thursday January 30th: Aditi only has the one log-in server (as opposed to the 15 available to Agni, the main grid), and that was being used to test the update. The plan is for a second log-in server to be added to Aditi in order to avoid situation where the loss of a server prevents anyone from access the beta grid.

Vivox Work

As many are aware, there have been a number of Vivox issues (as well as FmodEx issues) affecting voice in SL.

On Tuesday February 4th, maintenance was performed on the Vivox backend which were mostly for quality enhancements for people using a recent version of the voice SDK. The changes didn’t involve any changes to the simulators, but as the updates are for a “recent” version of the voice SDK, it is questionable whether the enhancements will affect those TPVs using “older” versions of the SDK (e.g. Firestorm 4.4.2 is using an older version of the SDK, although upcoming releases will be on a par with the LL viewer).