RFL 2015: It’s Woodstock, Second Life style!

RelayStock 2015 - May 23rd and 24th
RelayStock 2015 – May 23rd and 24th

It’s a weekend of Peace Love and Hope, Great Music and yes, lots of MUD! So read the opening words about RelayStock, a special homage to the great a glorious days of Woodstock, and which is taking place in support of Relay for Life of SL over the weekend of Saturday, May 23rd and Sunday May 24th 2015. Hosted by the indomitable Relay Rockers team, RelayStock provides a very Woodsotck-esque look and feel, with Relay teams provided with a tent or minivan (both in 60’s style finishes), which are spread before the festival stage across a field woven with dirt tracks and  – as the note above suggests – lots on puddles and pools of mud people can slosh through (or indeed, dance in!). Vendors and kiosks have been set-up in and around the various camps, and all is ready for a weekend of music, fun and fund-raising – and let’s not forget that is 2014, RelayStock raised L$ 1.5 million over two days!

Special Events for the Weekend

The event venue is already open, and things will kick-off from 08:00 on Saturday, May 23rd and continue through until 20:00 SLT on Sunday, May 24th. The main schedule of events includes: Saturday, May 23rd

  • 13:00 – 17:15: the Relay Rocker’s 2015 CRFB Top Dj Contest finals
    • 13:00 – 15:00: CRFB 2nd Seeded Finalist
    • 15:00 – 17:00: CRFB 1st Seeded Finalist
    • 17:00 – 17:15:  Presentation of 2015 CRFB Top DJ Trophies and Awards
  • 17:15 – 21:00: Saturday BYOK Fever, featuring the music of:
    • 17:15 – 19:00: Madelyn Majestic – Relay Rockers / T1Radio
    • 19:00 – 21:00: Fuzzball Ortega – Steelhead Salmon / T1Radio
RelayStock 2015 main stage
RelayStock 2015 main stage

Sunday,  May 24th

  • 15:00 – 17:00: Rep Rap
  • 17:00 – 20:00:  The famous T1Radio TIme Machine and a Trip to the Sixties with Trader Whiplash and Team Relay Rockers  BYOK

In addition, Relay Teams will be hosting their own DJ-led events at the following times:

  • Saturday, May 23rd: 08:00-10:00; 10:00-12:00 noon; 12:00 noon-13:00
  • Sunday, May 24th: 08:00-10:00; 10:00-12:00 noon; 12:00 noon-14:00; 14:00-15:00

So, let the age of Aquarius enter your life this weekend, don your kaftan (and galoshes!), put flowers in your hair and head on over to RelayStock for get music, great dancing, great fun – and all in a good cause!

RelayStock 2015 - May 23rd and 24th
RelayStock 2015 – May 23rd and 24th

About Relay dAlliez

RelayStock will take place at Relay dAlliez, a region dedicated to the memory of dAlliez Estates estates founder Alliez Mysterio, who along with Nuala Maracas and Trader Whiplash, helped found the Relay Rockers team in 2005. Alliez was lost to breast cancer in 2013.  The region was first made available in 2014 to any Relay Teams wishing to host their own RFL of SL fund-raising events. Currently, there are still several prime weekend dates open in the 2015 RFL of SL season which can be used by Relay Teams to host their own events. Representatives from teams interested in doing so can visit the Relay dAlliez InfoHub for more information and to submit a reservation request.

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Second Life new user experience now with Experience Keys

Experience Keys are being used as a part of the new user experience
Experience Keys are being used as a part of the new user experience – click for full size (note viewer UI is intentionally turned off)

update, April 2016: The Lab is apparently A/B testing the use of Experience Keys with task-oriented learning at a set the Social Islands. See my article on this for further details.

As a part of my periodic poking at things in Second Life, I recently logged-in using the avatar I keep “parked” at one of the Learning Islands which are the initial arrival points for new users, and  noticed that the Lab has added Experience Keys capabilities to the first-time log-in experience for new users as part of continuing efforts to improve the experience new arrivals have when arriving in-world for the first time.

For those not already in the know, and keeping things to their briefest, Experience Key (also referred to as Experience Tools) are a relatively new (and at the time of writing, yet to be fully deployed) feature that allow users to opt-in to an “experience”  – which could be a game, a tour, an educational activity, and so on – just once, rather than having to repeatedly grant specific permission each time something wants to act upon their avatar – such as a teleport offer, attaching an object, etc.  This means that the experience can be enjoyed much more fluidly and without the distraction of multiple dialogue boxes constantly popping-up. when the user leaves the experience area, their status in the experience is saved (e.g. their progress and items collected), all permissions are revoked, and all attachments removed.

Experience Keys in use as a part of the New User Experience
Experience Keys in use as a part of the New User Experience

Within the first-time log-in environment, Experience Keys are being used to help guide new users through the basic steps of using the viewer. The focus (at least at the time when i noticed the use of Experience Keys) is specifically on avatar movement. However, there is no reason why the approach couldn’t be expanded in the future to cover other aspects of viewer use, and other aspects of gaining familiarity with SL.

A key difference between the use of Experience Keys in the new user experience is that the HUD system is attached seamlessly when logging-in for the first time; there’s no initial pop-up dialogue box for the users to accept as they log in.

This is a good idea, as it avoids potential concern which might otherwise occur for a new user in having a potentially confusing / worrying dialogue box displayed as soon as they log-in, stating it wants to take control of this and that. Instead, the HUD attaches, and a couple of seconds later, the first pop-up displayed, providing a brief, basic overview of walking and turning.

In all, there are four pop-up hints given as the user progresses around Social island, each one appearing at an appropriate point in their travels. The hint on flying, for example, comes just ahead of the user reaching a broken bridge which should otherwise span a chasm.

The four pop-up helpers which appear as a part of the experience as the new user progresses around Social Island
The four pop-up helpers which appear as a part of the experience as the new user progresses around Learning Island – click for full size

The process stops when the user passes through the portal leading to one of the Social Islands, with the experience HUD detaching automatically as they do. Once at the latter, things become more of the familiar mix (to those of us familiar with the new user experience, at least!) of potential confusion, wandering and poking at things in order to work out what to do, even with the help from established users, who have for a while now been able to access the Social Islands (and some of whom can themselves be somewhat unhelpful, and do act as an illustration of the Lab’s misgivings on this area).

However, to stick with the use of Experience Keys, the current deployment is pretty basic, but it does offer a rough foundation on which more might be built. As such, I asked Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications about the use of the Experience Keys capability, and whether it might be extended within the new user experience.

“We’ve been using Experience Keys for some time with the new user experience,” Peter confirmed, before continuing, “We plan to continue to test and improve the new user experience, but at this time, we’re not able to share a pipeline for planned changes.”

The How To guide provide a range of information on movement, communications and other basic aspects of using the viewer - yet seems oddly overlooked; it is not opened by default on a first time log-in, nor are new users directed to it
The How To guide provide a range of information on movement, communications and other basic aspects of using the viewer – yet seems oddly overlooked; it is not opened by default on a first time log-in, nor are new users directed to it

How this might be done is a matter of speculation; Experience Keys certainly offer a raft of opportunities for easy learning activities along the lines of the old Orientation Islands of yesteryear, but with a potentially greater level of engagement and interaction.

As it is, the viewer does have a reasonably good introduction to the basics of using the viewer in the form of the How To guide (which has never seemed to really form a part of the various attempts to tweak the on-boarding process). It would be interesting to see the information this contains put to far better use, possibly as part and parcel of a more immersive, interactive means of guiding new users through the basics of the viewer utilising Experience Keys.

Getting to grips with the viewer is, of course, only one aspect of bringing new users into SL and getting them to stick – and it is one perhaps we focus on a little too much. The key to getting people to stay is to get them engaged in the platform – and that comes through positive interaction with others, preferably by helping them to find people within environments and activities which interest the incoming users.

This is perhaps a harder aspect of the problem to solve. However, as write Beau Hindman demonstrates in his recent video on the new user experience; there are options which might be considered. One in particular could be to direct incoming users more towards Experience Keys-led activities within SL, as more and more come on-stream, as it is likely these will tend to be something of a focus of established users as well, thus providing a potential mix of activity and interaction with others. It also fits with the Lab’s vision for on-boarding people in their Next Generation Platform.

As noted above, what is currently employed at the Leaning Islands is rudimentary; but it is also a start. Experience Keys will hopefully be fully deployed across the grid in the near future. Once that’s the case, it’ll also be interesting to see how the various mentor groups might leverage them to help new users as well.

UKanDo goes VMM with a beta update

logoThe UKanDo viewer, maintained by Connor Monaron updated to version 3.7.28.34230 on May 11th.

As the version number suggests, this brings the viewer to parity with the Lab’s 3.7.28 code base, and specifically with the Viewer-Managed Marketplace (VMM) functionality.

For those who may not recognise VMM, and keeping things relatively brief, the aim of the project is to enable merchants to manage the creation and management of Marketplace product listing through the viewer, bypassing the need to use the Merchant Outbox (and have copies of items stored on the Marketplace inventory servers) or using Magic Boxes.

It does this by adding a new Marketplace Listing panel to to viewer, which will eventually replace the Merchant Outbox entirely, and by adding additional back-end and web functionality which allows merchants to carry out a number of tasks associated with their Marketplace listings from within the viewer, and by enabling products to be delivered to customers directly from the Lab’s asset servers, rather than having to store them as separate inventory on the Marketplace servers.

Rather than go into a detailed explanation of all the functionality here, if you haven’t come across VMM before, please read my notes from the initial testing in 2014.

The Merchant Listing Panel for VMM, as see in the UKanDo beta, with some of my migrated items
The Merchant Listing panel for VMM, as see in the UKanDo beta, with some of my migrated items

The key point here is that, at the time of writing, VMM is still very much undergoing beta testing, and the viewer-side code has yet to reach a release candidate status in the official viewer, so the 3.7.28 release of UKanDo is slightly ahead of the curve – the Lab prefer that TPVs don’t release code which the Lab themselves have not issues in release candidate form.

To this end, Connor has clearly indicated this 3.7.28 release is a beta version of UKanDo, and the earlier 3.7.27 update remains available as the full release.

It’s also worth pointing out that initially, the current VMM beta was by invitation, so if you want to try the functionality either using the UKanDo beta or the Lab’s own project viewer, you’ll have to apply to join the beta via the link towards the bottom of your Merchant Home Page on the Marketplace.

All that said, I’ve been driving the VMM version of UKanDo over the last couple of days, using it to gradually convert my own modest store on the Marketplace from Direct Delivery to VMM (as shown in the image above right, taken as I got started), and have found absolutely no issues with it – not that I was actually expecting any.  Everything works smoothly, and updates made via UKanDo are accurately reflected when checked in the official VMM project viewer.

For Merchants who prefer using UKanDo over the official viewer, and who would like to try-out VMM as the Lab moves it gradually towards full deployment (which could occur in June 2015), the 3.7.28 presents an opportunity to do so.

Note that as a VMM beta release, the 3.7.28 update does not contain any other functional or other updates compared to the UKanDo 3.7.27 release.

VMM allows merchants to carry out some Marketplace listing related tasks from within the viewer (subject to how they have web browsing set-up) - here I'm editing a listing associated with an item in my Merchant Listing Panel
VMM allows merchants to carry out some Marketplace listing related tasks from within the viewer (subject to how they have web browsing set-up) – here I’m editing a listing associated with an item in my Merchant Listing panel – click for full size, if required

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