SL12B dino avatar and photo contest

secondlifeOn Thursday, June 18th, Linden Lab announced that the SL12B velociraptor avatar, initially made available to Premium members, is now generally available to all.

The avatar, which will be available through until the end of July can now be claimed at the in-world kiosk at Hairy Hippo Fun Land, Weston, Bay City, or via the Marketplace – although I wouldn’t be surprised if vendors also appear within the SL12B Community Celebration regions as well in the upcoming week.

As is usual with the release of birthday avatars, the Lab is also running a photo contest with L$19,000 available in prizes (broken down into a L$10,000 grand prize, L$5,000, 1st prize, L$3,000 2nd prize, or a L$1,000 3rd prize).

The official blog post announcing the availability of the avatar to all, and the competition, described the latter thus:

The SL12B raptor avatar: subject of the latest photo contest
The SL12B raptor avatar: subject of the latest photo contest

Now that you’ve got your raptor – it’s time to take ‘em for a test drive. Share snapshots of your raptor avatar celebrating SL12B to the Second Life 12th Anniversary Snapshot Contest from now until July 20th … Be creative! This limited-edition raptor has the entirety of the grid to seek out a picture-perfect spot to take a winning snapshot – but a good place to start is the SL12B Destination Guide category.

The closing date for submissions is 10:00 SLT on Monday, July 20th, 2015. Winners will be decided via popular vote against all submitted entries on the competition pages, with voting opening at 10:00 SLT on July 20th, 2015 and running though until 10:00 SLT August 3rd, 2015.

Just as an aside, The last photo contest was held in February in the form of a photo booth contest. This was  judged by a panel (of which I was a member), but the final results got a little lost due to various reasons.

So, in order to (hopefully) help clear the air, the grand and first prize winners in that competition were LadyPants07 and Kye Zelin respectively – belated congratulations to them.  However, the 2nd and 3rd prize winners, did not submit the necessary documentation to claim their prizes pursuant to the competition rules, and so the Lab are unable to share their names.

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Brewing-up a week of activities for RFL in Second Life

Builder's Brewery: a great resource for in-world building, and hosting a week of RFL fund-raisers between June 20th and June 27th
Builder’s Brewery: a great resource for in-world building, and hosting a week of RFL fund-raisers between June 20th and June 27th

Starting on Saturday, June 20th, and running through until Saturday, June 27th, Builder’s Brewery are, along with partners the  Relay Wizards Team, hosting a series of events to help raise money for RFL of SL 2015.

The focal point for the fund-raising is a silent art auction, which kicks-off at 13:00 SLT on Saturday, June 20th with a party featuring DJ Magnus Brody. Throughout the week, and across the Builder’s Brewery regions, art donated by artists from across Second Life will be offered for silent auction – simply click to bid. All funds raised will go to RFL of SL.

As well as classes, the sandbox and a huge number of building-related resources, Builder's Brewery includes the Builder's Village
As well as classes, the sandbox and a huge number of building-related resources, Builder’s Brewery includes the Builder’s Village

Also occurring throughout the week – so keep an eye on the announcements – will be Jail’n’Bail and the opportunity to drop well-known figures in the Dunk Tank, including the Brewery’s own Sensuous Maximus, who will be facing a dunking on Thursday, 25th June between 14:00 and 17:00 SLT!

With parties and a Poetry Slam as well (see further down in this article), key events and activities for the week comprise (all times SLT):

Saturday 20 June 13:00-15:00 Mystery and Magic Masquerade Ball with DJ Magnus Brody. formal attire requested
Start of the silent art auction
Sunday 21 June Silent art auction continues alongside Builder’s Brewery regular events
Monday 22 June Silent art auction continues alongside Builder’s Brewery regular events
Tuesday 23, June 17:00-18:00: DJ John Simms turns up Techno Tuesday with a party!
Silent art auction continues
Wednesday 24, June 17:00: Anhayla and Dr. Fran will host a building contest at the Brewery Sandbox! Prizes:  1st – L$2000; 2nd – L$1000; 3rd – L$500
Silent art auction continues
Thursday 25 June
14:00-17:00 Come dunk the Brewery’s own Sensuous Maximus! Don’t forget the dunk tank and jail’n’bail will be available throughout the week!
Silent art auction continues
Friday 26 June 19:00-21:00 Poetry Slam contest, hosted by Natalya, Explorer and Blue
Prizes: 1st – L$2000; 2nd – L$1000; 3rd – L$500
Silent art auction continues
Saturday 27 June Last day of the silent art auction
21:00-11:59: Pajama Party

The Poetry Slam contest on Friday, June 26th doesn’t carry an entry fee, but those wishing to participate will be asked to make a donation of at least L$100 to RFL of SL in order to be eligible for any of the prizes on offer. Those who prefer not to make a donation can still participate and read their poetry, but will not be eligible for the prizes.

Please make sure you register for the contest ahead of time!

So, do be sure to pop along to Builder’s Brewery during the coming week and join-in with some of these events for RFL of SL. And if you’re new to Second Life, or to in-world building, do be sure to take a good look around Builder’s Brewery; it is one of the longest-running and most respected resource and teaching centres in Second Life. Do be sure to check-out their website and class schedule as well!

SL12B: Lab staff headline great talks in Second Life

The SL12BCC Dreamitarium - venue for some great talks throughout the celebrations
The SL12BCC Dreamitarium – venue for some great talks throughout the celebrations

The SL12B Community Celebrations commence on Sunday, June 21st, when the gates officially open at midday for a week-long   series of events to mark the platform’s 12th anniversary, spread across 15 regions.

As usual, this year includes some amazing builds – the main stages are all visually stunning once again, and promise to wow visitors touring the celebrations. The auditorium is also another phenomenal build this year – and one I find particularly attractive, given it is modelled on the theme of a planetarium 🙂 .

The auditorium – or Dreamitarium, as it’s being called this year to fit with the theme of the celebrations – in SL12 B Astound, will be the focal point for one of the main series of events through the week of SL12B: the talks and presentations, including a series of talks and panels once again sponsored by Prim Perfect.

The Dreamitarium lobby area
The Dreamitarium lobby area

Saffia Widdershins contacted me with news of the talks, which are just a part of the overall series of events and activities occurring at the Dreamitarium, and I’m happy to provide insight to them here.

There will be five streams of talks presented by Prim Perfect and their partners this year, which are each scheduled for the same time each day, as follows.

Meet the Non-profit – daily at 09:00 SLT

A chance to learn about some of the great work being done by non-profit organisations active in Second Life Grid. Organised by Rhiannon Chatnoir of Non-profit Commons who also co-sponsor the talks.

Monday 22 June Virtual Ability Inc. with Gentle Heron
Tuesday 23 June Health non-profits with Coughran Mayo and Brena Benoir
Wednesday 24 June
Arts non-profits with Zinnia Zauber
Thursday 25 June Create a Community Dream Lissena Wisdomseeker and Whole Brain Health
Friday 26 June Non-profit Commons in SL Community Panel with Buffy Beale, Coughran Mayo, Glitteractica Cookie, Rhiannon Chatnoir and Zinnia Zauber
Saturday 27 June Relay for Life with Gem Sunkiller
Sunday 28 June A Wisdomseeker’s Dream with Lissena (Wisdomeseeker)

Meet the Lindens – Monday – Friday, 13:00 SLT

A chance to meet with some of the people who keep Second Life working, who bring us new tools and capabilities, and provide support to the community:

Monday 22 June Oz Linden, Engineering Director, Second Life
Tuesday 23 June Patch Linden, Senior Manager, Product Operations, and  Dee Linden, Land Product Specialist
Wednesday 24, June Xiola Linden, Lead Community Manager, and Pete Linden, Senior Director, Global Communications at Linden Lab
Thursday 25 June Danger Linden, Sr. Director, Product, Virtual Worlds and Troy Linden, Senior Producer
Friday 26 June Ebbe Linden, CEO of Linden Lab

There will be two additional, non-Linden presentations at 13:00, as follows:

  • Saturday 27 June:  Follow Your Dream: Writing Tips for Future Authors (Lyr Lobo)
  • Sunday 28 June: Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream (therose resident)

Meet the Designer – daily at 15:00 SLT

Come and hear designers in a wide range of fields discussing their work, inspirations and aspiration to Saffia Widdershins.

Sunday 21 June Fantasy Faire Designers: Alia; Sharni; Kayle
Monday 22 June Nardya Rousselot – Nardcotix, Victoria Grau – VG Shoes, Eboni Khan -House of Hucci
Tuesday 23 June TBA
Wednesday 24, June Kaerri Rae
Thursday 25 June Reven Rosca
Friday 26 June
Ladies of Mesh: Shai, Nardya Rousselot (The Loft), Colleen (The Loft) pending
Saturday 27 June La Vian
Sunday 28 June Men of Mesh : Loz Hyde, Maxwell Graf, Cain Maven
The main auditorium
The Dreamitarium main auditorium

Meet the Artist – daily at 16:00 SLT

A chance to hear from artists who are using Second Life in a variety of ways for artistic expression in conversation with Taralyn Gravois.

Sunday 21 June TBA
Monday 22 June IanLee Patton
Tuesday 23 June Moya Patrick
Wednesday 24, June Haveit Neox
Thursday 25 June Krystalli Rabeni
Friday 26 June
Wildstar Beaumont
Saturday 27 June TBA
Sunday 28 June TBA

 Meet the Community – daily at 17:00

Communities are the bedrock of Second Life – how are they forged? How are they sustained? And can they be transposed elsewhere? Saffia Widdershins finds out!

Sunday 21 June Sanctuary
Monday 22 June Angel Manor
Tuesday 23 June Milkwood (Writers’ Community)
Wednesday 24, June Al Raqis
Thursday 25 June The Power of Virtual Education
Friday 26 June
Performance Arts – Aelva
Saturday 27 June New Babbage
Sunday 28 June Raglanshire

 

So, get ready for some great presentations, talks and conversations sponsored by Prim Perfect!  And don’t forget there is a lot more going on at the auditorium and the two forum meeting rooms at the Dreamitarium through the week of S12BCC activities, so be sure to check-out the official auditorium’s schedule daily!

Ebbe Altberg talks Second Life, Sansar and VR to Bloomberg

A promotional image for Project SANSAR
A promotional image for Project SANSAR

On June 15th 2015, Ebbe Altberg participated in a Bloomberg Advantage podcast with hosts Cory Johnson and Carol Massar, discussing what is going on with Linden Lab in the run-up to the Second Life 12th anniversary celebrations.

The interview, which is some eight minutes long, unsurprisingly focused more on VR and its pcoming consumer focused headsets, together withe the Lab’s Next Generation Platform (codenamed Sansar) more than it did on Second Life, but what is said makes for interesting listening.

I’ve embedded an MP3 of the interview below, together with a transcript of the core discussion for those who prefer to read than listen. The transcript picks -up from the 28 second point into the interview, following general introductions. Breaks in the transcript, indicated by “…” are where the conversation includes asides or comments outside of immediate interest.

 

Cory Johnson (CJ): I want to talk about what’s going on with one of the kings of virtual reality, Second Life.

Ebbe Altberg (EA): Yeah. Second Life is still doing very well. It’s this month having its 12th birthday…

Carol Massar (CM): OK for those who might not know what Second Life is, those from the East Coast (laughter) I’m raising my hand for everyone on radio. Just for other folks out there who might not know.

Bloomberg's Carol Massar and Cory Johnson talk VR, SL and Sansar with Ebbe Altberg
Bloomberg’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson talk VR, SL and Sansar with Ebbe Altberg

EA: So, Second Life is a virtual world that we created, but all the content and all the experiences in it are created by the users. so it’s a little like the real world … So you have a huge range of experiences in their ranging from role-playing to education, to health to art, and music. Just like in real life, people like to have all sorts of things in their world, and users have created all these things inside of Second Life.

And there’s a virtual economy where users can buy and sell digital goods and services to each other, and last year alone, creators of content and experiences in Second Life cashed out $60 million dollars. So a lot of people make a living creating and playing in Second Life.

CM: Where do you want to take it?

EA: We’re like the pioneers in this area, and the world around us is starting to catch-up a little bit …

CM: Competition out there?

EA: Yeah, a little bit of competition, but also with all these virtual reality headsets, these HMDs from Oculus, etc., is going to allow us and many others to take it to the next level. So we’re really excited about what’s happening right now, and we’re been hard at work for well over a year, investing heavily in a new platform  from the ground up that will take advantage of virtual reality hardware as it comes out later this year and early next year.  So we want to make sure we remain in a leading position when it comes to virtual reality experiences.

CJ: Well let’s talk about this a little bit. So Oculus sort-of has mind share, at least. When people talk about virtual reality now, then tend to think of these goggle-like experiences from Oculus. [But] there’s been academic work, particularly out of Stanford, suggesting that game-play might not be the thing; that it’s so immersive that it’s exhausting. That people can sit in front of their Xbox or PlayStation for 4, 6, or eight hours, but that you can’t do that with Oculus. What do you think?

EA: I think you will be able to. Part of why people say that is because the quality quality of the experience hasn’t quite got there yet.

CJ: So you’re looking at an image where your mind and your eye have to do so much more work, that it’s physically exhausting.

EA: No … when you see the latest generation of these things coming out now, it is not that exhausting any more; it’s actually quite relaxing.  You put these things on, an you’re wherever you want to be; you can be anybody you want to be and anywhere you want to be. And it’s it’s going to be comfortable …

CJ: The thing about when you put an Oculus goggles set on … first of all, the software right now is kind-of boring. The stuff that I’ve seen isn’t really gripping. It’s like, “Oh, this is cool. Imagine what you could do with it…”

EA: Did you try the Crescent Bay and the demos that came with it?

CJ: I haven’t done that.

EA: OK, so [with] the latest generation … you’ll forget about the hardware, you’ll forget about these pixels in front of you. You’re just there.

CJ: What is the experience you’re experiencing with that?

EA:  They’re still passive; they’re still basically playing things for you, that you watched. And you will have video-like experiences, but in 360; so you’re inside the video, rather than looking at the video, all the way to like what we do, which is social interaction and doing things like we’re doing right now in the studio, just hanging-out, meeting with people.

CM: Well, let me ask you Ebbe, I’ve been at Caterpillar and I’ve done their 3D world, or virtual reality world, where you pretend you’re in one of their big pieces of equipment to see how it worked and if the tools were in the right place. That’s my experience with it.  what about in a practical world? Are there applications that you guys are looking at?

A part of the interactive learning environment operated by Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt as part of the Texas A&M chemistry studies in SL
A part of the interactive learning environment operated by Wendy Keeney-Kennicutt as part of the Texas A&M chemistry studies in SL, and referred to in the interview (read more here)

EA: Absolutely, and they’re happening already today. Texas A&M is teaching chemistry in Second Life, and there are a lot of educational opportunities to teach …

CJ: How so? Is it, “pour this file into this beaker, but if it blows up, you’ll blow somebody up”? Or is it, you’re seeing the DNA or molecules?

EA: It’s a combination of actually doing lab experiments and pouring liquids and seeing what happens, as well as being able to interact with molecules, and you can sit on them, and you can do anything you want. So the ability to visualise information is way more powerful than reading it from a text book or watching it from a video.

CM: Is that potentially a big market there for you guys? Or Healthcare? We’ve just briefly toured around Seagull, and they’ve got a whole idea about what you’ve just called about; virtual reality and doing surgery, and having virtual reality to help a surgeon in that process.

EA: Yeah, it can can be for training, or it can help people with both mental and physical disabilities of all kinds. In Second Life already we have this older woman who has Parkinson’s; and because of Second Life she can run around, swim, fly, and exercise her brain. And because of that, she’s found that she has an easier way of moving in real life. So it can have a lot of really powerful impact on treatment or all kinds of phobias. I mean, right now here in our Lab, you can be on top of the golden Gate bridge and just get a sense of height …

In the interview, Ebbe Altberg indicates that one of the test VR experiences the Lab has developed for Project Sansar puts people on top of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (view via wdievisionpans.com)
In the interview, Ebbe Altberg indicates that one of the test VR experiences the Lab has developed for Project Sansar puts people on top of the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco (note: the above is not from Sansar, it is an image courtesy of wdievisionpans.com)

CJ: So, specifically, how do you manage the game play of Second Life? If you were to describe something that is the “common” Second Life experience now, and then what it would be like in this more augmented, 3D world of Oculus or whatever?

EA: Well, it’s taking immersion to a whole other level, where the brain starts not being able to tell the difference between what’s virtual and what’s real. And we take people through experiences in this next generation platform we’re working on – we’re calling it “Project Sansar” right now, it doesn’t have a final name. But you have people that are afraid of heights, for example, just getting really freaked out by being in the virtual space.

For example, Jeremy Bailenson of [the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at] Stanford … When he removes the floor underneath you in his Lab and tells you to walk this plank over this abyss, 30% of the people doing that in his lab cannot cannot walk the plank, it feels that real.

CM: I was thinking about the rides in Disney World or whatever; they can use this stuff.

EA: Oh yeah, they will!

CM: Cool stuff!

At his point the interview quickly wound down with the end of the podcast.

Again, not much is given away about the Lab’s Next generation Platform, and little is said in detail about Second Life. However, both Nassar and Johnson exhibit genuine interest in the subject of virtual environments and virtual reality, and to their credit don’t fall into the clichéd trap we’re all (or most of us at least) are so tired of hearing.

What is interesting to me is the the framing of the commentary around Sansar and the Golden Gate demonstration. This suggests that the Lab is creating something where the content potentially has a far higher level of fidelity than can perhaps be achieved with Second Life when placed within the immersive context of something like the Oculus Rift.

The message that Linden Lab is attempting to position itself as a major player in the emerging VR market does seem to be getting out. A recent report in Investor’s Business Daily, which estimates the potential market for VR / AR devices, etc., could hit US $62 billion by 2025, lists Linden Lab alongside of Valve, Magic Leap, Next VR, Jaunt VR and others as one of the private companies looking to carve itself a share of that market.