Lab announces Marketplace search beta

On 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.

Endless beauty in Second Life

Aspen Fell - Endless; Inara Pey, November 2015, on Flickr Aspen Fell – Endless – click any image for full size

Aspen Fell – Endless is the latest iteration of the always evocative region of that name. As the last time I blogged about a visit there was in early 2014, a return was long overdue. Thus we set out to both renew an acquaintance and explore a new setting.

A visit starts in a skybox located just above the region – follow the arrows through the little shack and use the teleport to reach ground level in the south-east corner of the region. Here a clock floats in the air, time ticking slowly and eternally as rain falls from a pale sky and sunlight is reflected off of surrounding snowy peaks.

Gates set into the remnants of a wall lead you onward, up and out of the rain to where an old boxcar sits on the rusting rails of an old railway siding. The aged state of car and rails are a sharp contrast to the pristine white of a chaise lounge close by, the first indication that Aspen is still a place where visitors are welcome to come and while away the hours.

Aspen Fell - Endless; Inara Pey, November 2015, on Flickr Aspen Fell – Endless

Walk back around the boxcar and down the slope facing west, and the rain gives way to snow which is slowly drifting on either side of a winding path. If you prefer, you can follow the railway tracks northwards along the edge of the island and see what they might bring. There are no rules here; only the freedom to explore.

Should you follow the track, you’ll find yourself led to a rocky outcrop, another wall and gates – something of a motif within the region – standing guard over the end of the tracks. A tunnel has been cut through the rocks, rectangular in shape and perhaps once the route trains may have used to deliver trucks to the siding you’re leaving behind.

Aspen Fell - Endless; Inara Pey, November 2015, on Flickr Aspen Fell – Endless

With tracks now gone, the tunnel offers a way down to the north corner of the region, bathed in sunlight and washed by rain, the tall finger of a lighthouse standing sentinel, familiar gates marking your path north and west.

Follow the path westward from the boxcar, and you’ll find it forks and forks again. The fist fork will take you north once more, through trees and on the opposite bank of the river flowing alongside the train tracks. Continue west and you’ll be shown the way over a stream via a bridge suspended by balloons, before the path branches again, pointing you either on westwards or to the north and over a conventional wooden bridge and then around another tall rocky plateau, from which waterfalls tumble.

Aspen Fell - Endless; Inara Pey, November 2015, on Flickr Aspen Fell – Endless

If you haven’t already surmised, this a rural setting, bordering on the Great Outdoors. The land is a beautifully compose mix of lowlands, gentle slopes, high outcrops and plateaus marked by slopes and paths leading up to them, and meandering streams and pools of water which natural break up the land.

The entire setting is, in a word, idyllic,  complete with a rich mix of ambient sounds which greatly enhances the feeling on immersion: rain patters and splashes against the ground and water, bids sing from the trees in the sunlit areas, water splashes and sucks against wooden board walks, horses whiny, while in the distance a piano plays, deep under the trees, and here and there the ticking of a clock can be heard – time being another motif within the region. While for those who prefer, the audio stream offers music to match the mood of the region.

Aspen Fell - Endless; Inara Pey, November 2015, on Flickr Aspen Fell – Endless

Aspen Fell is a region which has never failed to present an evocative, atmosphere environment, and with Aspen Fell – Endless, this continues to be the case. A visit here is to lose oneself, with lots of opportunities for sitting and contemplating, and especially for sharing with someone close. If you’re with a loved one, we can recommend the wishing well in particular – we liked it so much, we bought a copy for the garden at home!

Should you be as entrance by a visit as we were, do please consider a donation towards keeping the region open for others to enjoy.

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Virtual Ability: 2015 IDRAC in Second Life

Virtual AbilityVirtual Ability has announced the speakers and schedule for the 5th International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC), which will take place in Second Life on  Friday, November 13th and Saturday, November 14th, 2015, with the theme It’s All About the People.

The conference will take place at the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island, and will feature presentations from Canada, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Presentation will be of around 90 minutes duration, including time for discussion and breaks between, with the first session on each day starting at 09:00 SLT and the last at 15:00 SLT.

IDRAC 2015

Schedule of Sessions

The conference schedule, as it stood at the time of writing, was as follows. Please visit the conference page on the virtual Ability website for any updates and to read the biographies of the individual presenters. All times are SLT.

Friday, November 13th

09:00 Effectiveness Study of a Community-Based Pain Clinic – Muhammad Abdul Hadi
The Edge of Normal – Hana Schank
The Right to be Rescued – Jordan Melograna
13:30 WORLDS APART: Why SL Makes Me More Normal Than RL – Mook Wheeler
15:00 Disability at Intersections: International Conversations on Disability in Relation to Other Identities and Social Justice Spectrum – Akemi Nishida
The Sojourner Auditorium
The Sojourner Auditorium, virtual Ability Island

Saturday, November 14th

09:00 Who is The Sojourner? What is Dreams? – Golda Stein
Making a Difference, One Line of Code at a Time – Captain Code
People Helping People – Down to the Marrow – Katsii Tennen
13:30 Freaks: Stories of People on the Fringes of Life – Slatan Dryke
15:00 3:00pm – Closing Performance: ~DRUM~ (Divine Rhythms of Universal Music)

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