2015: a look back – part 3

Kaleidoscope; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrKaleidoscope (Flickr) – blog post

Christmas is upon us, and following not far behind, the year’s end, which is often a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages to look back over the virtual year’s events as I’ve seen and reported them through this blog, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To make things easier, I’ve been once again breaking thing down into three parts, this section look through the months of September through December. You can find January through April here and May through August here.

The Lab

Following-up on some comments made at the SL12B Meet the Lindens events, I spoke to the Lab about the (still) upcoming return of the community gateway programme on a trial basis. In October, I followed this up with a look at their focused web landing pages, designed to attract users from specific market verticals.

A part of the education landing page, which includes links to details on the education discount, the SL education wiki,
A part of the education landing page from the Lab, one of a series of targeted ad campaign landing pages designed to attract new users to SL, in operation since around June 2015

The Lab added “Latest Photos” to their blog in September and a photo contest was launched, offering the winning entrants the opportunity to have their images used in a Second Life marketing campaign. The latter was followed in October / November by a Halloween themed contest, this one with the usual L$ prize pool.

Also in September, those using credit and debit cards to make payments directly to the Lab were advised to update their payment information as the Lab transitioned to a new payment system. Was this the first indication of what was to come?

In November, and thanks to the initial sleuthing by Vick Forcella, I was able to report on – and speculate about – the Lab’s new payments and compliance subsidiary, Tilia Inc.

Also during November, we saw the launch of their revamped corporate website.

The Terms of Service get updated, and a fair few people get upset … about things that haven’t actually changed, but to which their attention has been drawn as a result of the things which have changed. In December the Lab also made what seemed to me to be an odd offer; fortunately, several people helped me understand things a little better 🙂 .

Second Life

While regions continued to fall off the grid, September seemed to be the month when some more notable region known to SL travellers vanished, such as The Forgotten City and Steelhead. News also came that the wonderful Mont St Michel would be passing, although it was still going in November (and still open at the end of the year).

The abyss Observatory re-opened its doors after being threatened with going permanently off-line
The Abyss Observatory brought news it had re-opened its doors after being threatened with going permanently off-line

On the technical front, the work on improving inventory management started to see the light of day, and the latest batch of HTTP updates reached project viewer status in September. Avatar complexity and the graphics pre-sets continued not to reach release status as the Lab continued to tweak things and splat bugs. The Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) work for media, however, did get to project viewer status.

In October, attachment and Interest List issues became a focus of attention, and the Lab blogged about upcoming SL improvements, which I looked at in a little more detail.

In November came the surprising  announcement that land set-up fees were reduced and changes had been made to the policy and fees involved in transferring grandfathered regions to a new owner. At the time, I suggested the former would have little real impact, and this seems to have been the case. That month also saw further update on upcoming server-side validation checks intended to help reduce problems users might experience, although some of these were delayed after niggles in the system were found, with deployment finally taking place at the end of the month.

The new range of "Classic" human avatars for Second Life, released by the Lab in November to broadly positive feedback
The new range of “Classic” human avatars for Second Life, released by the Lab in November to broadly positive feedback

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