Tutorial: Second Life Names Changes

via and © Linden Lab

Second Life offers Premium Account holders the opportunity to change the the first name, the last name or both the first and last names of their account at any time, or to revert to any name they name have used in the past (again, first name, last name or both).

This Tutorial is intended to provide an overview of using the Name Change capability.

Important Points

First some points to note:

  • Premium members may change their first name or their last name or both their first and last name whenever they wish.
    • First names are free-form.
    • Last names are selected from a list, with the available names updated periodically.
  • There is a fee applicable each time the capability is used. This fee is displayed as a part of the Name Change process.
    • VAT at applicable rates will be added to accounts in VAT-paying countries.
  • Once a first name+ last name combination has been applied to an avatar account, it cannot be used by any other account (so “Josephine Bloggs” cannot use Name Change to become “Inara Pey”).
  • It is possible for you to revert back to any previously-used name assigned to your account.
  • If you are Premium and use the Name Change capability, then subsequently downgrade to Basic, you will retain whatever avatar / account name you have at the time you downgrade. You will not not “revert” to any past name you may have had, and you won’t be able to change you name again until such time as you re-up to Premium.
  • Name Changes is not replacing Display Names – these will remain available at no charge to all who wish to use them.
  • Name changes are made via the Second Life dashboard, and you must be logged-out of Second Life in order to make sure any Name Change you make is correctly applied to your account.

Changing Your Name

Note: It is possible (and based on some feedback received), that a name change might take a little time to propagate through SL’s various services, which may have some impact on things like scripted objects such as security systems.

Premium Members can change their names as follows:

  • Log out of the viewer if you are currently in-world.
  • Log on to your dashboard at secondlife.com.
  • Click Account on the left-menu.
  • Click on Change Name.
  • The Change Your Account Name page is displayed. This comprises:
    • The account availability of Name Changes (including a link for Basic account holders to upgrade to Premium.
    • The fee that will be applied to your account, including and VAT that may be added.
    • A reminder than you can change your first name, your last name or both.
    • An option to go ahead and change your account name.
The Change Your Account Name page
  • Click the Next Step button to proceed.
  • The Choose a New Name page is displayed. This comprises three parts:
    1. The Change First Name option.
    2. The Change Last Name option with a list of currently available last names names.
    3. A list of previous last names you have used – if you have not previously used Name Changes, only your current last name is displayed.
The Choose a New Name page, showing the three options for changing your first name (1); selecting an new last name from a list of currently available names (3), and for any previously-used last names (if available – 3)

Change Your First Name Only

  • Leave the Change First Name option checked.
  • Use the text input field to enter your desired first name.
  • Uncheck the Change Last Name option.

Change Your Last Name Only

  • Uncheck the Change First Name option.
  • Leave the Change Last Name option checked.
  • Click the radio button next to last name you would like to use.

Change Both Your First and Last Names

  • Keep both the Change First Name option and the Change Last Name option checked.
  • Enter your desired first name in the text input field under Change First Name
  • Click the radio button next to last name you would like to use.

Reverting to a Previously Used Name

If you have previously used Name Changes, and would like to change back to an “old” name:

  • Enter the first name in the Choose a First Name text input field (if required).
  • Click on the require last name from the list of your previously used Last Names (if available).

Completing the Change

  • When you are happy with the name(s) you have set / selected, click the Review Changes button.
  • A summary of your changes is displayed (if you have made no changes, you’ll be taken back to the Change Your Account Name page).
The Name Change summary – use it to make sure you are happy with the name(s) you have selected
  • Make sure the details are as you want them, or use the Go Back link to change your selection(s).
  • If you are certain of the changes:
    • Log out of the viewer if you have not already done so.
    • Click on Continue to Checkout.
  • On the check-out page, you are presented with your payment options:
    • Via an US dollar balance on your Tilia account.
      • Requires acceptance of the Tilia Terms of Service, if you have not already done so.
      • If you have a sufficient US dollar balance on your Tilia account, but do not with to use it, click the Don’t Use button.
    • Via any credit / debit card already tied you your Second Life Account.
    • By clicking the More Payment Options… and making a selection (e.g. assigning another credit / debit card to your account).
  • When you have selected your preferred payment method, click the blue Buy Now button to complete your Name Change.
Name Change payment options

Second Life: the return of last names, and some notes

On Monday, April 13th, Linden Lab announced the return of Last Names to Second Life. Also known as Name Changes, the feature re-introduces the capability for (some) users to select a last name, as the blog post explains:

Back in the day, Second Life Residents were given the option at registration of selecting from a variety of pre-determined “last name” options. The use of shared “last names” helped build community among Residents who found instant kinship and bonding amidst these newfound virtual family ties shared with strangers of the same lineage. Similar to the commodity of dot-com domains, some “last names” held a special status in the community. Some were extremely rare and, in some cases, there were perceived attributes and reputations associated with certain last name offerings.

However, the capability is more about last names, as I’ll cover in a moment, but first:

The History Bit

When the capability was withdrawn in 2010, to be replaced by Display Names and leaving all new sign-up with the default (and largely invisible “last name” of “Resident”, there was widespread outcry, accompanied by requests and demands that the option for people to once more pick there last name be re-introduced.

Such was this demand, that by the end of 2011, the Lab was actually thinking of bringing the capability back, as the then-CEO, Rod “Rodvik” Humble announced on his profile feed:

Former Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble (Rodvik Linden) raising the possible return of Last Names back in December 2011)

Rod even went so far as to indicate Last Names would return in early 2012 (see Last names back in January? from 2011).

In the end, however, everything got bogged down in exactly how Last Names should be re-offered: should in be from a list again, or free form? (see: Last Names: don’t over-cook the baking). And so, in early March 2012, Rod admitted via a blog post (that is sadly no longer available, but you can read my thoughts on it in Rodvik blogs: No Last Names), that due to assorted complexities, Last Names would not be coming back.

Nevertheless, the requests / demands for the ability to select a last name persisted such that in March 2018, the Lab announced they were once again working on a way to bring last names back to Second Life ( see: Last names to return to SL and more – Linden Lab). Just how complex a task it has been to return them is perhaps made clear by the fact that it has taken two years from that initial announcement to the official re-launch in April 2020.

That said, and despite the title of the Lab’s own blog post, it’s important to remember the returning capability is about more than just last names; it’s about the ability to completely change your avatar’s account name, if you wish – last name and / or first name. This is why the project has generally been referred to as Name Changes, rather than “last names”.

As such, it comes with some important points that are (again) worth noting:

  • It is only available to Premium subscribers, who may change their first name or their last name or both their first and last name whenever they wish.
    • First names are free-form.
    • Last names are selected from a list, with the available names updated periodically.
  • Once a first name+ last name combination has been applied to an avatar account, it cannot be used by any other account (so “Josephine Bloggs” cannot use Name Change to become “Inara Pey”).
  • It is possible for you to revert back to any previously-used name assigned to your account.
  • There is a fee applicable each time the capability is used.
    • At the time of writing, the free for Premium accounts is $39.99 per change (first name or last name or both first / last) or to revert to a previous name).
    • It has been indicated that Premium Plus, once introduced, will likely have a lower fee applied for Name Changes.
    • VAT at applicable rates will be added to accounts in VAT-paying countries.
  • Name Changes is not replacing Display Names – these will remain available at no charge to all who wish to use them.
  • Name changes are not being offered as a part of the sign-up process because:
    • It is a Premium benefit.
    • The Lab has data to show that asking users to pick a name from a list was actually a sufficient enough blocker to prevent many of them completing the sign-up process.
  • If you are Premium and use the Name Change capability, then subsequently downgrade to Basic, you will retain whatever avatar / account name you have at the time you downgrade. You will not not “revert” to any past name you may have had, and you won’t be able to change you name again until such time as you re-up to Premium.
  • Name changes are made via the Second Life dashboard, and you must be logged-out of Second Life in order to make sure any Name Change you make is correctly applied to your account.
  • As it is now possible for users to change their account names, it is vital that any scripted means of recording avatar details (e.g. for the purposes of purchase redelivery, or within security systems and so on) do so by avatar key (UUID) and not avatar name.
Now you can – if you are a Premium account subscriber – change your accounts first and / or last name. See my tutorial for how

Observations

While the return of last names has long been request, whether Name Changes will be seen as fitting the bill by all users is open to debate. Money is involved (and a not trivial sum at that), so that alone will likely raise objections among those who have not followed the progress of the capability.

The fee has been intentionally set at a level where for those who are attracted to it will not use it to excess. This is because Name Changes go to the very heart of a Second Life account, and thus touch every single element of the platform – from the name you see on the screen over an avatar to things like inventory data, land information, the things and products they make and /  or sell, transactions they have made, the groups of which they are a member, and so on and so forth. As such, every name change impacts a range of services and databases which may sound “simple” in terms of field / array update – but which still have an impact.

Some might feel the left out by Name Changes being a Premium-only option, or just not worth the expense – and that’s why Display Names are remaining available.

I find myself entirely neutral on the matter. I’m fortunate enough to have an account name I’m unlikely to ever want to change, because after 13 years, it is very much a part of me. Even so, given the time taken to implement, the (albeit understandable) reason for the fee, etc., I actually cannot help wonder if Name Changes will actually generate the kind of return that will cover the 2-year cost of implementation.  But then, if those who do use it are happy to have at least some means to change their name whenever they wish – does that really matter?

Additional Links

2020 viewer release summaries week #15

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, April 12th

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version  version 6.3.8.538264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

A desert ghost town in Second Life

Kolmannskuppe, April 2020 – click any image for full size

On April 10th, 2020, Serene Footman opened his latest limited-time region build to once again transport us to one of the most unusual places to be found on Earth.

I tend to wax lyrical over Serene’s designs, and for three good reasons: the first is they are invariably elegant in design and statement, packed with details that may be both obvious and subtle, whilst also incorporating Serene’s own recognisable individuality of touch that has marked all of his designs. The second is that they demonstrate that while Second Life sets the imagination free and can become the home of the strange, the out-of-the ordinary and the unique – so too can the physical world around us, which is every bit as richly diverse as anything to be found in-world; the difference is, Second Life offers the means for to visit such places where otherwise they might forever be out of out reach save for photographs and videos seen in publications and on-line.

The third reason is that his builds are always educational, both in terms of what can be achieved in Second Life with care and forethought in design and because as soon as I visit one of his designs, I’m reaching for the encyclopaedia and calling up my search engine to find out as much as I can about the locations he picks, so I might broaden my own knowledge.

Kolmannskuppe, April 2020

And so it is with Kolmannskuppe – The Ghost Town of Namib Desert, his build for April 2020, which brings to SL the long-deserted mining town of Kolmannskuppe or (to give its name in Afrikaans) Kolmanskop located on the inter-coastal erg of the southernmost reaches of the massive Namib desert in modern-day Namibia, but was at the time of the town’s founding, German South West Africa.

Named for a nearby kopje, or hillock, which had in turned been dubbed Kolmannskuppe “Kolman’s Head” after the wagon driver who had been forced to abandon his wagon there after a particularly violent sand storm in 1905, the town came to prominence as one of the first areas along the Namib coast to experience a diamond rush.

Three years later, a railway was being built between the territory’s major harbour town of Lüderitz on the coast and the inland town of Aus. The man in charge of the work was German-born August Stauch, who has moved to the territory in the hope of alleviating his asthma. An amateur mineralogist in his spare time, Stauch became fascinated the tales surrounding the territory’s founder, Franz Adolf Eduard Lüderitz (after whom the the harbour town was named) and his belief the region contained diamonds just waiting to be found.

Kolmannskuppe, April 2020

So firm was his belief Lüderitz had been correct, Stauch obtained a prospecting licence and told his railway workers to bring him any unusually shiny stones they might turn over whilst digging to lay the train line’s foundations, and in April 1908, one of his aides, Zacharias Lewala – who had previously worked at the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa – did just that. Systematically searching the area Lewala had been scouting, Stauch found more of the stones and took them to Lüderitz, where his friend and mining engineer Sönke Nissen confirmed they were diamonds.

Using Stauch’s prospecting licence, the two men secured a 75-acre claim at Kolmannskuppe. At first they tried to keep the mine and their growing wealth secret, but news inevitably spread, sparking a diamond rush into the area, and Kolmannskuppe  grew to become an extremely wealthy settlement, boasting all the amenities of a modern town: a rail link to Lüderitz (itself massively enriched by the flow of diamonds from Kolmannskuppe  and further deposits found to the north), its own tram service, a host of civic facilities and utility services form a hospital (with the southern hemisphere’s first x-ray machine) through a theatre, ballroom and casino to its own power station and ice-making factory.

Kolmannskuppe, April 2020

The town reached its peak in the years immediately before and after the first world war. However, the discovery of a huge deposits of diamonds 270 km to the south around the mouth of the Orange River that did not require complex mining, resulted in many from Kolmannskuppe simply up and moving south, leaving their homes and possessions to the sands of the desert. These moves marked the start of 3-decade decline for Kolmannskuppe, the last inhabitants leaving the town to the shifting desert sands in 1956.

More recently, Kolmannskuppe has become a tourist attraction – if one that is corporately managed, De Beers and the Namibian government jointly funding it. This remaining buildings sit alongside a dusty road, dunes of tufted sand wrapping themselves around wooden, sun-bleached walls that are so leached of moisture they don’t so much fall down as crumble away. It’s a place that is beloved of photographers, artists and film-makers for its sense of desolation and nature’s reclamation of man’s fragile foot-hold in this harsh desert environment. As Serene notes in his own informative blog post on the setting, it is in some ways a contrived and artificial location, centred upon the hulking form of the former casino (and now the nexus for tourists) – but it is undeniably photogenic and captivating.

Kolmannskuppe as it is today. Via Wikipedia

It is in this form that Serene captures the town, and does so quite magnificently, from the high shoulders and roof of the former casino through to the crumbling skeletons of houses and the bare bones of former utilities. While some of the house styles may be more esoteric than those of the actual town, he has perfectly captured and embodies the spirit of Kolmannskuppe, right down to the touches of corporate artificiality, such as the misplaced baths.

As the same time, he has added his own touches, notably in the form of multiple places where visitors can sit and immerse themselves in the setting, watching the coming and going of others, the entire region surrounded by high dunes that mirror the Namib’s reputation for sand dunes that can reach heights of up to 300m. Rounded-out by the presence of oryx gazella, Kolmannskuppe – The Ghost Town of Namib Desert is yet another remarkable location presented by one of Second Life’s foremost region designers.

Kolmannskuppe, April 2020

SLurl and Links

Space Sunday: Apollo 13, 50 years on

The Apollo 13 crew: Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell. Credit: NASA

It is hard to believe fifty years after the fact, that with only two missions to surface of the Moon, America was ready to end its love affair with NASA by the time Apollo 13 lifted-off from Kennedy Space Centre’s Pad 39A at 19:13 UTC (14:13 EST) on Saturday, April 11th, 1970.

Already by that date, the Saturn V construction programme had been cancelled, leaving NASA with enough vehicles for seven more flights, and one of those (formerly Apollo 20) had been re-assigned to fly what would become the Skylab orbital laboratory (Apollo mission 18 and 19 would be later be cancelled completely their launch vehicles relegated to museum pieces).

Even Apollo 13 itself had something of a rocky path to the launch pad. Under the prevailing NASA crew rotation protocols, the prime crew for the mission was to have been Gordon Cooper, Edgar Mitchell, and Donn F.Eisele, but NASA’s Director of Flight Crew Operations Donald “Deke” Slayton vetoed any participation in a prime crew by Cooper, who had a lax attitude towards training, and by Eisle as a result of incidents that occurred in the Apollo 7 flight and for bringing the agency’s public image into disrepute as a result of an extramarital affair.

Up until two days before launch, Ken Mattingly had been Apollo 13’s Command Module Pilot

Instead, Slayton placed the crew due to fly Apollo 14 forward to take the prime slots for Apollo 13, with US Navy captain and veteran of three previous space flights, James Arthur “Jim” Lovell Jr., as commander and fellow test pilots Fred Haise (USAF) Thomas Kenneth “Ken” Mattingly II (USN) as the lunar module pilot (LMP) and command module pilot (CMP) respectively.  Their back-up crew were John Young, Charles Duke and John Leonard “Jack” Swigert Jr, with whom they shared time in training and simulation work for the mission.

Seven days prior to launch, Charles Duke was diagnosed with rubella, and Mattingly was the only man in the two crews not immune through prior exposure. Because of this, flight surgeons insisted he be removed from the prime crew in case he developed symptoms during the mission, and two days before launch, he was replaced by Swigert from the back-up crew (Mattingly subsequently never developed symptoms, and would eventually fly to the Moon on Apollo 16).

Even during the launch, the mission suffered what at the time appeared to be a relatively minor issue. Shortly after the separation of the Saturn V’s first stage the centre-most of the S-II second stage’s five engines was abruptly shut down automatically just 4 minutes into a planned 6.4 minute burn. The remaining four engines performed flawlessly, and no more thought was given to the issue at the time. Two and half hours later, the S-IVB upper stage motor was re-lit and Apollo 13 started its journey to the Moon.

Except for the launch, the three major TV networks showed little interest in Apollo 13. Planned broadcasts by the crew were not transmitted live, and America and the world carried on as if Apollo 13 wasn’t there.

After six successful Apollo flights, including two lunar landings, people were getting bored.

– Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell reflecting on the lack of public
interest in the Apollo13 flight

All that changed on the night of April 13th/14th 1970, when the flight was almost 56 hours old and Apollo 13 was 330,00 km from Earth and less than a day from the Moon. The crew had just completed yet another televised transmission that had been ignored by the networks (and which included Richard Strauss’ Also Sprach Zarathustra, used as the iconic theme for Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey –  the latter being the command module’s (CM) call-sign), when mission control requested the crew carry out a number of tasks minor tasks, including one for Swigert, as CMP, to “stir” both of service module’s (SM) oxygen tanks.

The television broadcast that took place just before the Apollo 13 accident, and at least watched by mission control. Fred Haise can be seen in on the large screen while in the centre foreground, lead flight director Gene Kranz looks on. Credit: NASA

These two tanks supplied oxygen both to the CM’s cabin and to the three fuel cells alongside them that provided electrical power to the entire command and service module (CSM) combination. Due to solar heating the oxygen in the tanks would “stratify”, so each day fans in to the tanks would be turned on to normalise the temperature and pressure readings. However, an extra stir had been requested in the hope of eliminating an incorrect pressure reading.

Swigert duly turned on the fans in both tanks as requested, and 90 seconds later, Apollo 13 was rocked by a “pretty large bang” that caused the attitude control system (ACS) to automatically fire to stabilise the vehicle, and the CM’s instruments to register sudden power fluctuations within the Main Bus B, one of the two electrical power distribution systems delivering electrical power to the CM.

The bang and fluctuations prompted Swigert and Lovell to both report to Earth that the vehicle had had a problem – but as instrument readings returned to normal, astronauts and engineers were momentarily confused. Lovell actually thought Haise had opened the LM’s cabin repressurisation valve (which also caused a bang) in an attempt to startle his crew mates. But Haise’s expression as he came up through the docking tunnel from the LM indicated he was as equally confused by the noise. Then the electrical output from both the power distribution systems started falling.


“OK Houston, we’ve had a problem here…” Swigert and Lovell in turn report Apollo 13 could be in difficulties

Checking the status of the three SM fuel cells, Haise found two completely dead and the third dangerously low. Swigert, engaged in checking the slowly decreasing pressure in oxygen tank 1 flipped the displays to check tank 2, only to find it completely depleted. Moving to the CM’s windows, Lovell reported the SM appeared to be venting “a gas of some sort” and the vehicle as being surrounded by a cloud of fine debris – clearly, something was seriously wrong.

Worse, struggling to maintain power levels, the surviving cell  was drawing on oxygen from the CM’s surge tank. This was a reserve of oxygen intended to supply the crew with a breathable atmosphere at the end of a mission, between the CM detaching from the SM and splashing down on Earth. Were that supply to be depleted, the crew would face certain death.

Realising the significance of the surge tank situation, veteran flight controller and White Team leader Eugene Francis “Gene” Kranz, ordered the fuel cell immediately isolated from the surge tank’s oxygen supply. This left the crew with an estimated 2 hours of oxygen to in tank 1 to power the remaining fuel cell before it was also depleted, killing the command module – and the crew. With that realisation, Apollo 13 switched from being a lunar landing mission to a rescue mission.

My concern was increasing all the time. It went from, “I wonder what this is going to do to the landing?” To “I wonder if we can get back home again?”

– Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell at a post-flight press conference,
May 1970.

Two options were available for bringing the crew home: a direct abort or a free return. The first involved turning the CSM / LM combination through 180° and then using the big service propulsion system (SPS) on the SM to reverse course and fly back to Earth, which would take about 2 days.

The free return option involved continuing on around the Moon and using its gravity, combined with an engine burn, to return to Earth in about 4 days. Both approaches would require the crew to power down the CM and use the LM as a lifeboat – something that NASA had actually planned for just after the first Apollo flight to the Moon (Apollo 8, which also had Jim Lovell as a member of the crew).

Gee, I think back in Apollo 9 we first started looking at the LEM [Lunar Excursion Module, NASA’s original official title for the lunar module] as more-or-less a lifeboat and fortunately, although the exact procedures do not tailor the exact case we’ve got, we looked at the utilisation of the LEM for an awfully long time. So we knew what the limitations were and we developed workaround procedures wherever it was possible. I think the LEM spacecraft is in excellent shape and it’s fully capable of getting the crew back.

– Lead Flight Director, Apollo 13, Gene Kranz during a press conference,
April 14th, 1970

A crowd Vilnius, Soviet Latvia, watch Russian coverage of Apollo 13 through a store window. Credit: delfi.lv