Category Archives: SLB

SL14B: call for infrastructure builders

L12B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2015, on FlickrSL12B (2015) Welcome area by Walton F. Wainwright (Faust Steamer): would like to design and build one of the core infrastructure builds for 2017’s SL14B?

Celebrations for Second Life’s anniversary will once again be taking place in June 2017, when the platform celebrates its 14th “official” birthday with SL14B.

While there’s still a lot in the process of being decided, the SL14B team have put out a call for builders and designers interested in develop the core infrastructure for the regions, either full regions or multiple regions.  In particular interest is being sought from those would would like to design and build the Welcome Area, Performance Stage and Auditorium.

“We’re still working on many details for the celebrations, but we decided to put a call out to builders since we have more regions – eighteen in all – and plan for larger performance venues,” Diana Renoir, one of the coordinators for the event informed me.

Those interested in applying should complete and submit the SL14B Infrastructure Build Application form no later than Saturday, April 1st, 2017.

If you would like to apply, but have specific questions concerning the builds and their requirements, please contact either Diana Renoir (diana.renoir-at-gmail.com ) or Doc Gascoigne (doctor.gascoigne-at-gmail.com)  via e-mail or in-world.

The Auditorium build from SL12B, 2015

The Auditorium build by Anthony (ADudeNamedAnthony) from SL12B, 2015

I’ll be providing updates, etc., on SL14B as usual during the run-up to the event – including a full list of dates, once they are available, and also coverage of the regions and keynotes events which may be planned as a part of the celebrations.

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SL13B: Dee and Patch – land and experiences in Second Life

Saffia, Patch, Dee and Zander - Meet the Lindens

Saffia, Patch, Dee and Zander – Meet the Lindens

Update, July 1st: the video of this session has been released by Linden Lab on YouTube, and is embedded at the end of this article.

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Friday, June 24th saw Dee and Patch Linden sit down with Zander Greene and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my recording of the event.

About Dee and Patch

Dee Linden is the Land Operation Supervisor for the Lab, and her introductions often includes the phrase, “older than the terrain itself”, reflecting her experience from the physical world realty market. She discovered Second Life in 2003, and quickly decided she wanted to be a part of the Lab’s and of Second Life’s growth, taking to dropping note cards on various Lindens, including Char and Philip, encouraging them to consider hiring her.

This happened in around 2005, when she was recruited as a liaison, prior to joining the concierge team, where she was responsible for training Patch. When he moved to set-up the land team, she lobbied him to join the team, where she has a particular interest in supporting non-profits and groups seeking land for events.

Patch Linden started as a Second Life resident, first joining the platform in 2004, and has been a male fashion designer, mentor, and community lead. His efforts with the latter brought him to the attention of the Lab, and it was suggested he consider applying to work for the company.

Initially working as a support agent, he worked his way up through the concierge team, eventually becoming the team’s manager. He later moved to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year prior to pivoting away from support entirely and joining the Product group at the Lab, the group responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life. Here he developed the land operations team, which includes the Land Department of Public Works (LDPW) and the Moles. He’s now the Senior Director of Product Operations, a role in which he is also responsible for the Lab’s support organisation.

Can you tell us about the LDPW and the Moles? They’re actually residents, aren’t they?

Patch: They are, they’re resident contractors … most of them have been working for us going on over five years, and the bulk of the core team is still together today. And we’ve added a good few, many more, to that number; I think we’re up to 22 now. And they run around and enjoy building experiences  and fun things for residents to engage in in-world, like PaleoQuest.

And We’ve got another new big and exciting project that’s on the horizon that’ll probably come out in the near future that I’m not going to talk too much about, but there’s something coming, and its going to be pretty big … It’s a big project, I think the count of regions  is somewhere above 20, maybe below 30,  and it will be an addition to the Mainland, and there is an actual gaming experience attach to it.

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, July 2015 (Flickr)

How many sims is PaleoQuest? I know it is six, but there are several iterations aren’t there?

Patch: Right, the region count  itself for PaleoQuest is six, the core gaming regions. And there are, I think we’re up to three or four instances right now … But we load balance the traffic across the regions so that the game play  remains smooth and stuff when it gets busy, in the evenings especially.

Linden Realms is, surprisingly, still the biggest experience out there. It’s about double the size in region count and we have the same amount of instances on it, and it sees about three times the amount of traffic that PaleoQuest still does today.

It’s kind-of built its own community around itself, hasn’t it? With people who go and play there regularly.

Patch: Yeah, there’s actually a lot of in-world groups that have formed around it; residents just love playing the game, and socialising and stuff while they run around and collect crystals and complete the quests and such. It’s actually really interesting; in the rare  occasion that we ever have a breakdown in the experience, we have to take it down and repair something and bring it back up, the amount of people who reach out to us and say, “Hey! What’s going on? When is it coming back?” and stuff. And we actually have to post status blog messages and stuff just because of the pretty big following that it has …

And a lot of the work that we do, and the experiences that we build, that is one of our primary goals. We want to see people  build up communities and enjoy what we do and socialise in them, have a good time; find something to spend some time doing. And really most importantly, to answer the big golden question for us, which is what is there to do in Second Life, especially with new users when they come in.  We put these experiences out there so that they can go in and get a taste of the various things that they can do.

Dee … you talked about being around since ’03 … Take us back to 2003 and some of your first impressions, and how some of those have maybe evolved and changed as the platform has over these 13 years.

Dee: Wow! That’s a big question! 2003 we were paying for teleports, we were paying prim taxes for every prim you have rezzed, and  the higher up off of the ground that it was, the more you would pay per week. We had the leader boards back then.

Back then there was so much transparency between residents; every week you would see who has the most Linden dollars in-world right now, and I took a screen shot of the week I was number one with L$20,000! That was huge! We’re talking about when there were 17 regions on-line … There were who has the most calling cards, that was one of the leader boards, who has the most land, but like I said, the one with the most money, that was, “Oh my god! I made it! I made it! I’m the richest woman in Second Life!”  So I took a picture of it.

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SL13B: Pete and Xiola – hailing frequencies open!

Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia

Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Thursday, June 23rd saw Xiola and Pete Linden sit down with Kess Crystal and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from the event. The video of the discussion is embedded at the end of this article.

About Xiola and Pete

Xiola Linden is the Lead Community Manager at Linden Lab. she originally came to Second Life in 2006, and joined the Lab in 2011. Her role is broad-ranging, including elements of customer supporter,  through blogging and social media output for the Lab, to organising events such as the in-world get-togethers and the likes of the SL13B music fest. She leads a team “100% focused” on supporting and serving the communities of Second Life, and who may be travelling in-world as Linden or equally, using her alt for that ground-level “resident eye” look at things.

During her time in Second Life, Xiola has enjoyed many roles: DJ, designer, shopaholic, music event lover – and outside of her official account still finds time for many of these activities.

Pete Linden is the Lab’s Senior Director of Global Communications, a role which sees him leading the company’s PR work and managing the Marketing team, covering all of the Lab’s activities and products – Second Life, Blocksworld and Project Sansar.

He joined Linden Lab in 2009 from a PR firm which representing the company, and became a PR specialist and then PR Manager, before moving to manage the PR and communications team and thence to his current role, which includes overall management of all of the Lab’s communications activities – PR, marketing, communications and community management.

What were your first impressions on joining the Lab? Was it what you were expecting?   

Pete: For me it was, but part of that was because I’d had the good fortune of working with a number of people quite closely at Linden Lab for about three years before I made the move. I was working pretty closely with Catherine Linden Melissa Linden and some others at that time. So, I had a pretty good sense of what the company was like, how things worked here.

And obviously, that’s  changed over the past number of years; Linden, like Second Life has been through quite an evolution. But it’s still the most exciting and most fun job that I’ve ever had. It’s a great place to be.

Xiola: It’s interesting because I had actually been watching the careers page at Linden Lab for quite a while, waiting for the right opportunity to arise. The timing ended up being perfect and it worked-out really well.

One of Xiola's many looks

One of Xiola’s many looks

So that aside, I think – it’s a tough question, because like Pete mentioned, the people here are some of like the coolest, smartest people you’ll ever meet. So every day there’s something surprising. It’s kind of how I feel about the Second Life community, which sort-of makes sense, that the people working here, working on Second Life, have similarities with our community as well, because they are the community as well.

But there’s always some things that surprises me about people, and it’s almost, I would say, 99.9% of the time delightful. And so in that regard, I really didn’t know what to expect coming here, and I enjoyed that, actually. I was excited about something new and different, even though I had been a resident and understood the product from a resident’s perspective. My background had been more in straight Internet, web and e-commerce sites, and that sort of thing.

So I came here, and it was almost like, “These are my people! This is my tribe!” And it’s continued to be that way over the years, it’s very cool. But the people I have as friends before and after Linden Lab have that similarity. I really appreciate when people surprise me; and I definitely get that every day here.

I think Oz was talking about not going a week without the residents surprising him with something; that really is a common theme, I think, internally as well as externally. It’s really cool. You definitely have to be on your toes, but it’s fun!

Do you still use your other avatar?

Xiola: Every day, actually. Well, lately because of all the Second Life 13th Birthday coordination stuff, I’ve definitely been spending more time on Xiola, even “after hours”, even though no such thing really exists. So, my alt has been a little bit neglected. But I still actually log her in every day, if only to check notices and note cards, as my alt is a creator and I want to make sure I stay on top of that stuff as well. I would hate to go a few days and come back to note cards from customers or something like that, wondering, “what the heck?”

So I spend time on my alt every day. and between her and Xiola, spend a lot of Lindens updating our avatars all the time!

I guess from a marketing and community point of view though, having the alt allows you to do a certain amount of mystery shopping and see how people are engaged in the community. Do you get a lot of feedback on the alt?

Xiola: I do. So, I mean obviously it not like I go around interviewing people or asking when I’m on my alt, that would be a little obvious. But I hang out in places, and people will be having conversations about things, and you definitely get a different perspective when folks don’t know there’s a Linden present. And I try to treat it that way; I mean when I’m doing alt things, I respect the alt code, I’m a resident right now, not a Linden! So there’s definitely some interesting things.

And even some of the outside Second Life stuff, some of the communities that exist on Plurk and Facebook; they definitely have a different perspective. But funnily enough, it’s sort-of like they say, two different parties can have the same goal, but they’re just using different words for it; at the end of the day, I think at the end of the day, a lot of it aligns. And maybe it’s just coming from a different perspective,  the feedback I hear externally and the feedback I hear in here, I think a lot of it actually lines up really well. So that’s kind of kismet and kind of cool.

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SL13B talks: Oz and Landon inside Second Life

Oz Linden (centre, left) and Landon Linden (centre, right), flanked by Saffia and Elrik

Oz Linden (centre, left) and Landon Linden (centre, right), flanked by Saffia and Elrik

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Wednesday, June 22nd saw Oz and Landon Linden sit down with Elrik Merlin and Saffia Widdershins, this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from my own recording of the event. Note that these are not necessarily presented in the order items were discussed during the session; to maintain a sense of flow, I have grouped some items together. However, for those who would like to hear things chronologically, the video the session  is embedded at the end of this article.

About Oz and Brandon

Oz Linden

Oz Linden

Oz Linden is perhaps best known for his work with the viewer and open-source communities in Second Life. He joined the company in 2010, and is perhaps one of Second life’s most unabashed and proud promoters.

Starting in support of the Lab / open-source community relations, Oz moved upwards and forwards in the company, managing the relationship between the Lab and the third-party viewer community, and thence on to Director of Engineering, and lobbying for the post of Technical Director for Second Life  when the Lab commenced re-aligning itself to manage two large-scale core products: Second Life and Project Sansar.

He has a strong background in open-source development and in web technologies, including voice applications, communications protocols and defining industry standards definition. He notes of working for the Lab:

Working on Second Life comes with some odd benefits… you get to pick your own avatar name, and it turns out that’s what everyone at work calls you by. So I became Oz Linden. Four years later, I’m the Director responsible for Second Life core product engineering, and having more fun than a barrel of virtual monkeys.

Landon Linden is the Lab’s VP Operations and Platform Engineering, a post he has held since December 2013. Originally a research chemist with a long-term involvement in MUDDs and MMOs, he decided that there were probably saner pastures in which to work than research chemistry (he relates with a smile), and so hopped over into IT, working in consultancy prior to telecommunications before joining Linden Lab in August 2008 as a Lead Systems Engineer.

Landon Linden

Landon Linden

Since that time, he’s been literally at the heart of Linden lab and Second Life, initially leading the engineering team that designs and implements the network, infrastructure, and low-level systems on which Second Life runs as well as managing the team responsible for creating all the Lab’s internal applications:  support tools, service administration apps, and continuous integration systems including test automation.

In October 2011 he became Director of Systems Engineering and Operations, responsible for technical operations and platform engineering (data centre, network, system infrastructure, build systems, internal tools, and application security) as well integrating some of the Lab’s third-parties service (Amazon AWS, CDN providers). From here he moved on to Senior Director Platform Engineering and Operations, overseeing the team which creates the platform for all Linden Lab products (e.g. platforms, payments, virtual currency, data warehouse) and ensuring  production services run as smoothly as possible. With his move to VP Operations and Platform Engineering, Landon now also oversees the  foundational infrastructure and services being developed for Project Sansar.

It’s interesting you have this cross-over between chemistry and virtual worlds. do you see any kind of common ground, apart from the madness?!

Landon: I think about this a lot, and I really wish I could come up with a really interesting answer, but I don’t. In terms of what I was doing in chemistry and what we do in Linden Lab; I don’t see a lot of base overlap. One of the things that I used every day in chemistry and what I tend to use in my job today is the underlying methods can be similar, particularly with regards to statistics.

… One of the things that fascinates me about virtual worlds is that it is a human-created space but it’s also part of the machine; it’s in the computer. And so we have lots of information, just like social networks, about what is happening, how people are behaving. So, one of the things that has always fascinated me is sociology, psychology and economics. What frustrated me about those disciplines back in my hard science days, back working as a chemist, it was very difficult, and it remains very difficult, to do hard science research on that. And in virtual worlds, there’s this kind of perfect collision of the kind-of fuzzier side of science and the things you can directly measure.

Economics in particular is something that I’ve been desperately interested in, and I think most economists would just drool to see what is happening, directly measure what’s happening, in the Second Life economy.

Oz: I think those disciplines are not as far apart as you think they are; at least based on my experience. I have a whole bunch of former chemists that I’ve worked with in programming over the years, and I think the thought processes are very similar.

Landon:  I think it’s worth pointing out though, that I think that virtual worlds and Second Life in particular can be tremendous tools in teaching people about chemistry. In fact I have a story – I will spare you the gory details – but I had a professor in college who just put it quite plainly that everything you needed to know about organic chemistry is summed-up in two kinds of principles.

Texas A&M interactive learning environment demonstrating how Second Life can be used for teaching chemistry

Texas A&M interactive learning environment demonstrating how Second Life can be used for teaching chemistry

One is electronic effects, and that essentially means that negative or opposite charges are attracted to each other, or like charges repel each other. And stereoelectronic effect, which essentially means you can’t fit a square peg through a round hole. And if you can visualise what is happening in a chemical reaction, it will help you understand whether or not something’s going to work, or at what rate it will work. So virtual worlds can be a really powerful educational tool for chemists, to help them understand that, “Oh these things actually have physical size, and they willing fit together if they want.” And we’ve seen some of that.

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