Don’t forget: Friday Feb 26th – Lab Gab AWS update and a farewell

via Linden Lab

Just a quick reminder to folks who may not have caught the official announcement at the start of the week.

The latest edition of the Lab’s chat show series hosted by Strawberry Linden, Lab Gab, streams at 11:00 am on Friday, November 26th. And it’s a special show.

As most are aware, the work to transition Second Life to operating via Amazon Web Services (AWS) was completed at the end of December 2020, and the Lab has completely moved out of its former co-location facility in Arizona.

Since then work has been continuing to make tweaks and updates to both help get some services that didn’t make the transition as smoothly as hoped (perhaps most notably to most people, Map tile updates) once again running as they should, with work also progressing on fine-tuning things, with the Lab looking to better optimise their services to take full advantage of the the hardware and infrastructure provided AWS.

Given all this, the show will feature Grumpity and Oz Linden, respectively the Lab’s Vice President of Product and Vice President of Engineering, will be providing a update on how things are going.

Oz and Grumpity Linden, with Strawberry Linden between them, will be appearing on Lab Gab on Friday, February 26th, at 11:00am SLT. Image courtesy of linden Lab

In addition, Friday, February 26th marks the end of an era. As he recently announced, Oz  Linden is retiring from the Lab as from today, as so the show marks once of his last public appearances as a member of the Lab’s management team – and indeed as a Linden.

In his time at the Lab – which amounts to something over 10 years -, he has achieved and overseen a lot, and has been responsible both directly and indirectly for making Second Life a much more capable platform, and in building a solid and fruitful relationship with both third-party viewer developers and the open-source community in Second Life; he also makes no secret of the fact that he has enjoyed his time at the Lab immensely.

To mark the fact that this is potentially the last time the users will get to hear from Oz, the show will also look back over his time at  the Lab – so be sure not to miss it and hear from him on a personal level.

You can catch it through the Lab’s streaming outlets on YouTube, Facebook, or Periscope, and I’ll more than likely have a summary of the show out within 24 hours of it airing.

Lab invites users to suggest new SL last Names

via Linden Lab

On Thursday, February 11th, Linden Lab announced the release of a new selection of last names for Premium members as a part of the Name Changes capability.

As I noted at the time, the 15 new names added to the list (which also saw the removal of a number of the less popular names from it) included some suitable for the Valentine’s period, and comprised a mix of names suggested by users during the 2019 Last Names competition that was held prior to the launch of Name Changes, and names selected by Linden Lab.

This makes for a quite varied selection of names for those wishing to change their avatar’s last name – but the Lab is always looking for new names that might be suitable.

To this end, the Last Names Suggestions form has been created, allowing anyone who has a suggestion for a potential Second life Last Name to submit it to the Lab for consideration.

When doing so, there are a couple of caveats to note:

  • The Lab does have an extensive list of names already, so submitted and selected names may not immediately appear in any updates to the list of available Last Names.
  • At this point in time, the Lab is not re-using any “legacy” Last Names (those users were able to select prior to 2010) – so be sure to check the list of legacy names before submitting your ideas.

About Name Changes

Name Changes is a Premium-only benefit that allows Premium subscribers to change their first name, their last name or both their first and last name on the payment of fee (US $39.99 + VAT  / sales tax, where applicable at the time of writing). Through it, users can opt to use any first name of their own choice, while last names are selected from a pre-defined list.

If you are unfamiliar with the capability, you can read more via the following links:

 

Oz Linden announces his forthcoming departure from Linden Lab

Oz Linden, circa 2014

On Tuesday, February 16th, 2021, and in a surprise to Second Life users, Linden Lab’s Vice President of Engineering, Oz Linden (aka Scott Lawrence in the physical world) announced his forthcoming departure from the Lab.

Oz joined Linden Lab in 2010, taking on the role of Director of Open Development. At that time, the viewer was in something of a state of flux; the “new” Viewer 2 had not long been launched, the development of which had largely excluded the user community and, particularly, developers who had long been associated with viewer development through the submission of code contributions.

As a result of this and other factors, users and developers alike were at the time feeling alienated and disenfranchised – facts that Oz immediately recognised and sought to address.

In the first instance this was done by replacing the open-source viewer Snowglobe project with a new Snowstorm project, intended to bring as much of the viewer development out into the open as possible – an approach Oz continued to push for throughout his time at the Lab, thus bringing order and surety out of a time that might be best described as having been “chaotic”.

The most obvious areas in which this was demonstrated was his adoption of weekly Open Source Meetings, initially held on Mondays before moving to their current Wednesday slot. These meetings continued alongside other technical in-world meetings such as the Server and Scripter meeting(now the weekly Simulator User Group), which took place even during the drought of other office hours meetings. He also implement the fortnightly Third Party Viewer Development meetings, allow Third Party Viewer developers to discuss all matters relating to the viewer directly with him and members of the Lab’s viewer engineering team.

In 2013, Oz oversaw the complete overhaul of the Lab’s internal viewer develop process, officially called the Viewer Integration and Release Process, which greatly simplified viewer update and viewer feature development. This project also brought me into my first direct contact with Oz when I offered a summary of the new process.  It marked the start of a long and informative acquaintance that I’ve continued to appreciate over the years.

As well as direct contributions to the viewer, Oz also helped open the door to user-led projects aimed at providing broader capabilities for the viewer. While constraints on what could / could not be accepted would always have to be enforced, this approach nevertheless resulted in the adoption of materials in Second Life, and helped to encourage project-based contributions to the viewer that have included capabilities such as the hover height slider, and graphics and camera presets. This approach also included major lab-led projects such as Project Bento also encompass direct user involvement pretty much from their outset.

While it has always been the Lab’s policy to try to recruit personnel from the ranks of users as and when there is a suitable “fit”, in his time at the Lab, Oz has become perhaps one of the most enthusiastic proponents of this approach, frequently seeking – and often succeeding – to recruit qualified users into technical positions under his management.

Oz in his human form. Credit: Linden Lab

As the Lab opted to start work on Project Sansar, Oz decided to pro-actively campaign to take on the work in continuing to develop Second Life, drawing to him those within the Lab who also wished to stay engaged in working on the platform. It is not unfair to say this resulted in one of the most intense periods of Second Life development we have seen, interrupted only be the need to focus on the work of transitioning all of Second Life and its services to run on AWS.

In 2019, Oz – together with Grumpity and Patch Linden – officially joined the Lab’s management team, taking on the role of Vice President of Engineering and putting an official seal on what Grumpity refers to as the Troika: the three of them being largely responsible for determining much of the product and feature direction for Second Life.

In announcing his departure, which sees his last day with the Lab being Friday, February 26th, 2021, Oz states that it has been something he’s been considering for a while:

Some time ago, I reached the point that I could afford to think about retiring but decided to stay to finish moving SL to its new cloud platform. I can’t imagine a better last act in my working life than ensuring that Second Life has this better platform for its future growth. Now that project is done (well, except for a few loose ends), and it’s time for me to move on to the next phase of my life.

He also emphasises – hopefully to prevent the rumour mill turning its wheels – that his decision to leave the Lab is not in any way connected to the company recently being acquired by new investors:

I want to emphasise in the strongest possible terms: my decision has nothing at all to do with the change in ownership of the Lab; the timing really is a coincidence. If anything, I regret that I have overlapped with them for only a few weeks; in that time (and in the time leading up to the change) I have come to respect and appreciate the skills and energy they bring to the company.

For my part, I cannot claim to know Oz as well as I would like to – but I’ve always found find his enthusiasm for Second Life never to be anything less than totally honest and infectious, and his high regard for users utterly genuine and sincere.

As such – and while his actual departure from the Lab is still more than a week away,  – I’d like to take this opportunity to offer him a personal and public “thank you” for all the times he’s provided me with insight and / or encouraged me to get involved in various projects, all of it has been greatly appreciated. I am, and will be, genuinely saddened to see him leave the Lab; we are all losing something in his departure, and the void left will not be easy for the management team to fill.

Name Changes: new last names released

© Linden Lab

On Thursday, February 11th, Linden Lab announced the release of a new selection of last names for Premium members as a part of the Name Changes capability.

As with other updates to the last names list, the release comes with the retirement of a number of the less popular names that had been on the list. The update also come on the heels of Keira Linden indicating during the February 2021 Web User Group meeting that the Lab were hoping to get some new names out in readiness for Valentines Day – and some of the new options could be said to reflect this.

Absinthe – Amore – Aviator – Blackwood – Bunny – Caboose – Dakota – Darkheart –  Evergarden
– Incognito – Knickers – Nebula – Orlando – Suki  – Venus

Of these, Amore, Venus, Suki (to like / have a fondness for) and Darkheart also appear to have the promised Valentine lean – and Darkheart itself was suggested at the Web User Group. All the rest are a more general mix, although I confess to finding Knickers and Caboose raising a smile, given their relationship to underwear and the human rear end – as such, a part of me is anticipating some more …. imaginative … pairings of these two names with first names!

Up until now, changes to the list of available names has been somewhat infrequent – this is only the second update to the list since the capability was introduced in April 2020. However during the Web User Group meeting, Keira further indicated that the Lab would like to issue updates somewhat more regularly – although how regularly had still to be determined.

In terms of how names are selected for addition to the list, this appears to be through the use of two main sources: names selected from the entries received during the 2019 Last Names competition (which saw several thousand suggested names submitted), and names selected by the Lab. Future lists might also see “normal” last names from the physical world added to the list, whilst there has been a suggestion that there has been some debate within the Lab  about returning legacy last names to the mix, which had previously been rued out.

About Name Changes

Name Changes is a Premium-only benefit that allows Premium subscribers to change their first name, their last name or both their first and last name on the payment of fee (US $39.99 + VAT  / sales tax, where applicable at the time of writing). Through it, users can opt to use any first name of their own choice, while last names are selected from a pre-defined list.

If you are unfamiliar with the capability, you can read more via the following links:

Virtual Community Radio: music and more for your world

Virtual Community Radio in Second Life

Virtual Community Radio (VCR) is a new 24/7 new internet radio station based within Second Life and service the wider metaverse, be it other virtual worlds, those who reside in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States and their associated territories, can listen to the service via a web browser – including using the links on the right of this blog -, whilst the the station’s URL (http://main.vcradio.org/) can be used through in-world region and / or parcel media and suitable app players such as VLC or WinAmp.

Founded by Richard Elen, known in-world as award-winning DJ and radio presenter, and co-host of Designing Worlds, Elrik “Rik” Merlin, will officially launch on Saturday, February 6th with an in-world gala at their new headquarters. Programming is hosted through Live365 and primarily consists of light classical music, with some selected additional classical, baroque, early music, soundtracks and easy listening pieces.

Virtual Community Radio is about Virtual Communities – groups of people with common interests in virtual worlds like Second Life® – and about Community Radio – talking to people in those groups and providing entertainment and information they enjoy. In addition to being aimed at listeners in virtual worlds, it’s also for listeners on the wider Internet.

from VCR’s About page

Outside of their primary programme schedule, VCR will provide additional and wider selections of music genres on a rotating basis of special programming, alongside an an expanding schedule of additional content with a particular emphasis on spoken word presentations – live and recorded readings, radio drama and other similar material.

In this latter regard, VCR will be working with the likes of Seanchai Library, Engines Of Our Ingenuity and ZBS Media to present  unique, quality content, and the station is open to suggestions for similar suitable spoken word programming – so if you know of an individual or group presenting such, please contact the station.

Virtual Community Radio Theatre

With the launch of VCR, initial programming will include Where’ve You Been? This will be a discussion-style programme covering a range of topics: interesting sights and places around Second Life and Tarot @ Teatime a series on the history and techniques of Tarot card reading. Meanwhile The Grove (commencing on Saturday, February 13th) will offer live presentations of new age music on an evocative starlit sea.

Drama presentations will launch with the airing of the classic landmark radio drama series The Black Mass, featuring thirty tales of mystery, imagination and the human mind, created by the late Erik Bauersfeld over half a century ago.

As a non-commercial, non-profit public radio service, VCR is supported by direct sponsorship by individuals, organisations, and businesses. Those who would like to support the station can do so by visiting the station’s sponsorship page, but in brief:

  • Currently, there is one level of sponsorship set at L$5,000 (approx. US $20) per 4-week period. In return, sponsors receive a 300x300px graphic panel on the VCR website, which is displayed in rotation with those of other sponsors; a link to a URL or SLurl, and a crafted, suitable public service announcement (PSA) that will be frequently broadcast as a part of programming.
  • Those interested in providing sponsorship should contact VCR via info@vcradio.org or IM / send a note card VirtualCommunityRadio Resident in Second Life.
  • Additional sponsorship opportunities will be made available in due course.
  • Those who appreciate VCR in-world presentation or enjoy listing to the station’s programming can additional make donations towards the station’s costs via the tip jars within the VCR Theatre or by direct in-world payment to VirtualCommunityRadio Resident.

As noted above, the station will officially launch with an opening gala ball that will be held at the VCR Theatre, commencing at 14:00 SLT on Saturday, February 6th. Formal wear is requested for the opening.

With thanks to Caledonia Skytower.

SLurl and Links

Meet Linden Lab’s new board of directors

Linden Lab’s new board of directors (l to r): Brad Oberwager, J. Randall Waterfield and Raj Date

Following confirmation early this month that the the acquisition of Linden Research Inc., (to give Linden Lab its formal name) has been completed (see the second half of 2021 Update: Life in the Cloud from the Lab and also my own Linden Lab gives cloud migration update & new ownership announcement (updated)), the Lab has updated the Board of Directors section of the About page on the official Linden Research website.

The acquisition, sees three new board members replacing Jed Smith, Bill Gurley, Dina L. Evan and Bing Gordon. Two of them have been previously mentioned: Brad Oberwager and J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield (you can read my own notes on these two gentleman here: Linden Lab announces it is to be acquired). However, what may come as news is that there is a third member of the Lab’s new board: Raj Date.

The following are the biographies for all three as found on the Lab’s About web page:

Brad Oberwager

Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member.
Currently, he sits on the board of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). He is the chairman of two companies he founded, Jyve and Sundia and is also on the board of TEGSCO (aka AutoReturn). He owned Bare Snacks, acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.
Brad was Vice-chair of YPO International, a global organization of 25,000 CEOs.
Brad received his BS from Georgetown University, his MBA from the Wharton School and lives in San Francisco. 

J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield

Mr. J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield, is the Chairman of Waterfield Holdings, which traces its origins to 1928. After selling the largest private mortgage company in the US and largest Indiana based bank in 2006 and 2007 respectively, he diversified into technology, manufacturing and other industries.
Randy holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a graduate of Harvard University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Red Oak Partners, Waterfield Technologies, Linden Research, Inc. and has previously served on the boards of YPO (and was the 2017-2018 Chairman of YPO), Asure Software ( NASDAQ: ASUR), SMTC Corporation (NASDAQ: SMTX), RF Industries (NASDAQ: RFIL), among others. He is also the Co-Chairman of Missouri Cobalt, LLC, the largest cobalt mine in North America.
Randy supports various education, environmental and community development charitable causes through the nonprofit Waterfield Foundation and J. Randall Waterfield Foundation.

Raj Date

Raj Date was the first-ever Deputy Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As the Bureau’s second-ranking official, he helped steward the CFPB’s strategy, its operations, and its policy agenda. He also served on the senior staff committee of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and as a statutory deputy to the FDIC Board.
Before being appointed Deputy Director, Raj acted as the interim leader of the new agency, serving as the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He led the CFPB for most of the first six months after its launch.
Currently, Raj is the Managing Partner of Fenway Summer, an advisory and investment firm focused on financial services and financial technology. In that capacity, he chairs the investment committee of Fenway Summer Ventures, a fintech venture capital fund, and works with clients of FS Vector, the fintech advisory firm. He also serves as a Director for a number of innovative firms in financial services: Prosper, the marketplace lender; Green Dot, the bank holding company; Circle, the digital asset firm; Grasshopper, a de novo bank; and College Ave, a private student lender.
He is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley (highest honors) and the Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).

Without wishing to take anything away from Mr. Oberwager and Mr. Waterfield, Raj Date’s credentials are especially impressive for a relatively small company like Linden Research; having joined the CFPB in February 2011, on what he thought would be a 2-3 month tenure, he was asked by Elizabeth Warren, who oversaw the establishment of the CFPB as a Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury, to lead “the guts of the policy apparatus” within the Bureau. When Warren sought to (successfully) run for the U.S. Senate later in 2011,  Date was nominated to succeed her as the CFPB’s Special Advisor to Treasury, and (as the Lab notes), its first Deputy Director, under Richard Cordray.

His background with consumer affairs, finances, and his post-CFPB founding of Fenway Summer would appear to help lend significant weight to Linden Lab’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Tilia inc; while he is not currently listed as a member of Tilia’s board, his background and expertise could be used in an advisory capability, and his name certainly brings a further level of gravitas to Tilia.

Thus far, the acquisition and arrival of the new board has been handled in a relatively low-key manner. While some might be tempted to see the negative in this, it’s likely more a case of the Lab wishing to demonstrate that, from their perspective and that of the incoming board, things are very much “business as usual” rather than being indicative of any kind of radical change.