Name Changes update: new last name options released

© Linden Lab

On June 16th, I reported on the announcement that the first set of last names for the Premium Names Changes capability would be “retired” (i.e. removed from the list of options) at the end of Wednesday, June 24th, 2020.

Those names: Alpaca, Covfefe, Damballar, Float, Jazzhands, Mainsail, Nimble, Piggins, Plumday, and Yeetly – have all now gone from list of available last names.

They have, as of Thursday, June 25th, 2020, been replaced by a new set of names that have been added to the list of available last names. These are:

Vortex – Fluffpaw – Sassypants – Amethyst – Bloodrose – Aurelia – Starlight

In addition, and as announced by Linden Lab at the launch of the above last name options, there are three additional last names added to the list to mark Second Life’s 17th anniversary theme. These are:

Wayfarer – Rover – Wanderer

These three names will only remain available through until the name round of updates, at which time they will be retired.

Name Changes was introduced in April 2020, providing Second Life Premium subscribers with a fee-based ability to change both the first name and last name for their avatar / account.  If you are unfamiliar with the capability, you can read more here: Second Life: the return of last names, and some notes.

 

Name Changes: first set of last name “retirements” announced

© Linden Lab

Names Changes, launched in April 2020, as most user know, is the ability for Premium users to select a first name / last name combination that’s to their liking and use it as their avatar / account name.

Under the system, first names are free-form, whilst last names are selected from a list – as used to be the case when first name / last name combinations were a basic part of the Second life sign-up process through until mid-2010.

Since the introduction of this Premium option (which you can read about in Second Life: the return of last names, and some notes) users have been asking when and how frequently the list of last name will be updated.

Linden Lab have remained somewhat vague on this latter point, although they have noted that names are liable to swapped out on the basis of how popular / unpopular they prove to be. That is, if a name is so popular it reaches a certain level of use or fails to reach a certain level of use within a given time period defined by the Lab, they would be “retired”.

On Tuesday, June 16th, the Lab announced that some of the last names made available in the first batch made available at the time the capability was launched have been determined to fall with one or other of these two limits, and so will be “retired” from use as from Thursday, June 25th, 2020.

The names to be retired are:

Alpaca – Covfefe – Damballar – Float – Jazzhands – Mainsail – Nimble – Piggins – Plumday – Yeetly

Anyway wishing to make use of these names should now do so before the end of Wednesday, June 24th. Those who have already opted to  use any of these names will obviously retain them. I assume replacement names will be made available / announced either at the time these names are retired, or shortly thereafter.

You can read the official announcement in Last Call for These Last Names – Get ‘Em While You Can!

In terms of how popular the capability has been, the official blog post notes only that the response thus far has been “mostly positive”, although feedback at various meetings has suggested the response has been more poplar than the blog may suggest.

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

April 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes et al

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 1st, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Name Changes

  • Deployment of the Name Changes capability is now “really, really close”.
  • As of the meeting, all of the major elements for Name Changes are with the Lab’s QA team for testing.
  • IF no significant issues / showstoppers or the like are uncovered by QA, it is probable that Name Changes will launch before the end of April.

Premium Plus

  • All of the required / update workflows for managing Premium Plus are in place, and the various web pages that will need to be refreshed with updated information have been prepared ready for the eventual Premium Plus launch.
  • All of the back-end work is in place.
  • LL are still “sitting on” all of the various values (fee, benefits, etc.), that are associated with Premium Plus.
  • No release date but said to be be “closer” – however, as I’ve previously noted, it will not come until some time after Name Changes have been made available.

Marketplace

  • Keywords and unlisting: if an item is unlisted from the MP for keyword use issues, the merchant will now get an automated e-mail notification.
  • Further improvements to the keyword system will be made over time.
  • There have been multiple fixes to the Marketplace, including:
    • Corrections for translations for non-English languages and alternate language descriptions on listings being incorrect or not displaying correctly.
    • Fixes for issues with the transaction e-mail settings.
    • Correcting the issue of some listings failing to appear in search results on Merchant’s Manage Listings pages.
    • Cleaned up the behaviour of received items.
    • Single sign-on session handling between the viewer and the Marketplace has been improved to prevent the system getting confused between which account a user was using to make a MP purchase if they were logged-in and using the MP from two accounts.

SL Marketing

  • Work has been put into refreshing a lot of the Second Life landing pages as a part of promoting Second Life.
  • This work includes the development of the enterprise / business micro-site, including the new explore page for the (at present) seven turnkey solutions.
    • I’m currently discussing with LL a possible article on this aspect of Second Life that will present a walk-through of the micro site and how interested parties can use it to engage with LL and progress through to using one of the region types.
    • The global MuseWeb 2020 conference is in progress at the time of writing, and has moved to an entirely on-line status as a result of the current pandemic. Portions of this event are being presented in or relayed through Second Life, using one of the enterprise turnkey solutions – see: MuseWeb: utilising Second Life in support of a global conference).
  • Internally to the Lab, one of the new consumer campaigns (yet to launch at the time of writing) is called the Comfort Campaign, promoting Second Life as a virtual social environment where people can meet, share times, enjoy the company of others (pretty much in keeping with the ideal of “stay safe, stay virtual”) during the current crisis, whilst at the same time avoiding the appearance of being in any way exploitative.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Still being worked on.
  • First step will likely be sending out an e-mail notification when an attempt to log-in to a Second Life service is made from an unrecognised device.
  • More robust 2FA controls will be added, and will initially be opt-in before eventually becoming required.

It’s a very serious topic that we are working on in parallel to AWS work. Which means it made the cut of “what can we stop working on to make AWS go faster.

– Ekim Linden

In Brief

  • Website polls. People visiting Second Life web properties such as secondlife.com and the Marketplace may have noticed a pop-up poll appearing when they do so, asking if they would recommend SL to others.
    • Apparently, those responding at largely indicating they would (although obviously saying and doing aren’t the same).
    • At the same time, the poll also received a lot of negative feedback due to the annoyance factor (it would keep popping up on a user logging into any Second Life web property until responded to), and so has been turned off.
    • However, there are more such polls being planned, although how they are being presented might be reconsidered.
  • Web profiles and legacy profiles viewer: there are further fixes awaiting before this profile can roll forward, and these are queued behind other work at present.
  • Forum spamming. There has been an upturn in new accounts spamming the forums. It is possible that if this continues and gets worse, LL may consider some form of throttling / limits on the volume of posts that can be made by an individual account at a given time.

February 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes, MP updates and 2FA

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, February 5th, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Cloud Uplift

  • The work transitioning SL services to the cloud is very much a daily task for the Web Team, who appear to be the focus at the moment in the drive to get SL-related web properties and services transitioned to provisioning by AWS.
  • This work is also impacting a lot of cycles of QA and engineering work.
  • It is believed that the initial benefit for SL web services following their transitioning will be in performance.
  • It was reiterated that the focus of the work is just on making the transition to AWS provisioning; and other work (such as possible regional localisation of servers where it makes sense to do so) will not come until much later.

Name Changes

  • Still no confirmation of likely deployment date. However, and as per my week #6 Simulator Group summary, the necessary server-side support for Name Changes is being deployed to the grid.
  • The final tally of entrants in the Last Names competition is 2,300, with the majority all entering their allowed three choices, so somewhere in the region of 6,900 suggestions (some of which might be duplicates of one another).
    • Work is in-hand to select the winners that will be included in the first batch of available last names.
  • Some additional blockers have been encountered that are delaying the deployment of the capability.

Marketplace

  • End-to-end Localisation of Marketplace pages is continuing, with the side bar now being shown in Spanish for users selecting that language, and with all the categories, etc., displaying correctly.
  • Landmarks can once again be included in land sale listings.
  • Ongoing back-end work to support the upcoming new Premium Plus subscription option.
  • It has been noted that the new search filters (demos and limited items) has highlighted a large number of demo items on the MP that are not linked to actual products – which is against the listing guidelines. Those coming across such items are asked to flag the items, and if no action is seen to be taken after a period of time, to raise a support ticket.
  • There are reports that some who have items de-listed from the MP are not receiving an advisory e-mail that their items have been de-listed.
    • Should it be noted that this is the case, make sure the any supplied e-mail address you use with Second Life has been correctly verified (see Important: verifying your e-mail address with Second life).
    • If the e-mail is apparently verified, the advice is to contact support, who will try to help determine why e-mails are not being received.
    • Additionally, the Web Team are going to follow this up to see if there are any reasons which the notifications are not being sent from their end.
  • There has been an issue of items No Copy items being wrongfully obtained / re-sold via the Marketplace. Accounts found to be doing this are held for assessment, but it is hard for LL to arrange the return of the items to the original creators, as very often the items are moved between multiple accounts, requiring extensive and time-consuming back-tracking through MP listings, etc.
    • However, it is acknowledged that the assessment process is unfair to merchants using the MP, and the process is under view with the aim of the Lab trying to “do better” for merchants hit by these issues.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) – this has oft been requested for Second Life log-in processes, and it is on the road map. However, there are “many hurdles” in implementing such a system, which LL are trying to overcome.
    • For those unfamiliar with the concept of 2FA, it is a method of confirming users’ claimed identities by using a combination of two different factors, e.g. something they know, something they have, or something they are. For example, using a bank card (something a person has) and a PIN number (something they know) to withdraw money from an ATM¹.
  • Whilst the complications of 2FA are being investigated / addressed, the Lab may implemented additional account security safeguards in the nearer-term road map, which are seen as easier to achieve
    • An example of this might be a user receiving a notification if a log-in to their account is made from a new location or from a different device / computer.
  • It is expected that when initially introduced, any 2FA process is introduced for Second Life will be opt-in by users.

In Brief

  • Details of the Premium Plus offering are unlikely to be made available until such time as Linden Lab is ready to make it available, and this will not be until some time after Name Changes has been deployed.
  • Recurring Events has seen good take-up among Premium users, and further updates are in development.
    • Adding the ability to include events in your personal on-line calendar (e.g. Outlook, Google, etc.), is currently targeted for a Q2 (April – June) or Q3 (July-September) deployment.
  • Password Reset Changes  – whenever a user changes their SL password, they will now get a full notification e-mail about the change.
  • The site defender used to protect Second Life web properties was updated during January 2020. A side benefit of this work is that various web pages from the Lab – notably those on the Marketplace – load faster. The Web Team estimate the performance gain to be at least 11%.
  • There is no date for when resident-to-resident Mainland land auctions will be returning. These were suspended in 2019 fulling the system being abused.
  • Linden Homes:
    • The “collection page” (the page seen when you have selected a Linden Home through the web and which provides the SLurl to the house) has been updated to obfuscate the personal e-mail address, which had been previously exposed in full. This is part of a on-going effort to prevent user’s personal data from being exposed in the event of someone else accessing their account.
    • The “next batch” (presumably a new type, given all current variations are now part of the weekly “rolling” deployments) of Linden Homes is being targeted for the end of Q1 (so late March), barring any unforeseen issues.
  • Windows 7 has been removed from the Second Life System Requirements page, following the official ending of support of that version of Windows by Microsoft on January 14th, 2020.
    • As I noted in Linden Lab announce end of support for Windows 7, users can still use systems running Windows 7 to access Second Life if they so choose, but will not receive any support from the Lab for issues directly related to that version of the OS.

Date of Next Meeting

The next Web User Group meeting will be on Wednesday, March 4th, 2020, commencing at 14:00 SLT.

¹ Note that this example should not be taken to mean it is how any form of 2FA implemented by the Lab will be implemented; it is purely an easy-to-understand illustrative case.