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They have, as of Thursday, June 25th, 2020, been replaced by a new set of names that have been added to the list of available last names.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

 

Second Life: looking at the new Linden Homes Stilt theme

The new linden Stilt Homes (r-l) Tortuga, Havana and 2-storey Lauderdale

On Tuesday, June 23rd, while speaking at the SL17B Meet the Lindens event, Patch Linden announced the next theme of Linden Home that is being lined up for release: Stilt Homes, designed to be placed in coastal setting, their stilts allowing them to sit on land, over water or between the two.

Once available – the new houses are currently only available for preview at SL17B – will again come in four styles, and will occupy 1024 sq m parcels. When they are released, they will become the sixth type of new Linden Homes to be made available over the last 18 months, with two further themes already in preparation.

The new theme is … stilt homes. They take their inspiration from south-eastern US geographical areas that basically are Floridian shore-side stilt home communities that tend to pop-in in low-lying and potentially even hurricane prone areas. Generally, they’re fairly brightly coloured; they have fairly good-sized open concept floor designs, and we’re going to offer them in three different variants. There will be an over water variant of the home, a partial version of the home that could rest over land and water. and there will be an inland version of the home, all on stilts no matter what because – you know – when the hurricane comes though you certainly don’t want to be on the ground when the flooding happens!

– Patch Linden, SL17B, describing the new Linden Home theme

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The new theme comprises the following styles of home:

The Lauderdale: a two-floor unit with two large down stairs rooms, open with front door opening to a full length front porch with roof over, and sliding doors to the rear opening to a rear deck-come-dock. Central stairs lead up to an enclosed landing area with bedrooms either side, one with views to the front and rear, and the other with views to the front and side and sliding doors to a large verandah with roof over at the rear of the house.

The Havana: is single-storey 3-roomed, cross-shaped house with central front-to-back room providing access to front covered porch and rear covered deck. One side room also offers access to the deck-come-dock, and with windows to front and side aspect. Remaining room has windows to front, rear and side aspects.

The Santiago: a two-storey house with ½-porch with verandah over to the front, and an open-plan ground floor presenting space for two rooms, the larger of which has a bay window to the front and sliding doors to the rear opening onto full length deck, sans dock. A dog-leg staircase leads up to a central landing with sliding doors to the front verandah, and two bedrooms. The first bedroom is a full front-to back room with windows to the front and rear. The second bedroom has windows to the front bay and side aspect, and sliding doors serving a rear private verandah.

The Tortuga: a single-storey house with offset main room to one side with front door to a small covered front porch and sliding doors to the rear deck-come-dock. A second room, also with access to the deck / dock opens off of this, together with windows to the rear / side aspect. A small room sits to the front of the house with windows to the front aspect.

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The theme itself has been a lot of fun to design and develop. We took a lot of plant life from that area and created it to be true to that geographical zone of the United States as well as varying out transportation capabilities between road and dock as well as waterway and such. And the thing I’m particularly excited about is that the home that are over water will marry up to and against regions that are also specific to houseboats. So this is going to give us a new ability to segue from area to area between the stilt homes portions of the continents to also adding on more houseboat regions out and around these continent sections that we’re planning on putting out. 

– Patch Linden, SL17B

A view of an “inland” group of Stilt Homes – Santiago to the left, Lauderdale centre

All four styles of home look like they can be used over land or water; those over land appear to have steps down to the ground from the front porch, with perhaps room to squeeze a car under them. As Patch notes the landscaping is tropical coastal and modelled on that of Florida. The houses with water parcels are either connected by sun washed board walks back to dry land and which can also provide social spaces, or – at least in the demo region – sit entirely surrounded by water, which is an interesting approach.

There is something of the Traditional Homes look to these stilt homes, so much so, that with a casual initial glance, you might be forgiven for thinking that they are “traditional homes on legs”. However, once examined, it becomes clear this similarity is more passing than anything else; something that gives these houses something of a hook into past Linden Homes designs whilst also  – thanks to the large deck spaces and mix of land / water locations – being something completely unique.

The “offshore” Stilt Homes at the SL17B preview region – Havana in the foreground, and Lauderdale towards the centre

Given there desk and docks, the theme also appears to have the largest general footprint of the Linden Home released to date, which might cause problems for those wishing to moor a large type of boat alongside one. Even so, I have to admit that this is the first theme that – once available – might tempt me into giving up my houseboat and trying to snag one that sits in its own “offshore” parcel. Although that said, it would be nice to see a theme that isn’t another aspect of Americana – the rest of the world has house styles to offer, after all!

SLurl to Preview Region

(only available while the SL17B regions are live)

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.

May 2020 Web User Group

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, June 3rd, 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).

Account Self-Reactivation

  • Previously, if a user left Second Life and asked for their account to be de-activated, it would require a support ticket to have the account re-activated at a future date, should the user wish to return to SL and to that account.
  • Users can now re-activate their account directly.
  • This is seen as a way to help people returning to Second Life as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 situation to be able to resume using their “old” accounts, rather than having to fully start over without having to soak up support personnel time in re-activating an account.
  • To work, a returning user must know both the account name / password and the e-mail address used to create the account.
  • This method doesn’t replace raising a support ticket for account re-activation, so people can still file a ticket if they do not have all the required information.
  • Details on account reactivation can be found here.

Mobile Client

  • The iOS version is now in a closed alpha featuring some residents.
  • In keeping with the Lab’s plans, this version offers the ability to communicate via IM, and has a basic Friends listing.
  • Further updates will follow  – the next being the addition of Abuse Reporting support and improved management for the Friends list.
  • Once the Lab believe the client has an initial set of functions to make it useful as a communications tool, it will will move to a beta phase and made available to a wider cohort of users for further testing.
  • Work is progressing on an Android client, but it will take time for it to reach a point where it is ready for testing. When it is ready, it will likely follow a similar Alpha / Beta test process to the iOS version.
  • Additional work on SL web properties is also being carried out in relation to the Mobile client.

In Brief

  • The Adult Swim event held in May heavily involved the web team, and similar events are apparently being planned for the future.
  • Name Changes:
    • In response to requests, the list of last names provided on the Name Change page can now be seen by Basic members, so they can review the currently available names without have to upgrade first.
Basic users can now see the list of available last names on the Name Change page, so they can check to see if there is a name they’d like before they upgrade to Premium to use the capability.
    • No indication of how frequently the list of last names will updated, but plans remain to change out names once they reach a certain point of use and / or fail to gain traction and use.
    • There will be a blog post ahead of any update to allow people who what to take a name before it might vanish from the list can do so.
  • Work continues on deploying the updates Second Life logo / font (see Out with the green, in with the blue) across web properties as they are naturally updated for other reasons.
  • There was a reminder that user in Norway and Australia must now pay VAT or GST is now applicable on Linden Lab products services (see VAT & GST on Lab products & services for Norway & Australia).
  • Feature request and bugs discussed:
    • To help with EEP asset merchandising, the following feature request has been filed: BUG-228856 “EEP Category in Marketplace”.
    • BUG-228845 “Marketplace Edit Item Listing loses Image Upload option” has been accepted by the Lab for cloning to their internal Jira system.

Second Life Premium Plus roll-out postponed

I was unable to get to the Web User Group meeting on Wednesday, May 5th, and it is taking a while to catch up with things. However, one item of discussion that I’ve been made aware of  – with thanks to Lucia et al – is that of Premium Plus.

This is, as most know, the new subscription level, placed “above”, so to speak, that of Premium, that Linden Lab have been working on.

No specifics as to what it might include have to date been released, making it the subject of much speculation in forums and at things like the Web User Group meetings, but it had been indicated that the roll-out of Premium Plus would follow some time after the deployment of Name Changes, which happened in early April (see Linden Lab announces “the return of last names”, and some notes).

Indeed, updated server-side support for Premium subscriptions – including Premium Plus – have already been deployed, and updates to more easily handle data relating to subscription benefits have also been made to the viewer, and will filter out to  TPVs over time.

However, the plans for the formal deployment of Premium Plus have now changed, as first revealed at the May 5th Web User Group meeting; the change, and the reasons for it were further confirmed to me by Grumpity Linden on Tuesday, May 12th.

We have made the decision to delay the deployment of Premium Plus based on two key factors:

  1. We want to be focused on our Uplift project (move to the cloud) and to minimize distraction for our development, QA, and Ops teams. While we’ve laid a lot of groundwork, quite a bit more still remains to finish Premium Plus.
  2. The pandemic has brought a lot of financial uncertainty to people all around the world and we know many of our Residents have been hit hard.

We are very happy that SL has provided an outlet for people where they can connect, escape, engage safely, and earn a living or supplement their income as well. But we also realise that introducing a higher-priced service level in this time would be really ham-handed.

– Grumpity Linden, May 12th, 2020

As to when might we see Premium Plus – or something like it – made available? Grumpity continued:

I don’t know that there’s a whole lot more to say. I can’t promise a time line, but early 2021 is reasonable to expect. If we find ourselves in a position to move up that time line, we’ll certainly explore that. Without any actual plans to that effect, we may find, for example, that a different type of service level than Premium Plus is a better offering for the times we find ourselves in come Fall.

Given the current global economic  / income environment,  delaying the deployment of the new Premium level is a sensible move, for the reason Grumpity states. As and when there is further news on Premium Plus, I’ll endeavour to provide an update – and in a more timely manner!

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?

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