My Second Life in 2022

Catch a falling star

Each December, it has become my habit to offer a general look back on Second Life’s progress through the year – as I recently published for 2022, using the Lab’s own look back as a foundation (much as I did in 2021). In some of these looks back, I’ve included some personal notes on my own times in-world, although of late I’ve let that drop away, as is seemed rather self-indulgent. However, to break things up a little as 2022 draws to a close, I thought I’d toot my trumpet again and look back on the year and what it has meant to me.

Most notably on a personal level it’s been a year of evolving friendships, with two of particular note. The early part of the year was marked by times spent with Tasha, someone I’d met in 2021 and shared a good deal of time with having all sorts of fun, thanks to the two of us being in the same time zone and having fairly matching on-line times. Sadly, matters of the physical world meant that for the better part of 2022 we’ve had next to no time in-world, but the memories are precious.

More happily, 2022 brought me into contact with Tulsa, whose sense of fun and humour has prompted me to call her Imp, and whose companionship I’ve come to greatly appreciate, our sharing of a mutual time zone again making getting together easy, and allowing us to share a mutual interest in building. More recently, times in-world have been also shared with Wilhelmina, who has also been a welcome companion in exploring SL and visiting art exhibitions.

Imp being Imp and peeking at me from behind giant books during an August visit to Storybook (see: A Storybook’s return in Second Life)

One of the things blog-wise I did at the start of 2022 was to write about how I came to name my avatar; I did so as a result of having received multiple questions on my name and whether it was connected to the short-lived TV series Firefly (quick answer: yes). Again, I thought the piece to be self-indulgent, but it proved popular among readers and on social media – so thank you on that! Further self-indulgence came in April 2022, when after earlier mis-communications, Strawberry Linden interviewed me for the Lab’s Spotlight series; something I found to be an honour as well, given the luminaries who have featured in the series.

Of course, exploring SL continues to be a passion for me, and 2022 saw me complete over 180 visits and write-ups on in-world public spaces (a handful admittedly return visits later in the year to places I’d dropped into early-on in 2022). It’s an activity I genuinely enjoy because it allows me to see the creativity of others in second life who, whilst not “content creators” in the traditional sense, nevertheless have the creative eye and ability to bring together the works of others in a manner to offer us all places of beauty, mystery, fantasy, and more, where we can explore, relax, play, and have fun.

Sadly, 2022 brought the news that one of the Second Life region designers I particularly admired for his ability – often working with Jade Koltai – to bring us magnificent interpretations of some of the most evocative locations to be found within the physical world. As I noted in a personal reflection on his passing, Serene Footman will be greatly missed by Second Life explorers and photographers.

Black Bayou remains one of my favourite physical world locations Serene Footman and Jade Koltai brought to Second Life. First offered in 2018, it was a location they brought back for a time in April 2022.

In looking at some of the stats on the blog, I was also surprised to realise that 2022 has seen me visit and write about over 170 art exhibitions and installations.

The ability for Second Life to promote art is genuinely second to none. Capable of showcasing 2D and 3D art, whether produced in-world and / or with the assistance of external editing tools, and presenting the ability for artists to upload and display their physical world art, SL is an outstanding platform for artistic expression and audience reach. It has been, and remains, my delight and pleasure to cover art in-world as fully and broadly as I possibly can, although I cannot hope to cover everything, so to those who did through the year extend invites to their opening and exhibitions which I was unable to accept, I offer a genuine apology.

In respect of art and galleries, my thanks to Owl and the folks at NovaOwl and to Hermes Kondor for inviting me to display my own attempts at SL photography at their galleries this year (see: A touch of artistic self-promotion in Second Life and Fifty Shades of Pey in Second Life).

In April Owl, Ceakay and Uli graciously hosted an exhibition of my SL photography at NovaOwl Gallery

A habit I got into a while back, mainly as a means of offering an alternate kind of product review, was writing about the prefab houses I’d buy then promptly kitbash for use on the home island. It is something I continued at the start of the year, utilising a couple of Novocaine Islay’s builds (see: The InVerse Orlando house in Second Life, and The InVerse Nizza house in Second Life). However, I’ve not done anything like it for most of the latter part of the year, not because I’ve not (again) changed house, but because the current house is a scratch-build; albeit it strongly influenced by a commercial build.

In August 2022, I made a number of visits to see Cory Edo’s Jura Waterfront Cabin, trying to work out if it could fulfil an idea I had for a new personal home. Unfortunately, my examinations of the design revealed that I’d have to pretty much tear it apart in order to achieve my goal, so instead I went the scratch-build route, albeit using photos I’d taken of Cory’s design. As such, it’s not a build to be written about in its own right – and I hope Cory will forgive me my cheek! For those of you who are looking for a thoroughly engaging waterfront home, it’s a build I can still recommend it as design unlikely to disappoint.

The current Isla Myvtan house, inspired by Cory Edo’s Jura Waterfront Cabin (inset)

And talking of homes, a genuine highlight for me in 2022 was the invite I received from Miltone Marquette to visit his exquisite in-world reproduction of Fallingwater, aka the Kaufmann House, the iconic house in the Laurel Highlands of southwest Pennsylvania designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The original Fallingwater is a house within which I’ve had a long (and indirect) relationship with for many, many years. I’ve been an admirer of many of FLW’s architectural designs, with Fallingwater being the one I have myself built and re-built in-world over the years, and to which I’ve often returned in order to build far more personal takes on the essential looks and layout of the main house in order to give myself a personal home in-world.

However, none of my builds have been as faithful to the original as Miltone’s; his is a genuine work of art in which no detail from the original has been missed. As such it was an absolute delight to be able to visit it and tour the rooms – and drop into two of his other reproductions of FLW houses -, and I wrote about in Miltone’s Fallingwater in Second Life. If you have a similar passion for Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, I thoroughly recommend contact Miltone directly in-world and arrange a time when you might visit his reproductions of Fallingwater, the Robie House and the Jacobs’ First House.

Fallingwater by Miltone Marquette, October 2022

Of course, 2022 has also allowed me to continue to inflict another pair of my interests on readers – those of space exploration and astronomy, subject which, like my love of sci-fi, came to me by way of late father. I have no idea how broadly popular Space Sunday might be (I try not to look too deeply ay blog analytics for fear I stop writing about what I enjoy and start focus on those subjects that gain the most clicks); however, I will say it is one of the hardest regular pieces I write for the blog; not because the subjects are hard for me to get to grips with, but rather because there is so much I want to cover, I have difficultly in reining myself in, so my apologies to those of you who might find the pieces a case of TL;DR!

Overall, however, 2022 has for me been nicely balanced between blogging and enjoying personal times. I’ll confess that on occasion in recent years I’ve wondered what the hell I am doing with SL outside of writing about it, so 2022 has been an opportunity – thanks in no small part to Imp and those close to me – to strike a new balance and get back to many of the things outside of blogging I enjoy. In this I also want to thank R, whose sage advice – given in 2021 – took root through this past year: do what you enjoy.

And keeping all that in mind, I’m keen to see what 2023 brings!

Second Life 2022/23: the Lab’s review & preview (with my own notes!)

Stock image

On Friday, December 23rd, Linden Lab published their review of 2022, which also included a quick look ahead to 2023. As this time of year when, in the past, I’ve offered a (sometimes multi-part) personal look both back and forward, I this that this year, as with 2022, I’d take a look at the Lab’s look back / look forward and add some of my own thoughts as well.

Linden Lab: People and the Media

2022 got off to something of a bang when on Thursday, January 13th, 2022 Linden Lab officially announced that High Fidelity Incorporated was now an official investor in the company.

This news was significant on a number of levels; most particularly the fact that the arrangement meant that Philip Rosedale, one of the original co-founders of Linden Research (aka Linden Lab), would be supporting the company’s development and direction as a special Strategic Advisor role whilst maintaining his role as CEO and co-founder of High Fidelity Inc.

Philip Rosedale: inwards investment to LL and a role as Strategic Advisor

At the time the new was made public, I speculated whether – given the deal involved the transfer of patents from High Fidelity, a company specialising in spatial audio in virtual spaces – this might see a re-vamp of Second Life’s voice / audio capabilities to encompass the full spatial audio offered by Hi Fi. Well, as it turned out that was a case of barking up the wrong (Linden) tree!

One of the immediate outcomes of this announcement was a renewal of interest in Second Life on the part of tech media, was assorted interviews with Philip Rosedale and also Executive Chair Brad Oberwager; in this, Philip Rosedale’s influence cannot be underestimated.

As the co-founder of Second Life, one of the longest-running immersive virtual worlds, and one of the first  to try to recapture the genie with the founding of High Fidelity of 2013, he has remained true to the ideals of establishing “the metaverse”, and very vocal in his views on privacy, user security and rights, opposition to the idea of ad-driven platforms and approaches wherein the user is the product, whilst also offering clear-sighted views on virtual currencies and the UGC market – as a look through his Twitter profile will reveal. This makes him well-placed to discuss “the metaverse” as a would with reporters and columnist – and in doing to, to place Second Life front-and-centre in their minds.

Second Life users got to hear from Philip directly after the announcement, when he was a guest with Brad Oberwager (with whom he is good friends) on Lab Gab (video and summary here), and also via a Twitter Space event he hosted (summary and audio extracts here – sadly the original event is no longer available via Twitter). More widely, he was a key voice in a four-part podcast series by the Wall Street Journal: How to Build a Metaverse,

User Benefits

2022 saw some interesting user benefits popping out across the months. The arrival of both the Premium Plus and Plus subscription plans, bracketing the original Premium, are both well-known, and both have proven popular. While there are no active plans to do so at present, it has been indicated that other subscription package options might be considered, with some within the Lab somewhat keen on an a-la carte approach: you pay for the options you select from a list. IF this were to come to be at some point in the future, it could prove interesting (just please do not expect anything like it in 2023!).

Other subscription-based “benefits” made available in 2022 were the removal of VAT surcharges on Monthly and Quarterly (where applicable) payment options, levelling the cost of subscriptions for those in VAT-paying countries (VAT was removed from annual payment some time ago); and the reduction in tier fees payable on Mainland parcels of 8192 sq m and above, up to a full region. In terms of payments, the cost of Name Changes for Premium members was reduced to US $34.99 (+VAT), whilst the capability was made available to Plus and Basic account holders at the original US $49.99 (+ VAT).

Technical Front

Unlike 2021, 2022 saw the Lab working a lot more on user-facing updates and capabilities (2021 being devoted to optimising SL server and simulator performance on AWS). Much of this is is recorded in the Lab’s review, but I’d venture to suggest the most impactful aspect of this work has been the release of the Performance Improvements, and the adoption of these updates by the majority of TPVs, bringing significant boost to viewer frame rates as a result of a lot of code and thread refactoring. This work in turn has paved the way for more improvements, supported by work by Beq Janus of the Firestorm team, in the upcoming Performance Floater / Auto-FPS RC viewer, which should be promoted to release status early in 2023.

This work also cleared the way for a significant project which did not quite make it to release status in 2022: the PBR Materials / Reflection Probes project, which will see Second Life move to utilising the glTF 2.0 specification for runtime asset delivery format, intended to bridge the gap between 3D content creation tools and modern graphics applications. This is important because the specification provides a more fluid and predictable workflow from tools like Substance Painter, Blender, et al, into Second Life than can be achieved through the current mixed-format approach to content creation and import.

The initial element of the project focuses materials use (together with the implementation of Reflection Probes) provides a recognised approach to supporting physically-based rendering (PBR) in SL, whilst the glTF specification as a whole from content creation in external tools right the way through to importing that content (including replacing the Collada .DAE model format with glTF as some point down the road.

Sample of PBR materials and detail (r), compared to SL’s “legacy” materials (l). Image courtesy of Runitai Linden’s PBR work 

This work could revolutionise how Second Life looks indoors and out going forward; in addition, it pushes the platform to a position where it is potentially, much easier for content creators familiar with other platforms to dip their toes into a possible (for them) new market in which to sell their creations.

A key thing with the glTF / PBR work is the manner in which the Lab has engaged with the community: the viewer development work has been relatively open for creators to join-in with, see and test; feedback and suggestions have been actively sought, and the work has very much had a element of users and the Lab working together to bring about a capability that is not only needed, but which will be welcomed and used.

Reflection probes are invisible objects which produce a cubemap of a defined area to generate “reflections” of that environment on suitable, local surfaces (in this case, the two spheres). Image courtesy of Runitai Linden’s PBR work

This collaborative approach has also been evident in the other major technical project for 2022: Puppetry. Originally called “avatar expressiveness”, this started as a means of capturing head and arm movement via webcam and having the avatar mimic them. However, thanks to user involvement and testing, the project has been revised and improved, allowing the support of multiple hardware devices for capture, and extending the range of capture close to full-body.

Puppetry is a project championed by Philip Rosedale, and could well leverage knowledge and experience gained by High Fidelity, several of who transferred into Linden Lab as a part of Hi-Fi’s start-of-year investment, including Leviathan Linden (who was also once Andrew Linden, one of the original LL employees) who was working on the concept as far back as 2014, as the video below demonstrates – with Andrew providing backing vocals. Within it, it’s not the quality of the avatars that is important, it is the way the guitar strumming matches the music, and the facial expression match Emily’s as she sings (although capturing facial isn’t currently part of the SL puppetry project).

Another project imitated in 2022 – or at least previewed – is all-mesh Starter Avatars. First revealed at SL19B the intent is for this avatars is to ease the pain-points new users face in trying to get their heads around selecting, and customising existing avatar bodies and heads. Given the Lab hopes this project will both encourage a new ecosystem on clothing and accessories created by the community for use with the new avatars but also see these avatars as being a stepping-stone to help new users get settled and then move on to more commercial offerings, it is going to have to step a fine line.

Also, taking their all-in-one nature as seen at SL19B, I’m admittedly curious how these new avatars will make converting from them to use “commercial” mesh bodies / heads any less confusing than it is at present for people shifting from system / starter avatars to commercial offerings.

A preview version of the new, single mesh (head-to-toe) avatar, revealed at SL19B and a part of the new user experience work underway at Linden Lab

Looking Ahead

In looking ahead to 2023, LL pointed to a number of project / initiatives, some of which were anticipated (new user experience et al); further performance improvements (including those noted above) and further scripting improvements.

A couple of surprises with the list, however, were mention of:

  • New centralised “hubs” to better connect residents to the communities that match their passions and interests.
  • First peek at a world and avatar centred mobile-first Second Life experience.

The second of these is intriguing, given the start-stop-push-to-the-side nature of the iOS “SL Mobile” app project. Whether this hint means LL a have been back working on this and expanding its capabilities on the QT, or whether it might mean they’ve opted to buy-in a solution or turn to a streaming solution (which in turn potentially offers the highest fidelity with the viewer in terms of rendering), isn’t clear. All three have been hinted at as possible directions at various points in 2022, and – assuming an equitable price plan could be developed – it’s not as if LL doesn’t have exposure to viewer streaming options, thanks to the Pelican project of around 12 years ago, or (more particularly) the short-lived SL Go solution provided by OnLive.

The centralised hubs is an interesting in terms of its implementation; LL is already revamping the entire “land journey” for users – how to obtain mainland, lease a region from LL directly through to how to find and rent late from private estates – so there is a question here as to whether this new hubs will be hooked into this work, providing a means for users to more easily obtain land and become a part of a community. Or, might it be a means to offer added value to Community Gateways – or even a revamp of Place Pages (which never really took off) to make them more responsive to communities and groups – thus offering both the means to access these new hubs from without SL as well as from within.

Not mentioned in the official blog post are the plans for the Marketplace. With MP Search updated, the road is apparently clear for the 2023 deployment of Marketplace Styles: allowing multiple versions of an object (e.g. different colours of the same jacket or dress) to appear in a single listing. There is also the mention that 2023 might also see the start of work to build a completely new Marketplace and (eventually) migrate users to it. Just don’t expect the work to be completed in 2023 (if it does get started).

Continue reading “Second Life 2022/23: the Lab’s review & preview (with my own notes!)”

Second Life 2021/22: the Lab’s review & preview (with my own notes!)

Stock image

On Thursday, December 23rd, Linden Lab published their review of 2021, which also included a quick look ahead to 2022. As it is also my custom to offer a personal look back over a year as it drawing to a close, I thought that this year I’d focus a little on the Lab’s review and offer thoughts of my own as well.

Linden Lab: Departures and Arrivals

As the official blog post notes, 2021 has been a year of transition for the Lab in terms of management and senior positions.

New Owners: 2021 saw Linden Research Incorporated (aka Linden Lab) and its subsidiary, Tilia Inc (Tilia Pay) under new ownership in the form of Brad Oberwager, J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield and Raj Date. Of the three, Mr. Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) has been perhaps the most visibly hands-on of the three, taking up the Executive Chair on the Lab’s management team. He also brought in his long-time colleague, Cammy Bergren to take up a new (to the company) position of Chief of Staff. I offered something of a summary of the three new owners largely using their official bios from LL) in January 2021, which included some speculation on my part that Raj Date might be focused somewhat on Tilia (and he did take up a board position with that company – as did Brad Oberwager).

Ebbe Altberg: 1964-2021

Ebbe Altberg: Mr. Oberwager’s more direct involvement with running the company may have been due in part to Ebbe Altberg’s health situation as much as Mr. Oberwager’s approach to the businesses he takes on. As CEO, Ebbe’s presence at the Lab had always been large in the public eye, and late 2020 / early 2021, was conspicuously marked by his apparent absence. Of course, as we now all know, illness was taking its toll, and Ebbe sadly passed away in June 2021, and as the Lab’s end-of-year post notes, his absence is still keenly felt.

Ebbe’s passing did give rise to speculation as to who the next CEO might be / when a new CEO would be announced. However, given Brad Oberwager and Cammy Bergren’s presence within the management team, I’ve never been convinced the Lab actually needed to look elsewhere for a CEO (or promote from within); both are accomplished CEOs of small businesses in their own right. Also, given the fact that overall ownership of the company was still relatively new, it’s reasonable to assume bringing in a new face / ideas / point of view to run things could have complicated matters unduly.

That said, part of me had been wondering as the year wore on as to whether r not we would see Cammy Bergren slip into the CEO’s role – and, allowing for her commitments elsewhere, I still wonder if that might not yet be the case.

Linden Lab’s Chief of Staff, Cammy Bergren (centre left) and Board member / Executive Chairman, Brad Oberwager (centre right) are Participating in Team 2 for Bid A linden Bald through their respective avatars, Cammy Linden and Oberwolf Linden, seen flanking them

Oz and Mojo: February 2021 saw the departure of Oz Linden from the Lab, as retirement beckoned him. As the official blog post notes, Oz had been instrumental in driving key decisions and implementations of Second Life’s development for over a decade, culminating with overseeing the physical transition of the platform to run within an environment operated by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Oz’s influence on the technical development of SL – particularly as Sansar came into being in 2014-2019 cannot be under-estimated, as I noted in my own farewell to him.

Replacing him as Vice President of Engineering, and arriving in July 2021, is Andrew Kertesz, aka Mojo Linden, whom I offered something of a “hello!” to in August. After getting his feet reasonably under the desk, Mojo started to attend in-world user group meetings, demonstrating he is quickly getting up to speed with the many challenges – technical and non-technical – facing the platform in its continued development and growth, and has some ideas of his own – some of which I’ve noted in these pages.

The changing face of the Lab’s VP of engineering: (l) -Scott Lawrence (Oz Linden), who retired in February 2021, and Andrew Kertesz (Mojo Linden), who joined in July 2021

One notable name missing from the list of those departing Labbies in the official blog post is that of April Linden, who departed the Lab at the start of November. Originally a member of the Engineering Team, the group of engineers responsible for keeping the servers that run all of SL’s various services purring (or grinding) along, April rose to lead the team, reporting to Oz and becoming the public face of explaining What Went Wrong and Why with highly informative blog-posts – including the bumpy bits of 2021!

Technical Front

While there were no significant new features released in 2021, the development and engineering teams have been busy. With the initial transition to AWS completed at the end of 2020, the past year has been focused on bedding-in / optimising SL within its new environment and trying to leverage the improved capabilities of the AWS environment to improve performance, server management, etc. So a lot has been going on under-the-hood, and it will continue into / through 2022, starting with a server operating system upgrade.

The performance work has also involved the viewer as well, although it has yet to reach de-facto release status. This work includes improvements to threading within the viewer’s code and a re-working of avatar rendering. Other performance improvements in development include some by TPV developers that the Lab is interested in potentially adopting / adapting that could further help with overall viewer performance, and I’ll be taking these through my User Group meeting summaries in 2022.

2021 saw the arrival of some long-term projects, including the initial deployment of multi-factor authentication – a welcome move, despite some of the criticism levelled at it. Where the viewer is concerned, the most notable long-term project to finally surface is the  360º capture capability, and look forward to it becoming more widely available in TPVs. Those who may not have read them can catch my overviews of the project viewer version and the release version of this viewer (both are the same in terms of use), and WordPress users might be interested in my piece on embedding 360 images into WordPress.

Picking at the Rest

The Lab’s blog post also touches on the likes of Linden Homes deployments, which this year saw the release of the Chalet and Fantasy themes, and the promise of the Newbrooke theme to come in 2022 – quite possibly in a revised form, given the reactions to the preview region seen (briefly) at the RFL of SL Xmas Expo. While I was initially unimpressed by the Fantasy theme, I have to admit to finding the community centre for the the theme perhaps the most visually engaging of such centres yet offered.

Linden Fantasy Homes – Community Centre

In terms of Linden Homes, one thing I would like to see from the Lab during 2022 is the “finishing off” of coastal areas around the north / north-west side of the Log Homes regions.

Looking Ahead

In looking ahead to 2022, LL point to a number of projects, including the implementation of Premium Plus, the “upper tier” of Second Life subscriptions that was put on hold for a number of reasons in 2020. The post also mentions further performance improvements, better avatar optimisation and continued work on the New User Experience – some of the work on the latter being surfaced in 2021, such as the viewer Guidebook and the new Welcome Islands that are part of the ongoing A/B testing. Plus there’s the much-promised work to overhaul and improve Search

However, three things on the Lab’s bullet point list for 2022 particularly caught my eye:

  • Avatar “expressiveness” that brings camera-based gestures and movement to your avatar for a whole new level of interaction and connectedness.
  • A new mobile viewer to enhance and improve your Second Life experience.
  • Improved materials and terrain.

The Avatar “expressiveness” project is something not (so far as I can recall) previously mentioned. I’ll reserve comment on this until I know more about it; not that I’ll be able to use it unless I go get a camera for my home desktop, I guess. All I’ll say here is that this might in in response to others jumping onto “the metaverse” bandwagon, and a desire to make SL’s avatars more appealing to a wider range of possible use cases.

The reference to a new Mobile viewer (my emphasis) rather than “client” or “app” has me wondering if, given the suspension of work on the iOS app a couple of months back, LL are now looking towards a streaming option for the viewer, rather than a “companion app” (as their mobile work has thus far been called. As such, I’ll be attempting to keep an eye and ear out for more on this.

Improved materials and terrain is interesting, as the question of terrain was raised at the last CCUG meeting of 2021, but not as a project under active consideration; rather it was raised as a discussion point to get feedback on what people might like to see if LL were to work on SL terrain. So things seem to have moved on this.  Thing like materials (and things like PBR) have been indicated as potential areas of work by the Graphics team, so it will be interesting see what materialises through 2022.

SL and “the Metaverse”

Ever since the announcement about Facebook / Meta pivoting to focus on “building the metaverse”, there have concerns / predictions that Meta will at some point acquire LL. Frankly, while the Lab is right to watch “the metaverse” hype, I don’t put any stock in the likes of Meta wishing to acquire the company, simply because LL for the most part doesn’t have IP that’s worth acquiring. Nor, given the likes of Meta have established user bases in the hundreds of millions, is LL’s user base really worth anything. What, potentially, is of value comes down to two things: skillset among staff, and Tilia Pay. And in the case of staff / skillset, there’s no need to acquire the entire company to gain them – head-hunting / poaching is far more effective. Tilia is an interesting question – but it is one best left to another post. In terms of “the metaverse” as a whole, it is fair to say it is still early days – but frankly, and pushing the hype to one side, I tend to share John Carmack’s view on things:

I have pretty good reasons to believe that setting out to build the metaverse is not actually the best way to wind up with the metaverse.

– John Carmack, October 2021

Capitalism being what it is, if the likes of Meta, Epic, Nvidia et al do build their versions of “the metaverse”, I doubt they’ll offer any form of open frontier beloved of the metavangelists. Rather they’ll be another series of walled gardens, large and small; an environment in which there is no reason why something like SL cannot continue to survive and even enjoy modest growth. Of course, the day may come when a single entity – our equivalent of Innovative Online Industries – attempts to gobble up all the opposition and establish themselves as “the metaverse” – but I doubt that is anywhere near being on the horizon (and I equally doubt they’d start with acquiring the likes of LL).

My Predictions for SL and 2022

Well, actually, I don’t have any, other than the obvious: Second Life will continue to chug along; LL will role out updates and improvements that will please some, aggravate others and possibly pass right over the heads of a few. Attempts will be made to try to grow the user-base, in part through yet more “partnerships” of the Film Threat / Titmouse / Zenescope variety with, I’m tempted to say, less-than-stellar results. For the majority of us as users, the year will likely be “business as usual”, unless the utterly unexpected pops up. And I’ll continue to eclectically blog on SL, technical (as best I can!) and non-technical.

Second Life and the Lab: looking back at 2020

It’s become an end-of year tradition in the blog to offer a look back over the past 12 months and summarise much of what has happened in terms of Second Life, Linden Lab, my involvement in the platform, and the various other topics covered in these pages.

Last year I altered my usual approach to these look backs, as I felt the 2-part format I had been using was perhaps a little dry, so instead, I focused more on the notable events in SL through the year. I’ve opted to follow that approach, with some the highlights of the year (at least, as I see them).

Linden Lab


The biggest news of the year with regards to Linden Lab was the July announcement that the company was in the process of being acquired by new investors. At the turn of the year, the negotiations, etc., still appear to be in progress, although there have been no further updates from the Lab on the matter. The latter is hardly surprising,  given the complexity that can be involved in such deals, which in some cases can take well over a year to complete.

At the time of the announcement, the news brought forth a lot of angst and some negativity – although such acquisitions are not uncommon by by no means  indicative of “bad” news. With this situation, and given the backgrounds of the new investors, the move appears positive,  prompting me to point out a couple of things and offer some speculation.

J. Randall Waterfield (l) and Bradford Oberwager, the incoming Linden Research Inc., investors.


The start of the year was not a little confusing for Sansar. 2019 had seen some rapid changes of direction with the platform, suggesting Linden Lab were having trouble settling on a market  / audience for Sansar, with a portion of staff working on the platform being laid off. In February, rumours were circulating that the Lab had suspended all development for Sansar and were laying off the rest of their staff working on the platform. Such were the rumours, the Lab took the step of publicly providing  reassurance about the future of Second Life, whilst seeking a future for Sansar.

In March it was confirmed Sansar had been sold to Wookey Projects Inc., (later Wookey Technologies). The deal was largely brought about by members of the Lab’s team directly involved in managing and running Sansar, and saw the majority of those who had been laid-off being hired by Wookey, whilst former Linden Lab Management Team members Sheri Bryant and Julia Munck also moving to Wookey to directly manage things.

Following its acquisition, the platform continued to focus on “live” events, including a major link-up with Lost Horizons to host a virtual Glastonbury Shangri-La festival in the summer, and a further Lost Horizons set of events at the end of the year – see my general Sansar reporting for more.


Tilia Inc., is the wholly-owned subsidiary of Linden Lab that handles all micro-transactions and payments /payouts related to Linden Dollars and Sansar Dollars, and which manages the Lab’s compliance with regulations relating to its role as a Money Transmitter / Money Services Business (MSB).

I’d previously speculated that Tilia might be a means for the Lab to spin-off its expertise with managing micro-currencies to other companies wish to offer such services. With the sale of Sansar, Wookey Technologies effectively became the Lab’s first customer in this regard. Then in May 2020 it was announced that the property trading game Upland. had become Tilia’s second client customer.


After requests to do so for many years, Linden Lab started offering SL-related merchandise via RedBubble – see: Linden Lab launches the Official Second Life Merchandise store.

Second Life Marketing

2020 allowed users to see into the Lab’s marketing efforts for Second Life – which, contrary to popular belief – are actually carefully managed and coordinated. In February, Brett Linden penned The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing, while in March, he and Darcy Linden appeared on Lab Gab information / insight into the Marketing Team’s work, with the entire team also participating in the 2020 Meet the Lindens sessions at SL17B.

Then at the end of the year, Brett followed-up with a further blog post looking back  at yhr year and offering a “behind the scenes” look at a Second Life’s first broadcast quality commercial – about which I’ll have a lot more to say come 2021.

Two of the more curious aspects of the 2020 marketing activities came in the form of tie-ins with  [Adult Swim], the American adult-oriented night-time programming block of the Cartoon Network (see: Adult Swim special streaming event in Second Life), and with animation studio Titmouse (see: Second Life to have a smashing time with Titmouse).

Technical Updates

Project Uplift: AWS Migration

The majority of the year was dominated on the technical front by the work to migrate all of the Second Life services and infrastructure to Amazon AWS hardware and infrastructure. Initiated in 2017, the reached a point of critical mass in 2020 with the transfer of all services from the Lab’s co-location facility in Arizona to running on AWS service out of Oregon. The last major element of the project was the migration of all of SL’s main grid regions to AWS, a process that came in the last part of the year, and proceeded relatively rapidly and smoothly, with the Lab confirming all regions were running on AWS services on November 19th.

The migration of all regions was not the end of the work, nor was it entirely without issues, technical and otherwise. In the case of the latter,it did require the suspension of new region provisioning from May through November. The work also saw a delay in the release of the Premium Linden Homes Stilt theme. However, by the end of 2020, the vast majority of the work had been completed, the Lab to discontinue all operations out of the Arizona co-location  facility just before Christmas 2020.

April Linden celebrates the Lab moving out of their former co-lo facilities.

2021 will see further adjustments and fine tuning of all SL-related services that will hopefully see like general improvements. For you wish to review the year’s progress, please use my SL in the Cloud and Cloud Uplift tags.

Viewer Highlights

  • In January 2020,the Lab ceased providing support and viewer-side updates for Windows 7, in line with Microsoft ending its support of the operating system.
  • Camera Presets – the ability to create a save multiple positions for your viewer camera arrived in a Release Candidate viewer. When the viewer reached de facto release status, I provided a complete tutorial for the capability.
  • The Environment Enhancement Project – a complete replacement for the Windlight rendering system – was launched in April, and I provided both a primer and an in-depth tutorial.

The official iOS / Android client continued to progress, with the iOS version making it to a closed alpha release, and from that to being submitted to Apple for evaluation – which remained its status at the end of the year. The Android client has year to surface, but is being actively worked on. Details on both can be found in my SL Mobile updates.

Second Life and the SARS-CoV-2 Virus

March 2020 saw the growing issue of the SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-situation start to bite the world very hard. As a result, the Lab switched to fully remote  working (a large portion of the Lab’s staff already worked from home either full-time or on a regular basis, allowing the company to switch all of its centres  – Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and Atlanta – more readily  than other companies might have managed).

At the same time, the Lab put in place some practical steps to help those wishing to use Second Life as a means to support their staff working remotely. These steps included:

  • A new micro-website, and an accompanying updated FAQ on working in Second Life.
  • A reduction in region fees for registered non-profits and educational organisations / institutions, with Full regions fixed at US $99 a month.
  • Region holders experiencing difficulties in meeting their tier obligations as a result of the pandemic were encouraged to contact LL to discuss their situation and to see if assistance could be obtained.

In addition, I provided coverage of a number of ways in which Second Life was utilised by various organisations and groups as a direct result of the pandemic. See:

The Balticon science fiction convention was one of a number of physical world event that used Second Life as a means for attendees to come together

The pandemic also gave me pause to look at what was left of one of the most extensive past uses of Second Life – by the US Armed Forces in the platform’s early years. See Coalition Island: looking at the US military’s use of Second Life.

The pandemic almost also brought about the end of one of the popular Second Life estates – Second Norway – but rescue came, and the estate not only survived, but is growing. See: Second Norway & Sailor’s Cove East: rumours & statements, Second Norway and Sailor’s Cove East – status update, Second Norway: the future is bright, Second Norway: making the changes and Second Norway: a closer look.

Continue reading “Second Life and the Lab: looking back at 2020”

Looking at Second Life updates in 2019 and ahead to 2020

Each year through this blog I attempt to track news about, and changes to, Second Life, as driven by Linden Lab. On the technical side, this is do through my weekly SL project summaries, whilst news and general updates are drawn from sources such as Lab comments on the official forums and official blog posts or as a result of attending public meetings and Q&A sessions, etc.

As a lot can happen during the course of the year, so in this article I’ve tried to summarise the more notable updates to occur during the course of 2019.


Mainland Auctions

In March 2019, Linden Lab introduced Mainland user-to-user land auctions. The auction system leveraged Second Life Place Pages as the medium for presenting land for auction and for placing bids, together with a “cover page” listing available parcels up for auction available at At the time of the launch, Linden Lab provided a Land Auctions Walkthrough.

Unfortunately, these auctions had to be suspended in October / November 2019 due to unspecified “abuse” by users. The system is to be revised, but there is currently no indication of when the auctions will be re-enabled.

Premium Homes

The first styles of the new Premium Homes were unveiled at the annual Home and Garden Expo in March 2019 in a single “preview” region that provided both the four types of Traditional homes and four types of Houseboat that would be the first  of the Premium Homes themes that would be issued.

The Homes themselves launched on April 15th, 2019, with the opening of the new Bellisseria continent and a mass release of both Houseboats and Traditional homes.  As with the original Linden Homes, they are available through Premium member’s Land Homes page, accessed through their dashboard.

The new Linden Homes are available to Premium members through the existing Linden Homes registration page

The first mass release of houses and houseboats had been snatched up within 48 hours of the release, with the houseboats proving particularly popular – so much so, that the Lab immediately started planning a 709-parcel add-on to Bellisseria specifically to meet the demand. In the meantime, one of the points noted about the new region was its lack of airstrips and this was addressed with the opening of the continent’s first airstrip in late April 2019.

The new bolt-on for the houseboats opened on May 15th, 2019 – and were all gone within 27 minutes of the release. Then in June 2019, Patch Linden announced that releases would shift to a smaller-scale rolling basis with regions of new houses generally being made available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Also in June, the Lab previewed the next major theme for Linden Homes, the Trailers and Campers, which were introduced in September. In December 2019, the Lab previewed and then released the Victorian theme of Premium Homes.

Fees and Account Changes

Fee Changes

2019 saw the introduction of significant fee changes for Second Life.

From June 2rd, 2019 Private region tiers changed as follows:

  • Full regions were reduced from L$249 a month to US $229.
  • Homestead private regions were reduced from US $195 to US $179.
The changes to Premium fees, announced in June 2019. Source: Linden Lab

These changes were exclusive of VAT, where applicable, and did not apply to Skilled Gaming region; however, Education / Non-profit (EDU/NP) discounted Full islands were be re-priced to maintain their 50% discount off the regularly priced Full island fees.

From June 24th, 2019, Premium fees were increased for the first time in their history:

  • The monthly fee increased from US $9.50 to US $11.99 (an annual increase of 26.21% from US $114 pa to US $143.88 pa)
  • The quarterly subscription increased from US $22.50 to US $32.97 (an annual increase of 46.53% a year from US $90 pa to US $131.88 pa). This fee was to be discontinued to users upgrading to Premium after July 24th, 2019, but a later decision saw it continued on a “temporary” basis that means it is still currently available.
  • The annual fee increased from US $72 to US $99 (an annual increase of 37.5%).
  • In addition, both existing quarterly and monthly subscriptions would again be subject to VAT.

Note: included with the announcement were proposed changes to Basic account users available off-line IMs and total group allowance. However, after receiving wide-ranging feedback (such as this letter from myself), the decision was made to not implement the group changes.

To help sweeten the Premium fees increase, between June 3rd through June 24th, Premium users were offered the chance to “lock-in” their Premium fee for an additional period commensurate to their subscription period from the end of their existing period. In addition, existing annual Premium subscription members were offered the chance to renew their subscription for an additional year from their next renewal date at the Winter Premium discounted rate (10% off).

There was also the 5% increase in Marketplace commission fees which caused some consternation. While the reason for the increase is understandable when put in the proper perspective, it could have been framed a little better.

Account Changes

In July Linden Lab announced that as from August 1st., their subsidiary company, Tilia Inc., would be taking over all responsibility for managing SL user’s USD denominated accounts. In short, this meant that anyone with a US dollar balance on their account would have to agree to the Tilia Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, and in order to process USD amounts out of Second Life, might have to supply personal information to Tilia. See:

Technical Updates

Teleport Disconnects

The early part of 2019 was marked by users experiencing a significant number of teleport disconnects. These proved problematic for the Lab as well,with assorted causes from EEP deployments to server OS updates being suggested as a possible cause. A series of user-involved stress tests on the best (Aditi) grid to help with investigations, allowing adjustments to be made on the simulator side. These helped point towards a race condition, with LL implementing changes and updated monitoring to counter the issue.

Script Processing Changes

Over the course of the year,  number of script-related issues have surfaced:

As a result, LL has worked to improve script handling – such as adjusting how idle scripts are handled to reduce the overhead with place on CPU cycles – and these changes and adjustments have helped to eliminate some, but not all, of the problems encountered through the year.


Release Notes

In May 2019, the Lab introduced new web-based release notes for the official viewer, together with a index page for said release notes. There were some initial teething problems with the system for those who track official viewer releases (sometimes a viewer update would appear on the index page, sometimes on the new Alternate Viewers page, sometimes on both that took a while to smooth out.

Server release notes made a similar move to web pages in September. After this, LL stopped breaking down simulator updates by release channel (e.g. BlueSteel, Magnum and LeTigre), listing all releases as “Second Life Server”, regardless of the actual channel used for a release.

iOS Client

In January, evidence surfaced that Linden Lab are working on a Second Life iOS. After enquiring with the Lab, I received confirmation the app was being actively worked on. As the year progressed, more details were revealed about the app, including: the app should work on both the iPhone and iPad, and will initially be more of a communicator / companion app than a fully-rounded client; it will provide a log-in option, and chat options (e.g. chat, group chat), but will not present users with an in-world location, or rez and avatar in-world. Over time it will be enhanced – but additional capabilities are still TBD. See my mid-year update for more.

Cloud Transition

Work – most of it transparent to users – has continued on the migration of Second Life to the cloud. Most of this work has been on the back-end services, notably the web services. Currently, no public-facing simulators have been transitioned to AWS provisioning. All of this work has been achieved without any significant disruption to services or – more particularly – without users actually being aware the services had been moved, and the Lab reports that the migrated services have been able to achieve almost 100% up time.

Continue reading “Looking at Second Life updates in 2019 and ahead to 2020”

2018 in review – part 2: July to December

2018 in review

The end of another year is approaching, bringing with it a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages for me to offer a summary of the year as recorded in these pages, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us. And so it is for 2018, starting with January through June.

January to June is available here.

Note that this summary isn’t supposed to document everything that happened through the year, but is intended to be a highlight some of the more notable events reported on through these pages. In addition, and for a more detailed look at the various technical and Lab-driven updates to Second Life, please refer to A look at Second Life updates in 2018.


Second Life

With the changes to private region fees – and the inevitable backlash from some over grandfathered regions being excluded, I offered an alternative perspective. Whatever estate holders thoughts might have been, two weeks after the private region price restructuring grid growth was slow – but positive. The Lab launched the revamped mainland auction system, initially for Lab held land only.

My Second Life

I repurposed a rezzing system to use as a personal rezzer for vehicle, and got to take the Airfish GEV by Ape Piaggio for a test run – expect it on the marketplace soon! The Get The Freight Out! system came in for examination.

Travel and Arts
July Travels July Art Reviews
Abandale (closed) Cica Ghost: Another Planet
In the Wild (closed) Terrygold: A Rusted Farm
Strawberry Lake (closed) Astral Dreams Project
Smash Starz Art Corner
Ravenwold (closed) DiXmiX: Bicycles
Cloudbreak (closed) Lin C Art Gallery
Erebos Harbor (closed to public access) Diomita Plaza Gallery: LuAnne Anatine
Ponto Cabana Kayly Iali
Pandora Box farewell


The July Sansar release saw the introduction of custom avatars with UI and scripting updates. Linden Lab made a surprise announcement that the number of experiences granted to users was dramatically increased.

The Secret Of Mount Shasta; Inara Pey, July 2018, on FlickrThe Secret Of Mount Shasta – click any image for full size

Sansar Travel

My visits for the month encompassed The Secret of Mount Shasta, Horizon Maze and Ebucezam, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Linden Lab

The Second Life 15th anniversary celebrations included another series of Meet the Lindens talks featuring Keira and Patch, Grumpity and Oz, Xiola and Brett and Ebbe Altberg, all of which I attempted to summarise (with audio extracts) under a general heading.

Space and Astronomy

At the start of July, the Martian dust storm reached global proportions, and I looked at asteroids and attempts to study them. The Parker solar probe was readied for launch and I revisited the Chinese space programme. Rockets and a temperate exoplanet also occupied my writings, the UK announced its first spaceport location, while evidence of a subsurface lake on Mars grabbed the headlines. NASA got ready to turn 60, and many were treated to the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century.


Second Life

Making Strides Against Breast Cancer announced their 2018 season, while the American Cancer Society announced announced a major overhaul of how it will go about fund-raising from 2019 onwards and sought ideas from supporters. I got to tour some of the new Themed Learning Islands designed to help bring new users with specific interests into Second Life. Firestorm launched a fund-raiser of their own to help cover technical and licensing costs.

Tech and Viewers

Linden Lab issued the Estate Access Management viewer to enhance the estate access management tools available to region holders and their estate managers within the viewer. A new version of the Second Life bug tracker (Jira) was launched.

The Estate Access Management viewer offers greater access control to regions for estate managers
My Second Life

After several weeks of work, the re-vamped Holly Kai Park, featuring a brand-new gallery space, neared completion.

Travel and Art
August Travels August Art Reviews
Black Kite G.B.T.H. – Mistero Hifeng
Chakryn Forest Club LA and Gallery: Carolyn Phoenix
Summer Wind InterstallART: Simply Spiritual
Kekeland – Bardeco La Maison d’Aneli: Barbara Borromeo and Cherry Manga
Bellefleurs and the House Sakura Paula Cloudpainter
Athenaeum Cica Ghost: Daydream
Missing Melody Nitroglobus: Hypnopomia
Peace of Mind LEA: Ethereal Shapes
DiXmiX: Retrospective
Lin C Art Gallery: Sisi Biedermann
La Maison d’Aneli: Cullum Writer, Aneli Abeyanti and Megan Prumier
The Rose Gallery
DaphneArts: Confinement


With the first anniversary of the Public Creator Beta reached on July 31st, I offered some personal thoughts on Sansar. The Lab gave some indication of plans for the platform’s Edit Mode and the planned permissions system. The end of August brought the monthly update, known only by its release number, but which included a lot of information.

Sansar Travel

I visited the Roddenberry Nexus for some Star Trek and Wurfi’s Little Gallery.

Linden Lab

The Lab announced a further Town Hall with Ebbe Linden, to take place in September.

Other Virtual Worlds

High Fidelity announced the ability for users to earn and exchange HFC for USD

Space and Astronomy

The “Commercial Nine” – the first astronauts to fly aboard the US commercial vehicles designed to carry crews to / from the International Space station were announced, although there were concerns about the launch schedule The Parker Solar Probe launched. A study was published on the availability of water on the Moon.

An artist’s impression of the Parker Solar Probe swinging around the Sun at a distance of 6.2 million km (3.85 million mi) . Credit: NASA


Second Life

RFL of SL announced an expanded Making Strides Against Breast Cancer season. I provided a summary with audio of the 2nd Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg, and also dropped in on Les Fest 2018, A Spoonful of Sugar 2018, Rock Your Rack and the 2018 Hair Fair.

Linden Lab released the new sign-up process and new user experience for Second Life. The Governance User Group resumed in-world meetings, and Dog Food Days were launched for members of the SL teams. Team Diabetes of Second Life announced their 2018 season.

My Second Life

I got to try the Culprit Sonata Bento piano.

Travel and Art
September Travels September Art Reviews
Eclectica: A New Dawn (closed) Gates of Oria
Destiny Gardens (closed) National Museum of Caledon: Phrynne
The Cat Museum Silas Merlin – Carnival of the Arts
Sea Monsters (closed) LEA: Astral Dreams Project
Lost Unicorn Club LA and Gallery: Lyra Romanas and Io Bechir
Storybook Forest Cica Ghost: The Girl Who Cried Wolf
Savor Serenity Solo Arte
Ashemi Reprise Holly Kai Gallery: LuAnne Anatine
Tagus Enchanted Forest ArtCare Gallery
Little Havana and Voodoo In My Blood Rainbow Painters
Zone One DiXmiX: Maloe Vansant, Isa Messioptra and Harbor Galaxy
Florence Bay The Galleries Museum
Frog Hollow LEA: DC Spensley Retrospective
Deadpool Reborn


The R25 release came out, bringing with it the in-client store, shopping cart for the web store, avatar and Look Book updates and the ability to gift Sansar dollars. I re-visited the Smithsonian American Arts Museum to see the upper floor expansion.

Linden Lab

Linden Lab switched to using Stellar Connect to provide Second Life first-line support.

Other Virtual Worlds

High Fidelity announced their second load test on the road to One Billion in VR, and set a new concurrency record for the platform. The event proved so popular, High Fidelity then put out a call for paid help with future load tests.

VR and AR

Facebook announced the Oculus Quest.

Space and Astronomy

Following the dust storm on Mars, NASA launched an attempt to re-connect with the rover Opportunity and a Soyuz space vehicle suffered at the ISS. I focused on the potential of the space elevator while NASA launched a mission to observe Earth’s changing ice patterns. SpaceX announced a new private mission around the Moon and Spock’s “homeworld” was discovered.


Second Life

EEP, the Environmental Enhancement Project reached a test release status on Aditi, the Beta Grid. Linden Lab blocked an Android client (IM To Secondlife) due to “serious TPV policy violations”. Linden Realms was re-launched following a total makeover. Wish Lists and Favourites arrived on the SL Marketplace.

Tech and Viewers

Second Life suffered another large-scale DDoS attack.

Shug Maitland kept an eye on the ups and downs of log-ins during the DDOS attack via through Sunday, October 28th, 2018 and into the early hours of Monday, October 29th, sending me this above capture
My Second Life
Travel and Art
October Travels October Art Reviews
SilentRane (closed) Barry Richez
Calas Galadhon’s MAZE (Halloween only) Rofina Bronet
Malaika Park Nitroglobus: Monique Beebe
Pendle Hill The G.T.B.H. Project: Artefatos
Nowhere Else DiXmiX Gallery: Aloisio Congrejo
Black Bayou Lake (closed) Club LA and Gallery: oYo
Tokyo Street Subway Entrance Anibrm Jung
On The Other Side Lin C Art Gallery: Janine Portal
World of Soap DiXmiX Gallery: CapCat Ragu and Meiló
Winter Moon Artful Expressions: GiulianaNicol
The Peak Black Label Gallery: Blip Mumfuzz
Cold Ash Nitroglobus Roof Gallery AretevanCyrene
La Frontera DiXmiX: Nel4481
{Glenrosa} (closed) Holly Kai Park: Milly Sharple
Meadow Rose JadeYu Fhang


October saw Release 26 (R26), also called the Thumbs Up release, which included the first release of Sansar’s long-awaited permissions system. Following initial feedback, this saw some revisions. The Lab announced Sansar would be expanding to Steam before the end of the year.

Linden Lab

Jason Ghoulston, Product Manager for Sansar and responsible for the formation of the Lab’s Sansar Studios, departed the company,

Other Virtual Worlds

High Fidelity announced their first VR festival, to be held in November.

Space and Astronomy

NASA published its latest roadmap for returning to the Moon and China’s space programme got another examination. Astronomers discovered the first exomoon. A Crewed Soyuz booster suffered a mid-flight abort. Bepi-Columbo lifted-off on a mission to Mercury. I offered a quick round-up on news from Mars.


Second Life

Animesh as officially released, grid-wide. The November town hall meeting featured Oz, Grumpity and Patch Linden taking questions, and I produced a summary with audio.

Tech and Viewers

November saw further updates to the Marketplace, including new categories, with one for Animesh / animated objects. It was also confirmed that January 2019 will see the final deprecation and removal of all UDP asset fetching messaging from the viewer. In short: if you’re using a viewer that doesn’t use HTTP for asset fetching, you’ll not see avatars correctly.

Firestorm put out a call for volunteers, and was a victim of a fake account attempt to obtain user details. Kokua caught up with the official viewer Animesh release.

VWBPE announced a call for paper for the 2019 conference and news came that a Second Life machinima had probably achieved a world first.

A restructuring of the Linden Endowment for the Arts, set to start in 2019, was announced.

My Second Life

Ape allowed me to try out her Roadrunner electric scooter – and I find it’s a lot of fun. I also wrote about kitbashing in Second Life.

Travel and Art
November Travels November Art Reviews
Ocho Tango Men in Focus Gallery
Broken Dreams Project La Maison d’Aneli: Cybele Moon, Anadonne, Barret Darkfold, Nevereux, Rikku Yalin
Soul2Soul Highlands Vintage Art
Masters Amusement Park Cica Ghost: Rust
Somewhere in Time Paola Mills: Behind the Avatar
Magritte Blue Orange Gallery
Dagger Bay Sisi Biedermann
Snow Falls The Vordun Gallery
Lutz City Monroe Snook
Let It Snow! 2Lei: No Violence
Cherished DiXmiX Gallery: Kimeu Korg
Pfaffenthal 1867 Rainbow Painter’s Gallery
Winter’s Hollow
Isle of May
Tranquil Bear Winter Resort
Calas Midnight Clear


More feedback is given on the expansion to Steam. The Look at Me release arrives, with a new client UI, new VR capabilities and new options in general. Linden Lab also announces a new event / series involving well-known comedians coming to VR. And with Pfeffenthal closing in Second Life, I look at their new project in Sansar.

Linden Lab

With controversy surrounding recent DMCA actions and speculation around about them LL issued a statement on creator rights and IP protection.

Other Virtual Worlds

While not exactly a virtual world, Flickr is popular with Second Life users, and news of changes caused some upset. I also offered my own thoughts on things, while Flickr issued a clarification on free accounts with images uploaded under a Creative Commons license.

Space and Astronomy

November was the month to say goodbye to the Kepler Observatory. ‘Oumuamua gets the first of two mentions in November Space Sunday articles, and SpaceX announce BFS testing plans.  ‘Oumuamua gets its second mention for the month, alongside more on exoplanets. NASA’s insight mission arrives on Mars.


Second Life

Linden Lab offered their own look at the last 12 months for Second Life. I offered my own look at the key SL updates through the year.

Team Diabetes of Second Life ran their Winter Showcase and RFL of SL their Christmas Expo. Firestorm launched a Pets for New Residents drive. There was some apparently sad news concerning ACS and RFL of SL, which quickly got turned around, together with additional good news. Survivors of Suicide also had a winter market. Harambee Charity Market returned to raise more funds for the IKSDP schools project.

Tech and Viewers

Firestorm 6.0.1 was released as an “early access” update, and Kokua updated.

My Second Life

I celebrated 12 years in Second Life and made some small end-of-year changes to Isla Pey, and to this blog. I also picked up two ‘planes during the month: the CLSA Stampe SV.4 for L$10 (now L$15), and the TBM Kronos V6. I also caught up one vehicle product review, looking at the aR Wild Goose and Piaggio Tracky.

The CLSA Stampe SV.4, one of two ‘planes I found hard to resist
Travel and Art
December Travels December Art Reviews
The Forest – Winter Wonderland Club LA and Gallery: La Robbiani and Wintergeist
Mesmeric Cove DiXmiX Gallery: Megan Prumier
Hollyee and Winter Dream Bryn Oh: Jane and Eloise
Bay of Dreams Cica Ghost: Lullaby
Junbug (Monet’s Garden) Ribong Gallery
Wild Edge La Maison d’Aneli Gallery
Nevgilde Paris Metro Art Gallery: Cybele Moon
Zimminyville MC Grafite
[Valium] Nitroglobus Roof Gallery
:nostos:deer: Diotima Art Gallery
Ponto Cabana DiXmiX Gallery: Neveraux


Sansar launched on Steam, and was followed with the final release for 2018. I offered some thoughts on Sansar at the year’s end.

Sansar on Steam. Courtesy of Linden Lab

AR and VR

I opened the first part of a series offering a personal look at AR and VR.

Space and Astronomy

NASA’s Mars InSight mission took up a lot of my month, with a look at the lander’s arrival, the opportunity to hear the sound of the Martian wind, and the start of initial operations – a piece which also looked at the latest success for Virgin Galactic. When 2019 being the 50 anniversary of Apollo 11, I recalled the momentous Apollo 8 mission, then looked ahead to New Horizon’s encounter with Ultima Thule.