2017 in review part 2

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill, December 2017 – blog post

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often 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 look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers July through December. January through June can be found here, and a look at SL’s technical developments through the years is available here.

July

Second Life

The month opened with Jayjay Zifanwe contacting me to give me the (then) exclusive news that UWA’s regions would be remaining in Second Life for a further two years, albeit it on a reduced scale, rather than closing as anticipated. A celebratory Art of the Artists machinina challenge followed the announcement. The lab launched their “Bento equipped” starter avatars, and issued updates to the Terms of Service, while some purchase notifications were also updated. Nicky Perian announced he would be retiring from Kokua development in October 2017 to enjoy a well-earned rest, in the hope that someone else would take up the reins.

Sansar

The end of July saw the Creator Beta launch, with the platform opening to anyone wishing to join. The run-up through the month was marking with an increase in Preview invitations, plus profile videos featuring Ria, Blueberry and London-based Unit 9, all of which I reviewed and added some thoughts around vis Sansar’s reach and marketing. With the Public Beta openI did a quick getting started guide.

VR and AR

CastAR sadly closed and AltspaceVR gave notice they would be closing. On a brighter note, it was revealed how Google had been re-inventing Glass over the last two years.

Space and Astronomy

July 2017 marked 20 years of continuously studying Mars from both the surface of the planet and from orbit, and also marked the anniversary of the first lunar landing. Remarkable images of Betelgeuse were revealed, and further traction was gained for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway while Elon Musk walked back some expectations around the first flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Voyager mission: 40 years on. Credit: NASA/JPL

Personal

Wouldn’t you just know it – I revised the island home again!

Travel and Arts

July Travels July Art Reviews
Stony Hill Vineyard Artful Expressions: Cecilia Mode, Lawrence Pryce, Rosy Hanry Jarom
Gale Storm Retreat Wintergeist: Pieces of a Whole
Collins Land Solo Arte: Terrygold’s Reflected on Black
Ash Falls Karma Avedon: One Tree Hill
Welcome to Somewhere Commonwealth Village: Inara Pey
Follow Your Bliss Commune Utopia: Cybele Moon
Solo Arte: Boudicca Amat and Inara Pey
MetaLES: Harbor Galaxy
Serena Arts: aldiladeisogni – Picture of Oh
Bailywick Gallery: August 2017

August

Second Life

It’s a quiet month for me, reporting-wise, the focus being on my weekly series of SL user group meeting reports, although Bay City does announce the 2017 Hot City Nights event, which takes place towards the end of the month.

Sansar

With the Public Beta open, I offer some initial hints’n’tips and suggestions of places to visit, following by a more detailed look at the Runtime Desktop Mode. I also look at what the media is saying, and offer my own thoughts on the opening.  Three visits to Sansar experiences launch my Exploring Sansar series, while also taking a look at some of the Creator Challenge winners before starting my series of reports on Sansar Product Meetings.  Keeping with the spirit of competitions, the Lab co-sponsors an avatar design competition, and Bjorn and Widely Linden discuss the new platform (with audio), while there’s a further official Creator Profile video.

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whaleblog post

VR and AR

AltspaceVR announces a reprieve from closure may be in the wind, and there’s a look at VR and AR in the wake of Sansar’s public Creator Beta while High Fidelity reveals currency and IP protection plans.

Space and Astronomy

There’s another anniversary to be celebrated – this one marking 40 years of the Voyager mission. Curiosity celebrates five years of Mars surface operations, and exoplanets once more step into the spotlight, while the 2017 total solar eclipse is tracked across America.

Travel and Arts

August SL Travels August SL Art Reviews August Sansar
Banana Bay Battle of the Little Liars Seven Wonders
Wimberly (2) Cica Ghost: Future LOOT Interactive
Yasminia Dathúil: Welcome to My Brain Secrets of the World Whale
Cocoon Split Screen: Creator Challenge winners
Fine Art Gallery and Jungle No Life Without Art
Yamagata Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode and Twain Orfan
Les Reves Perdus  Anibrm Jung – Art by Nature
Long Journey Kultivate’s Black and White
De*cid*u*ous Nitroglobus: Marie (mariajo60)
Cica Ghost: Fairy Tale

Continue reading “2017 in review part 2”

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2017 in review – part 1

It's A New Dawn, Lemon Beach; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrIt’s A New Dawn, Lemon Beach – our first 2017 Exploring Second Life destination

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often 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 look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers January through June, and July to December will be along later in the week, and I have a review Second Life’s technical enhancements through 2017 available here.

January

Second Life

The year started with a look at Tyche Shepherd’s 2016 end-of-year grid survey summary. This was followed by a behind-the-scenes look at the Bento project, with an article linked to a piece written for Kultivate Magazine. The Horizons project land sale reached its mid-point, and I offered a summary of sales to date. The Second Life Place Pages beta launched,  while there was the usual weekly SL Project Updates from assorted meetings and Spoonful of Sugar announced their 2017 fund-raiser for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders. January also saw me note the fact that the Lab would, through 2017, be requiring people to verify their e-mail addresses if they wanted to keep receiving SL-related e-mails and things like off-line IMs being forwards to their e-mail.

Sansar

Sansar opened the year with a Creator Profile video featuring Loz Hyde, on which I offered some thoughts, in general and concerning monetisation. The latter also came in for a little thought when I considered Ben Lang’s piece on Sansar for Road to VR.

Space and Astronomy

I kicked-off my Space Sunday reports with a look at the key events for 2017. January then became a period of remembrance and recalling great missions – including the Huygens Lander, marking the passing of Gene Cernan, the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the Moon, and marking both NASA’s Day of Remembrance and Opportunity’s 13th anniversary.

Artist's concept of Cassini's final orbits between the innermost rings and Saturn's cloud tops (see below). Credit: NASA
2017 would mark NASA / ESAs Cassini Mission’s Grand Finale, repeatedly diving between the innermost rings and Saturn’s cloud tops before finally burning up in the planet’s upper atmosphere in September. Credit: NASA

Personal

I started on the first of my fiddling around with the island home sessions for 2017.

Travel and Arts

January Travels January Art Reviews
A New Dawn The art of Grazietta Blauvelt in Second Life
Flotsam and Blake Deeps Lucid Dreams with Miles Cantelou in Second Life
Nagare no Shimajima Gallery 23 in Second Life
The Sagan Planetarium Dathúil: visions of desire
ragVR: imagination and expression The Forest Beyond- Ceakay Ballyhoo
Hell’s Heaven No Frontiers – Gem Preiz
An Uncertain Destiny DiXmiX: Mistero Hifeng and William Weaver
Once Upon a Fairy Tale Cica Ghost: Burning
Devin DaphneArts: Celebrating Poe
Whimberly MetaLES; Illogism
Sol Farm Elo (Elorac Paule): Ray of Light
Elin Egoyan: Lide is a Journey
The Edge Gallery: February 2017
Venus Adored: Light Reflections

February

Second Life

Linden Lab spoke out against Donald Trump’s Executive Orders on US immigration. A new maintenance viewer with inventory management improvements surfaced. One Billion Rising put out a late call for volunteers, with the event taking place mid-month; the organisers of the 2017 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education also put out a call for volunteers. The Founder of the East River Community, Indigo Mertel, put out a plea for help to secure the community’s future. Michael Linden of LDPW fame, departed the Lab.

Hobbiton, Dragon Island; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrHobbiton – a visit for February 2017

The second round of Skill Gaming applications, launched in January (but which I previewed in December 2016), closed after a run of a month. The Lab offered their traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, and I gave a final round-up of the Horizons land auctions. There was the announcement of a new Community Platform for Second Life, which took a little longer than planned to get up-and-running, and MadPea held an International Food Fair to raise money for Feed A Smile / Live and Learn Kenya. The final UWA art show – Transformations launched with a call for entries, and also among the event announcement / calls came the first for SL14B – which was directed towards infrastructure builders.

February also saw ALS Awareness Week take place, and an appeal went out on behalf of Ceredwin’s Cauldron creator Elicio Ember, who faced a severe family set-back, and the RFL Home and Garden Expo was announced.

Space and Astronomy

The focus for the month was very much on the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a red dwarf star 39 light years away, which I covered in two posts here and here.

Personal

February saw Holly Kai Park overhauled  – notably around Caitinara Bar, which reopened in time for a celebration of the Oscars. The Park’s Pavilion also played host to an event in support for Feed A Smile. In addition, Caitlyn and I also returns to the greens and golfing.

Travel and Arts

February Travels February Art Reviews
Natural Falls Hills (Hillany Scofield): The Recreation
Anduril Artful Expressions: Blip and Nekonuko
NonStop DiXmiX: Angie Manners
Hobbiton Cica Ghost: Frogs
Lost World MetaLES: The Haul
Shot of Tequila Astral Dreams: Mistero Hifeng
Shareta Osumai Tea Garden Solo Arte: CioTToLiNa Zue
History of the Telephone The Gardens by the Bay
AERO Golf Club The Photo Game
Molly Mirassou: Studio M
Nightroglobus: Monique Beebe
InterstellART: Fossil Fractals
Methias Kira: The Architect’s Playground
Venus Adored: Light Reflections

March

Second Life

The VWBPE social calendar was announced together with the Above the Book series, new for 2017. The event itself kicked-off at the end of at the month. I was honoured to be able to announce Filling the Cauldron in aid of Elicio Ember and his family, and the 2017 RFL kick-off weekend took place. The Lab revamped the Second Life Home Page and the 2017 Fantasy Faire regions were announced, and blogger applications opened. The new SL community platform launched, and with the help of Tommy and Corky Linden, I looked at raising abuse reports. The 2017 Sci-Fi convention beamed-in to SL, while SL’s monthly process credit limits were revised. With changes being made to SL’s asset fetching, I took time to look back over the HTTP project and SL’s use of CDNs.

2017 SL Science Fiction Convention -“Water”

Space and Astronomy

March saw Elon Musk announce his lunar ambitions, I looked at options for exploring the icy worlds of the solar system, and the question of when is a planet not a planet – and how many might be in the solar system before catching up with Mars news.

VR / AR

I offered a quick catch-up on highlights from the worlds of VR and AR.

Personal

I became enamoured of the composite designs by Morgan Sim Designs, some of which found their way onto the island home (and can still be found there). I also revamped the Holly Kai Park website.

Travel and Arts

March Travels March Art Reviews
Long Journey Cica Ghost: Under the Sea
Calas Skate-on-rama Artful Expressions: Maxie and Cyoko
NorderNey Dathúil: Private Sphere
Spring Spirit Whitechapel Victorian London
Field of Dreams / L’Intangible Split Screen: Bleeding Books
The Heart of the Sea DaphneArts: The Journey
Storybrooke Gardens MetaLES: Wild Lost Line
PeTOu Art Is… Rhythm
Orcadi Island The Photo Game 2
 Mystical Fae Forest Journey of Life
Second Life 2009-2017
The Way I Feel
Methias Kira: The Architect’s Playground

Continue reading “2017 in review – part 1”

2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 2

A look back through this blog's 2016 coverage
A look back through this blog’s 2016 coverage

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often 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 look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers July to December. You can find January to June here.

July

Holy Kai Park got a complete make-over during July and August
Holy Kai Park got a complete makeover

Linden Lab released an update to the Oculus Rift project viewer. A I subsequently reported (see the article updates), people found it suffered significant issues, and appeared to be a step backwards.  The JIRA raised for the viewer quickly grew. With a week, the Lab announced they were suspending work on Oculus Rift support in the viewer.  CTRL-ALT-Studio offered to bridge the gap, but only on an interim basis.

Caledonia presented the penultimate part of her series on promoting Second Life events, and Draxtor delved into games in Second Life, through the work of Sergio Delacruz. Meanwhile, I received an invitation to find out more about the Helping Haven Community Gateway, before beaming aboard an avatar-sized replica of the original Starship Enterprise, courtesy of Cathy Foil.

Lumiya 3.0 arrived, with a host of goodies, including a new user interface. Rock Your Rack in support of the US National Breast Cancer Foundation was announced, as was the second fund-raising season for Team Diabetes of SL, while the 5th annual Shivers Unleashed music festival took place. The big news for the month, events-wise, was that PULSE SL, in support of the victims and families of those lost in the Orlando nightclub shooting had raised a staggering L$5.5 million.

Sansar

Ed Baig from USA Today presented a video spot about project Sansar. A little later, and as I reported, he later gave a matching write-up on the platform. Latter in the month, I looked at articles on Sansar from THE and Techcrunch.

Personal

I completed a full redesign of Holly Kai Park, which included the Tiered Garden Wall product by Alex Bader, which was also put to use at home. I finally caught the stunning and award-winning animation The Tyger, by Radheya Jegatheva, son of SL’s own Jayay Zifanwe, on YouTube.

August Travels August Art Reviews
Hide and Seek in Second Life Cica’s Them in Second Life
The Rains of Castamere  in Second Life Bailywick Gallery: images by the sea in Second Life
Mystical Eclectica in Second Life Behind the Curtain in Second Life
Getting prehistoric in Second Life Kultivate summer art show in Second Life
Nouvelles Adventures in Second Life Storm Septimus: Invictus in Second Life
A pocket planetarium in Second Life I New Fractal Insanity in Second Life
West of the Rain in Second Life Wildstar Beaumont’s Sailing in Second Life
Binemust in Second Life Rain songs and cipherscapes in Second Life
Byrd Island in Second Life A visit to Cica’s Library in Second Life
A Chinese Garden in Second Life Immaculate perceptions and reflections in Second Life
 Arranmore in Second Life Peace is a Choice: expressions of art in Second Life
 Astralia in Second Life
 Visiting Crystal Gardens in Second Life

August

Windlight announced a re-branding to Kultivate, and the Lab blogged about recent SL updates and I added some additional info and links to more in-depth coverage in this blog, which included a look at the new Gaming Islands, designed to introduce users to Skill Gaming in SL.

Firestorm updated with Jelly Dolls (or Avatar Complexity to give the formal name for the capability), and I revisited Hitomi Tiponi’s work producing the Starlight UI Skins and goodies for the official viewer from the Lab. The latter announced the new Marketplace search, so long in beta, was finally live. I also picked up on Strawberry Singh’s request to highlight the issue of SL Marketplace full permissions goods scams.

Thanks to bots discovering it, the SL wiki went into lock-down for the second time in recent years, and while the Lab indicated they hoped to have things sorted “soon”, it remains locked as we reach the end of the year. More woes hit SL in August, and April Linden explained why.

Sansar

I produced the second in my Sansar Summaries, rounding-up all the news and information on the platform I’d been able to cull from the Lab, the media and other sources. August saw the Lab announce the first batch of Sansar Creator Preview invitations had been issued. However, what interested me more was the announcement indicated that “Sansar” was now officially the platform’s title – the “project” having been dropped.

July Travels July Art Reviews
A walk through Legacy Ridge in Second Life Mac Kanashimi’s Snarl in Second Life
All the fun of the fair in Second Life Inked art and bodies in Second Life
When Pink Floyd eats your sim in Second Life All_Most Real in Second Life
Bridgewood Barrow: a cosy corner of Second Life Beautiful Bizarre: art and emotions in Second Life
Exploring Hermoupolis Village in Second Life Art, women and war in Second Life
A return to Hestium in Second Life Giovanna’s Last Harbour in Second Life
Of time in Elysium City in Second Life Creative Inhalations in Second Life
A Beautiful Four Seasons in Second Life The Vordun: a new art experience in Second Life
Preiddeu Asswn: immersive education in Second Life Mandala Art in Second Life
The Magnificent Artistry of Peter Vos in Second Life
Giovanna’s Soul of Colours: a Magic Flute in Second Life
A Watercolour Wander in Second Life
Cotswold Gallery in Second Life

Continue reading “2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 2”

2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 1

A look back through this blog's 2016 coverage
A look back through this blog’s 2016 coverage

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often 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 look back over the the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers January through June, and July to December can be found here.

January

Telrunya - Forest of Dreams; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr Telrunya – Forest of Dreams – one of my first region visits for the 2016 Exploring Second Life series

The year started with a photo contest from Kultivate Magazine and a celebration of the 100th episode of the Drax Files Radio Hour (if you include the re-runs!), which included a chat with Oz and Troy Linden about the (then) still in development Project Bento. When Things Went Wrong with the grid rather badly over a weekend, April Linden gave an excellent a blog post explaining what had happened and why, which as I noted, marked a welcome continuance of communications on matters like this from the Lab.

Second Life’s first press appearance for the year came via an article on published UCI News, the on-line newsletter of the University of California, Irvine, which explored the work of Tom Boellstorff, a professor of anthropology at the university. The article particular examined Tom’s work in SL around Parkinson’s Disease.

In mid-January, VWBPE 2016 put out a call for papers, while I recalled a Starry Night in Second Life. Then, in the latter half of the month, Lab Chat returned with Ebbe Altberg taking questions on the Lab, Second Life and Sansar, and I provided the transcript and audio.

January also saw Caledonia Skytower joined me as a Guest Writer, with the first of her hugely popular series, If you just build it, they might not come, on promoting events in Second Life. The first month of the year also saw the Linden Department of Public Works Moles honoured in Bay City.

Sansar

I offered some thoughts on Wearable’s coverage of Sansar, and the platform also formed a focus of the 2nd Lab Chat event (see the link above).

Other Worlds and AR/VR/MR

Stephen Wolfram became the latest high-profile person to join High Fidelity’s advisory board, while the Oculus Rift VR headset became available for pre-order, with a price which shocked a lot of people, prompting me to ask, At what price VR? Then HTC announced upcoming Vive pre-ordering whilst responding to talk of a split within the company.

Personal

I was delighted to be invited to exhibit at the Art on Roofs Gallery, Second Life (see Through a Blogger’s Eyes in the January Art Reviews, below. I also made the acquaintance of artist Silas Merlin, courtesy of Kayly Iali (see The pastel world of Silas Merlin in Second Life, below), which I’m happy to say grew into a friendship. Timekiller was the fist major event of 2016 I managed to get along to, and emboldened by recent exhibitions I opened a small studio gallery.

January Travels January Art Reviews
A journey through Nightfall Images and sculptures at The Living Room
Let it Snow! Through a Blogger’s Eyes in Second Life
Discovering The Keys in Second Life Windlight Fellows January-February 2016
A dreamer’s forest in Second Life The pastel world of Silas Merlin in Second Life
A medieval meander in Second Life Bananas, trumpets, trailblazers and cacti
Stepping through the Gates of Memories in Second Life Cica’s Beginners in Second Life
Return to an enchanted Cauldron in Second Life Dutch Masters at Holly Kai Garden
High Water in Second Life Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights in Second Life

February

The cost of experience ownership in Sansar still has yet to be determined, and will be influenced by other factors - and may be pitched on an "experimental" based when initially announced
New images of Sansar made their debut in February 2016

The 2016 events season started to ramp up in February. The 2016 RFL of SL team registrations opened, and the Home and Garden Expo took place later in the month, followed by Paint it Purple at the end of February. One Billion Rising put out a call for volunteers ahead of the February 14th event; BURN2 Burnal Equinox was announced; the Lab, with Isle of Love supported Team Fox and Parkinson’s research with their Valentines event; the ALS Awareness week took place; the VWBPE 2016 schedule was published.

Elsewhere in Second Life, Calas Galadhon re-opened (see the link below), and both Catznip and Achemy viewers updated, the former after a long break. the platform suffered more operational woes, with April Linden once again providing an explanation.  Draxtor Despres gave insight into Project Bento via a World Makers special, and I was able to provide some additional material. Thing got a little tense mid-month with a sudden slew of bannings, many of which were subsequently reversed, although one creator made an urgent plea and the whole situation left me wondering if someone had been a little too eager with the ban hammer.

Cale continued her series on events promotion in Second Life, with parts two and three, and an address by the Dalai Lama to the Mayo Clinic was relayed into Second Life.

Sansar

Further images of Sansar were released, prompting further debate, while comments at the January Lab chat left me pondering on maps and metaphors, to the consternation of some!

Other Worlds

High Fidelity played with 200 avatars in a single location, looked at a commerce project and got into scanning faces. Amazon launched Lumberyard for games developers.

Personal

Caitlyn and I opened Caitinara Bar at Holly Kai Park to help encourage traffic and visitors to the park’s facilities. Anthony Westburn became our headline DJ on Wednesdays, followed by Joy Canadeo on Fridays and (through until late summer) Kess Crystal on Sundays. I also launched into the first phase of 2016’s “lets rebuild the island…again.”

February Travels February Art Reviews
Calas Galadhon re-opens Thea and CioTToLiNa at The Living Room
Experience the Adirondacks in Second Life Terrygold’s Visions in Second Life
Visiting The Village in Second Life Exploring the City in Second Life
Sorrow’s Snow in Second Life Getting some Funky Junk  in Second Life
The Yorkshire Moors in Second Life Within the Shadows of a Dream  in Second Life
Casablanca: a classic movie in Second Life Holly Kai Art at the Park February / March
Free-form role-play in Second Life Wounded Angels in Second Life
 Spellbound by Imesha in Second Life TerpsiCorps ARTWerks; Performance Art in Second Life

Continue reading “2016: a look back at Second Life and more – part 1”

2015: a look back – part 3

Kaleidoscope; Inara Pey, December 2015, on FlickrKaleidoscope (Flickr) – blog post

Christmas is upon us, and following not far behind, the year’s end, which is often 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 to look back over the virtual year’s events as I’ve seen and reported them through this blog, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To make things easier, I’ve been once again breaking thing down into three parts, this section look through the months of September through December. You can find January through April here and May through August here.

The Lab

Following-up on some comments made at the SL12B Meet the Lindens events, I spoke to the Lab about the (still) upcoming return of the community gateway programme on a trial basis. In October, I followed this up with a look at their focused web landing pages, designed to attract users from specific market verticals.

A part of the education landing page, which includes links to details on the education discount, the SL education wiki,
A part of the education landing page from the Lab, one of a series of targeted ad campaign landing pages designed to attract new users to SL, in operation since around June 2015

The Lab added “Latest Photos” to their blog in September and a photo contest was launched, offering the winning entrants the opportunity to have their images used in a Second Life marketing campaign. The latter was followed in October / November by a Halloween themed contest, this one with the usual L$ prize pool.

Also in September, those using credit and debit cards to make payments directly to the Lab were advised to update their payment information as the Lab transitioned to a new payment system. Was this the first indication of what was to come?

In November, and thanks to the initial sleuthing by Vick Forcella, I was able to report on – and speculate about – the Lab’s new payments and compliance subsidiary, Tilia Inc.

Also during November, we saw the launch of their revamped corporate website.

The Terms of Service get updated, and a fair few people get upset … about things that haven’t actually changed, but to which their attention has been drawn as a result of the things which have changed. In December the Lab also made what seemed to me to be an odd offer; fortunately, several people helped me understand things a little better 🙂 .

Second Life

While regions continued to fall off the grid, September seemed to be the month when some more notable region known to SL travellers vanished, such as The Forgotten City and Steelhead. News also came that the wonderful Mont St Michel would be passing, although it was still going in November (and still open at the end of the year).

The abyss Observatory re-opened its doors after being threatened with going permanently off-line
The Abyss Observatory brought news it had re-opened its doors after being threatened with going permanently off-line

On the technical front, the work on improving inventory management started to see the light of day, and the latest batch of HTTP updates reached project viewer status in September. Avatar complexity and the graphics pre-sets continued not to reach release status as the Lab continued to tweak things and splat bugs. The Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) work for media, however, did get to project viewer status.

In October, attachment and Interest List issues became a focus of attention, and the Lab blogged about upcoming SL improvements, which I looked at in a little more detail.

In November came the surprising  announcement that land set-up fees were reduced and changes had been made to the policy and fees involved in transferring grandfathered regions to a new owner. At the time, I suggested the former would have little real impact, and this seems to have been the case. That month also saw further update on upcoming server-side validation checks intended to help reduce problems users might experience, although some of these were delayed after niggles in the system were found, with deployment finally taking place at the end of the month.

The new range of "Classic" human avatars for Second Life, released by the Lab in November to broadly positive feedback
The new range of “Classic” human avatars for Second Life, released by the Lab in November to broadly positive feedback

Continue reading “2015: a look back – part 3”

2015: a look back – part 2

Baby's Ear; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrBaby’s Ear, July 2015 (Flickr) – blog post

Christmas is upon us, and following not far behind, the year’s end, which is often 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 to look back over the virtual year’s events as I’ve seen and reported them through this blog, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To make things easier, I’m once again breaking thing down into three parts, this section look through the months of May through August. You can find January through April here; September to December will be following soon.

The Lab

At the end of April, the Lab put out a blog post reminding people of their Second Life Affiliate Programme, something I caught at the start of May. This is the programme allowing SL  users to associate a sign-up link to Second Life in their own website, blogs, social media channel, etc., and earn a commission on new SL registrations (which meet set criteria) using that link. While not new, the blog post served as reminder that the programme is still running, and that LL are casting a wide net in their attempts to gain new users. July saw the Lab also launch resident-focused promo videos on YouTube.

Following-up on comments made at the Meet the Lindens event at Sl12B in June, I put together a brief profile on Bjorn Laurin (Bjorn Linden), the Lab’s (then) new VP of Product overseeing both SL and “Project Sansar”.

With the success of the Meet the Lindens event at SL12B (see below), the Lab invited users to ask the CEO via a forum thread in July. As a part of facing the media, Ebbe Altberg and Second Life appeared on the US TV series Dr Phil dealing with computer game addiction, showing to more beneficial side of engaging in computer games and, MMOs and immersive environments.

Second Life

PaleoQuest; Inara Pey, July 2015, on FlickrPaleoQuest, arrived in Second Life at the end of July 2015

May opened with a feedback meeting for the ongoing Viewer-Managed Marketplace beta. VMM suddenly moved with a jolt in July, with the start of the final run of automated listing migrations which came earlier than expected. This was completed in early August, when VMM was considered to be fully “live”.

In May, those using Facebook were informed there would likely be problems in uploading SL images to that service as a result of Facebook taking time to convert to a new API, while at the end of that month, I tried-out the Lab’s New User Experience, which had been updated to make use of Experience Keys – at least on a basic level.

August 2015 brought the said news of the passing of long time resident lumiere Noir, founder of the Ivory tower of Primitives
August 2015 brought the said news of the passing of long time resident Lumiere Noir, founder of the Ivory tower of Primitives

Premium members saw their group limit raised to 60, then in August Concierge support was extended to all Premium members, before the surprise news came that VAT charges were dropped for Premium memberships, and the monthly subscription was modestly reduced.

In June we got the news that there were no more updates or improvements being planned for my.secondlife.com (the Profile feeds), while to help those on Windows XP and versions of OS X older than 10.7, the Lab introduced the obsolete platforms viewer, which is still available at the end of 2015. Meanwhile, Avatar complexity and the graphics presets capability finally appeared in a project viewer.

In July I took another look at the Experience Keys viewer, as it reached release status,  and the Lab issued the notifications project viewer, while the Dolphin viewer bid a farewell. August saw the Lab acknowledged ongoing issues with land damage following changes they’d made, and promised to get things sorted. August also saw first word that validation checks on mesh uploads, etc., were to be more directly enforced server-side in the near future.

The Virtual Pfaffenthal ramped-up in July to offer a look into a pivotal period of Luxembourg’s history, linking the physical world and the virtual in the process, a story Drax was able to cover brilliantly in the October Drax Files World Makers.

After the loss of SL Go at the end of April, Bright Canopy reached the end of a very rapid, but well-planned and managed development cycle, and launched at the end of August.

Project Sansar

During the end of April / beginning of May, speculation was mounting that “Sansar” might be the name of the Lab’s new platform for virtual experiences. I dropped a line to the Lab on the subject as I wrote about the speculation, asking them about both “Project Sansar” and “Sansar”, and on May 5th they replied to me and confirmed via Twitter that “Project Sansar” was an interim code-name for the new platform.

Ebbe Altberg talked “Project Sansar” at the 2nd Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) conference, providing more insight into the platform and some of the Lab’s views on the challenges they face. He also talked “Sansar” to Bloomberg in June.

“Sansar” also featured during Ebbe Altberg’s conversation at the SL12B Meet the Lindens event, for which I provided a transcript, and also summarised the comments made about “Sansar” during Troy and Danger Linden’s conversation at their Meet  the Lindens event, and from recent media reports.

In an attempt to separate wheat from chaff, I presented the first in a semi-regular series, The Sansar Summary, focusing on what had been said about the new platform, rather than looking at rumours and speculation. Meanwhile, in August, Ebbe sat down with a glass of red wine for a fireside chat with Upload VR’s Nick Ochoa to discuss SL and “Sansar” in a conversation uploaded to YouTube.

And while it may have been slightly later than planned, the Lab finally announced the “Sansar” closed alpha was officially under-way in August.

Continue reading “2015: a look back – part 2”