Linden Lab announce end of support for Windows 7

via and © Linden Lab

On Tuesday, January 14th, 2020, Microsoft is ending support for Windows 7. This means that while the operating system will continue to function beyond that date, Microsoft will no longer provide:

  • Technical support for any issues.
  • Software updates.
  • Security updates or fixes.

As as result of this, and as initially announced at the 2019 TPVD meetings week #50 summary, Linden Lab plan to cease their own support for Windows 7 from that date. This has now bee confirmed in an official blog post, which reads in part:

Accordingly, Linden Lab is updating our system requirements to remove Windows 7 from the versions we support. This does not mean that Second Life will stop working on Windows 7 immediately; existing viewers, and possibly some new viewers, should run as well as they did before. However, we will not be testing any viewers on Windows 7, so it is likely that compatibility problems will develop and increase over time. In addition, we will not attempt to fix any problems which occur only on unsupported operating systems (if a bug is reported against an unsupported system, we usually try to reproduce it on one that is supported; if we can’t, we don’t investigate further or attempt to fix it).

Those will have not upgraded to Windows 10 but have a valid copy of Windows 7 may still be able to upgrade using the Microsoft Windows 10 update site (note that free updates to Windows 10 were supposed to have been discontinued be Microsoft at the end of December 2017, but some are reporting it is still working via the Create Windows 10 Installation Media option).

Again, note that that’s Lab’s decision does not mean users on Windows 7 will find themselves blocked from accessing Second Life on or after January 14th, 2020, but will continue to be able to use the platform as before. However, and as noted in the official blog post, such users:

  • Will not receive assistance from LL support should they encounter problems.
  • Will not have bugs they report investigated or fixed unless said bugs can be reproduced using Windows 8 or Windows 10.
  • May find that, over time, viewer updates may not function as expected on Windows 7, simply because updates and new features will no longer be tested against Windows 7.

Given the potential exposure to malicious activities, both Microsoft and Linden Lab point to the need for users to only utilise supported versions of Windows on their computers, and keep up-to-date will all official patches and releases.

Xiola Linden departing the Lab, but not Second Life

One of Xiola’s many looks. Credit: Strawberry Singh

Over the last 24 hours, the news has been spreading about the upcoming departure of one of Linden Lab’s most popular members of staff: Xiola Linden.

It was Xiola who actually announced she would be leaving Linden Lab at the start of 2020, as she and Strawberry Linden sat down to host the December 18th, 2019 Lab Gab live stream programme.

I managed to miss the show (I confess I wasn’t even aware there was a session scheduled for this week – so shame on me!); however, thanks to You Tube, I’ve embedded the portion of the show where she makes her announcement below, and you can watch the entire segment via the Lab’s You Tube channel.

In breaking the news, Xiola said in part:

Just a little over eight years ago, I think it was, I showed up for my first day at, quote, “the Lab”, and I basically walked into my dream job. It was a place that I had, for a very long time, been a resident of, so to speak, since 2006, I think …

It’s been a job that has really allowed me to grow … and it’s given me a ton of incredible stories of things that you can not only just image, but also realise. And I learned that from the community, to see the way that they continuously adopt the features of the platform and do it in ways that we never expected or would do…

And here we are eight years later, and it’s still my dream job, and I still cannot imagine who I would be and what I would be like without this community and without Second Life and the Lab. That said, the time has come for me to work on some new dreams.

Commenting on her forthcoming departure from the Lab to me personally, Xiola added:

It is one of the hardest decisions I have made, and honestly still does not feel real. It has been a pleasure to serve this community as best I know how, and supporting all the various communities that it is comprised of. I hope to perhaps one day be able to work with so many of the incredible talents and interesting folks that I have gotten to know over the years here.

Born and raised in California’s silicon valley, Xiola naturally immersed her career in technology, working for the likes of Yahoo!, with a particular interest in creative communities. It was a friend’s invitation that she try Second Life that got her started on the platform, and she remains active in-world on her personal account to this day.

Due to this engagement with SL, she became interested in working at Linden Lab and started keeping an eye on the company’s career page in the hopes of being able to apply for a suitable role. Fortunately, a community related post opened in late 2011, and her application was accepted.

Xiola, centre, at the May 2015 Linden Meet-Up

As a part of the Community Team, her first major event was the Second Life Birthday (SLB) celebrations – something she regards as her “SL event boot camp” – helping bring together information on the event as well as helping to organise the festivities.

Since then, over the intervening years, her role has been broad-ranging, encompassing elements of customer support, putting together events like the former Linden Meet-ups, activities like the annual Creepy Crawl and the Meet the Lindens sessions during the SLB celebrations, and moderating Town Hall meetings. She has also been instrumental in building Second Life’s social media presence across various platforms and in revitalising the official SL blogs.

With the arrival of Sansar, she moved over to that platform, taking on the role of Community Manager there, and shouldering the responsibility for building up a weekly social and meetings schedule, getting members of the Sansar team in-world to meet with users and discuss the platform. Once this was ticking along and the Lab could bring in a dedicated Sansar Community Manager, she transitioned back full time to Second Life, where she’s been for almost the past two years.

Throughout all of this, she has acted as strong liaison between the Lab and its user communities, linking them through social events, programmes and activities. Within Second Life, she’s been instrumental in a number of programmes, some of which I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in, the most recent of which has been the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN).

While she is departing Linden Lab on January 3rd, 2020, Xiola has made it clear she’s not leaving Second Life – she fully intends to remain an active resident and user of the platform through her personal account.

Xiola in her role as Community Manager in Sansar (centre left), cooling herself in a portable pool at a time when California was experiencing a heatwave!

On a personal note, what has always struck me about Xiola through a number of years of interaction with her – albeit it at a distance, so to speak, given we’re on different continents –  is that her enthusiasm for both the platform and its users has never waned, and has always been infectious. Simply put, the Lab couldn’t have asked for or sought a better ambassador to help manage and grow their relationship with users over the last 8+ years. Working with her – be it with things like the SLBN or in e-mail exchanges or direct conversation – has always been an absolute pleasure.

So, thank you, Xiola for your work, your enthusiasm and your involvement. Wishing you the very best over the holidays and in the new career. Do stay in contact – even if only in-world!

 

Linden Lab blogs about DMCA on-line complaint form

via and © Linden Lab

On Monday December 9th, 2019 Linden Lab blogged about filing DMCA complaints with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) Refresh!

The blog post comes with a warning the what it contains should not be construed as legal advice, and reminds SL content creators have the right to file a complaint against those violating their intellectual property. Specifically, it points to their Intellectual Property On-line Web Form, as well as reminding content creators of the Lab’s Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy, which provides core and important information about filing DMCA complaints with the Lab, and provides a link to the on-line form.

To be honest, I am a little surprised by the Lab is only now blogging about the on-line DMCA form – which has actually been available since June, 2019  – indeed I blogged about it on June 25th, see: Lab release on-line DMCA complaint form for SL, and I don’t remember seeing a prior post from the Lab on the subject. However, that they are blogging now should be taken as a worthwhile reminder of both their DMCA policy and the new form.

A page of the Lab’s IP Infringement Complaint web form, which went live on June 18th., 2019

As always, it is recommended that the official blog post is read in full, particularly the notes at the end of the post in reference of filing complaints.

Lab announces “Premium pre-pay” for annual membership discount

via and © Linden Lab

On Monday, December 2nd, 2019, Linden Lab announced a 10% discount for Premium membership (see: Holiday Premium Sale – Save 10% on Annual Membership).

Such discount offers aren’t new to Second Life – they’ve been rolled out regularly for the last few years. However, the December discount is different in that it is offering 10% off the US $99.00 cost of Annual membership – the first time that the Annual plan has been included in a Premium membership discount offer (Monthly or Quarterly have been the subjects of past offers).

I noted in my December 4th Web User Group meeting summary, the Lab would “soon” be offering that same 10% discount for existing Premium members wishing to take advantage of the offer, and extend their membership by a further year for US $89.

Well, “soon” turned out to be sooner than I’d anticipated, as hours after that summary was published, the Lab announced the Premium pre-pay is now available for existing members. In short:

  • Premium members can pre-pay for another year’s membership beyond the end of their current subscription period, using the Annual plan at the 10% discount, providing they do so before January 2nd, 2020, when the current Premium promotion ends.
  • Existing Premium members on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans will have to “upgrade” to Annual.
  • For those in EU countries subject to VAT who are on either the Monthly or Quarterly plans, note that the Annual is additionally offered VAT-free (VAT was re-introduced on Monthly and Quarterly plans in July 2019).
Existing Premium members on the Annual plan or those “upgrading” to Annual from either Monthly or Quarterly can now take advantage of the 10% discount offer available until January 2nd, 2020, to extend their Premium membership by further year beyond the end of their current subscription period

How well this offer suits you will depend on your existing plan / circumstance. Given the overall pricing differential between Annual and Monthly or Quarterly, it’s hard to see how this offer cannot have appeal for those who are in a position to take advantage of it. For those already on Annual, however, it comes down to how the offer period falls compared for your usual renewal period (sadly, for me, the timing is not that favourable, but ho hum). For those who do find it favourable and are in a position to take advantage of it, I can only say, “go for it!”

Lab blogs on Name Changes, Marketplace fees and events updates

via and © Linden Lab

With typical timing, I’m taking time off from the blog to enjoy an evening at the theatre (seeing Jonathan Pie, aka comedian Tom Walker, in case you’re interested!), when Linden Lab blogs about Name Changes, the updates to events I’ve mentioned in my Web User Group updates, and on Marketplace updates!

You can read the official post – The Return of Last Names and Changes to Marketplace, Events & Premiumin full on the Lab’s SL blog. However, here are the key points:

Name Changes

  • Linden Lab is working to make Name Changes “available by the end of January”.
  • As per my previous reporting on the subject, Name Changes will be an Premium (and Premium Plus – see below) benefit.
  • Changes will incur a fee (yet to be disclosed) which will be levied as a single transaction for “one or both of your first and last Names.”
  • Last names will be be list-selectable, and users can help LL curate the list.
  • Between December 16th, 2019 and January 6th, 2020, the Lab will hold a Last Name competition for SL users (Basic and Premium) to suggest suitable last names to add to the first list of names to be made available. Five will be selected, and those submitting them will be able to change their names completely free of charge. Details to follow in a later Lab blog post.

Note that in addition the to official blog post above, Linden Lab have also indicated that:

  • Those signing-up to Second Life will not be required to pick a last name, but will continue to have “resident” appended to their name until such time as the opt to go Premium or after they have completed the sign-up process, if they opt to go directly to Premium when setting up their account.
  • The fee applied to Name Changes will likely be in US dollars, and will be at a lower rate for Premium Plus (once available) than for Premium.

For further information on these latter points, please refer to:

Premium Plus

  • Again, as I’ve previously reported, there will be a new Premium membership subscription level, sitting above Premium.
  • This new subscription level is to be called “Premium Plus” (previously referred to by the Lab as “Elite”).

Again in addition to the official blog post:

  • Premium Plus will be made available on a monthly or annual subscription basis.
  • It will be made available some time after Name Changes have been made available.
  • Likely benefits will comprise a mix of “enhanced” Premium benefits and benefits exclusive to Premium Plus.

For further information on these latter three points, please refer to:

Events Updates

  • Events are being overhauled to present more functionality, such as the ability to set an alert on an event you want to attend, to follow your favourite events hosts, share event calendars, and more.
  • This work will include a new look for events (see the concept art below, courtesy of Linden Lab).
  • The updates will be accompanied by the introduction of event listing fees, at the rate of L$50 er event for Basic members, and L$10 per event for Premium members, who will – as a follow-up update to these initially changes – be able to schedule recurring events.
Concept design for the new Second Life events pages. Note the final version, when deployed, may differ to this. Credit: Linden Lab

For further information on this, please refer to:

Marketplace Fee Changes and Updates

As from Monday, December 2nd, 2019:

  • The Marketplace sales commission will increase to 10% of the item price.
    • This marks the first fee increase on the Marketplace in a decade.
    • It is seen as a means of off-setting the cost of on-going improvements and enhancements to the MP.
  • Marketplace Product Listing Enhancement fees will be reduced by 10%.

The blog post also points out further Marketplace enhancement that are close to being ready to be deployed, or are in development, including:

  • The ability to filter limited quantity and demo items (close to being ready for deployment).
  • Improved navigating shopping and order history for shoppers.
  • A means to prevent limited-quantity item redelivery for the Merchants.

Longer-term, the Lab is working on Mobile-friendly layouts for the Marketplace and planning both a complete facelift for the Marketplace and on a vendor system “that better connects in-world sales and tracking with Marketplace transactions”.

I’ll continue to report on all of the above as news surfaces on them via in-world meetings and / or official blog and forum posts.

April reports on the SL Marketplace mix-up

On November 4th, some users on the Marketplace who accessed their account page ended up seeing some account details for another user currently logged-in to the Marketplace at the same time.

The user account page gives a user’s SL account name, L$ balance, a small portion of their activity on the  Marketplace activity, their wish lists, received gifts list, and the obfuscated version of their e-mail address (e.g. i****@g****.com, designed to provide the user with enough information to identify their own e-mail address without revealing it to others).

Multiple bug reports on the issue were raised with Linden Lab, and at least one forum thread was raised on the subject, with some pointing to the Marketplace maintenance that was in progress as a possible cause – and they were right, as the Lab’s Second Life Operations Manager has revealed in a blog post (Report on the Recent Marketplace Issue), that reads in part:

We’ve been working to make the Second Life Marketplace more robust and handle higher numbers of page views at once. Due to a change made this morning, the user account page got cached when we didn’t mean for it to be. Once we realised what had happened, we rolled back the changes immediately and deleted all of our caches. No other parts of Second Life were impacted.

Our engineering teams are now working with our QA (quality assurance) team to make sure we develop better testing for this in the future. We want to make sure we catch something like this long before it makes it out into the hands of Residents.

We’d like to extend a really big thank you to everyone who reported the issue to us the moment they saw it! Because of your vigilance we were able to react really quickly and limit the time that this misconfiguration was live. (Seriously, y’all rock! 💜)

We’re sorry this issue happened this morning. We’re working to make sure it never happens again, and developing better test procedures for use in the future.

While the error was unfortunate, and might have been a little discomforting for some who encountered it, the Lab estimates that no more than 500 users visited the account page during the time the issue could occur, and not all of them were given the wrong page to view.

Where the issue did occur, April notes that it did so at random, and randomly selected the incorrect page to be displayed, so it was impossible for a user to “pick” another user’s information and intentionally view it. She also notes that it was not possible to either make purchases via an incorrect account page, or to make any changes to the page.

As always, details in full in April’s blog post – and many thanks to her again for providing an explanation of the issue and what is being done to hopefully avoid future repetitions.