Second Life: updates to some purchase notifications

On Friday, July 28th, the Lab blogged about some changes to some purchase notifications. The blog post making the announcement reads in full:

As you may notice, to fulfil legal obligations, we have added a notification in some places when making purchases that clarifies which legal entity you are transacting with, depending on the country associated with your payment method. Tilia Inc. and Tilia Branch UK Ltd are wholly owned subsidiaries of Linden Research, Inc, and this does not affect how you contact or receive support.

We wanted to clarify this to hopefully help those who may have encountered this and were wondering why they saw some updated notifications.

The Marketplace is one of the areas where these changes are visible. When paying the Second Life Cashier (cashier page), a notification is displayed at the foot of the invoice column:

New purchase notification on the Marketplace Cashier page

This change also matches recent updates to the Linden Lab Terms of Service which now reference Tilia Inc and Tilia Branch, as which come into effect on Monday, July 31st (and you may already have been asked to accept the new ToS when logging into Second Life or one of the Lab’s web properties).


“Bento equipped” starter avatars for Second Life

The new Rhiannon avatar from the Lab standing and with optional Bento horse

First hinted at during Patch and Dee’s Meet the Lindens session at SL14B, the new set of Second Life avatars from Linden Lab appeared on Wednesday, July 5th, and were announced via an official blog post.

There are eight avatars in the new range, referred to as the “Renaissance” set – a term more akin to the capabilities provided with the avatars than the actual historical period, perhaps. They are paired into four sets of male and female avatars which might be described as: angel, demon, warrior and (as the Lab calls them) “mystic heroes”.

Three of the pairs – angel, demon and warrior – are “Bento equipped”, meaning they make use of the Bento skeleton for their wings (angels / demons) or horse (warriors). Note this does not mean the avatars themselves are Bento; they are system avatars, but are supplied with fitted mesh clothing and mesh accessories.

The new avatars are best accessed via Me (/Avatar > Choose an Avatar)

To make use of any of the new avatars, display the Choose an Avatar picker, scroll to the one you wish to try, and click on it. Your avatar will wear the outfit, which is also transferred to your Clothing system folder under the avatar’s name, one of:

  • Anna or Marcus for the angels
  • Elleria or Sauin for the demons,
  • Kara or Feng for the “mystic heroes”
  • Rhiannon  or Thomas for the horse riders.

There can be some short-lived oddities when wearing the Bento equipped avatars using Replace Current Outfit. For example, as the riding animation for Rhiannon and Thomas is an attachment, depending on how things load, it can briefly look as if you are standing “in” the horse, rather than sitting in the saddle.

Also, as the horses use the wing bones for their forelegs, swapping to a winged avatar after using one of the horse-related avatars at any time in a session, can lead to your wings appearing in front of you  at thigh level to you and those around you. Walking forward should fix this in all views (if not, right clicking on your avatar and using the Reset Skeleton option may be required – if other still see your wings oddly placed, advise them to do the same with your avatar).

The Kara “Mystic Hero (and non-Bento equipped) avatar (l)  and the Elleria avatar with Bento wings

You can obviously mix’n’match the avatar elements should you wish. For example, want to have the (nominally) “non-Bento” Kara avatar to ride a horse? Just copy the horse mesh and riding AO from Rhiannon’s folder to Kara’s folder. Detach Kara’s default AO and then attach the riding AO and horse.   and attach.

Be aware that a little care is required if you wish to use a horse with one of the winged avatars. As the horse forelegs use the wing bones, you will need to remove the wings before attaching a horse (and vice-versa), or a conflict will occur. Note, as well, that you can rez the two horses in-world as static objects, should you wish. They have an LI of 26 (male horse) and 31 (Female horse).

As system avatars with editable shapes, you can obviously apply skin, tattoo and clothing layers to them if you wish and change their shape (the fitted mesh clothing should all follow shape changes within reason).  All of which makes each of them a nice little package if you’re looking for something different for an alt or something.

The new avatars on the SL sign-up page

That said, these avatars aren’t designed for the established user per se – although their low render cost is obviously a boon to those on lower-end systems. Really, these are more geared to new starters in SL, and as such, they have all taken their place on the sign-up page avatar carousel. In terms of their render costs, seven of the eight sit between 12K and 18K in their default look, and the most expensive in terms of rendering – Kara –  is 30,059, which is still more than reasonable.

In terms of general looks, these avatars compare very well with updated Classic avatars released in 2015 and the last set of mesh avatars released by the Lab. However, a little more in the way of ethnic diversity might be nice (Asian, for example?).

My alt avatar using the new Elleria demoness avatar, sans wings (so as to avoid conflicts with the horse), the Rhiannon avatar AO, and the Bento horse from the Thomas avatar – note my avatar is also wearing my preferred system skin for her, applied to the Elleria shape

Overall, a decent set, which increases the range of starter avatars and which are pretty cost-effective. I certainly like the Elleria avatar enough to now use it as the default look (again, sans wings for now) for my alt avie. As she is simply a CTA (Crash Test Avie) when fiddling with viewers, and a stand-in for me when I’m busy in-world elsewhere and cannot always attend a meeting, I’ve never really invested in outfits for her. So I think she appreciates the occasion change of look like this 🙂 .

Lab blogs on recent billing / transaction failures

On Monday, June 26th, 2017 many Second Life users encountered issues  when trying to purchase Linden Dollars or purchase goods via the SL Marketplace following a period of scheduled maintenance and updates to the billing system. These incidents were escalated to the Lab, resulting in a further period of unscheduled maintenance, during which time payment processing was suspended, which itself had some knock-on impact.

Some of these issues were still being felt on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. However, Xiola Linden took time out to blog about what has been happening, in which she provides the following update on the situation:

After some intensive troubleshooting that – despite our best efforts – took longer than we’d have liked, the base cause of these failed transactions was resolved as of 3:51PM PDT on the same day. However, we still have the task of refunding the thousands of failed transactions to the impacted users ahead of us. A large number of Lindens across several departments have been coming in early and staying late between Monday and today to fulfil that responsibility to our users. Your patience is greatly appreciated, and we hope to complete the work as quickly as possible.

We’ll post an update to this blog as soon as we have more information to pass along. Our support agents on the phone lines and live chat do not have any additional information to provide at this time. Support cases which have already been submitted will be answered once this situation has been resolved.

Xiola goes on to note that as a result of the issues “Shrek ears” are being worn by Lab staff  – a reference to April Linden’s May 10th blog post about a bit of a SNAFU with Place Pages, in which April explains:

We encourage people to take risks and push the limits of what we think is possible with technology and virtual worlds. It helps keep us flexible and innovative. However… sometimes things don’t work out the way they were planned, and things break. What we do for penance is what makes us unique.

Around the offices (and in-world!) we have sets of overly sized green ears. If a Linden breaks the grid, they may optionally, if they choose to, wear the Shrek Ears as a way of owning their mistake.

If we see a fellow Linden wearing the Shrek Ears, we all know they’ve fessed up, and they’re owning their mistake. Rather than tease them, we try to be supportive. They’re having a bad day as it is, and it’s a sign that someone could use a little bit of niceness in their life.

At the end of the day, the Linden takes off the Shrek Ears, and we move on. It’s now in the past, and it’s time to learn from our mistakes and focus on the future … If you see a Linden wearing them, please know that’s their way of saying sorry, and they’re really having a bad day.

Posts of this nature, explaining what went wrong and why (and, where possible steps being taken to try to ensure there are no  – or at least few – repeats) are an important part of reassuring users and shining a light on just how complex a beast SL can be when things do go wrong.

In that vein, I’m still hoping we’ll get one of April’s informative blog posts on concerning the June 14th log-in issues (although I appreciate she and the Ops team likely have their hands full right now!).  but in the meantime, the “Shrek ears” notes remind us that those who work at the Lab are no different from the rest of us – something we can at times lose sight of in our own frustrations when things go wrong.

Lab announces updates to LindeX and credit processing fees

On Tuesday, June 13th, Linden Lab announced updates to LindeX and credit processing fees, which will come into effect from Monday, June 19th, 2017.

These changes will see an increase for those purchasing Linden dollars on the LindeX and some of those paying out higher volumes Linden dollars. Specifically:

  • The fee for purchasing L$ on the LindeX will increase from $0.40 (USD) to $0.60 (USD) per transaction.
  • The fee structure for process credit transactions (i.e. paying real money into PayPal or Skrill accounts) will remain as a 1.5% fee with a $3 (USD) minimum, but the maximum fee per transaction will increase from $15 (USD) to $25 (USD).

The blog post explains the reasons for the increases as:

Underlying SL’s successful user-to-user L$ economy and the ability to buy and sell L$’s for real currency is a significant amount of ongoing work to ensure that everything remains compliant with applicable laws and regulations, while also preventing fraud and money laundering.

Investing in improvements to these processes and the ongoing compliance work required comes at a cost to Linden Lab, and we will be making some LindeX fee adjustments in order to share a portion of those costs with Residents active in the SL economy.

As there have been various reports of issues being experienced by some trying to cash-out, the news of the increases is unlikely to be welcomed, whatever the reasons for any delays being experience or however valid the reasons for increasing the charges.