Category Archives: Miscellaneous

What you want to ask Ebbe Altberg, new CEO of Linden Lab

See my thought in the comments section.

Jo Yardley's Second Life

I’ve been invited to have a chat with Ebbe Altberg, the brand new CEO of Linden Lab.

I have of course a big pile of questions and there probably is not enough time to ask them all, but I wanted to give the readers of this blog a chance to ask him some as well.

So, leave your question to mr Altberg in the comments section below and if I get the chance I’ll ask it.

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Update on My Adult Content Neighbor

An update on my previous post:

It took 10 days, but the Sex Jungle was finally persuaded to move to the continent of Zindra, where adult content is allowed. In the mean time, I waited, and watched as my neighbor bought up most of the vacant land in the region, and continued to build adult playgrounds. My visitor count plummeted from dozens of visitors a week to zero.

After my neighbor moved, it took another report to Linden Labs to get the obnoxious for sale sign he left behind removed. And I used all of this time to think about why playing on the mainland was worth it.

Why pay $15 a month or more for something that can be spoiled in a heartbeat? Would you pay $15 a month for coffee that is sometimes bitter? Or a package of socks that may or may not have holes in them? And when you brought the socks or coffee back, you had to wait 10 days for something to happen? Of course not. You’d move on to another option.

So I dumped my mainland to a land shark, and the gallery has been moved to a private island, where it will be safe and beautiful and nobody will ever see it.

Tateru Nino recently had a good blog post about The Dynamism of Second Life, in which she noted that Second Life isn’t a product or a service, its  “the flow – the dynamism – between products, services, customers, creators, developers, communicators, marketplaces, billing systems, and more.”

When any part of dynamic slows down, the whole SL system is hurt. It’s Linden Labs’ job to keep the dynamic humming. And its hard to do, because the dynamic isn’t made of mechanical parts, its made of people. People who get tired and discouraged when the dynamic isn’t working for them, and then they stop trying.

In my case, the dynamic broke down, I stopped trying, the mainland lost a nice build, the region becomes more empty, less vibrant, less attractive to buyers. And, perhaps, it goes the way of several other regions in the area that disappeared overnight. Not a way to build a world.

I Guess Its Now OK to Have Adult Content on A Second Life Moderate Region

Despite numerous complaints to Linden Labs over the past few days, my new neighbor on Piera Salino is still there.

He now has three separate stores, each with sex pose balls in the open for anyone to use. He sells sexually explicit adult items and child avatars in the same space. He advertises in his profile and in the classifieds, inviting the public to use the space for adult activities.  All of this on a MODERATE mainland region.

All of these are blatant violations of the Terms of Service, the Maturity Ratings policies and Ageplay policy.

Why is this guy still here? Why does Linden Labs ignore blatant violations of their rules?



Why Second Life Mainland is a Bad Investment

 or, How I was Banned from the Sex Jungle

I have a little art gallery on the Second Life Mainland. I have been meaning to blog about it, but hadn’t quite gotten around to it yet. It looked like this:

It is on the top of a steep hill, with land and houses below it. I only own to the edge of the hill, not really wanting to pay very much for something that isn’t producing revenue. I figured that if somebody bought one of the adjacent small lots they would build at the foot of the hill, because steep hills seem to flummox the average SL builder.  And this has proven true for the past year.

I’ve personally always enjoyed the wild-west atmosphere of the mainland. There are your occasional jerks who just don’t care what they build, or what anyone thinks of it, but mostly I’ve found people who have expended care and thought in creating nice places. I wanted to invest  in that, and create a place on the mainland that had some architectural interest and would be an asset to the neighborhood.

I use the past tense (“This is what it looked like,”) because this is what it looks like now:

That is my gallery to the left of the black block, on the top of the hill behind the pink tree.

One of these “occasional jerks” has moved in next to me and erected a gigantic black pile of ugliness. Setting aside the aesthetics of this sophomoric attempt to create a warlock’s castle out of a shoebox and some faux stone wallpaper, there is simply no reason that this build needs to be this big, or be there at all.  People teleport directly there, so they don’t care if it’s underground, in the air, or (as in this case) on top of a couple of huge, empty boxes. And it doesn’t need to be in the snowlands, it is clumsily decorated with tropical plants, and has a tropical theme, although the word “theme” implies some coherency of purpose, and this is merely a mess. So why the owner thought this particular parcel was perfect for his business is beyond me.

But there is nothing I can do about it. My only course of action is to dismantle the gallery and abandon the land. The nice neighbors to the north don’t want the land, because their building is on the next sim, and you can’t join parcels over sim boundaries. Nobody will buy the land with the black monstrosity in their face. Its no big deal to abandon it, I didn’t pay much for it. Mainland is practically free for exactly the reason we’re seeing here – who wants to pay a lot of money for something that can be made worthless in an instant by some half-wit?

However, I may not have to leave because I don’t think the black pile will be there long. For one thing, he’s selling very cheap items for a few L$. Most of the items you can get for free elsewhere. If the quality of his wares matches the quality of his architecture, he’s not going to sell much. With Linden Labs vacuuming money out of his pocket every month, and nothing coming in, he’ll soon tire of the game.

But the real reason he won’t be there long is that the business is called “Sex Jungle” and it sells all sorts of adult items, and contains an adult “playground.” And it just happens to be located on a Moderate sim that doesn’t allow explicit adult content.

When I talked to the owner about this, he insisted that the “M” after the sim name meant “Mature,” and he had done his homework, and the land was for sale as an adult parcel, and he could do whatever he wanted with his land and why didn’t-you-just-stop-being-a-hater-and-now-you’re-banned!!!! Wow, that showed me. Banned from the Sex Jungle. I’ll never live it down.

Ruined Second Life Snapshots

For those of us who do professional work in Second Life, the ability to capture that work and show it to audiences outside of SL is crucial. That’s why a bug in the Second Life viewer has had me pulling my hair out for the entire time I have been working here. The problem:

Hi-resolution shapshot to disk with artifacts

All of my hi-res snaps to disk come out with this grid on them. You can’t see the issue in SL, you have to go outside and look at the saved photos. I just had (another!) hour of photography ruined by this issue. The JIRA has been open since at least June of 2008. Almost 3 years. Lets get this fixed. Please go to the JIRA page below and “watch” this issue.

Destination Guide Mixed Blessing – Part 2

In my last post I talked about the non-stop excitement of having two places listed in the Second Life Destination Guide Showcase. In this post, some practical advice for anyone else who wants to go down that road.

Firstly, is it worth it? I think yes. Your business, event or community will still be listed in the Destination Guide even after it falls off the current listings in the Showcase. People do have to look for the Destination Guide, and then search through it for places that interest them, so you are likely to get a more targeted audience and fewer casual thrill-seekers as time goes on. This is a source of free advertising, and although I can’t say how effective it is, it doesn’t hurt to have it.

Assuming you have decided to go ahead and submit your place to the Guide, here’s my advice:

1.  Prepare yourself to be a Welcome Area. The photo below shows the Welcome Area in the Korea region. See that big sign that says “click here?” That links directly to the Showcase. Everything all those people are doing in the Welcome Area, they will be doing in your place after they do what they are told and click the sign.

Hosting hundreds of new residents will not impact some places at all. If there’s nothing for visitors to disrupt at your place, you can just look the other way and let the chaos happen. On the other hand, if you need to keep order, then read on.

2.  Use the official SL viewer. You’re going to meet a lot of new people, and they will have a lot of questions for you, many of which will require you to walk them through a few steps. Its much easier to do this if you’re using the same viewer as they are, and new residents will be using the official viewer.

3. Practice using your translator. People will want to talk to you! They are enthusiastic about this SL thing they have decided to try, and they really want to figure it out and do fun things. Its a great opportunity to talk to people about why you love Second Life and what you do here. They haven’t self-sorted into places where only their language is spoken, so you will meet people from all over the world. Talk to them in their language using your translator. And, since you are both using the same viewer, you can walk them through turning on their translator also.

4.  Noobie-proof your area. New residents click everything. They try to take, move, open or use anything and everything. They have no money, so they can’t buy anything, but whatever is free they will take,  open, drop the contents, and leave the box on the floor. They will hit your “applause” sign 100 times in a row, call up all your dance balls, and stand on the tables. Remove anything that isn’t vital to your business or event. Yes, that means all the quirky things you and your friends love. You can put them back next week, but for now they will be confusing to new residents and annoying to everyone else. Your sim will be heavily lagged by all the visitors, so you don’t need the extra stuff.

5. Turn off rezzing, scripts, flying, object entry, voice and whatever else you absolutely don’t need. Less opportunity for chaos.

6.  Consider giving all new arrivals a note card. You may want to include basic information such as what your place is (i.e. “The Lost Contintent is a live music venue. Musicians play for us in real life and stream their music into the club. Please be respectful to the musicians while they are playing by staying off the stage.”) You can also include rules of conduct (“This is a PG sim. Nudity and swearing are not allowed,”) and helpful how-to’s (“Click the notice board for a schedule,” “Right click and sit on the green balls to dance.”)

Signs may be useful to give this information, but with all the visitors there may be quite a bit of lag, and signs may not rezz.

Also, a notecard and landmark in inventory may encourage visitors to come back later, when they have money and actually want the product or experience you are offering.

7.  If you have an announcer or greeter, program it to call out helpful instructions and etiquette reminders.

8.  Use transparent prims to screen off areas you don’t want people to enter. Use a transparent prim in front of a stage to keep people off, or in front of an art work or display if you don’t want people sitting on it.

9. Use transparent prims to keep people from leaving your area. The Lost Continent is 600 m in the air, with a residential sim below. We had a few problems with people walking off the edge of the club and “exploring” the private houses below. A few transparent prims along the edge of the club would have helped this issue.

10.  If things get too crazy, you can block access by “people who have not given payment to Linden Labs.” That whole first day we were getting about 5 people arriving every 15 seconds. Checking this box stopped the flow until we could get a grip.

11.  Keep your finger on the eject button. Anyone who used weapons (e.g. made annoying machine gun sounds,) or attached a submarine to himself was gone. They would often come right back, in which case they were gone again, and banned from the sim. There were too many people in the area to reason with obnoxious individuals. Thankfully we had very few problems of this sort.

12.  Be prepared to keep a close eye on things for at least two weeks. I had some people decide to move into one of my pre-fab show houses. While I was flattered that they like it so much they wanted to live there, I really didn’t think they and all their friends needed to spend hours sitting on the couches and flirting in local chat. I spend a lot of time on my sim, so I was able to encourage them to move the party elsewhere.

Got any more suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments!

The Mixed Blessing of the SL Destination Guide

I have the great pleasure to be involved with two exciting activities in Second Life: my pre-fab home business, Minnesota Modern, and The Lost Continent, a live music venue.

Last month I thought it would be a great idea to submit both places to the Second Life destination guide. Being featured in the guide would give us a chance to attract new live music fans to the club, and perhaps new talent, too. Maybe some new customers to buy my homes. New people to meet, some lively fun to shake up the post-holiday routine – no down side to any of that!

It was Saturday, January 8,  and I logged in early and idly checked my visitor counter at Minnesota Modern. I had had the occasional visitor, maybe 2 on a good day. On this day, the counter had recorded hundreds of visitors in just a few hours. The radar showed a dozen avatars in the Minnesota Modern meadow, and dozens more over at the club. What the heck?! A quick look at the destination guide revealed the reason: both places were listed on the destination guide! Even better, The Lost Continent was listed in the #1 spot, at the top of the page! We hit the big time! I was giddy with excitement.

The Lost Continent

TLC Hits the Destination Guide!

I quickly TP’d over to the club, and was met by a swarm of people. There were over 40 people there, and looking at the radar I could see their average age was precisely zero days old. One or two SL veterans were enjoying a dance to the streaming music, but everyone else was walking randomly around with that siff-legged duck walk that shouts “I am a noob!”  I greeted everyone, and was greeted by the dancing couples, who seemed confused about what was going on. The noobs swarmed around me like bees. They requested friendship, offered to teleport me to the place I already was, and changed clothes forgetting to put on their pants. They edited appearance, practicing getting very tall, fat, skinny and pointy-headed. They walked off the edge of the club, falling 600 m to the residences below. One guy offered sex to a girl, in local chat. Several people called out for conversation in Portugese and Spanish. Thankfully we don’t allow flying, rezzing or voice at the club – I can’t imagine that scene.

I tweeted our happy news. We’re famous! The club’s owner Drusilla Clapsaddle quickly appeared and gave me the real news. We’re in trouble! With live music booked for the next day, we had to find a way to control the chaos. At the same time, we didn’t want to be rude, or discourage new residents, or the established SL residents who were visiting us for the first time.

Merry Gynoid quickly came online to help. Merry is an experienced mentor, and soon had activated his translator and was leading people through the mechanics of using the dance balls. We all spent hours there that day, answering questions, reminding people of the music schedule, trying to be good hosts to our visitors. Slowly it began to dawn on me that all this was for naught. These people weren’t here because they were interested in us, the venue or live music. The were here because they saw a button and clicked on it.

We made it through that weekend, although it was stressful for some, annoying for others, and tiring for us all. Now, three weeks later, both places are farther down the destination guide listings, and most of the noobs have gone off to visit the  poor sod who is now listed as #1.

Although not the golden goose in terms of home sales or new live music fans, good things did come out out of the experience. We still get a good stream of visitors in both places. Most visitors now come because they want to see what we have to offer, not because they clicked the top button. We met some nice people, and made some new friends. We feel that our hard work building both businesses has been validated to a certain extent, chosen as good examples of things to see and do in Second Life. There is also a whiff of renewed energy, a feeling that it is possible to keep things exciting and fresh, and to grow without losing the things we’ve long cherished.

And, we gained experience. In my next post, I’ll share some of the things we learned.