Two new previews are open for testing now! (Updated)

30 06 2006

So check out the Second Life preview page (you need to login for that) and find two (!) new preview versions: 1.11 and 1.12

1.11 features new UI enhancements while 1.12 is all about big new features such as groups and land tools. I was testing 1.11 and what I noticed was that the new snapshot screen freezes the view which is maybe not good when doing it during some action. Also I noticed that it now says “Send (L$10)” when doing a “Send a postcard”. I am wondering now if either sending postcards suddenly costs L$10,- or it’s just a bug (I filed it as such). So we will see.

Here is the complete list of the release notes for both releases:

Release Notes for Second Life 1.11.0(0) June 29, 2006
=====================================
Features:
* Zoomable UI
** The entire UI can be scaled (including in-world text, manipulators, etc) by a user-supplied scale value (Preferences->Graphics->UI Size)
** When running fullscreen, the additional option "Use resolution independent scale" should ensure that the UI looks the same at all resolutions
** Additionally, changing to a resolution with a different aspect ratio than your monitor's aspect ratio should not result in any squashing or stretching of your display
* Improved Snapshot functionality
** When taking a snapshot, the world will freeze in place and the snapshot will be previewed over the entire screen (but under UI elements)
** The camera tool will be active by default, allowing you to click and drag to move the camera around while objects/avatars/etc are frozen in place, without having to hold down ALT
** You can also change snapshot parameters (resolution, JPEG compression level) and the snapshot will update on the fly
** Any time the camera moves or a parameter is changed, the existing snapshot will "drop" away and be replaced by a new one
** You can also take snapshot of arbitrary resolution, up to 6000x6000
*** Be aware that the larger the snapshot is, the more system resources are needed to create it -- you can potentially run out of memory and crash if taking very large snapshots on a low-end system
* Eyedropper tool
** Added the ability to pick colors and textures from objects in view (and that you own) inside the color picker and texture picker
** When depressed, the button changes the mouse cursor and activates a "pipette" or "eyedropper" tool
** The user can then click on another object in world to grab the texture/color of the face that they clicked
* Gestural pie menus
** Pie menus now provide a gradually faded border when the right mouse button is down to suggest that you can use them by moving the mouse in a given direction, which is faster and easier than clicking on a pie wedge directly
** Also, pie sub-menus can be accessed with gestures, making it possible to chain gestures together to perform any operation in the pie menu by memory
* Tear-off menus
** Added ability to click on a double line at the top of any menu or sub-menu and pin it in place on the UI as a "floater"
** All of the menu items should still work, as well as branching menus, etc.
** Closing the floater will make it disappear
** Accessing a detached menu via it's parent menu will bring the floating menu to the foreground, but not reposition it

Other changes:
* Improved text field support for INSERT key

Bug fixes:
* Profile can now be viewed after searching for one Resident in the finder
* Preferences > Network > Clear Cache > Apply no longer starts parcel music stream

Release Notes for Second Life 1.12.0(1) June 28, 2006
=====================================
Features:
* Support for Covenants
** Covenants may now be associated with Estates
** These documents detail land use rules and restrictions
** Available in About Land

* Estate Land Sales
** Estate owners/managers are now able to sell land to other Residents for L$
** "Allow Land Transfer" option in 'Region/Estate > General' tab enables Estate Owners and Managers to sell parcels, and buyers to resell them
*** Estate owners/managers may specify rules for land sale and usage in Covenants
*** Buyers of the land on private estates may be limited in their ability to re-sell land depending on settings determined by Estate owner/manager

* Group Enhancements
** Group limit per user increased from 15 to 25
** Group member minimum reduced from 3 to 2
** The group information user interface has been redesigned

* Group Notices
** Group notices can be created in the 'Group Information > Notices' tab
** Group notices can include an attachment
** Group notices are sent to all group members
** Members may opt to not receive these notices in the 'Group Information > General' tab
** Members can browse the last 30 days of notice history
** Members with IM to Email set will receive these notices offline

* Group Roles
** Groups can be configured using the 'Group Information > Members & Roles' tab
** A group is now composed of up to 10 user-configured Roles
** Residents may hold more than one Role in a group
** Each role can be configured to allow certain group Actions
** Each role gets its own title
** Members of a group are assigned to Roles to define the Actions they can perform in that group
** Group members are always a part of that group's 'Everyone' role
** Example:
*** Current groups have two Roles:  'Everyone' and 'Officer'
*** All group members can do Actions allowed by the 'Everyone' role, such as voting on proposals
*** Only group members assigned to the 'Officer' role can do Actions such as invite new members
** Groups now have a special role: 'Owner'
** 'Owners' have full control over the group, but cannot remove other 'Owners'
** Current groups will have members selected to be 'Owners' based on the first to match these rules:
*** 1) A founder in the group
*** 2) Officers with 512 or more sq. m. land contributed
*** 3) All officers
*** 4) Nobody (no 'Owner' role is created)

LSL changes:
* llGiveInventory works on group owned objects
* llGiveInventoryList works on group owned objects
* llRemoteLoadScriptPin works on group owned objects

Other changes:
* Group elections have been removed
* "Grant Modify Rights" has been changed to be more comprehensive
** You can now allow the person being granted rights greater freedom of modification
* The 'Run Scripts' checkbox has been split into 'Run Group Scripts' and 'Run Other Scripts'.
** A parcel with 'Run Other Scripts' will run all scripts.
** A parcel with 'Run Group Scripts' will run scripts on objects set to the same group that the parcel is set to.
* Group-owned objects that you have control over are now highlighted on the mini-map.

Bug fixes:
* llLoadURL now displays name of group in dialog, if used on a group owned object

Update, June 6, 2006: My bugreport was marked as “new known issue” (whatever that means.. is it new or known?). So guess it’s a bug and you don’t have to pay $10 per postcard.

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New Version, new Drama

28 06 2006

So today it’s update day and the most critical changes have been announced in the latest blog post by Robin Harper of Linden Lab. In there she explains the these changes and how they require a new Terms of Service you have to accept when logging in.
But first for those who don’t know the whole story, here’s a little summary: The registration scheme for Second Life has been opened recently in that no identity verification (like a credit card) is required anymore. The reason for this change is according to Linden Lab to reduce the first barrier in order to get more people (and especially international ones) into the game. This also seems to be successful as recent numbers show (we will probably hit today the 300.000 resident barrier and have a 50/50 split of US vs. international residents now).

So these changes have raised lots of discussions and fear because the platform is now open to griefers and teens as no real verification is taking place (and thus teens might be confronted with mature content which might lead to law suits against Linden Lab. At least that’s the fear of residents. I am no legal expert..). In order to address this issue Robin Harper now explains that basically two features will be added:

1. The Second Life client will compute a hash based on the hardware setup of the computer it’s running on (for this the new ToS is needed I think. But actually I cannot find it in the new one). This information can only be accessed by Linden Lab employees and even just the hash, no actual information. This should address the griefer issue as certain computers could be banned based on this as well as one can check if there are multiple connects from these computers.

2. Profile pages will now get a new field which shows if the user has provided billing information to Linden Lab and if it has been used in the past.

Both changes are already producing lots of discussions in the forums. Regarding point 1 people call it Spyware although it is not true when implemented as described. So I don’t care that much about this issue. I even see it positively as they tell what they do publicly and what they do is actually not that much. Other companies do much more quite hidden. And if it can help with griefers, the better.

The other point is eventually more discussable. The fear of residents is here that Linden Lab is producing a two class system dividing the population in those can afford to pay something and those who don’t. As it’s also pointed out in Robin’s blog that they will add land banning based on this information in a future release this is seen as even more problematic.

I personally think that not many people will use that banning feature really. It will just drive people away and if it’s a mall it might even drive clients away (I wouldn’t want to sell in such a place). Also I wonder if it’s really producing a noticeable two-class-system. On flickr you also have pro and basic accounts and you can identify them as such. On there I don’t really see that people with a basic accounts are seen as less important people. It’s maybe just what people make out of that information.

Commitment?

The main problem I actually see is the wording here. Robin speaks of commitment and this implies that only people who have paid are committed. This is of course not true and there might be a variety of reasons why you don’t go premium. And beside that I though that the reason to add that field is because of (more) teens now coming into the grid and a means of identifying their age but now it seems all to be about commitment. I think I don’t get the reason behind that. I also don’t know of what use the knowledge of a commitment based on money flow is as I personally can usually find out pretty quick if somebody seems committed to the game or not.
I’d rather see them add more means of age verification as IMHO this is the only real problem to address here.

I believe that trust and a sense of commitment cannot be enforced by any technology as also my favourite video about Trusted Computing (homepage) states (and this seems to similar to the trusted computing issue):
Trust is the personal believe in the correctness of something.

It is the deep conviction of truth and rightness and cannot be enforced.

If you gain someone’s trust you have established an interpersonal relationship, based on communication, shared values and experiences.

Trust always depends on mutuality.
I am not yet sure what will happen but I doubt that very much will happen regarding a class system. My argument of my last post is basically still true: We had a two class system before: Those who have a credit card and can use Second Life and those who don’t.


Other changes

Well, not only has the profile been changed but we also have some changes on how you can list your land parcel in order to have a better search. Basically a new classification. Read the complete announcement of this change here and the release notes here.

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MTV.com about the U2inSL concert

28 06 2006

Check out the news article over at MTV.com.

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After the birthday

27 06 2006

Celebration Dome So now it is tuesday and the big birthday party came to an end. And I think all people involved in it can be very proud of what they have achieved! There was already a sign with people to thank but I especially want to add Amalthea Blanc for organizing the whole art exhibition, Gonta Maltz, Spiderkitten Mirabeau and JayJay Talamasca for organizing the community events as well as the musical events to that list! Personally I also want to thank those people who have made that machinima event possible as there are Angrybeth Shortbread, Susi Spicoli, Aren Mandala, sandro Melnitz, moo Money, RacerX Gullwing, Pierce P., Robbie Dingo and illclan Productions (also around has been Paul Marino at these events btw. which was quite cool 🙂

There are lots more to thank, esp. all the artists and musicians and my goal is to have a complete list of people involved at the main event site for the video. So please send notecards with names and what they did to me!

The three torches
I also want to speak a little about the actual peak day, Friday. Many things went not really as expected, like laggy sims, a breakdown of the database server, protestors, crashing during Philip’s speech and so on. Many people have been disappointed by some or all of these issues but I want to say: Don’t be!! What you did was great and people do appreciate it (and I also plead to the protestors that they say so as it’s easy to criticize and it would be a sign that you’re not just reusing this event made by residents for your own purposes but also do appreciate their work. Actually you say that you protest for the residents)! I remind a little chat with Gwyneth Llewelyn at the evening of sunday when we discussed friday and she said (and she’s right with it) that it just was all what SL is about. It’s a still not 100% stable, it’s a changing system, it’s a society in continuous discussion, it’s hardware defects and the fact that the speech wasn’t really a speech with voice but instead a chat with the residents was maybe even a positive effect of it and hasn’t happened really for ages (according to her).
The monorail high in the sky
Maybe it should have been clear to us from the beginning that where Philip appears there will also be people protesting for something, be it pro umlauts or contra teens. I personally also wasn’t that annoyed by that as on a different level it’s quite entertaining. I was actually more annoyed by the breakdown of the db server and the subsequent login problems I had (can we do something about the login bottleneck, LL? Might be an issue with the growth we have right now). But well, that’s SL for ya and I got pasted parts of the speech to me.

So all in all I don’t think anybody needs to be unhappy. It was a great event, we had (and have still) great builds on the site, we had a fully packed event calender, we had 24/7 DJs/Musicians at the dance dome, we had lot’s of events around the birthday at individual sites, we had a great art exhibition, we had a great history showcase and so on.

Of course there also have been things which did not make it in time but this will probably always be the case (you finish one thing and have 10 new ideas on what can be improved then) and there are probably some things which could be done better next time but all in all it went quite smoothly IMHO. For me actually it was the first event of that scale (actually of any scale bigger then my home plot 😉 and next time there will be probably some things which can be done in preparation to handle stability (also from LL’s side as they should actually be aware of potential problems) and other issues.

But anyway, right now all people involved should be happy to have managed it quite well and thanks again to all of them. It was a great event!

The site btw will still be up until the 10th (as I have heard) although it seems strange now that it is so without people. But if you haven’t had a look yet at the site maybe do so before the end. Keep also in mind that all that has just been build in 10 days!

If you did build something at that site you might wanna make sure you have a copy of it as it’s not clear whether it’s returned or deleted and otherwise you should make sure to send me that notecard with names to thank now 🙂

I myself will prepare photos later and post them here. Video will take a while though as I will be out of town next week.

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Check on the last drama: LindeX

27 06 2006

So the drama before registration changes has been the LindeX and the change to the Terms of Service by Linden Lab to allow for them to sell Linden Dollars on the LindeX (blogged about it on May 9). And in fact, the value of the Linden Dollar was falling quite a bit after that announcement as everybody was selling as they were expecting a severe crash of Linden Dollar.
So now having the next discussion I was wondering what happened to the Linden Dollar in the meanwhile as you hardly hear anything about it and here’s the result:

In fact the last month looks like an trend upwards for the Linden Dollar’s value and thus fears of a breakdown seem not to have become true. We have yet to see at which value it will finally stabilize.

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PICNIC ’06: Cross Media Week to be held in Amsterdam

27 06 2006

On September 26-30 PICNIC’06 will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands and will feature lots of interesting speakers from the (multi)media/gaming/virtual world industry including Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab.

Quoting the website:

PICNIC ’06 is Amsterdam’s annual event for all those interested and involved in cross media content and technology in Europe, North America and Asia.

Under the theme “celebrating creative genius”, PICNIC ’06 will provide you with the opportunity to discuss major trends, see innovative content, formats and channels, and develop new opportunities.

PICNIC ’06 will focus on showcasing content delivered to consumers via TV, the Internet, mobile phones, gaming, virtual reality and music. From online and mobile games to interactive TV show formats, from multi-format brands to consumer-generated content, PICNIC ’06 will inspire you to explore the world of cross media.

Keynote speakers include

• Dr. Michael B. Johnson, Moving Picture Group Lead, Pixar Animation Studios
• John de Mol, Co-Founder of Endemol and Founder of Talpa
• Philip Rosedale, Founder of Linden Lab/Second Life
• Craig Newmark, Founder, craigslist.org
• Jamie Kantrowitz, Senior VP Marketing Europe, Myspace.com
• Esther Dyson, Editor at Large, CNET Networks, investor
• Dan Gillmor, Director, Center for Citizen Media, author of “We the Media”

While I don’t expect that much new to be heard from Philip for me personally it might be nice to attend nevertheless in order to experience some panels or some of the partner events like the Machinima Salon. Have a look at the program what else is in there.

Unfortunately it’s at a time where I might still be on vacation and registering early bird costs EUR 500,-.
So as I am not sure about my schedule and whether I am willing to spend that money on it I thought I let other people know who might look out for some cool event in Europe. And we even might meet afterwards and to a small SLNL (which actually would not need to be big, just choosing some place to meet and off you go). And doing some sort of mixed reality event from within that event might be cool, too (but some work).

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And the discussion is going on.. (Updated)

27 06 2006

First of all it’s a bit surprising to me that many of the discussions here reflect a lot of conservatism and people seem mostly to be against any changes. A la “What was good since now must be good for all future”. Most interestingly also developers and other creative people have been among the recent protestors. People from which I would expect that they applaude to changes. And as the whole concept of virtual worlds is a rather new one it also seems natural to me that everything is a huge experiment in which various methods need to be tried out.

But anyway, Linden Lab now told us that the registration scheme will not be reverted back but instead we will get some tools to handle the situation. What follows now is a discussion about these tools and how they might create a two class system inside Second Life. I am reflecting posts here by 3pointd and Clickable Culture which both discuss the (more or less) recent post on Robin Harper’s blog. So she proposes there to add a field to the profile which shows if a person is verified or not which basically means if that person has paid money to Linden Lab, e.g. has a premium account.

This indeed would be of use for people who e.g. are afraid now to have unknowingly virtual sex with a kid and might get sued in the process or maybe in general for people who are selling mature content. They might think twice before selling it to an unverified person. So the fear is here that a two class society will emerge from that. The upper class with people who have a CC and the means to pay LL and the rest who are not willing or able to pay.

Now before that we actually had the situation that people without credit card or a mobile phone could not even get into Second Life and I am wondering if the current situation is not at least a progress compared to the old one. Before we had something which we might call a virtual divide 😉

Of course it now depends on paying and not only on showing the credit card information. So this of course is more strict than it maybe needs to be. Maybe this tool can be enhanced to add other means of verification? IMHO that would serve SL in creating more verified accounts.

I also don’t think that being verified is that much about commitment. Of course one can say that people who pay are more committed than others but you cannot necessarly say it the other way round. If I e.g. look at flickr where pro accounts are shown as such I don’t think of people without as second class people or not committed to flickr. I know the system and know how great it is and cannot even imagine not to be committed 😉

(also I wonder what it means to be committed. I usually will quite quickly know when talking to somebody if he/she’s committed or not).

So in any case I will first see what happens after the recent changes before doing any sort of judgement. I hope that LL will do the same and adjust tools as necessary. I am after all for the more open registration process in order to make Second Life more open to everybody. Of course this also should mean that LL works more on scalability (and I am speaking esp. of the login which always behaves ba after a crash e.g. when the load is high).

And please don’t get me wrong. I am pro discussion but somehow I am missing some constructive proposals here in how to make it better (and fulfill all requirements).

Update June 27, 06:00 : made some points clearer and fixed some typos.