Voice Beta now open to all

29 03 2007

In case you haven’t heard it yet: The voice beta testing program is now open to the public as Linden Lab writes on their blog. There’s also a new version out now which has a new speech indicator which also indicated if you are just listening and thus making it easier to distinguish between people with voice activated and those without. So download it here and keep talking πŸ™‚

PS: Apparently they added also some new options for the key used for enabling push-to-talk and one if them is the ‘ (the key above the tab key). Of course with a german keyboard it’s not above the tab key, it’s the ^ instead. So international issues are still issues unfortunately (and the ^ is of course quite underused here, too, so it would make sense to have this as an option, too).

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Second Life SF meetup date and location set

25 03 2007

So we will meet at 4pm today in the Lobby of the Triton Hotel, 342 Grant Ave, just in front of the Chinatown gate. Feel free to come!

San Francisco Second Life meetup on sunday

24 03 2007

I am in San Francisco right now and it would be cool to meetup with some Second Lifers from San Francisco tomorrow (sunday). So if you are in that area and want to meet up and additionally have an idea where to do that best (I am staying on Grant just before China Town) please let me know and either email me to tao.takashi@gmail.com or leave a comment. Maybe having dinner would be nice.

I am probably off the net this afternoon and evening and would check later and post a final decision.

Hope to meet many of you! πŸ™‚

3rd Annual Satellite Exhibition going on!

22 03 2007

If you haven’t heard it yet: The 3rd Annual Exhibition organized by Timeless Prototype is going on now. As I am right now a bit busy I cannot do any photos but maybe check it just out for yourself, you can find it here.
There will also be an event on Saturday and it will close on Sunday.

It is again two sims: One for general exhibitors and one dedicated to the Alliance Nacy. And those sims look very moonish and cool, so go and check them out! πŸ™‚

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The new Linden Lab communication practice

22 03 2007

So over the last past months Linden Lab seems to have been changing a little bit in their communication efforts. To the better. As I don’t just want to post the bad things I might I do a little praise here πŸ™‚
So there have been many things going on in order to fill the gap between Linden Lab and the residents again (I just assume that in the early days it was naturally somewhat closer). And it makes sense because sometime ago it really felt as Linden Lab was very much disconnected in deciding stuff which resulted in many surprises for residents and in turn in many demonstrations which eventually surprised Linden Lab (remember opening up the registration).

So what has changed? For one thing the Second Life blog was initiated which IMHO serves a better purpose of communicating one-to-many than a forum (while still incorporating the discussion in form of comments). Also more and more Lindens have been posting to the blog and not only announcements but also technical details for those interested or just asking for discussion.

The other thing is the creation of the Linden Village around sims like Ambleside or Grasmere. Along with that office hours have been established which is another great way of participating in the conversation with the Linden folks. And it’s not only about policy but also about the hard technical details (with Zero Linden) or discussions about how to bring the open source project forward.

And another great thing is that Linden Lab is also more open regarding the underlying technology. This seems to be one of the consequences of being open source now. Not that many secrets are left then and in general it does not make that much sense to hide them anyway.

So all in all LL feels more connected (to me at least) to their SL inhabitants and the discussions are more about how to do things together instead of Linden Lab dictating what has to happen. Of course there are some business decisions which are unlikely to be decided by the residents (such as voice) or which are still secret. But in general it is a big step forward.

So what does get discussed at those office hours? Let me give some examples in some brainstormed way πŸ˜‰

  • Zero Linden was telling us that they put up a testgrid which just is based on LLSD messages. This is the new protocol Linden Lab wants to do client-server communication with and is part of the longtime plan to make SL more stable and extensible.
  • Robin Linden was telling us that there are 3 projects underway for getting Second Life more stable:
  1. led by Xylor Linden, is to fix the immediate bug problems, such as the group IM problem. this is to try to minimize the worst pain points (going on every day)
  2. led by Doug Linden, is to improve the scalability of the existing system, by refactoring some of the code and improving efficiency (takes place over the year)
  3. led by Zero Linden is to redesign the entire thing and to address in particular the orthogonal scaling problems of land and agents (takes place over 2 years)
  • Rob Linden was discussing how to best open up the subversion repository to make development of LL devs and open source devs a lot easier (right now the process is a bit cumbersome, I might explain this someday in another post)

So these just as an example. There are office hours by other Lindens (such as Torley, Jeska, Pathfinder and others), too and if you are interested make sure to visit them.

(ok, I know that I now will receive some comments on being an LL fanboy πŸ˜‰ But let me tell you that there are still things that could be better πŸ˜‰ (otoh they all usually need time).

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News from the voice

19 03 2007

At the last voice beta test meeting a lot of stuff was discussed and I am trying to quickly summarize it here:

  • Most of the mainland will be voice activated. Channels, on which communication is taking place will then span multiple sims (like all the 4 sims of the welcome areas). This is important as you can also hear people who are in the same channel as you.
  • Parcels will get the ability to block voice (if I did understand it right). So you don’t hear your annoying neighbour all the time πŸ˜‰
  • Private islands with the old price ($195) might need to pay an extra fee to enable voice. Newer islands do not need that (those at $295). Voice consumer never have to pay anything.
  • The IM window will be enhanced so that you can invite a person in a one-2-one conversation to use voice chat instead. Same should be true for group chat. This audio will not be spatialized apparently
  • A new speaking indicator is in the works which shows also if somebody has voice enabled or not (which means if she is listening or not)
  • LSL functions will not come with version 1 but eventually later. Reason for this is that these functions eventually create lag on the sims.
  • the preferences will become a section which lets you define the in- and output devices (right now the OS default will be used)
  • Vivox might eventually offer the ability to place outside telephone calls from within Second Life, also incoming calls might be possible one day.
  • There will be changes in the way you login to the voice server so that it gets very unlikely that it will be hacked. So lots of encryption and stuff like that will go on server side.
  • The distance you are able to listen to around your avatar (by panning with the camera) will be restricted so that you cannot eavesdrop into other people’s conversations anymore.

There was probably something I missed but many of this stuff is under internal discussion anyway so we will see what the end result will be. But Lindens were listening and taking notes and that’s a good thing πŸ™‚
(and even Philip appeared as a little robot for 2 mins πŸ˜‰

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german Voice chat poll

19 03 2007

I just posted some voice chat experience report on the german site slinfo.de and attached some poll to it and thought I can share the results here. So here’s what I asked with the numbers:

How would you use voice chat?

Always, whenever possible (22%, 11 votes)
Never, out of principle (41%, 20 votes)
Usually I will use text but where it happens I will also use voice (25%, 12 votes)
Me and my avatar have a different gender and thus I won’t use voice (10%, 5 votes)

All votes: 48

Now you can make what you want out of that. Not too many people have voted here but at least you get an idea πŸ™‚ (but those “never” people haven’t tried it yet, so who knows πŸ™‚

Answers to that post include at least one guy who thinks it rocks, discussion in other thread were more about issues with voice such as that “I can better type english than speak it” or the gender question.

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BTW, I am twittering, too ;-)

13 03 2007

So, just make me a friend at http://twitter.com/mrtopf πŸ™‚

For now I am just a little sick though, so not much might show up there…

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Adam Reuters nterviews Raph Koster and Jerry Paffendorf at SXSW, live at Reuters in SL.

11 03 2007

Adam Reuters informed me that today there will be two Second Life interviews with Raph Koster and Jerry Paffendorf. Raph is right now working on a eventually-to-be Second Life Killer called Areae. He will be interviewed today at 2 pm CST (3 pm EST, noon Pacific) at the Reuters Auditorium.

Jerry, well known to Second Lifers, is part of the Electric Sheep Company and will be interviewed at 12 pm CST (1 pm EST, 10 am Pacific) about Sony’s newly announced PS3 virtual world and where Second Life is heading. It will also take place at the Reuters Auditorium.

Definitely interesting interviews so make sure you are there!

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Revisiting old Second Life statistic posts

10 03 2007

When cleaning up my RSS Reader I came across this post by Om Malik from July 2006 where he quotes Reuben Steiger (Millions of Us) where he extrapolates the Second Life population to be 3.6 million by July 2007. While Om is a bit skeptic about the growth rate Reuben assumed (he was thinking about the back then current 22% while Om might maybe assume more around 10%) we now see that indeed he should have been skeptical but on the other hand πŸ™‚

He states right though that “there are some problems with the math – it is taking a very short term trend and extrapolating it over an extended period of time, the kind of stuff which got Web 1.0 forecasters in trouble”. Indeed this was a problem looking at the current over 4 million residents πŸ™‚

BTW, Fizik was expecting around 7 million people in SL at the end of this year at the SLDEVU in London, we will see what the counter says then (of course at some point it simply needs to slow down but if I look at individual countries such as Germany then there is still quite some potential in growth (might be about 400.000 for Germany now IIRC).

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