Tag Archives: second life

Usability, customer service will be key for Linden Lab in 2011

A very down to earth and open-minded Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble (Rodvik Linden) spoke August 13 at the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC) in Oakland, Calif., and his message centered around focusing on making the user experience better and easier. Translation: bug fixes, not bright shiny new features.

However, there were plenty of hints at new features as well, although most were solidly in the usability category.

He seemed to be saying he wouldn’t replicate the Google+ stink about their insistence on people using actual names when he said that in our modern life, we have to wear a lot of hats – we have to be different people at work and when we come home from work, and that has to happen. “We want to be able to choose who we share those various identities with,” he said.

Many of my Second Life friends who are on Google+ have been complaining that they are not permitted to use the same avatar name in the new social network. Some have been banned or their accounts curtailed; others still have their SL names. All feel passionately that they have a right to segment their lives and have each with a different identity or style. I don’t worry about people knowing that Sylectra Darwin is Sylvie Dale, but I support the desire of any of my friends to keep those things separate as they choose.

Humble also said that Linden Lab is about more than just Second Life, although Second Life is by far their more important creation. In anything they create, they want to bring forth the principles of shared creative spaces, privacy first, customer-created content, and shared and social environments.  “It’s important for us to be as free as we can when it comes to content.”

The first half of the year was spent on creating the new Viewer 2 (with mixed levels of acclaim), making it easier to sign up as a new user, and making it easier for new users to get in-world and start interacting with others. The second half of the year and beyond will remain focused on bug fixes, improving usability, and improving the quality of customer service.

Among planned improvements Humble mentioned:

Usability:new viewer(?), search improved. Goal: Be able to give our family members a SL account and have them send that to any average intelligence computer user and have them be able to enjoy it and use it easily. Being able to move around the world, sign up, find things. Halfway through that project and ahead of schedule on some things (new viewer a big role?).

Lag: cache larger, region crossings improved

Service: Polish, bug fixes, ticket times bumped up, improve quality of customer service, make life unpleasant for griefers

Big initiatives coming out this year: gaming – no HUDS, hit one button for permission and have everything enabled. Premium members – more value coming, marketing and PR campaigns should bring in more users/customers for merchants. Engineers are looking at voice recognition and facial recognition at some point in the future.

Tablet and mobile devices: Massive threat to virtual world is the rise of tablet and mobile devices. We don’t now  address mobile devices and you will see us participating in mobile devices with SL and with a new product coming out (!).

Q&A:

Pricing structure: he would not talk about or answer questions about pricing, though he said they have plans to further enrich the experience of premium members.

He acknowledged that Viewer 2 still has a lot of improvement to do. They don’t want to completely redo it because it took so long to get the new codebase; they really need to continue fixing the one they have instead. He’d like to get rid of the sidebar or at least change the way it works, but it’s unlikely to happen until maybe 2012.

Advertising: They might consider channel ads for in-world merchants, but they won’t be spamming us with Colgate banner ads in the viewers.

They’ve been removing barriers to signing up as new users, using the viewer in basic mode, and using the Destination Guide to meet people and socialize, but the next big step is helping people to buy and wear objects, build objects, and do some of those more advanced activities.

Monthly uniques – nice growth in new users in-world – 16,000 new signups per day on average; no other stats forthcoming (big decrease in tier payments??)

See the video courtesy of UStream on the Metaverse Journal article: http://www.metaversejournal.com/2011/08/15/linden-lab-ceo-were-growing-but-were-not-sure-why/

 

Doctoral student of psychology running body image study in virtual worlds

A Ph.D. candidate in Melbourne, Australia, is looking for a few good men.

Jon-Paul Cacioli, a clinical psychology student at Deakin University, is conducting a study on body image in the virtual would to see if the avatar can give us any insight into possible real-life psychological properties, he said in an email appeal to the author of this blog.

According to Cacioli, He has already conducted one study into this and requires some additional information, asking that males age 18 and up visit the link below and fill out a 20-minute survey. The focus of the survey is adult males who use avatars in Second Life or online games.

http://www.deakin.edu.au/psychology/research/virtualimage/

“Previous research has shown that the way people feel and interact with each other can be influenced by the individual’s perception of themselves. A discrepancy between how an individual perceives their own physical appearance compared to how they wish to look can lead to depression, higher levels of stress and anxiety and a poorer overall quality of life. The Internet has recently reached a level of sophistication whereby an individual can create a digital representation of themselves, such as an avatar, controlling each physical dimension. The purpose of this project is to investigate the differences between individuals and their avatars and examine their experience of how appearance affects them in real life and on the Internet, such as in programs as Second Life and World of Warcraft.”

A total of 300 people, all males over 18 years of age, will participate in this project. Participants are entered into a drawing for a $100 AUD Amazon.com gift
voucher, Cacioli said.

Jon-Paul Cacioli
Candidate, Doctor of Psychology (Clinical)
Deakin University
221 Burwood Hwy
Burwood, Melbourne, VIC, 3125

 

Reason and passion (and appreciating point of view)

There are some learning experiences that are inspired by interactions within Second Life groups. I belong to a group called Play as Being, which gets together in Bieup to discuss things like meditation, mindfulness, the self, and play. Over time, we have evolved an inclusive method for discussion that helps all participants to be understood and appreciated.

It’s a gentle way to communicate, and especially well-suited to a virtual environment where we cannot see on anothers’ real life faces and so we must make an effort to show positive sentiment in our written chats.

In a Yahoo Group email list, we began to discuss an article written by one of our members, who is known as Bleu.

http://www.edge.org/documents/archive/edge342.html

Edge Seminar speaker Jonathan Haidt explored:

Why are humans so bad at reasoning in some contexts and good at reasoning in other contexts?

“Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That’s why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning,” Haidt said.

Another friend responded with this exploration of reason and passion (Hume was one of my required readings a long time ago in college):

“That reminds me of Hume’s argument that ‘reason is and ought only to be the
slave of the passions.’

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/emotions-17th18th/LD8Hume.html#ReaOugOnlSlaPas

To this, our group founder and leader, who goes by Pema Pera in Second Life, related Play as Being’s way of gently exploring issues. He said:

“Once we realize that reasoning is mostly arguing,
a way to consolidate your already existing opinions,
we can discern different ways of doing so.

“The simplest way to reason/argue, is to confront
someone else saying ‘I disagree.’ Here is an example:

“A: I think X.

“B: I disagree. I think Y.

“Clearly, that’s neither very helpful, nor very pleasant.
Chances are than immediately both sides harden their
position, drawing battle lines, and defending X and Y.

“The PaB way of reasoning, as it developed very quickly
and is still developing, is more along the lines of:

“A: I think X.

“[ B thinking: X??? How odd, I’m pretty sure it is Y !!!
how interesting that a nice person like A can have such
a strange idea — I want to know more about that ]

“B: can you say more?

“A: … (saying more) …

“[ B thinking: aha, now I have more of an idea where A is
coming from and the context for thinking X. But let me
make sure I understand, before comparing with my ideas ]

“B: ah, how interesting. So you think X, because of …
(this and that) …

“A: yes, but not quite like that, more like … (such and
such) …

“[ B thinking: okay, that is very helpful, now I have a
more clear picture — though I still think that Y may
be more correct. Let’s see whether we can figure out
our differences. ]

“B: I see. That helps me to understand why you think X.
I myself had thought Y, but I may have to reconsider.
My main argument for Y, rather than X was … (gives
argument) … How does that fit in with your picture?

“At this point, A happily can extend the picture already
sketched and shared, in order to point out how A sees
things differently from B, and they both can walk around
the issue, looking from different angles, while together
finding new vistas.

“Initially, I had not clearly realized that this had become
the PaB way of reasoning by playfully ‘comparing notes’.
It only became clear when we had a few visitors joining us
for a while who were not operating in that mode. Their
much more jarring way of reasoning (like in many academic
forums, or political forums) was very helpful to bring out,
in contrast, what it is that we are all sharing here.”

Participate in events which live in both worlds

Friday, October 10, 2008

The NPR radio show Science Friday has been airing its shows with an added Second Life component. The team has designed a spiffy outdoor ampitheater and Ira Flatow has an avatar he uses in world to represent him. His producers read the questions and comments that fly by in chat, relaying the more interesting ones to Ira, who will acknowledge the questioner and answer the question on national radio. During this session, I was delighted to actually have him addresss one of my questions on the air. It was my fifteen seconds – hehe!

Following is my Coveritlive.com transcript of my notes I took live. Please forgive the rough nature of the notes.

1:20
Science Friday host Ira Flatow on Oct. 10 hosted a 2-hour radio show which ran on National Public Radio and also in Second Life, with opportunities for questions from both.

The show included guest Robert Colwell, Professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from the University of Connecticut.

1:29
Scientists have found a bacterium that is self-sufficient – contains all the tools they need to eat and grow.   Here’s a link: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080929104601.htm

1:33
Off-duty Linden Prospero Linden attended the show in Second Life. “Self-sufficient bacteria should be able to take over the Earth,” he commented in the chat window during a discussion of the self-sufficient bacteria discovered near a gold mine. “They really CAN kill off all other species without worrying about themselves.”

View image

Visit Science School in Second Life
1:34
Be sure to visit the Science Friday Web site for background information about the guests and the topics discussed, as well as a replay of the show.
1:35
You can listen to the show live online at http://www.sciencefriday.com/about/listen/.
1:45
Bjorlyn Loon, the Science Friday group manager in Second Life, adds: “From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns http://www.thehastingscenter.org/publications/briefingbook/.”
1:53
Question: re: Congress getting pertinent information from lobbyists, why can’t legitimate science organizations provide information to Congress in addition to lobbyists?
Answer: There is an increasing effort on the part of nonprofits to provide good information to the government. Example: The Bioethics Briefing Book.
1:54
The Hastings Center is next working on a book about end of life issues like hospice care and palliative care.
1:55
Also, the Hastings Center is working on researching the ethics of performance enhancers such as steroids, etc.

1:56
The chat log is scrolling very fast now and people are vociferously debating the ethics of health care policy and how it should/can be made better.
1:58
*End of first hour**Second hour to start soon*
2:08
A law has been passed which classifies some forms of mental illness as coverable by health insurance. William C. Moyers, Vice President for Internal Affairs at Hazelton Foundation.
2:09
The biggest highlight is that Congress and the President have acknowledged that diseases like bipolar and depression are actual chronic diseases that need to be treated and included with other diseases in terms of coverage by private health care insurance.
2:10
So the bill is a major step in the right direction of acknowledging mental illness as a legitimate illness. This would affect businesses over 50 employees and are already covering addictions treatment. It would require the same copay for that kind of treatment as for other kinds of treatment that are not classified as mental illness.
2:13
Will insurers be able to refuse an application for insurance based upon a family history of mental illness? Moyers said he really didn’t know – it is possible. He said he is a recovering addict and alcoholic and he thinks being able to talk about one’s recovery is a healthy thing and not a negative.
2:13
Is addiction treatment a bipartisan issue?
2:14
The reality is that this is an illness that has reached across both aisles of Congress. We have a terrible problem with the War on Drugs where we just lock people up for being addicts. Governmental leaders are waking up to the idea that we need a different way to handle this by holding addicts responsible for seeking their own treatment for this.
2:15
Correcting an earlier attribution: Not “Hazelton” but “Hazelden” – http://www.hazelden.org/
2:16
Has there been an emergence in this country as talking about addiction as a form of treatable illness.
2:17
Stat: Only 25% of people who need treatment for addiction ever get it in this country. (needs attribution)

2:18
Question: Does the new law limit the number of visits to the doctor for treatment? It’s not a carte blanche and companies need to be able to limit the overall costs of health care, but the point of the bill is to make the treatments for mental illness and addiction treated in the same way by insurance companies (copays, etc.) as other kinds of illnesses, for companies that cover both already.
2:19
Broken: My Story of Redemption and Addiction is the name of Moyers’ book.
2:19
Next segment: Gardening
2:22
Topics
Gardening all year long: four-season gardening.
Most important ingredient for a buffer crop in your own back yard is COMPOST.

2:23
Find out why your compost heap just isn’t working.
First guest – Barbara Damrosh, owner of Four Season Farm in Brooksville, Maine and a Washington Post correspondent.

2:25
Maine is very cool, moist climate, but not a lot of sun. Growth is pretty much continuous so right now there is just harvesting going on.
ABCs of fall gardening:
1. Clean up any debris or weeds.
2. Put down a couple of inches of well-rotted compost to begin soaking in
If you don’t have to till or dig you can get started more quickly in the spring.
If you want to get crops in early winter, you have to sow crops in early fall or late summer. Some areas are still okay to start this stuff. Look for unusual greens that do well in cooler areas like asian greens, etc.
2:25
If you’re in the South you probably can leave them in the regular ground. But if you’re farther north you need to use a cold frame in the ground.
2:27
Some of the root crops do very well in colder soil.

Debra Martin on worms and composting. You can set up a worm bin in your home with a plastic storage container of about 14 gallons. Your worms will eat a couple of pounds of kitchen compost per week. The soil should not be too wet but only lightly moist. Martin started her bin with about 200 red worms from a fishing bait store.
2:28
Interesting: red worms like warmer environments like manure rather than wild worms which are for the most part night crawlers and like cooler temps.
2:29
Preparation of the worm bin – drill some holes in it about 6 inches apart for air flow.
Shred some 3-inch pieces of wet newspaper, mix in a cup of compost and a cup of soil to help the worms digest the food.
Throw in a cup of corn meal to start the food. Mix well and add worms.
YUMMY!
2:29
When are the worms ready for the kitchen scraps? Not long – a couple of days. Monitor the bin by lifting the lid – if there is a lot of condensation or the worms are near the top, it may be too moist and you’d want to prop the lid up for a while to air it out.
2:31
Worms don’t tend to like anything with a potential to grow, as in seeds. They like:
coffee grounds and filters
tea bags
peelings
apple cores
bad spots on veggies
egg shells
bread crust
moldy bread
cooked vegetables (not greasy or salted)
NOT onions or citrus
2:31
Damrosh has a compost bin outside.
2:32
Flatow says there is a video on the Web site about how to make a compost tea out of worm compost. I think it is this one: http://www.sciencefriday.com/videos/watch/10112
2:33
Correcting the spelling – not “Damrosh” but “Damrosch”
2:34
Managing larva in your compost bin – scrape them off and remove them.
Bury the food in the compost soil to make the scraps more available to the worms and also to discourage the flies from being attracted.
2:34
Damrosch’s book can be found here: http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Primer-Second-Barbara-Damrosch/dp/0761122753
2:35
Other ways to garden when it’s cool:
floating row cover
wall of water
cold frame
greenhouse
2:36
Martin’s book info can be found here (as well as her Web site with lots more info about composting): http://www.compostgardening.com/
2:38
Martin – on the care of the worms and harvesting the compost :
dump the compost out on a piece of newspaper in a lighted place in a volcano shape. Gradually scoop off the top and sides of a cone. The worms will continue burrowing to the center to avoid the light, and in this way you can get compost for the garden without getting your worms. Use a soil sifter to get the rest of them before putting the compost in your gardens.

2:40
The author of this blog gardened in Oklahoma for 10 years and thoroughly enjoyed it (except for weeding in August!). I got a strange pleasure from handling the worms, but I didn’t know to try out the red worms. I just had night crawlers. But my compost bin was a great design – like two farm pens with a lower dividing section in the center. Both sides had a gate with latch so you could easily turn the pile from one section to the other. Bricks were underneath.
2:42
Can you compost with seaweed? Yes, you can – has lots of nitrogen and trace elements and composts very easily. Shells are also wonderful for the compost bin and will gradually break down. Lobster shells and similar chitin coverings also will compost, a bit more quickly than the clam shells.
2:56
“Worms Eat my Garbage” by Mary Hasselhoff
Great starter book on worm composting.

Can you grow mushrooms in the worm bin in your house? I asked and Ira repeated on national radio. Answer: Yes, we’ve grown mushrooms in worm compost before. It’s worth a try.
3:00

These notes were taken using the online live blogging tool coveritlive.com. If you haven’t yet tried this tool, you really will like it. See the CoveritLive.com transcript and get a link to the site so you can try it too.

Try out an SL ride

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Nostrum Forder gave me a simboard lesson this weekend so I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot while playing with my new toy.

Sylectra Darwin: help me understand how to change the design.
Sylectra Darwin: It’s asking for a texture but when I opened the Paw Prints design there was only a script in there and no texture.
Nostrum Forder: What version of the simboard do you have?
Sylectra Darwin: 4.3
Nostrum Forder: OK
Sylectra Darwin: Just updated it
Nostrum Forder: Rez the board [pull the object from inventory onto the ground]

The simboard talks on the main chat channel to give extra hints and information.

FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: -Click board for Menu-
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Startup Tip: Hold C and any movement key to roll & tilt if you fall over.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Stand Position Adjusted.
Nostrum Forder: Do you have the design?
Sylectra Darwin: I do, it’s a folder called Simboard Paint Job: Paw Print
Nostrum Forder: Are there instructions in it.
Sylectra Darwin: And it has a script in it called Simboard Paint Job: PawPrint
Sylectra Darwin: No.
Nostrum Forder: You put that script into the simboard.
Nostrum Forder: Edit your board.
Sylectra Darwin: And when I open the script it says I don’t have permission to see it.
Nostrum Forder: Drag the script from inventory into the contents tab.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: If this script is in your simboard, Touch the board to activate retexture process. (Ignore the boards menu for this process)
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Setting Texture.. Please wait..
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: No image found. Make sure you have a full perm texture in the boards inventory.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Make sure the image shows in the boards inventory before clicking ‘Set Design’
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Paw Print design is now set.
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: Texture script is now removing itself to minimize lag.
Nostrum Forder: there you go.
Sylectra Darwin: I dragged the script into the content folder
Sylectra Darwin: hey!
Sylectra Darwin: that worked!
Sylectra Darwin: Glad not EVERYTHING is hard.
Sylectra Darwin: OK, I am ready for my lesson, Nossie.
Nostrum Forder: before you get on.
Nostrum Forder: click on it and open the menu
Nostrum Forder: and click “engine”
Sylectra Darwin: ok
FS4.3 SIMBOARD: Vetox Mono: -Directly click engine panel to select options-
Sylectra Darwin: ok
Nostrum Forder: this part is a little tricky.
Nostrum Forder: You want to get the settings down to where you can control it.
Sylectra Darwin: I see the warning about taking a copy
Sylectra Darwin: OK
Sylectra Darwin: so less power, right?
Sylectra Darwin: lol
Nostrum Forder: You have to cam to where you can see it [alt-click on the engine panel to orient the point of focus and then zoom in].
Sylectra Darwin: OK, I see F_Gain 10.00
Sylectra Darwin: There are up and down arrows on the board
Sylectra Darwin: Plus and minus buttons too
Nostrum Forder: Press the up arrow until you see “Speed”
Sylectra Darwin: rez…rez [all the controls were shown with textures, which take a long time to load in Second Life]
Nostrum Forder: and then press minus until you have it set to 5.
Nostrum Forder: It’s a pain.
Sylectra Darwin: I hate texture-dependent interfaces.
Nostrum Forder: textures are a huge problem in SL.
Sylectra Darwin: yes.
Sylectra Darwin: what’s the default setting for speed?
Nostrum Forder: all of this should be addressable by commands
Sylectra Darwin: I am still waiting for the words to rez
Nostrum Forder: I dunno. Mine was 7.
Sylectra Darwin: Maybe they are through the HUD [a user interface with menus visible to the person but not anyone else]?
Nostrum Forder: that’s it
Sylectra Darwin: okay, found it
Nostrum Forder: Make it 5
Sylectra Darwin: ok, got it
Sylectra Darwin: what next, my guru?
Nostrum Forder: Click, get the menu, and press engine to close.
Sylectra Darwin: We’re just adjusting speed?
Nostrum Forder: Right
Nostrum Forder: now we ride

Sylectra Darwin: I’m looking for my copy I just made
Nostrum Forder: Just ride this one.
Sylectra Darwin: ok
Nostrum Forder: Use the arrow keys to control speed and turn
Nostrum Forder: OK
Nostrum Forder: Here’s a tip
Sylectra Darwin: it’s a little disconcerting
Nostrum Forder: View menu
Sylectra Darwin: no brakes
Nostrum Forder: Back arrow slows you
Sylectra Darwin: view menu?
Nostrum Forder: down arrow
Nostrum Forder: View menu – Show Property lines [on the View menu of the Second Life program, there is a check box item to show or hide property lines]
Nostrum Forder: Stay in the blue boundaries.
Nostrum Forder: 🙂
Sylectra Darwin: what happens when you cross?
Nostrum Forder: Nothing usually
Nostrum Forder: but if there’s a ban line
Nostrum Forder: it sucks
Sylectra Darwin: then all hell breaks loose?
Nostrum Forder: left-up

Nostrum Forder: Now for the more interesting ones
Nostrum Forder: hold “page up” and press left or right arrow
Nostrum Forder: this causes you to spin
Nostrum Forder: which also kills your forward velocity.
Sylectra Darwin: that’s actually a good thing if I go out of control
Nostrum Forder: also try the combinations of arrow keys
Nostrum Forder: left-down
Nostrum Forder: press left and right puts you into a “crouch”
Nostrum Forder: Press left, right, and up and you’ll go Real Fast. Be careful with it.
Nostrum Forder: press up and down together, you’ll do a “layout” on the board.
Nostrum Forder: the page-down button controls rolling
Nostrum Forder: Try page-down and left together
Nostrum Forder: You need some forward momentum

I went upside down. So sorry, I didn’t get a pic of that for you to enjoy. The film didn’t turn out. 😉

Sylectra Darwin: holy crap!
Nostrum Forder: You can also forward-roll or backward-roll with page-down and up or down
Sylectra Darwin: um…
Nostrum Forder: nice face plant
Nostrum Forder: If worse comes to worse, edit yourself back. [right-click on the simboard and select Edit, then choose the Rotation radio button and drag the directional markers until the simboard is right-side up again]
Sylectra Darwin: thanks
Sylectra Darwin: haha
Sylectra Darwin: thanks for the lesson!

I think I did pretty good. Only one completely stupid moment.