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Bugs bugs and has anyone seen my avatar?

August 27, 2007

Right now there is a Linden Labs developer digging around in the Second Life grid looking for my avatar.

(hopefully by the time you read this I will be back in world). On Friday I logged out of Second Life, when I logged in I was told that “You are being logged out, you will be able to log back in…”, normally this means that you’ve got out a bit quick and SL is trying to reset.

So here we are on Monday, I have contacted the concierge service and they are doing their best to dig around the grid and find me. I do hope they do so  soon I’m now no less than 3 days behind the work I had scheduled. No meetings, tours, ideas, I’m locked out.

So if you see my avatar somewhere in the Grid please do send him home so I can get control of him.

On another topic I note that Phillip Linden says that 90% uptime is not enough and that the “Web” doesn’t go down on Wednesdays for maintenance and I’d like to make two comments.

Firstly, the Web has been around a long time. This is ground breaking new technology and thus it’s finding its feet. This however doesn’t excuse bugs and problems that cost real businesses real money.

Secondly, things WILL get better, we all know that as time goes on and new challenges are faced. In 6 months time I think Second Life will be a very different beast. Different interface, faster technology.

I also believe that companies that pulled out of SL (or never got involved) may find themselves revisiting the  concept. Perhaps working with a company that understands what Second Life is and What it is not.

Too many come into Second Life thinking its a 3d website and treating it as such dooms projects from their outset.  It’s like opening a shop in the high street and leaving it with it’s door open and no staff or explanation.

Everyone at some time or another has problems with Second Life. It’s a hugely complex peace of engineering on a massive scale. It has the potential to enable ideas in a way the web never could.

So, if you do see my avatar please send him home. (by the time you read this I hope the Lindens have already).

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Casinos gone…so how does it feel now?

August 8, 2007

This is a different view in fact of the feeling when the casinos and fruit machines were banned from Second Life.

There have been repercussions in terms of the virtual economy and land prices have fallen but there is more to this ban’s effects than just these things.

Before, round every other corner was a fruit machine. It was an easy way to make money in Second Life, find some people, put a machine down and collect the money.

Since they’ve gone, things feel different. People are having to be creative to build a business because the easy option is gone. I know I spoke to one Linden exchanger I use and he told me that most of his transactions were through the casinos and since they had gone he had suffered quite a loss.

So its time for the Second Life residents to do some exciting stuff!

Communities, find a community that suits you and get involved. It might spur you to discover a need that not only YOUR community needs, but a lot of others and give you the opportunity to build your own Second Life business.

Secondly events, I want to see more drama groups in Second Life, there is such an opportunity to have poetry readings, music, I even saw an awesome Fire display and what about a firework display?

Art, what about those great photos you took on Holiday, that great sunset, or those drawings you created last year. It’s easy to get a small parcel of land and develop your own art gallery.

Virtual Cycle Rides (or any other kind of Ride) – there are MILES of Linden Roads in Second Life to explore and a Second Life Bike is a great way to do it – with the voice feature you can chat to your friends as well as you journey!

Games, Golf, Hide and Seek…. if it doesn’t exist why don’t you learn to write it. Remember everything you build you can sell.

Second Life was in danger of becoming one great big casino, with some creativity on our part as residents it can become the wonderful immersive experience it was originally designed to be.

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When Lag is Lag or not….

August 6, 2007

How many times have you heard the phrase “oh its really laggy today”, but it’s running fine for you, or perhaps the opposite, Second Life is running like a dog for you but seems fine for everyone else.

This article looks at lag and what causes it.

Firstly remember that Second Life is a Client Server application, that means that you have a client on your PC and a connection to  a Server and the two things work together to bring you the application.

So the first task if you’ve got Second Life lag is to find out where the problem is.

a. The Client

b. The Network

c. The Server

Where is the problem?

Before doing any diagnostics on the local machine and network always check the blog at http://blog.secondlife.com – you’ll find there the latest status updates also http://www.secondlife.com/status

Also try moving to another location – you may be on a buggy or lagged out old Sim. The people that built the sim may not have considered the build in terms of a server, but just built it.

If everything checks out and there are no problems. Lets move to the network.

If you have a red bar at the top of your screen on the right or two, you probably have network lag problems. This is called packet loss. Especially noticable if you try and do something for instance and SL just beeps at you. The message is simply not arriving at the server and the server can’t send you anything back simply because it has not got the message in the first place.

Try resetting

Do try resetting everything at this stage – if the lag is not at SL’s end and it’s not on your network you’re down to your local machine.

So lets try and configure the Second Life client to work the best for you.

1. Get a good graphics card and memory – The bigger and faster the better and the smoother your experience, also don’t forget memory, get as much as you can.

2. Network – find out what your network set up is, if you are on broadband is it contended or uncontended, this means that if you are on a contended network you are sharing your broadband line with say 10 other people, if they all download videos at once, your 8gb line will reduce to something terrible!

3. Check your disk (windows especially), delete temporary files and defragment your drive – I have seen a machine that did not have a HOPE of running SL go from being unusuable to running like a dream, simply by checking the hard disk, in windows do this by clicking START, RUN, type cmd in the box and enter, then type chkdsk /f and enter, click Y for run on restart and restart your system (don’t worry about closing the dos box).

4. Latest Graphics Card Drivers – advanced! Find out what graphics card you have and get the latest graphics card drivers, I noticed particluarly ATI cards the improvement is quite large when you download their latest drivers.

5. Settings in Second Life

Draw Distance – edit, preferences, graphics Draw Distance   the bigger this number the further you will be able to see but the slower your machine will run 128 is ideal, 64 if you can’t cope!

Nearby Local Lights – edit, preferences, graphics detail,Nearby Local Lights SL seems to run slower if this is enabled.

Enable Bumpmapping and Shiny – Turn this on, you’re missing out if you don’t

Audio & Video Streaming – edit, preferences, Audio & Video ALWAYS turn off Play Streaming Audio and Music unless you specifically need them on.

Graphics card memory – edit preferences , Adv. Graphics Set to the highest you can, if your machine starts playing up, lower it.

All in all remember that the Server part of SL is only part of the story. So before we scream “oh sl is so laggy today”, lets check our own stuff.

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Why Second Life is a good thing for human beings

July 29, 2007

I’ve got new friends, a LOT of them, they are from around the world, some of them work with us, some of them I just hang out with when I need a break.

One of the problems with Real Life is that if you are slightly “different”, maybe disabled (I hate that word) or maybe not very good looking people judge you before you even try and become part of a group.

In second life the rich personalities created by hardship and rejection in real life can truly shine through. Because you look how you want. In fact the only judgement people make on face value is about whether you are a new person or not or you have a good avatar. You can almost control what people think of you on face value.

So having overcome that barrier the person in real life who finds life a bit of a struggle can come into Second Life and be the “popular person”, join in community things and do things that in real life they could not. Climb a mountain, go snowboarding or take a parachute jump.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder? Not in Second Life

How does this impact how businesses reach their target market (I hate that phrase too, I’m not a market, I’m a person). It means if you want to work your business in Second Life you can’t just build a pile of buildings. You have to get involved in COMMUNITY, in Real Life companies are involved in community simply because there are people working for them.

So many places are setting up shop and then never having events or logging on, never doing community stuff. Then they shut up shop and wonder why they spent all the money on them.

If you want to win in Second Life. Don’t just build a store, man it, don’t cheapskate with Robots. I can build you a robot that will talk and move and everything in Second Life. But people need people. It’s in our make up.

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Second Life BLOGHER Conference now on Video

July 28, 2007

Still going! The Second Life Blogher Conference is running at Hyperstring.net Islands. You can view the sessions in video at http://www.slcn.tv , most of the attendees are new to Second Life and joined specificially for the conference!

We will be posting video/photos later on today at our Conferencing website http://www.secondlifeconferencing.com

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Hyperstring Islands get Voice Enabled Friday!

July 24, 2007

Well, the much awaited voice is coming to our sims, one has already got it and we’ve been testing it with a lot of success. It is truly amazing and what’s more is better than skype for meeting through Second Life.

Problems we’ve had with shoutcasting into SL is just the delay for speakers when trying to present.

The Second Life voice add in will make it a serious tool for businesses. Please do get in touch with us if you’d like a demo.

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Second Life appears in NewsWeek

July 24, 2007

Newsweek have written some very positive articles about Second Life. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19876812/site/newsweek

Which is very refreshing since other members of the press have been putting it down, then if you look in Second Life, you will not go far without finding a resident who will put it down as well, complain of the lag occasionally, or that they can’t have all 2000 of their friends in their small house (sim limit is 70-100 avatars). There are limits. But there are limits in real life too.

virtualexhibition.jpgThe newsweek articles will bring a flood of new members from business and leisure alike. This will result in more work and real life jobs for builders and scripters. Second Life might not be perfect but it does a very good job!

Ofcourse all these new residents staying and finding out what Second Life can really be is another story. Only helped by existing residents helping where we can.

Remember folks, Second Life is like real life in many ways. It’s what You make it.

(picture, the upcoming Blogher Exhibtion at Hyperstring Islands)