Friday, January 29, 2010

9 of 52 - Dream or reality?

It's 5:30 in the evening; I close the lid on my computer; the fairytale world inside it dwindling from sight. Stretching stiff muscles, I change into running gear and exit my front door.

Outside, it's dark, but the fresh snow makes everything seem alight. The wide river I run along is frozen, leaving a huge stretch of fresh white snow. At the other side mountains are raising, dark trees covered with white snow leaving a ghostly impression.

As I run, focusing on my steps on the slippery soft snow beneath my feet, consciousness dwindles, the world shrinks to breath, snow and thoughts. It's like I'm flowing through the cold and snowy air, my feet taking control, my mind drifting back to my secret hiding place.

Suddenly, an impossible view is in front of me: It's like the fabric of reality is ripped, and through the teared material I can see people dancing among the palm trees on a sandy beach, the red setting sun is shining in my eyes. And as I fly against the hole into that other reality, I see you standing in the opening, bare feet on the warm sand behind you touching the snow in front of you. We look at each other, shockingly recognizable through totally incompatible images, and yet there is this deep feeling of a bond stretching between worlds.

I hug you close to me; your body feels so real against me; warm and soft, slightly shivering against my cold tights and nylon jacket.

Whoever is the master of this universe has noticed the damage in her creation, and has started to close the gap between realities. In the flash of a second we both know that I must choose: The beach or the snow; the dream or the reality. You pushes me gently back, and as the opening dwindles from sight the last thing I see before falling face down in the snow is your eyes, smiling against me. Then my consciousness slips and I know no more.

I wake up by the feeling of a warm and wet tongue on my face; someone shouting “... there is blood everywhere, call an ambulance!” The dog whimpers as I manage to lift my head off the snow and the hidden stone it rested on. “He must have slipped and fallen, hurting his head. Don't move mister, the ambulance is on its way.“

Next time I wake up I lie in a hospital bed; apparently I floated between life and dead for several hours. A doctor later told me he believed I unconsciously made a choice to return to life; only I know that she made the choice for me.

I can't wait to get home and open the lid to my dreamworld again:-)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The image Steven Jobs did not show...

... but you know you want it!

As of yet we don't know enough about the graphics processor in the iPad to say anything about the possibility of an SL client app. Apple is designing the chip-set themselves, and they have not told anyone if they have found room for 3D hardware rendering with OpenGL drivers. But since even some Mini PCs that Jobs despises so much can handle SL, we can hope!

Update: Rumours have it that the chip inside the iPad is based on the PowerVR chipset, supposedly exceeding the OpenGL 2.0 specs. Cool!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Windows 7 on Hagrid

Hagrid as seen from my POV

Hagrid, my big and ugly laptop, never really got that Ubuntu feeling of freedom. Something about the device drivers probably; the wireless LAN lost connection all the time, and the ATI video drivers ran SL like a clumsy giant.

Ubuntu is an African word meaning
'Humanity to others', or
'I am what I am because of who we all are'.

On Friday, a Win 7 upgrade disc dropped down on my desk. It really was destined to my desktop PC; part of Microsoft's free upgrade to Win 7 when you bought a PC with Vista a few months before Win 7 was released. But that machine runs Ubuntu 9.10 like a charm; I have no intention of ever changing that. So I decided to take the plunge, gave Hagrid a strong memory potion (read «disk wipe»), and did a clean install of Microsoft's latest.

The result was really nothing short of getting a new computer! Windows 7 seems to run almost as smooth as Linux. I get this feeling that the PC now works with me, while the Vista install worked against me. All the free software I usually run on it (GIMP,, Firefox and Sun VirtualBox in particular) worked flawlessly, as did iTunes and almost everything else I tried. The only exception being USB audio against my Cambride DacMagic; the sound is full of distortion. But the optical digital connection worked very well though.

I was not in-world a lot (almost nothing in fact), but Boy Lanes Rainbow viewer seemed to work very well for the few minutes that I got to try it.

Now it's back to work in the open source world; this text was written on Lyra (my Ubuntu-powered netbook) in the back seat while car-pooling; now I'm uploading it to the blog using my Ubuntu powered Internet connected desktop, before turning around to the Ubuntu powered internal networked computer to do work on our Red Hat Linux servers. Despite all the colorful Windows, Freedom still rules!

Friday, January 22, 2010

8 of 52 - How to make real money in SL - LL publishes Q4 results

Linden Lab revealed their Q4 and year end statistics this week. It inspired me to put all the dollars I've earned this year in a jar and having my alt sprinkle them over me.

LOL, dream on, Cristopher!

(btw, the dollar bill emitter is on sale in my shop for the crazy low price of L$10 if you can find it in the note rain.... will put up a vendor on the wall real soon now...)

Truth is, it's hard to make real money in SL, but a few people manages really well. 50 accounts took more than USD$100.000,- in profit out of SL last year, the top 25 accounts alone more that US$12 million, that is almost half a million dollar apiece. In sum, businesses took US$55 million out of SL.

The most impressive is that these figures represents actual earnings, that is money taken out of SL AFTER tier and ads are paid to Linden Lab (since I don't expect anyone to process credit to PayPal and then use PayPal to pay tier, much easier to just let your dollar sit on your balance and let the lindens draw from that.)

How do you make that kind of money in SL? That is, half a million US a year?

If you sell clothing, lets say outfits for L$400, you have to sell 337.500 sets a year. That is 925 a day, or almost 40 per hour. And that does not cover your tier, which will be a few thousand bucks, because the kind of traffic you need to handle that kind of sale have to be spread on several sims. And not to mention the cost of ads; you need to spend tens of thousands of lindens every week to make it to the top of the search.

And since no women I know will ever buy an outfit worn by 337.499 other women in SL, you have to have, lets say about 350 different outfits, each selling 1000 pieces a year. And btw, you can't expect any outfit to sell much more than a year, fashion moves on, so you need to create at least one new outfit every day.

It's probably more than a full time job, you need a few employees for clothing design, shop design, customer support and so on. This is a big operation!

Or you could make some expensive goods, like the Kama Sutra HUD. The creator claims to have sold 100.000 copies; at L$3750 a piece thats almost USD1.4 million split on a few years. But it takes a lot of creation and marketing skill to come up with such a success. Not many people do, but at least its theoretically possible to manage it on your own.

Some people makes money on land rentals. If you were in the Homestead marked, you may make US$50/month in net profit per sim, IF you have really nice sims and support. Then you would need to have almost 900 sims for rent to make half a million a year.

As these three examples show, its very hard to set up a business doing this kind of money. Which makes me suspect that these avatars are not in the clothing, scripted gadgets or land rental marked. My guess is that they are making money from the business that is powering the web: Sex.

As I understand it, lots of males are very happy to sign off 30 US/month on their CC to watch porn on the net. SL have the added advantage of anonymity; you can pay for your movies and pictures in L$'s.

You actually just need 1400 horny males paying US$30/month to watch the same porn movies also easily available in RL to make halv a million a year. 1400 customers are so much easier to handle than 337.500,-, and you certainly don't need 900 SIMs to handle them either. If 5 percent of your customers are online at any time, you need the capacity to show movies to 70 people at a time, a feat easily handled by lets say 4 sims.

OK, thats my theory. But does it make sense? Is it actually true? Watch this space next week when I hope to do an actual survey of the sex marked in SL, to check if someone has implemented my business idea already:-)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blog Comments and Sexism

2nd Sex: Message From a Second Lie Christian: "Morgan Lavarock"

Lillie Yifu is a renowned blogger, builder and artist. Yes, she is controversial. So what? Most great artists are. But I guess its her uncompromising feminist attitude that bothers men like the one calling himself "Morgan" just now.

He tries to imply that no-one cares about what Lillie writes, based upon the number of comments on her blog. But if the guy behind "Morgan" had ever tried to blog, and actually had managed to attract some readers, he would have known that the ratio between readers and comments are rather large. If I discount those made by close friends, I barely get comments on this blog. But Google Analytics tells me that I actually have a few readers from more than 20 countries.

Yes, I do cherish every comment, perhaps especially from my friends:-) But the truth is, people behaves like me, reading a lot of blogs and seldom commenting upon them. Even if we value them highly.

Back to the core issue: Provocative feminism. The simple truth is that discrimination, harassment and violence towards women is the single biggest problem facing the world today. From Islamic fundamentalists in Afghanistan killing woman out shopping at the marked, and claiming the right to rape their wifes. To government officials in Norway that thinks female nurses should have lower wages and higher pressure at work than male engineers.

All over the world, we find woman working hard to preserve the society, while men are out making war and tearing it down. Sure, the picture is not all that black and white, but the overall trend is undeniable: The world would be a better place if woman ruled.

So, even if one is like "Morgan" and does not bother to be a gentleman for its own sake, its important to state clearly that all human beings should be treated with respect. And asking people for sex in the third sentence is not a sign of respect. Its harassment, and everyone has a right to report that. The fact that someone chooses to explore their second life identity by playing an escort does not change that fact.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Haiti, flags and candles in a Cathedral

I raised the flag of Haiti outside of my store in sympathy with the victims of the earthquake. The flag is available for free for anyone wanting to show that they care.

I also strongly ask you to consider a donation to whatever aid organization you know and trust - mine has just gone to the Norwegian Red Cross. They are currently shipping a field hospital to Port-au-Prince. Also, there are various in-world efforts going on, Jeska Linden has summarized these in her post.

I visited the cathedral in Darkwood mentioned in Jeskas post; it has a nice corner where you can lit a candle and have a moment of peace. My RL is rather hectic at the moment, so I kind of needed that!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

7 of 52 - Breaking Dawn with Vampires

Spent most of the evening reading through Stephenie Meyer's conclusion to the Twilight series: Breaking Dawn. To get in the mood I invited two of my small friends to join me; had to put one of them in a silver cage though as he was just too upset about the behaviour of his Italian relatives, LOL.

I'm a bit ambivalent about these books: For me, they have been real page-turners; It's seldom I am so deeply involved in a book, it compares to the feeling of reading Dan Brows The Da Vinci Code, Philip Pullmans His Dark Materials triologi, and Stephen Kings The Dark Tower series. And I guess that's basically good, even though neither Dan Brown nor Stepenie Meyer matches the other two mentioned authors. The plot is just a little bit simple; the rather overdone romantic relationship a bit over the edge, and there is a fair amount of sexism involved here. But I know I'm not really in the teenage girl group she is probably writing for:-)

I guess books are a bit like music: Lots of hits are easy to like immediately, but the real deep, involving and lasting music takes a bit of work to "get in to". But both can give you good feelings:-)

Excitement, romance and drama apart, there are some very innovative thoughts about the Vampire world as it is described in the books. The author manages to build a kind of believable universe around her characters. And some passages are very well written.

All in all, it made reading more tempting that SL that evening, and that's not a bad thing, really!

ATI Catalyst Update

Catalyst 9.12 is out for Windows and Linux. Seems to me it made a bit of improvement on Hagrid (my overweight laptop), so if you have not upgraded in a while now may be a good time to do it.

Note: If you have a laptop with an ATI Mobility Radeon card, you won't be able to download a workable driver from ATI due to restrictions imposed on them from the hardware vendors. They really wants to redistribute new versions of the drivers themselves. Which sorrily means you will have to wait for a long time for an upgrade (if you ever gets it). Enter Mobility This software will modify a downloaded ATI driver for the desktop GCs, allowing you to install them on your laptop! I have used it successfully on Hagrids 3650 card; highly recommended!

Friday, January 8, 2010

6 of 52: My Predictions for 2010

The oldest house in SL: Governor Lindens Manison in Clementina.

SL has seen lots of progress since the day the first few builds where imported from the Linden World, until todays Zindra and Nascera continents. Just take a close look at that wall: Prims are not aligned at all:-)

The moles would have committed seppuku in their new Japanese village before leaving such a mess.

Lots of people are making predictions for 2010; I thought it would be fun to make my own. Perhaps it will not be equally fun to make a status of them at year end LOL, but at least I'd given it a try:-)

So, my predictions / hopes / ideas / fantasies / fears for 2010:

SL will continue to grow slowly but steadily. No revolution, but a steady evolution.

Large event server
LL will make a "class 6" server commercially available, targeted for big events. Will allow for larger numbers of avatars present (more CPU, higher bandwidth, not necessarily with more prim density, alas).

Live music events will be used as a marketing tool; there will be a sign-up process to allow people to sign up and log in directly to an announced event.

As a part of their steadily move into the SL content marked, LL will begin to host live events themselves, with participations from active groups of residents or from the RL music industry.

Broadcasts from SL events
Already, people are using the normal SL client to combine SL and RL events. LL will put together a streaming technology package that will enable them to produce live video coverage of SL events on the web site.

Land Marked
Linden Homes will make a sizable dent in the low-end rental marked, and the estate marked will also suffer from it. However, growth (increased new user retention) will cover a lot of it.

There will be no full mainland SIM auctions; existing mainland will stay as is, with some small improvements like roads and railways made by the Moles. We might see one more themed continent like Bay City and Nautilus late in the year, or perhaps an extension to Bay, but don't hold your breath.

I still hope for a city-like Linden Home village!

Creating and IP Content Protection
LL will introduce some new creation technology (meshes, script languages, animations, or something else) that will only be available for either verified accounts or (worse) some group of approved solution providers.

I'd love to see the possibility to code directly against the Mono framework using C# or Java, bypassing the LSL compiler altogether, although I think this will only be made available for selected partners (if ever at all).

I hope LL will clean up the LSL environment, fixing well-known bugs and performance problems (like the missing AO events, move_end bug and others), but I do not hope for much.

LL may be forced to implement restrictions on non-verified accounts regarding their possibilities to either upload textures or selling items.

Fun and Games
LL will announce a cooperation with a game creation company that will make games integrated with SL. They will use the media plug-in and possibly other viewer enhancement to shift the load to the client, allowing resident access to high-speed real-time games like car racing or shoot-outs without the limitations that the current grid technology imposes. Part of this content will only be available to premium accounts.

Business and Education
LL will complement it's SL Enterprise "Behind the firewall corporate grid" product with a separate public grid available only for verified corporate accounts. This grid will be targeted to companies not large enough to be willing to spend USD55K on the stand-alone product, but still wants to use the SL technology to host meetings and training sessions in a more "serious" and safe environment than the main grid. As an alternative, they may set up a "business continent" with special restrictions in place for access. Either way, we may see corporate registration in some form, with real name employee avatars connected to the corporate account.

Viewer 2.0
Major changes will include inventory handling, combining landmark and SLUR's into some kind of web-like bookmarks. There will be further restrictions on the development of 3'rd party viewers, to make sure they don't include harassment or IP infringement possibilities.

Web 2.0
Facebook style web with time line, can be updated with pics and notices from in-world. Smart Phone integration. Land marked on Web.

That's it. My head is on the block. Lets see what 2010 really will bring about:-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


Notice anything strange in this pic? As you may or may not have thought about, there are no mirrors in SL. This mirrored floor is actually created artificially, by building mirrored duplicates of the posters (including mirrored textures!) beneath a transparent floor. The idea is just so good, and it's done so incredibly well, that the illusion works perfectly. This ground floor alone is a must-see if you are at all interested in SL building techniques and what is possible to do.

But the rest of the current exhibition in her main gallery is also just as great:

Oops, think I annoyed this guy! Maybe he does like to be fed anyway?

Watch out for these scary Matrix-inspired creations....

Fuschia Nightfire (aka Nina Camplin) has become my all-time favourite artist in SL with her ability to create works that blows away the boundaries of her RL art (murals) and show what an incredible medium a virtual world can be.

If you have not seen her art yet, get off that dance ball and take this tour!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my readers, friends and customers! I celebrated by setting up some flags from the countries where I have friends and readers (that is, readers in plural, not just one...); quite a few actually! They are on sale here for L$20 if anyone wants them; nothing fancy but I made sure the proportions are correct: Many flags are in the 1:2 format, but there are lots of exceptions: The Finish flag is 11:18, the French is 2:3, the German 3:5; not to mention Brazil (7:10) and "Danebrog", the Danish flag (28:37, no less!).

I have no special resoltions this year other than to try my best to live both my lives in such a way that other people will be glad that I exist. If I can do that I don't have to sell 10 flags a day to be happy:-)