Thursday, February 25, 2010

13 of 52 - Send in the Clowns

Four of the olympic games last amateurs are ready for the final against Canada, and that's really cool. Yes, it's a joy to watch the girls win the cross country skiing relay, but somehow the taste is a bit dry in the mouth, because we know the size of the support organization behind it, and all the money spent just to gain those few extra seconds to get a medal. Our clowns had to pay for their own trousers:-)

Viewer 2.0's tight http/media integration promises great possibilities. But to really make use of those you actually have to have access to a web server. And you need a server that is running 24/7, communicating with your vendors or whatever gadgets you use in your store.

Even worse, if you plan to sell anything with an HTML-based GUI or HUD, the end user of your products will be dependent on you keeping that web server running. If you make a glitch, the great menu driven bed with HTML HUD you sold a lot of may die under their naked avatar skins - just imagine how popular that will make you:-)

In short, any product that is dependent on an external server is no longer a self-contained product in-world, but more of a service. This has two implications:

  • A service should not be sold as a product with the customer expectations that it should run inside SL forever. Instead, it should be licensed as a service with periodic payment to cover your hosting costs. That's the only fair way to treat the buyers of your products.
  • A larger percentage of SL's gross products will be services, instead of ever-lasting products. This will counter the problems of ever-lasting items that is slowing down the economy (if you perceive that as a problem)
Finally, since a lot of the best products will actually be externally hosted services, it will be even harder for amateurs to compete in SL. Just as it is in the olympics. A lot of us will avoid establishing a responsibility to run servers for our in-world customers, leaving those markets to the professionals.

I do wish that LL would start a kind of hosting program for HTML pages and images; they do host our textures now, why should they not host our media based content based on the same model: Pay once for the upload, LL provides the hosting for the common good of all SL inhabitants. I guess the answer is simple: LL really would prefer most content to be sold by professionals. They no longer care for our world - our imagination. Sad.

But I guess in the end, a clever SL amateur creator with a good idea may still succeed in this world - just as our guys in their genius idea of an outfit. So please: Send in the clowns!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Some Viewer 2.0 concerns

Seems the new viewer will not be open source - only SnowGlobe will be that, and as of yet we do not know how much SnowGlobe 2.0 will differ from Viewer 2.0.

Anyway, seems that the Lab is now tightening its grip on the viewer marked, perhaps in an effort to take back control of the development of the viewer. 3-rd party viewers like Emerald has become popular with new features not supported in the official viewers, and some of them, like the new attachment points means that users of the official viewer may see less of an avatar than users of Emerald. Having external project making these kinds of architecture decisions if of coerce unacceptable for the lab.

And where is the Statistics bar? Have they removed it from the viewer, making it an "advanced SnowGlobe user option" only? hmmm that I don't like.

Second Second Life? SL Viewer 2.0 is here!

I was just checking my account on the SL web page when I noticed the banner advertising the much-heralded Viewer 2.0. Downloaded, eager to check weather this would be the end of the world as we know it.

When logging in, the first thing I noticed was that the entire window was covered with panels LOL. After getting rid of a few, I got a screen like the one above.

There are lots of nice new features here; I particularily loved not having to click off all the blue group screen messages when logged in; they are available in a pop-up menu at the bottom.

Notice the navigational bar at top, making the view a bit like a web browser. One can click the Back button to TP to the previous TP location, and forward works too! And, a row of buttons, just like the Firefox navigational bar elimenates the need to sort through your inventory when moving around to your most-visited places. Does not seem possible to drop a folder there though, to get sub menus aka Firefox.

Lots of information is showing in the various dialogs, without the need to open new windows. And when I opened a message informing me of someone giving me an item, I could click on the name of the item and the inventory would open on that item!

The interface will take a bit getting used to, but for now I must say I really like the main ideas. Do have a try!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tipping the cow

I called Joonie; she was busy supporting Maximillion Kleene, who was having a concert at Gos. She TP'ed me over, and I'm glad she did. Max has a very sweet and involing voice, and I felt involved at once. No wonder there where 52 people at the show.

How do you describe a voice? It's really hard, because it was like it touched a nerve inside my neck; hitting some pleasure center in the brain that few singers finds.

No, the cow at the front of the stage did not sing. She was happy to receive tips however; falling over everytime someone showered Max with their lindens. I am more unsure about the function of the rubber duck; somehow I think that I don't want to know!

Gos is someone's mainstore; I have no idea what that someone is selling here, but the stage was nice so it might be good:-)

All in all, a great evening!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

12 of 52 - Gallery visit

I am a long-time fan of the art of Fuschia Nightfire (flickr, SL Facebook) in SL. So when I got a group message about a new exhibit of hers in Shamen Galleries, I just had to go look at it.

This time, she has made incredibly beautiful sculpt-based sculptures (sic), and sell them both as sculptures and pictures of sculptures. On first sighting I just saw the pictures (the models are outside LOL), and I was convinced she had made them by using avatar with poses and various skins. But next time I visited I looked around in the garden and saw the originals... omg, what a great work of art!

But this gallery holds a lot more. In fact, it's been a while since I have visited such a varied and high-quality exhibit anywhere. This incredible statue by CHUCKMATRIX Clip for instance (who sadly says in his profile that he's left SL).

If you have 222-odd free prims and three thousand L$ you too could have this piece in your hall

Some very colourful and exciting works

After a few visits here my living room is kind of "flowing over", I need more space for my art. Luxury problem I guess, maybe I should get a Linden home too?

Yeah, I know, I am probably not supposed to sit on the whip, but it was just too tempting:-)

I briefly met with Cierra Loxely and Rune Shamen who runs this gallery; they where both very welcoming and knowledgeable. (As for the welcoming bit: I find it a bit sad that as a visitor to various places one usually never gets as much attention as one does in the SL red light district; Shamen Galleries was a welcoming exception to this!).

And they have a nice coach for a tired blogger too:-)

Do take the time to visit this place. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dominos in Old York!

I was working a little with my booth in Old York when Roland Francis, the creator and owner of the city, came by. He seemed to like my dominoes; he actually bought a set and started to fill the open space with bricks. They will be standing there for demo purposes for a week now; I hope people will like them:-)

We got help from an attractive girl in gorgeous white leather boots to test the cannon; it worked fine, but when asked "what is this?" I really had problems knowing what to call it. A game? A decoration? A toy? Any suggestions appreciated!

Anyway, the bricks are now available in Old York, in my shop and on xstreetsl.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Updated: Carriage ride through Old York

RL work being crazily busy these weeks, I barely had time to pop into SL yesterday to pay tier for my small booth in Old York. (some of you know my history in this beautiful city goes a long way back; I opened up my first photo gallery there more than 2 years ago... ah, those old happy memories!)

Anyway, outside I met a nice horse that offered me a "free" carriage ride around the city. Sounded fun enough, so I got seated and had a few laughing moments of being guided through the streets and the forest.

Very unfortunately, I forgot to note down the name of this fun-loving SL-er playing horse for tips :-(

Anyway, so long, and thanks for a very nice ride!

Update: Fortunately, being the generous passenger I am, I did feed the horse some Linden love, and since that shows on the transaction history, I can tell you that the name of this great avatar is Cathartes Medina.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

11 of 52 - Temple Obscurum

Got on SL the other day, not really knowing what to do, so I just opened up the Showcase window. The title Temple Obscurum cathced my eyes, so I decided to have a look (Taxi here).

Apart from a real coolish blue look, and lots of dreamy details, there are a few dogs or wolfs roaming around:

Luckily, they seemed peaceful enough, but I guess they did contribute the lag of the place.

The scenery was beautiful, but all the moving textures and scripted items made a lag that somehow took away the fun of exploring, at least for me.

I ended up walking in the river because I constantly fell off the narrow bridges:-)

Outside, the whole place is covered by green tree-top like sculpted mega-prims, really nicely done.

The pics does not do the beauty of the place justice (as perhaps did not my laptop), so go have a look for yourselves if you need a blue dreamy place:-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Celebrating Nelson Mandela

"During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to the struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

20 years ago today, February 11th, 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of the prison doors after 27 years of imprisonment. His life-long fight against apartheid in South Africa had succeeded, to the point where the regime chose to give in to the international pressure.

No doubt, Mandela is a strong man, and while he has advocated non-violence in his early struggles, he was no stranger to the use of force to make his beliefs come true. What truly sets him apart is his lack of bitterness after all the years of personal imprisonment and inhumane treatment under an oppressive regime.

During this last 20 years he has advocated strongly for a policy of forgiving and reconciliation. In 1993 he was awarded the Nobel Peace price together with the apartheid leader that was responsible for the release, and was elected President of South Africa in the first free election in the country.

If only the world had more leaders like him :-(

Sunday, February 7, 2010

HiRez SL

I usually run SL on "mid-class" hardware, that is normally powered computers with decent, but not top-of-the-line graphics cards. This weekend I got the opportunity to test SL on a friends "gamer computer" (he's a WoW addict, LOL), and that was a real eye-opening experience. Walking around the world with graphics all set on max, and still have 30fps, the Apollo Sims looked even more beautiful than I can remember them.

Still, things took a long time to rez, but I guess it's just that loading every prim within 512m range takes a while, even with the 1Mb network speed I got on the server connection.

The images are high-rez, click on them to view the full detail.

Fae in the woods?

Out running today, I got a strange glimpse of the ripple effects between universes - and this time I did not hit my head :-)

She did look kind of sad and cold and lonley, so I tried to cheer her up, but somehow she just disappeared, singing something about a football game going on tonight.....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

10 of 52 - Looking for some fun, Mister? XXX!

When I saw the numbers for 2009, showing that residents took out more than US$50 million from SL last year, I started wondring how much of that was actual revenue for true SL products. Could it be that a lot of this money really was spent on RL sex related products and services, merely using SL as a convenient payment solution?

With that in mind, I set out to explore the red light districts of SL.

The Sex marked in SL is large, but for the purpose of this post I will divide it in three:

1. Sale of scripted gadgets (sexual organs, animations and beds, inworld video streaming)
2. Inworld escorting, including voice
3. Web cam escorting and porn distribution, where you pay in SL but the product is actually outside of SL (Skype, MSN, video download)

The first 2 categoryes I think of as being true SL products and services. The last category is merely using SL as a cash register.

1. Scripted gadgets
It seems to me that sex gadgets are the only items people are willing to fork out several thousand of lindens on. 1000 linden for a penis, 4000 for a decent bed or HUD. I am quite sure that several of the top 50 are creators of such items.

2. Escorting, club dancing
Lots of clubs, and lots of avatars doing SL-only escorting. 399 hits on "escort" in search. When I talked to some of the girls, it was clear that the competition was fierce, and there was no abundance of customers. I get the feeling that this is a game for a lot of people; they don't do escorting merely for the easy money, but also for the fun of it. Sure, I have not covered it all, I am sure some do good money on this business too, but the extent of this was not my major concern here.

3. Web cam escorting and porn distribution
First, I went looking for simple RL porn movies. Did not find too much, and what I did find did not seem to be any gold mines:

Icarus video player: For L$495 you get 1500 adult videos, with a promise that new ones will be added to your set each month.

At SLDVDs you can rent movies to play inside SL, or just use SL to buy movie files that downloads to your computer. They charge L$1250, or about USD5. Traffic was less than impressive though.

So, it seems porn is not really big in SL. What about webcam escorting?

According to BBC, the webcam sex marked is worth more than 550 million USD/year, that is 10 times as much as the total income from ALL SL businesses. A quick search using Google reveals an endless stream of pages, all offering a peek at girls undressing and performing live on camera.

This is also advertised in SL. 15 minutes of web cam is about L$8000, give or take, or USD30. That also seems to be the going rate for the same services bought on the web.

You have to organize 45 such sessions a day to get 500.000 USD out of SL. Now, a search in SL for webcam services resulted in a meagre 19 hits. Some of those was not web cam related, and 2 of them was just single girl operations. When I landed at places advertising web cam girls, I found that more that half of the escorts was NOT doing web cam. (A few offered reverse webcam though; a concept I do not quite get: You pay them to look at YOU, not the other way around LOL. Not my turn-on I guess).

Anyway, after spending a few hours searching for the more doubious places in SL the last 2 weeks, I have to say I am releived. The big part of commercial SLex activities are just that: SLex. Our virtual world is still mostly virtual, and that's a comforting thought (at least for me:-).

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Experience Italy

Jayn called me over to the Experience Italy estate. It is a kind of a tour through various exhibits in interconnected skyboxes. Start here. (There is an italian web site).

The various chambers are lovely decorated, and makes me stop to wonder how beautiful SL can be! The photos really do not do the experience justice.

The walls of the chambers are half transparent from the outside, solid from the inside.

Gorgeous light effects in the corridors.

Particle effects and floating text are used througout.

Be careful when you walk around; if you miss the portals with the bridges, you fall down to the mall on the ground, and that is not as grand:-)

Micalita Writer (beware, italian blog!) has done a great job with this one!