Thursday, 27 September 2007

The VAT isn't virtual

If Benjamin Franklin had known about Second Life he'd have probably said something like, "In this virtual world nothing is certain but death and taxes". And until now, he'd have been wrong on both counts. Unfortunately, the tax-man cometh...

From Linden Lab to yours truly:

Hello, Art Fossett.

We have identified that you reside in a European country. Accordingly, your next bill will reflect Value Added Tax (VAT) charged at the rate specified by your country. Please note that VAT applies to all payments to Linden Lab such as land sales, monthly maintenance fees and Premium subscription fees.


Thursday, 13 September 2007

Pictures from Serious Virtual Worlds '07

My in-world pictures from the Serious Virtual Worls '07 conference are available on Flickr.


I've not seen fireworks in Second Life before but the ones used at the opening of Coventry Island this evening were impressive.

I want some.

The importance of facial animation

Interesting talk by John Burwell of Forterra Inc this morning at the Serious Virtual Worlds 07 conference in Coventry. He demonstrated their virtual world platform, the same platform used to deliver (or a development of it I think), showing its use to train people for disaster recovery scenarios.

The interesting thing for me though was the addition of detailed facial animation to avatars so that the face animates while speaking. This appeared, at least via video, to make voice a much more engaging experience than it is currently in Second Life.

It'll be interesting to see if (or when) this kind of feature gets added to Second Life. I hope so.

Sent to Coventry

Here's my unofficial t-shirt for the Serious Virtual Worlds '07 Conference :-)

Getting serious

The Serious Virtual Worlds '07 conference starts today in Coventry with an academic track culminating in the launch of the Coventry University island at 5.00pm this evening (UK time).

Presentations from the conference are currently being streamed into the Serious Games Institute (SGI) building on the island.

Luckily permissions in the SGI building are open enough that I could build my own seat while I was listening! :-)

I couldn't find an agreed tag for this conference so I'm using 'svw07'.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Google trends shows slight dip in SL hype

Google Trends appears to be showing a slight reduction in the use of second life as a search term and a similar dip in the number of appearances it is making in the news.

This is no bad thing and it is probably time there was a little cooling in the level of hype around Second Life.

Monday, 10 September 2007

NPR: Go Get a (Virtual) Life

Jeremy Kemp highlighted a new podcast/radio show from NPR about virtual worlds in a recent message to the SLED list.

This is well worth listening to.

The show is a discussion between Dmitri Williams (Annenberg School, Annenberg Program in Online Communities, University of Southern California), Cory Ondrejka (co-founder and chief technology officer, Linden Lab, San Francisco, Ca.), Sherry Turkle (director, MIT Initiative on Technology and Self Program in Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and the show's host Ira Flatow.

Topics discussed range from the psychology of virtual worlds, future directions for the technology, and efforts to use online communities to learn more about real-life human behavior.

As Jeremy notes:
Linden Lab's CTO Corey "Black Wednesday" Ondrejka answers a question about improvements in the pipeline for educators. (FF to 18mins) The changes he highlights are:
1) Leveraging community for development (ie. open sourcing)
2) Better interoperability with the Web
3) Content sharing with other MMOs
The show lasts about 50 minutes.

Standing stones

On top of one of the hills on Emerge Island I've discovered six standing stones, weathered and no longer standing straight.

Legend has it that the ancient Emerge shamans believed that if all the stones were sat on at the same time, their true colors would appear.

In all probability, it is these stones that form the basis for the logo of the JISC Emerge project.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Emerge t-shirt

I've been doing a lot of building on the new Emerge Island recently, including a wooded area, an island TV room, a set of Emerge 'tag' balls and various other stuff. More on this later...

For anyone that is interested in such things, I've put a very simple Emerge t-shirt in a box on the platform at the south-west corner of the island.

Yours for the bargain price of L$0.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Another small step on the path to openness?

Reuters gives us a glimpse of what DeepGrid, an open source alternative to the currently closed SL server code, looks like.

This feels like potentially big news... not necessarily because OpenSim, the software used to build the alternative grid of servers that can be visited using the standard SL client, is a long term proposition. It may or may not be. But because it represents the removal of another brick in the wall that keeps Linden Lab's Second Life closed and proprietary.

It'll be interesting to see how this story develops.

Script me!

The Script me! tool provides a very simple Web-based interface for creating LSL scripts.
This site will help you create scripts for your Second Life objects. These scripts allow you to add interactive elements to your builds without knowing how to code. All of the script are released under a creative commons license, which means that you can use them freely!
The tool asks a couple of simple questions to find out what you want your objects to do, then generates the necessary LSL code. Neat. OK, the options aren't comprehensive... but it's a good start and could probably be improved to allow more options without spoiling the simplicity of the tool.

SL breaks 50,000 mark

Reuters reports that SL has broken the 50,000 concurrent users barrier. One presumes that this is not just the result of additional demand but also indicates an improved capability in the grid.
The login concurrency passed 50,000 at 1:25PM SLT (US Pacific) and remained above 50,000 until approximately 2:10PM.
That's about 9:00 to 10:00pm UK time.