My Five Things

Monday, February 28, 2011 Monday, February 28, 2011

No, I'm not dead. Just been busy elsewhere, that's all.
 
What brings me back? I read a great piece by my friend Mitch Wagner, who listed five hypothetical actions he'd take to revive Second Life if he were in charge. Well, Mitch isn't in charge, so they might not get done. I'm not in charge either, but that won't stop me from listing my five actions.
 
Choosing five actions should be done carefully, as Linden Lab's Second Life grid is at a turning point. Will it grow? Will it implode? Or shut down? I think it's possible to recover at least some level of growth, if the right combination of actions are undertaken and successful. Here's my thoughts:
 
Increased sim capacity. One of the biggest issues, I believe, is the extremely low capacity of each sim. For all practical purposes, a sim really can't hold much more than 40 avatars before things go south. Sure, the sim itself can run well at that level (usually), but rendering by avatar's PCs begins to break down and pretty soon you're looking at a lot of sloth-like grey shapes.
 
This problem is insidious because I think it's at the root of many other problems. For example, if more people could exist in a sim, there could be fewer (and denser) sims. The per-avatar support cost could go down. This could (ideally) mean lower rates for tier and rent and more businesses could survive. If capacities were high enough, it might become possible for true large-scale virtual events to take place. Today it's just not possible to stage such events as your live audience tops out at 60 (or 200 if you use multiple sims). What could you do if you could bring in 1,000 - or 10,000? Marketing SL would be quite different.

Solving the capacity issue will be very difficult, since there are fundamental issues, not the least of which is that all scenes and information must be downloaded from LL's servers. I think there may be different ways to think about the problem that could address the situation. For example, as capacity increased, perhaps rendering accuracy could decrease - instead of trying to render a scene to an impossible accuracy, just render what you can without resorting to grey shapes. Some of this is done already, but we should be much more aggressive.

Search that works. Let's face it: it's pretty much impossible to reliably find anything in SL these days. My own business has been crippled by this, as have many others. I suspect that the "act of finding" things now has basically degenerated into various forms of word of mouth. That's why you see certain shops growing and others dying - no one can easily find anything other than a small set of familiar stores. Capacity gets at the amount of time required to use SL effectively. Activities take MUCH longer to do if you can't find things. I would fix search, classifieds, landmarks, and perhaps introduce new mechanisms for finding things since all of the above aren't very good anyway.
  
Console version. You want more residents? Why not produce a version of the SL viewer for XBox, Wii and PS/3? There are tons of such machines with many tens of millions of people using them. If you were to combine a small set of great ready-to-go in-world experiences with a simplified consume-only viewer & set of instant avatars for consoles, you might dramatically raise the resident population. Of course, a sim capacity increase would help this a lot, too. Some of those consume-only console users might even graduate to become full-fledged creators in the future.

Communication That Works. I used to like viewer 2, mainly because it attempted to simplify things. However, the more I use it, the less I like it. In particular, the messaging system is almost unusable and highly confusing - notifications pop up all over and seem to make little sense. Between voice, IM, text chat, emails, group chat, notifications, broadcast messages, etc., it's far too confusing to easily communicate. I think the entire communication system needs a serious rethink and simplification.
 
Rebranding. I really hate to say this, but it's probably time to reboot SL - the brand. For some time now, "Second Life" has gained a poor reputation among the general public. It's undeserved, of course, but I can't tell you the number of times I mention "Second Life" and immediately hear the words "Naked Avatars" right back. That perception just kills off many possibilities even before they are properly considered. Current residents may think otherwise, but I think at least a few people are scared off and never even consider SL because of this. What to do? A new brand is required, with a new and improved reputation. And it wouldn't hurt to fix up the points above at the same time.

So that's what I would consider if I were in charge.

But alas, I am not in charge. I'm also not dead yet. Peace to all.

Second Life and Blogging Doldrums

Sunday, January 9, 2011 Sunday, January 09, 2011

You may have noticed I haven't posted anything in a while. Am I dead? Nope. Busy? Maybe. Less interested? Um, yeah, I think so.

I haven't posted because I simply haven't felt I had anything useful to say. Sure, I could comment on the latest party or event, but that's just not meaningful enough for a post, for me, anyway.
 
I was wondering why that is so.

The fact is, SL seems to be slowing down lately in some respects. I've noticed several friends fade away, or others tone down their SL existence for reasons unknown. Many businesses have closed or shrunk.  I've been fading a bit too. Perhaps it's just part of the Two-Year Effect? It's been over four years for me so far; maybe I'm overdue?

And it's not just the SL in world community, either. Linden Lab has dropped numerous staffers, strangely including most of the management level. Since the departure of M Linden, there haven't been any significant strategic moves - largely because interim CEO Philip really hasn't been playing the role, other than perhaps focusing on finding his own replacement. Indeed, when we spoke to Philip in person in Boston at SLCC it was shocking to hear that he hadn't signed into SL for four months. I'd be surprised if he's been in world very much since that time.

So now we learn of a new CEO to take over from Philip later this January. When you think about it, it's an excellent time to get fresh leadership in: largely clean management ranks, stagnant user base, poor media reception and of course, cranky residents. There's no where to go but up.

I really don't have any idea where new CEO Rod Humble will take Second Life, but I do know one thing: it must be a different place than where it's been. Current approaches have largely failed, in my opinion. What, you say things are not so bad? Maybe, but when you compare SL's progress opposite many other online services, which have grown hugely and continue to grow while SL seems to have plateaued. Maybe it's the poor scalability, or the heavy hardware requirements, or perhaps virtual worlds are just too complicated for most people.
 
If I was an investor in Linden Lab, I'd be seeking a new strategy to protect my investment. I'd do that by getting a new CEO with fresh ideas. They've already done this once, with M Linden - but as we know, that particular strategy failed and they had to start over.

Expect many different things to happen once the new CEO gets settled, probably starting later this spring.

The Coral Reef: It’s Alive

Sunday, November 7, 2010 Sunday, November 07, 2010

I don’t know why I haven’t written about this, but I guess I should tell you about something special I’ve worked on a few months ago. My team and I have completed construction of a lifelike virtual coral reef on contract from well-known SL entrepreneur Veritas Raymaker. Veritas, if you don’t know him, is perhaps the most polite person in the known universe. He’s been putting together a rather interesting series of educational displays on Praxis island.

Our build is actually hidden underwater in an air-tight platform from which you can observe the coral reef. But it’s more than that - the display is organized into several interactive displays, each describing and showing you how coral reefs can be damaged. The displays take you through a short sequence explaining the issue in chat, as well as demonstrating the effect for you to observe directly.

The build illustrates several real environmental factors that can affect the health of the world’s coral reefs: climate change, pollution, eutrophication, over fishing and sedimentation. Each of these effects are actually in play today in our planet’s coral reefs, and from the platform you’ll be able to see exactly how they affect coral ecosystems.

There is a separate station for each of the environmental factors, each with a dedicated observation bubble through which you can see a lively coral reef, complete with colorful corals, algae, bubbles and some of the most amazingly realistic fish you’ll ever see in SL.

To visit the underwater platform, you’ll have to teleport to Praxis, a truly beautiful sim where Raymaker has organized a variety of environmental displays. Follow the paths down to the dock - you won’t see the reef or the platform, as they are completely submerged. A the end of the dock, you’ll see a teleporter that takes you underneath the waves directly to the platform where you can engage the interactive displays. Start at station one by touching the display and reading the text. Be sure to look out the observation bubbles to see the coral reef die as the effects take hold.

The reef build was a team effort, made by the new Construction Division of Electric Pixels. Scripting and Sculpting was done by the very capable Thickbrick Sleaford, who by the way is available for complex contract scripting work through Vermont Enterprises;  Design, storyline, signage and particles was done by myself; Quality control and testing by Haley Salomon. If you’re looking for someone to help you produce an amazing display, please consider Electric Pixels - Construction Division.


One catch: in order to receive the full immersive experience, you should turn on particles in your graphics settings and also turn up your sound. Give it a moment to load, especially if you have a less-than-new PC. Here's a direct link to the start of the display at a dock near the underwater platform. Enjoy!

It’s Halloween Again

Sunday, October 3, 2010 Sunday, October 03, 2010

Each year at this time in SL everyone does something special to celebrate Halloween. I’m not sure if it’s a secret urge to get back to childhood, or a way to take your virtual appearance to the ultimate level, but nevertheless everyone will be costumed up. Things will soon be a lot scarier. 

I make several scary items you might find appropriate to spook up your SL Halloween. Why not drop by Electric Pixels? Here are some of my gadgets that are most appropriate for Halloween:
Blood Spurter - an absolutely gross effect that intermittently spurts a realistic stream of blood from your carotid artery! Use this one only if you’re not squeamish.
The CandyGiver - lets you select a nearby avatar and throw streams of calorie-laden chocolate bars at them.
Blood Dripper - You just finished sawing up your most recent victim, and your arms and chest are dripping blood. These drippers can be placed anywhere you like to make your axe-murdering persona just a bit more real. 
Bat Hair Day - Tiny bats swarm around your head, making you look spooky. Well, maybe not spooky but it’s cool anyway! It’s not hair, just bats. Only bats!
Cloud Vampire - Look up! You’ll see a vast menacing cloud, colored blood red. 
Demon Breath - You exhale a very demonic red breath every seven seconds. Shiver!
Demon Haze - Be surrounded by a very subtle reddish haze; set the mood to EVIL. 
FloorFog Vampire - Equip your dark castle with a very creepy black and blood red ground fog that makes things seem seven times more scary!
VampireFog - Take your Vampire-like red and black fog with you to the dance floor with this scary effect!

BatMaker Thick - Just a touch from you creates a massive cloud of dangerous bats for 60m nearby. Watch out!

OnFire - Brighten up your Halloween event by Lighting Yourself On Fire! 
And that’s not all; there's many more of these very different and well-behaved particle effects. Be sure to try out the demonstrations at Electric Pixels when you visit. Hint: they’re near the coffin.  

Viewers, Viewers, Viewers: A Way Out of This Mess

Sunday, September 5, 2010 Sunday, September 05, 2010

Readers may have noticed controversies and discussions over Second Life viewer software in recent weeks and months. In some cases scandal, in others too much change, still others are simply inoperable in many situations. A constant question is, "which viewer should I use". There have been many answers - as many as there are viewers. Clearly there's lots of opinions and few are satisfied.

Meanwhile, new users continue to have challenges learning the environment. Let's face it: SL and 3D worlds are quite a different experience and it takes time for people to get accustomed to using them. Linden Lab knows this, since we've observed them trying to address that problem by deploying the controversial Viewer 2.0.

Viewer 2.0 seems to work for some, and yet not for others. Why is this so?

I've thought this for a long time now, and I'll say it again: there are two different audiences making use of viewers. First there's the new residents, who are frequently confused by the complexity of the interface, give up and never return, and the experienced existing residents, who yearn for more function to customize or simplify their sophisticated virtual existence.

Here's the problem we've been having all along: we're trying to service two entirely different audiences with a single viewer. Hence, Linden Lab creates Viewer 2.0, which includes features designed to simplify life for new residents, while still trying to address the needs of experienced residents. In my opinion, it didn't go nearly far enough in the simplicity direction for new residents. In the opinion of many long-time residents, Viewer 2.0 confused their operations and made their complex virtual lives more difficult. Viewer 2.0 missed the mark for both audiences.

While Viewer 2.0 marginally improved the experience for new residents, it was rejected by a great many experienced residents, a vast number of whom fled to use a variety of third party viewers. Unfortunately, one of the major third party viewers ran into issues and many residents now scramble to find an alternate viewer - and many of them wouldn't consider Linden Lab's Viewer 2.0.

I've seen situations like this before many times in real life, and a good solution approach is to realize the root cause and directly address it. In this case the root cause of viewer difficulties is that there are two audiences that have very different requirements. Thus, the answer is quite simple: we need Two Viewers, one greatly simplified suitable for stark newbies devoid of advanced and confusing features, and the other a more complex viewer filled with all the features one could imagine.

Of course, the challenge will be that Linden Lab is able to muster resources only sufficient to support one viewer. Right now, their efforts try to do it all for everyone, addressing both audiences but in fact doing so in a less than optimal manner.

Here's my proposal to make life a lot easier for everyone: Linden Lab should abandon development of the advanced viewer entirely and leave it to evolve independently by third parties through open source approaches. Publish and maintain a secure specification for accessing the grid and the underlying open source code, and let others do the job of building advanced viewers. This has worked in the world of web browsers and many other environments; why not here too? To some extent, we've already seen this happening, albeit somewhat placed in shadow by Linden Lab's highly visible Viewer 2.0, often selected by residents simply because Linden Lab made it. But imagine how well these third party viewers could advance if they weren't competing against Linden Lab's viewers?

Meanwhile, Linden Lab could then focus efforts on a truly simplified viewer specifically designed for new residents, one that could actually achieve the vision of "five minutes and you're in" that really has no chance of happening in Viewer 2.0. Consider how well they might do if they didn't have to worry about including all the features required by existing residents. New users could "graduate" to one of the more advanced viewers when they feel confident enough to do so.

Let's make things simpler for everyone. Linden Lab desperately needs a simplified viewer; Residents want (and have proven they can make) an advanced viewer. For me, two viewers is the obvious solution. What do you think?

The Emerald Implosion

Monday, August 23, 2010 Monday, August 23, 2010

If you’ve been reading any SL blogs lately, you’ve probably come across the incredible events surrounding the famous (or infamous) Emerald Viewer. Resignations, reformations, scandals, possible criminal acts and other mayhem ensued throughout the week. I’m not going to detail any of that stuff; it’s been well-covered elsewhere.

Instead, I am going to bring forward my thoughts on how it came to this. There’s definitely reasons why this week’s implosion occurred, and why it may not happen again. All these events are connected at a very high level.

But let’s start at the beginning.

We have a certain company, Linden Lab, who market a very unusual product: Second Life. This product is amazing, but it is also a very complex thing to deal with. In fact, it’s so complex that no one really knows how it should be set up.

The product, SL, is so complex that while it is amazing, relatively few people from the public are able to manage to successfully use it and stay using it. Everyone uses the standard viewer through which everyone experiences the product.

Advanced SL residents grow to want more from the viewer, as they’ve managed to learn many things about the environment, well beyond the basics. But they’re frustrated because they have only one option.

The Lab recognizes this need and responds by open sourcing the viewer code. They hope that the community will adopt the freely available viewer code to develop the advanced features that it wants, while leaving the Lab to put their limited resources against other problems and ventures.

The Lab focuses on growth. They believe that to attract more residents, they need to somehow simplify the experience so that it doesn’t scare people away. Indeed, the survival rate for new signups is abysmally low, perhaps as low as 1%. One of their simplification strategies is a less complex viewer. They begin a project to develop this new simplified viewer.

Several groups adopt the open sourced viewer code and begin tinkering. Some happen to be professional or near-professional developers, but others are not. Hackers and griefers also take a stab at making their own viewers - sometimes for nefarious purposes. A variety of viewer options emerge, all with differing features, support, release schedules and reliability. Some residents try them and begin to have opinions on their favorites, usually based on their particular needs.

One third party viewer (TPV), Emerald, becomes somewhat more popular than others, perhaps based on its frequent release of interesting and unusual features. This viewer is in fact the opposite of the Lab’s work: it’s a complex viewer including *more* features, not fewer. But these features are well-received by many long time residents in the community.

With popularity, more information comes to the surface about Emerald and the folks behind it. It turns out that several of them have known histories as griefers, some being suspended from SL in the past. It is further discovered that mysterious encrypted information is being sent from the viewer to Emerald’s server. The Emerald team does not reveal their real identities, thus making it very difficult to ascertain their level of responsibility.

Aside: it was at this point I concluded it was too risky (at least for me) to continue to use Emerald. Code written by anonymous former griefers, known to be sending unknown information to parts unknown, was simply too suspicious. I, and several others, deleted Emerald from our systems and changed our passwords in case they had been somehow recorded by Emerald. I feared an incident of some kind would occur at some point in the future and didn’t want to be part of it.

The Lab releases their new, simplified viewer: Viewer 2.0. Amidst fanfare, V2.0 included features intended to simplify things for new residents, but for existing residents it was too different, too simple and worse, beset with annoying bugs.

Viewer 2.0 becomes the default viewer - but because it doesn’t match resident’s needs, they flock to alternatives. Which one should they choose? Emerald was the most popular of the TPVs, and it’s usage grew significantly. Legitimate developers join the Emerald team, and it continued to be improved with additional features. Emerald gained many supporters as residents tune into its unique features.

Suddenly, there’s an incident.
 
The Emerald home screen was modified by one of its developers to perform an attack on a rival site, thus using the computers of all Emerald users for this activity. Poor judgement? Yes, indeed! Just as I had lost trust in Emerald months earlier, this incident resulted in a loss of trust by many former Emerald supporters. In fact, Linden Lab removed Emerald from its official list of TPVs.

The Emerald team breaks apart due to the incident and its aftermath, but reforms under new, hopefully more professional management. Time will tell if this is so, as trust is easy to lose but very hard to gain. Good luck to the new team!

But both problems still remain: existing residents need an advanced viewer and new residents need a basic, simplified viewer. Neither group is adequately served today, and Linden Lab needs to develop a strategy to address this critical issue before they will begin growing again.

SLCC 2010: The Resurrection

Thursday, August 19, 2010 Thursday, August 19, 2010

It was with great nervousness did I watch the unfolding of 2010’s Second Life Community Convention earlier this year. I had attended two previous instances of this famous event, 2008 in Tampa and 2009 in San Francisco. The 2009 event was announced rather late in the cycle, leaving little time for presenters and attendees to get organized. It nevertheless took place, fun was had by attendees, but the convention’s sessions and organization were not exactly optimal.

Meanwhile, this year’s event almost never happened.

Weeks passed, with no announcements of any kind regarding the 2010 event. Like those who attended previous events, I was looking forward to attending and meeting up with virtual friends. But no announcements. Was there even going to be an event at all?

By March I had personally concluded that it must be over. There is no way a major convention can be organized in such a short time, particularly by SLCC’s previous organizational track record. Saddened, I wondered how this would play out. How would the SL community go forward without a foundational event around which we can come together?

Worse news: Linden Lab suddenly revealed massive staff layoffs and a vague change in direction. The Linden Dollar significantly slipped in value for the first time in eons. Both the annual convention and Linden Lab itself appeared vulnerable and perhaps even in jeopardy.


Amazingly, SLCC 2010’s date and location were announced only weeks before the actual event. This is incomprehensible as far as event planning goes; there is no way you can expect to have a successful convention with only a few weeks notice. Nevertheless, to support the community I registered immediately, not knowing what would happen.

I arrived in Boston a day early and learned the dramatic sequence of events: The previous SLCC’s were run by “The Future United”, a group which earlier this year folded when the last board member admitted they could not put on the convention. It was at that moment that concerned and leading residents put together a plan to save SLCC: the new body, AvaCon, formed and then began lengthy negotiations with the Lindens to secure the licenses to put on the official convention. Only after these documents were signed could AvaCon announce dates and location - and then they had only eight weeks to put it all together for real.

And they did, truly magnificently. I’ve attended many conferences and this one was run as well as any. The sessions were interesting and well planned; the hotel was near-perfect for this event (especially the blazing fast and free WiFi network); the off-hours events were terrific; the logistics, program, badges were better than any previous SLCC I’d attended. I give my highest compliments to the New SLCC organizing team, led by she-of-no-rest uberorganizer Fleep Tuque, for doing an impossible job in an impossible time.

As for SLCC 2010 itself, I remember it as a series of moments:


Gwampu Lomu singing with the totally awesome Tamra Sands. Well, at least he sung the last note of the song, anyway. Tamra is a far better singer than Gwampa.

Listening to the endless puns from master comedian Lauren Weyland, whose distinctive voice could be heard almost everywhere. Example heard in the extraordinarily elaborate main ballroom: “This room must have been built when America was China!” Have you found your shoes yet, Lauren?

Having an impromptu iPhone FaceTime party in the executive lounge, where several of us FaceTime virgins realized we could video call each other! So we did across a coffee table - a true NerdOut.

The discussions and arguments taking place every evening in the lobby, bar, restaurants or suites that ranged over any conceivable SL-related issue. For certain, we all had the answers to every problem, or so it seemed.

Meeting the notorious Prokofy Neva in person, who is actually more reasonable than many blog readers may think.

Spending time with the IBM virtual reality team, including the brilliant Zha Ewry, the delightful Dale Innis, Oura Scribe and the lovely Ahuva Heliosense, whose incredibly sultry outfit was seemingly ruined by the absence of a single rhinestone on her rather complex shoes. Or so she thought. But I didn’t.

Meeting a most amazing person: Pooky Amsterdam, whose dramatic presence simply took over every room she entered. If you’ve heard her voice on one of her shows, let me say that her personage matches her distinctive voice in every way.

Taking over the famous Cheers bar in Boston, with perhaps thirty avatars occupying the entire section. Fortunately, Cheers did not know our real names.

Meeting the SL-banned Woodbury group, who surprised everyone by showing up to register for the conference. After initial fears of RL griefing subsided, they were an interesting group to speak with in the dark hours of the night.


Observing once again the astonishing real-life charisma of Philip Linden, who simply bent over backwards to meet and talk with everyone and anyone. Philip spent considerable time talking to the grumbly educators after the surprise announcement of the denouement of the languishing Teen Grid. It was also fascinating to watch certain women simply melt in his presence. One unnamed melting individual kept saying, “I want one of those”, while gazing dreamily at Philip. No, it wasn't Pooky!

Discussing the surprising outcomes of permitting intergrid teleports between SL and Other Grids with Philip, who has evidently thought quite deeply about the subject. I’m sure we’ll hear more about this in the future.

The never-ending post convention “secret” party, which was not so secret because it was being broadcast live over UStream. As soon as the stream went up, missing attendee Eshi Otawara videoed in and joined us virtually. Miss you, Eshi!

Spending time with Noona and Noele, who were perhaps the most unique attendees: they were simply residents! They did not own virtual businesses, perform any artistic works or organize anything. They simply enjoyed SL shopping and decided to come to SLCC for fun. While there were few sessions directed to them, their perspective on things was quite different from the ultra-creative types who normally inhabit the convention.

The continual exhaustion and exhilaration caused by endless hours of meeting new avatars and discussing everything. Some were totally spent, yet could not leave the party - like Dirk McKeenan who fell asleep on the lobby floor at 4AM. Dirk was an unstoppable force. Until he fell asleep.

A windup dinner involving all who assisted the convention at the longest possible restaurant table. I squeezed in beside Filthy Fluno, Prokofy Neva and Fleep Tuque, and had delightful conversations on a wide variety of topics.

Appreciating the several exLindens who still came to the event, even though they were no longer employed by Linden Lab, including Kate exLinden, Joppa exLinden, Teagan exLinden and Pathfinder exLinden. They are those who truly support SL. Yes, that is Joppa stuck on the window. Don't ask.

Watching the full-length documentary “Life 2.0” with many other avatars, and discussing it afterwards. Indeed, I found myself in the middle of a debate on the merits of the piece with Prokofy Neva, Tuna Oddfellow and Zha Ewry, a highly unlikely combination of avatars to be seen. I liked the film immensely, as it accurately portrayed (and made you feel and experience) the confusing emotional transformations that are so common in SL. This film is unlike any other SL-related piece I’ve seen, and if you are in SL, you must see it. How? You will be able to see it next year on the Oprah Winfrey network.

Catching up with old friends (well, they’re not old, the friendship is) such as Feline Slade, Daphne Abernathy, Roland Legrand, Loki Clifton, Ham Rambler, Beyers Sellers, Sloan Skjellerup, Apple & Nasus, Katydid Something, Rhiannon Chatnoir, Tuna & Shava and of course Dirk McKeenan and many others.

Meeting wonderful new friends, such as Explorer Dastardly, Spiral Theas, Anastasios Aurotharius, Landau Shippe, Tamra Sands, Fleep Tuque, Filthy Fluno, Winter Nightfire, Maggie Marat and so many others I cannot remember them all.


But by far the most special moment for me was also a special moment for two others: Chestnut Rau and Zha Ewry, long-time partners in SL who had never before met each other in real life. In fact, Chestnut had not met ANY avatars in real life before this event and was quite nervous about doing so. I am happy to say that I had a tiny role in their meeting.

Fortunately Chestnut had reluctantly posted a rather obscure RL photograph of herself some weeks earlier, and based on that image I was able to identify her standing in the hotel lobby. I approached her and introduced myself, but she seemed a little awkward as those were her first moments meeting avatars. We had a brief discussion, when suddenly over her shoulder I observed someone entering the lobby pulling a suitcase: Zha Ewry.

I immediately held up my hands to beckon Chestnut to stop talking and said in a totally calm voice, “Turn. Around. Right. Now.” She looked at me quizzically and rotated. In less than a picosecond she recognized Zha, who did not notice her. I will never forget the look on Chestnut’s face at that moment, as her emotions radiated brilliantly in all directions. After a moment she strode forward cautiously and began speaking to Zha, who still did not yet understand who this strange woman was talking to him in the lobby. But suddenly he realized it was Chestnut, and the rest I cannot say.

One memory I will definitely not cherish was the loss of my camera, which somehow became separated from me during the convention. I did not notice its absence until I returned home - having used my iPhone for most pictures. If anyone has seen a stray Canon SD980, give me a shout!


There was one more important impression I observed: the announcements from Linden Lab. We’ve all heard the new mantra: Fast, Easy and Fun, which appears simplistic is in fact what’s needed, if it can be pulled off. Philip’s announcements told a story of how they are going to do it by reorganizing their development process and focusing on critical bits first.

For sure, Philip didn’t mention a number of things that people really want fixed (search, for example), but that’s not fixable within this year - search is an extremely complex topic that will take time to sort out. I checked later on with Tiggs Linden, who is in charge of server development. He confirmed that the list of items shown by Philip was indeed achievable, although it will be tough. I’d rather have a shorter list of things that will actually get done than a longer list that won’t. Remember, the list shown was only the 2010 list. There will be more lists in the future, and that’s the nature of the new development process: fast iterations focused on specific features. The impression I got was that the Lab is very serious about fixing these things - and fixing SL overall.

SL is not dead. SLCC is not dead. One was resurrected this August, and the other is underway.

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