Score Your Avatar's Name

Saturday, June 28, 2008 Saturday, June 28, 2008

Last week I posted an analysis of the important characteristics of avatar names. The post proved so popular that I decided to build a tool with which you can calculate a score for your name's coolness!

After some experimentation with scripts, I believe I now have an easy-to-use tool ready for use here. It's quite straightforward: just answer the questions below, hit the "Score Me!" button at the bottom and your name's rating will be automatically calculated. The maximum score is 100.

How does the scoring system work, you ask? I devised scores for all the characteristics based on how I feel about them. Again, like the characteristics, it's my own opinion; yours may differ.

I've added a category for Gender, as correctly pointed out by Vint Falken's comment on the previous post.

Please give the scoring system a try and add your score to the comments; I'd like to see how your name ranks. Mine is only 56.

Your name scores:
out of 100 possible points

Thanks for participating! (and you answer honestly, right?)

How Cool Is Your Avatar's Name?

Sunday, June 22, 2008 Sunday, June 22, 2008

Mine isn’t. Let’s get that straight right from the top. But yours might be, and let’s find out.

I’ve done a lot of thinking about names, having subjected myself to such a terrible name. If I could do it all over, I’d consider the following characteristics when selecting a new name.

No matter how beautiful a name might be, if it’s too long it is difficult for others to type. Names should be no more than ten characters, and preferably less.

  • Good Examples: Amy Stork, Moto Gaffer
  • Not So Good Examples: Hibbabalibba McMahon, morenoandaluz Hax

Some names are simply difficult to spell, regardless of length. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it must have something to do with the similarity of the name to common words or whether the spelling matches the pronunciation.
  • Good Examples: Carm Benigni, Jimbo Goalpost
  • Not So Good Examples: Mtmike Cao, vincenzobrescia79 May and those two lengthy ones above

You can spell it, you can type it. But can you say it? Is the correct pronunciation obvious, or are there multiple possible pronunciations?
  • Good Examples: Chase Bade, Farley Runo, Vint Falken
  • Not So Good Examples: Eibhleann McMillan, Arminasx (sigh)

Will you remember the avatar’s name tomorrow? Was it something that caught your attention, or was it a generic name that is easily lost in your memory?
  • Good Examples: Imnotgoing Sideways, Washu Zebrastripe, Ancient Roar
  • Not So Good Examples: Buddy Aaron, Doc Baker

Look, if you have digits hanging from the tail-end of your name you obviously just moved over from AOL, right? A definite no-no.
  • Good Examples: too numerous to mention
  • Not So Good Example: Burdin7658 Daniels, m4D McMillan

Unfortunately you cannot adjust the case of your name after its registered. Some have capitalized the first letter, some have not. Some used mixed case, and a few use caps ALL THE WAY THROUGH. I prefer first-letter capitalization or mixed case. However, I must say one friend who uses an ALL CAPS name is very easy to locate in busy chat logs.
  • Good Examples: , LordRingsMottoEatMore Food (but fails on a few other counts)
  • Not So Good Examples: DOLLY Descenna, mAlice Mauvaise, MANDALANDA Allen

The rhythm is the audible fit of the first name and the last name. One theory of naming says you should combine single syllable names with multiple syllable names. They just sound better when you say them. Often this means ending the first name with a vowel and beginning the last name with a consonant, or vice versa.
  • Good Examples: Zoe Connolly, Lovely Person
  • Not So Good Examples: Manicexpression Beebe, Nardok Corrimal

Can the name be quickly abbreviated for use in chats in a way that it is still unique? What 3-5 characters can be readily identified as the avatar’s name?
  • Good Example: Tym (Tymmerie Thorne)
  • Not So Good Example: Nathalie Defiant (Nat could mean Natalie, Nathan, Natasha, Natassia, Nathaniel, Natu, etc.)

Linden Lab has done a paramount job selecting unusual and interesting last names. Our job is to select a first name that somehow matches the semantic qualities of the last name.
  • Good Examples: White Noel, Dakota Blackmountain, TreeSong Moonbeam, mannafest Destiny
  • Not So Good Examples: HannahLeigh Hotshot, Kenny Tempura, RAFTWET Jewell

Did you know there are 1546 people with the name "Aaron"? It can be confusing if your circle of friends have people with identical first names: "AaronB", "AaronP", etc. A good name would be completely unique, with no possibility of confusion with others.
  • Good Example: Arminasx (but alas, fails miserably on several other counts...)
  • Bad Examples: Aaron, Charles, Rob, Pablo, Adam (see more at Obijan's list of most popular names)

You may disagree with these factors, as they are only my personal opinion. Perhaps we can make name analysis more interesting? Next week I will try to post a scoring system that you can use to check your own name against these factors.

Stand Tall!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008 Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Meta Linden plurked an interesting SLURL the other day: a link to Daden Limited's sim. They are a "Virtual Worlds consultancy and information 2.0 specialist", and the company is demonstrating unique uses of Google maps within The Second Life Virtual World™.

As I normally do, I decided to explore the location after reading Meta's plurk. Frequently I visit places that, while interesting, don’t really warrant a blog post. However, this place certainly does: I had one of those rare “OMG” moments.

The premise of the site is to provide a house-sized google map on which you may walk. A sluggish, but easy to use control panel is used to navigate the map in the same manner we’re used to from In fact, the exact same map data is displayed.

I could not resist but to find my RL location on the map – what else would one do? Having eventually navigated my way there, I then proceeded to walk upon the map itself.

And then something very interesting happened.

I was standing tall, in my very own neighborhood. Very, Very Tall.

The scene was totally familiar, except I was a giant on the street. Striding down well-known paths, I just felt extremely “big”. The map data is only two-dimensional, but when you are standing tall on the map, the viewing angle makes it seem somehow weirdly realistic. You’ll see what I mean when you try it.

You can find the map right here:, but don't step on anyone! (Thanks, Meta!)

Why Radar Can't Pronounce My Name

Saturday, June 14, 2008 Saturday, June 14, 2008

He can't. Few can. Even I can't. How did it come to this?

It's a sad tale that I've seen repeated several times in our virtual world: people with very awkward names. But why do they occur? I will tell the story of how my name came to be, and then to pronounce it.

I'm a very inquisitive person and I love to try new things, especially online services. I'd heard about the Second Life Virtual World™ and how people were apparently making millions living in a virtual paradise. Finally I obtained a computer sufficiently powerful to enable me to try it.

As I do with any new online service that I happen to test (and I test an awful lot of services), I use a throw-away id. I don't use my real name unless it's a serious service, which at the time I did not believe SL to be. The trouble was I couldn't figure out SL right away. Usually you can jump into a service and determine how it works within a few days or even hours. Not SL. Not with its steep learning curve and deeply rich culture.

So I continued slogging along as a pathetic newb for days, learning the ropes. Weeks passed. Then months. At that point, I had grown virtual legs and was finally capable of operating competently. But something else had happened. I was connected. I had a reputation, friends, stores, and even a pretty serious blog. It was too late to change my name without losing a ton of social capital.

So here I am, with my awkward name. I sympathize with others who also made a mistake when they signed up, especially those unfortunates with digits attached to their first name.

More recently, I've been showing up or mentioned on several podcasts where the well-meaning and professional hosts completely butcher the pronounciation of my name. Some even ask the impossible question, "what is the possessive form of ArminasX?" So to clear up the confusion, now I declare the correct pronounciation:

  • ArminasX should be pronounced as "Ar-min-AXE"

Just consider the "s" to be silent. Or even better, just call me "Armi".

Should I get a new avatar with a new name? No, it's far too late for that. But I do have some thoughts on the qualities that make a good name. But let's save that for another day.

6 Ways To Run Your Business After You Die!

Monday, June 9, 2008 Monday, June 09, 2008

There’s one aspect of running a business that is often forgotten, and I fear it is totally neglected by almost all Second Life businesses: What happens when you can’t continue?

What do I mean by “can’t continue”? I mean this: you are sick, permanently disconnected, injured, imprisoned, kidnapped, dead or otherwise completely unable to do any work whatsoever on your virtual business.

In RL this is called “Succession Planning”. The idea is that you assume you’re gonna eventually disappear for some reason, and we’d better figure out who’s taking over when you do. Large businesses take great care in laying out detailed succession plans, so that when the execs go down in a fiery airplane crash, everyone knows what to do. Even small businesses take time to consider what needs to happen, if they are well run.

The issues are no different in SL, except in scale.

However, I suspect very few in-world businesses have considered this possibility. And even worse, a virtual environment poses additional difficulties well beyond those encountered in RL business disasters: anonymity.

First, let’s suppose your virtual business has no succession plan. What happens? Let’s examine the likely sequence of events for a typical virtual retail operation:

  • You Die (harsh, but it Can Happen!)
  • Your business continues to operate, since avatars can still visit your parcel and purchase items (hmm… assuming the Grid is operational…)
  • Linden $ accumulate in your account
  • Invoices arrive on schedule
  • Automated payments from your account continue
  • Fees requiring manual intervention remain unpaid, since you aren’t there, remember?
  • Fees linked to your Paypal account do get paid, at least for a while
  • Residents notice your absence and do their best to determine what happened, but unless there is a RL connection somewhere, it is entirely possible no one in SL will know what happened. There is nothing your virtual friends can do
  • Your RL survivors have no idea or understanding of your virtual existence and do not realize they have a significant asset to deal with. They do not operate your business or even realize it exists
  • Eventually your invoices do not get paid because your survivors have shut off your Paypal account, either directly or indirectly via credit card cancellation
  • Your tier is unpaid for a long period, and Linden Lab eventually reclaims your abandoned land. Your carefully constructed objects evaporate and your business effectively ceases to exist

A tragedy for certain; not only for the maker, but also for residents because the maker’s wonderful items would no longer be available.

For larger virtual businesses, the amount of cash flow can be significant and the business is a non-trivial asset that just cannot be forgotten. What can be done? Here’s some ideas:

  • Decide what you want done. Should your business be sold to the highest bidder? Perhaps you want to give it to a good friend who you think would be able to run it properly. Maybe it should be donated to a worthy cause or organization (who also should know what to do with it)
  • Pick someone. Decide exactly who could actually deal with your operation if necessary. Yes, that hunky boyfriend may be your closest friend, but does he have a hot clue about fashion design? If your business is already owned by a partnership, then this step is easy
  • Make a plan. Your most trusted virtual friends should know what you want them to do in case of disaster. Tell your trusted pals your intentions! And you should carefully define what you mean by disaster: “Gee, you were away for three weeks and I thought you were dead, so I sold your business. Sorry!”
  • Leave the Keys. Consider leaving sufficient information with your most trusted pals so they can act on your intentions. It might be as simple as a RL name and phone number so they can contact your survivors and explain to them what needs to be done. It could even be account passwords, but they’d have to be extremely trustworthy to consider that step, especially in a large business
  • Advise RL. They may not have any clue about virtual reality, but somebody should at least know there is something to do with your virtual comrades in a disaster. Leave them the account and password information (sealed, if necessary). Tell them the names of avatars to trust, since your virtual friends may be calling on your RL survivors
  • Get a Coach. If you know a trustworthy SL user in your local area, make arrangements for them to provide assistance to your survivors. Survivors will likely have absolutely no idea where to start, what to do, or even understand what is presented to them. Get them a coach to interpret and guide

Would you bother doing this? I would consider this type of plan necessary only if you have a significant in-world business, either one with lots of revenue or one where many people depend on your operation. Many smaller virtual businesses are barely viable and probably are not worth these steps.

Let’s hope you survive a long time. Note that I don’t say, “let’s hope nothing bad happens”, because something bad Will Indeed Happen Eventually. Plan on it.

Dunbar's Friends

Thursday, June 5, 2008 Thursday, June 05, 2008

I examined an interesting social theory the other day: Dunbar's Number. The short explanation is that it's 150. Oh, you want more?

The long explanation is that it is:

a theorized cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable social relationships

What the heck does that mean? Quite simply, your brain can't keep track of more than 150 individuals in any effective way. It's not a matter of practice or experience. It's biology and neural logistics! Multiple evidence has arisen to confirm this theory, including the typical sizes of villages, military units, etc.

The theory goes on to suggest that you cannot maintain 150 relationships unless you spend almost half your available time engaging with them. In certain social situations, this can be accomplished and is sometimes necessary (e.g. military), but in common experience, we simply don't have the time to perform the necessary engagement to maintain all of the relationships. In other words, practical experience indicates that 150 is not achievable. I've read that a more pragmatic number is around 75 individuals for casual environments like Second Life.

So what does this have to do with the Second Life experience?

The other day I was searching for one of my friends and began scrolling down my Friend List. And it was a very, very long scroll. My gosh, how many friends do I have, anyway? A quick count revealed approximately 134 avatars on my list. Wait a minute! That's way over the practical Dunbar limit!

No wonder I can't keep track of them all. There are some on my list for whom, unfortunately, I no longer recall the circumstances of our relationship. Should I clean up my friends list to trim it down below my biological comprehension limit? Perhaps, but I think I'd rather keep them there just in case, and know that I can't know them. Perhaps someday they could be the next Anshe, M, Crap Mariner or even a Torley! Better keep them on the list ...

How big is your friends list? Do trim or clean it periodically? How far over or under Dunbar's number are you? Drop a comment with your view!

Kissing Booth: The Aftermath

Sunday, June 1, 2008 Sunday, June 01, 2008

Normally I try to post items that are instructive, amusing, profound or heartbreaking.

But not today.

Instead, I offer gentle readers a report on my experience at this past weekend's fundraiser for the Relay for Life.

As I had mentioned previously, I placed myself for sale along with notable SL personalities for charity. It's part of the SL Relay for Life event, and some friends were organizing a fundraiser and I thought I should help out.

I hope my efforts were worthwhile, although they were far less than the tireless organizers, Shawna Montgomery and Anhalya Lycia, who must have worked 14 hours each on Sunday. Their work paid off, as the team raised in excess of L$140,000 in a single day at last count.

So what happened? It seemed that this was the event of the day, as there were hundreds of visitors throughout the day, including some very interesting and notable people. And they were doing some very interesting and notable activities, as you shall see below.

Early in the afternoon, for example, we found SL Supermodel Tymmerie Thorne grinding it out with a Kissing Booth customer. Wait a sec - is she supposed to do that with a girl?

Perhaps the most amusing moment was the arrival of CG Linden, tireless leader of the SL software upgrade release team. I am not kidding: when he entered his assigned Kissing Booth, they all suddenly broke down. Coincidence? Perhaps!

I believe Hamlet Au drew perhaps the largest crowd and his witty antics kept everyone nearby in constant ROTFL mode. He's pictured here with Podcaster Nika Dreamscape with fashion photographer Haley Salomon in the background.

As he indicated in his post, Hamlet took on all comers, including Vint Falken (who was briefly seen in natural fleshtone color for a few rare moments just before this snap took place!) Some of us thought Vint had sat upon the wrong Kiss Ball, (male), but she indicated that was not the case. BTW, exactly where is your hand going, Vint?

Podcaster Keeme Brown appeared in a shiny new Tyrannosaurus Rex avatar. The massive avatar bounded rapidly around the area, often accidentally crushing those caught under his thundering feet (including myself, left in a pool of blood!) Fortunately for the Kissing Booth volunteers, Keeme did not attempt to purchase a kiss. It would have been very messy, indeed. He did attempt to dunk Anhalya Lycia by pressing the release lever with his volkswagen-sized beak, but it didn't trigger. I think Keeme felt the Rex was just a bit too big for the venue, so he comprised by transforming into a knee-high Pillsbury Dough Boy and then disappeared. After a search, I found him hiding underneath Haley Salomon's skirt! Bad, Keeme! Bad!

Pictured with Keeme is SS Galaxy Sushi Chef Satu Moreau in what else but an octopus avatar. Several of us pondered the mechanics of kissing an octopus, but as you can see it sort of worked when he latched his suckers onto Tayzia Abbatoir. However, pressin' yo' face into a giant octopus eye is not the most attractive thing to observe. Especially when Satu blinked.

Team co-captain and chief engineer for the day Anhayla Lycia had to contend with all manner of emergencies during the event, ranging from missing signs to Wild Animals, such as this Giant Panda. Also on the loose during the day was a ravenous tiger and several smaller creatures.

One of the most amazing volunteers was Virtual Aviator and blogger Zoe Connolly. Arriving far before her scheduled time slot and staying well after she was scheduled to leave, Zoe assisted greatly by not only kissing anyone nearby with great vigor, but also by publicizing the event through her personal mega-social network.

And that's not all. During her stint in the booth, she had multiple interesting encounters. For example, here we see Zoe mixing it up with SL photographer Loki Popinjay. I think Zoe fainted after this one.

And if she didn't faint from Loki's treatment, she definitely did from this one. I think the throbbing heart particles had something to do with it. (Secret message to Vint: mission accomplished! Thanks for the assignment!)

Yes, the blogging community was very well represented, including four power-bloggers pictured here: Hamlet Au, Vint Falken, Zoe Connolly and myself. Well, at least three power-bloggers, anyway. Sigh.

UPDATE 2 June 2008: GoSpeed Racer, who also spent time in a Kissing Booth has another report on the event, with pictures!

UPDATE 4 June 2008: Jezabell Barbosa, who spent quite a bit of time at the event, posts even more pictures, including herself with CG Linden.

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