Monday, December 10, 2007

Second Life Insider PodCast

Akela Talamasca interviewed me for the Second Life Insider Podcast.

Predicting Linked Objects Maximum Distance in Second Life

After aligning prims, linking prims into objects in SL often proves to be both frustrating and befuddling for new builders. In my book I noted the great forum post from Ceera Murakami where Ceera says "It's difficult to predict exactly how far apart the farthest pieces will be, except by trying in-world".

Recently, I ran across this link on the SL wiki while reading about the new Havoc4 beta. The beta states changes on link ability as:

Linkability Rules [changes with Havok4]
o More robust: depend only on primitive position and scale (NOT rotation, cut, shear, twist, taper, or hollow)
o Larger linkability distances (proportional to sum of scales, rather than the root mean square of the sum)

When these changes do eventually make it into the main branch it should be very helpful for builders who are trying to link large objects.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

IBM, Linden Labs, and Virtual World Interoperability

I attended a great session today at Dr. Dobbs Island hosted by Ziggy Figaro (exec editor of InfoWeek). DrCP Cydrome (IBM's VP of Digital Convergence) spoke as well as Ginsu Linden. It is obviously very early days, but was an interesting conversation. A bit from the chat stream below.

Noteable Links:
Architecture Working Group
PC World Article
IBM Press Release

Ziggy Figaro: What is IBM getting from this - why is IBM involved?
DrCP Cydrome: There is a significant capacity to transform enterprises using this technology
Ziggy Figaro: How so?
DrCP Cydrome: Even as much so as the web did and IBM sees itself as one of the leaders here in this effort
DrCP Cydrome: Given the many enterprise processes that can benefit from this innovative learning and collaborative capability we see this as a new step for enterprises
DrCP Cydrome: towards cost reduction, increased efficiency, and optimization
DrCP Cydrome: Also think of the enterprises who would like to sell or provide services to consumers -they could maximize their investments if worlds were interoperable and
Ginsu Linden: right like the old services, or like the IM services today, or like SNS (Facebook, MySpace),
Zha Ewry: Content often was trapped in one part of that space, and until we got to a single markup, it was costly to move it between those spaces.
Ginsu Linden: you find that you wish you had more interoperability through any service that's walled now.
DrCP Cydrome: Also given interoperability there are many business models that would permit investment of new services and capabilities in this space.
DrCP Cydrome: With walled approaches the economics does not sustain broad expansion

Ziggy Figaro: What's in it for LL?
Ginsu Linden: And you have another service with, say, a user base that is focused on a specific experience around an interest, like music or clothes or books.
Ziggy Figaro: You're hte market leader here - and market leaders in most industries are resistant to standardization.
Ginsu Linden: If the two services can interoperate, then they will both be more valuable.
Ziggy Figaro: Or they "embrace and extend" like those fabulous fellows in Redmond, Wash.
Ginsu Linden: What's in it for LL is to expand the market. It doesn't mean much to lead a market that doesn't grow.
Ginsu Linden: We think that the key to growth to Internet scale is in interoperability.
Ziggy Figaro: Ah. So a piece of a big pie is worth more to LL than most or almost all of a smaller pie?
Ginsu Linden: Of course.
Ginsu Linden: In order to be involved in an Internet scale phenomenon, you really have to be com

Zha Ewry: Also.. please note that our work, on this, the Architecture Working Group is being hosted on the SL wiki, Feel free to come look
Tao Takashi:

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Sunday, September 30, 2007

"Japanese aren't going to take to the culture of Second Life"

A G-rated virtual tokyo? What do you think? I'd be very interested in to here from Tokyo based SL users.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Is Google Launching a Virtual World?

Here are a few interesting links on the buzz. Could be very interesting if Google gets into the virtual world fray with a strong business user focus. Thanks to Bieneff Bruder for a heads up on this.

Google's Virtual World Could Be Business Answer To Second Life

The Future of Virtual Worlds

Google Testing My World For Launch Later This Year

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Arts in SL - Top 10 Installations

This is a bit of old news, but if you are following my blog and looking for the latest on great art installations in SL, here is a great post.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Launch Party in Menorca

What a great experience last Saturday! We held two launch parties for the book one in prime time EMEA the other prim time US. It was attended by over 110 avatars and several noteables from SL press.

My thanks to all of the contributors and supporters who showed up to celebrate. It was a lot of fun! JueL Resistance who is featured in the book played and DJ Doubledown Tandino was fantastic. Really nice to meet him and listen to his grooves.

This party came about for several reasons. First, I was insistent with my publisher Que that we needed to hold an in-world launch party. Lisa (my PR person, of which I did not have for my previous book) took a bet and hired an in-world PR firm metaversatility headed by Adri Saarinen. She worked with Iris Ophelia who arranged the venue at Slimmie's (an in-world club owned by Slim Warrior).

Blog posts and invites went out to the usual suspects including New World notes and others.

Now if you disregard the names, this may sound a lot like a RL launch party and so it seems as complicated to pull off in SL as in RL.

The big question on my mind is will this sell more books? I'm not sure, but certainly it gave more broad exposure to the fact the book exists and at the party we gave out a ThinC book which contains the entire first chapter.

Here is a picture of me and one of my technical editors Kymber Schnook.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Second Life Economics

There is a page that everyone in Second Life should know about. It is the Second Life Economic Statistics page. If you're an economist, this is an astoundingly fun page just to wonder at the existence of such a virtual economy.

This page includes stats on population, land and land sales, Linden $ supply, number of in-world business owners with positive L$ cash flow, monthly spend by resident, and sources and sinks of L$.

The main reason most everyone needs to know about this page is average L$ paid per sq meter or land. While the old adage is true "location, location, location", it is often useful to see what the price you may pay for a piece of land looks like as compared to the average. Is your land not selling? Maybe you are asking to much.

What's probably one of the most interesting statistics is the estimated number of residents making > $5000 USD. Starting in April 2007 this number has not moved a whole lot relative to the explosion in population and even the upward trend of unique users who have positive cash flow.

April 139
May 129
June 132
July 145
August 129

Even though the number of individuals at this range are small, if these estimates are right, than <200 people are making between $645,000-$725,000USD a month on this virtual economy.

Pretty impressive for these early days.

Friday, August 24, 2007

The Book Is Out!

I received my first physical copy of the book last night when I got home hot-of-the-presses. Amazon claims my pre-order will ship on September 1! I hope you all enjoy it and looking forward for feedback on how it can be improved.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Ten Second Life Client Debug Options You Should Know About

This is a really good entry on the official Linden blog from Torley Linden for intermediate SL users. The title is a little bit misleading as it offers some options which are pretty loosely related to debugging like turning off the snapshot sound when taking a picture. Quite a few of these are called out in the book.

Check it out here:
Official Linden Blog: Top 10 Debug Options You Should Know About

Monday, July 30, 2007

The Book Has Entered Production

Well it is official. As of Friday, July 27th, the final text for the book has entered the publishing machinery. The process of writing a book has alway been interesting to me. Just when you think you are done, the real work begins. To give you an example:

Draft 1) Submit what you think is the final draft to the publisher

Reviewers get a look at it and you realize you need to rewrite several chapters.

Draft 2) Submit the next draft with all reviewer feedback incorporated and a lot of good reviewer feedback left painfully on the floor due to schedule pressure

The Copy Editors now get their crack

Draft 3) You now get to agree or disagree with all the copy edits. For the most part, copy editors save me from extremely poor and wordy books. If you read this one you'll realize I'm a conversationalist writer. Maybe better to just buy me a beer and hear me tell you about it.

The Layout then gets done

Draft 4) My first book was an extremely techie niche book on ClearCase an SCM tool. This book did not get nearly the full-up treatment that my Second Life book is getting. Full color, and designed, this is the point which the review turns from not so much content as to figure placement, quality of figures, the right fonts, treatment of notes, tips, etc. You read through word by word as this is really your last change to make minor changes.

Proof read

Draft 5) The final draft is a read through with the proofreaders comments and all your comments incorporated. At this point, you are so tired of reading your own book that you have to focus to catch any of the small mistakes.

General Project Schedule:
March 2006 - Heard about Second Life
April - Got an Account
July - Submitted Proposal
March 2007 - Submitted First Draft
July 2007 - Submitted Final Copy

I have a few copies coming to SLCC hot off the presses, let me know if you are going to be there! The book should be available latest by September.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Business of Second Life

With my first book Second Life - A Guide To Your Virtual World set to hit the streets by end of August, I am starting to think about the next project. At this point, I believe there is a need for guidance and help with the business of Second Life.

I'm not talking about a real-life start up, doing the venture capital circuit, and come up with the BIG idea kind of Second Life business, there will be plenty of that. I'm more interested in the build and sell something for fun business of SL. The pay my tier business of SL or the buy my morning Starbucks latte kind of SL business.

The platform offers such a great arena to learn business basics and have fun doing it. My plan as of now is to chronicle several business experiments in this blog and then to fold the info back into another book.

For starters, I'm wondering what types of "fun" businesses / experiments people have done in SL. Here are I believe the three main ones:

1) Product - Build something and sell it (the stock SL business)
2) Rentals - Become a landlord or mall owner and make money on rentals
3) Service - Become a service provider / club owner / marriage arranger, etc. Make money selling in-world services

Two other ones which are too close to RL business are land sales/speculation and providing build services for companies wanting to get their brand in-world. I'm leaving these on the cutting room floor.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Second Life - A Guide To Your Virtual World Update

I am racing toward production at this point. I've created this kiosk which gives out a URL to Amazon's pre-order page. If you want to help out and have a place for it or know someone who has a place for it IM me in-world and I'll gladly send you a copy. Also, happy to build something that fits with the theme.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Controlling your SL Atmosphere

Well, the WindLight acquisition has come to light (pun intended) faster than expected. You can see it in the SL First Look viewer which is basically a beta of the SL viewer running on the main grid. Looks like you have much control over the atmosphere and the Linden blog promises the ability for region/estate owners in the future to control the skies over their land. Quite nice.

Second Life Employment

I thought it might be interesting to see how the Real Life job market was shaping up for Second Life residents and I don't mean being an escort, land developer, or starting your own company. I mean, who in RL is searching for SL talent and is willing to pay for it. The conclusion is Linden Lab!

For this test, I used quoted "Second Life" as the search criteria. Here were the results:

Monster lists 4 openings Sr. Web Developer, Director of Interactive, Directory of Interactive Marketing, and Web / Project Coordinator. The first one is the only one which seems remotely like a position centered on Second Life and it is a contract position. Call it 0.5.

Craigslist is a bit trickier as you have to search regionally. In Seattle, area there is nothing. In the bay, there were three listings. First was Producer/Project Manager for Millions of Us very legit! One was a mobile marketing internship with SL being one of many "virtual environments" noted. Finally, an on-camera reporter for CNET where SL is listed as one of the edgy things you may need to know about for the job. So, so I give this a 1.25.

Career Builder listed two jobs, the web developer again from Monster, and a telesales opportunity at an internet startup that promised to be as big as Second Life among many others.

So, I would give this a big total of 1.75 jobs available. A pretty poor showing.

Ok, but pop into Linden Lab's Employment Page and you'll see over 60+ job openings. Electric Sheep Company weighs in a 4 openings.

Finally, check out Second Life Jobs you'll find a mix of RL and SL jobs, but they are at least all SL related.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Linden Lab Acquires Windward Mark Interactive Assets, Team

This annoucement is prety cool! Check it out here. Looks like a serious visual upgrade is on the way!

See screenshots produced by this technology here

Here is a teaser:

Second Life - A Guide To Your Virtual World Update

Today is a banner day for the project. The title "Second Life - A Guide To Your Virtual World" and cover art (see below) have been finalized. I am in the thick of final editing and cleanup and it looks like this thing may be available soon. You will also find it up on Amazon although the cover art is still an early draft. Click to view or pre-order!

Let me know what you think! Ansel.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Book Review of Unofficial Tourist's Guide to Second Life

Well, I should start this post with two bits of information. First I have not read the book entirely (and am not sure I will). Second, I am writing a book myself so I have every reason to poo poo this one. With these key points said, here is my initial take of "The Unofficial Tourist's Guide to Second Life".

First, kudos to Paul Carr and Graham Pond for getting something out in the second slot (to my knowledge this is the second book on SL). Books about SL seem to be poised to fall like rain in the next several months and making it into the #2 slot is a nice accomplishment.

Second, the price point and form factor are very interesting. The book is less than $10 (Real $ that is for all you L$ junkies) and about the size of a paperback book. It feels more like a crossword puzzle or Sudo book you might grab for the plane ride.

Third, the book is not in color. I'm not sure books on SL should be allowed that are not full color, but that is IMO of course. There should at least be some warning on Amazon.

All of this could be overlooked, until I actually opened the book and started reading. Did anyone who really knows SL review this book at all? Let me give you some examples and I'll let you be the judge.

The first sentence of the Introduction opens with "Imagine a world in which land can be bought for less than a dollar". Right off the bat this is just plain WRONG. I'm not sure land could ever be bought for a dollar, even first land ran you about two bucks while it lasted. [I stand corrected on this point, it is possible in very very rare occasions to find someone who just wants a renter for their property to cover their tier and sells the land for $1L]

The first sentence of the third paragraph contains this gem "With all the possibilities of the real world, minus such irritating restrictions as gravity, taxation, and physics, it's no wonder..." OMG, SL has gravity, taxation, and physics! I pay property taxes every month!

So, I made it through the Introduction, and am currently two pages into Chapter 1, which opens with "In a nutshell, Second Life is a virtual world created by computer programmers". Well the platform was certainly created by computer programers, but to say the world was created by computer programmers is to fundamentally miss the point of SL which is resident created content.

I'll leave this review at that. Unfair certainly as I did not make it past page 19 of over 200. I'll keep reading and report back if I can make it through this one.

Update: May 21, 2007. Well I have almost made it through the entire book and while I still feel that it delivers low marks on accuracy of SL itself, I must say I am impressed by the breadth of areas the authors have visited and cataloged. If you are bored with SL and frustrated with Search and just wondering what new thing to do or new place to visit, this book will certainly give you some ideas.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Virtual Worlds Weekly

If you have interested in keeping up on the latest virtual worlds news both SL and other emerging competitors, check out Virtual Worlds Weekly. Click the "see sample" link for latest issue.

Its pretty new, but I like the content so far.

Monday, February 26, 2007

More SL Publicity and My First Press

Here are a couple links to more SL press. The first one from Seattle PI is my first RL press about the up-coming book. Stay tuned for more.

Also, check out this piece from CBS newsthanks to Jeff Barr for the pointer, check out his blog!

Connectivity and Sailing

What do connectivity and sailing have to do with each other? Well not much unless you are trying to do so in SL. I discovered two things today that I wanted to share simply because I have not posted for so long:

1) Even if you have a kick-ass PC, your SL experience will still suck if you don't have the right connection. I recently came into an Dell XPS M1710 dual core laptop with 4GB of memory (frustratingly 1GB is inaccessible by VMWare). It is fast and the display is unbelievable. Ok, its also heavy, hard to travel with, and pretty embarrassing to pull out at customer presentations. However, I figured this baby would do very well with SL.

Not so today. There is nothing like being in a hotel (and in Canada, not that Canada has bad connectivity or anything) to grind things to a halt. Actually worse, I had spotty connectivity with bandwidth going up and down like a roller coaster along with my SL experience.

But that did not damp my spirits about the second thing which I rediscovered today and that is sailing in SL is really fun. Particularly when you go out with sailboat creator extraordinaire Jacqueline Trudeau.

I would give you the SLURL to her marina, but alas my hotel connection is not cooperating. Hopefully, search in SL is.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Alpha Channel Test Pattern

I needed an alpha channel test image for the book. Chosen Few had a great one, but asked me to find another home for the test pattern. It is used in the book in a short tutorial for creating and learning about alpha channels. Alpha channels in SL, are used to create transparency which is extremely useful. Here is the test pattern:

Here is what it looks like in SL, once you have created an alpha texture using Photoshop, saved as a 32-bit Targa, uploaded into SL, than applied to a default cube:

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Seamless Wood Textures for Second Life

Well, writing a book and a blog at the same time just don't work! It has been a while since I have posted, but had to drop this one in. I encountered a freely downloadable tool from called Wood Workshop. It allowed me to quickly create this nice tileable wood texture which I quickly uploaded. They also have another product for producing tileable textures that looks pretty cool.
You can see the texture applied to my dock at