Archive for the ‘Linden Lab’ Tag

Premium Members to Get Exclusive Goodies and 4 Private Sandboxes

Linden Lab announced yesterday that Premium members would begin receiving a few new benefits, effective immediately, with more to come in the future.  (The original announcement can be read at the Big Blog.)

First, Premium members would get the chance to claim exclusive virtual goods from vendors set up for the purpose.  The first package available is this set of furniture, and a very classy set it is.  The designer, Colleen Desmoulins of The Loft, has produced a package that looks right at home on a deck or open-air room in Key West.  You can imagine yourself sitting back with your loved one and a tall cool drink, applauding the sun as it sets.

The other new benefit, and a far more important one, according to some of the comments I’ve seen on the original article:  Premium members will now receive four exclusive sandbox islands for them to work on projects in peace.  (At least as long as there are no Premium-level griefers about.  I would hope that people paying for a better class of membership would have more sense than to get into that kind of stupidity.)  I don’t usually need a sandbox for the few things I build, except for when I remodel my skybox Secret (Public) Photo Studio; however, at the times that I do need extra space, this would be handy.

I have been tempted in the past to go for a Premium membership, but other considerations in RL have held me back.  It will probably still hold me back now, sadly; however, I think it’s getting more tempting.

NWN: Linden Lab’s Concurrency Map to Be Made Available to Residents in Future

Mercy, today seems to be a big day for news.  New World Notes reports that the lovely animated globe map Hamlet Au saw while visiting Linden Lab’s offices back in June, a map that reports concurrency of users, is being worked on for availability to Residents.  Rod Humble mentioned this to Daniel Voyager, according to Ham’s article.

Speculation on my part:  I wonder if this will replace the concurrency statistics that were originally on the viewer’s splash page, before the current change made to it in the most recent update, but are no longer there?

New Splash Page with Latest LL Viewer Update

For those who have downloaded the latest update to LL’s Viewer 2, you’ll notice a change straight off.  Instead of the traditional photograph, rotating from view to view with each sign on, we are now given a menu of pictures, destinations and events to examine in a browser when we click on them.

Do you think this gives the LL viewer more versatility or usefulness?  Do you like it or not?

UPDATE:  August 9 —

New World Notes suggests that the “What’s Hot Now” line might encourage more new user retention, as they now have a few suggestions where they will find other Residents congregating.  Check out Ham’s article.

Posted August 5, 2011 by Harper Ganesvoort in Polls, Software

Tagged with , , , ,

Buy a Linden Teddy Bear and Help Out Japan

The day after I got back in business with a new desktop — in fact, less than 12 hours after getting it hooked up and running — news came in of the earthquake and tsunami in Sendai and nearby regions of Japan.  I have at least two SL acquaintances in Japan, and I can only hope at the moment that all is well with them.  I’ve sent an E-mail to Ruriko, with no response as of this date.  She’s labeled her Flickr account as “off line for a while,” so she may not even be picking up messages.

We can do things, both in RL and SL, to help the victims of this huge catastrophe.  You know the best ways in Real Life to help out, but here’s how, thanks to Linden Lab and with a heads-up from Hamlet Au, to help virtually.  Unlimber your virtual purse and travel to the marketplace.  You can pick up some of the famous Linden teddy bears, dressed in a Rising Sun T-shirt, for three different prices:  L$300, L$1,000 and L$3,000.  More information here at the Second Life blogs.

New World Notes Reports SL Profiles Now Available for Sharing On Open Web

New World Notes published an article an hour ago that Resident profiles are available, at least in part, on the open Web through their site and a special secure address.  The new page, attributed to Daniel Voyager, comes direct from your in-world profile with very little difference in content.   Mine is below, for instance:

You can see any profile by typing into the address bar https://my.secondlife.com/first.last, substituting your avatar name for the first and last, of course.  (You need the dot between.)  Besides the information shown, it will also give your partner status, if you have one.  If you log in at the normal point on the page, you can edit the information from here as well.  Daniel’s article shows a completeness bar in the editor which I did not see; either I have it blocked accidentally as part of my ad-blocker suite, or I’m pretty complete now.  You can also add in links to existing Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.  Comparisons are being made to last year’s Avatars United program, which was purchased by Linden Lab, then shut down several months later as part of the cutbacks.

Hamlet Au is right in saying that some may raise privacy concerns about this new feature.  Some may not want to reveal that they have a partner in world; others, like myself, may wonder about the publication of their payment info status (used or not used).  Linden Lab has not publicized this, and the current speculation is that this may still be in the early days of creation.  Some elements could be removed before the pages get announced officially.  For myself, as long as I keep a strong, secure password on my account, and the Lab takes off the payment info visibility, I have no problems here, and I won’t have much if they don’t alter it as I want (or give us the ability to alter it, or maybe to opt out/in on demand).  This is no worse than already having your information hanging out in front of some 30,000-50,000 strangers at any given time.  Yes, I know some will say, “Just on a larger, and more public, scale.”  Welcome to the world of social networking….

Out to explore the Grid, wear some great clothes, meet good people and have some conversation.

Married in RL only, and content to keep it that way. But open to good friendships with acquaintance.

Owner of Harper’s Fine Art and Photographs, your place for home decor artwork! Also with a Secret (Public) Photo Studio, free to all (for contributions).

I’m a hopeless fashionista and, esp., coiffurista. If you know of some WILD hairdos, drop me an IM!

New World Notes: Linden Lab Announces New CEO: Electronic Arts Executive and Game Developer Rod Humble

New World Notes: Linden Lab Announces New CEO: Electronic Arts Executive and Game Developer Rod Humble

This is an interesting move on Linden Lab’s part, as well as one that may fan the flames on whether Second Life is a game world, a business tool, or an alternate universe for us to build and explore.  (The answer to that question is, of course, “Yes.”)  I don’t have much more to say about this for now, as we don’t even know which way development will go under Humble’s leadership.  We don’t even know what his in-world handle will be for sure, although it’s not difficult to make a few educated guesses.  Ham Au in his article above thinks that this is a good move, and that it signifies that SL is finally being seen as primarily a game by the Lindens.  Time will tell on this, of course.

What I can say is that, after l’affaire Kingdon last year, there will be a lot of people watching him very closely, and with very open mouths. I intend to give Rod the benefit of the doubt, as long as he doesn’t make such changes in the concept that force us to treat Second Life purely as a game.  That is not what I came into this world for over three years ago now.  I want the ability to just go my way, take my photos, write my articles, and not worry about needing to accumulate experience points.  If that was what I was after, I’d be playing Dungeons and Dragons or GURPS.

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Additional bloggage at Phasing Grace by Grace McDunnough.

Microsoft Purchase Rumors Potentially Debunked

Instead, it appears that the eminent Mr. Ballmer in Redmond has purchased Vivaty, another virtual world.  Hamlet Au speculates that this might be the source of the rumors which shot through the Plitterverse (that’s both Twitter and Plurk) a few days ago that Microsoft was bidding for the purchase of Linden Lab.

So, it appears that Philip Rosedale’s hair and codpiece are safe from getting emblazoned with a Windows logo, I guess.  Who knows, though?  Steve Ballmer might have made him get a haircut and a suit, finally (grin).

Philip Rosedale to Become a Microserf? Rumors of Microsoft Bidding for Linden Lab

So far, it’s just unconfirmed rumors.  But Daniel Voyager plurked today that Microsoft has made a bid for purchase of Linden Lab, with the rumor apparently being spread by Lab employees.  Tateru Nino is also writing this up as a rumor.

If this becomes truth, how will this work out, becoming another component in Everyone’s Favorite Computer Monopoly?  (It might be a logical thing; after all, we’re already spending Monopoly™ money in world, in a sense.)  Microsoft has done some things right on occasion, mainly in the area of software for businesses (i.e. Office et al.), but it’s done a hell of a lot more wrong — Internet Explorer, at least most of the previous versions to current, many aspects of Windows, and the ever-memorable Bob interface of loathsome history.  They can bring a lot of resources to bear on a problem, which would help pay for much of the development work that Second Life still desperately needs to improve lag and other areas of the experience.  Their management style, however, can be, shall we say, strong?  I doubt that Steve Ballmer is a believer in the concept of a “wholly-owned, independent subsidiary.”

Keep your ears to the ground.

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In a related piece of rumor, Conceivably Tech speculates on indications in the luminiferous æther that Microsoft may also be bidding to acquire…WordPress, the foundation software and host for this blog.

Philip Rosedale Returns to Linden Lab CEO Position

Philip Rosedale. (Photo by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc., CC Generic 2.0 license)

We’ve had about a day to mull over the news that Mark Kingdon has been given the axe as CEO of Linden Lab, and that Philip Rosedale has resumed the direct control of his brainchild, at least for the interim.  (New World Notes article; Rosedale statement)  As of publishing time, a New World Notes open poll suggests strongly that Residents are in favor of this move — even if we will have to put up with Philip’s spiky hair, Rocky Horror T-shirt and codpiece again:

Poll results as of 6:15 SLT, June 25, 2010. Poll courtesy of New World Notes

I’m one of the more optimistic, for the record.  I’m uncertain how much acceptance Mark has had from the Resident community over his tenure; and many of the Lab’s moves during that time have been controversial, to say the least.  Of course, for all we know, things could have smoothed out at the Lab with his continued presence.  Only the future knows this, and the future has just been rewritten.

The thing that Rosedale has going for him, besides a (presumably) intimate nuts-and-bolts knowledge of how Second Life works, is that his is the vision that created this real incarnation of a concept only in books for the most part, until his company was formed.  Anyone who was brought in from outside to take over would not be part of the Linden Lab culture — an admittedly kooky one at times, but they would not have the same “heart” for it that Philip has.  Many of us felt that way when Kingdon was named CEO in May 2008.  Philip was the creator; Mark was a businessman first and foremost, and I wonder if he tended to see Second Life mainly in that model, as a place for facilitating business.  There were speculations, of course, that Kingdon was brought in to help pave the way for an initial public offering of stock in Linden Lab; a more business-0riented CEO would be considered essential for such a move, and Mark’s tenure as CEO of Organic, a digital-advertising agency.

But a virtual-world business is a hairier operation to run.  You not only have the business aspect to manage; you must also deal with the client base that is the raison d’être for the business’s existence.  Second Life had business presences before, though more of an attempt to advertise their Real Life products in world.  Many of these left during the Great Hype Meltdown of 2008-09, and Kingdon attempted to bring in more business for meeting-type situations with his Second Life Enterprise initiative over the past six months.  Many feel that focus was given to this move, at the expense of Grid stability and Resident satisfaction, as well as other decisions that, according to Gwyneth Llewelyn, intended to pave the way for increased business activity.  (Read her thorough analysis of the situation from June 10.)  The failure of many of these business moves are what led to Kingdon’s dismissal.

The thing is that Mark was right in his broad vision, if not necessarily in his execution.  Second Life — and Linden Lab — cannot survive forever on Residential accounts alone, and definitely not on free accounts.  While some may disagree with the Linden Homes move (Gwyneth believes that this put the Guvnah in direct competition with existing landowners), Linden Lab should encourage conversion of free to Premium accounts.  Additionally, business needs wooing, focusing on the core advantages that Second Life has already offered to huge corporations such as IBM — the hosting and abetment of meetings without the expense and waste of travel for substantial numbers of people.  As much as many of us may not like it, Big Business must be courted in, and must become part of the Grid.

The key will be to find a new CEO that can balance both sides, and deliver continued and improved performance of the virtual platforms.  Rosedale possesses the vision, but he doesn’t seem to possess the business chops, which is why he handed off to Kingdon two years ago.  Philip’s return (dare we call it a resurrection? [grin]) will help restore the balance.  Now we need someone to push the dream forward — on all fronts.  Second Life cannot survive, let alone thrive, without both the yin and yang of the equation.

State of Linden Lab — Critical, Serious, or Healthy?

This discussion is based upon reports from Hamlet Au at New World Notes.

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I haven’t touched the recent news from Linden Lab until now, mainly because I haven’t been sure what to think about the entire thing.  I’m still not sure yet, even after the passage of a week of time.  But it’s part of the mission of this blog to report on the news affecting the Grid, and offer my own opinions on it, and it’s time I weighed in.  We’ll see which way my thoughts move as I write….

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How is Linden Lab actually doing right now?  That is the very thing that is hard to determine unless — perhaps — you’re one of the 30% of Lab employees that were laid off last week.  That group includes many long-term veterans and beloved Lindens, such as T (Tom Hale).  Concern for these folks has been so high among residents that SLeleb CodeBastard Redgrave built a “graveyard” of headstones for the now avocationally-challenged, which has been frequented by Residents leaving flowers, occasionally dancing on the “graves” (a tasteless thing, even for the terminally dissatisfied among the SL population), or simply contemplating whether this event is an omen auguring the future of the Lab.

The Linden Memorial at Rouge, http://slurl.com/secondlife/Rouge/165/72/22

That’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 people, based on employment figures mentioned elsewhere.  Not the same as, say, a plant closing somewhere; but to these folks it still means they’re learning the difference between “recession” and “depression.”

But is this an omen that Linden Lab is in financial trouble?  Mark Kingdon insists no, in the original press release, the Big Blog announcement, and in a talk with Hamlet Au.  According to M, the Lab’s in fine shape, and this isn’t a retrenchment dictated by falling revenues.  The problem with this:  especially as a Michigan girl, living in areas where plant layoffs were all too common in bad economic times, I find it hard to believe entirely.  Labor is always among the top 3 or 5 items in company costs, if not the prime item.  This makes it very easy to target employees when you need to balance the books in hard times.  What I would love is to see the actual balance sheet of Linden Research, Inc.  Being a privately-held company, of course, this won’t happen any time soon.

Hamlet’s (admittedly unscientific) poll suggests that readers of New World Notes are overwhelmingly pessimistic about Second Life’s future following the layoff announcement.  Part of this could be from actual fear of the company having revenue problems.  And, with a free-to-join customer base, this can be understood.  Actual revenue, as I understand the Lab’s business model, comes from Premium memberships (which they’ve been pushing on recently, as you’ll note from their frequent message encouraging upgrading to Premium as you log in); sales of land and regions (including tier payments); and, hypothetically, investment return from sales of Linden dollars purchased by Residents or spent as fees (such as upload fees) — in other words, they take the money paid to them and invest for collection of interest.

The following is speculation on my part, but consider it. Based on charts at Tateru Nino’s Dwell On It, user concurrency has been trending downward throughout 2010, although the decline may be leveling off based on early indications, which suggests to me that regular user numbers are going down due to the economy; in other words, a declining pool of potential or current Premium customers, and (extrapolating from this), fewer people interested in purchasing land or paying corresponding tier for it.  The in-world economy itself has proved resilient, suggested by the user-to-user transaction numbers; but how much of this is coming from existing bank accounts, and how much from purchased lindens, such as I normally do to buy my goodies?  Mark, if you’re reading this, how close am I to the mark, and would you be willing to share your actual financial statements to help back up your position?

Once again, these are speculations on my part.  Kingdon may be giving us the straight dope on Linden Lab’s financial conditions.  The thing that makes me wonder is that businessmen tend to paint the rosiest picture possible in their press statements and annual reports.  Warren Buffet, the master of Berkshire Hathaway, is one of the few people who will admit flat out to his investors when his company is stinking, instead of trying to put a positive spin on the numbers.  While I choose to reserve my worries for now, I would like more provable information as to how things are, and whether the largest and (still to me) the best virtual world offering will still be around in 2011.

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