July 30, 2012

Bring back last names in Second Life!

It's been a long time since I've seen an issue in Second Life inspire this much "resident" outcry but https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/SVC-7125 takes the virtual cake. With 2750+ votes in favor and almost 800 watchers, SL folks clearly think Linden Lab's policy of ditching last names is a bad idea.

For those who've been in a cave or have never known anything else, Second Life used to offer new account signups their choice of predefined "last names" which were combined with "just about anything you like" first names. The predefined last names ranged from the whimsical (like Stargazer, Wrigglesworth, Bubble, Steamweaver, Poutine & Voyager) to the more mundane (such as Snook, Kline, Jefferson and Berry). "Real names" as they've become known, were locked-in as your ID and there was no getting away from them.

Then, in late 2010, for part of its effort to make Second Life "more accessible" (hah), Linden Lab introduced "Display Names" which meant that instead of being known as "Snickers Snook", you could change how your name appeared to others (assuming they had a Display Name supporting viewer). So instead of me being seen as "Snickers Snook", I could change my "Display Name" to just "Snickers" or "Samantha Jones" or whatever.

THEN, in order to "simplify the login process" (and most likely to avoid the extra work of coming up with new last names), Linden Lab did away with its predefined universe of last names altogether and put all the load on the First Name field.

The birth of "Resident"

As usually happens with Linden Lab projects, it was kludged by giving all new accounts the arbitrary Last Name of "Resident" just to be backward compatible with old viewers and scripted objects that depend on knowing the both the first and last name. (Inartfully trying to hide it behind a single login field.)

This quickly lead to AOL-style account login names of Jimmyl33t84 or Amy1234Cleveland (since "cool" single field name space ran out pretty quickly) which of course people immediately changed to things like RotoRooter69 and Amy Likes Girls (lord I hope those aren't actual display names). The problem, of course, was that everyone immediately found out that Display Names weren't their names!

"Resident" was still their last name and AOL-style login names were their real "first names" -- at least as far as most of the tools, viewers and things were concerned. And searching on a display name? Well good luck with that. It generally doesn't work or often returns wayyy too many results to be useful.

Have you ever played Tiny Empires? Then you know it only displays "real names" such as Amy1234Cleveland Resident. (As a side note, I had to update my Evil Tummy Talker and Evil Male Talker so they pick up Display Name (if used) or "real name" if Display Name is not set.)

A license to impersonate people

EDIT (ADDED): As someone just pointed out in the JIRA, Display Names are also being used to impersonate other accounts (people, Residents, whatevah). I verified this myself by doing the suggested search on "Truth Hawks" who is the well-known designer of "Truth" hair (which I LOVE btw). Sure enough, doing a search in the Linden Lab SL Viewer brings up three "Truth Hawks" with the "real" Truth Hawks listed #3. #1 is really "truthhanwk Resident" and #2 is "Lucifer Czarny". #2 actually has "TRUTH HAIR Send notecard or IM for contact me" so he obviously knows he is deliberately impersonating the real owner/designer of Truth Hair. This is because the stupid "People" search in the official viewer defaults to searching Display Names AND Real Names. I wonder how much business Truth Hawks has lost to Mr. Czarny? And clearly Linden Lab does not have the mechanisms in place to prevent this type of spoofing and I'm not sure they really care. FWIW, viewers with old-style "reliable" search ONLY search on actual resident names -- not Display Names. Searching "Truth Hawks" in Cool VL Viewer only returns "the" Truth Hawks.

The social side of Real Names and Display Names

So we have two classes of residents. Those with original "real last names" (like me) and those without. Which is annoying to both. It's inorganic and the complete antithesis of  Philip Rosedale's (Linden) original vision for Second Life.

It's a depersonalized, arbitrary and clumsy subdivision of Second Life participants (God I hate that term "Resident" - it sounds so temporary and fleeting). And the clamor for a return to offering meaningful last names has only increased over the last few months.

Will anything happen? Probably not. When it comes to things that affect SL'ers on an emotional level, Linden Lab has been increasinly detached, ignorant and uninvolved. (Has anyone SEEN a Linden in-world lately?? I sure haven't.) While their programmers and program managers actively get wrapped into things like graphics, databases, servers, etc., etc., they are utterly clueless as to what goes into creating a sense of community. (Except Torley who seems to be relegated to the wayyy back burners these days.)

Trust me, it's not the next level of mesh deformation that's going to get more new accounts to sign-up. It's whether or not people feel like they belong to a community once they join and if they are willing to talk their friends into following them.

Second Life and Linden Lab have been missing their social targets by a mile. Last names are just one piece in evidence of this. There are so many other examples (no need to rehash history). So feel free to vote on the JIRA (although "watching" generates more Linden Lab attention so do both) but don't hold your breath.

Comments? Thoughts?

July 23, 2012

Major new griefing / security exploit in Second Life?

As mentioned in a previous post (click here), a friend's SIM got trashed by griefers two nights ago. What happened would seem to be impossible unless there's a major security hole in Second Life. All of the SIM objects started getting returned after two avatars managed to rez something.

Apparently, this has been happening to a number of live and DJ music venues recently and two people have mentioned this happening in the Second Life Forums.



I have been told the name of the inworld group that may have been responsible but since I have no proof, I won't be mentioning them. Regardless, I sure hope Linden Lab has put a high priority on closing this one. Since it's a Security issue, you can't see from the JIRA if anything's being done (issue viewing is restricted to LL and the reporter).

Virtual Asia SIM gets major facelift

Last January, I featured a SIM called Virtual Asia in a blog post (http://snickitty.blogspot.com/2012/01/taste-of-asia-in-second-life.html) describing it as a gritty, run-down Tokyo build. While small, the execution, look and feel were first rate and well worth a visit.

Recently, Manaaf, the owner/builder, IM'd me to say he's been hard at work updating and redesigning Virtual Asia. I have to say, the results are spectacular. There are still some obvious works-in-progress in spots but overall the new Virtual Asia really captures the feel of a major urban center like Tokyo or Singapore. The build is larger, slighty more trendy in spots and every bit as gaudy and full of neon as one might expect.

A few shots:
Main Street & Landing Point

Me in one of my sexier Bare@Rose outfits (Black Petal).

Grundgy, dodgy neighborhood.
Beware. I'm packing pepper spray.

View back towards downtown.

Here's the SLURL to Virtual Asia: http://slurl.com/secondlife/MaxStudio/202/161/4000
The build is on a sky platform at 4000 meters so hopefully that SLURL will work.

Dance club SIM griefed & trashed in Second Life

Some friends of mine had their Second Life SIM (DanSyn's) griefed and trashed the other night. The destruction was apparently fairly extensive -- shutting them down temporarily and forcing a rebuild. It also interfered with a long-scheduled SL wedding. While the wedding gamely went on, the venue wasn't what the happy couple would have expected.

I guess I'll never understand what drives people to do this -- especially since DanSyn's is a fairly low profile venue that is really more like a close-knit community than a huge, impersonal, high-profile operation like Big Daddy's or Frank's.

DanSyn's is rebuilding and will be re-opening tonight with dancing on their beach location. If you're so inclined, drop by any time after 7:00pm SLT to show your support.

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Enchanted%20Euphoria/194/184/299

July 6, 2012

Inga Wind goes crazy for mesh!!

I don't think I've ever seen a designer produce such a flurry of new outfits as Inga Wind has in the last month. OMG. The woman must get no sleep! Anyway, her hard work is your gain.

Out of the 20 plus releases I've seen, I'm picking three to show what she's been up to.

First off is Dalila. This unusual draped bubble dress comes in 7 color ways including black, gold, silver, purple, red, cyan, peach and olive. The peach version is shown on the right. Very striking! The folds, creases and shadows are perfect and the way it holds up when you move is very good for a mesh outfit. $400L including shoes. As usual, Inga's "Wind" group members can buy it for 1/2 price ($200L).

Next up is Lana in Red. The underlying mesh template is used in a few other Wind outfits but I particularly like the binary color treatment on this version. Sort of reminds me of some of the 70's era James Bond girl styles! :) Shaken and not stirred please!

Lana is $300L ($150L group) including flats as shown.

Last but not least we have Manon. Now I'm not sure what sort of name Manon is but the textures and patterns are amazing!

I remember trying to do a dress with a similar vertical pattern a long time ago and it was a nightmare trying to make it look square with the avatar mesh making it go all curvy and icky. Thankfully, mesh outfits control the shapes so everything will line up even if your normal avatar shape would prevent it.

Manon is perfect for a day of Second Life shopping or just hanging out with your friends. Like most of Inga's more casual outfits, it has an elegant, upscale feel without being overly designed or pretentious. Manon is a bargain at $200L ($100L group).

As with any mesh outfit, not all viewers will display them correctly AND until mesh deforming makes its way into the main viewers, you may have to adjust your shape to fit them. With Inga's outfits, I've found that setting your tummy to 0 will prevent most meshie faux-pas.

Here's the SLURL to her store but note that it can be slow to rez. She has a LOT of items out so you may want to set your draw distance and graphics quality lower to make things go faster!