December 30, 2008

A case for a universal gift card system in SL

My friend Alicia Chenaux brought up the idea of an atomic-world giftcard system for Second Life:
"You're at the store, you pick up a card because you have a little extra cash since you decided NOT to buy the double fudge brownies, and then whenever you need some $L in here, you punch in the code and there you go. Or your friends/family can buy you a card for holidays or special occasions[...]"
This is similar to two ideas I had in the past:
  1. One of the large web portals like XstreetSL or OnRez should issue giftcards that can be used on their web backends or - in case of OnRez - their in-world vendors. Once purchased, the card could be used for any purchase with any of the listed items - the merchants would get L$ put into their accounts after the purchase.

  2. Content creators should join forces and create a giftcard system that would work across shops/brands. An extension to Escort DeFarge's TMC storecard system comes to mind. Basically this would mean I could take a storecard from Insolence and use it at Truth. Of course the financial transactions behind the scenes would require quite some thought.
I gave out a few of giftcards for Christmas, and even though I got positive feedback I always was in doubt if the card for a specific store was the right one for the recipient (for example if a single woman would really enjoy an Insolence storecard with noone to show her lingerie off to).

A universal gift card system, or at least one supported by major content creators, would be a significant enhancement. Of course there are issues to consider:
  • Acceptance
    There needs to be a critical mass of shops to accept the system. In case of XstreetSL or OnRez, the individual merchants would not need to do anything while at the same time providing a really large base. In case of a content-creator developed system it would not be good if only 2 shops accept it. Again an extension to TMC would be my preference.

  • Security
    The questions is not IF, but WHEN there will be attempts to hack such a system. So there need to be tight security mechanisms, but not as tight as make the system unusable. For a web-based system, entering a simple code seems most appealing, but might be subject to brute force attacks. An in-world system might be less in danger.

  • Trust
    Gift certificates I saw (and used) so far ranged from 200 L$ to 2000 L$. Newcomers trying to establish a giftcard system might hit reluctance based on trust, especially for higher values. Again, established players will have an advantage here.
I see large potential in a system like this, and the first to come out with one will have a large advantage on the market. I look forward to it.

December 29, 2008

My Best Christmas Present

I got quite a few Christmas gifts, and I intended to make a blog post about them. But I just got the biggest and best Christmas present ever:

"Dear Peter Stindberg,
You have received a Second Life partner proposal from Skinkie Winkler.
Please visit the link below to view the proposal:"

me: lol - How romantic -:P
Skinkie: :P
me: How comes?
Skinkie: Well, I wanted to give you something money can't buy
me: /me smiles
lol, and now the SL website won't load for me
Skinkie: :-(
me: It. Won't. Load.
Ah, there it comes
Skinkie: calm down, you have a week anyway

Update: My "How comes" caused some raised eyebrows. Initially we discussed to do the partnering during a small ceremony among friends. So her taking the initiative was quite a surprise for me, and my "How comes" was meant along the lines of 'what caused you to propose all of a sudden?'.

What's in my bag

Seems I can't resist a challenge, but mostly I did this one because I did not see any guys bag yet, So without further ado - here's my bag:

  1. Samsonite laptop bag - large enough to hold more stuff, sturdy enough to survive bicycle rides and rain
  2. Moleskin pocket book - in the bag for over a year now and still virgin
  3. Business cards - yeah, call me a dork
  4. Slim bay DVD-RW drive, taken out for the benefit of a secondary battery (I usually don't carry the drive around, only if I expect to need it)
  5. A cheap Leatherman clone - I was always too greedy to buy me the original, and always forget to ask for it for Christmas or birthday
  6. My wallet - I need about one per year and I am anal about finding one with TWO sections for coins. The wallet is always too full :-(
  7. Cellphone, NO camera, NO internet plan and generally rather crappy
  8. Aloe Vera lipstick for chaffed lips, bought in Napa Valley in the last century and still not empty
  9. Lock and keys, part of the bag, never used
  10. Air France earplugs and eye mask, also never used but it seemed like a good idea to carry it around with me
  11. Bluetooth headset, as crappy as its 3 predecessors, but at least this one still lives and does not break after a month
  12. USB stick 4GB, with an essential kit of tools for emergency troubleshooting
Not shown:
  • Laptop (I write this blogpost on it)
  • Allergy emergency medication (taken out for the holidays)
  • A book or magazine (taken out for the vacation too)
  • A pen (needed it yesterday)

December 23, 2008

Nominated again

Official results are not published yet, but from inofficial sources I know that I did not make it into the top 3. Saffia Widdershins of Prim Perfect reached a well deserved 2nd place, the winner's name I have not heard before (which does not mean she has not deserved it).

A few minutes ago I learned that I got nominated for yet another award - the prestigous Vain Readers' Choice Awards 2008 in the category "Social Butterfly". I'm not exactly sure what that means, especially since I am not a party animal hopping from place to place.

There are a lot of great people and brands nominated too, I am especially pleased about the following nominations:
  • Best new designer: Skinkie Winkler
  • Best jewelry: ~flirt~
  • Best furniture design: GREENE concept
Update: I just learned that I came in a "close 4th" in the Entrepreneur of the Year 2008 awards - with the most votes for a male contestant.

December 19, 2008

Peer group pressure, social obligations and the loss of innocence

A few days ago, Eshi Otawara did a large event revealing her latest fashion line. I met Eshi once or twice, IMed with her a few times more. We are loosely connected through groups we are both members in and by joint friends - I was sympathetic to her cause and hardship she experienced since her husband passed away. I once outbid her at an auction. She once gave me a preview version of a shirt she designed, and I gifted her with some GREENE concept furniture. I quite like her as a genuine and creative person. In short, paying her the honors by visiting her show would be the natural thing to do, and in fact a few people asked whether I go - assuming I would.

I did not. I felt paying Eshi the honors would be overshadowed of this being a "who is who in SL" event. It got even explicitly mentioned to me that this would be a good opportunity to "be seen". I had a lot of things on my mind - my first life is challenging as ever, my second life a bit overshadowed too. And I just was not in the mood to attend a social event, to maintain relationships, to network. Instead I sat in my SL office and brooded, was in bad mood, felt compelled, even obliged to attend this event. Eventually, I got saved by a friend who needed a guinea pig to test a new product, and I had a fun hour with her, and later two fun hours with Trin and Aimee.

Fun. It's rare in SL these days. It feels as if my SLife is as full with obligations as my first life. Mostly business obligations, followed by social obligations. They consume my time, they consume my attention, they consume my mood. When was the last time I met someone new? When was the last time I went exploring? When was the last time I made a new friend? When was the last time I helped a newbie? When was the last time I got involved in a new project? When was the last time I went to a club, a concert?

The other day, out of a whim, I rezzed a rarely used business alt. I wanted to check a few things out, but wanted to avoid group IM's and a few notecards waiting for me. Suddenly I found myself in a rather busy place, with a group of new residents, and before long, I showed a few newbies the ropes and had some real fun and interesting talk with them. Of course they all offered friendship, and I felt bad for removing them secretly again as I wanted to keep the alt clean. The bottom line, however, is that I felt free and unburdened for the first time in weeks if not months. And for a split second, it seemed an appealing idea to have Peter Stindberg commit SLuicide, and to start over new, rediscover the magic new.

I wonder where and when my SLife has lost its innocence? And I wonder how I can get the fun and the magic back.

December 17, 2008

50 reasons why you should quit your real life and stick to Second Life

Here's me and my big mouth. Last week Prad Prathivi shared some thoughts of why bloggers blog and how they shape the perception of SL, as well as about his own motivation:
"When I start talking about the joys of Mono over LSL, I’ve run out of things to say and you can declare this blog dead."
In the comments I mentioned that I disagree with this statement, and that I look forward to an article on his view of LSL vs. Mono. And I was careless enough to challenge him:
"What about a challenge, our own personal Mix’n'Match? You write an article about Mono vs. LSL, and you assign me a topic too."
Well, here I am, with a topic assigned by Mr. Prathivi himself. Being an immersionist myself, and using Second Life as escapeism to get an hour of peace a day from a stressful and challenging RL situation, that should not be too hard actually....

"The problem is all inside your head" she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I'd like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways to ...."

  1. You can live your goddamn dream and be whatever you want to be, any shape, size, color, gender, race, species, any occupation, morale, ethics
  2. You are as young, old, athletic, fat, tall, short, etc. as you like
  3. All clothes fit, there are no annoying and over eager store clerks trying to talk you into ill fitting overprices items that need to be cleared
  4. You can cam around, and don't need mirrors to see the back of your head
  5. You don't need to eat, drink or dispose of your bodily wastes (unless you want to do all of this)
  6. That was 10% already - that's not too bad
  7. Number 6 was cheating, so I should come up with 52 :-(
  8. SL money gets you farther than RL money (at least in my case)
  9. You can die and ressurrect (and even reincarnate) at will
  10. No communicable diseases (unless you count treasure-hunt-fever), in fact no diseases at all (unless you count inventory loss)
  11. You can fly
  12. You can be an architect, clothing designer, photographer, engineer, photomodel or any other high profile occupation and gather worldwide audience - while theoretically this is possible in RL as well, it usually is hard for people at the age of typical SL residents
  13. You don't have to pay taxes (tier is in fact more a rent)
  14. Your government has no stoopid ideas of invading other countries for dubious reasons, or helping other countries to do the same, or generally stoopid ideas regarding other governments/countries/religious or social beliefs/etc.
  15. Your government has no smart ideas either, now that I think about it
  16. We have a government? I thought it was a dictatorship, or maybe a monarchy...
  17. Your penis is detachable, and you can exchange it for the latest model easily. In case you are of the female persuasion, replace "penis" with skin/hair/pubic hair/pussy/nipples/tail/ears/whiskers/wings ... or keep the penis
  18. Getting tattooed out of a whim did not necessarily involve having been to a shady bar near the harbor, is less painful (except for your wallet) and can be reverted easily
  19. You can walk through walls: on purpose using a non-phys vehicle, or for the fun challenge called "sim crossing"
  20. You can ski, snowboard, paraglide, parachute, scuba dive, etc. without risking your physical health, spending a fortune or train for many years sacrificing your youth to over ambitious parents
  21. You can do business with half naked demonesses, catpeople, aliens, robots, faeries, etc. and nobody is surprised or questions your mental health
  22. Photographing is cheaper than in RL (yes, do the math)
  23. This one is courtesy of Rika Watanabe: Making SL shopping eat you out of house and home takes some real determination.
  24. Nobody worth mentioning cares if you are gay, lesbian, polyamorous, into BDSM or all of it together - in fact being plain vanilla seems rather the exception
  25. You can have friendships and partnerships (business and intimate) with people from all over the world. While this is technicaly possible in RL as well, it is much harder to pull off.
  26. Sunshine and beaches 365 days a year, even without living in the Carribean (not coutning the Christmas craze) - in fact do your own wheather
  27. Teleporting - how could I forget that
  28. You can have cheap entertainment by going to places with advanced newbies and switching transparencies on to see what attachments they "proudly" wear
  29. You can do swordfights, firefights and all other type of combat with your best friend without having to answer embarrasing questions to their weeping SO afterwards
  30. Shameless publicity plug while I think of better answers: jewellery is much more affordable
  31. Having breasts bigger than your head, or having shoulders broader than a quarterback's in full armor, supported by a waist thin as your wrist doesn't hurt anywhere as much as it should.
  32. For men: your erection stands tall as long as you wish, and you can climax as many times in a row as you want
  33. For women: you can have sex while being on the phone with one of the girls.... erm...
  34. Most shops give you a free sample of their merchandise, to keep and use as long as you wish
  35. Banks and stock exchanges are greedy, dubious at best, and game with your money - while this stands true in RL as well, there is no need to keep up the facade in SL
  36. Marriage and divorce are significantly cheaper, and do not involve a bureaucratic nightmare
  37. Also no bureaucratic nightmares for building your house, boat, plane, prison, temple, weaponry, shop or any other abonimation you might come up with
  38. Mute/Eject/Ban gets you effective peace from stalkers and other annoying creatures without the need to hire hitmen or lawyers
  39. Vampires ask politely and "no" is an answer
  40. You can talk to n people simultaneously with each of them assuming they have your full attention (where n determines on your stack depth and multitaksing capacities - n=2 for me, your milage may vary)
  41. Nobody can force you to do anything! (Except land owners can force you to leave, and Lindens can force you to probably everything)
  42. You can have your breakfast in a space station, your lunch in Barcelona, and your dinner in Middle Earth without wondering all the time how to get out of the straight jacket.
  43. You can sit on a crocodile, ride a bird, stand in a lava stream and shop in the clouds
  44. You can BUILD a crocodile, a bird, a lava stream or open a shop in the clouds
  45. You can have a lot of fun having little or no money - if you are smart and ressourceful nobody will even notice
  46. There are no insurance agents and used car salespeople
  47. There are no elections that really change things - just fashion/design/business related elections. However one can doubt if elections in RL really change things either...
  48. Courtesy of Trinity Dechou: you don't need to move when getting a coffee
  49. Courtesy of Rika again: This is a world that can be saved, which, for the other one, is not certain.
  50. You can directly speak to SLebrities - they still can chose to ignore you, but there are no layers of agents/secretaries/managers/etc. between you and them
  51. You can BECOME a SLebrity, and all it takes is skills and communication talent (skip the skills for some SLebrities)
  52. Don't dream it - be it!
On a personal note: My first life is subject to many challenges, including a special condition of a person close to me, which makes the daily life very hard. My second life gives me a lot of things that my first life does not provide, among others respect, appreciation and wealth. Leading my second life is an act of escapeism for me. An hour or two of peace a day, an hour or two of life how I wish it to be . Naturally more than once I have thought how it would be to fully live in SL. There were moments where I would have happily sacrificed my atomic existence had a scientist offered me to transfer my mind into SL. But in fact my second life helps me with coping with my first life better. It helps me with my self esteem issues, it helps me with my shyness, it helps me with discovering my strenghts. I consider myself an immersionist, but the effect Second Life has on me is an augmentistic one. Leading a second life has a therapeutic and positive effect on my first life. Use Second Life as a tool. Live your goddamn dream!

December 12, 2008

Men and women

Dyami Jameson, my neighbour who I barely met before, and the boyfriend of my friend CeNadra, has posted a small quote in his blog that got a lot of positive comments from his female audience:

"When I asked you to listen to me and you start giving me advice, you have not done what I asked"

This advice neglects a very fundemental thing, that women time and again point out: Men and women are different! And that, in fact, as miserable as it often makes situations, is good. Men and woman can't be too similar, or our society and even our species would be in big trouble (it's a different matter if that is good or bad).

The wiring of the brain of men and women is different, and it is one trait of men that they seek for solutions. A man can't stop his cogwheels spinning - when confronted with a situation, with a problem, he WILL start to look at new angles and he WILL start to look - and often find - solutions.

Those of us who are able to suppress this - and I personally fail more often in that than I succeed - have learned so by tough training and survived fights with ther partners. And even though we "only" listen, our cogwheels spin nevertheless. We just learned by experience to better shut up.

It is not a sign of love if we "only" listen. It is training. It is not a sign of carelessness when we suggest answers and solutions. We would not suggest answers and solutions if we would not care about you. It is our way to show love and appreciation to you, to take your issues seriously, and to try and come up with solutions to ease your issues.

December 10, 2008

Dress me up!

Achariya launched a nice challenge, so I wonder what my dear readers come up with. Plus it gave me an excuse to not only show my naked butt again, but also show off the great shorts Skinkie gave me from Alphamale.

1. Post a picture of yourself in your underpants.
2. In this post, invite your readers to suggest a particular outfit (or hair, jewelry, shoes, skin, etc.) from a designer for you to purchase and write about. (Designers, feel free to suggest items from your own line - why not, after all?) People who respond should explain why they like these items.
3. In the next few weeks, look back over the suggestion list and incorporate these ideas into your regular blogging, marking these entries with the tag "dress me up." Post in as many or few suggestions as you want. It's up to the blogger's discretion to pick which items to wear, so no complaining if they don't pick your idea, K? :D

December 09, 2008

Kru Flan

I have a crush on Kru Flan. I have never met her in-world, never actually visited her shop, but I enjoy her regular "Today's Modeling Pose" blog posts on the fashion feed. I think she has one of the cutest avatars ever, and the poses she makes are just lovely.

So if you look for new poses, go and visit her shop or read her blog.

That's all I wanted to say. Photo used by permission.

December 08, 2008

Ornamental Christmas

It's all Ana Lutetia's fault! Back in October she blogged about flirting in Ornamental Boudoir, showing the jewellery creations of my girlfriend Skinkie Winkler together with some beautiful lingerie from a designer I have not heard of before - Shir Dryke of Ornamental Life.

Photo courtesy of Ana Lutetia

I visited Shir's shop on a few occasion since then, and I really like the quality of the creations. Her lingerie brings fresh colors and original concepts, and her regular clothing has a casual chique that can be combined with a lot of outfits. And - as my friend Ivanova points out - finally a designer who is "Not afraid of the color green".

Recently, Shir Dryke announced a 50% storecard sale with a rather sad photo. I emailed her and asked about the reason for the sad face, and she shared some RL issues with me. I respect and admire her request for not dragging those issues into public, but if you like Shir's creation, I would like to urge you to take advantage of her storecard sale - you really help her with that.

December 02, 2008

Nominated as Entrepreneur of the year - please vote

To my huge surprise I got nominated as "SL Entrepreneur of the Year 2008" by the SL business publication "SL Entrepreneuer Magazine". I am very thrilled about this - Babel Translations has been a challenging project for the last 18 months but one which fills me with pride and satisfaction.

If you are so inclined, you can vote for me on this website. The competition is fierce as there are some great names on that list, so many thanks to all of you who cast their vote for me. In any case, being nominated is a great award already.

November 29, 2008

Building a box

I'm cooperating on a product with my friend Rika Watanabe at the moment. It is a server appliance for a specific task in SL, and the first development versions were located in your run-of-the-mill plywood boxes. As the project become more advanced, we figured it needs to be in some sort 19" server rack. I had a texture for this ready, and in fact it started to look more professional. But at the same time boring, and too possible-in-real-life. A further complication came as the device is used to rez objects, and due to technical limitations, the objects get rezzed at its center before being moved to their location.

Thinking a bit outside the box, and a bit not-possible-in-real-life, we gathered a hollow cube would be best for this. So I started to build a hollow box, and soon it became obvious this will be a "microwave on steroids". I used a technique called "baking textures" in my RL-3D application, and developed a very sci-fi like cube. Some subtle glow effects, and some equally subtle particle effects by Rika, and voilá - a very SL like version of a cube.

November 18, 2008

Two essential HUD's for shopping in SL

Within the course of a few days I came across two HUD's that will have quite an impact on shopping in SL. Funny enough the first of them, CAMsync, is almost exactly what I brainstormed about myself a few weeks ago. The other one, Treasure Hunt Radar, is certainly controversial.

CAMsync, by Lalwende Leakey, 390 L$
I am a walking-shopper. When I enter a shop I like to stroll around, walk to each display and look. Most of my friends are camming-shoppers. They root themselves somewhere in the entrance of the shop and cam around to look at the displays. Typical conversations go like this:
Them: Do you see the one with white?
Me: Which one?
Them: Over there, next to the one in yellow.
Me: On the floor we are on?
Them: Dunno, but there is a blue next to it.

It drives me CRAZY! Enter CAMsync - this clever HUD consist of a Master and a Slave HUD. You give the Slave to a friend and both HUD's will synchronize. And then your friend sees exactly the same thing you see as well. And with a click on the Master or Slave button you can swap control over the camera. The synchronization of the cameras can be stopped anytime and works within the whole sim - the avatars can be as far away as possible.
The HUD costs 390 L$ - an extensive feature description and a SLURL to the shop can be found here. Also on XStreetSL.

Treasure Hunt Radar, by Rika Watanabe, 99 L$
My girlfriend Skinkie introduced me to the suspense of treasure hunts, and since we are together I must have participated in countless hunts. Skinkie is a very skilled hunter, but even though I find the odd item, I am rather hopeless in this. Still I enjoy doing hunts, and seeing new shops and content creators, and more often then not I use the opportunity to buy items.

For the unskilled hunter like myself, Rika Watanabe has developed the Treasure Hunt HUD. You need to find at least one treasure yourself, then you feed the HUD with the name of the treasure. From then on, you simply stroll through the shop and look around, and whenever a treasure comes within scanning range, the HUD will make a sound and list the treasure in its hovertext. A simple click on the "Zoom" icon, and your camera is conveniently zoomed onto the object. More information can be found here. Also on XStreetSL.

A lot of people - among them Skinkie as well - may see this as cheating. Admittedly, it makes finding treasures very easy. While certainly a lot of people will use a HUD like this (and "object finders" are as old as hunts are) to drop in, grab the treasures and leave again, people like myself will see it as a welcome help, so I can focus more on the shop itself, and the merchandise offered while casually collecting the treasures. Or find those blasted last 3 treasures I did not find the regular way. Then again there are many content creators who set their hunt items on sale for 1 L$ and get a significant revenue from them. In those cases, the HUD actually helps increase their revenue. It all boils down to the individual user. If you are inclined to spend money, you will do so with or without HUD. If you are not inclined to, you will not - regardless if you use the HUD or not.

November 17, 2008

It's a man's world. Not.

My friend Quaintly participated in the recent Blogger's Mix'n'Match as well and got the topic to investigate into ways of "keeping new male residents engaged in SL". Gender roles in SL have always been a topic close to my heart, so I more than willing gave her detailed feedback to her minisurvey. However due to the space constraints of the mix and match she could not get too much into detail, so - in accordance with her - I publish my full answers to her survey here:

1. How did you first hear/get into Second Life?

I am an avid read of the gadget/technology/lifestyle/humour blog Throughout the course of 2006 there were a lot of articles about SL, especially about the events like concerts and lectures held in SL. When I first downloaded the client, membership came at a fee which I was not prepared to pay. In late 2006 I made a second attempt and subscribed. By that time I was much involved with industrial grade 3D development, so I also had a professional interest in SL.

2. What made you stay?

My first attempt at building was dreadful (I wish I had been more persistent back then), as I was used much better tools from my RL 3D application. I early was dragged into the BDSM subculture in which I only had a marginal interest. Both was a rather sobering experience. What made me stay where the friendships I found, and the interesting people I found mostly via their blogs.

3. How long have you been in SL?

A little over 2 years now.

4. When a resident first joins SL, everything is fascinating and new. Based on your own experience, do you think a male resident is more or less likely to remain in SL after this initial introduction period, compared to a female? Please explain your answer.

A male is less likely to stay. SL is more of a social platform than a game. In fact SL is not a game at all. It lives from social interactions between the residents, from forming relations, networks,
friendships and bonds. Males are usually not good in this. They want challenges, tasks and goals - all this is not apparent in SL. You need to find your own purpose in SL, make your own goals, find your own tasks. This makes SL less attractive compared to a kill-all-enemies-grab-all-gold type of game.

A second aspect is that SL is a very feminine world. Fashion and fashion related things take up a huge portion. Where a female resident can immediately relate to - dressing up dolls - male residents have a hard time. Not only are the offers for male residents spares, they also are likely to get into the stereotypes of Conan the Barbarian and thus ridicule themselves.

5. What might "encourage" a male resident to want to stay in SL?

I think a better appearance from the start might be a good encouragement, as male residents feel set back by the mostly ridiculous choices the get born with. As silly as it may sound, the lack of a male genital is also discouraging, as it is an important part for a male, and its not being there - not even as an option - feels like an injustice an disadvantage. With respect to the more prude new residents, a checkbox during signup whether the avatar should receive a genital or not might be good.

Finally, new male residents need a challenge, a purpose. Making the orientation station a kind of challenging game with a reward (L$ or equipment) might make a much better introduction. Also sending males to "typically male" locations (space/sci-fi, cars, weapons/combat) might be good. This void is filled by the SL red light district and is part for the bad reputation of SL. I would think that male residents who get involved in an immersive roleplay (post-apocalyptic or medieval/fantasy) early on are much more likely to stay than residents who get dumped into fashion- or striptease malls.

6. What kind of resources do you feel are lacking in-world for male residents compared to female residents?

Apart from what I said above, the mis-ratio between good female clothing and good male clothing is a big issue. Also goal driven activities. Its a stereotype, but give each new male resident a fishing rod and a shotgun, fill the Linden seas with fish and the forests with deer, reward each trophy with 1 L$ or status points or gadgets, and the crucial first days and weeks pass easier.

7. Do you feel that SL should be marketed differently to males and females? Please explain your answer.

Definitely, and I answered this in the questions above though. For women, SL is a natural environment of communication, networking, bonding and fashion. For males it is an alien place. Market the explorative aspects to the guys, the building, the gadgets, the programming, the geekiness. Maybe even market the sex appeal to them.

8. Have you ever had a female alt? Why or why not?

I have control over 3 female store alts, but they are strictly tied to a function and do not socialize (or if they do, the people know about them). I was tempted a lot to create a female alt and use it under disguise. Ultimately however it would mean I would deceive someone, most likely someone who I get close with, and I don't want to do this.

November 12, 2008

Noobish SL experience through present

[This is a guest blog post as the result of the Blogger's Mix and Match challenge. It is written by Ari Blackthorne of - the topic got suggested by Zoe Connolly of aviatrix Zoe Connolly.]

I have always been interested and dabbled in photography, moving-making, sound design and the like since i can remember. Then along came the pernosal computer and I was hooked. I've owned many varients, including the Amiga.

At the time, to me, Amiga was absolutely the best platform because of it's power at three-dimentional modelling and ray-tracing abilities. The demise of the Amiga and other systems is a story for some other time, or better yet, the WIKIPEDIA.

Suffice it to say that I have been modelling in 3D and ray tracing since my first application on the Amiga, called 3D Studio, circa 1988 or so. I've been following the 3D modelling and creation business ever since.

The 3D gaming scene caught my interest with the start of "Unreal". Not so much for the gaming aspect as for the graphics artwork created. I found myself more in-tune with creating worlds and maps for Unreal.

Then, on spring of 2006, I was subscribed to a podcast that was about movie production. And one episode covered machinima and what it is. In that episode, they featured Second Life as a large platform for the creation of machinima and i had to take a look.

My first hour in SL was not the typical experience most might have. Yes, I was a newbie, but with a 3D mindset, in awe of what I was seeing,, even though I didn't know I could actually do anything yet. My first week was simply exploring, looking at all the builds.

Then I discovered how there really is no purpose to SL, other than as a social thing. So I did as most newbies do: I mapped the bundles of dot and TP's my way around. ventually making a few friends. And thus, my SL adventure started.

The first things on my mind, for about the first two months or so had mostly to do with simply exploring, makeing friends and seeing everything that was out there.I had no agenda or particualr crave for anything. In fact, I went to classes back then, to learn the building tools and tricks of buying things and basically learning all things Second Life viewer.

It wasn't until about four or five months into it before I started frequenty the seedier side of SL. That brothels and sex orgy clubs and so on. I rand around the BDSM locations and usually laughed. But hey, I figured, SL is the great experiement. not only for Linden lab, but also for the people using Second Life.

I also frequented the 'child play' cultures. I wanted to see what's up. i learned a lot and I made some friends. They really are just in it for the fun. The whole ageplay fiasco has nothing to do with them, but unfortunately, most people live on knee-jerk emotionalism.

I peeked in at other areas of the world - art, vampire cutlures, BDSM, Gor and so one. I never really got into any sort of role playing. Even when i got my first full-sized dragon avatar (that was a nightmare I'll write about sometime) - I still wasn't much into role playing.

I eventually bought a sim. It was and is relatively successful. I don;t know why i did it - I don;t even try to make any kind of profit from it. I guess it's just fun providing for other people because i'm able to do it. Nothing more than that.

I do now role play. I role play in the Gorean community and before you go rolling your eyes, please - at least read the books and you'll see it's nothing at all like you've heard about.

Now, I spend my time running a role-playing sim and dealing with drama. In the two-plus years in Sl, the "magic" is definately gone. I come into Second Life for the people I know, not Second Life's wonderful worlds. It really is become just a fancy social hangout to meet and be with people you know.

In a nutchell: Second Life was utterly magical and exciting. Thrilling. Uplifting. And now that I have been here a while, all the skeletons are plain to see. The drama, the accusations of I.P. theft, the strife and tribulations that go on among the resdients. The constant controversies.

It really is a different world. It's a lot like real life in fast-motion:

You see the world with wonder and beauty as a child. And as you grow, and gain knowledge and experience, suddenly that same world is full of deceit, danger, and headache.

But I still come don't I?

Don't you?

Ari Blackthorne and

November 01, 2008

The truth about temporary prims - a fun experiment

In the recent discussion about OpenSpace/Void sims, one argument heard often is that people abuse these kind of sims with so-called "temprezzers". There are several extra attributes a prim can have:
  • Physical: the prim gets affected by gravity and impacts with other prims
  • Phantom: the prim can be permeated by other prims abd avatars
  • Temporary: the prim will get deleted without trace after a short while
Temporary prims do get counted on the parcels primcount, but do not get limited by the parcels prim limit. So if a parcel has a prim capacity of 400 prims, you can still have temporary prims exceeding this limit.

The main intended use for temporary prims is to have an object rez props that are only needed for a short time. Many of you have seen palmtrees where every now and then a coconut falls out. The coconut is usually a temporary (and physical) prim, so it vanishes by itself after a short time without littering the parcel and without the need to manually clear it up. Another use for temporary prims are projectiles from weapons like arrows or bullets - again not caring about the parcels prim allotment and not needing to clean up are the main reasons.

However due do the tight prim economy, a second use for temporary prims was found, the so called "temprezzers". A temprezzer consists of a 1-prim base of a regular prim, and then rezzes a complex object (a tree, a yacuzi, a boat - you name it) as a temporary object. As soon as this object gets cleaned up by the simulaor, the temprezzer rezzes a new instance of it. With a temprezzer it is easy to rez way more objects than the parcel prim allotment would otherwise allow.

Now where do these extram prims come from? A full sim has a prim limit of 15000 prims, an OpenSpace/Void sim has a prim limit of 3750 prims. My understanding so far was that a temprezzer "loans" (other people say "steals") free prims from the sim's prim allotment. So if the sim has 14000 of the 15000 prims used, a temprezzer could use a maximum of 1000 prims until it meets the hard limit of the sim's prim allotment.
SL artist and blogger Raul Crimson has a different opinion. He claims that there is an unlimited amount of temporary prims (very much like there is an unlimited amount of prims avatars can have attached to themselves regardless how full the sim is), and that this is one of the problems encountered with OpenSpace abuse.

Time for a test, it seems. Together with Ivanova we logged into the Beta Grid and found an empty sandbox with 15000 prims available. The next question was how to rez 15000 prims. Ivanova experimented a bit with self replicating prims, and we were discussing how a "kill switch" could be implemented since 150000 channel listeners would probably lag a sim down to a halt. Recursive rezzing however proved to be quite mind boggling, and while she still had her head in the script, I started to rez and duplicate cubes. It turned out that by always doubling rezzed cubes, fairly quickly I was able to have piles of 2048 prims so the prim allotment could be used quickly.

Finally we had 14999 prims rezzed and therefore only 1 prim available. The last remaining prim we turned temporary, and then there were two options:
  1. We would not be able to duplicate a second temporary prim (the 15001 on the sim), thus proving me right and Raul wrong.
  2. We would be able to rez more than 15000 prims using temporary prims, thus proving Raul right.
With some suspense, I selected Edit on the temporary prim, and shift-dragged it in order to produce a copy. And to my huge surprise, I was able to make a copy thus having effectively 15001 prims on the sim.
However what was strange is that I could not shift-drag two temporary prims in order to go to 15003 prims. I could make many many surplus prims by shift-dragging a single temporary prim, but I was not able to create bulks of temporary prims. Further investigation would be needed how this affects temprezzers. But fact is: you can have more than 15000 prims on a full sim.

It is interesting to note that the 15000 prims produced quite some lag. Especially mass editing huge piles of prims slowed down operation significantly, not only getting the prims into edit mode, but especially moving and duplicating them. After Ivanova has left, I took on the task to clean up the sandbox (I did not want to have 15000 prims returned to my Lost+Found). So I thought it would be a neat idea to turn them physical (and temporary).

The effect was kind of neat, the piles collapsing in slow motion like in a Matrix movie, with cubes even get propelled away in slo-mo, however the lag was pretty severe. Still, it was fun.

I was pretty surprised that you can in fact exceed a sim's prim allotment with temporary prims. While I considered temprezzers up to now - dependng on their use - as unfair to the sim neighbours as it "steals" their prims, I can see now that they might even pose a real problem by exceeding simulator limits multiple times. However, further investigation is needed. Still the experiment was a lot of fun.

October 27, 2008

6 random facts

Well THANK YOU, Bettye, so the tagging meme season started again. OK, here we go:

Here are the rules:
1. Link to the person that tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Share 6 non-important/habits/quirks about yourself
4. Tag 6 random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs
5. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their website
6. Let your tagger know when your entry is up

Non important habits? NON IMPORTANT? To me my habits and quirks are all important, in a positive as well as in a negative way. They define who I am, what type of person. They shape me, for good, but also for bad. Even an annoying habit shapes me, and therefore it is important for me as it points out things where I need to work on me.

  1. I shave under the shower
    Electric shaving was never my thing, I am a convinced wet shaver. But I also like to sleep, so eventually I found out that shaving under the shower saves some precious minutes. I don't use foam either, but lathe my face with showergel.

  2. I hate traveling
    I like "being there", but I hate the process of traveling. "The way is the goal" was not coined for me. The goal is to be there. This is the reason I prefer flying, as it is the fastest possible. The prospect of sitting hours upon hours in a car makes me crrrrrrrraaaaaazzzzyyy!

  3. I'm a procrastinator
    The fact that I work well under pressure made me build up pressure for many tasks by pushing them until the last possible moment. I know I would be more relaxed if I worked on them on time, but so far procrastinating was more rewarding.

  4. I don't like phones
    I don't like phoning, I don't like to get phoned. Partly this is because I don't like my voice, but I see the telephone as a tool to harass me (even before telemarketers mushroomed). The telephone dictates when I have to answer it. I prefer to go by my own schedule, and thus I don't like phoning.

  5. I slice cucumbers into small discs
    Most people I know slice pickled cucumbers into - well - long slices to put them on a sandwich. I cut them into small discs, and place them on the bread like an intricate mosaic. Allows for more mustard in the gaps as well.

  6. Don't disturb me when I read
    When I have a new book, I read it. From start to finish. Prferably in one row. Don't dare to talk to me or disturb me in any other way. You don't exist when I read a book. Understood? You have been warned!
So far my dirty little secrets every HR person would love to know. Now let's think of 6 victims: Trinity, Therese, Ivanova who needs to blog something new anyways, Elusyve , Cenadra and Kitty!

October 25, 2008

Seduce me to spend more!

The other day a rather well known SL designer released some new female fashion items, and within hours I read excited reports from friends and acquaintances. I sent my girlfriend Skinkie a photo and as expected she fell in love with the creations as well, so we TPed to the shop. There, we found 10 color variations in exceptional quality at the steep but justified price of 400 L$ each. A lot of the designer's items are available as fat packs, but this one was not. As I did in the past I IMed the designer and asked if a fat pack are available, but she was not online. We spent half an hour in the shop, and after trying on the demos we settled for 4 of the 10 packs which were the ones we both liked best. There were another 4 packs we both kind of liked, but did not see as "essential".

Today, I received this offline IM:

[1:44] Wellknown Designer: hi peter, sorry - i spend too much time on each color to justify discounted fatpacks

This left me confused. Already now, I have spent 1600 L$ on her creations, and I made it clear that I was willing to spend more than that. All versions together would have been at 4000 L$. Had she had a fatpack for 3200 L$ (10 for the price of 8) or even 3600 L$ (10 for the price of 9) I would have most likely bought it. So the lack of a fatpack "cost" this designer 1600 L$ or even 2000 L$ of additional revenue.

I asked for some mindshare among the folks on Plurk, and the majority agrees on my assessment. Especially since the tedious process of boxing up the items has been done already, offering a fatpack is not a lot of extra work. I realize that I am in a privileged position to be able to afford the prices mentioned - some commenters on Plurk said they would have to carefully chose one or two items maximum. On the other hand, being involved on the sales side of ~flirt~ fine prim jewellery showed me that while the large majority of customers buy one ore two items, there are still a surprisingly high number of people who buy fatpacks with a 3000 L$ pricetag.

  • As a content creator I think you are well advised to address all kinds of potential customers: the ones on a budget with good and affordable single items, as well as the ones who are willing to spend more with attractive bundle options.
  • There is such a thing like the "upper class of shoppers" in SL, who is prepared to spend large sums of money. Designers should make it as easy for them as possible the spend it.

I will not stop to shop at this designer's outlet since she offers quality and I know her for quite a while. But she could have 2000 L$ more in her account by now, which ultimately some other designer will benefit from.

October 09, 2008

It's my rezday and I cry if I want to

I have an issue with birthdays, since I feel significantly younger than my biological age is. So I always feel a bit anxious when one is around. As SL is special to me, I hoped to make my first rezday last year special as well, so weeks in advance, I put out clues and hints to my friends, and hoped I could celebrate with them - alas none showed up. So this year I decided for myself to not mention it to anybody, so the potential disappointment would be not as drastic.

The first to remember it was my friend Ivanova, who started the congratulations shortly after Midnight SLT time on Plurk, and a lot of friends joined in. Later my close friend and SL sister Trinity joined in, and I received a lot of congratulations over the course of the day. That made me feel good.

Admittedly I was a bit disappointed that my girlfriend Skinkie did not seem to remeber, but when I finally took the courage to tell her she said she's notoriously bad at remembering birthdays at all. However she arranged an impromptu rezday party at the Code Red Lounge, where a lot of friends came and danced and had fun. I'm not the party animal, but I loved that so many folks stopped by. Late in the day, I even did Moggs Oceanlane's "Poppins RezDay Challenge".

So what happened in this last year? Most notably, I met two amazing women. Gina Glimmer, with who I developed a close and closer friendship, until she made me the most happy man in SL by accepting to become my partner in January. Unfortunately we only were granted 3 happy months together, followed by 3 painful months as she was forced to leave SL due to RL obligations. Yet I am deeply grateful to her, and consider myself lucky to see her still around and still have a close friendship to her. And then there is Skinkie Winkler, my girlfriend of over 3 months now, an incredibly "present" woman, who manages to root me firmly on the ground, and with whom I am so much in synch it's wonderful.

With my translation company "Babel Translations" being a success beyond imagination, I was able to take over a competitor early this year. On the business side I also founded "GREENE concept" with my friend Ivanova, developing furniture, and a business company with Trinity. Also Skinkie offered me to become part of her company and take care of the Sales & Marketing side - and I am glad to say my help made a difference.

Another highlight of the past year was also my appearance as Post 6 Guy in the SL Herald, which - as I got told - marked a special event in the Herald's history as it was the first Post 6 that attracted almost no nasty comments. May of my friends were portrayed since then - Trinity, Moggs and Gina, and even the photographer - Bunny - became a friend through this. Hope it's Ivanova's turn soon :-)

What I value most about the last year is the intensification of existing friendships, and finding new friends. The closest person to me (apart of course Skinkie) is my SL sister Trinity, and I only met her early this year by pure chance. I can not imagine how it would be without her friendship. We share openly personal thoughts and insights, and it is eerie how similar we are in many things. Ivanova comes to mind as well - I met her in Januray as a friend of Gina, and now we are very close and even run a company together. Dandellion is the only person I talk about politics a lot. We don't meet that often, but when we talk it usually goes on for hours. Quaintly commented on my blog (I still don't recall how she found it), and she became a very good friend in short time. Tarissa, who speed TPed into my office one day, and from which a long and funny friendship developed. There are a few young friendships, which still need to develop, and I hope to write about them next year. Unfortunately, there are friendships who suffered as well, and time will tell if they can be mended again.

My RL situation is a very difficult one - even became more difficult recently - and I value all of these freindships highly. Even considering the more negative events of the past year, I would not want to miss it for anything. Thank you all who made my SLife an enriching experience!

October 07, 2008

JIRA: Optional text for payments to show up in transaction history

[This is an issue I have filed as VWR-9597 on JIRA]

Avatar-to-Avatar payments show up in the transaction history as "gift". However when buying services, paying staff or other non-vendor transactions, it might be good to know what the payment was actually made for. I suggest an extra input field for freeform text, where the optionally entered text would show up in the transaction histories instead of "gift".

As an addition, llGiveMoney(key destination, integer amount) could get an optional 3rd string parameter with the subject/description line as well, and thus get rid of the "Object pays" nuisance in transaction histories.

If you think this is a useful feature, log in to JIRA with your SL username/password and vote for it using this link:

October 03, 2008

Babel Business Development (What Peter has been up to lately - Part 2)

As my faithful 2 readers know, over a year ago I founded "Babel Translations and Text Creation", by now the largest and oldest translation agency in Second Life. Part of the service of Babel Translations was always to offer conceptual and planning work to clients as well. I did not advertise this - it more came naturally during the discussions with the clients. My close friend and SL sister Trinity Dechou suggested a while ago to branch these services out. We discussed the idea a while, made concepts and plans, a portfolio of services and towards the end of July we founded Babel Business Development, a company offering full service marketing and business services to Second Life companies.

Our slogan is "We make a difference", and our goal is to provide exactly what a business owner in SL needs. Unlike RL, where specialists care for their respective areas, in SL businesses are often run by individuals with limited capacity who need to take care of a lot of things: creating their products and services, handling sales, generating public interest,supporting their clients, etc. Trinity and myself have both RL backgrounds in Sales and Marketing/PR, as well as a track record for being successful in SL. With this experience we offer the tools often forgotten or misunderstood to business. With the ability to view business as an outside source we can offer advice on areas to be developed. One core concept is to give our clients only what they need. We do not want to "take over" their business, not change their ways, not take away the power to make the decisions from them. Our clients remain independent, and get from us as much or as little as they want.

Fairly fast we found our first prospective client, an averagely known fashion designer with her partner, who reported to struggle with sales lately. A visit on site revealed many things with potential for optimization, starting from the layout of their shop, product presentation, and continuing with their blog and brand representation. We prepared a report and a number of next steps, alas we seemed to have overwhelmed them and they literally fled the scene.

We changed a few things in our presentation, and set a "Meet and Greet" on the client's property as the first step, and soon enough we found our second client, a rather well known accessory designer, and conduct a brand research for them as of the writing of this blogpost.

Coming from a country where creating your own business is ridiculously difficult, and been employed my whole adult life, for the third time I am thrilled how easy it is to create a business in SL. People with good ideas, designs and creations can simply start to market them, and the abundance of creativity in SL is proof of that. I did not come to SL to become an entrepreneur - but here I am, running the market leader in translation services, a successful furniture company, being the business soul of another company, and now the co-founder of a business development company. Not only is this fun, not only is this useful, it only taught me a lot about myself.

October 01, 2008

What Peter has been up to lately - Part 1

My friend Quaintly asked me the other day if I plan to update my blog again, and I have to admit, I neglected it very much in the past months. Not that there was nothing blogworthy, but rather because my SLife was extremely busy. So apart from bringing some fresh energy into this blog again, I will report about some of the tings that happened in the past weeks.

Some time ago, my friend and blogger Dandellion Kimban asked me if I would like to take part in a comicstrip project of hers. My career as movie star back in January ended rather aprubtly, so I was more than thrilled by her offer. She asked me to play a priest who explains religion. Mhmm... a comicstrip with message it seems? I asked her what outfit to wear, and she asked if I had any "priestly" clothing, so I pointed her towards a pic I put on Flickr recently.

She was thrilled, even assuming that pic was what subconsciously made her consider me for the role. And so we ended up doing a rather funny shooting in some roleplay enabled church in SL, along with Laleeta, Eidur and Raul Crimson.
Towards the end one of the roleplayers discovered us, and demanded in some rather nasty tone 'what this is about', and we had some silly fun inspecting his venue on behalf of the Second Life Actor's Union, asking him when his fire extinguishers have been examined last.

Today, Dandellion finished the comic, and you can view it online: Die Laughing. Great work, Dandellion.

August 28, 2008

Avatar Rendering Cost debunked

Since the introduction of Avatar Rendering Cost, there was controversy. Like no other tool before, it was quickly used to discreminate. There are reports of avatars being ejected or banned due to too high ARC. Rather drastic opinions on ARC can be read at my friend Kitty ( or at my sister Chey ( My girlfriend Skinkie, who designs jewellery, investigated into that matter and found ways to reduce the ARC of her creations:

But all the time there were people claiming that the ARC has no meaning whatsooever, that the effect is grossly overestimated, and that it is doctoring on a symptom and not the cause of SL laggyness. My friend Tarissa found an interesting blog post, that seems to debunk the myth of ARC = lag.

"Technically, ARC is supposed to measure the computational requirements of rendering a specific avatar with a specific attachment combination. But, it does this in abstract parrots — meaning that it’s units do not correspond directly to any computational power measurement I know of — and the abstract parrots fly wherever they damn well please."
says Rika Watanabe, and continues to line out the experiments she made with high-ARC-objects, that actually bring down the rendered frames per second (FPS) only marginally. She concludes:
"So in effect ARC does little more than promote people competing who can get it higher, and causes lynch mobs when the lag is actually results from poor server performance or excessive numbers of avatars on screen."
The full article can be found here:

I think further investigation is needed, before ARC is used to discreminate even further. I also think ARC actually distracts from the real issue - that the SL grid is not really scalable and has some inherent design flaws. It's ridiculous that a sim crashes when there are 80 avatars on it, and it is ridiculous that an empty sim gets attributed the same CPU power like a full sim. Assigning a fixed number of CPU's or servers to a sim is not exactly scalable.

And let's not forget that scripts and uninspired use of textures have a huge share on lag as well. Sim owners are better advised to streamline their scripts and tune down their textures than to discreminate against high ARC avatars.

And no, I don't know the ARC of my avi - never bothered to check.

Update 1: My ARC for my typical outfit is 1054.
Update 2: You can switch off rendering of all other avatars via Advanced -> Rendering -> Types -> Character - that is pretty antisocial but will make you move smooth even in laggy sims

July 25, 2008

Linden Lifestyles closes

I can still remember when - as a newbie - I found the Linden Lifestyles website, and got introduced to the world of SL fashion by it. Since then I am a constant reader, even though the majority of designs are for the females of Second Life only. Still I could admire the creativity, find items for my friends, and even spot the occasional unisex item. Even my own creation, Plywood Man, got featured on LL once.

Today, Salome Strangelove announced that Linden Lifestyle closes for good due to time constraints. I am really sad about that, and I do hope there will be an attempt to rescue the site, as it will be dearly missed.

July 22, 2008

Teen Grid signups broken - as if being a teenager is not challenging enough

I recently had the pleasure to meet the creator of the web-based text only SL viewer AjaxLife, Katharine Berry. Katharine is a 16 year old teenager from Great Britain, and therefore limited to the Teen Grid, a seperated part of Second Life used as sandbox for those not of legal age. Katharine is an avid software developer and was recognized in last year's Hippo Awards by Linden Lab.

Today, she pointed a severe issue with Teen Grid registrations out. Unless you are in the US, Teen grid registrations are almost impossible due to bugs in the signup process. Katharine has reported the bug on JIRA, but is afraid it will not become prominent enough to get onto the Linden radar.

So even is you are not directly affected, please vote for this on JIRA:

July 20, 2008

Coming full circle

Yes, I have been unusually quiet for the last 10 days. The reason for this is, that the last 10 days have been an emotional roller coaster ride for me, which made me cry tears of pain and tears of joy (sometimes at the same time) on an almost daily basis.

The event that marked the beginning of those intense 10 days is that I met a wonderful person. This person, of which I will surely tell more when the time is right, made me realize that I was in a state of limbo. Drifting, rather than actively living my second life.

The event that marked the end of those intense 10 days was that I finally could embrace my wonderful partner Gina Glimmer in-world again, after having spoken barely for about 15 minutes total during the last 10 weeks. And in an amicable athmosphere, with full trust, love and appreciation, we resolved our partnership at the same place where I proposed to her almost exactly 6 months before. I hugged and kissed my SL wife for a last time, only to hug and kiss her as my closest SL friend the second later.

Between those two events, I had to intentionally hurt one of my friends, with whom I hope friendship can be achieved again after some healing has taken place. And between those events I unintentionally hurt another friend of whose feelings I was not aware.
Between those two events, I also experienced the most intense and most shaking hour I ever had in SL, and on which I tend to report in a bit. And between those events I happened to find myself on the racing track for Relay for Life, fundraising for cancer research, and all the time thinking of my mother who struggles with this illness.

I have come full circle now, and I am ready to start my second lap in SL. Those 10 days leave me matured, and with sharpened senses. And my thank goes to my ex-wife and now friend Gina, my SL sister Trinity, my friend Ivanova, and to a very special person - thank you all for not letting me down, for being fair, for being brutally honest, for hugging me when I needed it, for listening, and for encouraging me.

My second lap in SL wll start now.

July 06, 2008

Space Navigator

Everything about the Space Navigator has been said already. A very good article by my friend Trinity covers it all. Apart from Trinity, my partner Ivanova of GREEN concept uses it too. So all I can add is - it's really as awesome as it seems!

Giving in to peer group pressure, part 1

The last few days I was giving in to a lot of peer group pressure. I plan to write more about my ventures into Web-2.5-social-networking later, for now, here's my Flickr personality. There is a set of 12 questions, to which you type the answer into the Flickr search box, and where you are supposed to pick an image from the first result page.

1. What is your first name? Peter
2. What is your favorite food? Pizza
3. What high school did you go to? Treviris
4. What is your favorite color? Yellow
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Kate Moss
6. Favorite drink? Single Malt Whisky
7. Dream vacation? Scotland
8. Favorite dessert? Tiramisu
9. What you want to be when you grow up? happy
10. What do you love most in life? Peace, Love and Respect
11. One Word to describe you. vulnerable
12. Your flickr name. Peter Stindberg

July 04, 2008

Some thoughts for my readers from the USA

Dear readers from the USA,

I wish you a very pleasant Holiday - from my understanding one of the few Holidays where you actually do not have to work. Those of you who know me a bit better will remember that I was raised in gratitude and admiration for the US of A, and still your country holds a lot of fascination (in a positive way) for me. You also know that I keep a critical distance, and in my opinion the events of the last few years leave a lot of room for criticism.

But a nation consists of its citizens, and the majority of citizens of the USA I met - and even more you guys, which I consider my friends - are just good people trying to live a normal life. It is YOU who can make a difference! Regardless whether you feel closer to the elephant or the donkey, my wish for this National Holiday of yours is that you try to make a difference in your daily lives.

By chance of birth or by choice you are a part of a great nation, a nation who was synonymous for freedom and justice. It is in your hands to make a change for the better. Every single one of you can contribute to make the world a better place. A million small hands doing a million small things have a huge effect. Be proud of your nation, but not for pride's sake, but for your own work you put into it.

Today is a day for you to celebrate. But when the fireworks smoke has dissipated, it is also a day for thoughts. As citizens of the USA you have a great responsibility. Accept it, and take it on. And do your own small contribution.

Happy 4th of July!

July 03, 2008

Visit the Rezzable sims as long as they are still there

Two days ago, RightAsRain Rimbaud of UK based Rezzable announced something that should have sent shock waves through the SL blogs, but surprisingly has only been picked up by one major blog so far: paid admission to the Black Swan sim.

With immediate effect, you have to buy (and wear) a device for 199 L$ in order to visit Black Swan. The device allows permanent access to the sim - if you don't wear it, sentry drones hovering around Black Swan will eject you. RightAsRain said paid admission in Black Swan is a test run and might be implemented in other Rezzable sims, and in fact the drones hovering above the sims are a familiar sight for visitors of sims like Surfline.

The 199 L$ are not a large sum of money for me, and certainly money well spent to see the truly magnificent creations of Black Swan. For Surfline, on the other hand, while being one of my favorite places, I would not spend the money. And also not for Crimson Shadow which - apart from being a stunning build - is predominantly a shop.

What strikes me as odd - and concerns me to a degree - is that this move on behalf of Rezzable has DESPERATION written all over it.

I still remember the early days of Rezzable. Beautiful sims started to appear, and its creators hid under a veil of secrecy. Residents speculated about the purpose, while enjoying the barely-seen-before wonders. Slowly, the veil got lifted, but still there was no apparent business model recognizable. The most likely explanation was that they were building an impressive showcase in order to acquire corporate clients for custom built sims. Well, maybe I have lived under an SL rock, but no corporate account brought in-world by Rezzable comes to mind. In fact, RightAsRain Rimaud even explicitly named L'Oreal as a corporate account that pulled out from sponsoring Rezzable.

Yes, after a certain time, we saw a little commerce going on on Rezzable sims. Some clothing on Surfline and Crimson Shadow, or the availability to purchase statues and miniatures of exhibits. Certainly nothing to sustain Rezzable as a company. And now the admittance fee to Black Swan. So let's do the math. Rezzable has at least 25 sims. Even after the reduced pricing of late, this will amount to some 7500 US$ on island tier alone. Per month. Throw in staff and office locations in RL, to end up with a very significant monthly cost - and no apparent business model to generate revenue.

Enter the admittance fee. Traffic in SL is an issue on its own, so let's just speculate. I think it is safe to assume that Black Swan attracts 100 visitors a day, which makes 700 per week or 2800 for the month (let's disregard repeat visitors for the moment). Those 2800 visitors multiplied by 199 L$ for the admission fee leaves Rezzable with a comfortable 1500 US$ revenue, enough to pay the tier of 6 sims. But there is a flaw in the calculation. Several flaws indeed. Flaw number one is repeat visitors. I personally was probably 10 times or more on Black Swan, and a lot of my friends visited multiple times as well. For the sake of this example let's assume 10% repeat visitors. Then there is a lot of people who can simply not afford the 199 L$ admittance. Half a year ago, I would have thought it over several times before spending that money. So let's assume 1/3 of people who CAN'T pay the fee. And certainly a number of people who have the standpoint that sims in SL should be free and therefore refuse to pay the cover charge. Let's assume another third of those. That leaves us with 30 paying new visitors a day or 450 US$ a month - which barely covers the tier for 2 sims. If however my assumption of 100 visitors a day was wrong, and it would only be 50, then the admission fee would exactly cover the tier for the Black Swan sim itself. Nothing I would call a sustainable business model.

My personal interpretation of this move is: desperation. Maybe their venture capital has run out, and the corporate contracts they were working on pulled the plug. Yet they have a lot of monthly cost, so some of that needs to get covered no matter what. An admission fee is one option for that, and even though I personally think it is the wrong answer, I wish them luck with it. SL would be less beautiful without the Rezzable sims.

In the end it boils down to the question whether SL can be profitable at all. Yes, we all know about profitable SL enterprises. My own company, Babel Translations, is very profitable - but only within the SL economy itself. Others, like escorts or clothing designers, generate RL profits - but only as 1- or 2-men shows. I personally think that SL can not be profitable if you have a company behind it, with RL wages and other RL costs. I wish Rezzable would prove me wrong, I really do. But I doubt it. So my advice is to go and visit all the Rezzable sims, as long as they are still there. Because the sims will be the first that gets shut down should the money run out.

June 28, 2008

One year Babel Translations - growing of a virtual business

A year ago I danced in one of my favorite SL hangouts in the Dublin sim and met SL oldie Brooke Fairplay. We chatted about SL now and then, how it had changed, and about her business in SL. When she learned that I am not an English native speaker, she casually mentioned that she thought of targeting an international audience as well but somehow never got around to do it. The discussion followed me for a few days. I realized that with my background in marketing and foreign communications - and applied business English for almost 30 years now - I could offer translations and sales-driven text creation as a service to the SL community. This was the moment Babel Translations was born.

My first office

Since I had not a lot of L$ back then, I set myself both a financial and time limit. I saved 2000 L$ aside, looked for office space. My first office was at 50L$/week, and I placed a classified for another 50L$/week. On day one I got my first client - the landlord of the office tower - and by the end of the trial period I had translation jobs for 4000 L$ and a revenue of 500 L$. "That goes rather well", I thought, and continued with Babel Translations.

By that time I was primarily offering English/German at a price of 2 L$ / word, but soon requests for other languages came. I recruited French and Italian translators, soon Danish and Swedish followed. I charged 3 L$ for those languages, but kept English/German for a long time at the lower level as I was making these translations myself. In August 2007 I acquired my first reference customer. Blaze Columbia of Blaze Fashions not only insisted on paying the double rate, she also gave me some valuable business tips, like implementing a minimum fee for jobs. Back then I was in awe of what I considered "large" amounts of money, so I did not follow her advice of establishing 500 L$ as minimum fee, but instead chose 250 L$. I was reluctant to mention this limit to the first clients, but none of them objected. So up to date 250 L$ stayed the minimum amount for translation jobs.

Also in August, I managed to acquire the first large translation job worth 9500 L$. I still can remember my accelerated pulse as the client paid the 50% advance payment. It was the single largest sum of L$ I ever got until then. The client turned out to be a repeat account, returning each month with multiple translation jobs. Also in August I moved into my current office at Beachwood, something I never regretted so far as this estate is run perfectly well by landlady Kitty Umarov.

September marked the month where I got first asked to deliver a complete concept. Finally I could apply another of my RL skills, and developed a shop concept, along with English and German press releases, advertising texts and notecards. December on the other hand was a comparatively bad month, with "only" 13 translation jobs, but at the same time the month with the most beautiful job ever. Usually SL businesses asked for translations, but this time a private citizen asked for a translation. He is French, his girlfriend German - they only communicate in English, but he wanted to have one if his favorite love songs translated into German for her. Despite Decembers bad results, I was happy I could pay a bonus to all translators at the end of the year.

In January I took my associate Tina Lynch aboard. Not only did she work on French translations, but she also replaced my notecard-based bookkeeping with a sophisticated spreadsheet based on Google docs. Under her lead we refined the spreadsheet over the next month, and now it is an invaluable tool of keeping track of jobs, degree of completion, distribution of jobs among translators and calculating revenues and fees.

The most "odd" feeling decision took place in February: I almost completely stopped doing translations myself, since it became too time consuming. I started to focus completely on marketing and sales now, and in consequence had to recruit people for English/German. As a consequence I had to raise the price for those languages to 3 L$ / word as well.

In May, Babel Translation took over the competing agency "2nd Tongue Translation". For a couple of months we have silently cooperated already, granting 2nd Tongue a bulk buying rate for the languages they did not offer themselves. As 2nd Tongue's manager had to reduce her SL involvement, Babel Translations stepped in and integrated 2nd Tongue's business into our own.

Today, Babel Translations is the premiere translation and copywriting/text creation agency in SL. With a 3-figure number of jobs and a 6-figure amount of translation fees in recent months, our 50 translators provide the finest and most professional translation services in SL. We cover almost 20 languages, and each language is at least covered by 2, typically 5 translators. The translators themselves are in most cases RL translators, or have a similar qualification in language teaching, journalism or other text creation parts. Even though Babel Translations is a virtual company, we praise ourselves with having the highest standards and providing the best possible service to SL companies.

The past 12 months with Babel Translations where very challenging, but also provided a lot of fun and satisfaction nevertheless. I want to take this opportunity to thank all my clients who put their trust into Babel, as well as all my translators for their exceptional work and loyalty. My special thank goes to Tina, with whom Babel would not be where it is today.

Thanks a lot - I am looking forward to the next 12 months!

June 24, 2008

Welcome to the readers of The Second Life Herald

Welcome to my blog, I'm glad you liked my Post 6 Guy appearance and chose to see what I write. I would like to point out a few posts from the last year of blogging, which give a good insight into me. I also would like to direct your attention to my in-world translation company Babel Translations as well as my new founded furniture company GREENE concept.

Customer survey

June 22, 2008

The girl that fell from the sky

About a year ago I visited Torley's Watermelon paradise, when a female avatar dropped on my head. Immersionist that I sometimes am, I said "ouch", and that was the opener for what must have been nearly 3 hours of talk. Turned out she was fairly new, didn't have a clue and since she skipped orientation island was weak on the controls. I taught her the basics, gave her a couple of freebies and some cash, and we generally chatted along about what is ossible in SL. As I had to go, we said goodbye - uncharacteristically she did NOT issue a friendship offer. I put "Newbie help" in the "My Comments" section of her profile and logged off.

The story could have ended here.

Last night I was delighted to manually find the entrace to the "Super Secret Sewer area" at Silent Sparrow, where hyasynth Tiramisu is retiring some of her old outfit. Happily I announce to the small crowd "I found it", when a kid avi wide exed stared at me and asked me if I know a certain avatar. The name she said rang a bell, I looked the profile up in Search and, sure enough, there was "Newbie help" in the comments section. Turns out that kid avi was said avatar. She changed her account once in the meantime, but for over a year she hoped to run into me again, to say thank you. We talked in open chat and I was a litte bit embarrassed since she painted my picture in the brightest colors, but she said I was the person that really made the difference to her first days.

I usually make it a point to help newbies who are halfway polite. This amount of gratitude after a year really made up for all the jerks I ecountered in the meantime. Go out! Help a newbie today! The first days are so critical, and you don't know what gifted designer, artist, entrepreneur or just good person SL might lose only because she/he made bad experiences in those critical days. We all started - and we all neded help. Help a newbie today!