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: http://jira.secondlife.com/browse/WEB-734

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.