Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Second Life WindLight First Look Client

Lindens just released a new First Look client with WindLight technology embedded! This is small video I made of the new graphics.

Places in the video : Sanctum Santorium, Sea Cliff, The Wasteland, Paris 1900, and sims in Otherlands.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Sculpted Prims for the Masses

I was very excited about the new sculptured prim building class, for the past few months I've been learning Blender just to build this new type of prims within Second Life. But Blender is extremely painful to learn, the millions of buttons adds to the confusion. Luckily there is a very good tutorial online that taught me a lot about blender. I was churning out good blender objects in no time.

I was able to make pretty complex objects in Blender, but ran into a wall when exporting this out to SL compatible sculpted prim UV maps. I found two tutorials ( by Amanda Levitsky and one on Bentha.net) that claims to do a Blender to SL sculpted prim transformation.While I could follow these tutorials and get the prims they made in the end... none of these tutorials worked with the more complex objects I had. My results looked like this:

This was way too frustrating, and I cannot justify buying Maya (the officially supported 3D software by LL) simply cause of the price ($2000-8000). Maya has a free version, but it does not work with SL export function that Lindens provided. Blender seemed to be the best option (given how difficult it is to learn) due to it being an open source project just like Second Life.

For a week I've been disappointed with my Blender to SL projects, then I saw a simple tool by Yuzuru Jewell that made it easy to model things using a lathe like system. I remembered this was how I learned 3d modeling long time ago (can't remember the apple software I used), but this tool (called Rokuro) was incredibly easy to use:

And the resulting sculpted prim came out looking as it was ment to be :

This tool could be used by anyone, you don't need any sort of advanced 3d training, all you have to do is move the points and hit generate UV map and bang you got a cool Sculpted Prim ready to upload into SL.

This tool is most useful for anything that could be made on lathe like machine, ie, drawing an outline and having it rotated 360 degrees. It's good for vases, mugs, tumblers, pillars and so on. I will still try to mess with Blender, but till I figure that out my Sculpted Prims come out of Rokuro.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Second Life to get better graphics?

Linden Lab just acquired WindwardMark Interactive, a company that creates realistic looking weather and environments. Does this mean Second Life would get a long overdue graphic overhaul? I think so. This is definitely an interesting development and shows the company has finally pulled itself into profit making.

Windward Mark has two products that would fall under LL. The first of which is Nimble, a highly advanced physics based realtime visualization of photo-realistic clouds.

The realism given here is amazing, and hopefully LL would integrate these into SL asap. The second product (called WindLight ), is a highly advanced lighting system using OpenGL and DirectX.

The realism in both these products leads to very interesting speculations about future advances to Second Life. Not to mention, with this acquisition, LL has also bought into their house a number of highly experienced 3D developers. Windwardmark is based in Boston and would be moving into LL's new Boston office (A recruiting party is going to be held on may 30, 2007 ). LL also plans on integrating these into their Open Source philosophy.

Following the acquisition of this technology, Linden Lab will integrate Windward Mark's WindLight® into the Second Life Viewer and will open source the code under a General Public License agreement. The Viewer (available here) featuring WindLight® will be immediately available for PCs, with a Mac version to follow.

“This is a great example of the benefits of an open-source model,” said Cory Ondrejka, CTO of Linden Lab. “Our core development team is tightly focused on improving the Second Life experience in terms of stability and scalability, but open sourcing has enabled external developers to integrate additional enhancements that are also hugely valuable; WindLight® is one of these. We're excited to bring this technology to Second Life and pleased to have such a talented team of developers join Linden Lab.”

Windwardmark is popular for having made the game called Alliance, which is not included in the acquisition by LL.

Video of WindLight
Video of Nimble

More News Stories on this

SL blog entry on this by Ms. Torley Linden.. wow it's so awesome I'm spasming...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Robin Linden speaks to residents on current issues.

Robin Linden recently held a meeting with residents where a number of current issues were brought to the table. She explained in detail why the two characters in the German video were banned, and how EU laws were not compatible with the type of activities that were taking place within Second Life.
Robin Linden: there are several countries in the EU where the virtual depiction of sex with minors is taken as actual child pornography
Robin Linden: This is a *criminal* offense.
Robin Linden: Tiberious: until the jurisdictional issues are worked out we have to be mindful of laws that will affect our business.
Robin Linden: the alternative is to block all Germans I suppose, but then we'd miss Tao
Dreams Lightcloud: i blieve age play is against TOS, isnt it?
Robin Linden: They were banned because they were engaged in sexual behavior where one was playing a minor child.
She believed the very existence of SL hinged on how age-play and the likes were treated within Second Life, she also believes that banning Germany or any other country where these activities were illegal was not the way to do it. Given that the majority of active Second Life residents come from Europe, with Germany being the number two most active country right behind United States.

With the creation of the age and identity validation system, she hopes that in the future the liability of such illegal activities could be passed onto the land owners rather than Linden Lab.
Robin Linden: and we are working with the lawyers to find out if it's possible to pass liability to the land owners if they want to do something which is against the law in their country
The exact way this could be implemented was not mentioned, but it might be that in a future update LL would allow land/estate owners to ban people by country or region?

She also goes on to explain why certain words have been unusable within the advertisement system, such words as "Loli*" and "age-play" are already banned along with the word "casino" (strangely most casino's are now listing their establishments as "kasino" instead). This change does affects many people who sell products based on the "Gothic Lolita" fashion design.
Ryozu Kojima: What is LL's position on the fact that this will affect totally unrelated businesses, such as "Gothic Lolita" fashion?
Robin Linden: we can't let the actions of a few put the entire service at jeopardy
Robin also mentions that the new age and identity verification system would also have real life gender verification, which would show up in the in-game profiles. A thread posted on the Second Life forum by concerned residents debate what the implications of this might be in the long run.
Robin Linden: Brenda - should someone decide they want to authenticate their RL gender it would show up in their profile.
A question was asked by Khamon regarding Meta Linden's recent buhaha on this blog, which went as follows:
You (Khamon): If we're shifting topics, Robin, is LL going to enforce a policy concerning inworld material such as chat logs posted to independent blogs and websites?

Robin Linden: We have a policy about Lindens posting on external blogs. It wasn't followed.

You (Khamon): Meta apparently told someone to delete material from their blog because posting it was a TOS violation. That's since been retracted but I wonder if she was acting on a new policy that just hasn't been published yet.

Robin Linden: No old policy, new Linden who hadn't read it, I think.
Thus, it appears our friendly abusive Meta Linden, did not read the established policy on posting on external blogs, and did not understand the Second Life ToS. Furthermore, she just randomly decided to use the power in her "Linden" name to threaten and harass a resident. It was also known that she's not in the abuse department, and that her activities as documented in this blog were all personal grudges... very disturbing.

Linden Lab should make it so that this kind of abuse does not happen in the future, and should implement some sort of internal review board as seen in eve-online.

A full text of this meeting is available at Second Citizen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dear Linden Lab, is this what you call ethics?

On May 14 2007, I was unwillingly thrust into a series of events that started off with a Linden Lab employee (Meta Linden) accusing me of having violated the Second Life TOS by posting private chat conversations on a 3rd party site.
Hello Honey W. We're receiving reports of you posting private conversations on your blog. I understand you may have good intentions but breaking the TOS isn't the way to handle this. -- Meta Linden.
I debated the validity of this accusation, having well known that posting this type of material outside Linden Lab resources was not a violation of the Second Life TOS. Ms. Meta Linden, then went back and asked her fellow Lindens if this was a violation, they replied in negative, which resulted in an apology by her.
Hi Honey I checked with more other Lindens (I am new btw) and discovered that while our TOS doesn't state that it only covers SL Servers, and the intention is to protect the privacy of all resident conversations, that we do not enforce outside of our servers, forums, and blogs, as a matter of policy. I was incorrect. I apologize. -- Meta Linden.
I accepted her apology at once, and posted the full apology here so that no one would confuse her intial TOS violation notice to me as a change in policy by Linden Lab. A normal story would end here, having had a happy ending. But this is not a normal story, nor has it been completely put to light.

To really tell this story, I have to go back a week earlier, when I wrote an article titled "The secret gathering of virtual dykes" -- a funny recollection of a mistaken invite to a private chat conference. Where I discovered that a large number of people were worried about how voice would change everything for them. I found this funny, and having had something similar happen to me twice the same week (first time it was by a bunch of my dorkish friends who invited me by mistake), I thought of blogging about it.

At this time I'd like to point out that I do not have any kind of malice towards people of the transgender community, in fact I do not even believe the conversations I overheard were of any person who was transgender. Would a transgender individual hide their real birth sexual identity within Second Life? I do not believe so. That's something totally different. And that was what those people in the conversation were doing, they were not transgender but rather posers. I've also got a very close friend of mine in SL/RL, who is transgender, at no time did she try to hide her birth sex and how she felt now. Sadly, the hormones that were given to her prior to her operation caused formation of breast cancer and thus she had to stop her change for now.

Thus, I'm very understanding of transgender individuals and I know the difference between those that I overheard and those that are transgender. Regardless, a comment was posted under that topic yesterday morning at 11:32 AM by a Cala Wired Faerie (Super Calamari within SL), that said the following:

I'm so glad you find it funny. It's ignorance and rudeness like yours that drives the transgender community to despair and depression and yes, to suicide. "Virtual Dykes", indeed. Try having a little empathy before you post ignorant drivel like this again.


And oh, by the way - despite the fact that you might have the greatest of intentions in pursuing CP in SL, you yourself are breaking the very TOS you whinge about in http://honeywendt.blogspot.com/2007/04/age-player-promises-to-stalk-me.html in your other posts - so be aware, you have been AR'ed.

And no, being a vigilante is no excuse. Continue and you are likely to be banned.

I saw this message much later in the day and I responded to her assuring to her that I was not writing at all about the transgender community. I did not at any time feel those posers were anything like my friend, it would be quite disturbing to suggest such. Ms. Cala went on to suggest that I was breaking the TOS, (she was mearly mistaken about posting of conversations on 3rd party sites / vs TOS breaking within SL). Since the start of this blog, I've been posting conversations lifted off Second Life, ( Ms. Meta Linden had already informed me last night that this was not a violation of the TOS). Ms. Cala went on to state that she has abuse reported me, (i do not understand the reason for this abuse report), in her fury she stated that I'd likely be banned. She sounded very angry, bitter and vengeful, I tried responding to her as calmly as I possibly could, since she had felt this was a topic close to her. Somehow I was too late.

Going back to yesterday's topic... a number of sites picked up my debate with Ms. Meta Linden, one of them was a story by Prokofy Neva titled "Linden cracks down on the third-party blog!", on the Second Life Herald, I was reading the conversations on that article when I came to one posted by Ms. Meta Linden, posted verbatim as follows:

One last comment I'll add here, given what's already happened. I, obviously, am Cala - very out transgender resident and roleplay sim owner (yay open source CCS, go Suzanna!). I am a human person with my own perspectives, as well as a responsible new employee of Linden Lab. I have some obvious reasons for strongly supporting personal privacy. Yes, I have been physically bashed multiple times for who I am- I don't raise this for pity, it's a valid reason for why I deserve privacy. I joined Linden Lab as an excited resident, thanks to Phillip's well-stated plea on the blog and in the townhalls, because I have a skillset that's been sorely needed, and because I'm excited to make the grid a better place- exactly the same fervor I've seen from all of you. This is why I and many of my peers follow all of your blogs, intently read your responses to our blog posts, and participate in the discussions. We really are listening, and trying our best to interactively discuss, and get the discussions to be better and more productive.

We are working hard to make the grid better. This is harder to do as the system gets more complex and as more attention falls apon us, and the system will have to change to accommodate. It is infinitely more complex because what we make is a New Life - and I sincerely believe it is a Better Life, and this makes everyone very passionate about the topic. I encourage other passionate residents to apply- we really need your help- no matter your personal background, as long as you can help work toward the *Greater* good.

The Grid is made up of people, and so is Linden Lab. Make no mistake, no matter how many servers we add, it is the needs of our people that need to be met, and there is no such thing as consensus at this scale, particularly with an international audience. Even the Lindens are made up of People, humans who are also passionate about the grid and have ideas on how best to meet that need. We do best when we *participate* in these discussions and honestly listen, and learn, and change. I learned a lot today. I look forward to learning more tomorrow... and much further on. No matter how hard the criticism comes.

Even if my outing results in more SL grief (sim-crashes, thanks, I've already had plenty, and today will just exacerbate things via attacks from the PNs) or even more physical attacks to me from people who will link my RL identity with Cala- the fact that it only took an hour to get Cala linked to my Linden av only illustrates my point on how easy it is to get outed- it is still worth it to be out and direct and honest and communicate directly.

-Meta / Cala.

Posted by: Meta Linden

I was shocked just by reading the first line of Ms. Meta Linden's post. Her claim that she's "Cala", aka Super Calamari, made whole of yesterday sound totally different. I went back and re-read multiple times the whole conversation Ms. Meta Linden had with me, and then went and read the vengeful note by Cala. I could not believe these two people were the same person.

Obviously, I started seeing this whole series of events in a different light, considering I got :
... so be aware, you have been AR'ed. And no, being a vigilante is no excuse. Continue and you are likely to be banned. -- Cala @ 11 am
followed right after by:
"Hello Honey W. We're receiving reports of you posting private conversations on your blog. I understand you may have good intentions but breaking the TOS isn't the way to handle this." -- Meta Linden @ 1:49 PM
It seems very likely that Ms. Cala, after having been obviously agitated by an article of mine, and after threatening to have me banned, have logged backed into her Linden Lab account and issued me the above warning. It seems that she has abused her power as a Linden to get back at me for things I wrote in the article "The secret gathering of virtual dykes". This makes me real sad.

The warning too was designed to scare me, and so induce a total deletion of my blog. But this did not happen, as I knew very well my right to post whatever I liked on my own personal blog, I debated this matter and was unwilling to give up. It's now likely that she did not want the article on age-play removed, but rather this other article on a secret gathering of virtual dykes.

But why did she go so far? Why did she misuse her authority? Why did she lie about having received abuse reports about an article I posted 1 day earlier (having full known the LL abuse system is not that fast).

I feel completely lost at this point, and completely betrayed by a person who has powers that she can abuse whenever she feels like doing it. How many others have been put in the position I had been put, and mistreated? This is completely unfair and totally destroys any credibility I had in Linden Lab.

Dear Ms. Cala/Meta Linden,

I would like you to explain to my why you did this, I do not seek an apology, I only wish to know why you'd abuse these powers. You had only to msg me as Cala and tell me how frustrated/annoyed you were at my post regarding virtual dykes, I would have spoken to you greatly of it and eased any misunderstanding you had. I am very sorry my article hurt your feelings, but at the same time I'm not very happy at how childishly you responded to this and how you had mistreated me. Please write to me in game, I'd like to speak to you.

Dear Linden Lab,

Is this ethical? I would like to know why a Linden Lab employee was allowed to put a resident in this kind of position. I do not want anything to happen to Ms. Cala's position within your corporation, but I'd like an assurance from you that things of this nature would not happen in the future. We invest in your company by living in the world you created for us, treat us with respect and we'd treat you back with respect. Please put guidelines and safeguards in place so that a similar event would never occur. Please create an internal review board similar to the board that CCP has created for EVE-Online to combat misconduct. Your company is growing so fast that such a board is necessary.

I would also like to see a more transparent link between Lindens and their in-game non-Linden accounts. Further cutting back on abuse.

Thank you.

Monday, May 14, 2007

This is an update on Meta Linden

Meta Linden just IM'ed me back the following:

[18:57] Meta Linden: Hi Honey I checked with more other Lindens (I am new btw) and discovered that while our TOS doesn't state that it only covers SL Servers, and the intention is to protect the privacy of all resident conversations, that we do not enforce outside of our servers, forums, and blogs, as a matter of policy. I was incorrect. I apologize.

[18:59] Meta Linden: I communicate with a lot of external bloggers, I post my in-world office hour minutes on the wiki, and do take our residents individual privacy *very* seriously

Thank you Meta. :)

I would like to point out why I wrote the article you initially asked me to take down. Me and several of my friends have been AR'ing people within that community which was advertising itself as an escort service specializing in girls under 14 (RP wise). This was against the advertisement clause that Chadrick Linden set out. But our AR's do nothing. The whole abuse system is a failure. Thus my article.

Please read this update.

Posting conversations in my blog is against SL ToS

So we have some new Linden's handing out some really fresh rules.

Today I logged in to find my soft shadow text is missing and a note from Meta Linden stating the following:

[16:57] Meta Linden: (Saved Mon May 14 13:49:58 2007) Hello Honey W. We're receiving reports of you posting private conversations on your blog. I understand you may have good intentions but breaking the TOS isn't the way to handle this.

[16:59] Honey Wendt: Hello Meta Linden, How does posting logs of Second Life chat in a 3rd party site (Blogger) break the ToS? AFAIK the ToS only states you cannot post those within Second Life resources (ie. Forum, Blog, etc).

[16:59] Second Life: User not online - message will be stored and delivered later.
[17:01] Honey Wendt: Here is my Blog : http://honeywendt.blogspot.com , I can assure you that my blog is no way connected to Linden Lab.
Ofcourse, I was alarmed at this suggestion, I had no idea how far reaching this Linden Lab TOS is. I'm actually appalled.

Update: Meta Linden just IM'ed me.

[18:04] Meta Linden: Hello Honey. I suggest you actually read the section 4.1 of the TOS at http://secondlife.com/corporate/tos.php and familiarize yourself with it. The language does NOT limit the privacy of conversations in SL to within SL boundaries
[18:05] Meta Linden: in fact it specifically states: "you shall not take any action or upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit Content..."
[18:05] Honey Wendt: Into SecondLife right?
[18:05] Meta Linden: not.
[18:05] Honey Wendt: My blog is not hosted in Second Life.
[18:05] Meta Linden: no, please read the TOS.
[18:05] Honey Wendt: Can you cut and paste me the bit, cause this is kinda alarming.
[18:06] Meta Linden: take any action or upload, post, e-mail or otherwise transmit Content as determined by Linden Lab at its sole discretion that is harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, causes tort, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
[18:06] Honey Wendt: This is within Second Life right?
[18:06] Honey Wendt: How would you control something that is posted outside in a 3rd party site.
[18:06] Honey Wendt: What about blogs by other people, what about forums by other people.
[18:06] Meta Linden: no where in the TOS does it say that it is limited to SL. What we are protecting is the privacy of conversations of our residents.
[18:07] Meta Linden: including yours.
[18:07] Meta Linden: posting private IM conversations of others onto a website or sent through an external email
[18:07] Honey Wendt: But you don't have any power over what I post on a blog.
[18:07] Meta Linden: is a violation of TOS and if reported is actionable.
[18:07] Honey Wendt: It's a 3rd party site, please understand this.
[18:07] Meta Linden: no you're right. But we do have rights over your SL account.
[18:07] Honey Wendt: That is true, are you threatening me btw?
[18:08] Meta Linden: you are violating the rights of the other people whose IMs you posted. And no, I am informing you of our policy
[18:08] Meta Linden: and kindly asking you to cease
[18:08] Honey Wendt: I see no reason how Lidnen Lab's ToS can apply to what I do outside Second Life.
[18:08] Honey Wendt: You pointed to the TOS and said it's a violation, not asked nicely.
[18:08] Honey Wendt: What about other bloggers? Almost every blogger out there does this.
[18:09] Honey Wendt: Plus did you read my blog? I thought I was posting stuff against age-players etc, stuff that you guys are totally against nowdays.
[18:09] Meta Linden: you're not the only blogger we have confronted over this. It doesn't matter the topic, I'm afraid. I do understand your position. Unless you have explicit rights from the individuals involved you should not be posting conversations.
[18:10] Meta Linden: We're not singling you out, or being threatening. Can you understand how this violates their privacy rights? Would you want anyone to blog your private IMs?
[18:10] Honey Wendt: I'm sorry Meta, I cannot censor myself on a 3rd party site, your TOS does not reach that far, if it did it would be a sad case, you have a right to terminate me, but in no case would it be according to your TOS.
[18:10] Honey Wendt: I've never violated anyone's RL privacy, everything on my blog is about virtual people. SL people.
[18:11] Meta Linden: SL Identities are real people.
[18:11] Honey Wendt: No I never posted anythign about their real identities.
[18:11] Honey Wendt: They are virtual entities, this is on a 3rd party site, you are asking me to censor, and I have read the TOS it has nothing to do with what you suggested.
[18:12] Meta Linden: can you show me where in the TOS you think it limits those terms only to within Second Life?
[18:12] Honey Wendt: Meta, do you know how ridiculus you sound.
[18:12] Honey Wendt: Linden Lab TOS cannot and will not be applied to my personal websites.
[18:13] Honey Wendt: I will not censor myself.
[18:13] Honey Wendt: I will speak to other Lindens regarding this.
[18:13] Meta Linden: it's about conversations that originated within Second Life. And please feel free to.
[18:13] Honey Wendt: Can you point to which conversation?
[18:14] Meta Linden: all of the conversations in your May 12th post. Do you have the permission of any of those avatars to post those conversations?
[18:14] Honey Wendt: Those conversations dealing with escorts posing as little girls?
[18:14] Honey Wendt: Surely, you are not defending them.
[18:14] Honey Wendt: I will not take them down.
[18:15] Honey Wendt: Meta, I have to go now, good luck.

Please read this update.