Rod Linden has just announced the return of the Resident Help Network. This program significantly helps new Second Life users get acclimated and it was greatly contested when it was originally dropped some time ago. Many will be happy to see it return. This program will most definately help in the user retention area.

In a stunning move which looks to be aimed at helping the Second Life Furry community, Rod Humble recently announced “But, we know that the beauty of Second Life is in the diversity and richness of how we choose to represent ourselves inworld. So, we’re adding 12 animal and 12 robots and we’ll soon have vehicles too”.

This announcement was made in the new dynamic login screen which also looks to be a rather nice upgrade compared to the old look. In the post, Rod Humble explains that the new Second Life Basic mode will include many more avatars, including the animals, which may be good news for furries since the original Basic mode did not include animals or anything that even slightly resembled a furry. It is good to see that Rod understands SL and is helping to cater to a wider audience. For anyone who hasn’t read the post yet, be sure to check it out. It is filled with a ton of positive items, including, a hint at possible upcoming lag fixes.

In a most bizarre, crazy, and unprecedented move that can only be described as “HOLY ‘WTF?’ MOLY!”, Facebook locked out Ars Technica from its own Facebook page and many others due to possible bogus copyright infringement complaints. According to Ars Technica, there may be an official Facebook statement made sometime soon that will explain this most unnerving predicament. Hopefully, this very same incident does not happen to Second Life, otherwise, there will be massive chaos in the streets, and in all the gorean temples, and in other places, like those places where they burned all the sculpties awhile back. Those were very scary times and nobody wants to see that happen ever again…

“Everyone who uses Facebook is on some level a Facebook partner. A thoroughgoing social site, it is nothing without its users. That Facebook would so harshly judge and move against its most valuable assets without any semblance of fairness or evenhandedness is disappointing.”

“Prior to the account lockout, we had received no notices of infringement or warnings. Truly, we awoke to find that Facebook had summoned a judge, jury, and executioner and carried out its swift brand of McJustice all without bothering to let us know that there was even a problem.”

It’s that time of year again. Time to upgrade, and for Second Life that means some serious hardware…

Unfortunately, I don’t have the mega-bones to spend on the kind of serious hardware that Second Life could utilize, like the very latest dual quad core Xeon system that would be perfect for Second Life’s insatiable CPU requirements, so instead, I opted for the reasonably priced single i7-2600K quad core CPU. This made a nice jump in Second Life performance coming from the 4 year old Intel Q6600 processor. The newer i7-2600K 3.40 GHz CPU is overclockable and can easily reach almost 5.0 GHz on air. That is power most awesome!

In terms of Second Life performance, this means you can actually run with dynamic shadows and framebuffer objects with detail level fairly high including 4x and 8x anti-aliasing. Crowded sims and super draw distances still slow your framerates down quite a bit however. Still waiting for that problem to some day become fixed. If you happen to be looking for new and exciting ways to improve your Second Life, perhaps it’s time for some retail therapy. Upgrade your system and you will be improving your Second Life at the same time. Besides, Duke Nukem and Serious Sam sequels are just around the corner…

If you live in Second Life and you are the type of person who is very over-protective when it comes to your Ozimals, you may want to stock up on security items for when this guy comes around to your place. Word on the street is that he is setting up all of this gear so that he will be able to go on a massive Ozimal hunt later this year. No word on the exact dates just yet…

Be afraid…Be very afraid…

As of late, the amazing Second Life Project Snowstorm beta viewers have really been something to see with new code released very frequently. Last week they finally even added avatar physics that we have been waiting for. Just look at those supple pouting and bouncing breasts.

Time to d/l the latest version….and bring the Heineken!

Download Project Snowstorm Now

With the recently released Unreal Engine 3 Tech Demo, we are once again reminded of how badly Second Life needs a graphics overhaul. Hopefully, Rodvik Linden will be addressing the Second Life graphics deficiencies in 2011. If I might make a suggestion, perhaps a graphics engine that is on par with the Unreal Engine 3 would be perfect for Second Life. Just look at those gorgeous real-time graphics. Can’t you just imagine what a graphics engine this good could do for the Second Life club scene? I can… Watch the video, and when you get to the part that shows the XXX neon sign, just imagine that is the entrance to your favorite Second Life nightclub.

The more I read about China being censored, the more I think China should have a larger presence in Second Life.

A while back, China did the most despicable thing and arrested over 5,300 people for having porn websites, and we know China blocks Youtube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., but perhaps China isn’t blocking or censoring the SL grid just yet, and it could be our opportunity to get information out to Chinese residents. Anyway, this latest alleged Chinese government attack on Google G-Mail is quite nefarious.

Shame on you Chinese government. Shame on you.

In case you missed it, Engadget recently published a very good article about the right to be anonymous online. The article goes into some detail about why people should have the right to be anonymous as they use the internet, and I think the same holds true for Second Life residents as well. It’s a very good read if you get the chance and the next time someone tries to sell you on Facebook integration, you’ll know they must be crazy.

In an article related to Second Life anonymity, Little Tateru posted an update on the RedZone-like Second Life alt detector known as QuickWare Alts Pro which has just been yanked from Second Life almost as quickly as it arrived. It was designed to detect your Second Life alts by exploiting the Second Life media glitches that have been around for many years now. Soft Linden slammed the magic ban hammer down and then shouted out very loudly “No More!

Well, he didn’t actually say it in those exact words, but just pretend he did…

Now the important question is, when will the media glitches be repaired?

In another bizarre event related to online identities, the likes of which I hope we never see happen in Second Life, a user who posted a negative comment in an online website forum was banned from the game Dragon Age 2.

Late Breaking Update (3-12-11):

Holy ****ing Moly! In yet another incident related to the Redzone fiasco, the Herald is now reporting that the Redzone password database may have just been compromised which could lead to those users Second Life account passwords being in jeopardy for people who sometimes use the same passwords with different user accounts. Also potentially at risk, “over 1.6 million unique IP addresses connected to various avatars in the database, and geo-location tools to identify real life location of Second Life players monitored by zf Redzone”.

Another Update! The Herald is now temporarily offline. It just doesn’t get any stranger…

It has been quite the roller-coaster ride for online identities this week, that much is certain. It’s time for a Heineken.

Holy Christopher Columbus!

Second Life breathes a sigh of hope today as Rodvik Linden introduces himself to the Second Life community. It would seem that Rodvik has been very busy in Second Life as of late, even taking to the intricacies of scripting, building, alt-ing, driving, and sailing. You can follow the adventures of Rodvik Linden on Twitter @rodvik. Here’s to hoping that Rodvik makes Dynamic Shadows his number one priority.

Holy Performance Upgrades!

Second Life Viewer 2.5 Beta 1 is out with a whopping potential “30% increase in decoding images, which should translate to a visible improvement in rezzing time for complex scenes.”

The reason for the performance boost is supposedly related to the older Kakadu library. I like the way that sounds…Kakadu!

Anyway, this new beta is running a newer Kakadu, or KDU version 6.4.

What are you waiting for? Start your downloads!

Holy Meltdown Moly!

Strange scientific experiments have been going on recently at Blue Mars, but none so disturbing as the most recent. Last week it was announced that Avatar Reality is restructuring and they will be dropping technical support for the Blue Mars PC user client and that most likely only bug fixes will be made going forward. In addition, monthly city hosting service charges are now abolished, and CEO Jim Sink will no longer be with the company, as well as many others who have worked on the Blue Mars PC client.

“With our focus now clearly on mobile, updates to the PC version of the software will likely be restricted to bug fixes for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, we will no longer charge our current City Developers for the monthly city hosting service. The servers will remain online, city updates and uploads will continue, and shop and residence rentals will still function but technical support for the user client will no longer be offered.”

To quote the Master Control Program from the movie Tron: “I wonder how you’d take to working in a pocket calculator?”

Apparently the upper ups at Avatar Reality believe many people seem to enjoy being fully immersed in a virtual world via a teeny tiny iPhone, or iPad. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take my virtual worlds in full screen high definition goodness any day of the week.

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Let’s get ready to HUMBLE!

This just in from the Guinness Book of World Records. Linden Lab acquires a new CEO, thus breaking most previous company records for the number of CEO’s in a single year. This latest CEO attempt looks to be most promising. His name is Rod Humble and he comes from Electronic Arts where he worked on The Sims as well as more than 200 other games in total according to Linden Lab’s press release. It sounds like this new CEO is going to be our best hope for dynamic shadows to finally be included as more than just a hack in Second Life. You can contact Rod on his website. Please welcome him aboard:

The possibilities for the lab have just increased tremendously and this should be very welcome news for the Second Life community. It is my understanding that with his extensive work on The Sims, that Rod understands why dynamic shadows are so important and deemed a necessity for Second Life to become a fully immersive virtual environment. This news is probably the best Christmas present that Second Life has ever received and it could not have come at a better time.

Merry Christmas and Ho Ho Ho!

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Tonight was nothing special, just out on the town looking for a good club to hang out in for a bit. Club Demonic has always been a place with decent music and celebrity sightings so I stopped by for a cold Heineken. After I had a few cold ones, I started to look around and became more familiar with my surroundings. I started people-watching for a bit. I looked at the new customers entering the club, walking down the stairs, saw a couple pimps here and there, a few vampires, a couple main-streamers, a few furries, you name it, they were all here. Subconsciously, almost involuntarily, I glanced up at the dancers on stage and that is when I became instantly horrified.

Something was not quite right with one of the dancers on stage, in fact, something was dead wrong. It was as though this particular dancer had mutated. Instead of her tail being behind her where you would expect a person’s tail to be, this dancer had a tail magically hovering in front of her body. It was downright creepy. I would have paid it no mind but just then I noticed another one of these mutants in the club. This other mutant had the very same anomaly. Then I remembered that I had seen a few more of these mutants elsewhere on the grid, and I seem to be able to correlate the occurrences of these mutant sightings with the Second Life multiple attachments feature from several months back. Hopefully, Linden Lab has not introduced these mutants onto the grid with the new multi-attachment feature, but at this point in time, I can find no other explanation, unless of course it’s a viewer incompatibility or something equally as strange. Either way, it’s creeping me out, so much so, that it is causing me to lose sleep tonight. I will probably have nightmares, or be forced to cry myself to sleep. In the morning, I am going to continue my scientific research into this very strange and disturbing phenomenon. In the meantime, get your ass to Mars!

In just two short months the teens are coming to the main grid and all hell is going to break loose. Michael Jackson is even working up his charm by hanging out at all the cool clubs, just anticipating the momentous event. Linden Lab has the new jail bait plan all worked out. It’s supposed to go as smoothly as cherry pie. We’ll just have to wait and see. Of all the crazy ideas, this one is right up there with Second Life Enterprise . It will be more than fascinating to see how this all turns out. As Mork from Ork once said…”Nanuu, Nanuu.”

Second Life’s new Teen Commandments:

13- to 15-year-old Residents will be restricted to the estates of a sponsoring institution.

These Residents will not have access to inworld search or our Web-based Marketplace.

16- and 17-year-old Residents will have access to all SL regions rated General (i.e., containing content appropriate for all ages), on the Mainland and private islands.

These Residents will not be able to enter moderate – nor Adult-rated regions, even if they have payment information on file and/or have used our Web-based identity verification system.

These Residents will be able to communicate fully with and befriend all other users on the Main Grid. This includes local chat and IM.

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In what appears to be a severe lack of security and scientific privacy invasion, today it has been reported that 100 naked body scans (photos of virtual strip searches) were posted online, and this just after the shockingly new scathing video that has recently hit the interwebs whereby a real life software engineer refused a virtual strip search at the airport and posted the ordeal online. The software engineer (John Tyner) was quoted as saying “If you touch my junk, I’ll have you arrested.” Due to this recent leak of the 100 body scans, you can understand why John wanted nothing to do with the TSA backscatter x-ray devices. Even though the leak occured from the US Marshal Service and not TSA, it isn’t going to be easy for TSA to convince anyone that their personal naky images are safe when others are obviously not. It starts with body scans and body patdowns and goes all the way up to virtual worlds that require your real name just to log in…

100 naked body scans leaked

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Strange and surreal scientific experiments are running amok lately. First it was the Kinect, and now it is the Second Life Project Skylight viewer demo running in the cloud thanks to the Gaikai cloud-based streaming service. The demo site allows you to get a feel for what is possible by running Second Life in a small cloud, however, as word has gotten out, it seems that the beta site is a little bogged down at the moment. Some people are able to connect to the demo and others are not. All this proves to be a fantastic option for connecting to Second Life, especially for users with older PC hardware and newbies looking for a quick Second Life glance without the full client install cumbersome-ness.

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A truly bizarre scientific experiment was held recently in which the newly released Microsoft Kinect was hacked to hell in a handbasket with the results being that you could control the Kinect from a Windows PC. Then, even more recently, a Kinect open source driver was released and now the NUI group has mentioned they will release an SDK and Windows driver as open source when they achieve $10,000 in donations. Since all this leads to the probability of controlling your avatar in Second Life with the Kinect, it can only be left to the imagination as to how many people will prefer the Kinect versus a standard keyboard.

Update: A Google employee has added another contest to see who can develop the coolest app for the Kinect and who can make it easy to write programs for the Kinect.

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In what can only be described as absurd, unbelievable, misconstrued, not having all the facts, just plain wrong, far off, and in a small nutshell, FAIL. Hamlet Au wants to see your real face. As this story is just trickling in, all the facts are not yet in place, but one thing is for certain, Hamlet Au wants to see your real life face.

In Hamlet’s stunning new article about virtual worlds and what makes them grow, your real life face is the number one item on the agenda.

“There’s no example of a virtual world for adults who are totally anonymous avatars substantially growing on a mass market level.” – Hamlet Au

It appears that Hamlet wants to see your real life face so that you can be held accountable for your virtual world actions. Please stop by the Hamlet blog and let him know why you want to keep your face private. Tell Hamlet to leave your face alone. Don’t let him persuade virtual world creators to require real life information or your real life face. Virtual worlds may come and go, but they do not need your real life face in order to exist and prosper. Remember, keep your personal information and your face in your own private place.

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In a most disturbing move that uses state of the art confusion inducing techniques that even Linden Lab would be proud of, AMD decides to mystify the new HD6800 series video card naming convention. The 6800 series should be more powerful than the previous 5800 series of cards offered by AMD, however, this time around, AMD has decided to try and confuse people a bit. Perhaps they have been taking the Lab’s courses in information skewing or something. If you currently have an AMD HD5800 series card and were hoping for a huge performance gain in Second Life by purchasing a HD6800 series card, you may actually want to hold off. Tom’s Hardware recently did a nice review of the new 6800 series cards that includes the very disappointing benchmarks.

“I’m sure we aren’t the first to be surprised by the new naming scheme—to us, it’s a cinch that Barts should file in as the Radeon HD 6700-series. AMD claims that 6800 was chosen because the Radeon HD 5700s will remain in production for some time to cover the sub-$150 market. We honestly don’t think this is a very good justification, as product generations have overlapped time and time again without too much of a problem. The biggest issue for us is that the ill-informed Radeon HD 5870 owner will assume that the Radeon HD 6870 is an upgrade, when in fact the new card wields less performance.” –Don Woligroski, Chris Angelini