Facebook names update

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Sister Roma who spoke today with representatives of Facebook about the real names issue has posted an update on her facebook page.

Since people have been speaking up this story has been mentioned on CNN, NBC and all over the net.
Although many SL avatars have moved to Google+, most of us still prefer to use Facebook because it is just so handy, especially for communities.
If we are forced to create a page, we lose the ability to be in a group, organise and invite to events, etc, etc.

Maybe one day Linden Lab will create a facebook clone just for avatars on the Second Life website.
Till then we are stuck with Google+ or pretend to be real people on Facebook.

Anyway, here is the update from Sister Roma her facebook page;

Facebook refuses to agree that the legal name policy is unfair and discriminatory.

They acknowledged that although Facebook has the legal name policy they do not enforce it.

They acknowledged that the current rash of suspended and deleted profiles have been under attack by users of the Facebook community who report the profiles for using “fake” names. Once a page is flagged it is reviewed by living human beings who police the site all over the world. If they determine that the person is not using their legal name on their page it is suspended for being in violation of the Facebook terms of use agreement.

While we could not get them to budge on the actual policy they did seem more open to considering that there are flaws in the complaint review process.

We met with Susan Gonzales, a public liason, and via skype with Monika, the person in charge of content policy. We also meet with members of the Facebook LGBT alliance. The purpose of this meeting was to establish an open dialogue and that’s what happened. I was very impressed by our team. Everyone spoke very eloquently and intelligently. Our broad community was well represented by David Campos, Steven Heklina Grygelko BeBe Sweetbriar, Tom Temprano, 3, Carmen, Nadia Kayyali, Dottielux Smith, Trisha Fogleman, Matt Cagle, Gabriel Haaland, Lil Miss Hot Mess, Alex U Alex U. Inn. Adam from Scott Wiener‘s office and Mark Snyder from the Transgender Law Center. Thank you all for your passion and dedication.

We left the meeting with an agreement that they would continue to meet with us to further hear our concerns and work together to find a compromise.

Conversations with LGBT employees of Facebook after the meeting left me feeling a little more hopeful. They hinted that this issue has been raised internally and there have been heated debates on both sides of the legal name policy. We definitely have allies working “on the inside.”

Shortly after the meeting Facebook announced that they would reinstate profiles of members of the LGBT community that had recently been targeted, suspended or removed. The statement further goes on to say that Facebook hopes that within 2 weeks time the users will either confirm their real identity, change to their legal names, or move to a fan page. While at first glance this seems like a grand show of support for our community it is actually a completely hollow gesture. Basically they offered to give us our profiles back so that two weeks later they could suspend them, demand we comply to their unfair and discriminatory policy, and if not, take them away again. This is completely unacceptable.

To Facebook this is an issue of broader consequence that could take years to review, rewrite or rescind. We do not have that kind of time. Our communities profiles and identities are disappearing daily. We could be wiped out entirely in a short period of time. If we do not get adequate action from Facebook in a few weeks time I would say that we’re ready to go back to our original idea and hold a protest at their campus. They might be able to wipe us off Facebook but they’ll know we’re still here!

We will not rest until not only drag queens, but everyone, has the right to CHOOSE how they wish to be identified on Facebook.

Stay tuned. This is not over! ‪#‎MyNameIsRoma

If only Facebook Pages came with more options, it would make everyone happy.

dragqueenprotest

Facebook agrees to talks with Drag Queens regarding the use of real names

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Just a few days ago I wrote about the problems Drag Queens, artists and many other people are having with Facebook because they are being forced to use their real name and can’t use their stage name, nickname or in our case, avatar name.

Of course this wasn’t news but I mentioned it because I felt that we now shared a goal with a group of people who’s voice might get more attention than that of us Second Life avatars.

dragqueenprotestAnd I was right.

Their uproar has exploded across social media, hashtags galore (#‎mynameis) and when a group of them started planning a demonstration outside the Facebook HQ (imagine how fabulous that would have looked) Facebook Supervisor David Campos got on the phone with them and promised to meet with Sister Roma (the lady behind most of the ruckus) in person.

So of course, cynical me has to say that this doesn’t mean anything.
But publicity means a lot in this game and getting them to talk about it and perhaps think a bit harder about a proper solution, is a step in the right direction.

Of course our virtual identity means a lot to us in Second Life but when you look at the long list of people to whom it is so much more important to be able to use Facebook under a different name, it becomes more and more wrong that they are not allowed to.
And even if I was not in Second Life, I’d still want to support this thing.
As Sister Roma said;

This issue affects a lot of marginalized, creative, and professional communities, including transgender people, bullied youth, activists, LGBTQ people who aren’t out everywhere, survivors of domestic violence and stalking, migrants, sex workers, artists who work under pseudonyms, and various professionals who work in sensitive professions (eg. mental health, criminal justice, etc.) who may want to interact with friends without being found by clients. Facebook claims that its “real name” policy helps protect people from bullying, but this is a form of targeting our communities that can actually make us much less safe. Facebook is today’s public forum and they can’t exclude us — who are they to say we or anyone else isn’t “real”?!

So bravo Sister Roma and lets hope that what all these people are trying to achieve eventually will benefit us avatars as well.

Thank you Herr von Rosenheim for the tipoff!

The ongoing trouble with the new mesh avatars

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I must admit that I was impressed when Linden Lab released the new mesh avatars, they looked better than the very old ones we used to have and looked pretty decent.

However we soon realised that there are a few big problems with them.

One problem was that the faces were stuck like a Beverly Hills ex starlet who’s had too much botox, they couldn’t speak, smile, nothing.

But a bigger problem was and unfortunately still is, that new users find it very hard to figure out how to change these avatars.

Because there really isn’t that much you can change about them and changing your avatar, customizing it to look just the way you want it to look is one of the best features of Second Life.

It is the first thing most new users want and try to do and as I’ve written before, I think that letting new users do this easily helps them bond with their avatar and understand the appeal of Second Life sooner.

Not quite dressed properlyI was reminded of this problem today when I spotted one of those brand new avatars in 1920s Berlin today.
Poor chap, turned out he was a 3D creator with years of experience, but Second Life offered quite a challenge when he was asked to change into 1920s clothes for his visit to my sim.

He didn’t quite manage it, ended up wearing part of the free 1920s outfit we offer combined with the modern mesh outfit he got when he joined SL.

Eventually he had to go into his library folder and replace his complete avatar with one of the old ones, it was the only way he could change his outfit.

I fear that this is making things even harder and unwelcoming for the new visitors to Second Life, add this to the horrendous welcoming island experience and its a wonder people still join Second Life.

Luckily the chap in question was so excited by 1920s Berlin that he didn’t think of leaving.

Nevertheless this is turning out to be a serious problem that is damaging SL every day a little bit.
I would consider taking the mesh avatars offline all together and bring back the old ones, although better looking perhaps.
At least till mesh avatars can be improved and made easier to adjust.

I feel that getting new users an avatar they like, they’ve customized and have a bond with is an important part of making them stay in SL a little longer.

Will drag queens help our avatars stay on Facebook?

As it turns out, avatars are not the only ones who want to use Facebook under different name than the one they have in Real Life.

Drag queens and transgender performers have now started a petition to be allowed to use Facebook under their stage names.

I find it insane that we are not allowed to make up any name we want, I understand why Facebook wants it, but people with fake identities buy real stuff too and advertising works on us just as well.

Anyway, most important is that there are lots of people who want to be on Facebook under a different name than the one they were born with, artists, people who change their gender, people trying to escape stalkers or their family, etc, etc.

In some cases their reasons are of course much more important than the one we Second Life users have, but in the end we all want the same.

I don’t expect Facebook to change their rules and suddenly let everyone use a fake name.
But I do hope they are smart enough to either give Page accounts more options or create a new kind of account for those of us who want to remain anonymous.

Hate or love facebook, it is a very powerful social tool that is a very handy way to stay in touch with your SL friends or community when you’re not inworld.
And with a facebook page, it just doesn’t work that well because you don’t have access to groups, group events, photo albums, etc, etc.
So if they let us use those, most of us will be happy enough.

Anyway, please click below to read the article on the BBC news page, it has a link to a petition, might not help us that much, but hey, can’t hurt to sign it either.
Any publicity against the Facebook identity rule is good, right?

Drag queens in Facebook name row

Drag queens BBC

Facebook is deleting avatar profiles… again

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A while back people in Second Life were panicking because a lot of avatar profiles were being blocked and deleted.

It seems that Facebook is doing it again, if they ever stopped to begin with.

Some people think that your account can only be deleted if enough people report it as being fake.

Personally I think Facebook just has some sort of algorithm software set up that continuously searches for certain flags.

It analyses your pictures, your posts, your groups and, I think, especially your profile.

But we’re not sure why Facebook deletes some people’s profiles and leaves others alone.

During the last avatar hunt nobody I know got caught, this time around a few.

I hope that this algorithm of them doesn’t hop from one profile to another, although that would make sense.
After all chances of an avatar’s friends also being avatars are pretty high.

Either way, it is probably a good idea to try and make your profile appear as non-avatar as possible.
Add a few real people photos, don’t tell your profile you’ve been to school at ‘Second Life Academy’, or live on ‘Linden Lab Lane’, don’t put your birthdate as being 1903.

The more common your profile looks, the less likely it will be deleted… or so I think anyway.

Of course we should all abandon Facebook and its evil ways (of which there are many) but there is just no denying that it is a very nifty piece of software and oh so handy as a way to stay in touch or manage SL related groups.
And the alternatives… well there aren’t really any, not that I like anyway.
I may hate Facebook, I use it a LOT and it has become almost essential for my job, after all I can’t think of many ways to stay in touch with the more than 60.000 fans I have on my RL job page.
Yes, I did just put that in there to show off.

Some people suggest we setup pages for our SL profiles, this is an excellent way to stay in touch with other people in SL, but you’re not allowed to join groups.
And especially those are very interesting for us because those are great for discussions, sharing event snapshots and have a shared calendar with events you can invite everyone to.

I don’t understand why Facebook doesn’t just create a special Avatar (or artist or whatever) profile that in some way is clearly different from others.
Because even though fake profiles may give them less RL information they can sell to companies and the NSA, I still get the pleasure of being bombarded by advertisements when I use Facebook as an avatar.

If you have any idea how Facebook works while hunting us down, share it in the comments and if you’ve noticed more profiles being deleted lately.

Maybe we should start a petition somewhere asking FB for avatar profiles.

It would be nice if the Second Life social page thingy on the official Second Life website had more options so that we could all hang out there and use that place for all these SL related things.
But alas, so far it is a glorified notice board that almost nobody I know actually uses.

Broken-Facebook

 

Ebbe confirms; SL will get Oculus Rift DK2 support

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Some time ago Oculus Rift released the Developers Kit v2 of their VR headset, better than their DK1 but still not the commercial version.

David Rowe’s CtrlAltStudio released a Preliminary Rift DK2 Support viewer on the 19th but it remained unclear if Linden Lab was going to upgrade their viewer to work with DK2.

The work that had to be done was not trivial and they only got their DK2 headsets roughly two weeks ago and who knows, the public Oculus Viewer release could be around the corner, although insiders seem to think it won’t be till 2015.

But even though we don’t know when the Second Life official DK2 viewer arrives, we do have some confirmation from mr Ebbe Altberg himself via Twitter;

Ebbe talks dk2 viewer

Leap motion announces VR related progress

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Leap motion, the very nifty hand gesture tracker for computers has just announced its future VR plans.

I tried the Leap Motion some time ago and although it is a really great tool, I ended up not using it very often.

I use my laptop in the most unusual places, on the floor, on the daybed, on the balcony, but almost never at a desk and I either spend time typing or in Second Life, so for me it was not something I was going to use a lot.

However I did immediately spot the potential and have always felt that this is where the future for VR is.

Having to wave controllers or other plastic toys around while being attached to a bunch of wires just isn’t the way forward.

I imagined 3D scanning devices that would simply scan your movements, hand, body, everything and translate that into VR.

You can have your hands, all 5 fingers, work inside VR, why would you need anything else?

Today Leap Motion’s co-founder David Holz posted a blog on their website talking about a series of development especially for Virtual Reality.

They brilliantly stuck their sensor to an Oculus Rift and continued working on the options and possibilities this offers.

They are also using infrared images the sensor picks up and combine these with what you see in VR.

I won’t bore you with just copying everything that was written on the blog, I just invite you to read it yourself here.

But a very interesting video accompanied the blog and I couldn’t resist sharing it;

Tracking is moving along rapidly, I think that eventually we will end up with a tiny device such as the Leap Motion that will translate all our hand but also body movements into VR, but will also register the movements of our mouths and even eyes, so it can translate facial expressions.

Something like what what the people at High Fidelity are experimenting with.

We won’t need to carry, hold or wear anything but the headset and a small sensor, no suits, no gloves, no controllers, nothing.

Although perhaps a small omnidirectional treadmill might be desired.

I wonder if perhaps with the new technology, the Leap Motion can eventually also track your leg movements and posture, that would create a lot of new possibilities.
You could pretend to walk and actually walk in VR, regardless of how dangerous this could be if you don’t make sure you don’t bump into stuff, it could make walking in VR a lot easier.

Can you imagine the potential this has in a massive virtual world such as Second Life?

No more having to click to use items, just push that door, turn that handle, flick that switch, slap that rude man in the face!

leap motion

Linden Lab updates PR screenshots

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Linden Lab has uploaded about 30 new Second Life screenshots into their Flickr account that will, I assume, be used for PR purposes.

I’ve written before about how important I think it is for outsiders to actually see how good Second Life can look if your computer is up to scratch.

And it frustrates me that so many journalists use screenshots from 2007 to illustrate their article about our virtual world, regardless if the article is positive or negative.

But journalists today sometimes need a little help, they don’t always have the time to go inworld, figure out ultra graphics settings and look for nice locations or scour the internet for pictures, contact the makers for permission to use them, etc.
Of course in some cases its not the journalist but the editor who decides on which images to use.

So it is Linden Lab’s and our job to make sure our virtual world is represented properly.

When Paste Magazine recently published an article on the 10 Best MMO’s written by Janine Hawkins, with a less than flattering illustration, people on twitter spoke up.
The writer was contacted and the picture replaced.

I’ve started the ‘Second Life is looking good’ flickr group to show outsiders whats possible in SL these days, but these pictures in many cases come with copyright restrictions.
Still, journalists could at least contact thebut I’ve also added a few screenshots to Wikipedia Commons without any use restrictions.

Journalists have already found and used these, with added bonus for me that my 1920s Berlin sim gets some free publicity at the same time.

Linden Lab does send some information and pictures if they are aware an article is being written or when a journalist contacts them, but I don’t know if they always speak up and protest when a journalist uses very old bad screenshots.

They do have a Press section on the Linden Lab website, but for some reason there are reporters out there who overlook the pictures they can find there or don’t even bother checking if the subject of their article has a press page.

To be honest though, there are only 12 not that impressive pictures to be found in Linden Lab’s Flickr album that the press page links to.

But now it seems that Linden Lab has decided to update the images they offer by adding about 30 new pretty good pictures.
Not only are they of good quality, they are diverse and not too tacky.

They haven’t been added to the press folder yet and unfortunately they have not added a small description of the location or slurls so people can check them out inworld.

And to my shock and horror they’ve forgotten to include pictures of 1920s Berlin!
However, they do offer journalists much better illustrations than before.

Because they are not yet moved to the right folder, you’ll have to go to the main page of the Linden Lab flickr account to see them.

It remains our job to be vigilant and keep an eye out for articles that misrepresent Second Life, it is also in our best interest to let everyone know our world is not ugly, well not everywhere anyway.
If you see a bad SL image being used, leave a comment, tweet the author, let Linden Lab know.

linden lab flickr

SLGO fitted mesh bug fixed

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For a while fitted mesh in SLGo didn’t quite work the way it should, it glitched and looked odd.

But Dennis Harper, senior product manager at Onlive.com, announced in the comment section of my blog that this problem has now been solved;

From Dennis @ OnLive;

I’d like to announce that SL Go has just released an update that solves the fitted mesh bug! Yay! You are the very first to hear of this. I’m using Jo’s blog because all of you have been so helping us focus on what is important.

It’s was a more extensive project than originally thought, taking longer than I hoped. But the entire code based was merged to the most recent versions, so all of the latest features are available.

Again, thanks for your feedback and support. We have more exciting things planned for SL Go in the near future. Stay tuned!

I tried to get Dennis to spill the beans on these exciting things, but alas, he wouldn’t tell me anything more than that i was going to be very surprised by what they are!

Either way, great news that this really awesome service that lets you use Second Life at ultra settings on mobile devices but also on those ancient computers.

Yes, SLGo allowed me to explore SL at ultra settings on my 5 year old macbook!

Yes, SLGo allowed me to explore SL at ultra settings on my 5 year old macbook!

High Fidelity sings Queen

The High Fidelity team just uploaded this interesting video showing an avatar singing along to Queen.

Just in case the video is blocked in your country or doesn’t work on my blog, try this direct link;
High Fidelity sings Queen
A VPN service may also help you bypass the block.

It is a huge step forward from the previous avatars we’ve seen so far and the technology is really impressive.

This is something that will appeal to a lot of people, not just performers and artists who sing live in virtual worlds, but of course it is also hugely important to translate your RL expression into VR.

When looking at HiFy, we have to remember that it is still in very early Alpha stages but it appears to be moving along pretty well and if this footage is a good indication of what will be possible in Philip Rosedale’s new virtual world, we’re in for a treat.

Let’s hope that Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab can borrow some of this cool stuff for the next Second Life as well, because personally, I can’t wait to use something like this in my virtual time travel adventures.

This screenshot, uploaded to Twitter a few hours ago is also a huge step forward from what has been shown to the public before.

Screen shot 2014-08-02 at 12.49.18 AM

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