show #64: pathfinder

Jo Yardley:

The latest Drax Files Radio Hour episode;

Originally posted on the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]:

show #64 show #64

john “pathfinder” lester formerly linden was creating communities for people with disabilities at harvard medical school when 3d persistent virtual worlds and vr headsets were still a dream and/or simply way to expensive to ever get into the hands of the average user.

in the early days at the lab he was instrumental in explaining a concept that was [and is] quite esoteric for many stakeholders in education and the medical field.

times have changed but pathfinder is still focusing on the secret sauce of virtual worlds: the people whose dreams we are allowed to step into.

listen and be inspired:

more for your reading pleasure below:

– john “pathfinder” lester, formerly of linden lab:

rezzing a cube at SIGGRAPH '06 rezzing a cube at SIGGRAPH ’06

– originator of brain talk communities:

– facilitator for marvelous projects at ll such as the adventures of wilde cunningham

[profile from cbs news 2008 >>> ]


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The SL Go interview; past, present and future of cloud streaming Second Life


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In todays ‘Drax Files Radio Hour’ we air an interview with Dennis Harper, Sr. Product Manager of SL Go.  The SL streaming service that recently announced it would not continue after Sony bought important patents from OnLive, making it impossible to continue the service.

In the interview Dennis talks about how SL Go came to be, the future he imagined for it a, how the SL Go community grew and how SL Go got a huge boost at the very last moment thanks to the inworld paying option.
I’d love to see Linden Lab put that in Second Life, allowing us to pay our tier and premium fee inworld!

About the sale Dennis says that Sony never intended to own or run the service, they were only interested in the intellectual property and patterns. Buying these meant Onlive simply had to stop in their tracks.

Onlive was put on the market because it was not profitable, but they were getting close to turning this around. Cloud steaming itself is a very good business but it just took a lot of investment, time and effort to get the customers they needed.
The long time yield over a customer was just not enough and as Dennis describes it; Onlive just ran out of runway and money.

Onlive was ahead of its time, like Second Life once was.
Dennis feels that they could have made it an incredibly viable business if they had had another year or two. Cloud gaming is the future. Onlive had been looking for a buyer for some time, several parties were interested and some of them did want to take over and run the service, but in the end they decided to sell to Sony.

Linden Lab did show some interest in SL Go and did come to discuss the service, but I personally don’t think they actually made an offer.
Dennis said that Linden Lab and OnLive had some discussions on closer business partnerships, but nothing solid ever came from it.  Ultimately, OnLive might not have been the best solution for Linden Lab, as Second Life represents hundreds of thousands of potential users.  OnLive has a great service, but that number of users may have swamped them.  However, OnLive was actively working on new technology that would allow for this volume of users.  If given time, he is confident that OnLive would have solved that problem.

But the end of SL Go does not have to mean the end of streaming Second Life.
I’ve written before about how I felt LL should offer SL Go as a free or cheap service for premium members and it seems they actually did look into this.

One option could be the service Amazon hosts called ‘Amazon Appstream’, something I never heard of before till I read about it on Inara Pey’s blog.
Amazon has lots and lots of servers all over the world that are far from being really pushed to their limit. Most of the time they even stand idle. Linden Lab could perhaps rent those servers. It is at least something Linden Lab should look at and perhaps experiment with.

Dennis thinks that Linden Lab has now realised the possibilities of streaming SL and what it means to many users and potentially many more people who use their virtual world. Thanks to SL Go, SL finally worked on mobile devices and finally looked good.

Dennis also mentions that now that SL will soon no longer be supported for people using  XP or Vista OS on their computer.
These users, according to a reputable source at least 40-50.000 people, will soon be stuck on older viewers, unable to update to any new feature SL introduces and eventually making it impossible for them to use it.To them SL Go was a (second) life safer.

They will be left in the cold and so will those of us who can’t afford the big computers you need to run SL the way it should be running; with awesome graphics and no lag.

Forget about Sony. If you want to enjoy SL the way you did with SL Go you need to ask Linden Lab, they are the only ones who could get this done.

Personally I think that SL Go has proven that streaming Second Life works, that there is a market for it, that it means a lot to many SL users and that it could have a drastic effect on the reputation of our virtual world by flooding the internet with amazing high quality graphics and eventually perhaps even machinima.
Linden Lab is going to look running the Next Generation Second Life on mobile devices anyway, so it would be a good idea for them to start experimenting with streaming Second Life now and use that experience to make NGSL even better.

So the ball is in Linden Lab’s corner. They are the ones that could bring back SL streaming and I think they should. Linden Lab has the talent and the technology and the former SL Go staff have the know-how and experience. I also think that if they work together on building something from scratch that will just concentrate on streaming SL, there would be no issues regarding the patents Onlive sold to Sony.

SL Stream will improve SL for a lot of users and may even find a way to get more of them to sign up as premium members or even “Plus Premium” members who’ll pay a little more for the streaming service.

So forget about Sony and politely, patiently and friendly tell Linden Lab why you think streaming SL is a good idea.

Make sure you catch the interview in todays Drax Files broadcast, you can listen to it by clicking here.

To end this article, I’m sharing a few quotes, stories and opinions from SL Go users about what the loss of this service means to them and why it is important to try and find or create an alternative.

Melissa Ussy
OMG i had no idea water was SUPPOSED TO look that way!!!!

Adrian Mondrian
“I’d been hoping to get my mom into Second Life soon. She’s coming to visit me next month, and a tablet would have been a much more feasible purchase right now than a high-end laptop, for both financial as well as technical reasons. With SL Go gone, our options are more limited. I still want to introduce her to the world somehow — I actually think she’d love SL once she got used to it, especially since she feels quite isolated where she’s currently living — but it becomes a more complicated undertaking and not nearly as “accessible” an experience for her as it could otherwise have been.”

Elrik Merlin
I think the loss of this service is a great shame. Although I don’t know how popular the service was, I am sure there are quite a few users who will now no longer be able to access SL, and a great potential for expanding the reach of virtual worlds to people with almost any kind of end-user device, is being lost – at a time when the whole business of virtual reality is getting additional attention and environments like SL are being shown to be a decade ahead of the curve, and when increasingly tablets and mobile devices are increasingly the internet access equipment of choice.

I am an estate owner and pay the premium membership. Normally I use my own computer to run SL but recently my mother had a life altering surgery that has required me to move in with her and use her new but not meant for graphics computer. SL GO has allowed me to continue to service my estate and keep in touch with my residents. The closing down of SL GO will be a hard blow indeed.

Aelggyva Fenwitch (Effy)
Once i saw what Second life and its many artists and creators meant me to see in previously unattainable graphic settings my virtual life underwent a major change . I was able to visit some astounding visual creations and interact with other visitors in a much more rewarding way.
I am really not looking forward to returning to my virtual life which consists of walking through treacle surrounded by grey blocks.

With SL Go, I could be film maker. The frame rates were smooth while normally my computer skips. …And I could do it with advanced lighting too. I could also do amazing things like waltz into the super busy The Arcade sim, and yard sale hunt at Epic without choking on all those avatars, textures, and meshes densely populating a small area. … I even figured out how to use SL Go for my blog photos. SL Go photography saved the day but when I would otherwise crash trying to get the shot. (Yes, I was brutal with SL Go photography, pushing it past it’s limits with ultra advanced lighting, 16x anti aliasing, and trying to do a larger image size than double my screen resolution and it would crash on me of course. lol) But when I needed fast and reliable, SL Go photography was there for me. … I had big plans to use SL Go for my coverage of Fantasy Faire. I was planning to make movies while the sims were crawling with people, filming them all in thier wonderful and wacky outfits, and I would do all it on Ultra settings too. …. It sent me reeling that something so useful, SL Go, was taken away suddenly without warning and no way to fill void left behind. …. SL Go was a great tool and I enjoyed having it. I hope in the future there will be new ways to solve the problems of making VR faster, stable, able to handle busy sims, be beautifully lit, and of course, do it while waiting in line at doctor office or sitting on the beach.

I used singularity – graphics setting as low as they’d go, a draw of 32 – max avis 3 at the most – often 2, so i could see my partner and i dance.
In crowded places, i looked like a whirling dervish – i couldn’t control my movement and anyone moving in front of me took my fps from 7 – SEVEN mind you, at the best – to 2 and i’d crash. You can’t run a venue like that.
Then sl go and FS – and i became so dependent SO very quickly.
I’m so crushed – and i know from using it again now, that singularity is if possible going to continue to be worse.
I’m looking at closing both venues, and leaving second life – i can’t afford a new box.
Maybe going to InWorldz to see if it’s better there, that’s what losing sl go means to me. The fact that i’ve never seen a framerate over 10 in my three years in sl says it all, i think.

Ali V
It means i have to buy or build a new computer in order to continue being on sl.
LL is out “tech’ing” themselves from mainstream people.

Sarah Snow
It means the end of SL as it should be experienced.  for me at least

Jaska BloodMoon
It means my fiancée will be unable to join me in SL until sometime down the road when I’m capable of breaking free from the chains instilled by bills and bloated prices, and finally buy a better laptop that she can use.

Ed Merryman
well it does mean that I won’t be able to use my xp pc for sl much longer,, but LL won’t be worried about that :P

Jaska BloodMoon
It’s bad enough that I have more money going out to bills than I have coming in right now, paying a bloated price just to stream a viewer so that my laptop can run it just isn’t in the cards for me, at least not at the moment. That’s why I liked OnLive as an option, paying by Linden took quite a bit of weight off my shoulders.
The hardest thing for people right now is that Second Life is changing and becoming more and more demanding of computers. A low to mid-range computer that used to be able to run SL is now barely able to function properly, and these low to mid-range computers are “new” computers that are literally obsolete right out of the box. Most people can’t afford to pay a one lump sum for a high-end rig, especially when the rigs that are capable of running SL the way it’s meant to be run is well over 1 to 2,000 USD. x.x Some folks could probably afford that and save up for it rather quickly, but with so many places price gouging on their Internet services or electric, or what have you, bills just aren’t permitting for some folks. Some of SLs residents draw a monthly disability in RL, and SL is pretty much their reality, and it’s a reality that they can’t truly enjoy.  -shrug- Just my thoughts.

for me the effect personally is negligible except when i’m away from home and have to use my laptop.  But what bothers me is the large number of people who have had their first experience of being able to see and function in SL as it is meant to be, and will no longer have that ability.

show-63 sl go drax files

What does the end of SL Go mean to you? Share your opinion.


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I want to know how you feel about the SL Go service coming to an end.

I’ve heard from people to who this actually means the end of their Second Life because they just can’t afford a new computer or don’t want to go back to a slow grey laggy virtual reality.

In short, a lot of people are really sad for all sorts of reasons and I want to hear them so I can use them in a blog post I’ll be writing after the Dennis Harper interview that will be broadcast this Friday on the Drax Files Radio Hour podcast.

He is going to share some interesting new information, you don’t want to miss that episode.

I’d love to use some of your opinions on SL Go or what streaming SL in general means to you in that article.

So please let me know your opinion in the comments section.

slgo logo

SL Go CANCELLED after Sony acquires Onlive


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I’ve only just received this rather shocking news directly from Dennis Harper, Sr. Product Manager at SL Go.

I’m quoting from his email here;

It breaks my heart to tell you that OnLive (OL2, Inc) has been acquired and will be closing down the game service, including SL Go.  The official press release is attached.
SL Go Island will continue to exist for a while, but we have removed the Pay with L$ feature.

The OnLive and SL Go services will continue to operate in full capacity until April 30.  All services will be free to anyone who has or creates an account.  All prices for the service have been set to $0.00, including SL Go.

From the Press release;

OnLive today announced that Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. will acquire various assets of OnLive, including its U.S. and foreign patent portfolio covering its substantial innovations in cloud gaming.

These strategic purchases open up great opportunities for our gamers, and gives Sony a formidable patent portfolio in cloud gaming. It is yet another proof point that demonstrates our commitment to changing the way gamers experience the world of PlayStation,” said Philip Rosenberg, VP, Global Business Development of SCE and SVP Business Development and Publisher Relations of SCEA.

Users will continue to have access to OnLive’s services until April 30, 2015, including the OnLive Game Service, OnLive Desktop and SL Go (Second Life). After today’s date, no further subscription renewals will be charged for any of these services. Users whose subscriptions renewed on or after March 28 will be refunded. Following the termination of the company’s services and related products, OnLive will engage in an orderly wind-down of the company and cease operations.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Just to be clear; SL Go as well as Onlive will cease to exist.

Sony bought Onlive just to because they wanted the patents for a new product they are working on or to improve their own streaming service.
Maybe something new is planned in connection with their VR headset.
And they of course don’t care about the people using any of the Onlive services at the moment.

Personally I am very sad because I really enjoy using SL Go, it allows me to enjoy SL on my 6 year old macbook and make snapshots with full ultra graphics settings.
My snapshots will decline in quality dramatically and I’ll also have to start carrying my very heavy Alienware laptop with me every time I leave home but want or have to access SL.
To me, at the moment, this was the only way to experience SL the way I think SL should be experienced.

Onlive has been looking for a new owner for months and Sony has shown interest for even longer than that, but they always made clear they only wanted the patents.
So the Onlive team looked for a buyer who would continue the service, but in the end they had to go with Sony before the deadline of their (probably very generous) deal came.
It would have been great if LL had bought Onlive, imagine, they could have given every SL user streaming service, allowing everyone to enjoy a Second Life that looked good and worked on almost any machine.

After all, SL Go was Onlive’s most successful product!

So, I am sad for myself, but even more so for the SL Go team.
In a very short amount of time they got stuck into SL, spend many hours there, actually understanding what the users wanted and needed.
They really tried hard to listen to the user-base, they interacted with us inworld in the SL Go group and on the SL Go island, they really cared.
And now it is over, not just is something they really loved over, they are actually losing their RL jobs.
I fear that on top of all this, they will now also get quite a bit of flak from the SL users.
So if you’re reading this and as upset as I am, keep in mind that for the SL Go crew its even worse.
Keep that in mind.

One good thing to come out of this is that the SL Go people who have come to SL for this project have discovered a place they really liked and will keep visiting our virtual world.

I can’t help but thinking that this is just one battle in the VR wars I’ve been talking about, one of many still to follow.
Companies are all preparing for the new world and the battle will be fierce and dirty.


High Fidelity Alpha goes public


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In a blog post published today by Philip Rosedale it was announced that the Alpha testing of High Fidelity is now open to the public.

Several people have already been testing HiFi for quite a few months now, myself included, but it is great that the world is now advanced enough to welcome everyone else to this early stage.

Downloading the Alpha client will enable you to download client and server installers, deploy your own domain servers, create user accounts, register unique placenames, and start building and experimenting.

New users are reminded that HiFi is still in Alpha testing and there are still plenty of bugs and things that will be improved in a later stage.

There is also an alpha version of their own marketplace!

I have to admit that I haven’t been in HiFi for a long time because, well to be honest, I’m only interested in being able to build historical roleplaying places and when I was last there, it was just too early to get started on that.
But HiFi is moving fast, so I reckon its time to take another look, perhaps I’ll see you there!

You can read Mr Rosedale’s blog by clicking here.

hifi alpha

Leaked video shows footage of Second Life successor called ‘Digital World’


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A Linden Lab employee who wants to remain anonymous today send me this video that is top secret and shows what Second Life Next Generation will look like, it also seems to suggest it will be called ‘Digital World’.

The video is apparently some sort of introduction video.

I for one am very excited and think it looks stunning although I am a bit worried about the Sesamestreet-ish style.

For more information on this leaked video, click here.

digital world

Mesh upload with “NO” limit to amount of faces coming soon


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It has been mentioned before that an update is coming to mesh uploading in Second Life that will allow us to go beyond the limit of 8 faces on a prim.

This is very exciting to us creators, because at the moment, when I build a building, it can only have 8 different texture faces.
So when I for instance want to make a building with several rooms, all with a different kind of wallpaper, nice plaster ceilings, wonderful 1920s façade, ceramic tiles on the roof, etc, etc… you can imagine that I’ll need more than 8 faces.

To still make the buildings I want to build, I therefor have to cut the building into several mesh parts that I then have to stick together again and link.
To make things a little easier, I usually decide to make every floor of a building separately.
And sometimes, this means your land impact goes up.

So learning that this limit was going to go up, was great news and I am an impatient kind of person.
I wanted to know what the new limit would be, so I decided to ask Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, himself;

I’m not a very technical kind of person, most of this stuff is abracadabra to me, so maybe this is not big news to some of you, but to me it is rather exciting.
I think it will make working with mesh more fun.

I still make all my mesh inworld, I use a tool called ‘Mesh Studio’ (you can find it on marketplace) that allows me to keep making stuff with the good old prims and then turn them into mesh.
With the “no faces limit”, I hope to be able to make more stuff with less effort.

And yes, although it seems there won’t be a limit, I am sure some of Second Life’s most creative users will eventually find out how far this can be pushed.
Once that happens, the server farm at Linden Lab will probably explode, causing the rise of the machines and the apocalypse.

Till that happens, I can’t wait to create something new with this improvement.

Another step forward!

ebbe twitter

Yet another positive story about Second Life in the media


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Is the media falling in love with Second Life again?

After years of terrible, silly, shallow, badly researched or simply made up articles with screenshots from 1979, recently there have been a few rather positive and well written stories in the media about Second Life.

It seems that the virtual reality renaissance, set in motion by Oculus Rift, is bringing Second Life back into the spotlight and quite rightly so.

Because no matter what you think about our 13 year old online world, it is still there, it is still doing well and unlike any other VR related thing out there, it has a huge amount of experience, an amazing track record and its own economy.

It was a matter of time before (good) journalists would realise the importance of Second Life, or at least how interesting its story is today.

A few days an online magazine called ‘Good’ had a pretty decent article about us and today ‘Business Insider Australia’ published a wonderful story with the rather good and eye catching title;
‘This company was 13 years early to virtual reality — and it’s getting ready to try again’

Love that title, because SL was early, perhaps even ahead of its time.
The story has an ok screenshot, that at least is up to day (although not very exciting).

Because the audience is people who want to read about business, they get straight to the point and in my experience, that is very good when the story is about Second Life.
Throw some facts and figures at the reader and they will be impressed and perhaps stop thinking about all the pervy stuff they read about in the other articles.

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab is quoted in the article and as I mentioned before, Ebbe knows what to say and how to sell our virtual world to outsiders and once more he does a wonderful job of it.

The story goes into the past and future of Second Life and well, it just sounds good.

Which is why the next version of Second Life has a few clear priorities, Altberg says:

  • Make it easier for people to find cool, relevant stuff.
  • Make it possible for more people to attend and experience that cool stuff (Duran Duran did a free concert in Second Life once, but only 50 people could fit in the room for technical reasons).
  • Make it possible for people to make money in new ways from their stuff (like letting people who run virtual classrooms rent out the technology to other universities).

If the company can do that with this next version, Altberg says, then Second Life’s prosperity will continue well into the new reign of virtual reality.

And what can I say, I am easily pleased, so I was quite excited when my 1920s Berlin Project was mentioned.
My already massive ego likes being stroked but to be blunt, I do think that at least the theme of my sim is a good one to show outsiders with that Second Life is about more than shopping, chatting and hanky panky.
Although of course all those things also happen in our sim… ssshhhh don’t tell anyone.

In short, an article worth reading (and you can read it by clicking here), but also positive about our virtual world.

Let’s hope more journalists start to realise that Second Life is actually a very interesting topic, again.

business insider australia

show #61: ranting with niran

Jo Yardley:

New Drax Files Radio Hour episode!

Originally posted on the drax files radio hour [with jo yardley]:

show #61 show #61

everyone can create an sl viewer and niran actually did it: a young self-taught german furry and tinkerer sprung into action indeed.

so behold, because today: the man behind black dragon!

want to read? below please:

ready player oneto be directed by steven spielberg

Aech's Chatroom in SL [pic by Austin Tate] Aech’s Chatroom in SL [pic by Austin Tate] – but when checked today = no more ready player one reference in sl….

aech's chat room in sl is no more aech’s chat room in sl is no more

360-degree videos on youtube

facebook is going the same route [and beyond?]

what if sl go would be a premium feature? [sl go pro???]

sl official and sl fs go sl official and sl fs go

– fun at the magic leap office:

age of starlight coming this summer [perhaps magic leap premiere?]

ciaran laval on improbable

another ex-linden at the competition another ex-linden at the competition [improbable in this case] – my high fidelity world is up…

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