Here are the gifts! Linden Lab lowers tier & setup fees!

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Ebbe just announced live during his SL15b interview that tier & setup fees are going down!
A very important thing that many of us have been asking for for a long long time.

In short;

  • Maintenance fees (tier) goes down by 15%
  • Setup fees for land are reduced by 41%

These things are hugely important.
I think setup fees should be ZERO but lowering it from $600 to $349 will already make a huge difference for people who want to start a new sim.

So if you own a private region, congratulations!

Unfortunately these discounts are not available for grandfathered/bought down land prices.
Which is a huge shame.
A while back LL offered this option and many of us worked very hard to be able to pay for this tier discount and now that difference in tier isn’t that big any more, not that we didn’t already make that money back, but still!
I want a discount too!

I know, staring a gift horse in the mouth isn’t very nice, but I can’t help myself.
We’re talking money here and I’m Dutch!

Oh and of course, every action has an opposite reaction; the costs of buying Linden Dollars goes up.

You can read the official announcement by clicking here; https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2375-another-15-for-15-lower-land-prices-and-reduced-set-up-fees/

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Second Life’s new 15th birthday video

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Linden Lab has just released a special 15th birthday video that, very cleverly, isn’t just meant for us long term users and residents, but also a great little advertisement and sort of teaser to everyone who hasn’t been in SL yet.

Besides Ebbe looking very relaxed with an unbuttoned shirt somewhere in Amsterdam (not my house, I swear, stop looking at me like that, I deny everything!) we see some avatars holding up signs with a few very interesting facts & figures that should impress the outsiders.

In the video Ebbe talks about and shows a few users, what they do in SL, we get to see a bunch of nice places and even Philip pops in to say hello.

Enjoy;

New tools for region owners in Second Life

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Many years ago, in 2012 to be exact, I wrote a blog about how it would be a good idea to give region owners some offline tools to help them manage their sims.

You can read it by clicking here, but in short;
I suggested some tools accessible on the SL official website that allowed region owners so do some things inworld without actually having to start up the viewer as that isn’t always an option.
One of the tools I suggested was to allow us to restart a region from the website.

Linden Lab has now given us this option!
This is very handy, not just because you can’t always go inworld because you’re too busy in RL, the computer you’re on doesn’t handle SL or maybe your sim is under attack by grievers and you can’t even get to it.
And of course, by being able to do this via the SL website means you can also do it on your mobile phone while in traffic and nowhere near a computer.
Click here to read the official announcement.

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Region owners can now simply go to their land manager page and restart all their regions from there, you can also restart them in safe mode so with scripts, physics & collisions disabled.
Effectively making griefing impossible.

This is a very handy and some day it may save your bacon.

But I hope this is just the first of more tools to come!
Because I can think of a few more improvements that would be most welcome.
Here are a few ideas for SL website tools (not just for region managers) I wrote about in my blog back in 2012, if you can think of more, please share your ideas in the comments section.

  • Be able to send an message to the region.
  • Have access to your groups so you can send a group message, join group chat (for instance to explain what you’re doing about the griefer attack) but also give and take away permissions to make things harder for that troll who pretended to be a tenant or to give that new tenant rezing permissions without them having to wait till you get home.
  • See who is currently visiting your region and eject someone if need be.
  • Have access to detailed visitor logs.
  • Change the windlight.
  • Allow everyone, not just region managers, to chat, live, with anyone in SL from the SL website.
    Allowing you to talk to your friends but also fellow administrators in case of an emergency or just to check if everything is in order.

In short, all those little jobs that only take a few seconds to do but because you have to do them inworld, can take minutes, even hours if you have to wait to get home to take care of them.

UPDATE;

I’ve contacted Linden Lab and asked them if they are planning any improvements and additions to these tools.
I was told;

Yes, we do – we have a project viewer with an update to estate management tools coming very soon. The simulator changes have just rolled out to support those. We think these are going to be a very welcome addition.

Second Life’s new infographic & the old one

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I love these, the media loves these, everybody loves these.
The infographic quickly gives you some interesting information packaged with pretty pictures.

Linden Lab just published this fresh new one as part of the 15th anniversary of the biggest user build virtual online world Second Life.

I’ve decided to dig up the infographic Linden Lab made for the 10th anniversary and compare the two.

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Up to today 57 million accounts were created, that is impressive but doesn’t say very much about how well SL is doing or how many people actually use it because we all know that many of these people who sign up don’t use SL anymore ands some are alt accounts, I for instance have roughly 2 hundred thousand alts myself 😉
5 years ago there were 36 million accounts created, so that is another 21 million in 5 years!

Today the total time spend in SL is 482.000, now that is a lot.
It would be nice to know how many people actually are responsible for these hours though.
On the other hand, I really do not want to know how many hours I’ve spend in SL!
Five years ago this number was 217.000 years, so in the last 5 years we’ve spend more time in SL than people have in the first 10 years!
Now that is interesting.
SL may have stopped growing and is in slow decline but it is being used more intensely than ever before.

On average 350.000 people register for SL every month, even if many of these are alts and even if lots of new users only stay for a short time and don’t become “lifers”, it is still quite a high number of people who are still interested in checking out and trying a 15 year old product.
However, 5 years ago this number was 400.000, so this number has gone down.

$68 million has been paid to creators in 2017, I wish I was paid a million.
This number was not mentioned 5 years ago but in 2015 Ebbe said that users cashed out $60 million, so it looks like SL’s economy has gotten better the last 2 years.

 

5 million virtual goods created for the marketplace, back in 2013 this was 2.1 million, so this too seems to have grown rather a lot.
In the last 5 years we’ve been creating and/or selling more items on marketplace than in the 10 years before!
Mind you, with this number you have to ask yourself if everything that is being sold is actually created by users for sale or sold one, the cacha market is huge and consists of people selling stuff they did not create.

The top 3 categories most popular in the destination guide are games, editors picks and photogenic spots.
I had not spotted the photogenic spots category yet, all my sims should be in there of course!
It is interesting to see that 5 years ago the most popular categories were games, events and adventure & fantasy.

50 million chat messages sent daily, that doesn’t surprise me, I reckon I get at least half of all those messages!
Or at least it feels like it sometimes.
Unfortunately this number was not shared 5 years ago, but I think it has gone up because those who chat the most are the people who spend a lot of time in SL and it looks like we’ve been spending more and more time in this virtual world of ours.
I wonder if the real world becoming less and less pleasant might have had something to do with that…

Most popular shopping categories; avatar apparel, avatar accessories, home & garden.
In 2013 this was not shared but we did learn that women’s hairstyles were the most purchased items.

I’d like to have seen how many users visit monthly these days and how large SL’s landmass is.

I wonder if my analysis of these two infographics makes sense.
The most important things I notices are that although SL is in decline, those of us who do make it our home spend more time and money.
Which I reckon is pretty good news.
Of course we have to keep fighting to make sure more people join and stay once they’ve joined, but the locals, the regulars, the oldtimers, are doing a great job of keeping the world alive, active, fresh and interesting.
I reckon we deserve some nice gifts during the anniversary… subtle hint….

Last names return to SL and more, as part of 15th anniversary celebrations

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Yes you’ve read that correctly, last names are returning!

They of course never should have been removed, they were missed by most almost from day one.
Sure, we love that this allowed us to change our display names but somehow those called ‘resident’ were missing out.
Last names are fun, especially when you bump into a ‘relative’ of yours with the same last name.

Anyway, I get ahead of myself.
As you may know, SL will be celebrating its 15th anniversary soon and have started handing out gifts early.

I will share a link to the original announcement at the bottom here but first discuss a few specifically for the simple reason that I find them interesting and this is my blog and I do what I want you’re not my mum.

1&2. Lower tier on the mainland, we were given this a week or so ago and its great but of course those of us who are no longer on mainland felt a bit left behind.

3. More value for premium members, including new advantages that will add more value for merchants, creators and landowners.
Now this sounds very interesting as I am one of all of those, but generally premium membership hasn’t given me any bonuses that I got very excited about and this promise is rather vague so all we can do is wait.

4. Environment enhancements, FINALLY I WILL GET MY 24 HOUR DAY CYCLES!!
This is brilliant, we’ve known about this for ages and I can’t wait.

7. Last names to return!
This is wonderful, I’m glad they found a way to do this.
They write; “we will provide a way to customize your last name in Second Life” and that sounds even more exciting than new residents getting last names, because this seems to suggest that… everyone will be able to customise their last name!
Wait, what?
I have no idea what they’ve got planned but does this mean old avatars can also change their last names?

Finally Ebbe writes about more pricing changes to come.

Currently, Land costs can be quite high, and make up a lopsided portion of our Second Life revenues. To improve this imbalance, we plan to increase revenues in other ways so that we can lower land costs further. In order to avoid shocks to the in-world economy and to take care that we keep the business healthy, we plan to make these changes in a measured way, taking time to assess the impacts of each change as we go.

And;

In the coming months some other fees may increase, including Marketplace commissions, Linden Dollar exchange fees, and cashout fees.

This sounds both promising and worrisome.
The idea that tier could be lowered by raising other costs is not new and has come up many times before, but mostly in relation to Sansar.
It is nice to now see it brought up in relationship to SL and I do think this is the way to go.
This system will tax those of us who make money, it will tax commerce in stead of creativity.
Tier could lower, sims could get cheaper, the threshold people need to cross to start a new community or project in SL will be lowered.
We’ve already seen the exchange fees go up and this brings extra income to LL but doesn’t effect the majority of people in SL.
But all of this has to be done very carefully and in small steps because if SL becomes more expensive or less profitable for those of us who try to make a living with it, it could cause some serious damage.

For instance, if my exchange & cashout fees go up before my tier goes down, I’ll be losing money.
However I am assuming LL will plan these changes at the same time or at least make sure tier goes down first.
Either way, I expect that these changes will, no matter how, make SL generally cheaper for all of us, regardless of how much money you make.

Anyway, what do you think about these changes?

You can read the entire announcement by clicking here.

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Tier lowered… on the mainland.

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Most people in SL have been saying it for a long time and it has even become a bit of a, what kids these days call a “meme”;

The Tier is too damn high!

Well, today Linden Lab announced they are lowering the tier by 10%… but only if you have land on the mainland.
Which makes this news not quite as exciting for this landowner.
I can’t help wonder why only mainland land owners get this bonus.
I guess it is because there is so much empty space there, but it being crowded and lack of land management powers is the reason many of us decided to move to a private region ages ago.
Personally I felt I didn’t have a choice, being surrounded by lots of strange builds that ruined the immersion in my sim but also desperately needing full admin powers to deal with grievers and other sim problems, I needed to move 1920s Berlin to a private region to make the place even remotely bearable for my tenants.
This however meant much higher tier and thus much more work to make a sim pay for itself or even profitable.
Just to get access to tools I think all land owners deserve.

Now I am famously horrible at math, but that would reduce the monthly tier for a full mainlandregion with $17.50, so from $175 to $157.50.
Which is of course still quite a lot and as many will say is still “too damn high” but it is a  step in the right direction and something I welcome.
It is of course a fact that this change will help everyone who currently has land but will this amount make a difference to aspiring land owners?
Would the 10% reduction change your mind?

According to the LL announcement this reduction is effective immediately.

Another nice bonus is that mainland allotment is doubled for premium members.
I remember getting my first land as a premium member and starting 1920s Berlin on it and I know this change would have been very welcome back then.

We, well some of us, get this improvement a few months ahead of SL’s 15th birthday.
I hope we can expect more bonuses like these when the birthday celebrations begin and I hope that private region owners and those of us who have left the mainland and live elsewhere on this virtual planet are not passed by this time and also get a reduction in tier.
I reckon we’ve deserved it.

You can read the official announcement by clicking here.

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I’m leaving Second Life!

Yes, I am leaving Second Life… for a few days.

Ha, sorry, I couldn’t resist the ‘clickbait’ title.
Did I scare you or were you ecstatic with joy?

Anyway, as some of you know, my RL dream for many years has been escaping the big cities I’ve lived in all my life and move to the countryside and now this dream has come true.
My family has rented a little farm in the North East of the Netherlands with a bit of land and lots of surrounding fields and I am moving there tomorrow!

I’m very excited of course, I love nature and animals and especially peace and quiet and can’t wait to leave Amsterdam behind me for ever.

But this also means that it may take a few days, and with new years eve coming up soon, perhaps even a week, before I get an internet connection up and running on the farm.
And internet will be VERY slow there so even when I get it, SL may be a bit tricky for me at first.
Luckily it has already been confirmed that I’m getting fibre optics internet installed in 2018 so I’ll have super fast internet soon, faster than you can get in Amsterdam!

So you will have to manage without my complaining, snarky comments, euphemisms and rudeness towards the drunks in my 1920s Berlin bar for a bit.

I’m not abandoning Berlin and Time Portal, managers and sim police will be around to keep an eye on visitors and deal with naughty ones.
If you’re a tenant or have other urgent issues, try asking in group chat for help or send me an email, contact info is in my SL profile.

I hope you all have a wonderful new year’s eve and a fantastic 1929.

See you on the other side.

Jo

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The end of my new garden

New benefit for premium members; longer transaction history

Recently LL announced a new benefit for premium members, in stead of the 1 month of records for your transactions, they now can look back 3 months.

This is very handy and a great little bonus but I have to admit I can’t help looking this gift horse in the mouth a bit.
With all these servers and super computers Linden Lab has access too, that can render huge virtual worlds and send countless terabytes all over the globe, I always found it odd that they couldn’t put a side a little bit of server space to keep all these records for us.

Surely it would only take a few gigabyte to save EVERY transaction EVER made by ALL avatars?

Of course I really don’t know much about the space this takes up and perhaps effort to keep it all running, but still, I’m surprised we can’t already look back in our transaction records all the way back to the day we got our first Linden from that nice stranger who felt sorry for a noob, or from that chair we sat in for hours or that person we kept bothering.

After all, its just zeros and ones right?

Having said that, any bonus is a good thing of course.

You can read the official announcement here;
https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2268-new-for-premium-subscribers-90-day-l-transaction-history/

SL changes, good & bad news

Linden Lab just announced a few changes, good & bad.

The buying Linden Dollars & process credit fees are going up;

  • Effective today, the fee for buying L$ on the LindeX will be $0.99 per transaction (previously it had been $0.60 per transaction). These changes impact only buys on the LindeX, and the fees associated with buying L$’s during SL Marketplace transactions remain unchanged.
  • On January 3, 2018, the fee for processing credit transactions (i.e. paying real money into a PayPal or Skrill account) will be 2.5% per transaction, with a $3 (USD) minimum, and no maximum. This fee is currently 1.5% per transaction, with a $3 (USD) minimum and a $25 (USD) maximum.

This means SL is getting more expensive for most of us and those of us who (try to) make a living from SL need to find a way to balance out the extra costs.
Say you manage to make 700$ a month from SL, in the olden days it would cost you $10.50 to send this money to your Paypal account, in the future that will cost $17.50.

Luckily it is not just bad news.
There will be more improvements coming to SL, lots of money (millions of dollars!) are being put into our virtual world to make it even better.

The most interesting thing (for me anyway) is the animesh;

New creative tools. We recently released Animesh in beta, enabling creators to use skeletal animations with non-avatar objects – like wild animals, pets, vehicles, and scenery objects. Coming soon is EEP!  (Environmental Enhancements Project), a series of extensions to Windlight that enable you to trade or sell your own environment settings. EEP will also allow Parcel-based environment settings and an extended day cycle too!

This could bring realistic moving NPC’s to SL that are less laggy than current options and also look better.
They can also replace bots.
I hope the EEP! includes the 24 hour day cycles!

Also very exciting;

We continue to make progress in the massive upgrade to SL infrastructure and move to the cloud (we call this project Brave New World). This move will (among many other things), help make SL more performant for Residents around the world, and may also enable us to introduce new products and more flexible pricing in the future.

SL performance and high tier is something many of us would like to see improved upon so this is going in the right direction.

You can read the full official announcement here;
https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2265-exciting-improvements-to-sl-fee-updates-to-enable-even-more/

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How to shut Jo up when she complains about her old computer

I feel really uncomfortable about asking people for financial support, or asking people for any kind of help really.
But after months of struggling along with my 2011 computer that it literally being kept together with sticky tape and no real change in my dire financial situation on the horizon, I realised something had to be done.

It is really hard to work in SL and I can’t even start visiting Sansar or trying out headset VR without a new computer.

I had a long think about it and several people suggested I’d try gofundme.com.
I didn’t really want to but let them convince me.
In a way it is not that different from me rudely reminding guests at my bar of my tip jar and threatening them if they don’t tip me.

But  as I still don’t like the idea of asking for help, I am looking at it in a different way.
Half of SL is getting sick an tired of me complaining and going on and on and on about how bad my old computer is and how badly I need a new one.
Now you can shut me up!
Or at least make me stop talking about my bad computer.

Simply follow the instructions on this gofundme page;

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jo-yardley-get-a-new-computer

Of course inworld tips are also an option.

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