Germany fights Facebook thus perhaps paving the way for using pseudonyms

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The Hamburg data protection authority is confronting Facebook on its ‘real name policy and telling the social media site that it can’t demand its users to provide them with a photo ID.

The German regulator said that this violates the right to privacy and in a statement (click here to read, in German) could not force users to send them copies of their official identification papers nor could it force them to change their chosen names to real names.

These real name rules have been making things very hard for people who for one reason or another prefer to use a name that is not their official one or one not recognised by Facebook.
Artists, transgender men and women, American natives, people hiding from abusive relationshiips and of course those of us with a virtual identity.

Many of us at one time or another have had our profiles deleted by Facebook because we weren’t real enough.
But Facebook is just too good for running and managing communities, staying in touch, organising events, etc.
So we keep coming back.

Right now Facebook can lock your account and force you to identify yourself and change your name, or your account will be deleted.

Technically, according to Johannes Caspar, the Hamburg commissioner for data protection and freedom of information;

The requirement to use a real name violates the rights, enshrined in German law, to use a pseudonym, while requests for digital copies of an official photo ID also contradict the passport and ID card law and the unauthorised modification of the pseudonym … blatantly violated the right to informational self-determination and constitutes a deliberate infringement of the Data Protection Act.

This is very interesting for people who like to use Facebook but not share their real life identity with everyone.
Who knows this will finally allow us to create and keep profiles for our avatars.
Even if it means pretending we’re all German citizens :)

If Facebook made special”pseudonym” profiles that look, act and feel the same as regular ones but are somehow clearly marked as belonging not to an identified person, everybody would be happy.

You can read more about this in the Guardian newspaper article here.

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The Eldorado Cabaret celebrates its 4th anniversary!

Originally posted on The 1920s Berlin Project:

Picture by Jelena Matova Picture by Jelena Matova

In 1925 (2011) the infamous Eldorado Kabarett opened its doors to the public for the first time.
A place that would embody the wild, free and bohemian spirit of our city.

With the well known designer Sonatta Morales at the helm our Cabaret soon became one of the most popular spots in Berlin.
Every Saturday she builds a set, choreographs a dance and puts a costume together for a different show every week!

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This Saturday at 2pm we’ll have a special 4th anniversary show, everybody is welcome as long as you’re wearing 1920s clothes and have a realistic avatar.
And just like in the 1920s; cross dressing is encouraged.

Just like the real Eldorado, our place is a safe haven for gays, transvestites and of course straight people as well.
Back then Berlin was probably the only place where you could have a place be this public…

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1920s Berlin kid needs your help after RL house fire

Jo Yardley:

One of our own needs your help.

Originally posted on The 1920s Berlin Project:

One of Berlin’s favourite streetkids has experienced one of the most awful things in real life I can imagine; a house fire.

Although everyone managed to escape in the nick of time and nobody was wounded, the house and most of their belongings were pretty much trashed.

skylerAt the moment Skyler Gant (RL name Mark) and his mom are staying in a hotel, having almost nothing left except the clothes they were wearing when they escaped, their phones and the cat.

The 1920s Berlin community is a strong one and when we don’t see certain of our neighbours for a while we get worried, when they have a celebration in RL we’re happy for them and when something bad happend in RL we try to help.
Skyler has been with us for a very long time and we know him as a wonderful sweet kid both in SL and RL, although…

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Variety writes about Project Sansar

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Today an article was published about Project Sansar on the website of well known online American entertainment trade magazine Variety.

It is really good PR to get Sansar mentioned there.

Although the story does not reveal any exciting news for us, it is a nice, but short read.

A few quotes;

Linden Lab now wants to lower real estate taxes and increase sales taxes, he explained, to make it easier for people to pitch a tent in its virtual world.

Project Sansar will also be rendered with 90 frames per second to look fluid in a virtual reality headset.

Project Sansar will allow brands and other developers to build their own VR experiences, and then deep-link to them from their websites or third-party apps.

Altberg compared Sansar’s role to WordPress, the popular blogging and web publishing platform that now powers a quarter of the world’s websites. Linden Lab’s goal was to turn Sansar into a WordPress for VR, allowing enthusiasts and big brands alike to build VR experiences without spending tons of money and man hours on custom programming, he explained.

This month, Linden Lab is inviting a few select users to join an alpha test. Throughout the fall, it will gradually add more alpha users, and a public beta test is planned for early next year — just in time for the availability of the Oculus Rift consumer headset. A 1.0 version could launch by the end of 2016, said Altberg

Altberg said that Linden Lab isn’t pre-populating the world with ready-made experiences or things ported over from Second Life. Instead, it’s betting on its users to start shaping their world. “It’s gonna start from the beginning,” he said.

You can read the complete article by clicking here.

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Interview with Ebbe and Pete Linden on MMORPG website

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I stumbled upon this nice article on a website called mmorpg.com, an online community all about massively multiplayer online role-playing games.

I first thought it was just another story, but it turned out to be an interview by Neilie Johnson with Ebbe and Pete Linden and although nothing really shocking or new was revealed it is still a rather interesting read.

But although it just looks like a post on a small online forum, it is quite a bit more than that.

Mmorpg.com is extra interesting because it is read by a very important target audience for Second Life, it is not a tv show watched by millions of whom most have little or no interest in actually joining us in our virtual world, but it is read by people much more likely to actually be interested and willing to come try it out.

The website has over 46.000 followers on twitter and more than 76.000 ‘likes’ on Facebook.
Not to mention that the website itself has over 3 million members!
And all of these people are members of online communities and play online games.
This is why it makes this interview so interesting.
After all, when you’re trying to sell food it is better to target hungry people than people who are on a diet.
This interview is like talking to an army of Mr. Creosote’s who are very, very hungry.
Don’t look up Mr. Creosote.
I warned you.

The article is pretty good and doesn’t mention the bad reputation Second Life has/had, but it does come up in the comments section, once more showing that the shadow of the past hasn’t quite cleared up yet.
But other readers are rather positive and are quick to explain that SL is more than just that.
The story is also accompanied by some rather decent pictures.

You can read the full story by clicking here.

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Imagine… fluid water in virtual reality

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Now this will be a wishful thinking post, as far as I know this is not coming to Sansar but one can dream!

Imagine fluid water dynamics in your favourite virtual world…

Water that not only looks like water (which already looks great in SL) but also acts like it.
It flows and reacts with its surroundings.
Imagine digging a hole in your garden… with a trench to the river… and then the water flows from the river into the hole!

While landscaping your sim, you’d build a mountain, click the water icon and a big water drop hovers over your land, drop it and it will fall onto your land, streaming down, filling dents, surrounding hills and turning them into islands, following riverbeds, causing waterfalls and ending at the sea or a lake, adding the risk of it overflowing…

Can you imagine the fun you’ll have?
Building dikes, breaking them, seeing towns get flooded, making waterfalls, underground lakes, etc. etc.

Not to mention that certain things would float on water while others would sink.
You could sit in a little boat and actually see it float down the river, following a stream, without you doing anything, without scripts, without gadgets.

Depending on how well it is implicated, it could be used for serious scientific experiences!

And who knows… it could maybe even be used to recreate REAL rain in SL… countless little drops that fall down and slide down roofs…
But that is perhaps taking things too far.

The water might even react realistically to items… or people jumping in!
Check out this amazing video;

Back to earth.
I know, I know, this is all much more than the LL servers or our computers can handle at the moment.
Although the video is a few years old, even today this would cost even super computers quite some time to render.

Calculating 3D water effects, responses, reflections, ripples, behaviour in real time sounds like science fiction.

Or so I thought…

Twitter user Cube Republic read my tweet about the video above and shared a very interesting link with me.
There is an online demo called ‘WebGL Water‘ made by Evan Wallace, that shows a cube of water that reacts to touch and interaction in real time, in a browser!
Or as Mr. Wallace explains himself, it has; Raytraced reflections and refractions, Analytic ambient occlusion, Heightfield water simulation and Soft shadowsCaustics.

I think this is very impressive, sure not super realistic, but very close and I could already imagine it in our Berlin swimming pool.

Check out this video;

This is also rather old, but, as non-technical as I am, I can’t help wondering, if this can run in a browser… how far are we from seeing this on a large scale implemented in a virtual world like Sansar?

Webgl water

Ask Ebbe! Linden Lab CEO answers your questions

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When Ebbe Altberg (AKA Ebbe Linden, CEO of Linden Lab) did his interview at the SL12B celebrations with Saffia Widdershins and myself, we tried to get as many questions from the audience answered as possible but of course there is never enough time.

And some questions, although answered, keep coming back.

Today in an announcement you can read by clicking here, Linden Lab announced that they started a forum post that answered some of the often asked questions but they also opened up the thread to the public promising that Ebbe and other Lindens will keep an eye on it and try and answer as many of your questions as possible.

This is another great step to improving the communication between users and Second Life, as mentioned before, Ebbe also agreed to doing a regular question hour type show we hope to start working on soon.
So you can perhaps also ask him your questions in public soon.

Got a question for the Lindens?
Go check out the official forum thread by clicking here and ask away!

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Dr. Phil visits Second Life and 1920s Berlin

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Some time ago I spotted an avatar wandering around Berlin who looked familiar, I don’t own a television and generally don’t watch daytime tv shows anyway, but I also don’t live under a rock and realised that this man was Dr. Phil, the psychologist and tv show host.

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I was amused but also intrigued, nothing personal, but why would anyone want such an avatar and why was Draxtor Despres hovering around him?

Photo by Jerry Avenaim

Photo by Jerry Avenaim

Soon I realised that this Dr. Phil avatar was being being run by the real Dr. Phil, or at least someone from his tv show team.
They were filming inside Second Life for an upcoming episode.

I was rather cautious about what the episode would be about, most shows are about people with serious issues (or just a lack of self-control) and their topics can be rather sensationalist.

Nevertheless I decided to have a chat with the Dr. Phil avatar, because if the episode would be about what I expected it to be about (something like, help my husband spends all his time in a virtual world doing hanky panky) I thought this could be my chance of at least reminding them that some of us use Second Life for quite interesting and responsible things.

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Having worked in the TV business myself I am well aware that nothing of their visit to 1920s Berlin and their chat with my might be used, or even edited in such a way that it supports whatever they want it to support.
But at least they had the footage of me telling them about what I use SL for, if they decide to use it or not.

Anyway, I soon learned that Ebbe Altberg (AKA Ebbe Linden, CEO of Linden Lab) was also interviewed by Dr. Phil and Ebbe knows how to handle himself when talking to the media.
And with its several million users, it could be a nice bit of PR for SL.

Let’s hope that we can make people realise that too much of anything is not good, but if you are addicted to gaming Second Life could offer you a way to at least be more creative and social with your computer and even try and make a living on it in stead of just spending money on games where you run around shooting everyone.
Even though that can be a lot of fun.

I am a hardcore gamer myself, have been since the early 1980s, maybe even late 1970 when my parents got the famous tennis game pong.
I can spend many hour in a row playing if I get my hands on a brilliant new game.
But eventually I get tired of it and want to go back to making my own world in stead of enjoying one someone else designed for me.

In the end gaming is just entertainment, just like watching tv, being on Facebook or reading books and yes, all those pursuits can be damaging as well if you spend 20 hours a day doing them, although you’re less likely to end up on Dr. Phil with those addictions.
Most people watch way too much tv and well, someone who reads literature all the time generally doesn’t upset anyone.

The first videos the Dr. Phil show has put online so far seem to share with the world that not all games are bad and Second Life seems to get some positive attention, being described as the good side of gaming.

Still, I can’t help but be a little worried about how our virtual world is going to be portrayed to the media, will we be part of the problem, or part of the solution?
The description of the episode does not bode well.

Won’t Work, Won’t Go to School: “My Son Just Wants to Game All Day”

Sarah says her 23-year-old son, Justin, is so consumed with playing video games that he dropped out of college, can’t hold a job and is neglecting his health — losing more than 50 pounds — and she fears he’ll die if he doesn’t stop. Sarah says she has tried cutting off Justin financially and giving him ultimatums, but he always finds a way to continue gaming to excess. Justin admits he can play 16 hours a day — sometimes lasting up to 30 hours straight — and says he would rather live in the virtual world than the real world. What could be driving his behavior? And, has his hobby become an addiction that could eventually kill him? With the help of Dr. Rachael Ross, co-host of the Emmy Award-winning show The Doctors, Dr. Phil opens Justin’s eyes to the potential health dangers he faces. Will it have an impact? Plus, how can Justin regain traction in his life?

Well, we will be able to judge for ourselves this Tuesday when it is going to be aired on American tv.
If someone finds out where the rest of us can watch it, let me know in the comments below.
Or perhaps, someone can stream it inworld!

Linden Lab published the following announcement regarding this upcoming episode, you can read it by clicking here.

There is a little preview online on the Dr. Phil website that you can see here and Drax put a video snippet on youtube as well;

The show has also started using hashtags on social media to start the discussion around this subject.
This gives us a chance to target his huge audience.
So it might be a good idea to start using the tags #drphil #‎gaming2excess to show people how you feel about Second Life.
And twitter Dr. Phil directly by using  and .

Once I’ve seen the episode, I’ll add my opinion on it here.

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Free Realistic avatar kit updated, now also with tools for kids

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As soon as I rezzed my first prim an realised it was 50 by 50 by 50 centimeters, I realised I could use this scale to make things but to also make my avatar the same height as I am in real life.
And I’ve always been interested in trying to mimic realism in virtual reality.

So when I started building the 1920s Berlin Project, I soon decided to use the so called “Prim scale” and now pretty much everything in that sim has a 1:1 scale compared to RL.

But having such a sim made things difficult for visitors.
Making your avatar realistic is not easy in Second Life, the avatar editor is a bit wonky and the measurements not always reliable.

So I created a realistic proportioned avatar kit for visitors, filled with lots of goodies and gadgets to help you make your avatar look more realistic.

Today I’ve updated the kit, tweaked it a little and also added information and measurement prims that can help children find their right size.
You can get this kit for free at our Teleport area or simply test out the Loomis figures to see if you’re much too tall or short for your age.

Visitors to 1920s Berlin don’t have to make their avatar realistically proportioned, but doing so will help the immersive experience and keep them from bumping their heads.

We also think that it is a good thing to at least know what a realistically proportioned avatar looks like, once you know that you can of course always decide to change your look in whatever way you want.
If most avatars are realistic, someone who is small or large will have more fun standing out.

There are many devices available in SL that claim to help you measure your height but in my experience there is only one way to be completely sure; Rez a simple prim and making it as tall as you want your avatar to be and then stand right next to it, or even inside the prim.

In the free realistic proportioned avatar kit you will find;

  • The two Vitruvian shapes made by Penny Patton
  • Ideal Loomis proportion female 66″ / 167.6 cm
  • Ideal Loomis proportion Adult male 72 inches / 182 cm tall
  • Ideal Loomis proportion male 15 yrs 67.5″ / 171 cm
  • Ideal Loomis proportion male 10 yrs 52.5 inches / 133.3 cm
  • Ideal Loomis proportion male 5 yrs 42 inches / 106.6 cm
  • Ideal Loomis proportion male 3 yrs 32.5 inches / 82.55 cm
  • Ideal Loomis proportion male 1 yr 24 inches / 61 cm
  • TMT Professional Pose Stand

About the Loomis figures:
Andrew Loomis made excellent drawings that explain how the human body is put together.
Of course these shapes are idealistic, but the proportions regarding height, length of arms, legs, etc, are correct.

Good luck working on your avatar.
Please remember that we do NOT demand you to have a realistically proportioned avatar in 1920s Berlin, it is just a suggestion.

Thank you Penny Patton, Tikuf Arun and Andrew Loomis.

The free kit can be found at;
http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/1920s%20Berlin/251/214/751

Avatar proportions kit

Now is the perfect time to explore SL12B

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The wonderful community celebration experience that is Second Life’s 12th birthday (SL12B) is about to come to an end.

Today and tomorrow are the last days you can visit the 200+ exhibits on 15 full regions, it all closes at midnight on Saturday the 4th of July.

And although all the events have ended and you probably won’t find many of the actual builders presenting their displays, you will also not bump into the hundreds of other visitors and the mountain of lag.

These last days are nice and quiet, perfect to see everything (again) without crashing or being unable to move.
And making pictures is also a lot easier now.

A good place to start your exploration is, if I may be so bold, my 1920s Berlin display :)
You can find it by using this slurl;

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/SL12B%20Enchant/191/78/22

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