This morning I received the terrible and frankly heart breaking news that Sonatta Morales has died in RL.
A little over two weeks go she was feeling unwell, told me she was having a headache. That of course didn’t stop her from performing at her Eldorado club in 1920s Berlin, after all, the phrase ‘the show must go on’ was etched into her soul. But she didn’t come back online and a few days later I was contacted by her RL friends who informed me that her headache turned out to be something more serious, a lot more serious. She was taken to hospital and today she died.
Her last days were peaceful and she was surrounded by loved ones when she passed away.
To me personally Sonatta, above anything else, was my best friend who I will miss in ways I can’t describe in words. We were always talking about meeting up in RL, but now we never will.
But she was so much to so many. In the vintage, retro and history scene of Second Life she was a celebrity, her glamorous clothes could be seen at many sims and all the best events. In 1920s Berlin she ran the Eldorado Cabaret, setting up a brand new show every single Saturday for an adoring audience. In Time Portal she danced on stage at Mama Bao’s club to an adoring crowd. She became a star and as well as a brand. People were bragging about owning “an early Morales design” and I reckon Sonatta would have loved it to know that her clothes will remain a familiar sight in Second Life for a long time to come.
When I first had the idea for 1920s Berlin it was Sonatta who gave me inspiration and courage to do it, she fell in love with the idea right away and loved Berlin as much, perhaps in some ways even more than I do. Without it our community may not have even existed. She was Berlin, Berlin was Sonatta, our community will never be the same again.
But as Sonatta would have said; The show must go on.
A date, time and location for a public memorial where we can remember her and celebrate her life will be announced at a later date.
Auf wiedersehen Sonatta, you’ll always have a suitcase in berlin.
When I started thinking seriously about all the amazing things VR could offer us, bringing back the dead was one of the many things I looked forward to.
I never knew my grandmother, she died before I was born but made such a huge impact on everyone around her that I’ve always felt her presence, not literally but in her children, my family members, my upbringing. After surviving the hell of a WW2 Japanese concentration camp she was an amazing mum to her 9 children but died way too young.
I always missed not having her around, not having met her is one of the biggest regrets of my life. And one day I hope to meet her in VR. I don’t need to interact with her, I don’t want to talk to her, it would be impossible as we don’t have her voice recorded anywhere and I’d just know that anything she’d say would be made up by someone else. But the idea of simply being in the same room as a NPC that looks exactly like her, just sitting there by the radio, drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, would mean the world to me. I’d just sit there and cry my eyes out.
But when someone dies today, we generally have a lot more resources to work with to recreate these people. Of most people today we have countless hours of video recordings, we have sound, movements, mannerisms and thousands of images in stead of just one album of black and white pictures. That means that the people we recreate in VR will be a lot more realistic and of course we’re still just at the beginning of this. Soon it will be relatively easy to bring a dead person back to life, something that today takes specialists studios countless hours, huge computers and a big pile of (usually) Hollywood money. And even then it is somehow still not quite right.
Technology will move forward, the computer generated people will become more and more realistic and the time, money, effort and amount of expertise it takes to achieve a realistic and convincing result is going to be less and less.
We can have long and deep debates about how we should use this technology and if it is good or perhaps bad for how we deal with mourning those we lose. Because as interesting it is to dance with Marlene Dietrich in 1920s Berlin, have a chat with Leonardo Da Vinci in his studio or how lovely it would be to visit Alexander the Great, most of us will probably think of someone a lot closer to them they’d want to meet. Is it good that in stead of letting go, we get to hang out with our family members who died for as long and often as we want? I guess we should leave this to the psychologists and philosophers, because quite frankly I couldn’t care less. I want to meet my gran, I want one last chat with my best friend, I want to walk my dogs through the park again and I already know I want to talk to my parents after they’ve died. Anyone suggesting I perhaps shouldn’t, will be ignored when the time comes.
For those of us who live in Second Life, this really isn’t anything new. I bet people have been trying to recreate the dead in SL pretty much since the world was opened to the public. But using a VR headset for it is quite something else.
Anyway, the website ‘Road to VR‘ wrote about a Korean documentary about this subject. In the video a mother is reunited with her little daughter who recently died. As you can perhaps imagine seeing this has turned me into a weeping wreck.
I don’t really have the qualifications to make a proper assessment on how healthy, ethical or proper this is, but from the video it appears to do the mother some good. I especially like how the kid shows mum where she lives now. Perhaps this leaves a kind of memory for mother, helping her to imagine her child living there and replacing the last memory that she had before, of the child in a hospital bed or even coffin. But I’m pretty sure it is going to mess up her little sister, who is still alive but is there watching mum reunite with the dead big sister and who also had to be a stand-in for the people who created this VR experience.
Anyway, healthy or not, right or wrong, it is of course something sensitive we should be really careful with but I bet most people will react to this technology the way I do, not caring about anything but just wanting to try it already and miss that one person we can’t really do without.
Make sure you read the article on ‘Road to VR’ for the whole story and the technological background, you can find it by clicking here.
Totally missed this interesting documentary about Sansar. And yes before you ask, I am in Sansar but don’t spend a much of time there as I’m still too dim to create the stuff I want to create in that world.
Normally I only blog when I have some news that others haven’t already posted about, but because I’ve missed it, maybe you missed it and I just like the documentary and so here it is;
Nice hat Ebbe, good start, now start wearing an 1930s suit with the hat, come on, you know you want to 😉 The avatar creation tool looks good. I love the idea of getting a piece every time someone sells something you’ve worked on even if they linked it to something else and sell it as their own. I see that Linden Lab still doesn’t look like a lab and they still haven’t hired a plasterer to do something about those bare brick walls.
Ebbe says that they may have left some of the key ingredients behind in SL that could be the difference between success and fail. I think that is indeed the problem at the moment, the ingredients that would make me move to Sansar are not there yet. With the emphasis on yet of course. I’ll be keeping an eye on Sansar, dropping in now and then, but it is too soon for me to actually start building my first historical RP community there. What about you, why aren’t you in Sansar yet?
I love being able to start an article with “public outcry”. Makes me feel like a proper journalist.
Anyway, good news. On May 29th LL announced the rather drastic and unpopular changes to premium and basic accounts which included increasing the number of groups for premium members while decreasing them or basic account members. You won’t be surprised to know that the SL community was not too happy with this.
I myself wrote a blog about it that you can read by clicking here.
In short; Basic accounts will keep their 42 group limit. Especially this line in the announcement is interesting;
Our goal is to increase Group performance for everyone – whether you are Basic or Premium. As a result, we will be prioritizing some development resources to address Group performance.
Up until quite recently it seemed like groups weren’t a big deal when it came to performance. Maybe I didn’t pay attention and understood it all wrong but I always assumed that group sizes weren’t important in regards to SL’s resources and it really didn’t matter if you regularly removed members who had not been online for a long time. I did it anyway because it irritated me to see people in my group who had not been online for over a year. Now it seems that it all does matter and in stead of solving the issue by taking groups away from people LL is now “prioritizing some development resources to address group performance”.
Does that mean that, simply put, there are several big fires going on and in stead of putting one out a fireman is taken away from one fire to come keep this one under control?
I hope they will also keep looking at a solution though. In the past I’ve written about two things that I think will help;
Unfortunately the other planned changes have not been changed, which means that the rather draconian increase in cashing out fees will remain. This is still rather bad. Remember that those of us who create the experiences, own shops, run bars, manage communities, rarely make a decent income out of it and even when we do make some money much of what we make is spend before it ends up in our pocket. We pay LL tier, L$ cash out fees, we pay Paypal fees, credit card fees, taxes, etc. All these have been going up as well. When our income goes down we have to find a way to increase this and that means everyone else will have to pay more for rent, visiting sims, drinks, etc. Which is fine when things go up a little now and then, but having a huge increase in costs is quite difficult to deal with and explain to those you have to squeeze even harder.
Tier will go down for some regions (not homesteads) but this will not always balance out with the increase of fees. If you want to support the economy in SL and help those who create all the content in this virtual world, you should make things easier for them, not harder.
Because as I’ve mentioned elsewhere; if cashing out fees get too high, people may just go ahead and decide to let their inworld tenants, customers, clients pay them directly via paypal or bank transfer, bypassing Linden Lab completely.
Anyway, the good news is that Linden Lab has listened to us and changed their plans. Let’s hope people keep sharing their opinions about other changes now and in the future. You are being listened to even though it sometimes may not feel like it.
Second Life is full of zombies. Literal zombies who want to eat our brains but also zombie accounts; residents who have been among us even though they haven’t logged into Second Life for years.
This generally isn’t a big issue although it is slightly itch-inducing for those of us who like order or suffer a bit from OCD. But after the recent announcement regarding the new costs in SL it seems that they are actually quite a strain on Linden Lab’s resources.
As Grumpity Linden said;
So how about we start clearing inactive accounts?
No no no, calm down, I don’t mean delete everyone who hasn’t been inworld for a few weeks.
I mean we start stripping those accounts that haven’t been inworld for over a year. And with stripping I mean that the accounts aren’t deleted or cancelled but that they are set to inactive and they lose their land, prims get returned and they’re automatically removed from groups.
And not out of the blue of course! LL should send them several e-mails weeks in advance asking them to log in or perhaps even just respond to the e-mail or click a re-activate my account link. That way even those of us who want to return to SL but sadly no longer have a computer that can run it or who are for some reason unable to log in can still quite simply avoid being deactivated for another yea.
How would this improve our Second Life?
Inactive accounts would be removed from all groups and if they own groups, these groups will be disbanded or the group is transferred to the next owner or an admin. Thus lowering the strain on groups but also letting people know that the group they were a member of was one that it’s owner had abandoned. I know of a group that has been around for years, has quite a few members in it but its owner left SL and deleted her account. The group chat is never used, messages are never send. It’s just taking up resources. I remove people who haven’t been online for over a year from my group regularly. Imagine how nice it would be if these people were removed automatically. The number of group members grid wide would go down dramatically.
The land owned by inactive accounts would be cleared, prims returned and the land put up for sale. Mainland is littered with little plots owned by people who haven’t used them in years. I know of several plots on the mainland that belong to people who I know will never return. One of these plots if full of pets who are all very hungry as they haven’t been fed in years. Poor neighbours.
Although I don’t think these people should also be removed from marketplace, their sale pages should have it mentioned that the creator/seller of the item is inactive. Many times I’ve been more than frustrated after buying something only to find out that the person who I need to help me fix something or who I want to give me back my money has left SL.
It would also be nice to see this inactive status on someone’s profile. Many times I’ve tried to get in touch with someone, waiting for their response only to finally find out they haven’t been online for years by joining a group they are also in.
Anyway, I think it is something we could consider. Till it becomes a function perhaps considering removing inactive members from your group manyally. Just in case you don’t know how;
Open your group window, select the ‘Members & Roles’ tab. Click the ‘members’ button and then the ‘status column till you see your group members ordered by when they were last online. Select the people you think have been offline too long and then click the ‘eject’ button. If you click the person at the top of the list and then hold shift, you can scroll down to the last person you want to eject and click that one to select all the people in between at once.
Yes it has been A DECADE since the 1920s Berlin Project opened its doors to the public!
And not just has been our historical roleplaying neighbourhood survived all this time, it thrived!
After 10 years it is still an active, creative, vibrant, exciting, fun and very alive community.
We have daily events, our parties and shows still draw crowds and the city keeps evolving and improving.
There are people who have lived here for many years who won’t even consider leaving.
For some Berlin is the only reason they’re even (still) in Second Life.
In short, we’re celebrating more than having a sim that managed to pay its tier all these years.
We’re doing great.
So of course we’re going to celebrate again, there will be a week of celebrations and everybody is invited. We’re going to kick it off with our annual dance at the foot of the Brandenburg…
On this day exactly 10 years ago I joined Second Life.
Well technically, I re-joined Second Life. I tried it out in 2007, walked around a bit, saw lots of weird people doing weird things, didn’t get it, ran off, planning never to return.
Then in 2009 I got a new computer, wanted to push it to its limits and remembered this virtual world that truly was quite a computer testing experience. After I tried SL for a few minutes and was about to log off, again for ever, I decided to use the search option and look for something vintage, something historical. I found a 1930s themed club, realised anyone could build stuff in SL, realised I could build stuff in SL, realised I could use SL to do the one thing I couldn’t do in RL; travel back in time. The rest is, in more ways than one; history.
In this decade SL has changed a lot, it improved beyond recognition. My avatar hasn’t. Nor did my interests. I started the 1920s Berlin Project a few weeks after joining and in 2 months it will be celebrating its 10th anniversary.
SL has given me some unique experiences, it also provided me (eventually) with a modest income that even allowed me to stay home and look after my dog in the last months of her life in stead of having to go to work. I’ll always be grateful for that.
But SL also introduced me to some amazing people, I’ve made friends all over the world, I’ve been able to share my passion for history with them, I’ve taught people a lot of stuff and they taught me even more.
The future is bright, I’m not looking forward to having to learn Blender, am yet to fall in love with Sansar, but still have tons of ideas for Second Life… that I’ll get started on as soon as tier gets a little lower…
Talking of tier. When a tenant in Berlin celebrates their anniversary as a Berliner, I give them one month free rent. Yes, that is a very subtle hint of mine towards Linden Lab… go on… give me a month of tier for my 10th anniversary 😉
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.
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.