Archive for March, 2009

New Second Life Viewer Initiative – Can It Be Competitive?

Posted in Op/Ed, Real Life, RL, SecondLife®, SL® Business, SL® Education, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , on March 31, 2009 by Valiant Westland
Windows Dominates Market

Windows Dominates Market

Who is the new SL Viewer initiative really going to serve and how will it help SL/LL be more competitive with other Virtual World environments?  Trying to Crowd-source your way to a more compelling or user friendly product offering is risky at best.  Quick, name ONE (1) “Fat Client / Client Server, Open Source Business Productivity or MMOG application that is a household name or “owns” the market!

Even if you love Linux/Open Source, the reality is Windows dominates with 86% of the desktop OS market!  Apple, at a little over 4% of the market, is the only other OS with “significant” mainstream market share.  To have a client that caters to the lowest common denominator of proprietary UI design, simply to make it “feel good” to Open Source proponents is competitive suicide!

No matter what your particular area of interest (education, role playing, social networking, science, etc.) is, almost every Second Life user would benefit from core functional upgrades like: (no particular order)

  • Rich in-world Messaging

Enough of these useless group messaging pop-up windows that provide flat information with no live links to additional content!  We want messages we can interact with, from following a URL/SLURL to watching a video or adding an event to our synchronized in-world calendar (see below)

  • Real Document Creation / Collaboration Tools

    Google Docs 4 Collaboration

    Google Docs 4 Collaboration

Let’s face it, NoteCards just don’t cut it.  We need direct access to Google Docs in the client!  These documents should be able to be viewed and manipulated in a re-sizable browser window or viewed with more limited functionality on a prim.

  • Integrated Personal / Community Calendar(s)

SL users are constantly producing a stream of interesting, informative and entertaining events.  Let’s build a robust calendar system into the client, that can synchronize with Google Calendar & Outlook (90+% of the market) and allows for event invitations to be easily turned into calendar entries/reminders.  Let’s go a step further and build in group calendaring features that allow people to more easily schedule meetings or give an event sponsor an idea of how many people might be attending (RSVPs).

  • Robust Contact / Presence Management
Meeting In Progress

Meeting In Progress

I’ll admit it… We all love all our SL friends/contacts, but we need a better way manage them, with RL categories like Associate, Vendor, Friend, Family, Acquaintance, etc.  There are times we want to be “visible” / available to some of our contacts, but not necessarily everyone we know.  If we are in a conversation with someone or in a meeting or just working on a project, our status should be visible to people BEFORE they send that first IM.  We should also have a better method of controlling who can see various elements of our personal profiles.

  • Integrated VOIP, SMS & Email Integration

Let’s face it… SL Voice is “Cool” when it works, but ubiquitous personal communication is where it’s at!  We should be able to seamlessly make/take calls or send/receive SMS messages from in-world.  A true email gateway, that didn’t append huge strings of worthless text, choke inbound message lengths and offered Rich Text / Media messaging is required.  ps.  Would someone please shoot SLIM and put it out of our/its own misery!

  • Mesh (AutoCAD) Content Support
CAD Integration

CAD Integration

This is an almost ABSOLUTE requirement for broader adoption of the platform for business use.  There is a huge body of content and pent up demand for bringing 3D content into a Virtual World, where it can be prototyped, analyzed and used for real/virtual world integration!  Without this support, architects, engineers, planners, etc. are simply going to bypass SL for other platforms that support Mesh (CAD) import/export.

I could probably name a dozen more features I would like to see in the SL client, that have nothing to do with gee-wiz shading, maps or other misc. geek-driven priorities.  Many of these features are ideally suited to a “premium” membership (no I did NOT use the word community) structure, that offers tangible incentives for having a paid plan.

If LL is committed to augmenting their in-house development team via the Open Source community, they should at least take a leadership role in prioritizing the projects and accelerating the process of application development.  One way to do this would be to offer competitive rewards for the “Best” new application enhancement(s) in categories with the greatest potential market share ROI for the platform.

I hope LL “gets” this Memo and prioritizes making SL a truly robust and feature rich platform for content sharing, collaboration and social networking.  If they don’t and they survive, I predict they will wind up like Linux is today, with less than 1.5% of the Virtual World market; a “Fan-boy” environment, largely ignored by business and consumer users alike.

I’ll Put You In A Book and Turn The Pages

Posted in Op/Ed on March 27, 2009 by Iris Seale

Recently, an agent with a small publishing house has been sending me emails. Our correspondence has been less than detailed, but the root of the matter is that he’d like me to write a book about Second Life, my role in it, and the blogging ‘experience’. While flattered, I’m absolutely dumbfounded. Who would care what I have to say? I’ve done nothing of consequence; I’m a pretty boring gal. When asked what exactly he was looking for, he said something along the lines of ‘humor’ ‘personal essay’ and ‘instruction manual.’ Well, that’s a pretty wide range of stuff, there.

I suppose I’ve been an passive observer of a small subset of SL events for the past 2 years. I’ve seen lots of people come and go and sent a few of them packing, myself. I was around for the tipping point when the ‘old’ fashion regime gave way to the new one (hyper-realism with sculpties replacing hand-drawn detail in the consumers’ hearts, for example.) I’ve seen SL go from being less of a virtual world to more of a social network. Hell, I’ve seen all four versions of Tableau! I’ve got my own little brand of clothes, Punch Drunk, and I love playing with it. But just standing around, watching things, doesn’t seem like it would make for a good book. I’m not a fantastic writer. I’m not especially funny or witty. I’m not even exceptional within SL as I’m kind of a hermit. I could maybe see myself writing a few pages called This Is What Happens When You Have A Best Friend Who Publicly States Her Opinion, but that’s about it.

At this point, I’m convinced that everyone’s second life is much, much more intriguing than mine.

But, it seems like it would make a fun comment diversion:

What would you write about if you were to write a book about your Second Life? What would you include (or exclude) if you were given the oppertunity to?

Trapped in Dell Hell

Posted in Op/Ed with tags , , , on March 26, 2009 by hawksrock

I hate hate hate when big companies lose sight of their customers and try to jerk you around.    In this particular post I am sharing my recent experience with Dell Hell.   Over the last 18 years I have owned three different Dell computers.   I have had zero complaints with reliability, function, service, etc.   I would put myself firmly in the Dell camp, and I was an advocate of Dell to other friends and family who were making purchases and persuaded quite a few people to buy Dell’s.    Well all of this changed in the February – March timeframe of 2009.

On February 19th of this year I decided to put my income tax refund money to good work, and I jumped on the web to research through all the latest Dell models and determine which desktop would be my new companion.   After an hour or so of research, I decided on the Studio XPS model which sported 4GB of RAM, the latest Intel Processor, and an above average graphics card.    I fired off my order, and was dismayed to see the estimated delivery time come back of March 20th.   I was used to Dell shipping stuff out within a few days to a week at most, but I decided my old desktop could limp along well enough, and I could wait out the month.    On about the 14th of March, I received an email notification that the timing on the delivery was moving back one week due to high demand, etc.    I decided to call Dell and find out from a human if they felt like they could hit the revised date, or to try to understand if there were still likely going to be issues.

The call went something like this:

*cue cheesy elevator music*

Automated voice:  Hello, welcome to Dell please listen to all the options before making a reply (unless you speak Spanish in which case press this button over here and be wiped off the face of our system.)    My computer doesn’t work, I placed on order but have no idea where the hell it is, I can’t afford the computer I bought, none of the above.

Hawks:   I placed an order but have on idea where the hell it is

Automated voice:  We’re sorry (note the plural since the  network is ganging up on me now with multiple AI’s) but we didn’t recognize what you said.

Hawks:  I placed an order but have on idea where the hell it is

Automated voice:  We’re very sorry we didn’t recognize that, let us repeat the options from the beginning.

Hawks:   Where the fuck is my order?  Dumbass bot!

Automated voice:   Thank you I will connect you to our customer service department.

Automated voice:   In order to facilitate this call can you please read aloud your Dell Purchase ID #.

Hawks:  629458189745145981123

Automated voice:   We’re sorry can you please repeat your Dell Purchase ID #.

Hawks:  629458189745145981123

Automated voice:   We’re sorry can you please input the number into your touchtone phone.

Hawks:  For fucks sake and types the number in.

Automated voice:   Thank you we are transferring your call now.

[Editorial note:   I love Indian people, their energy, their zest for life, even aspects of their religion I find fascinating, BUT when I want help and I get someone with a strong dialect speaking a million miles an hour, I have no idea what the hell they are saying.]

Indian male voice:  Hello, and thank you for calling Dell technical support.   Can I please get your Dell Purchase ID #?

Hawks:   Didn’t I just give my purchase ID number to the computer back there?   Why do I have to input it again?  Also I think I need customer support, and not technical support.

Indian male voice:   Before we can proceed I need your Dell Purchase ID #.

Hawks:  I don’t get the point of that last automated thing but whatever, here it is…   629458189745145981123

Indian male voice:   Can I now get the name on the account, your mailing address, your phone number, your mother’s maiden name, your blood type, and also which hand you use for strange?

Hawks:   Provides all the answers, and then ponders later about why they really needed that.

Indian male voice:   So what can we do for you?

Hawks:  I am trying to find out why my order was delayed, and if it will ship by the revised date.

Indian male voice:   Oh you need to speak to customer support, let me transfer you right over.

Hawks:  Ummm okay, didn’t I bring that up earlier?

Indian male voice:   Have a good day.

*cue cheesy elevator music*

Indian female voice:   Hello and thank you for calling Dell customer support.   Can you please tell me your Dell Purchase ID #?

Hawks:   You didn’t get that information from the last two people?

Indian female voice:   Thank you sir, I need your number to be able to look up your information in our system.

Hawks:  You realize this is the fifth time I have entered this number, but here it is 629458189745145981123.

Indian female voice:  Can I now get the name on the account, your mailing address, your phone number, your mother’s maiden name, the first pet you ever owned, and also who you think will win this round of American Idol?

Hawks:  For crying out loud, I gave most of this info to the last guy… but here you go again.

Indian female voice:  How can I assist you?

Hawks:   I just want to make sure that my computer will 100% for sure ship by the revised shipping date I was just provided.

Indian female voice:  I apologize for the original delay, but the computer you selected is very popular and we are running behind on production.   With that being said though we are completely confident that you will receive your new system on or most likely before your revised date.

Hawks:  Alright thanks.

Indian female voice:   Have a good day.

Exactly one week later Hawk’s phone rings at work.

Automated voice:   Hello, this is an automated message in regards to your Dell Purchase ID # 629458189745145981123.   We regret to inform you that your ship date is being postponed until April 7th.   At this time you can do nothing and we will ship your order as soon as it is available, or you can cancel your order at this time by pressing 2 on your touchtone phone.

Hawks:   Presses 2

Automated voice:   We are sorry for the inconvenience we have caused you, and we hope to have your business again in the future.   We are confirming that your order has been cancelled and if this is in err then please call Dell Customer Support.

At this point Hawks goes to Best Buy and buys the exact same computer off the shelf that he had on order for over a month for $200 less than he would have gotten it from Dell.    He feels a tad sheepish, but figures at least he saved $200 and has his computer now.

—————————————

You would think this saga would be over at this point…   read on if you have hung with me this long…   lol

—————————————

Hawks receives an email confirmation from Dell that his order has shipped.    Hawks checks his credit card online and sees that sure enough he has bought a second computer literally the day after Dell told him his order was cancelled and 2 weeks earlier than they told him it would be ready to ship.

At this point I have to jump through all the hoops with the automated system again including inputting my order number three different times for each person, but I won’t bore you with that ever time.

Indian female voice:   Welcome to Dell Customer Service, how may I assist you?

Hawks:  Explains in detail that he had been called and informed his system was delayed until April, he had cancelled the system, bought another system, and then had the original order shipped the day after he cancelled it.   So can you contact the shipper, and have them return the product to you?

Indian female voice:   I’m sorry sir, there is nothing we can do for you until you receive your order at which point you can call us back and initiate a return.

Hawks:  So there is nothing you can do for me at this point?

Indian female voice:   I am afraid not sir, have a nice day.

Hawks:  Grumble grumble grumble…

—————————————

Fed Ex truck arrives at his door, Hawks decides to refuse shipment, so he doesn’t have to go through a messy return process and make a special trip somewhere to ship the merchandise.

Hawks calls Dell back and explains that he just refused shipment and it is being returned.   He is transferred two more times after explaining the entire story and inputing his Order ID # every time, and ends up in the return department who now assigns a return case # to the issue, and tells him that he is going to be charged a “restocking fee” of $221.   We will pick up with the discussions at that point in time…

Hawks:   WHAT did you just say???

Indian male voice:   You will be charged a restocking fee of 15% of your order which in this case amounts to $221.    This is a standard fee applied to all such cases as this and it is not negotiable.

Hawks:   So you are saying that Dell routinely fucks people over, makes eggregious errs, and then tries to profit off of this?   I want to speak to your manager, supervisor, boss, or someone in charge.

Indian male voice:   It will do you no good to discuss this with my supervisor, because this is a standard fee and he will tell you the exact same thing.

Hawks:   I need to speak to someone with a brain and the authority to use it, because quite frankly you are not listening to the fact that I only cancelled my computer after you called me and told me I wouldn’t get it until April.   Then the day after I cancel it you ship it, which has corrupt business practices written all over it.

Indian male voice:   Alright sir, I will now transfer you to my supervisor.

Click, and he hung up on me.   Oldest trick in the book, but Hawks just went from pissed to ready to blog/write editorials about how corrupt and evil Dell is and send it off to every major newspaper in the free world.

—————————————

To attempt to wrap up a very long blog post, I did call Dell back.   I kept asking for a supervisor at every position I was routed.   Eventually I did end up with a woman in the return department who was willing to waive the restocking fee, but at this point in time I had invested another 1.5 hours of being on hold and explaining my story over and over and over.

My learnings from this are several which I share with you today:

1)  Don’t buy a Dell computer from Dell.   In fact, I might not ever buy another Dell computer ever after this one, but for sure don’t buy em from Dell.   The fact  I bought the exact same system cheaper from Best Buy than from Dell was just rubbing salt in the wound.

2)  Dell has lost touch with their customer base.   I used to talk to customer support in the Texas area, and people were responsive and tried to work things out for you.    In today’s world of outsourcing and trying to do things cheaper, they have both automated and tele-scripted bots that answer the phones for them.   They are not empowered to think and do what is right for you, but only to follow the script.

3)  When making a significant purchase, buy from a brick and mortar store with people you can interact with in your local area.   In this situation, it would have been so much easier to deal with someone local instead of being routed all over from one department to another.

4) Write down key numbers like order id’s and cancellation #’s.   In this case, the automated phone call happened for me when I was at work and far from paper and pencil, so I could not log the number.   Although, they could track it, it took a lot more work to get it figured out.

Everyone Has One

Posted in Op/Ed with tags on March 19, 2009 by Rosie Shark

You know what they say opinions are like, right?

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Second Life Drama

Posted in Parody, Satire, SecondLife®, Virtual Worlds with tags , , , , , on March 14, 2009 by Prad

The by product of the two largest driving forces behind Second Life (Love and money) is, of course, Drama. We watch it, live it, participate in it and laugh at it. We laugh at how pathetic it all is, and wonder why the people involved don’t devote their passion and time into something more productive. And then we realise we’re watching it unfold and close the window.

I’ve never failed to be amazed that people twice my age can kick up such a fuss that’d put High School kids to shame – it’s amazing how catty and bitchy residents can get.

SL drama, obviously, will pretty much always originate from Second Life. Whether it be by a failed relationship, a competing store or just because someone has a complete lack of any social skills. What differs Second Life dramas from Real Life ones is that they very rarely involve politics or religion – oh no. It’s much more childish and pointless than that.

So here’s how it rolls: Someone says something that somebody else doesn’t like. That person retaliates with personal attacks, which the other person then responds to. Then the friends turn up in hordes to protect their friend, and the whole thing embroils into a small scale fiasco. And of course, Second Life being Second Life, obviously someone has to blog it..

So then it’s out there for anyone in the world to see. Before you know it, it’s being spread on Plurk, across Twitter, into Flickr and other bloggers are wading in with comments and their own entries. All the minions group up and form sides, backing each other up in their blog entries and making a big deal out of what initially was a small little thing.

It’s important to note that there are never any winners – just a whole lot of losers who are mocked silently amongst the masses. Regular participators become “blacklisted” for embroiling themselves in drama at every given opportunity, and people class them as someone who has serious mental issues. You know you’ve hit rock bottom when I’ve bothered to satirise you.

People seem to like examples, but the scenario above will fit just about every SL drama you can think of. If you find this post offensive, then it’s likely because you’re the subject of it. But just for you, I’ll do an example, because you probably wouldn’t mind a model to practice out your next dose of drama with.

Blogger#1 posts a blog entry with a slightly passive aggressive tone, but nothing worth really noting.

Plurker#1 reads the post and goes off on a tangent on Plurk, calling Blogger#1 homophobic/xenophobic/sexist/racist/emoist/idiot/freenis.

Blogger#1 responds to the Plurk and writes a nasty response to get back at them.  Plurker#1’s friends all feel like they have to be offended too, and go to Blogger#1’s blog to leave nasty anonymous comments.

Plurker#1 then goes to their blog and bothers to write something with is longer than 140 characters, and winds up with something nonsensical, catty and venomous. Blogger#1’s snarky friends turn up to make stupid comments on the blog entry, and Plurker#1’s friends respond in the same entry, creating a huge orgy of empty-mindedness which the blogosphere turns up to see.

Then sections of the blogosphere decide they want to take sides, and use posts on the feed and Flickr pics to illustrate their points.

Other people watching the chaos descend just sit on the sidelines and shake their heads, wondering how the hell these people are able to function without being locked up in a padded room.

Finally the whole thing just gets blown out of proportion and someone satirises the whole thing just to remind everyone how stupid it all is.

Confused yet? You should be.

A SL Bedtime Story

Posted in Fun & Games, Op/Ed, SecondLife® on March 12, 2009 by Orchid

Once upon a time

In every sim on the grid

Long before babyfurs

And way before kids

When Lindens would come to clubs

And click your butt to dance.

It was a time when guns were scary

Cuz no matter where you were they’d push

And the only way to escape being orbited

Was to park your tush.

A time when no one’s hair was prim

Back when no one cared who was a ‘her’ or a ‘him’

While we all saved for weeks for a  Nomine skin.

Lots has changed since way back in ’04

When none of us could figure out what the hell the ‘talk to’ option was for

SL isn’t what it used to be

Its all fashion gossip and scandal – not nearly enough silly.

So if you feel that things are over the hill

Too serious, too dry, too run-of-the-mill

Try doing something silly

No matter who sees

And if anyone bitches ..

Tell them to fuck off because being in a virtual world isn’t always about mocking the same goings on of every day life even if you aren’t following your RL path.

Who Said It? #2

Posted in Fun & Games with tags on March 12, 2009 by Catero

[CLOSED. Results below]

“All hail the giant waggling cunt! May your amber waves of labia ever be free.”

The first person – excluding any SL Revolution contributors and the person quoted – who can accurately guess who penned these words will win a L$500 store card from Aitui.

Sweep the blog and try to figure out Who Said It?.

Rules:

  • Leave your guess in comments.
  • Reply with your full Second Life name (first and last names).
  • You must provide the name of the quoted individual and a link to the original comment in your guess.*
  • Who Said It? #2 will be open for guesses until Friday, March 13, 2009 @ 11:59PM SLT.

*How to copy the comment link:
(Click image below to enlarge)
With Google Chrome: Right-click the link and select “Save Link As …”
With Internet Explorer: Right-click the link and select “Copy Shortcut”
With Mozilla Firefox: Right-click the link and select “Copy Link Location”

– – –

Answer:Thema Felix
Winner: Express Zenovka