Friday, February 23, 2018

Zeta Valley Beach Wharf Club

Geerkil Ziskey has DJed in a number of places, such as at the Happy Vixen and Club Zero Gravity. But lately, he's been wanting to put some new life into where he started out performing music: Zeta Valley. Recently, he and the rest of the Dragon Crew have rebuilt a club in the area, renaming it the Zeta Valley Beach Wharf Club, hoping to attract numbers of people to the sim.

Read more in SL Clubbin'.

Linden Lab Lays Off Twelve, VP of Product Leaves

Linden Lab is a little smaller as a small number of employees have been dismissed. Also, one of the people higher up has left to accept a new position elsewhere.

Hamlet Au recently stated in New World Notes that, "A highly reliable source tells me Linden Lab recently made workforce staff reductions. ... this most recent layoff impacted about a dozen employees: 'It was like one person from each department, totaling 12 ... mostly shared staff ...' "

There were also two recent former employee reviews of the Lab on Glassdoor, which may or may not be two of the twelve. One who called himself a software engineer remarked, "Massive layoffs, but got rid of the wrong people." While he felt, "Some of the people I worked with were smart, passionate and really wanted to create something amazing." He had a mediocre view as a whole of the company, "Leadership has no vision and don't have the skills to run something as ambitious as Sansar. ... The same old people have been there for the longest time. (They) keep hiring the wrong people and putting the wrong people in positions of power."

The other review from an anonymous employee, "Make LL Great Again" was less critical. But he still had a negative outlook, "Company is too focused on its new product; those who work on the mainstay feel set aside and taken for granted. HR is nearly non-existent; most team members are remote or barely in the office. Too many org changes lately have left folks feeling insecure, morale is low and sinking. I hope they can turn it around." His advice to the Lab's leaders, "You have some really awesome people there; get out of their way."

In June 2010, Linden Lab had a massive layoff, or "restructuring" as they called it, in which about a third of their staff was given pink slips. Followed by the CEO then stepping down, it was a sign of a company in trouble. This news following the Lab's decision to raise fees for it's users a few months ago can be considered a sign the company is more pessimistic about it's long-term profitability. Part of the reason may be Sansar having a small base of regular users, despite Linden Lab's large investment in the next-generation virtual world.

One Linden whom left the company recently did so on his own. Bjørn Laurin, who was the "Vice President of Product, turned in his resignation. Joining Linden Lab in March 2015, Laurin was most associated with Sansar. Inara Pey described him as "one of the popular Lab reps (alongside Ebbe Altberg and Jason Gholston (Widely Linden) ) for his willingness to offer broad-ranging views and comments on Sansar’s direction, upcoming releases and ideas being discussed for the platform back at the Lab." Laurin left to pursue a job at HTC Vive.

Sources: New World Notes, Modem World, Glassdoor

Bixyl Shuftan

Announcement: This Week At The Science Circle: "Discrepancies" and "CRISPR"

“Discrepancies in the Measured Expansion Rate of the Universe”
Saturday February 24 at 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM SLT
by Rob Knop

The most basic parameter in our description of the expanding Universe is the current expansion rate, given by the Hubble Constant.

A mere two decades ago, the value of that constant was uncertain to a factor of two. Since then, the face of cosmology has changed, and we are now in an era of precision cosmology. We are able to measure the value of the Hubble Constant to within a few percent. The problem is, we now have two measurements– one from nearby objects such as variable stars and low-redshift supernovae, and the other from statistics of fluctuations in the early Universe. The two measurements are different at about the six-percent level, which is greater than the uncertainties on the individual measurements. While astronomers of two decades ago would dream to be in this situation, we find ourselves questioning whether there is something going on in the expanding universe that we haven’t figured out, or whether it is a matter of systematic uncertainties that we haven’t yet identified.

In this talk, I will discuss the history of both the Universe and of our dominant model of the Universe. I will describe how the Hubble Constant went from being extremely uncertain to relatively well known… well enough that we can see a discrepancy in two different measurements. I will describe the two ways we measure the Hubble Constant, and talk about possibilities for resolving the discrepancy in their results.

Read more information here.

The Science Circle (61/126/32)

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“New Advances in Genetic Engineering: The Nuts, The Bolts, Frankenstein Monsters?, and Ethics”
Sunday Feb 25 at 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM SL Time
by Stephen L. Gasior 

In the last 150 years we’ve had an amazing advancement in our understanding of the genetic code that programs life. While some technologies for manipulating genes have developed in the last few decades, new programmable systems have been discovered in the past few years. Developed from bacteria, the CRISPR/Cas systems allow a new level of ease for genetic changes in cells. This presentation will describe the origins of the CRISPR/Cas9 system, how it works, applications for its use, and implications for the future.

Read more information here.

The Science Circle (61/126/32)

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Samedi Gras: New Toulouse Pulls it off Again

Mardi Gras was last week on February 13. A few days earlier on the weekend before "Fat Tuesday," the New Toulouse sim held it's yearly parade and party: Samedi Gras. Klaus Bereznyak was there, and wrote about the occassion.

Read Klaus' article in Events.

Press Release: Homes For Our Troops Benefit in Veterans Isle

Frets Nirvana and US Military Veterans Group announce the 2018 January benefit for Homes For Our Troops in Second Life! 

Frets Nirvana, the premier guitar artist in the virtual world Second Life and the US Military Veterans Group announce the 2018 February benefit on February 25, 2018 in Second Life for the Veterans Support Organization  Home For Our Troops . 

Frets Nirvana states:  “HFOT is a privately funded 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization building specially adapted, mortgage-free homes nationwide for the most severely injured Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Most of these Veterans are multiple amputees, paraplegic, quadriplegic or suffered severe traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Since its inception in 2004, over 90 cents of every dollar spent by Homes for Our Troop has gone to directly support Veterans. DURING THAT TIME HFOT HAS BUILT OVER 240 SPECIALLY ADAPTED HOMES NATIONWIDE FOR WOUNDED VETERANS.”

In 2017 the community in Second Life sent over $10,000 to Homes For Our Troops, thanks to may kind hearts and great Second Life performers. 

Home for Our Troops benefit concerts feature premier Second Life talent monthly at Veteran’s Isle.  The concert on February 25, 2018 is scheduled from 9 AM - 3 PM PST.  Featured artists will be DJ Waya Snowpaw, Jon Regent, Savannah Rain, Erin&Satin, Toxie Darkmatter and Melenda Mikael.

ABOUT HOMES FOR OUR TROOPS  - HFOT builds homes as a departure point for Veterans to rebuild their lives, and once again become highly productive members of society. Despite their life-altering injuries, many Veterans have embarked on new careers, completed their college degrees, or started families. Empowered by the freedom a mortgage-free and specially adapted home brings, these Veterans can now focus on their recovery and return to their life’s work of serving others. Many have embraced their roles as motivational speakers, sharing their messages of persevering through tragedy with groups and classrooms around the country; others take to a national platform to promote awareness of veteran suicide, homelessness and PTSD. Their incredible stories are the driving force for the work for HFOT.  HFOT has received Charity Navigator’s highest rating of 4 Stars for six consecutive years. Charity Watch has awarded HFOT an A rating and included us on its list of Top-Rated Military & Veterans Charities. To learn more about the Homes For Our Troops visit

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Crabby Linden

Taken at the Isle of View. Bender Linden, whose title was "Destroy All Humans," was sporting a hermit crab avatar at the "Hug a Linden/Dunk a Linden" event on February 14. Obviously, he didn't come for a hug.
By Bixyl Shuftan

Interview with Nydia Tungsten about "Switched Destinies"

How many people can call themselves an author of a published novel? Probably not that many. But among those who have, Nydia Tungsten recently joined their numbers. She recently finished her sci-fi/fantasy story "Switched Destinies," and it's available for download on Amazon. I sat down with Nydia, and she had a few things to say about her tale.

Read the interview in People.

Hippo Technologies Announces Closure Due to "Infrastructure Failure"

Those whom have been around Second Life for a long time are probably familiar with Hippo Technologies, or at least it's products HippoVend and HippoRent, particulary merchants and renters. But the sight of the HippoRent cubes will soon be a thing of the past. On their blog on February 16, Hippo announced they were closing due to "infrastructure failure" of Rackspace Cloud Servers, which they had been using to hold their data.

On Feb 12th Rackspace Cloud Servers collapsed and took down the legacy Hippo web services which Rackspace supported. Rackspace admits service degradation to cloud orchestration and cloud servers. Surely in due time the long established server technicians at Rackspace will rebuild their cloud infrastructure, but for the time being there appears to be an unsafe amount of dust and smoke around the Rackspace Cloud server collapse to extract the backup databases to migrate to another server host.

For the last several years increasingly abandoned land through Second Life has also led to lack of new customer demand for the legacy web service. It marks a best decision for Hippo Technologies to step away from that legacy web service.

Hippo Technologies will certainly be keeping a keen eye to future trends in virtual worlds.

The statement is somewhat vague, as Hippo doesn't use a clear term like "shutting down." But the talk about "lack of new customer demand" and "will ... be keeping a ...eye to future trends" isn't the kind of words a company uses if they're keeping their product going.

Caspertech, perhaps Hippo's biggest competitor, would post about Hippo's close later that day on their own blog.

Today is a sad day for some, and a frustrating day for many, as Hippo Technologies has finally bit the dust. Hippo's services (including HippoVend, HippoRent and HippoUpdate) were extremely well respected and well established within Second Life for a long time. HippoTech pre-dates CasperTech by a few years, and although their presence in Second Life has slowly been in decline, many users heavily depended on them right up until today.

It's unclear exactly what happened - the blog post alludes to a catastrophic failure at Rackspace Cloud services, but Rackspace's own status page mentions no such failure (I have contacted Rackspace to ask for clarification). What is clear, however, is that it leaves a lot of users in a very unfortunate position - their vendors, rental units and update systems are suddenly non-functioning, leaving their businesses high and dry.

Aside from these two blog entries, there's not really anything to go on. A look at the two Hippo groups I found revealed no recent announcements. Their products are still on sale in Marketplace. When I talked to Casper Warden, the head of Caspertech, he didn't have a greal deal to add, "From my understanding, they were taken offline by a technical fault.  Given that their business was dwindling it was not worth the technical effort to invest into getting it back online." He did want to make it clear, " that it's only my understanding, i don't know anything about it for certain."

In any event, places that once used HippoRent are now having to decide what to replace them with.

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Events This Week at the Sunweaver, Montecito Bay, and Furry Fashion Clubs

It's a week full of events at the Sunweaver and Montecito Bay clubs and the Furry Fashion Lounge.

Club Cutlass: Best in 'S,' Black and White Night, Fantasy

The Happy Vixen: Robots and Battlesuits, Disney, Denim,

Club Zero Gravity: Best Sweater, Best in Horses, Dragon Crew

Montecito Bay: Atom Punk, Oldskool, Vampires and Werewolves, Fantasy, After Dark

Furry Fashion Lounge: Fairy Tales, Forest Creatures, Magic, Jungle, Anime, Dragons, Creepy vs Cute, Fursonas

Read the schedules in SL Clubbin'.

SL Video: "There's Nothing To Do In Second Life"

(Click here if the video fails to play)

From Luca, who also did a "Just how big is Second Life" video, in Nov 2015, "Spoiler: The video's title is a lie.

"There's nothing to do in SL? It's dead and is like a ghost town? Suuuuree. What were shown in the video is not even close to a fraction of the amount of things that you can do in Second Life. Whoever goes into SL, spends some time in abandoned sims, then write about how SL is dead, is like going out, spends some time in abandoned or empty places, then write about how the Earth's dead. Do anything you want, be anything you want, create whatever you want, and join the fun :) No, like, seriously, create whatever you want, use the built-in object creation tools, import your 3D objects that you made on some 3rd party software, script it, whatever, you can do whatever, seriously. Use them, share them, sell them."

Monday, February 19, 2018

Scenes from One Billion Rising

Last week, the One Billion Rising event took place in places around the world, Second Life being one of them. The event is an annual demonstration in support of women's rights and against violence on women, and the virtual world has been a part of it from the first. Gemma Cleanslate and Bixyl Shuftan were both there, and took a number of pictures.

Read the story in Events.

Creations for Parkinsons

Creations for Parkinson's stands out as a location in Second Life in a number of ways. One is the place is very detailed in it's design, not just on the surface, but also it's skybox and underwater locations. It's also the location of many events that feature some good talent. And then there is the purpose of the place. Creation for Parkinson's is the location of Team Fox in Second Life which raises money for research on the disease for better treatments and one day a cure. Deaflegacy recently went there, and had a few words with Barbie Alchemi, the owner.

Read Deaf's story in Places.

Reader Submitted: "St. Valentines Day Massacre Revisited"

From Jessicabelle Dayafter. Jessicabelle was trying to do a an animation that was a playful tribute to the St. Valentines Day Massacre done by Al Capone's men in 1929. But it didn't quite come off right. So for now, she settled for a screenshot, with a pink "tommy" gun that shoots hearts, not bullets.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Cartoon of the Day: Flower Power

Taken at the Happy Vixen's "Flower Power" event.

By Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Scenes From Ark: The Hotel Bunnytickle

It's been about a year since I've written about my friends' misadventures in "Ark Survival Evolved." Since then, the game itself has continued to evolve in more ways than I can describe here. Among the changes is a new map: "Ragnarok." Nydia and her friends quickly established a main base in a cavern. But some of us wanted our own secondary bases. Among them is this one in the east side of Viking Bay, which came to be called "The Hotel Bunnytickle." It's grown to be about a dozen stories in height.

Besides the new map, there's a spinnoff game called "Aberration." In this game, players deal with an Ark gone bad with radiation and powerful monsters on the surface, so they have to start underground. I may write on the game soon. But for now, here's a picture to show the hijinks with the dinosaurs continue.

Bixyl Shuftan

SL Video: "Annabel Lee"

(Click here if the video fails to play)

From Amelie Marcoud on February 12, "A melancholic love story, written by Edgar Allan Poe.
Based on the poem 'Annabel Lee.' Filmed at: Bella Pace in Second Life. Music by Monica and Sara Gil.

Hat Tip: Hamlet Au