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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Second Life Private Regions Price Cut!

Linden Lab continues their policy of reducing the cost of virtual land in Second Life, a move that residents have been requesting for years.  Last Wednesday, they announced new, lower costs for private regions, both the initial setup fee and the ongoing monthly land fee.

When I joined SL in 2007, it cost $1,000 USD to purchase a new private region from Linden Lab, and a fee of $295 per month to maintain the region thereafter.  Some time back, LL reduced that setup fee to $600, but private regions still remained out of reach for many people.

The new setup fees are $349 USD for a full region, $149 for a Homestead region.  Openspace regions will no longer be available.  (Homesteads and Openspaces are regions with reduced prim allowances and reduced maximum avatar capacities.)

Monthly land fees drop from $295 to $249 for full regions, and from $125 to $109 per month for Homesteads.  Existing Openspace regions drop from $75 to $60 per month.

The bad news:  LL has to do something to offset the loss in revenue.  Some, it's hoped, will be made up by increased interest in private region ownership.  But LL is also increasing the transaction fee for buying $L from the current $0.99 to $1.49.  All this takes effect July 2, so if you are putting off buying $L, now is a good time to stock up.  If you were thinking of adding Openspace water regions to your private estate, you have a narrow window for that, too!

Read the official announcement from LL here: https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2375-another-15-for-15-lower-land-prices-and-reduced-set-up-fees/

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Phone Support for Second Life

Well, I have a bit of bad news for Second Life users outside the USA.

Recently, my friend LittleMe Jewell noticed that the list of Billing Support phone numbers for SL had been changed.  Instead of the old list...

US/Canada: 800-294-1067
France: 0805-101-490
Germany: 0800-664-5510
Japan: 0066-33-132-830
Portugal: 800-814-450
Spain: 800-300-560
UK: 0800-086-9081
Brazil: 0800-762-1132

Long distance ( not free, but you can use Skype to save some cost ) : 703-286-6277
**Note: Support is offered only in English

...the website now lists only the number for the US.

Toll-Free (US/Canada): 800.294.1067
Long-Distance: 703.286.6277
    
Our Billing team is available from 9am to 6pm EST(6am to 3pm PST), Monday through Friday.

 
I called Billing to ask them about this.  I was told that yes, LL had recently changed their support system.  All support is now US-based.

As before, only billing related questions are handled over the phone.  For technical issues, either use Live Chat (if you're a Premium member) or submit a Support Case.

There is one other phone number, though.  If your account is compromised...if, for example, you've fallen for a phishing scam and someone's changed your password...or if you fell for some other scam and all your $L have vanished...you can call the Fraud Hotline at 800-860-6990.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Coincidence?

Yesterday, I wrote a post titled "Bank Statements."

Today, my blog stats show four times more page views than the average, mostly from Russia.

Kinda makes me want to go change all my passwords.

(My post wasn't really about bank statements, comrades.  And it contained no personal information.  Sorry.)

(Мой пост был не совсем о банковских заявлениях, товарищи. И он не содержал личной информации. Извините.)

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bank Statements

Well, not exactly, but sorta.

Every so often, we need to check on some transaction, though.  Maybe you bought something in a store in Second Life, and the product wasn't delivered.  Or you bought something on the SL Marketplace, and need to contact the seller about something.  Or your credit card got charged by Linden Lab, and you don't understand why.

This is where it helps to have some sort of record of the transaction.  In Second Life, such records are found in three places.

The record I use most often is my "$L Transaction History."  You can find this on your Second Life Dashboard page.  Click the Account link in the upper left, and then "$L Transaction History."  There are some controls here that will help you find the transaction you are looking for:
  • The "Show $L0 Transactions" box.  This is checked by default.  If checked, it will show every time you were sent a landmark or a picture by someone, or gave someone something.
  • The Date Range boxes.  You can set these to cover a range of dates, if you aren't sure exactly when a transaction happened.
  • Filters.  You can add filter terms to, for example, show only transactions with a specific resident.
$L Transaction History

Note that this history only goes back 32 days (90 days for Premium members.)  If you need to find transactions older than that, you're out of luck.

However, you can download and save this data as a CSV (comma separated values) file.  This can be put into an Excel spreadsheet.  If you are a merchant, or even if you just want to have records that go farther back than a month, you may want to make a habit of doing this on a regular basis.

There's one drawback to this history file.  If you bought something on the Second Life Marketplace, it shows the person you paid as "Commerce Linden".  If you want to contact the seller of the product, this is not too helpful!

So, we turn to the next transaction history tool.  You can go to the Marketplace page, then click My Marketplace/Account/Order History.  This will open up a list of all your Marketplace purchases.  Unlike the main $L Transaction History, this list goes all the way back to the first thing you ever bought on the Marketplace.  Sadly, there is no way to sort or filter this list, so you may have to do a LOT of scrolling if the item you want was purchased a long time ago.

Marketplace Transactions


Sometimes, the transaction is one we made directly with Linden Lab:  a payment for land tier fees, or a Premium membership renewal.  You can find a history of these transactions on your Dashboard page, under Account.  Click Account, then "Account History/Statements".  You can select any month to view.  The statement will cover not only Premium dues and land fees, but purchases and sales of $L.
Monthly Account Statement
You can download and save these statements as either CSV or PDF files, but I don't see much of a need to do that.  Statements remain available all the way back to when you signed up for SL.

I hope your Second Life is carefree and happy.  But now, if you ever run into a money question, you know where to look!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

FLASH! Preparations for Second Life's 15th Birthday are Underway!

SL15B's website is live and applications for performers, exhibitors, helpers and bloggers are now being taken.  Be a part of this annual week-long, grid-wide event!

Ha.  Calling it an "event" is like calling the extinction of the dinosaurs a "minor change in climate".  This is the Big One, a whole week of events!  Plus eight or nine regions jammed full of exhibits showcasing the talents and creativity of Second Life's residents!  It's  the World Fair of virtual worlds.

Fifteen years is a Crystal Anniversary, and so that's this year's theme, "Crystal".

Check it out here: http://www.slcommunitycelebration.info/

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Replacements and Alternatives to Second Life

Second Life is the oldest, biggest, most diverse and most successful virtual world in existence.  But ever since about Day Two of Second Life, people have been predicting The End Of SL.  Despite the Rants of Doom, though, SL continues to soldier on; aging, a bit clunky, and increasingly a collection of old and newer technologies kludged together.  Today, we'll take a brief look at some other virtual worlds that (some people) claim will replace SL.

OpenSim.
OpenSim is an open source alternative to Second Life.  You can download the OpenSim software and run it on your local computer, creating a region, or even several regions, that you can access with a number of Second Life viewers.  You can even give other people the address of your little virtual world and they can visit it.
http://opensimulator.org/wiki/Main_Page

OSGrid.
OSGrid is one implementation of OpenSim.  If you set up an account there, you can use OpenSim to create region(s) on your computer, and link them to OSGrid so that they show up on its world Map.  For better performance or reliability, you can rent server space and host your regions on a commercial server.
https://www.osgrid.org/

There are any number of other virtual worlds like OSGrid, based on OpenSim.  You can use an analog of SL's teleportation to travel from one to the other.  Collectively, they're known as the "Hypergrid." Members of the Hypergrid are known as "open worlds"; you can exchange content from one to another of them.  In contrast, SL is a "closed world".  You cannot teleport to it from another Hypergrid location.

There are a few problems however.  For one thing, the software they're based on, OpenSim, is basically a reverse-engineered Second Life.  It contains all of SL's problems, plus a few of its own.  Being open source, it's not updated as often or as comprehensively as SL, and the updates often introduce bugs of their own.  But the biggest problem is the economy.  There is nothing like the Linden Dollar, although some of the grids have their own currencies.  As a result, almost no one is creating content for these virtual worlds.  And so, almost nobody goes there.  I just now looked at the grid stats for OSGrid.  There are a total of 5,980 regions, and a total of 77 people on line.

IMVU.
This virtual world is nearly as big and diverse as SL.  It has its own currency, and you can create and sell content.  Avatars can look as realistic as in SL.  However, it has a number of significant differences, and I see them as deficiencies.  You can't walk or fly in IMVU...you use local teleporting to hop from one pose spot to another.  There is no actual "land"...there are only "rooms".  While a "room" may be set up to resemble an outdoor space, it's not connected to any other space or room in a physical sense.  You go from one room to another by teleporting only.  IMVU doesn't have the age limitations of SL, so there are a lot of kids, pre-teens, and teenagers there.  It's largely advertising-supported, so if you create an account, expect to receive a ton of email ads.
https://secure.imvu.com/welcome/ftux/

Red Light Center.
This world is very similar to SL, but is even more focused on Adult content.  In fact, one might say that it's All About the Pronz.  Red Light Center has a virtual currency, and a creator community.  It has also adopted VR technology, unlike SL.  I've met people who owned and operated clubs there.  If your focus is on virtual sex, this may be the world for you, but a constant diet of porn quickly becomes old, at least for me.
https://www.redlightcenter.com/vr/  (CAUTION:  Link is NSFW.)

Blue Mars.
This was widely touted as the "next Second Life."  But it never really got off the ground, and has been dead and gone for years.

High Fidelity.
This replacement virtual world was created by Philip Rosedale, the inventor of Second Life.  The idea was to make a virtual reality that was much more "real" than SL, and to make your avatar within it much more like the "real you."  While I have seen videos of people using VR equipment like Oculus Rift headsets and hand controllers, and watched their on-screen avatars moving in response to their Real World motions, I think the avatars themselves, and the world around them, are anything BUT "high fidelity."  The world and the people in it look closer to Minecraft than to reality.  It's currently in beta, and you can try it out.
https://highfidelity.com/started

Sansar.
This is a new virtual world, or more precisely, a network of virtual worlds, created by Linden Lab itself.  Like High Fidelity, it's designed from the outset to make use of VR technology.  The content is all Mesh...none of those clunky Second Life prims.  While some of the environments created by users are fascinating and highly detailed, Sansar is still very buggy and has a LONG way to go before it contains even a fraction of the content and variety of Second Life.  In addition, Sansar is not really aimed at the SL community of users.  It's more for people who want to build a VR environment as a part of, or a supplement to, a web site.  It's unclear, still, how its business model and internal economy will ultimately work.  It will probably never have the huge community of anonymous users that SL enjoys.  You can explore Sansar here:
https://www.sansar.com/

Once the kinks in VR get worked out, and we figure out how to use it to interact with our online simulations in a really effective way, something like High Fidelity or Sansar may replace Second Life.  But I think we still have a LONG way to go before we really get there.  In the meantime, enjoy your Second Life!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

A Look Ahead, from Linden Lab

Recently, I've been talking about the many improvements Linden Lab has been making to Second Life.  Things have gotten cheaper, faster, and prettier.

Today, LL set out their plans for this year, which marks the 15th year of Second Life.  Some of the improvements, like the decreased tier cost of Mainland and the increase in the tier-free mainland allotment for Premium members, are already here.  Others we'll see in the months ahead.

One of the announcements that I am MOST excited about is that we will be able to wear clothing layers...the old style baked on avatar skins, tattoos, and clothing...on mesh avatars!  I am SO glad I didn't purge all my old clothes from my inventory.

And last names are returning!  I don't know how LL plans to implement this.  I do hope it's not as clumsy as the Display Name system, though.

One that scares me a little is that Experiences will be made active grid-wide.  That is, if someone creates an Experience (maybe some form of role play scenario, or a hunt game), it can be active everywhere, not just on one land parcel or region.  Depending on the Experience, this could be a problem for a lot of landowners...but LL says that individual land owners can disable such things on their own land, so perhaps it'll be OK.

There's lots of other stuff.  I'm not going to list them all here.  Go read Ebbe Linden's official blog post for yourself!

https://community.secondlife.com/blogs/entry/2328-happy-15th-birthday-second-life-fifteen-reasons-to-celebrate/