Editorial: Pivot Days

God, what a week. I’m so glad tomorrow’s Friday. I need to go lie down and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race UK to unwind.

I have a rather peculiar term that I have used often throughout my life: pivot days. (Yes, I used the term well before the pivots we have witnessed at both High Fidelity and Sansar this year.)

A pivot day is a day when the course of your life changes. When, all of a sudden, you are unexpectedly heading off into a new direction. You often can’t plan them; you just have to roll with them.

And yesterday, accepting a job as an in-world reporter for Sinespace (and a paying job, at that) would certainly qualify the day as a pivot day.

I am reminded of when the New World Notes blogger Wagner James Au was originally hired by Linden Lab to be an embedded reporter in the earliest days of Second Life:

Wagner James Au began writing his New World Notes blog on the virtual world Second Life in 2003. For two years, under contract with the company, he was an embedded journalist. That meant he wrote about Second Life as a character himself, posing as an avatar named Hamlet Linden. Inside the world, he used his avatar to do chat interviews with other avatars in the virtual community, which encourages people to create a new world based on how they want to live their “second lives”.

Well, Wagner is still busily writing his blog, sixteen years later (and I’m quite sure he gets much more traffic than I do on my blog, too!). That’s not to say that I will be still writing this blog, sixteen years later. (Or, for that matter, if I am still here sixteen years later…when I will be nearly 72 years old!)

Who knows where I will be, or what I will be doing. But, like Wagner before me, being a virtual worlds blogger has certainly led to some unexpected benefits, that I did not remotely anticipate when I originally embarked on this endeavour.

And I am both flattered and humbled by Adam Frisby’s faith in my abilities as a writer and reporter, to take a risk on a still-fledgling blogger to help promote Sinespace. I’m happy and excited and terrified all at once. But when the next wave of terror hits me, I tell myself: Relax. You got this. You can do this, and do it well.

It’s amazing and wonderful, what can happen when you pursue a dream. So I just wanted to say thank you to everybody along the way who helped me get to this particular pivot day.

UPDATED: NOW AVAILABLE! Second Life News: Last Names to Become Available by February 2020, Plus SL Marketplace and Events Fees and Changes

UPDATE April 13th, 2020: Avatar name changes are now finally available! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to change your first and/or last name on your Second Life avatar.

Linden Lab has just posted an item to their official blog that outlines some changes coming to Second Life.

Chief among them is, finally, an expected release date for an eagerly-awaited feature: the return of last names for Premium members!

We heard you loud and clear. Soon it will be possible to change the name of a Second Life account. This is one of our Residents’ most requested features and we’re working furiously to make it available by the end of January.  Name Changes will be exclusively for Premium members at an additional fee. Changing one or both of your First and Last Name will be available as a single transaction. Last Names will be picked from a list, which you can help us curate.

What’s a last name you would choose for yourself? We’ll soon hold a contest seeking your contributions to the pool of last name options. From all of the suggestions, we’ll pick five, and those five lucky Residents will be able to change their names completely free of charge! You will not need to be Premium to participate or to win. The contest will run December 16th, 2019 through January 15th, 2020, and participation details will be announced shortly. 

So put on your thinking caps and come up with some great last names! Please keep in mind that Linden Lab has already announced that they will not reopen last names that have previously been used (if you’re not sure whether or not a last name has already been used before, check out the SL Name Watch website, which allows you to sort the names alphabetically by clicking on the Last Name column title):

In other news, Linden Lab is increasing the commission rates on SL Marketplace sales:

On December 2, 2019, commission rates on Marketplace sales will become 10% of the item price. This will be the first commission increase since the Marketplace debuted a decade ago. This new rate remains significantly lower than most digital content commissions across the industry. Apple and Google charge a 30% commission on sales in their app stores, as do many other popular virtual worlds, VR and gaming platforms, such as Oculus and Sinespace.  

Also, to address the longstanding problem of Events listing spam, there will be a new fee charged for Events listings:

We’ve heard many complaints from our Residents about duplicated event listings and spam. To combat this problem, we’re introducing a nominal fee which will help discourage spamming and encourage higher-quality events from committed event hosts. Basic members will be charged L$50 to create an event listing while Premium members will pay L$10.

Those are just the highlights, you can read the full text of the announcements here.

I Have Decided to Join the Second Life Blogger Network

I just wanted to let everyone know that, after a period of some careful consideration, I have decided to join the official Second Life Blogger Network, which was announced last September:

Are you a Second Life blogger that is looking to expand your reach to a wider audience? If so, then you’ll want to consider opting in to join the new Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN). 

This new community initiative aims to promote high-quality, independent blog content to the Second Life community via high-visibility channels including the Second Life Community pages, social media channels and eventually the Official Second Life Viewer login page. Examples of the type of content we wish to promote include how-to tutorials, fashion makeovers and/or looks, community and event news and destination walk-throughs.

The Second Life Blogger Network aims to drive traffic directly to your own blog via summaries of and links to curated posts selected from participating bloggers including the use of a brief text intro using the opening sentences of your post and usually one related image from the post. Readers will be directed to click through a link that directs them to your site to read the entire article or blog post.

The reason I hesitated in the first place is that my blog is, quite obviously, not a blog exclusively devoted to Second Life. But since I have decided that I will continue to report on Second Life, and given how popular my SL blogposts have been to date, it only makes sense to become a member.

What this means is that, from time to time, Linden Lab may select one of my blogposts about Second Life to be featured on their Community News feed. According to their posted Content Guidelines for the program:

To be eligible for inclusion, please consider the following content guidelines:

The blog post highlights a positive implementation of the Second Life experience, with well-written text and high-quality imagery.

The editorial content and tone is appealing and contains information that is of use to the overall Second Life community, including new Residents.

Editorial content is exceptional or unique and does not duplicate previously selected blog topics or themes.

The blog content is timely and focuses on current Second Life news or trends such as a forthcoming event, new destination or fashion trend.

And I do think that my Second Life coverage, while only one part of my blog, meets these guidelines. And reporting on steals, deals, and freebies in Second Life is always appealing to both new and longtime residents!

So, keep your eyes peeled to the Second Life Community news feed—you might just see me featured there!

UPDATED! Sansar Troubles: A Mini Update Causes a Major Bug

I’m quite sure that Linden Lab wishes they could bring back some of the programmers they laid off, today. A mini update to the client yesterday caused a major problem: male avatars won’t load at all!

The error message reads:

The avatar failed to load and may be corrupted. Would you like to delete this look?

Umm, no I don’t want to delete this look. I just want my avatar back, dammit!


Why do I have the feeling that we are going to have more problems like this in Sansar in the weeks to come? I look over to the right-hand-side of the official Sansar Discord client, and I see 7 staff members listed as online—the lowest figure I can remember seeing, ever (see image right). That is profoundly dispiriting.

And, even more concerning, I still do not see CowboyNinja Linden (a.k.a. Sheri Bryant), the new General Manager for Sansar, among that group.

If this is going to be the new normal, I am not liking it one bit. I have been informed that this is a problem with the default human male avatars only; female avatars and custom avatars will still load properly.

UPDATE 2:11 p.m.: The bug has now been fixed. Thank you, Linden Lab!