Applications are open for SL16B Live Music Faire!

Applications are open for SL16B Live Music Faire! SWEET 16! Can’t believe its already been 16 years and still going strong, so if you are wanting to be a part of the best birthday celebration in second life read on.

                                Pic is from inkie Pixelstyles.

This June, Second Life turns 16 and we’re planning some fun ways to celebrate the Second Life community as a whole, as well as the incredible live music community within SL.

In recent years we’ve taken the popular idea of music festivals and brought them into the virtual world – all the music, merriment, and good times without the sunburn. Last year marked the 4th Music Fest, and this year, things are going to be a little different! We do have a Music Faire that we’re very excited to announce! Like Music Fest, Music Faire is a way to enjoy a ton of live music within Second Life as part of the birthday celebrations.

We’re holding an audition showcase to highlight some of the musical talent in the Second Life community. Many of you have been performing for years in virtual venues all over the grid, and we’d love to have you come showcase your talent. All genres are welcome! From bands to solo acts, rock and roll to electronica – we encourage anyone to sign up for consideration.

The Second Life Music Faire is an opportunity to perform at one of the biggest celebrations in Second Life and will be held on June 21st and 22nd this year from 10 am until 4 pm SLT.

To sign up for an audition, please complete and submit the submission form no later than June 1st, 2019. While we encourage everyone to sign up, it is not a commitment on your part and does not guarantee a spot at the auditions. We will review all submissions and extend audition invitations via email and/or notecards to the designated contact. Each invited act will have a short audition time (5 minutes max) to play.

All Residents are welcome to participate in the auditions as audience members. Again, I can’t stress enough what a great time it is to see so many musicians perform and support one another! For those who are interested, the audition location will be shared in a future blog post. Showcase dates and times are as follows:

May 27, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
May 28, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
May 29, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
May 30, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
May 31, 2019 6 AM – 3 PM (SLT)
June 3, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
June 4, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
June 5, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
June 6, 2019 6 AM – 6 PM (SLT)
June 7, 2019 6 AM – 3 PM (SLT)

See you inworld!

Please note that applications for Exhibitors and Performers have been extended through the end of the month and the applications for Merchants for the shopping event are open until June 1st.

Exhibitor Application – Applications close on May 31st, 2019 (Exhibitor Policies)

Performer Application – Applications close on May 31st, 2019 ( Performer Policies)

Merchant Application – Applications close on June 1st, 2019

Like 3

The Biggest Brand to Officially Appear in SL in Many Years

Sanrio Reportedly Licenses Hello Kitty-Branded Content in Second Life; By Far the Biggest Brand to Officially Appear in SL in Many Years

Hello Kitty Sanrio Second Life AstraliaVia Astralia’s Flickr page

Hello Kitty, the ubiquitous kawaii brand from Japanese conglomerate Sanrio, is the second highest-grossing franchise of all time, with $80 billion in total retail sales, and Hello Kitty branded content available in 12,000 locations around the world. And now, reportedly, there’s another location where you can get Hello Kitty licensed content: The virtual world of Second Life.

Starting mid-last month, SL brand Astralia began promoting Hello Kitty-branded virtual fashion and housewares, and selling them in-world on the flagship store: Direct teleport here. Second Life’s official online shopping site also features re-sold copies of Astralia’s Hello Kitty content won in gachas — you can, for example, buy an Astralia x Hello Kitty Bedroom set with Onesie for L$194 (i.e. less than one US$).

This is by far the biggest real life company authorizing licensed, virtual versions of its brand in Second Life in many, many years — well over a decade ago, during the 2006-2008 hype wave, when Armani had an official SL store, as did Mini Cooper, among many others. But even back then, no real life brand as big with consumers as Hello Kitty appeared in Second Life — and certainly not a brand as family friendly as Sanrio, given the virtual world’s very adult reputation.

I say “reportedly”, by the way, because despite asking twice, I haven’t been able to confirm this licensing agreement from Sanrio’s United States media rep. However, Astralia’s brand owner, who goes by the avatar name “Astralia Resident” in Second Life, insists she has a contract with the company:

 

“Astralia is a real life registered company and we made an agreement for the use of the Sanrio characters in Second Life,” she tells me, but declines to discuss details beyond that. “The terms of the agreement are under NDA.” She also encourages me to get in touch with Sanrio to confirm the deal.

I am still seeking a confirmation from Sanrio since that is in itself would be newsworthy — and also, because non-authorized use of RL brands in Second Life is rampant. (There’s even a Hello Kitty tattoo in the Marketplace that doesn’t appear to be official.)

“I understand your concerns because IP infringement in SL is sadly very common,” Astralia acknowledges. “Mine is an established brand, I have a reputation, and there is a difference between just using a Hello Kitty image or shape or pattern on the products, and claiming to have an official collaboration, with a license logo on the vendors.”

This is true. And from what we know now, Astralia has scored quite a coup .

Have a great week from the ZI Staff

Philip Rosedale Interview

Listen: Philip Rosedale Interviewed by Linden Vet About Building Virtual Worlds

Here’s a great podcast interview of Philip Rosedale on the podcast show Stayin’ Alive in Technology hosted by Melinda Byerley, former Head of Marketplaces at Linden Lab, and known in SL as Pink Linden. And because she is a Linden vet, this is a much more substantial, in-depth interview, and brings up some points I’ve not heard Philip discuss before. (Streamable above.) It’s also an important companion piece to the recent bombshell video where Philip announced scaling back High Fidelity content and making it more desktop client-focused.

Byerley is now founder of Timeshare CMO, a data marketing firm where Catherine Smith, another Linden Lab veteran, also works. “It’s a recap of Philip’s history, his thoughts on the 3D web and the future of VR,” Catherine told me, when sending over the podcast. “What he’s learned over the years. It was very Philip and made me laugh and smile and miss working for him!” So this is an interview with the founder of Linden Lab, speaking with a Linden, which was promoted by a Linden, and is now being blogged by a Linden.

Here’s the key highlights — my favorite being what he says about “the 3D web” as a term — with my biggest point of contention being what he says about the original goal with Second Life:

 

  • Philip Rosedale Linden Lab High Fidelity Social VRWhat he first wanted to be when we grew up (spoiler: astronaut)
  • Majoring physics as opposed to computer programming, and how that influenced Second Life, which started by simulating waves on water between multiple servers.
  • How creating virtual worlds became his life’s calling: A desire to simulate a world that were “equally real and detailed in comparison to the real world”.
  • Why no one else has attempted this goal. Online games simplify experience, but a high complicated virtual world does not: “It’s tough to say what a new world is for… I still think that’s one of the challenges of virtual worlds.”
  • How the desire for simplification is essential to human consciousness, and how that fuels the desire for simplified, predictable games. “Frankly, real life, being what it is… is a little more stressful than we like.”
  • The very first origins of Second Life “which followed a Biblical creation cycle” and was known as LindenWorld, then gradually emerged to include human avatars and the “aha” moment of dynamic, collaborative, user-created content.
  • User-generated content and Minecraft vs. Second Life/High Fidelity. “People always say to me: ‘We just gotta do Minecraft the size of the planet’, and I look at them and say, ‘How much do you use Minecraft?… There’s something limiting about these colored cubes where adults won’t use them.”
  • The unique diversity of the Linden Lab workforce in terms of race and gender and background. Philip relates that to the diversity of the user base of Second Life. “If you run into someone [in SL] that’s demographically identical to you, there’s not much to be learned… we would be best served as being as diverse a company as we think our users would be.”
  • The use of Second Life by the disabled, as featured in this documentary short.
  • Linden Lab’s early non-hierarchal management system and its pros and cons.
  • What he’s learned about creating virtual worlds over the last two+ decades: “If you think you’ve come up with the best possible world, you probably haven’t.”
  • Philip’s thoughts on building the 3D web, and why calling virtual worlds “the 3D web” is the wrong terminology. “I’m a little down on ‘the 3D web’… I have as yet never seen a way to make a web page into a 3D thing that I thought was useful for a human.” He argues instead that we will one day consume 2D content within a virtual world.
  • The ultimate goal of social virtual reality: “I believe that VR, voice, sound, and headsets, done correctly in 3D worlds… will enable two people that are 2000 miles apart, will be able to stand face to face, make eye contact, hug, in a way that is identical as standing face to face [IRL].”
  • Best advice he’s gotten over the years: While at Linden Lab, when Philip fretted about having executives all over the world, famed Silicon Valley executive coach Bill Campbell told him: “Do you want executives all over the world? Then just make it work.” Another piece of advice, especially for young entrepreneurs: “Despite all this data, you still have to follow your heart. Are you working on something that’s genuinely interesting?” He goes on to talk about the importance of emotional intelligence when running companies.

Philip’s point about “3D web” is really well taken, and it’s surprising how often that’s the goal of many virtual world developers. But I’m a bit sad that he talks so much about how in the beginning, the focus was on making Second Life a living, breathing world with a simulated ecosystem and realistic ocean, sun and moon cycles, and so on. That’s still a great, exciting, goal — that both Second Life and High Fidelity, which now look, feel, and operate far more like interconnected 3D chat rooms, rather than dynamic, simulated worlds, have moved far away from. You can make the case that Minecraft back in its heyday and now Dual Universe are much more genuine heirs to that vision.

Have a great week from the ZI Staff

Merchants Can Now Assign Store Managers to their Marketplace Stores

We’re happy to announce that another long-requested feature is now a reality! With the latest update deployed to the Marketplace, we’ve added the ability to nominate up to five additional residents as ‘store managers’.

All store managers will have basic access to a number of abilities to assist the store owners in administration of their store:

  • Edit store details

  • Edit product details

  • List an unlisted item

  • View store and product details

Store owners will also be able to provide the following additional permissions to their designated store managers, to be set individually. Store managers will be unable to perform any of these functions without the specific permission being granted:

  • Unlist an item

  • Redeliver items (including changing automatic redelivery status)

  • Add/remove revenue distributions

  • Add/remove listing enhancements

  • Change prices

Regardless of individual permissions, we’re always looking out for the interests of our store owners:

  • All actions taken by a store manager are logged and review-able by store owners

  • Additionally, no store manager will be able to:

    • Archive products

    • Add/remove other managers

To learn more about how store managers work along with the various abilities and permissions available, please consult our knowledge base article detailing the feature.

Please take a look and let us know what you think. We look forward to your comments and bug reports in Jira

Have a great week from the ZI Staff

Is Resetting Your PC a Good Idea?

A question I get asked a lot, “I’ve managed to mess up my Windows PC to the point of no return. I give up, and now I just want to reset it to its factory-fresh condition and start all over. How do I do that?” Read on and I’ll tell you how, and why you might NOT want to do this…

How To Reset Your PC To Factory Defaults

Most Windows PCs can be restored to their fresh-out-of-the-box condition. The very rare exceptions are systems cobbled together in the basement of someone who takes shortcuts without regard for the long-term welfare of his customers. If you didn’t buy your system out of a car trunk in a Walmart parking lot, it’s safe to say you can restore it to factory defaults.

A properly configured Windows system contains a hidden, protected hard drive partition that holds an image of the factory-fresh system settings and software. Restoring that image to the main drive partition resets your system to its factory-fresh condition. Windows includes a special software routine that does system resets automatically, eliminating human error. It’s that simple, in theory.

But think about what’s missing from a factory-fresh system: software or digital products you’ve paid for, free software you’ve downloaded, irreplaceable documents, photos, videos, and more that you created or stored on that drive; all the registry settings that have been tweaked and tuned over the years to make your system “just right” for you.

 

In practice, you probably don’t want to lose everything that you have added to your hard drive since you acquired that system. So before resetting to factory defaults, be sure to copy documents, photos, and anything else you want to keep to another location. That could be an external hard drive, a USB flash drive, or cloud storage. Popular cloud storage options are Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple iCloud, and Dropbox.

Another consideration, which looms larger the older your system is, is that of Windows Updates. The factory-default image file contains the version of Windows that was the latest as of the date Windows was installed on the hardware. That date may be months or years before the system was sold to you. You will need to spend many hours downloading and installing perhaps hundreds of Windows updates after resetting to factory defaults,

But Wait, There’s More… (a lot more)

A factory reset of your Windows computer is a drastic last resort. A better option in almost every case is to repair or optimize.

All of the third-party application software (paid or free) you now use will vanish when the system is reset. Be sure you have the CD or installation files for any apps that you want to re-install, and the registration keys if necessary. If the installation files you have are old, plan on spending time downloading and installing critical updates specific to that app. Don’t forget that your printer and other peripherals will need to be reinstalled as well.

Once that’s all done, you can restore your documents, photos and other personal files from the backup you made. Finally, redo all of the system settings to your liking. This includes your Windows theme, mouse settings, display settings, and any customization’s or extensions you’ve applied to Windows Explorer, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and other software.

Hit The RESET Button?

If all of these caveats don’t deter you, here is how to reset your Windows system to its factory defaults:

Windows 10 has a straightforward “reset” button. To find it, press the “Win” button plus the A button on your keyboard. Click “All Settings” on the resulting screen, followed by “Update & Security” and then “Recovery.” Choose “Reset this PC.”

A new window will appear, offering options to “Keep files” or “Remove everything.” The first option keeps your documents, images, etc. The second option removes them. Both options remove all installed software except Windows itself. The “Keep files” option, which gives you a fresh copy of the Windows operating system, minus the software (or malware) that was causing problems may be just the ticket.

Similarly, on Windows 8, you’ll find Refresh and Reset options by going to Settings > Update and Recovery > Recovery.

Restoring a Windows 7 System

Yes that’s right some are still using this dinosaur and refuse to change. I must encourage you to get the latest Windows 10 so you will be on the right page. When Windows 8.1 was released in October 2013, Microsoft made it clear to Windows 8 customers that they had two years to upgrade. Microsoft said then it would no longer support the old version of the operating system by 2016. Windows 8 customers can still use their computers. However Windows 7 you are not that lucky.

Windows 7 does not have a “reset” button. Instead, you must re-install Windows manually. There are two ways to do this.

Option 1: Your Windows installation or recovery files may be on a CD that was supplied with your computer at the time of purchase, or you may have purchased a Windows installation CD. Insert the CD, restart your computer, and follow the instructions to begin the process.

Option 2: Many OEMs (computer vendors) create their own customized versions of Windows, including with the operating system any “enhancements” they add to their systems. Such customized versions of Windows may be called “recovery disks” and reside on a hidden hard drive partition. OEMs also create their own customized recovery apps to manage re-installations exactly as they want them performed. Here is a list of OEMs and their recovery apps:

  • Acer: Acer eRecovery or Acer Recovery Management
  • ASUS: ASUS Recovery Partition or AI Recovery
  • Dell: Dell Factory Image Restore, DataSafe, Dell Backup & Recovery
  • Gateway: Gateway Recovery Management
  • HP: HP System Recovery or Recovery Manager
  • Lenovo: Rescue and Recovery, ThinkVantage Recovery (on ThinkPads)
  • Sony: Sony Vaio Recovery Wizard

Running the appropriate app on your system will launch a controlled restoration of Windows and any other software the vendor originally installed on your system. As I described earlier in this article, restoring your computer to “factory fresh” condition can involve a lot of work after the fact to get back to good, because all of your software, personal files and settings must be restored. I recommend it only as a last resort.

Of course, there’s always the option of restoring from a recent backup, if the problems you are experiencing are recent. A “system image” backup makes it relatively easy. I encourage you to read this ebook Everything You Need to Know About BACKUPS, where you’ll learn about backup strategies and how to protect the data in your computer, tablet, smartphone and online accounts.

Have a great week from all of us at ZI

Five-Point Tuneup For Hacker Defenses

The online world gets more dangerous every day. The AV-TEST Institute reports over 350,000 new malware samples are discovered DAILY. Thousands of social media accounts are hacked per day; and untold millions of consumer records that were compromised in data breaches are used by hackers in increasingly clever attacks. Your defense systems must be kept in tip-top shape. Here are five ways to harden your system against hackers…

Beef Up Your Security Defenses      

You take your car for preventive maintenance on a regular basis. Engine oil, spark plugs, filters, wipers, and tires are five important things that need attention in order to stay safe on the road. But most people don’t give a second thought to staying safe online. Here are five things you should keep in mind to “tune up” your computer against malware, hackers and data thieves. Failure to do so is like rolling the dice, and hoping to beat a set of odds that are stacked against you.

1: Update all of your software, from device drivers to applications to the operating system. Automatic software updates are the easiest, most consistent way to go. Activate it in Windows Update, and in every application software package you have that offers automatic updates. Then install a “universal” software updater, such as Patch My PC. It catalogs all software on your system, and finds your stuff in its database of several thousand developer sites that it monitors for new updates. When a new update that you need appears, PSI downloads and installs it automatically.

2: Activate two-factor authentication everywhere you can, on your devices and on all sites that offer 2FA. It may seem to add another layer of complexity that slows you down, but the opposite is true.

Here is a riddle whose answer will seem heretical: When is it safe to use “password” as a password? No, I have not lost my mind or been paid a bribe by the hacker community. The answer is, when you have two-factor authentication (2FA) enabled! Even if a hacker guesses your password on the first try, they can’t get into your account without the second authentication factor – a code sent only to your phone number, or a USB key in your pocket, or your fingerprint, or a scan of your retina, or whatever. Another mind-blowing observation: it is safe to use the same, simple password on all sites where you have 2FA enabled; again, because the second authentication factor will be unique and unavailable to a hacker. I’d still advise against doing that, as a best practice, though.

Google and Facebook call 2FA “login approval,” while Twitter and Microsoft calls it “login verification.” Your bank may call it something else. Inquire about 2FA and use it wherever you can. For other things that need passwords but don’t offer 2FA, use a password generator/manager such as RoboForm, LastPass, or Dashlane. It not only generates strong passwords for you, it stores them in an encrypted database and changes them regularly. All you need to remember is your master password.

Shutting Down Other Attack Vectors

3: Encrypt your storage devices so that even if your laptop or phone is stolen, its data cannot be read without the encryption key. Windows 7, 8.1, and 10 include Bitlocker encryption. VeraCrypt is the free, open-source successor to the popular but now defunct TrueCrypt. Android and iOS have encryption enabled by default.

Just remember that if you don’t have a screen-lock pin or password, all the encryption in the world won’t help you when your computer or mobile device is lost or stolen.

4: Reduce the “surface area” that exposes you to potential attacks on your privacy and security. Start by uninstalling of programs and apps that you really don’t need or use. Most software has at least one vulnerability; why leave openings for hackers lying around? Windows 10 offers finer control of app permissions. Type “privacy” in the Search box and open Privacy Settings from the results. The General tab lets you toggle broad categories of app permissions. On mobile, be careful to check the permissions that apps want (or already have). If you have the Android 6.0 or later operating system, you can open Settings > Apps, tap an app’s name, then tap App permissions. From there, you can toggle individual permissions on or off.

Don’t neglect all the apps that you have given permission to access your Facebook, Google, Twitter, or other “identity” accounts. Go through the “app permissions” sections on each of your social media accounts and disallow apps you no longer use. Make use of the privacy and security checkup tools provided by Microsoft and Google,Tweak Your Microsoft and Google Privacy Settings.

5: Upgrade your security software. Last fall, I ditched Avast Antivirus and started using PC Matic’s SuperShield. SuperShield uses a whitelist approach that allows only known-good programs to run on your computer. This is in contrast to other security tools that rely on blacklists of known malware. Did I mention that 350,000 new malware samples are discovered daily?? It’s nearly impossible for traditional anti-malware tools that rely on blacklists to protect you from all existing and emerging threats. So far, PC Matic has caught several things that slipped past Avast.

Have a great week from all of us on the ZI Staff