Linden Lab Press ‘Tech Talk’ Media Conference – Aussie Second Life servers still likely.

Today at 3pm SL time (10am Saturday 26th January AEDT) Linden Lab held a media conference entitled ‘Tech Talk’ that featured Linden Lab’s VP of Platform and Technology Development Joe Miller, VP of Systems Engineering Ian Wilkes and Software Developer / Havok 4 ‘Guru’ Andrew Meadows.

Each member of the media present was allowed one question with one follow-up. For me, there was an obvious one I wanted to ask and the glitchiness of the audio experienced by a proportion of those gathered confirmed the need for it to be asked again. And as luck would have it I was first cab off the rank:

(Any dialogue from Linden Lab or attendees that came over voice is shown in brackets and are my summaries, not their exact words)

[15:08] Lowell Cremorne: “Joe you mentioned in the podcast that you’d like 2008 to be the year where true collaboration could occur in Second Life. The technical changes coming up should help a little but is Linden Lab truly committed to increased usability outside of the USA through increased server placement outside the USA?”

Joe and Ian Linden: (We’re in the test phases of servers in different countries. Still not happy with how some aspects are going and want to get that right before announcing anything further)

(Note: I attempted to ask my follow-up question on whether Telstra and Linden Lab were in negotiations to house servers in Australia but response was “we don’t comment on rumours”.)

[15:12] Reporter Hotshot: Adult Video News media Network: As I’ve toured SL with an eye toward the adult use in the space, what I see is a broad swath of varied uses in sexual activities. Both private and commercial. In the past year, there has been a considerable amount of media attention regarding the adult product copyright violations of SL Powerhouses like Strokers Toys. So much so, that the top adult industry publication, AVN, has put me “in-world” as an “embedded reporter” for them. The three hundred pound gorilla in the room seems to be how very much Sl is being used by most citizens for sexual explorations, and how very little anyone at the company wants to talk about it. How do the Lindens feel about this, and do they support it? and the follow up question, why, or why not?

Catherine Linden: (not relevant to subject of media conference)

[15:13] Lexa Dryke: Joe – not directly related to your immediate subject matter – can you tell us if there is a technical reason to limit the number of groups per avie (avatar) to 25?

Joe Linden: (It’s essentially a resource thing – we’re looking at it but if we increase options there it may affect resources available for other in-world activities.)


[15:18] Dizzy Banjo: Following the recent survey LL have taken out. What is the current strategy for the development of voice ( recording / voicefonts / voice to text etc ) ? Did the survey results provide anything you hadn’t expected ?

Joe Linden: (Survey results not tabulated yet, group voice chat moderation facilities on the way. We’re aware people want to be able to design their own voice and are working on voicing morphing – look for beta testing of that in coming months)

[15:19] Babu Writer: In a recent article in Technology Review, i read that Cory Ondrejka was testing Metaplace, which could one day allow folks to travel from virtual world to virtual world like one surfs the web today. I read that Metaplace would be released more broadly in April. Will Linden be doing something that allows its avatars to travel from virtual world to world outside of the “game.”

Joe Linden: (Active dialogue occurring with other virtual worlds – working on common protocols to allow avatars to carry themselves and goods between worlds but at a very early stage)

[15:24] Katier Reitveld: I do motor racing as a side in SL and the physics engine currently causes a lot of issuies. Lag, cars going throught he track, sticking togethe rand freezing mid track when they collide.How much of an improvement with the upgrade to Havoc be liekly to improve this?

Andrew Linden: (Aware there are still issues, working on improving the physics of vehicles. Will continue to hold ‘vehicle sessions’ to allow residents to provide feedback / look at issues.)

Joe Linden: (The commitments made on stability and usability for 2008 very much apply to vehicles. Havok 4 will free up cycles to process other things which will improve experience.)

[15:28] VirtualWorldsNews Writer: You mentioned a lot of projects that seem to be building on the experience for existing users–stability, performance, etc. That’s great, but what is being done on development side specifically aimed at new business, consumers, etc.?

Joe Linden: Improving search has been one small step that helps both business and consumers. Additional search capabilities on the way. ‘Dazzle’, a re-skinning of viewer is also on the way.

Prokofy Neva: (what are top 10 reasons for viewer crashes. Will new implementations break thousands of customs scripts created by residents)

Joe Linden: (Work being done on correlating crash reasons well underway. Now have a single dashboard and there will be a direct data feed from viewer to dashboard to help pinpoint tech causes of crashes and what’s occurring most commonly. Reason we believe viewer crashes are so important because it’s a primary reason for people not coming back. Want people to stay long enough to identify the more discreet issues. On custom scripts – it’s a challenge, on the beta grid now and encourage people to execute their scripts there.)

[15:37] Mitch Wagner: Joe, you said a few minutes ago that the Lindens are looking to make it easier for users to find context and people of like mind and like interest in Second Life. Could you please go into more detail on that?

Joe Linden: (the new search functionality is it at present, other stuff in development but not able to disclose at this stage. New developments centred on context and community.)

[15:39] Chizzy Dilley: Could you give me more long term plan, 1, 3 to 5 years, I mean some like road map if you have for viewer, server, and back system, or others. any concern or difficulty for developing with other language? Do you put any team member as international developer?

Joe Linden: (Can’t see that far out. You might have acuity out to 3-6 months. We have a number of international developers – UK, Australia. We’re looking for talent wherever it is. No active development in China at present but developer presence in Japan.)

[15:42] Eric Reuters: anecdotally, I’ve known a lot of people who have tried SL, if no reason other than they heard I was reporting here, and no one ever told me the reason they didn’t stick was the viewer crashing. on what do you base your belief that the reason newbies don’t stick around is the user crash rate? And not, say, the UI?

Joe Linden: (We’re dealing with data that isn’t anecdotal. We reach out broadly to understand their issues and viewer crashes a big one)

[15:43] Tinsel Silvera: There are a lot of Residents with older hardware that does not work well with Windlight. Will Windlight be kept optional or will it be incorporated to a point that those Residents will be forced to upgrade their hardware?

Joe Linden: (Windlight won’t be released generally until it is feasible for most users to access and there is a switch-off capability anyway. Still tweaking settings to make sire we can maintain framerate and improve crash rate on current viewer.)

[15:46] Yabush Yamdev: Now we can’t input Japanese language directly into scripts. Can we use Japanese language and other two-byte characters in scripts in the near future?

Andrew Linden: (Don’t know answer to that – will get back to you)

[15:47] spitfire Hultcrantz: What kind of content or event do you think suitable for Havok4 Second Life world? Or, what kind of change do you want users enjoy in Havok4 world?

Joe Linden: (Primary goal is to create more predictable experience, less lag etc)

Andrew Linden: (All about stability initially but then will be about adding features. Some may allow new content.)

[15:48] Gwyneth Llewelyn: Well, let me just send the congratulations to Babbage & the rest of the Mono team for the fantastic news 🙂 As for my question… what will be the internal status of the “Architecture Work Group” in 2008? 1) A cool community-and-Linden chat group that sometimes has some insight on a few ideas, but that will be slowly phased out; 2) something that did not work at all; 3) the core for a future “Open Second Life Protocol Foundation” which will lead the metaverse industry into adopting protocols, standards, and grid architecture design for the future; or 4) None of the above 🙂

Joe Linden: (fully committed to the working group – actionable projects to put into practice. Encourage visits to Zero Linden’s office hours if interest in this area.)

[15:51] Reporter Hotshot: I have a development related question….are you planning to make APIs available to developers to link “inworld” actions with external user computers….so one might deveope an interactive haptic interface that responds to inworld actions?

Joe Linden: (Encourage you to do it today via open source code plus current scripting language gives some general options as well. That said, more things on the way in that regard.)

Farqot Gustafson: (what are stats on lag / crashes?)

Joe Linden: (performance stats are now published monthly)

Lexa Dryke: (learning curve for SL is steep, does LL have plans to improve that.)

Joe Linden: (Yes – first user experience being studied in detail to improve things. If someone wants to bring friends in for a live event they should be able to do so without going through orientation. CSI event was a classic example of that – will see a lot more of that.)

[15:59] Curric Vita: I am Steve Atlas, writer for My question is: Which elements of the SL experience do you see as central improvement dimensions in retaining new and experienced users, and in that context, what actions are you taking to ensure that users do not migrate to competitors’ grids as viable alternatives emerge?

Joe Linden: (We’re all quite passionate about that – core of SL is collaboration and other people. Walking around an empty grid is not a very exciting experience. Central improvement is giving people better access to each other and better collaborative tools. Migration to competitors isn’t one that keeps us awake at night. We’re interested in how we engage people rather than making it a technology challenge.)

My take on the whole thing? There’s no doubt Linden Lab from top to bottom are stating their commitment to improving stability and there’s fairly wide acceptance of the sincerity of that claim. Like anything, if progress isn’t perceived to have been made, the next media conference may be a different atmosphere to todays. On the issue of Australia-based servers, I have no doubt they’ll occur but after comments of ‘real soon now’ in May 2007 it doesn’t appear timeframes are any firmer.

Update: the official transcript of the podcast released prior to the media conference is now available.

Australians in Second Life Update – down again

Second Life metrics to the end of December are now available and from an Australian perspective there’s been a significant drop in active users – 10,644 is the number cited, down from 11,982 in November and a long way under the fifteen thousand of mid-2007.

Australia maintains its position as 11th in terms of worldwide active users. Given there’s record concurrency (number of users online at the one time), why the sustained drop off in numbers?

Linden Lab release customer service metrics

Linden Lab has a long standing mantra of being as transparent as possible although over the past year this has been tested in the customer service area, with a number of changes undertaken with little consultation or notice. A small step back in the other direction has occurred with the announcement that customer service metrics will be released each month.

The metrics themselves are rudimentary but at least provide some ideas on service trends. It’d be nice to see statistics around abandon rates (how many people gave up waiting in queue on the phone) and number of support tickets were resolved rather than number of tickets submitted.

Credit for another step in transparency but it’s far from full transparency at this stage.

Australians in Second Life Update – steady as she goes

The November economic statistics are available and it shows an active Australian Second Life population of 11,982, a whole seven more the September figure of 11,975 (Linden Lab didn’t release anything for October until the update today).

Once again Australia remains in 11th place world-wide, which is 2.21% of the overall vatar count. Given that this time last year the population explosion was well under way, it’s fair to say that things are stagnating a little from the Australian perspective. The Xmas / New Year break may lead to some more sign-ups or we may end up with more of the same. Have we reached saturation point in Australia? I wouldn’t have thought so but the argument that it’s seasonal is getting tenuous given the period of time it’s been going on.

Update: New World Notes has an interesting discussion on the plateau phase Second Life has reached.

Latest Second Life service metrics available

Linden Lab have released their service metrics for November. There’s been some improvement but overall performance remains a mixed bag.

Although there’s been an improvement over recent months, you can still expect a viewer crash one in five times – hardly a stable platform but at least one on the improve.

Second Life is really just Wagga

Whilst trawling around Linden Lab land metrics, it occurred to me that it’d be interesting to work out how much of Australia Second Life would take up.


As of the end of September 2007, the Second Life grid equated to 871.32 square kilometres of land. Australia is 7 682 300 square km, so all of Second Life makes up just over 0.001 precent of Australia. Tasmania is 68300 square kilometres so even though Second Life seems vast, we’re more a small city (roughly two Wagga Waggas) than a world in geographic terms. Funnily enough, Wagga has a population of nearly sixty thousand people – not much more than the number of people using Second Life in peak hours.

Aussie population update – the decline continues

Linden Lab have released the metrics for September 2007 and there’s been a further significant decline in the number of Australians actively using Second Life.

The active Australian population is now cited as 11,975, down from the 13,567 reported last month and the 14.832 the month before that. Australia has stayed in 11th place overall for countries using Second Life.

That’s a really significant drop in Australians using SL actively. We seem to be heading back to below ten thousand if the trend continues.

Aussie population update – active users decline for first time

Linden Lab have released the metrics for August 2007 and for the first time since we started monitoring Australians in Second Life, there’s been a decline.

The active Australian population is cited as 13,567, down from the 14,832 reported last month. Australia has stayed in 11th place overall for countries using Second Life. According to New World Notes, Australia comes in fourth as far as active residents in proportion to country population.

Has SL reached its saturation point in SL? I’d think not, although until there’s a new reason for Australians to hear about SL such as a new corporate presence or other major event, I can’t see any great increase in numbers occurring.

Aussie population update – 15K and rising

Linden Lab have released the metrics for July 2007 and the rate of growth is slow but steady.

The active Australian population is cited as 14,832, up from the 12,910 reported last month. Australia is back to 11th place overall.

One of the interesting new metrics released was number of SL sessions that ended abnormally i.e. crashes. Since January 2007, around a quarter of sessions ended in a crash. That’s an astounding level – imagine any established software vendor trying to sell a product that only works correctly three out of four times. That said, it illustrates just how committed Linden Lab are to transaparency that they even publish figures showing their key weaknesses.

The SLOz Traffic Index – July 2007


We’re back with an expanded STI. The overall feedback has been positive, particularly once we’ve explained the general purpose of the STI. Our favourite quote in reaction to last month’s initial effort was that using traffic to measure popularity was like using turds to measure digestion (thanks Metaversed).

Which leads perfectly to a reminder on methodology as well as a couple of disclaimers:

1. The number linked to each presence is a standard average based on dwell statistics provided to all SL users via the Search Places option.
2. For large presences we’ve chosen the most popular area rather than add up total dwell – this means larger presences may have overall larger numbers but that’s not what we’re measuring (see also point 5). Example: The Pond and ABC Island have many different areas – we track the traffic on the most popular area for both those presences.
3. Each presence, unless an addition since the start of the reporting period, has had their traffic stats measured at least ten times with each instance at least 24 hours apart.
4. The individual times and statistics can be found here
5. The STI is indicative only – yes we know there are much more detailed methodologies and that ours is a rough guide only for the SL community – we think of it as a ‘what’s hot’ measure. Discussion / criticism on the STI here.

The July results:


There are a couple of additions to the index, with PIER one of the more popular new ones. The Enchanted Realm traffic is based on one sample only so it’s too early to tell if it’ll maintain its current position. The Billabong Bar and ABC Sandbox retain their appeal and Armory Island’s wall-to-wall gun-toting keeps it in prime position.

If you have a presence in SL that you’d like added to the index, let us know. It just has to be owned / operated by Australians for inclusion. We look forward to any feedback.

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