Thursday, May 31, 2007

Philips Launchparty (2)

Last week I blogged that Philips is planning to open their sim to the public on June 1st. Here's some more details.

The event will start at 14.00 CET and from reliable sources I've heared that the launch will start in the Virtual Holland sim 3. I went over and indeed found some signs of Philips. There's a platform with a clear path to the open sea, which could well be the place where the Philips sim will immerse.

Connecting with Virtual Holland to some extend makes some sense, also suggests a Rivers Run Red influence.


Okay that'll be it for today. It's not much, but RL has been extremely tiring today with severe SL presentations so I'm totally knackered.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A closer look at Amazon

A little while ago I blogged on the great Amazon build. Today it was on the Things To Do list and we received a personal tour guided by Amazon's Webservices resident guru Jeff Barr.

He told us how it all began: "Last year I got an SL account and started to attend all sorts of events. After attending a NASA launch with live video, I started to get the crazy idea that I could actually do part of my job from within SL. People looked at me like I was crazy. But I persisted, and gave some talks last year on Info Island and at other places. The response was awesome and told me that I wasn't crazy. I proposed to my management the design and construction of this island. They thought it was a good idea, and now, here we are."
This time I got round to asking a few more indepth questions (ahum), like how Amazon teamed up with Joshua Culdesac from Virtuool, a freelance French builder.
Jeffronius Batra: "VeeJay, this is a great story. I bought a little plot of land in Athabasca. Shortly after I started building, this wolf started to hang out nearby. We started chatting and he showed me some of what he was building. I was very impressed with his skills and we became good friends. I shared with him my vision for what we could build here, and it turned out that he was in the process of making a career change to become a full-time SL builder. He's based in Bordeaux, France and has a background in building 3D objects as a hobby, by the way. When I had approval to start building, I wrote a spec and asked him to submit a proposal, and the result is what you see here. He did an amazing job of taking my ideas and turning them into something even better than the vague pictures in my head. We never once talked on the phone during the build phase. I didn't even meet him in person until last month. All in all the process worked out very well and I am quite happy with the results. I wanted to make this place look like it had been buried for hundreds of years and then rediscovered."

This story is off course one hell of an example how inworld collaboration can work out. From idea to end product without ever meeting once
We toured the sim then and saw a very imaginative auditorium, probably one of the most original ones I've seen so far and we toured the Amazon again in the boats I blogged on in my previews posting on Amazon. This time, even the boats caused havoc as one actualla sank!

Virtually Shipwrecked !!!

Actually, we were all kinda amazed that it could happen, even Jeff who certainly knew of no premeditated scripted intend to sink us. Anyway, our clothes dries quickly and we moved on.
The sim is filled to the brim with places to stimulate the 240,000 people Amazon Webservice development community using their S3 (Amazon's storage service) and EC2 (their compute cloud) in various ways related to SL. Linden Labs is also using the S3 as building block for their client. This morning saw their first tech meeting with about 20 developers present.
Finally it seems like Amazon turns out to be one of the places to watch when it comes to rallying the community, potentially more so than IBM or Intel for that matter.

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Inworld Companies 1: The Avastar

In the past weeks we've seen a number of Real Life media companies trying to establish a foothold in the virtual world of Second Life (Channel 4 and Skynews). Now it is time to take a closer look at a new media corp that has immersed from within Second Life: The Avastar.

Lately the Avastar is gaining popularity over older Metaverse newspapers, such as the Second Life Herald or the Metaverse Messenger largely due to it's gossipy, colorful appearance. The sim is no different, it's slick, futuristic and right on the spot.

The sim is build up by several hovering globes, possibly representing the different virtual worlds notion. The design is low on textures, but with a lot more subtility than the German Designs I've blogged. Here it's functional, adding to the overal futuristic impression. Several press rooms, info rooms are set up along the outer rim.

Last but not least on the main Globe, at its core there is a conference room and at the summit a very nice bar to end a night of heavy talking with a good virtual cocktail.

Finally, the other two globes host a luxury pool for exlusive parties and a talkshow set up.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

3pointD hooks up

Normally I'm not very much into Second Life social events and weddings, but tonight's an exception as Mr 3pointD, Mark Wallace (who's nominated as a potential metarati) and the lovely bride going by the nick of "Destroy Television"

Special guest were Lordfly Digeridoo as best man and Mr. Jerry Pfaffendorf, Electric Sheep CEO as father of the bride. The vows came down to "do you, Destroy Television, take to Walker Spaight to be your virtual husband? In sickness, in health, through lags, crashes, ghosting, mis-bakes and missing textures?"

The event took place in one of the many Celedon sims, hotspots to the streampunk community

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Virtual Banking (6): Wirecard unwired

I blogged earlier that Germans are coming to town. Many German cities are immersing lately, like Augsburg and Munich. When I speak of Munich, I speak with respect, it is an impressive project with high levels of texturing.

This is so untrue for German business sims. In the early days of this blog I wrote on German Design, on the sims of Toca Me and BMW New World as being a desing without any texturing. This Wirecard sim is no different, leaving me under the impression that Photoshop isn't available in German.

The Wirecard is a pain in the eye, another German impulse to spread snowblindness. However, it's not all that bad. The design itself is exploring the future, though with a very minimalist approach.

As for strategy Wirecard is taking a different approach than e.g. ABN AMRO (or Barclays or Bank of Scotland... what will it be next week?), ING or Saxo and tries to push their core business, Finance, to SL.
It's time to sit back and observe to see they'll succeed. They've got a chance...
A trivia for this build is that they didn't hire pro's but resourced it internally.

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Belgacom softlaunch

Today I stumbled into Belgacom by accident. I've seen this sim on an earlier trip last month, but then I couldn't get in. But this time I could.

According to Alain Gufler, Belgacom's Marketing Manager the sim opened up May 24 and they're now in softlaunch mode to find some User Acceptance. In the past days they've already seen more than 100 visitors, mostly from Spain looking for Football (soccer for our us readers).

To my question if that wasn't a serious image problem, the answer was quite simple. Belgacom isn't sponsoring a football team, but it is one of their cornerstones for their Broadcasting activities, so that's why it's in their search string.
The sim is build radiating from a central point towards 4 domes, representing Belgacoms productlines: Television, Telecom, Mobile and Internet. Pulsing beams across the walkways symbolise their convergence to crossover mobile television and so on.
It was nice to get some personal attention and explanation of the sims build, and though the guided tour is a smooth ride (available in English, Dutch and French), it's a bit of a long stretch at 5 minutes.
Finally there's a maze which will probably take about 10 minutes to figure out first time, top time right now is 2:07. Fastest labyrinth killer will receive some great freebees, as long as they're Belgian residents.
Now, shortly on the build itself. It's a decent build, no prim-jitter and nice fresh colorings. However, while I dig their philosophy on convergence, there's something missing. It misses immediate active participation or something I just can't put my finger on directly.
Last detail is that Belgacom has hired a Belgian Concent Creation company... I forgot to ask which.


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Roland Garros at IBM7

Well, tennis season is starting again and this time it's Roland Garros, the French Open that's started. IBM is the tournaments techsponsor, so they've set up a miniature centrecourt at their IBM7 sim.

New, and innovating? Not really. I've seen images of Wimbledon and the ABN AMRO tournament (Rotterdam) before in Second Life. But it is good to see IBM is staying tuned to RL.

A closer look at Intel

After the press conference finished (about 10 SLT or 19.00 CET) I had to relog since I'd frozen and couldn't move. My SL Client was pushing my (intel CPU) to the limits. Here's a few screeners from the sim:

These two small thumbs are about the whole story. The sim isn't a fancy build. It has the following features:
  1. Development Room
  2. Showcase
  3. Conference Area
  4. Sandbox

The larger buildings are for conferencing and showcasing, smaller stands are to get the community involved, through blogs and movies. Honestly I liked Intel better at the OCC or the Live without Boundaries sims which had gotten my hopes up for this one.

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Intel's new HQ

Today's the day of a new Intel sim opening up. At exactly 9.a.m (18.00 C.E.T.) the sim will open up with a press conference. In april I reported that Intel geared up with several new sims being under construction, and before that I've blogged on the OCC and Live without Boundaries theme sims by Intel. First on the spot today were the gang from Things to Do., rallying at the New Business Horizon sim.

Right after we went over to the Intel site, which was soon filled to the brim with 53 people.

We were urged to find a seat, but many of us didn't dare move a hair with this visitor load. From the press comes a nice pun that Intel believes itself to be part of the "core of Second Life" and they see SL as "a wonderfull place to explore and engage" and so on.

The sim is build by Millions of Us and will act as Intels new virtual HQ.

update 18:45 CET 9.45 SLT

According to Intel's General Manager "Second Life is not the ultimate environment, but it's a start" Oh, yeah, they're still talking about getting the Developer community involved and "Help shape the future". I guess I'm not really a press conference type of guy, but it's very rude to slip away. Hope to get to do some networking in a bit.


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Real Life Cities 7: Munich

The Germans are coming! Second Life is hot in Germany, where it currently sees the fastest growth in registrations. This also reflects on the arrival of a of new german builds. The great city of Munich is such a new sim under construction.

It still is under construction, but already interesting enough to blog it, although the first sight didn't trigger that idea. The first thing I saw was a stand with the well-known German beer pot.
The sim is covered with a simplified map of Real Life Munich and it seems to be the intend to build an exact copy.
In the second sim work is actually being done. Rough outlines of the buildings are quite decently build and also the texturing is coming along on various buildings as well. This will sure be a sim to visit when it is complete.
The detail and complexity of this build will be challenging and the possible showstopper in this build will be the time needed to stream all textures to the SL client.
Developments can be monitored at the website Muenchen-SecondLife.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Things to do on the Track

Following yesterday's post on this blog today's Things to Do event took place at the ING Renault F1 track and saw hectic moments.

It's official that (metaverse blogger and group initiator) 57's virtual driving license has been revoked for trashing and drunk driving. The wild miss Gillian Waldman was disqualified for several false starts and certain bends caused real havoc.

As to testdriving to sim, I noticed that at some points the track wasn't properly laid, at one point you couldn't get back on the track once you were out of it. Also, the go-karts are very direct in steering, causing some impressive moves to be observed.

Today was ladies night however, and if you ever thought your wife looked handsome with her helmet on.... well, Misacha Vaughan looked stunning. I'd like to see that more in F1 racing.
If you like things to do, search for the group and team up!

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Skynews hits the virtual sky

Yesterday saw the opening of yet another media corp to Second Life, this time it's Sky News. And like Channel 4 it is a Rivers Run Red production, so I was wondering what they'd come up with this time, since the Channel 4 release earned heavy criticism in the blogger community.
Many people I've talked to say a Real Life company should go for a daring, innovative design in a virtual environment and not stick to a RL representation. In this case, they're absolutely wrong. The Sky News sim is rather RL-like, but works a lot better than the C4 sim I just can't relate to.
The Sky sim consist of a large complex in which various stages are set for talkshows, news and weather presentations which could well be very much alike their RL stage. There's a lot to do to, explore and enjoy at the sim, or as Nic at KZero puts it:
"The main aspect of the venue is the virtual Sky News Centre, complete with an audio feed from the RL centre as well as streaming video of Sky News show on the plethora of screens and monitors. Part of the roadmap for this venue is the re-creation of news events and stories and this will be the sweetspot for enabling residents to engage and interact with the news - this is what metaverse marketing applications is all about : Engagement. Another key success factor for metaverse marketing is integration and there’s lots of it here."

The opening of the sim coincides with the Guardian Hay Festival, which explains the extra setup at the back of the main building (picture left). A last nice feat of the sim is a number of fake decorums, like the entrance of 10 Downingstreet (picture right) which leaves you wondering how they do it in RL, especially if you've seen the Wag the Dog movie.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Renault Italia and ING Renault Formula 1

First of my Renault stops is the Renault Italia sim which is still under construction. The sim is largely build by Virtual Italian Parks. This site is still heavily under construction, so I was amazed I got in. Only the parcel was set to limited access.

being a Renault driver myself (yeah, I love Jag better but my wallet doesn't) I was interested to see what they've come up with. The sim is going to be the launch of the new restyled Twingo, which makes Renault the umpteenth Createur d'Automobile who uses SL as new model promo platform.

Aside from the Twingo show there's gonna be a racetrack and some other things that I can't see yet. Why Renault needs another racetrack is unknown to me, as they've got their testdrive lanes laid out at the ING Renault F1 sim as well.


Tonight Zoe Visconti of Virtual Italian Parks contacted me to give some additional info. The sim is going to open next thursday (31 may 2007) at 21.00 CET, there will be an opening party and free twingos to ride on the track (and gadgets as well).


So, logically. the second stop was the ING Renault Formula 1 site. Since it's a F1 day it seemed to be a good day to visit the sim, but it was rather empty. The build looks good though. At the moment I was visiting and snapshotting the sim, Rivers Run Red CEO Justing Bovington contacted me and we had a nice conversation on various RRR builds.

I noticed that the Renault Italia and the F1 sim were quite similar to eachother, but according to Justin that was purely coincedence. Renault Italia and Renault / ING F1 are completely different entities. According to Justin the F1 sim is a softlaunch and "activity is coming up, they have to run the Monaco event too as in the RL one."

All in all, I totally like this build. More details on the build can be found at KZero's excellent blog.


Channel 4 update

One last interesting piece of information on the Channel 4 sim, which I -and a few other bloggers didn't particularly like is that the"channel 4 build is interesting, its going to change a lot :)"

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Real Life Cities 6: Augsburg

In Real Life, the german city of Augsburg was founded in 15 BC "in the reign of Roman emperor Augustus as a garrison called Augusta Vindelicorum." and opens up in virtual Second Life may 29th. Upon teleporting into the double sim I immersed in sight of the Augsburg Town Hall.

From upfront it looks quite decent, but from aside it looks a wee bit out of proportion. Around this landmark are several typical German houses of varying quality.

Throughout the center are stands and stages set up for the coming opening party, with a line-up of (to me) unfamiliar German artists. As with most virtual city replica's (or if you like VCR, since that term has become obsolete) the majority of the sim is reserved for shopping to get some return on investment (ROI).

In this particular case I doubt a ROI will be met, because the build itself doesn't attract me enough to come back since most of the sim is made up of the usual mainland ghetto-builds, and especially the second sim, Augsburg City II is entirely reserved for gaming and rentals with some luxury homes and casino's.

In short, I would have liked to see the Augsburger Dom (cathedral), the medieval Fünfgratturm tower, or I would even have settled for the Machinenfabrik Augburg which merged with the factory in Nurnberg to form the MAN factory where mr. Diesel himself pioneered the Diesel engine.

In short:

+ The Townhal is a decent build, though with few detail in interior decoration
- Missing a consistent theme and no other Augsburger landmarks
- Too many ready made, cheap builds scattered over the sim


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Real Life Cities 5: Salzburg

Upon entering the virtual representation of Salzburg I ended at the side of the sim, showing a row of houses build next to a little stream. I intended to fly to one of the landmarks to start shooting snapshops and start bloggin, but this is as good a point as any to start.

The city of Salzburg is one of Austria's best known towns, and
"... is on the banks of the Salzach river, at the northern boundary of the Alps. The mountains to Salzburg's south contrast with the rolling plains to the north. The closest alpine peak – the 1972 m Untersberg – is only a few kilometers from the city center. The Altstadt, or "old town", is dominated by its baroque towers and churches and the massive Festung Hohensalzburg"

Well, the Wikipedia entry is in line with the sim's build. The little stream I started near is the Salzach and the castle Hohen Salzburg is dominating the far end. On the other end of the sim, across the town, snowcovered mountains rise, hosting one of Austria's most touristic attractions: Skiing and Snowboarding ramps.

One of the good things of this sim is the festivity calendar, giving a good overview of ongoing and special events. The town is primarily dominated by the Salzburg Cathedral
"The Salzburg Cathedral (German: Salzburger Dom) is a 17th century baroque cathedral in the city of Salzburg, dedicated to Saint Rupert of Salzburg. It is the site of Mozart's baptism."

Throughout the sim statues can be found, and though they are part of Salzburgs RL view, these could have been left out. Like most trees and other statues in Second Life it's made of two texturized prims with a lot of tranparancy, but it is hard to get a good view of this. A suggestion would be to try and replace them with sculpted prims, a feature added in last weeks release.

Finally, as with most real life cities in Second Life, there's a lot of shopping to be done. Aside from the cathedral, the rest of the old town is set up as shopping center.

A short wrap up:
+ The sim represents most of Salzburg's best known features
+ A lot of events are organised in the sim, as well as hosting a number of ongoing events.
- The statues are too 2D and should be replaced with sculpties as soon as possible.
- The build is quite crude, especially the castle.

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SL Event overkill

Tonight it's been crazy. I've been buzzed by everybody telling me they're at the greatest event of this weekend... I'm getting a little crazy here. This is definately gonna be my last blog for tonight.

Online Machima Film Event

After visiting the Venice opening, I briefly visited the Online Machinima Festival, which showed a number of Machinima Films. With Machinima being a rather niche corner of the Second Life community, the crowd consisted of various illustrious residents.

Elf Haven Contest dance & music

Then I popped it for a quick glance at the Elfen festivities on the great Elfen Contintent to enjoy a whole different feast. Since I was just coming from a classy event, my 'black tie' ensemble fell slightly out of tune. With over 50 residents attending it was a wee bit laggy though.

World Park opening; World Trade Center and Live Music

Finally I shot in for the opening of the World Park, holding the World Trade Centers. A quick survey learned that it isn't the first sim to hold the WTC, but rather the 3rd or 4th. However, the sim was neatly build, but enourmously laggy due to the more than 75 residents listening and dancing to great live music.

Well, I guess I'll call it a day today ;)

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Real Life Cities 4: Paris 1900

As I blogged about the new real life cities coming to SL I mentioned that I'd forgotten to blog Paris, so it's high-time to correct that omission. Browsing through my snapshots I noticed I also forgot to snapshot the Moulin Rouge, so I decided to go back, which was a good thing. The first thing I noticed was that it is expanding. I now noticed it is a 4-sim build, with the humoungous Eiffel Tower spread over all of them, neatly joint in the corners.

Technically this is a very hard thing to do, builds overlapping sim borders usually need to be quadruppaly reinforced to ensure you're not falling through at the edges. The other thing I noticed was that a sim called "Champs Elysees" is added... Seems like they're expanding.

The first thing I saw when entering the sim was a lot of ground. It took a while for the textures to stream, and then I saw I was at the metro station. The build here is a little primitive. I walked up the stairs, leaving the metro station and walked into the "Moulin Rouge", the fabled Parisian nightclub from the early 1900's.

Since it spreads four sims, the Eiffel Tower needs quite a bit of time to render, as well as the rest of the sim, though the build is a lot less detailed than that of Venice, at times even a bit crude. The sims top attraction is the parachute dive from the top of the Eiffel tower, but there are a number of nice shops to be found as well, especially on the Champs Elysees extention, which end in Paris' dreaded roundabout at l'Arc the Triomphe.

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More arrivals: Renault, Accenture, Maldive Embassy

Last night I started a little mailing in order to try and get some of the great SL bloggers together for a bloggerconvention and logged in early this morning to see where we'd ended up. When I logged in, Nic of the outstanding KZero blog was already on. My netvibe SL feed page rang out time and again as he was blogging like a madman.

Also new to (or opening in) SL this week are:
  • Renault Italia
  • Renault / ING formula 1 (blogged here earlier)
  • Accenture
  • Maldive Embassy.
I really do have some caching up to do

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Real Life Cities 3: Venice

Today I got back just in time to visit the Venice opening party at Venice island. After typing Venice into the map I TP'd in... and went down the drain immediately. The teleport ended in a closed cellar, filled with water. There was barely room for me to keep my head above water and breathe...

At first I thought it would be a grand entry, like at Paris 1900 (which I forgot to blog, so soon to come), where the TP hub is set in an underground /metro station. But it wasn't. It was just a cellar, and no way out. People above my head were talking Italian so I couldn't make sense.

I TP'd to the neigbouring Veneto sim and flew back in. The Venice sim takes quite a while in rendering, needing loads of custom textures to stream to the client, but it's worth it. The sim is filled with small piazza's and palazzio's that show some of the grandeur of this fabled merchant city of old. Some of the texturing is absolutely beautiful, but in some places it looks a bit too 2D.

The San Marco, the bridges and canals are all very recognisable, just a bit "condensed" at times, as Aleister put it when we discussed it. Hether and tether you'll find some shops and other signs that look a little out of place, and from a commercial point of view I doubt they'll be succesful, being hard to find in the sim. But maybe Italians are used to that.

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Real Life skyline

May seems to be the month of Real Life cities coming to Second Life. In the past I've blogged about Amsterdam, Zoetermeer and visited Paris 1900, but forgot to blog it. Last month we saw an excellent Salzburg sim go live and this month is a true avalanche with sims of Manchester, Munich, Augsburg and Venice.

My good friend Aleister wrote a strong piece on the Manchester kick-off, though he was rather disappointed. It seems judging Real Life cities entering Second Life is a little complicated. A businesscase or requirement set that we can put to business sims doesn't work out. Do we have to judge them by innovative design? Certainly not, it needs to be as close to Real Life as possible.
Yet when a virtual representation for RL Companies is a bore, and a must for RL cities, it's not the sole requirement. The Virtual Tourism market needs a little extra, some attractions that make people visit. Sweden and the Maldives have set up their embassy in Second Life, but I doubt that will do the trick. The City of Berlin (new Berlin sim, not Berlin) is hosting a cross reality / simulcast event with the "Festival of Cultures", running may 25th to 28th, which is a good start to show the world what's going on in your city.

Here's a few pics:

Augsburg City:
Opening: May 29 Location:

Swedish Embassy:
Opening: May 30 Location:

Venice Italy:
Opening: May 26 Location:

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Philips Launchparty

The Dutch electroniscs and household mogul Philips is finally opening up its sim in Second Life. For months the sim stood out there in the Rivers Run Red area, frustrating bloggers time after time by not opening up its doors. Finally the wait is over...
Friday, june 1 is their official kick-off, with several freebees thrown in. .. "PHILIPS Design have launched in SL with a promise to work with residents more actively than many RL firms have managed in the past" reports Billbo Winkler in the popular weekly "The Avastar" newspaper.
Responsible for the build is (a.o.) Wendyy Mahana, who's also involved with the development of our Virtual Holland, so there's a definate Rivers Run Red involvement.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sogeti Netherlands receives Innovation Award

"INFORMATICA WORLD 2007, Orlando, Florida, May 1, 2007—Informatica Corporation (NASDAQ: INFA), a leading provider of data integration software, today announced the winners of the Informatica 2007 Innovation Awards at Informatica World 2007"

The Innovation Awards is one of the most prestigious prices to be won in the IT sector and this year's winning combination in the category Data Migration was a tie in. One of the two winning entries was the migration of Air France / KLM Cargo performed by Sogeti Netherlands while using its innovative Mikado migration approach.

In the Netherlands we alsways look towards the US of A when it comes to innovators, but this years list was going Dutch, giving accolades to Rabobank (Broader Data Integration), Achmea / Atos Origin (Integration Competency).
The award is one of many for Sogeti Netherlands which is constantly looking for ways to improve IT services and is responsible for many trendsetting IT servicing innovations, like TMAP (testing) and Inframe (Infrastructure Management)

Full press release here

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MAS : Multi Agent System

One of the great things in the information age is...well, information. But it's getting too much too handle. It's only now that I've read up on the Automatiserings Gids, a leading Dutch IT mag which published an interesting story in it's February 2006 issue which features a story on the synergy between new grid technology and semantic web interfaces enabling core processes to be hanbled more efficiently, according to Dr. Chris van Aart.

Dr. van Aart is a specialist in Artificial Intelligence, doing both research and teaching at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).

"One of the challenges of Artificial Intelligence and in particularly Intelligent Agents is to construct collection of computational problems solver that work together to achieve a set of goals. Issues related to this activity are co-ordination, cooperation and interaction.My research investigates theories from the field of organizational science in order to apply these on organizations of computational problem solvers. Considered theories are Scientific Management (Taylor, 1911), Classical management theory (Fayol, 1949) and Organizational Design (Mintzberg, 1979)."

The great thing is that he's now a fine colleague at Sogeti and on board of the Second Life core team ready to put some intelligence into our plans. Switching back and forth between his two jobs he is dragging us into the mire of Multi Agent Systems in combination with Second Life.

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Intergalactic news (2)

Here's another update on news from the vast expanse of networked virtual environments (NVE's) or simply called virtual worlds.


Big Blue is looking at the Torque game engine, proud product of the Garage Gamers as booster for their virtual escapades. IBM is rapidly advancing inte Virtual Revolution with a stronghold in Secondlife and in creating their own intraverse. They are also looking into the Multiverse which is still in Beta. This adaptiveness is surprising for a moloch from the days of the Digerati, the old school internet pioneers and is earning IBM's guru Irv Wladawsky a true nomination for the Metarati awards.

Shanda Entertainment

The Chinese corp Shanda Entertainment is digging into the world of Massively multiplayer online role-playing games, or MMORPGs. Shanda is China's largest entertainment and online gaming provider, with titles such as The Legend of Mir II, The World of Legend, The Sign, The Age, Magical Land and Dungeons & Dragons Online.

Shanda's move heats up the Asian Virtual World competition as 3pointD reports on nve's named HiPiHi and Splume.

Sony / Pinguin Club

The Sony entertainment group is aiming to take over the Pinguin Club according to Mashable with an bid close to $ 450.000 USD. The club is an online gaming world for children which is seeing an even more spectacular growth than Second Life.

The Canadian firm New Horizons launched the club in October 2005 and it has since grown to 4.5 million visitors in March 2007 and is subscription based. To Sony it may well be an interesting new marketing channel for their games, and perhaps merge with their Playstation Home, an alledgely superior virtual platform that will crush Second Life (according to Mashable)

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Linden gets a light

One of the funny things of taking a 1-week holiday is that it seem like you've got a year of catching up to do once you get back. One of last weeks noteworthy tidbits is a post in the Boston Globe that Linden Labs purchased Windward Mark Interactive LLC, a Waltham company founded in 2003 by five Harvard University students.

So what do the windward souls do? They're in the business of creating highly realistic three-dimensional environments for use in computer games and flight simulators, and lighting is one of their strong points.

There are people out there that look down on Second Life as a "game with bad graphics", and true enough, it's not as slick as World of Warcraft and Cory Ondrejka, Linden's CTO believes that making the environment more visually realistic will attract and hold more users.

However, there are serious points to validate a "crude" graphic engine. Linden's USP is that Second Life is a world with easy tooling, generating vast amounts of user generated content. Sculpted prims and enhanced graphics may 'beautify' the world, but it will require more skills and perhaps even put more stress on datatraffic.

And then there's the Project Open Letter to remember. Linden's key focuspoint should be scaling, stability and adding test strategy and release management before getting into introducing all kinds of new slick things.

At youTube there's a vid of a new Second Life sky to demonstrate the power of Windward.

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Chung boosts virtual finance

Earlier this month I've blogged about Anshe Chung getting a banking licence for the Entropia universe. It seems like that this was just a starter for our Metaverse Mogul, according to a press release on the AC Studio website:

"Anshe Chung Studios is preparing to launch a virtual financial market, financial products and a set of services that are going to, for the first time, allow direct capital flow and investment across virtual world boundaries. This step will be the first of many in the creation of an open, cross platform Metaverse economy that transcends individual virtual worlds. "Some virtual worlds like Second Life (R), Entropia Universe (R) and IMVU (R) have demonstrated the enormous economic potential that exists when key sectors of a virtual world economy such as content creation, trade, banking and services are privatized. This has lead to a boom in each of these worlds that has yet to be matched by any other economy, real or virtual", says founder Ailin Graef a.k.a. Anshe Chung. "Now the time is right to go further and link these exciting spaces together, to begin with the creation of the global Metaverse." [read the full article @ Anshe's site]

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Amsterdam Public Library (OBA)

Early 2007 we have had a lot of commotion on the Dutch town of Zoetermeer entering Second Life, being criticised of wasting public money on niche market expression. However, they received a lot of attention which must have had some positive effect since many other Dutch towns are coming to Second Life as well.

One of the new arrivals, funded by public money, is the Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam (Amsterdam Public Library). The question is: will it be a waste of public money or not?

A little background on the sim might be in place here to look for specific triggers for the OBA to enter Second Life. Their old central library building was getting too small and a few years ago they've started building a new one in the Oosterdok, one of the main development areas in Amsterdam. This build will be finished this summer, so they've probably thought a virtual representation would add a little pizaz to dusty bookreading Holland.

As well as it's RL counterpart, the build itself is incomplete. Many elements are not texturised yet. From a distance it seems like a good, solid build, but as you get closer there is a lot of "jitter" (shifting textures) and not everything is properly aligned.

Aside from the main building there are a few things to do. There's a skydive point at the roof (okay, this is the popular conception of "things that work in SL nowadays", but hasn't got anything to do with the library) and the place is littered with bicycles. That is as real-life as you can get it, since the canals in Amsterdam are literally (not virtually) filled with rusty bikes.

The most complete element in the sim is the "Herman Brood" room, a famous Dutch rock 'n roll junky, musician and painter. On the lower levels there's a series of good looking computers with images of the library's website, but no interactiveness here yet. Then there are several stands with advanced microfilm readers. This connects with the OBA's cooperation with Karmac to digitize several important documents, under the projecttitle "the Memory of the Netherlands".

Unfortunately, these aren't working either...or worse, they're not even proper textures but badly cut images (see pic below)

So what can we expect from a virtual library? There's plenty of reference material to be found in Second Life in the Cybrary city sims, but sofar the OBA has not been able to go beyond a mere virtual representation of their new Central Library building.

In this new metaversality it would be a challenge for libraries (and publishers for that matter) to explore new formats that would draw back readers to good books.

Neil Stephenson, one of the metarati, is most famous for his novel "Snowcrash" in which the concept of the Metaverse is explored, but another excellent work is called "The Diamond Age" in which the future of reading and publishing is explored. This book can probably be found at the library, so I guess that's a must read for the peeps there exploring the future of libraring.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Download Festival coming to SL

The following is a lift from Easier Lifestyle - though at least I researched the links:

Download Dog, the mascot of Download Festival, Britain’s largest alternative music festival, has for the very first time been let loose in the internet-based, virtual world Second Life. The Second Life Download Dog is unique in its design, specifically animated as an interactive avatar. The communities built within Second Life and the Download Festival are an essential factor in both of their success. Second Life now boast an online community of over 6 Million, and each year has seen the Download festival increase its audience now bringing together 80,000 dedicated fans to Donington Park each June. This massive Download audience has been key to forming their online community that meets each year to provide feedback and shape the future of the festival. Using only independent artisans and existing locations within Second Life, the competition works like a treasure hunt, the first within the metaverse*.

Users will have to follow a trail left by the Download Dog to be entered into a prize-draw to win an Epiphone Les Paul guitar, signed [by] artists playing the festival this year. Organisers have been working extensively with the Second Life community to bring this competition together and the Download Dog’s avatar has been created by Nomasha Syaka, who is regarded as the most talented sculptor and builder in Second Life.

Festival director, Stuart Galbraith said: “Having the Download Dog integrated into Second Life is a fantastic opportunity for both communities to interact and bring the Download Festival to a world wide audience. Our online community has made Download Festival the essential event that it is today and bringing this to a wider audience is a concept that is extremely exciting.” Rohan Freeman of The Sine Wave Company, who are involved in the Dog’s venture into Second Life said of the competition “Second Life has tens of thousands rock and alternative fans doing weird and wonderful things. When Live Nation wanted to run a competition for all their people, it was easy to bring everything together and draw on the creativity of lots of people all at once. Second Life is a community, and the people building it care about that community. Feedback from citizens I am dealing with is excellent. Because we are getting them involved.”

* I'm not sure Microsoft/Millions of Us would agree with this assertion.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Sprouting Tufts

This post originally appeared at Ambling in Second Life.

Tufts University, Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, have an island in Second Life. I picked up a notecard, which I will now quote from liberally:
  • "This Second Life island is an experimental studio environment for the course 'Physical Planning & Design.' The purpose of the course is to introduce students to the fundamental ideas and tools in the work of planning and designing the built environment. As a capstone project for the course, we are developing a physical plan and design for vacant land surrounding the Forest Hills MBTA Train Station. On this island, you will find a 1/2 scale model of the Forest Hills site. We will use the Second Life environment to both conceive our plan and then to present our ideas. We will make a final presentation of our ideas on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 at 9AM ET. The public is welcome to join us here in Second Life for the presentation."
So I'm a few weeks late then. Ho hum.

The build is not dramatic (though it is interesting to see half-scale, I'm not used to that in SL) - but then that is not its purpose. Rather, it shows yet another means of innovating using 3D environments. I wonder whether they found that SL helped?

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

BMW - Flying a molecule of water

This was first posted on my Slambling blog.

After sorting out some teething problems, BMW have finally got their "energy efficiency" flying machine in full working order - and it's been worth the wait. Unfortunately, you can't just go and grab a copy for yourself. You have to arrange a test flight by contacting the tireless Munich Express (his girlfriend must be getting seriously p*ssed off with him by now!), who will sort you out.

Here's a couple of piccies of the flying machine - I call it that, because I can't think of a better expression, although the term rather conjures up images of the Wright Brothers, rather than a sleek Sc-Fi beast like this. If you look closely, you will see letter "H" on the 2 engine pods, while the pilot's pod is, one hopes, a place where s/he can breathe (so that'll be Oxygen then). Putting this all together, we end up with H2O... so we have a water-powered(?) vehicle, using Hydrogen as the actaul fuel. Nice model, huh?

Yeah... but how does it feel to fly? I'm usually really crap when it comes to operating machinery. This rule applies in RL as well as SL - but SL is particularly challenging. So it was with some trepidation that I took the helm. I found the H2O to be responsive without being to "jinky", and when I put the pedal to the metal, it went like a bat out of Hell. So that's the BMW brand preserved then. :-)

It also sped across the linked sims without a hiccup. I've had awful problems in the past with vehicles attempting to cross sim boundaries - but this little beauty took no notice of such inconveniences. And that meant I was able to get much more out of the flight. It was actually quite thrilling (I lead a quiet life), though next time I will use Mouselook mode - which should be awesome.

Two comparisons flashed through my mind as I was razzing about in this beastie. The first was the German rocket plane the ME-163, in that the H2O is small and incredibly fast; the second was the Schneider Trophy, as my flight involved flying low across the sea and low-lying islands in a single-seat plane with 2 dangly pod things.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sogeti vs. Cap Gemini

Healty competition is not alien to both IT companies which are sister-corps. Sogeti is Cap's red, warm, passionate label. So no battle, not even competition here, but the MindBlizzard blog will possibly see little change next week.

I'll be enjoying a very welcomed short holiday break next week, somewhere without newspapers, without IM's, blogs, feeds and podcasts and without virtual worlds. To feed the hungry, Aleister Kronoss, a cap geminite and quality blogger, will try to keep posting some interesting stuff here.

Aleister, have fun ;)

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Playboy comes, Linden bans adult content

In this blog I've tried to remain far away from the sleeze and dirt that is part of Second Life as well (as it is in Real Life as well), and stick to describing Real Life companies and Institutions entering Second Life, we're now walking the thin line... as The Second Life Herald heralds the coming of Playboy to Second Life.

Undoubtedly Playboy doesn't like to see itself mentioned in the same sentence as "Sleeze and Dirt", and true enough, their content usually is of a different caliber than some activities that can be found in SL. Since the big tease is Playboy's core business that is their SL strategy as well. Their opening is heralded, yet no specifics on when they will come.

Already it giving rise to speculation. Will it be a manor, will there be virtual bunnies... On the other hand, since Sex is big buniness, the question 3pointD raises is "What took them so long"

Linden to protect the young and innocent

To add a little counterweight, and most bizarre happenstance is that the news of Playboy entering Second Life coincides with the announcement that Linden Labs is taking extra measures to 'protect the young and innocent' from explicit content. The Dutch tech-savy site and a few other sources report that Linbden Labs will ask more identification before allowing residents to move into "adult areas". Also residents are asked to label explicit content in an attempt to create a more decent environment for youngsters. The measures aren't waterproof and will receive both praise and harsh criticism. Once more, Linden Lab hasn't got the answer, but they're trying to work with the criticism they get.

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Amsterdam simsale blown

A while ago we reported that Stroker's notorious representation of Amsterdam had been sold on eBay for the formiddable price of $ 50,000. Today Second Life Insider reports that the deal has gone wrong.

The buyers, Nedstede (an Amsterdam based real estate broker), were under the assumption that they'd bought the whole thing but failed to understand the intellectual property rights in Second Life. This goes for textures, scripts and content owned by the sims tenants.

This isn't the first deal that falls through on the same issue. IP's are a key factor in Second Life's success and the good thing is that once again it is confirmed that you own what you have created. This doesn't end Stroker's wish to get rid of the sim, expect it to be up for sale soon again.

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Linden gets a grip

Last week saw Linden's response to the Project Open Letter. Their statement that they are devoting more people to solving scaling and stability. Their statement was received with certain scepticism. In this blog I was a little critical as well.
Nonetheless there are a few things in Second Life that have to be noted at this point. Last month Second Life became slow and unstable when the online resident count reached about 37.000. This week saw a steady rise to 41.000 simultaneous logins without notable disturbance to stability or lag.
As Second Life gains momentum, Linden Lab itself is growing as well. In the past week I have had several discussions with Linden employees. They are working hard on Quality Assurance and getting a structured test approach up and running to avoid more ineffective patches.
I still like to see some big improvement in certain areas, but have to say that indeed they are working on it. Second Life's growth does require a revision of Linden's Tao.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hammer & Coop

Today seems to be an endless blogging day. Next to style is another Millions of Us creation called "film". Again, this isn't a complete build. More like an entire sim is used for a 1024 m2 build. However, it wasn't a total waste of time.

The sim is a sidekick in the launch of a new tv series, "Hammer & Coop" produced by MINI usa... Mini as in Mini-Cooper... the car. And yeas, after a shot at their website, I think I'd like to see a few episodes.
The build is small, yet of quality. The series look good, and I'm hoping to see more of the series immersed into this Second Life sim, creating a neat experience.


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Second Life gets style

Next to Microsoft is a sim that looks terribly underdeveloped running by the name "Style" I took a peek and... yeah I'm positive again. It must be some itch to get rid of the Visa taste in my mouth.
As I said, it still partly under construction -and they're subcontracting, but the basic setup is... stylish. The main building is build around a catwalk. Fashion will be this sims prime style event, but Aimee Weber, partly responsible for the build, also put in a lot of stylish furniture.

The downside is, it appears to be a house of fashion, main event a fashion show... but I couldn't find a schedule or billboard for the next event, and I sure don't have time to browse the classifieds for a fashion show.

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Microsoft defies challenges

Thursday May 10 (yes, that is tomorrow) Microsoft will officially open shop in Second Life. The sim's build has been completed about 5 months ago, but had restricted access up till now. We went in for a little preview. With many companies staging their opening this month it is a challenge to be on the good half of the charts, but Microsoft is up to the challenge. I'm a notorius *NIX fan, but have to admit the

On the sign you'll see about what Microsoft Island has to offer. Aside from their kick-off event and the sim experience there is also a supportive website here. What it basically comes down to is that Microsoft uses Second Life as one of their staging areas for a Visual Studio campaign themed "Defy all Challenges"

A nice feature is the Auditorium, placed inside a big ball that's hanging from solid beams and some craftly sculpted prims. There's no question on who's responsible for the build, since it is practically leaning against the MoU island, but upon entering the auditorium I immediately recognised the hand of this site's co0blogger Lordfly Digeridoo.

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Aloft Revisited

One of the grand openings this month is not a newcomer to Second Life, but actually an early pioneer. Aloft entered Second Life mid 2006 with a rather static sim -which was not a deadly sin at that time - but certainly understood the principle of crowdsourcing much better than Visa (previous post).

They've received an enormous amount of input from visitors and redecorated the whole sim. Aside from a dominating Aloft hotel, there are many interesting fountains, gardens, beaches and other retreats that will keep you busy for a while.

You'd assume they're here to stay, but they're not. Aloft has received enough input for a year ;) Now it's back to the drawing table for them to transfer that knowledge into their Real Life business. Their grand re-opening is at the same time a say goodbye.
One last great crowdsourcing trick that will surely involve the community: They're offering their sim for a whole year. Tell them how and why YOU need the sim for a year, and it's yours...

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Virtual Banking (5): Hasta la Visa

The first weeks of May saw many new sims go public. One of them is Visa. At Ambling in SL and KZero's blog the reviews were not positive, so I decided to take a look myself. Ambling Aleister accused me earlier this week of being a bit negative about a particular blog I did, so I hoped I could return the favor. But Al and Big Nic didn't turn down their visa for this one for nowt.

At first entry, the design looks nice, yet too light. After a short walkway there's a couply of signs asking visitors to contribute their ideas to Visa's SL build. In the official press releases Visa put out a very enthusiastic crowdsourcing promotalk telling the world they are very into the interactive environment that SL is and that they're an innovative bunch.

Except crowdsourcing does usually have an idea to begin with. Crowdsourcing is about getting usefull feedback on something. The way Visa is approaching this looks like buying a shop at Rodeo Drive and put an small note on the window asking people to tell the management what they would like to buy. Worse, it is like Microsoft asking YOU to build their new Windows version...and have you pay later.

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Amazon moves upriver

The US based Amazon has been working on their presence in Second Life for several months. Aleister Kronos was one of the first to spot their presence at Ambling in SL, but now they're open. I think not completely finished yet, but we're getting there.

The surprising bit is that the sim feels Egyptian with a papyrus tourboat, resembling the ancient Egyptian boats that traversed the Nile... which off course is a totally different river than the Amazon...

When speaking to Jeff Barr, Amazon's sr. Web Officer he corrected me. It is an Amazonian buid and many of the same boats can be found at Lake Titicaca in Peru / Chile. The islands (there are two) are "Basically, to create a place where people can learn about the Amazon Web Services, and to hang out with other software developers in a friendly environment." Specific events aren't planned yet, but "I want this place to be hopping with activity. Count on weekly presentations and at least one meeting / hangout type of event."
Aside from the amazonic themed buildings, the sim is mainly dominated by a museum wherein Web and SL projects will be displayed.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Downsizing Big Blue

The Register reports that IBM could lay off upto 100,000 employees of it's total of about 350,000 and that this weeks 1300 is just a start. The mass lay off project is codenamed LEAN -which gives me the idea they'll try to run it LEAN and MEAN.

The question is, will they drop the masses, or are they going to outsource? A complete 100K lay off would give rise to speculations, perhaps even riots. Outsourcing, or transferring the labor to cheap labor countries (offshoring) seems a more likely scenario. IBM has been investing big time in Second Life collaboration research, having a very strong presence. Are these collabs so successful that they trust Virtual Worlds as their bridge to offshoring?

Anyway, Big Blue isn't getting leaner in Second Life, as on thursday, May 10th, will see the opening of a new IBM sim. This time it's the BeNeLux R&D

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nVidia to share Intel

The Digitimes reports that Intel and nVidia are joining forces in a tech trade. This rewires the rumours from late 2006 that both companies are looking for a way to counter the AMD-ATi combination.

Several stories float about that Intel is working on a high-end videocard, which puts them in competition with nVidia's budget gpu's AND high end models, so nVidia needs to pay close attention to which intel they're sharing.

All nice bizztalk, but what's in it for us? Well, Second Lifers surely will give new, stronger, faster (and affordable) graphic cards a very very warm welcome, as streaming is getting a nuisance sometimes.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Virtual World, Real life Governance

Project Open Letter update

This weeks Town Hall meeting waspretty much all about the Project Open Letter. The POL has been signed by many respected virtual residents and is about one of the first complaints that's been taking serious by Linden Labs. The wrap up is that we're worried, and they're worried.

The POL names a few problems that need to be fixed and Linden addressed a few problems (here's A detailed response to the open letter ). They're gonna sort out the Inventory backup issue and devote 3/4 of their DEVmembers to scaling and stability.

The thing that bothers me is we're talking about issues, Linden is talking about bug fixes and patches (which don't always work - Perhaps Linden should call us for a little advice on how to perform structured testing (TMAP)) but no one is talking IT Governance here. Have we rooted out the source of these nuisances and is there an alternative to patching?

Some new and noteworthy tidbits are that Linden is considering opening up a server park somewhere in Europe to spread the residential load and segragation between basic and premium account members.

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NETVIBES: Mission critical tooling for bloggers

Netvibes is pioneering the personal homape market, offering an alternative to traditional web portals. Although it's still running in Beta mode, it already has millions of users from 150 different countries.

Netvibes lets individuals assemble all in one place their favorite websites, blogs, email accounts, social networks, search engines, instant messengers, photos, videos, podcasts, widgets, and everything else they enjoy on the Web.
It's rapidly becoming a mission critical tooling for bloggers as it easily lets you add feeds, feeds and more feeds in different tabs. Right now I'm running a general tab with all the usual business news, weather, calender and email, a specialised Second Life tab with all the great blogs linked on this page and a Web 2.0 tab that keeps me informed of the latest web hypecycles.

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Intergalactic news

Here's some interesting news from other media

Second Life resident demographics

Both 3pointD blog and the Dutch webwereld report on the current statistics for Second Life. For the first time the US visitors were not the most active SL users, in march 2007 SL was visited by 207.000 US citizens, but were topped by the Germans with 209.000 residential immersions.
Numbers 3 to 5 are France, UK and the Netherlands. These figures were produced by a comScore research.

Based on the comcast publication, serious Dutch Press (Nu, De Pers and Elsevier) reported that about 9% of the Dutch have stepped into Second Life already. Linden Labs says otherwise, more like 2%). Anyway it would all wrap up to about 40.000 active Dutchmen in SL.

Hails from a different Galaxy

RuneScape, an MMORPG, reports that it has hit 1.000.000 (one million) subscribers. In the Wild Wild West only World of Warcraft can boast more subscribers. Of course, Cyworld Korea has many many more.

Thene there's news from yet another Virtual World, this time it's Entropia who's auctioning banking licenses. One of the most remarkable new bankers in Entropia is Second Life's inworld mega real-estate dealer Anshe Chung who acquired the licence for a lousy 60 US bucks. Superchung is perhaps one of the most cross-reality entrepeneurs at this moment, having commercials ties with IMVU and as well.


Some of this blogs readers have pointed out that there was a serious error in this post. They're right. Chung purchased the licence for US$ 60,000 -and that ain't lousy anymore.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good Samaritan Group Gathering

It's only been about two weeks ago that the V3 group organised a major SL tech event, the ITE 2007. This time its.... The Good Samaritan.
This week sees the Joysco Convention Center filled to the brim with the latest inworld tech, and other exciting stuff, all sponsored by Sun Microsytems Joysco Studio Journey (Legendary Rock Band) AvaStar SLCN.TV Reallusion.

When you get into the Convention Center, you'll think you're immersed in the next IT event, but it's not. This Expo is Johnny Austin's idea, who wanted a place where the business and creative communities in Second Life could come together and meet each other and work together. .. And yeah, Second Life is filled with tech-savvy people, so small wonder Sun Microsystems digs this (since they're hot on community building). However, it's not all High-Tech, there's plenty of room for other things, like Education and Clothing.

One of the participants, commented on its blog that after building their own stand, they were asked by several other companies to do so. That's good spirit! Another participant, Meta Mart is releasing its long awaited new HUD, "We will be doing some demos of newly released 3'rd generation of Meta Mart ( yes by then we will release it :) ) and also of other items from Meta Mart, showing all the possibilities," says Robbie Kiama from Meta Mart.

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SLUC: Lenovo Security Breach

I had barely logged into SL and opened the map to plot a course for today's travelling. The map scrolled past and the "Grey Square" of Lenovo appeared. I clicked it, just to have an orientation point and hit teleport, fully expecting to be handsomely told that TP was not allowed. But suddenly I was in...

The larger part of the sim is still in construction mode and seems to be made up of a central office that houses a giant computer which certainly has more detail than the huge Dell platform.

Surrounding the main building are a few office towers (still empty) and it looks like there's some room for partners. I can't say much of an experience yet, but it's still under construction. For now, we wait and we wonder...

"Lenovo Group Limited, formerly known as Legend Group Ltd and New Technology Developer Incorporated (SEHK: 0992) is the third largest personal computer manufacturer, and the largest in the Asia-Pacific region as of 2006. The company was founded in 1984 by a group of eleven engineers headed by Liu Chuanzhi in Beijing, but the listed holding company was incorporated in 1988 in Hong Kong. In 2005 Lenovo purchased IBM's PC Division. Its headquarters are located in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, the home of IBM's former ThinkPad group." (Wikipedia)


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Wednesday, May 02, 2007


AKQA is one of the many advertising corps that has invaded Second Life. They were here December 2006, although the sign says 2007

The bulk of the AQKA presence is their media room, a big ballroom with some nice photo's or models from their gigs, but that's about it. There's a big big big media screen, and some other rooms, but aside from the mainbuilding there's nothing at the sim, not even landscaping has been done. It's barren!

So who's AKQA, according to the Wikipedia: "AKQA is an advertising and communications agency originally founded in London in 1995 and focused on internet marketing. With the support of American investors, AKQA was able to expand internationally in 2001. It is most famous for designing the graphical user interface for the Xbox 360... ...The Orange Integrated Shop developed by AKQA won the CNET Telecommunications Sector Technology Project of The Year in 2006."

And it's a Millions of Us build.

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Korean Showcase

Earlier today I did some Nipponese blogging and thought to Go Asian all the way and visited the Korea sims. It's a small 2 x 2 sim cluster that looked nice from satellite view. I dropped in and saw a neat grid with largely western architecture. It was untill I saw the marketplace that I got an idea what this was about. The market did ring a bell though, as it looked a bit like the ones in Welcome Area (ahern) so I dug into it a little deeper.
The complete sim is Linden owned, buildt largely by Brian Linden who made a fair job at it.
So this is the works they pull to try and get 80 million Koreans to move from Cyworld to SL.
However, at the Welcome area it was primarily Portugese and English that was being spoken.

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Marvelling at Mirai

While looking around the Japanes block I noticed a sim called 'Mirai' at the very heart of the sim. I surely expected a company sim there, and the first building that appeared looked as lighthouse with an extended warehouse that had some crates next to it.

However, towering above was a marvellous palace, or so it seemed. I assumed it to be a great private mansion, but I did a little search on the Wikipedia and learned that Mirai was Japanese for 'Future', but also the name of an electronics corp. So there's the possibility that this too is a business sim.

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Virtual Japan

The japanese are coming to Second Life as I noted when I discovered the Suntory sim. I also noted a few other Japanese firms under construction in that same block.

Here are a few pictures from the block, which appears to be a mix of SL and RL companies

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Dutch laywers pursue Second Life

The Dutch lawfirm Faassen & Partners is to open shop in Second Life. It's not accessible right now, but appears to be in an advanced state of development.

"Faasen & Partners is an independent law firm with offices in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Faasen & Partners has a practice directed at listed or non-listed companies, public sector enterprises and governments. With a strong foundation in the Dutch domestic market, Faasen & Partners is considered a quality boutique firm amongst the large law firms. Our firm focuses on business advisory and transaction management, though we have also strong developed litigation skills in all areas of our practice. Our firm has a specific focus on two practice groups; (i) Labour and Employee Participation law and (ii) Corporate, Commercial and Finance law, which includes European and Competition law"

Another SLUC update:

Seems like Red Bull is ready to spread its wings in Second Life as well and I've just spotted a sim called Mercedes Benz Vans.

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Dutch Reallife Real Estate immersed

As often is the case, it was Aleister Kronos who pointed me towards the new sim webbatach stating it had something to do with the town of Koolhoven. The town name was totally unfamiliar to me, so I went in to see what it's all about.

It turns out to be that Koolhoven is the name of a new residential area on the borders of the town of Tilburg in North-Brabant (it seems like Brabant is really going into SL as there are sims called Tilburg, Eindhoven and Brabantstad).

So the sim is an impression of the new residential area and has been set up by the participating Real Estate brokers. It will give (potential) buyers some time to get the look and feel of the home that still needs to be build. A great thing really if you have mod-rights to the house so you can do some decorating yourself, change the color of the ceiling, adding a new wallpaper etcetera, and of course, move around with your furniture to see if it all fits in.

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S@SL update (2)

Yesterday saw the third in a series of workshops held by Sogeti. Due to fantastic weather the crowd was a bit smaller than usual (about 30 professionals) and a few clients.

This time, Damanios Thetan from Damancorp got into advanced building mode working miracles with the torus prim and threw in a bonus session on advanced (clothing) texturing and avatar design.

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Dutch polder virtual seas

Aleister Kronos from Ambling in Second Life has been blogging his travels in the Metaverse for some time now. During his travels he spotted many new sims and had some nice scoops. Since earlier this year he has noted that several Dutch companies, towns and universities have come to Second Life. From an SL point of view, they're most welcome to add to the community, from an RL point of view, Aleister is getting a little frustrated that one after the other Dutch sim opens up while the UK, his hometurf, is lagging severly.

A short wrap up:

  1. Damanicorp (SL Content Creators)
  2. Lost in the Magic Forest (SL Content Creators)
  3. SLionhead (SL Content Creators)
  4. Randstad (Job agency)
  5. Content (Job agency)
  6. ABN AMRO (banking)
  7. ING (banking)
  8. BNN (television)
  9. Avro (television)
  10. Talpa (television)
  11. Nextstrategy (advertising)
  12. Heineken (beer)
  13. Philips (electronics, consumer goods)
  14. Aegon (insurance)
  15. In Holland (education)
  16. TU Delft (education)
  17. Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (education)
These are just a few of the noteworthy virtual escapades of the Dutch, there are a lot more. Some of these like Heineken, Aegon and InHolland are still under construction, or at least not accessible to public, but already give rise to speculation.


So why are the Dutch so apt to get immersed? Here are some likely and unlikely possibilities:

  1. The Netherlands is too densely populated, so it's obvious they're looking out to polder new areas.
  2. The Dutch have too much spare time on their hands.
  3. The Dutch are very jealous. If your neighbor has a big car, then you need to have a bigger one. If your neighbour has a big sim, make sure yours is bigger.
  4. The Netherlands is tired of IT domination coming from the US and needs to show we dig this immersive thingy.
  5. Being a traditional nation of Merchants, it's only logical for the Dutch to spot potentially profitable new markets.
  6. The Dutch have always had an international horizon. Being able to communicate in different languages gives them an advantage in utilising Second Life's potential.
  7. The Dutch hate travelling (since the Netherlands is so small everything is in walking distance), so Teleports are a relief.
  8. Nothing ever happens in good ole Holland, so Second Life gets a whole lot of attention in the media.

Truth is, I don't know. It might be nice to get a complete list of Dutch virtual ventures and it may also be worth doing some market research on this.

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GMI Second Life survey

A large market research agency, Global Market Insite, conducted the largest SL surveys last month (close to 10,000 respondents).

The prime result of the survey was the finding (contrary to earlier surveys) that "Second Life is a burgeoning market for real-life brands and product promotion. Fifty-six percent of users believe Second Life is a good promotional vehicle. Only 16 percent say they would not be more likely to buy or use a brand that is represented in the Internet-based virtual world. "

Executive Summary

  • 50% between 18-29 years old
  • 67% Male
  • 51% Married
  • 38% University Undergraduate
  • 27% Universtiy Postgraduate (master & doctorate)
  • 60% Employed (full time)


  • 12% Student
  • 12% Retail
  • 10% Computer industry
  • 8% Banking

(Off all branches, 25% are employed as IT Professionals)

Educational Level

  • 27% Management / Sr. Officers
  • 25% Professionals

More stats can be found at Wagner Au's New World Notes blog.

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ABN Stock Session

Next thursday, May 3rd, ABN AMRO will host a meeting on the latest trends in the international stockmarket. Sr. analist Paul van Doorn (ABN AMRO Investment Office) will point out the latest trends supported by audiostreaming.

If you'd like to attend, IM Amber Jung and receive a notecard for further instructions. As to the subject of the sessions, I can only guess it's about Barclays, hostile takeovers, hedgefunds and what else is causing the takeover rows of the past few weeks.

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NBA Slamdunks SL

Today the NBA slamdunked Second Life with the grand opening of the NBA Jam Sessions. The sim is mainly aimed at the Road to the 2007 Finals, but has some nice feats for basketball fans, like the hall of fame and the video center.


Second Life Under Construction

Other construction news from this region:
  1. Terra Incognita (tv show)
  2. BNP Paribas (banking) under construction
  3. Agape (NGO)

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

SLUC: Suntory enters Second Life

Second Life under Construction

Today I was looking for a specific sim, entered it in the map search and there it was - a complete slumbleupon - Suntory, a huge Japanese corporation is entering Second Life. Suntory is mostly known in Europe for their excellent immitation of Scotch Whiskey (Suntory Yamazaki, Suntory Hibiki etcetera), but is much more than that. It's a multi billion dollar food and beverage conglomerate.

Or as Wikipedia says: "Suntory Limited (Santorī Kabushiki-gaisha?) is a Japanese brewing and distilling company. Established in 1899, it is one of the oldest companies in the distribution of alcoholic beverages. Its business has expanded to other fields, and the company now offers everything from soft drinks to vintage wines. Suntory is headquartered in Dojimahama, Kita-ku, Osaka, Osaka prefecture. In the 1970's, Suntory engaged US pop group, the Carpenters, to advertise its new line of soft drinks."

Off course, the sim isn't accesible, but I took a peek from the neighbouring isles, alas still only water underneath that logo. However, Japan is making a serious move with several commercial, residential and big RL sims in construction mode.

Some more Japanese corps under construction:

  1. Idu co.
  2. HIS
  3. Ameba

And there's more to be found here, but I can't make head or tail from Japanese.


Arriving from Canada SolidWorks (3D/ CAD software)

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SL takeover

Today the Design Corp Brain Gaime (with clients like BNN) has been taken over by Lost in the Magic Forrest due to rising demand in design expertise. The Magic Forresters have been working hard on succesful immersions like Nextstrategy, Essent, Talpa and Content.

Dobre vanBrugh, CEO of [Lost in the] Magic Forest explains that they want to guarantee maximum creativity for their clients, which makes Brain Game a logical choice in their strategy to become one of Europe's leading virtual branding agancy and cross-reality campaigners

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Project Open Letter

A little while ago a few respected residents of Second Life expressed their worries about the current State of the Virtual Union... well, at least the stability of Lindens' SL Platform after the 1.5 Client version showed severe bugs. 57 Miles from the Metaversed blog perfectly describes the current status of the proposal

Linden to Respond to Project Open Letter

"As residents continue to stamp their feet about persistent problems with the Second Life grid, Project Open Letter, a public whine fest of tearful demands not only gains momentum with bloggers and press, but will now get a public response from Linden Lab, makers of the besieged virtual world. Look for Linden to either grovel, fawn or play the "this post is so long you'll never read it game" in official response later in the week..."

Linden Labs has not been very active to resolve issues in the past, but this letter may push them somewhat, so do read and sign the Project Open Letter

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The MindBlizzard Crowd

A little earlier I gave you some clinical stats on april's visits to the blog, here's a more personal touch:
When I was checking some things I noticed the MindBlizzard blog was mentioned at the Spotfire site... good to know :)

Aside from that some people like to keep stats of where Business Week is mentioned, this past week I scored 2 points. And there's Reuben Steiger, CEO of Millions of Us who reacted to my blog on his 2007 predictions for Second Life and Paul Verhoeven who turned out to be a well metaversed SL-savvy director and kind enough to take half an hour to sit and have a chat with me on his new movie Black Book and auditioning in SL.

In the past month I've gotten to know Aleister Kronos, who's employed at a competing corp, a passionate blogger at Ambling in SL and 57 miles, professional bloggernaut at Metaversed. A month blogging like a lunatic earned me some nice friends, some scoops, some sleepless nights and some nice credits.

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