Articles

May 2017 Is a picture taken in SL a ‘photograph’? Kate Bergdorf has opened up an interesting debate on her blog about the ‘validity’ of virtual photography. Recently snubbed by an RL photographer friend when she asked him for an opinion on the images she created for her new exhibition, Le serpent qui dance (currently on display at Itakos Gallery), Kate asserts that “a photograph is a photograph whether it is taken in real or virtual worlds.”

April 2017 A call to pose makers The Pose Fair 2017 is here. With it will come a flood, no doubt, of Bento finger gestures, the latest must-have SL accessory now that our digital digits are finally fully articulated. Get ready for a market saturation of heart signs, okays, thumbs ups and middle finger farewells.

March 2017 I turn ten on Friday. Where’s my gold watch, Linden? This coming Friday is a bit of a personal landmark for me: it denotes ten whole years in Second Life as Huckleberry Hax.  Ten years.  Where do I even begin to audit everything I’ve done and discovered in all that time? Don’t panic, by the way, I’m not going to do that. This isn’t going to be one of those posts.

February 2017 A step-by-step guide: SL animated GIFs Hamlet Au suggested I put together a tutorial on creating animated GIFs in SL, which I thought was a great idea – especially since it’s easier now than ever.

October 2016 Pokeprim, Civil War and Mr Copybot: Some novel ideas 2016 Can it really be that November and its annual writing contest – National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, as those of us in the know and keen to benefit from a 50% discount in syllables refer to it) – is once again nearly upon us? Yes it can.

May 2016 Eurovision, Brexit, the UK’s ridiculous euro-insecurity and the role of Sir Terry Wogan I’m not ashamed to say that tonight is one of my favourite nights of the year: the 61st Eurovision Song Contest will take place in Stockholm this evening, with Russia hotly tipped to win the competition with Sergey Lazarev’s ballad, “You are the only one.” Apparently, President Putin himself is keen on securing Russia’s second ever victory in the contest’s history.

May 2016 Everwinter: more from Pripyat Thirty years ago this week, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, creating the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and causing 31 deaths directly in the immediate clean-up and an estimated 4,000 deaths across Europe in the years following (according to WHO).

April 2016 При́пять Thirty years ago this week, reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded, creating the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history and causing 31 deaths directly in the immediate clean-up and an estimated 4,000 deaths across Europe in the years following (according to WHO).

March 2016 So frakking not say we all Following a link in Inara Pey’s blog, I’ve come to the 2016 SL Science Fiction Convention. This is good because it gives me an excuse to vent about the ending to Battlestar Galactica without having to contrive a reason for discussing a TV program on a virtual reality blog.

March 2016 Fashion I’ve decided it’s time I started doing fashion shoots. March 2016, after all, denotes the end of Huck’s ninth year in SL (31 March is my 9th rezzday, in case you decide I should be showered with gifts) and to have gone this long in the SL blogosphere without at least an occasional foray into the world of good looking is simply unacceptable.

February 2016 Rift ready I now have a PC capable of running the Oculus Rift. My Lenovo i7 desktop tower PC has 8GB of RAM and – as of this morning – a GeForce GTX 970. I also have two USB 3 ports. So I’m there. I meet the Rift requirements.

January 2016 Boxed Why are people still selling stuff in boxes? Why, for the love of all that’s holy, are people still selling stuff in boxes? Why? What is the reason for this? There has to be a reason, right?

January 2016 What will Sansar look like? Believe it or not, it’s already over a year and a half since Linden announced it was building a successor to Second Life.  June 2016 will mark two years since we learned about the project which would go on to be re-branded ‘Sansar’.

January 2016 The Second Life® Dictionary of Virtual Experience: Chat Chethargy: Knowing that a heated disagreement going on in public chat is down to a simple misunderstanding, but just not caring enough to point it out. And more.

January 2016 Ziggy Cardboard  There has never been a moment in my life when Bowie has not been a music God.  This is too big for an ‘RIP’ post.  This can only be marked by something totally new.

January 2016 And so it begins…  Major Roberts comes to attention in front of his commanding officer, who is sitting outside a café.  “General,” he reports, “we’ve just had word that the Oculus Rift has gone on sale for pre-order.”

January 2016 Following the new Firestorm route into SL  Much has been written about the ‘first hour experience’ of Second Life and how to make it more accessible to new users. The latest to jump into this issue is the Firestorm team, with new marketing manager Canary Beck hoping to improve on Linden’s own retention figures through a more streamlined joining process that combines a number of elements.

October 2015 Bright Canapé, Sansarially Yours and Game of Prims: Some novel ideas 2015  It’s nearly November again, the month of NaNoWriMo – which is, of course, to say, the month in which complete novels get written. Here, for the fourth year running, is my annual round-up of discarded SL novel ideas.

October 2015 Furillen  A photo in Kate Bergdorf’s Flickr stream pointed me in the direction of Furillen, a rather desolate looking sim by Serene Footman which rather matched my mood this morning.

September 2015 Disappearing places  Rarely a month seems to go by without news that some place or another in Second Life is to disappear.

September 2015 Paradise Lost: The Movie  I think it’s over a year now since the last performance of ‘Paradise Lost’ at Basilique.  Put together by Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks, this vastly ambitious show depicted the expulsion from Eden of Adam and Eve according to Milton’s epic twelve book poem.

August 2015 Bright canopy and all that  I’m a bit late to the business of streaming the metaverse.  I recognised SLGo as a significant thing, but it was a significant thing with a monthly price tag and I rather suspect I’m already spending too much money on Second Life for the time I spend in it.  In any case, it wasn’t all that much time before SLGo became SLGone.

August 2015 The Facebook death of Huckleberry Hax will occur in six days…  The message came this morning.  I have seven days and then my Facebook account will be deleted.

June 2015 Free land for everyone in Sansar… how will that work?  The word from SL12B is that Sansar, the new virtual world from Linden, will offer its users free land.

June 2015 The Second Life® Dictionary of Virtual Experience: Avatar animation My first foray into creating new words to describe the various Second Life experiences we’ve all shared but have no common nomenclature for their discussion earned me my biggest ever number of page views in 24 hours.  Here, then, is a second collection of words.  This week, the focus is on avatar animation.

June 2015 The Second Life® Dictionary of Virtual Experience: Inventory It occurs to me that, as virtual world living appears set to become a more mainstream phenomena, it’s perhaps time we started defining some of the more familiar metaverse experiences so that future generations can benefit from an established lexicon when struggling to come to terms with life in prims and pixels.

May 2015 Pardon the expression The architects of the future metaverse still seem convinced that more natural communication is one of the elements which will make virtual reality more appealing to the masses.

May 2015 The oddness of one hundred avatars The word went out the day before on the Second Life blog: the Lindens were coming; The Basilique would be the next venue for the monthly ‘Linden meetup’, an informal social hangout where you got to chat with actual Lindens.

May 2015 Welcome to Sansar Linden have let it be known that the working title for Second Life 2 is ‘Sansar’…

January 2015 Mesh addiction About once or twice a year I become infected with the building bug and start fiddling around with prims in my skybox in Varano.  Yes, you heard me: prims.

November 2014 Yet more novel ideas November is nearly upon us, that month when the world’s population of fictional characters is incremented by at least a million as aspiring writers across the globe sharpen their pencils and set to work on dragging the novel inside them kicking and screaming onto the empty page.

October 2014 Is sex in Second Life pornography? Wagner James Au has opened up an interesting debate over on his blog, New World Notes, stating that Linden should “forbid pornography and extremely violent content [on Second Life 2], at least in the first few years of launch before SL 2 achieves mass growth (assuming it does).”

September 2014 The continuation of division Those of us old enough, wise enough or, essentially, unhinged enough to have seen between the cracks of this big brick wall we call ‘society’ will likely long ago have worked out that there’s no such thing as the new product that will make everything better; nor will there ever be.

July 2014 Could an office in Second Life 2 be the killer app that virtual reality is looking for? Now that everyone’s panicking about the atomic bomb dropped by Linden last month when they announced their successor to Second Life (which, I’m now given to understand, has nothing whatsoever to do with competing in a suddenly rapidly expanding market and is just the next step in the company’s mission to screw residents in every last way achievable), I thought it might be a good moment to start thinking about the ways in which a ‘next generation’ virtual world could differ from the present one.

June 2014 Linden Lab announce a successor to Second Life The breaking news yesterday on Wagner James Au’s always excellent New World Notes was that Linden Lab were first rumoured and then confirmed to be working on a successor virtual world to Second Life.

June 2014 Inventory: Your own personal ticking time bomb How one day you’ll have nothing to remember your Second Life by, and possibly the real reason for that terms and conditions update.

March 2014 More Metaverse and Death What would existence be like for digitally resurrected brains? What would they do? What would it be like to live in a digital world and only be able to look back into the real one, as though through a window?

March 2014 Metaverse and Death In my upcoming novel, Beside an Open Window, human beings make regular digital scans of their brains while alive so that these can be activated in a vast online world once they die.

February 2014 The second life of Second Life Depending on who you listen to, Second Life is either taking its last few gasps – hence the departure (voluntary or otherwise) of CEO Rod Humble – or is getting ready for new life to be breathed into it via a renewed interest in virtual reality (VR).

December 2013 On faking your death in SL [AVENUE] There ought to be a word for when a comment left in response to a Facebook friend’s post piques your curiosity enough that you click on the commenter’s name to see what other sorts of thing they’ve written elsewhere (I make no apology for this snooping; I’m endlessly interested in how people express themselves online)… and a resulting chain of profile hopping ensues as you move from comment to profile to comment to profile, a sometimes hour-long exploration of random people you’ve never met connected only by the thread of your happenstance curiosity.

November 2013 Some more novel ideas [AVENUE] November is with us again, the month in which hundreds of thousands of people each year turn their backs to orange-coloured October and sink all their free mental capacity into the writing of a fifty thousand word story. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month, of course: a cocoon-like period of time out of which one emerges bleary-eyed and startled to find that Christmas has somehow arrived.

October 2013 Five tips on writing a NaNoWriMo [Virtual Writers Inc] There’s plenty that’s already been written about the business of writing a 50,000 word novel in the thirty days of November – an annual act of insanity for the last ten years known as ‘National Novel Writing Month’.

September 2013 The withheld smiley [AVENUE] The written word, as we all know, is a wonderful thing. As it has done over the centuries, it constantly shapes and remoulds itself to suit our contemporary needs. What fascinates me most of all about text communication is the ingenious ways in which we bend it so that it includes the very non-verbal information it’s supposed to lack.

August 2013 Immersion matters [AVENUE] Much ado is currently being made about the Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset currently under development and being fitted out for Second Life®. Or rather, SL is currently being fitted out for it, with a Rift-enabled version of the viewer scheduled for public release in late summer.

July 2013 Linden’s adventure products: dio and Versu [AVENUE] Just over a year ago (February 2012), we discovered that Linden Lab had acquired experimental game studio Little Text People, a venture set up by Artificial Intelligence specialist Richard Evans and Interactive Fiction author Emily Short. The day after the purchase, Linden CEO Rod Humble left comments on the New World Notes blog which indicated the company was developing new products that had nothing to do with Second Life®.

July 2013 Fatal Crosspost: Coming soon to a conversation near you [AVENUE] Asimov once wrote of his pride in coining the word ‘robotics’, a term now commonly used to describe – and this can surely come as no surprise – anything pertaining to the technology or use of robots. It might seem odd that an author of literally hundreds of books should have ranked so highly the invention of a single word – one which, let’s face it, would probably have made its way into our language in any case – in his audit of personal achievement; I’m totally with him on this, however. After nearly seven years of life in the metaverse and approximately half a million words committed in some shape or form to the subject, the marriage of just two of them delights me as one of my favourite creations: I invented the term ‘fatal crosspost’.

June 2013 Living in your gender, in SL [AVENUE] A professional acquaintance of mine in RL recently transitioned from male to female identity. Involved as I have been only on the very periphery, this and a similar occurrence several years ago have both been very interesting events to reflect on.

June 2013 Going back Whilst the celebrations on SL10B draw to a close and in the few remaining days before the switch gets flipped on server-side rendering – changing forever the way in which avatars are served up in Second Life – I decided to revisit my roots in SL and take a few pictures of the places of my first few metaverse days.

June 2013 Absent addiction I can’t say that I’ve ever been that addicted to SL, but for sure there was a long period – of several years – when any day without at least some metaverse time felt hopelessly incomplete.

June 2013 Absent products Oh how I cheered when the switch got flipped removing the ten metre limit on prim length (I think it was at about the same time that mesh got introduced).  I didn’t immediately optimise my skybox, but when I did I managed in the space of about an hour to reduce the prim count for the building shell by almost fifty per cent.

June 2013 Absent ideas When I joined SL, there was one big thing that it was renowned for and two that it wanted to be renowned for.  The one big thing it was renowned for was sex, which Linden ended up moving onto its own continent and adult sims, causing huge controversy amongst residents at the time.  For example, enormous helicopters came to airlift entire adult clubs across the sea – some still with dancers in them – resulting in three venues being lost at the bottom of the ocean in a series of “unrelated” in-flight accidents.

June 2013 Absent places Stepping into the Greenies home six years ago was like stepping into an entirely new metaverse, one where everything basically didn’t look like printed out pictures stuck to the sides of variously shaped cardboard cereal boxes.

June 2013 Absent activities I don’t really miss camping.  I miss the excitement of camping, although camping, of course, was never in any way exciting.

June 2013 Absent friends ‘You never forget your first friend in Second  Life’ is a phrase I’ve heard used exactly zero times in SL, but I’m willing to bet that if I dropped it in to an appropriately philosophical conversation I’d receive nods of earnest agreement from all my fellow participants.

May 2013 Second Life is Ten [AVENUE] In June 2003, smartphones and tablet computers had not yet been invented. Windows XP was the dominant operating system and the idea that anything could possibly come along to challenge that was, frankly, laughable (Microsoft are still laughing at the very notion ten years later, only in a more hysterical manner).

April 2013 And you’re done [AVENUE] Last month, I examined in passing the Starter, Deluxe and Premium Second Life® ‘Vehicle packs’ available from Amazon, which bundle Linden dollars with up to three featured vehicles, these being a hoverboard, a dune buggy and a sailing boat. Enthusiasts of any of these virtual pursuits will, I hope, forgive me for the somewhat sarcastic treatment of these products I gave.

March 2013 Second Life Updates [AVENUE] In the days when I was new to the metaverse, it was unusual for a week to go by without some sort of blog update from Linden on the Second Life® home page. In recent times, this frequency of communication seems to have dropped considerably.

February 2013 The Evolution of Identity [AVENUE] Recently on my blog I published a short extract from the new novel I’ve been working on, ‘AFK, Again’. In the extract, Second Life® private investigator Definitely Thursday reflects on the various categories of avatar profile she’s encountered over the years, these including the Empty Profile (EP), the Aggressive Profile (AP), the Somebody Else’s Quotations Profile (SEQP), the In Love Profile (ILP), the Promotional Profile (PP) and still more.

January 2013 Like it.  Your New Year’s Resolution [AVENUE] A new thing happened to me in November: someone posted a bad review of one of my books on Amazon. Not a badly written review, I should add, but a review that judged one of my books to be bad. ‘Junk’, I believe, was the word used.

December 2012 The end is nigh [AVENUE] December 2012 marks the last of the possible predicted dates that I’m aware of for The End Of The World. By the time you read this, in fact – depending on whether or not AVENUE makes it to press on time – the event will be either just a few days away (December 21, I’m led to understand) or happened sometime last week. In the latter case, I will assume your leisurely article reading behaviour to imply that the world did not, in fact, end – hurrah!

November 2012 Some novel ideas [AVENUE] November marks for some an attempt to grow a moustache and for others an attempt to grow a novel. Since I happen to have an RL professional presentation to give just a few days into the month and would prefer it if my audience were focused on my messages rather than a struggling stain-like growth above my top lip, however, my participation in ‘Movember’ will be – sadly – a metaverse only affair.

October 2012 Are you a metaverse citizen? AVENUE A couple of Facebook posts by friends of mine recently have got me thinking about the notion of Second Life® citizenship; that is to say, the issue of being an SL citizen as opposed to just an SL resident.

September 2012 Proposing the Second Life® Games [AVENUE] As I write this, the London Olympics is drawing to a close. Much to everyone’s surprise, we did rather well this year.

August 2012 Pixel flesh matters [AVENUE] I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the biggest obstacles to acceptance of SL by the mainstream is the ‘snigger factor’ (or, I suppose, ‘snicker’ factor, if you insist on using the US vernacular).  Often well-meaning people, when handed the topic of Second Life® in conversation, can’t help but struggle to suppress a smile at the thought of people conducting at least a portion of their social affairs in an online world.

July 2012 Building matters [AVENUE] In recent months, I’ve not been around in Second Life® all that much.  It’s not so much that I’m fed up with it, as it is to do with having RL projects that require my attention, although it certainly wouldn’t be true to say that SL hadn’t lost its zing somehow.

June 2012 Visualising the metaverse of the future [AVENUE] It’s that time of year again where we put aside momentarily our grumbles about lag, TPV clauses and the whimsy of online relationships and pat Second Life® on the back once more for incrementing its existence by another year.

May 2012 Are you a cyberbully? [AVENUE] Cyberbullying is a topic of increasing urgency, chiefly because it’s killing people.  The suicide of Tyler Clementi in September 2010, itself only one of a sequence of gay teens who had taken their lives in reaction to bullying, resulted in new legislation in the states: The Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act, which requires all schools that want federal funding to have in place anti-bullying policies and procedures.

April 2012 Reports of SL’s death have been greatly exaggerated [AVENUE] Rumours are currently abound (perhaps substantiated by the time you read this) that Linden Labs® have New Stuff up their sleeve.  But not Second Life® New Stuff.

March 2012 Second Life is a place we visit [AVENUE] This is a column I’ve been meaning to write for a while now, and what better time than March 2012, the very last day of which denotes the fifth rez day of Huckleberry Hax?  That’s right: five years of writing novels set in Second Life®.  Five years of doing open mic poetry and live readings, and being told what a wonderful voice I have (calm yourselves, it’s just the southern British accent).  Five years of occasionally building 60s and 70s furniture and never quite getting around to finishing that shop I keep on saying is just around the corner.

February 2012 The approach of artificial people [AVENUE] Whatever your thoughts are on mesh, shadows and depth of field, and the viewers required to view them, we’re now on ‘the other side’ of these promises and starting already to take SL’s ‘new look’ for granted. I don’t know about you, but I’m well on the way to establishing myself as a mesh clothing snob and have temporarily put aside all poetry work in favour of devising new and amusing put downs about sculpted jackets and sweaters.

January 2012 Exploring Linden Realms [AVENUE] Out of the blue at the very beginning of December (apparently it was available to premium users previously, but where Linden announced this I have no clue), came a potential new paint job for Second Life®. Linden’s latest idea, ‘Linden Realms’, is “the Lab’s first-ever game prototype… dodge rock monsters and fierce fireballs as you cross deadly, toxic rivers to complete quests and cash in your crystals for Linden Dollars.”

December 2011 Christmas and SL [AVENUE] Christmas in Secondlife® is a slightly odd thing. Land owners texture their soil in snow, home owners erect prim Christmas trees alongside fireplaces (complete with socks hanging from the mantle), and the increasingly complex creations of the fashion industry manifest in a month-long trade of assorted red outfits with white and fluffy trim.

November 2011 Long Live Text [AVENUE] November marks the five year mark for me in Second Life®, although it wasn’t as Huckleberry Hax that I first entered the metaverse. That avatar – born, as it happens, as a work avoidance strategy to the task of writing a fifty thousand word novel in one month (National Novel Writing Month, or ‘NaNoWriMo,’ will be well in swing by the time you read this; either I’ll be on the way to adding another hastily written book to my collection or exploring some other new virtual world) – is long ago retired.

October 2011 Mesh and other matters [AVENUE] At long last, Mesh is here. What seemed like a whole year of waiting (no, now that I think about it, it actually was a year) has finally come to an end and all the regions have been made Mesh Ready. A new, Mesh Enabled viewer is available for download (version 3.0, but still called ‘Viewer 2’ according to my start bar, presumably in accordance with Linden’s quest to make things more intuitive).

September 2011 Anonymity – Three cheers for Linden Lab [AVENUE] Read Linden’s August update and you might just be forgiven for detecting the slightest hint of smugness in their comments on Second Life® Profiles. “As always,” they assert, “we value your right to network under any identity you like… let your imagination run wild!”

August 2011 On Bullying, Griefing and Performance Art Ah, Second Life: the place where colour means nothing. The place where status means nothing. The place where gender identity and sexuality mean nothing – nothing at all! The place where people can just get along. I suspect you can see where this one’s going.

August 2011 Free Lindens? Thanks, but no thanks. A visit to a charming beach resort recently saw a mildly unpleasant exchange with the owner when his somethingorother script thing offered my companion free money. It was one of those random money givers you used to get all the time in the good old days of SL, when you weren’t really living if your senses weren’t being assailed by tat of some description on a minute-by-minute basis. And the amount was three Lindens.

June 2011 Happy Birthday Second Life The significance of SL’s eight birthday must surely be that we’re now closer to the tenth birthday than the fifth. Last year, it would have been reasonable to look at the ‘value added,’ two years on from five, rather than get distracted too much by the monolith that is ten lurking on the other side of the visible horizon.