Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 – April 4th

5) “TV-licence” extends in many countries

Sweden was one of the first countries to do it and now more countries follow. UK is about to do it as well.
We’re talking about extending the “TV-licence”, the fee put on every television owner in a country to fund the public service TV and radio stations, to include other devices as well. More and more public service stations have taken the leap into an online environment and with this, they feel that computers should be included as well.
Certain countries even include smartphones and game consoles into the licensable devices.

This is a sign that the world is going more and more into the virtual environment of the Internet for every day.

4) Bionic animatronic

German scientists have produced the first ever bionic animal, an entirely mechanical animal. The biomechanical leap was taken quite literally as the team at Festo created a mechanical kangaroo, capable of not only jumping and then recovering its balance, but also to store the energy recovered when landing for its next jump. This mimics the function of a real kangaroo perfectly.

The mechanical animal has no commercial use, but it instead used as an example to get more aspiring students interested in biomimetics, the study of mechanical applications of designs in nature.

3) Marvelous plans

Marvel has high ambition for their current series of superhero movies. The movies that center around the heroes in the team called Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy will be produced for a long time. The current production schedule extends all the way to 2028, according to Marvel Studio president Kevin Feige. Continue reading

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Vote 4 Love

 What’s special this valentines season? Love.

What’s special for Feb 2014? Love.

What’s special in Love? Every moment.

I conducted a poll asking people “What do you vote for: Virtual or Real Love?

Here are the few answers that I got.

Virtual or not, distant or near, love is a feeling. Many words can be summed up to define love. But it is not necessary, rather we all know about it.

What do we see in Virtual relationships? Continue reading

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A Stroll Through the 2013 RFL Christmas Expo – Part 4

As I continued to walk the cobbled streets of the Peace sim at the 2013 RFLChristmas Expo, I was again struck by the number of great stores occupying this space.  Many are well known to me, such as Evie’s Closet and Aphrodite Shop.  Oh, and in case you don’t know about Aphrodite, they have the nicest café at their in-world location, very family/kid friendly.  Do check it out. Nice way to spend some time with your SL children.

I decided to begin today by visiting some merchants not so well known to me.  DG Designs offers clothing and jewelry.  The RFL vendors included two candy-ribboned formal gowns, and I liked the swing dresses on another wall.  I wasn’t sure if they are mesh or not, but I believe they are.

DG Designs

My actual favorite in the store was the Gatcha machine, offering some really cute holiday pendants.  I played the game and got three fun ones to wear this season, and a duplicate to give to my sister. I may go back for more. DG Designs is also participating in the Expo Bell Hunt and has a Naughty/Nice gift for you to click. Continue reading

Torch Top 5

The Torch Top 5 – 25/11-2013

1) Both Sony and Microsoft break milestone sales

Sony Playstation 4 launched the second week of November and the Microsoft Xbox One in the third week. Both consoles sold over one million in less than 24 hours of their respective launches. However, day-after-the-launch reports indicated that several of the Sony machines arrived in a broken or unplayable state. Microsoft has announced they held back a percentage of the manufactured machines in order to replace broken machines right away.

2) WinAmp may be sold or closed

AOL bought the media player and streaming software WinAmp in 1999. Along with the streaming server service Shoutcast, the top internet radio streamer, it has been the number one choice for many internet DJs over the years.
Last week, AOL announced they will close down WinAmp and Shoutcast, but then disclosed that they will possibly sell it to Microsoft.
If Microsoft buys the software, it may be integrated to the Xbox personal radio features for streaming music straight to or from your console.

3) Hammer remakes classic yeti film

Continue reading

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Nekos in Real Life, SL’s NekoZone and InFuZion, and a talk with Fox Daviau

This weeks Virtual World article will be a bit of a whooper, touching not only virtual worlds but some of it’s transition into real life. This week, we’re taking a look at NekoZone, owned by Fox Daviau, and touch a bit about neko in general.

Neko, for those who are new to the concept, is a human with cat features, such as cat ears and a tail. The reason to have cat features, as well as how many features a neko can have, varies and can be simply a pair of ears or as many cat features that the lines between neko and furry (furry: anthropomorphic animal) become blurred. The word comes from Japan and is an abbreviation of the word nekomimi, meaning cat.

Neko isn’t a culture that is entirely virtual.  Since the mid-80’s people have worn diadems with cat ears or belts with tails, but recent technology have made the transformation into neko a bit more realistic. A Japanese company called Nekomimi Inc. released a set of cat ears with an attachment that you put on your forehead (and preferably hide with hair or a hair band) that will read your emotional state and control the ears based on your mood. This is not a “fake science,” like the 60’s mood rings; it actually reads your brain activity (though no thoughts can be read, so don’t worry about mind reading) and acts according to certain patterns.

Both the company that made them and several third party companies have made several “ears” to attach to the device, so you’ll get exactly the type of ears you want. And, it does not stop at cat ears — there are fox ears, dog ears and several different animals out there. If you can think of it, chances are that someone has made it.

I found this demonstration video from Comic-Con in San Diego. Continue reading

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Burn2 and Burning Man – What is it all about?

Many of you have probably heard about Burning Man or Burn2 and I bet quite a few of you wonder what it really is. I know I did, so I did some research into this event.

Burning Man is an annual festival held in the Black Rock Desert, a 40 square mile area of dry mud surrounded by mountains. Due to the harsh environment, the participants needs to be able to survive. They need to know how to survive in a hot arid environment, they need enough water and food to survive, but Burning Man is not about survival.

Since it is a festival, they also need to make room in their packing for party food, drinks, music, entertainment and festive clothing. Many even make room for entire buildings, right there in their back packs.

The main event, as the title of the festival suggests, is the burning of a wooden figure in the shape of a man. This was started in 1986 when two men, Larry Harvey and Jerry James, brought an 8-foot statue of a man made out of scrap wood to a beach and set fire to it. It got the attention of people around them and a small crowd formed to watch the man burn. Out of nowhere, the crowd began to “give into the burning man”, one person performed an act of kindness towards the man, another picked up his guitar and made up a song on the spot about the fire and soon they had a party going around the burning man.

The next year, the duo repeated the burning on the same date as the year before and this time they brought a much larger wooden man to burn. The crowd was larger this time, but the response was the same. They repeated the event every year, same spot, same date and it became a cultural event. That didn’t last forever thou.

In 1990, the crowd reached several thousands of people and police was called to the beach because the beach could not hold all of them and it became a hazard. This is when Michael Michael and John Law stepped in. They rescued the statue from the San Francisco beach and hauled it to the Black Rock Desert. When people came up in their cars to join the festivities, Michael Michael drew a line in the sand and proclaimed that whoever crossed that line would be forever changed.

All of this helped form what is today the 10 principles of the Burning Man. These principles are known by all participants of the burning culture and adhered not only during the now weeklong event, but through their whole lives. Over 50 000 participants braves the desert each year to build a town around the Man and party for a week, yet the day after the festivities, not a speck of dust shows that anyone had been there.

The 10 Principles:
  1. Radical Inclusion
    Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.
  2. Gifting
    Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.
  3. Decommodification
    In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.
  4. Radical Self-reliance
    Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.
  5. Radical Self-expression
    Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.
  6. Communal Effort
    Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.
  7. Civic Responsibility
    We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.
  8. Leaving No Trace
    Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.
  9. Participation
    Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.
  10. Immediacy
    Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

How does this translate into Burn2 and Second Life?

In 2003 a small corporation formed to create a virtual world. This corporation is today known as Linden Lab and the world is Second Life. Many of the “Lindens” (employees of Linden Lab) were Burning Man regulars, but the development of Second Life prevented them from going to the event. Phoenix Linden asked the Burning Man organizers for permission to recreate the events in a virtual format and they built a digital replica of the Man and “burned” it in Second Life.

Over the years, several different Lindens have helped facilitate Burn2, but in 2007 the whole company was too busy with new developments to take care of the event, so private interests took over from there. The new organizers had never been to a real burning and only had previous Burn2’s to go by along with the principles, so they decided to stick as close to the 10 principles as they could.

Concerns arose about how the events would be portrayed in the future and how well the principles would hold without official backing, so Everett Linden, the head of Community Initiatives and experienced burner, hired Dusty Udal, one of the worlds most experienced burners, to make sure the events held true to the real Burning Man.

In 2010 Linden Lab suffered from some downsizing and the partnership between Linden Lab and Burning Man was dissolved, but on friendly terms. From that moment and still today, Burn2 has been in the care of the real life Burning Man organizers, to ensure that the events mirrors those of the real life burnings as closely as possible.

These organisational shifts also mirrors the real life shifts, as Burning Man underwent similar organisational shifts in its youth, until it found the stable organization it has today.

Burn2 will be held from October 19th to October 27th this year. If you are interested about the events or would like to participate, you can check out their website for more information.

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Second Life News: Linden Labs Offers New Prices For Education & Nonprofits Institutions

Linden Labs have announced an update to their pricing for Educational and nonprofits Institutions. The news came via Second Life’s Community blog, this week (July 24th 2013). In the early days of Second Life, it was a prime location for Education and Non Profit institutions offering a way for users to connect with each other from around the world.

According to the Community Blog Linden Labs posts:

“Effective immediately, any accredited educational institution or any organization with a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit tax status (or equivalent) is eligible for a 50% discount on private region set-up costs and a 50% discount on private region maintenance costs.”

Since 2005 Second Life has been a second home to several institution such as Nottingham University, University of West England and Stanford University.

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Second Life Server Update

If you are a part of Second Life, you’ll need to update your viewers this week. Earlier this week Linden Labs began to the changes for their project Sunshine. It allows avatars to load quicker, according to the Second Life Community Website:

Project Sunshine stands up a Texture Compositing server that is separate from the Sims servers. When a Viewer needs to render an Avatar, it sends a message to the Sim, which in turn sends a message to the Texture Compositing Server. The Texture Server then performs the texture compositing and sends the results back to the Viewer.”

Updates to the server has current begun. Second Life Users are asked to up date their viewers to fit with the new servers. They state:

“We will be starting to roll out those changes, which are the “heavy lifting” portion of Sunshine. Once the updates have rolled out, all avatar data will be rendered on Second Life’s servers, rather than on your computer. Because your local machine won’t have to render that data, you should start to see better reliability and improved performance across the grid.”

For More information on this new update check out the Community Website.

 

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Thoughts From The Cyberverse: Are 3rd Party Exchanges dead now?

According to a recent post on the Second Life news reel, Linden Lab will try to allow some L$ retailers to still exchange L$ for other currencies. This would be possible through their new pilot program “Authorized Resellers”.

Some rules and regulation will apply, and it will be stricter than before. One of these rules caught my eye as I was reading it:

These sites are authorized by Linden Lab to purchase L$ on the LindeX and then resell those L$ using a variety of international currencies and payment methods. To be clear: per the Terms of Service, these resellers will not be allowed to purchase L$ outside of the LindeX (i.e. they will not be able to buy L$ back from users and cash people out).

Unlike the previous system, the exchanges won’t be able to offer cheaper L$ this time, as they have to buy all their “stock” directly from Linden Lab and the customers will also loose their quick cash services, as the exchanges are no longer able to cash people out within a day.

As it is now, these resellers couldn’t possibly sell L$ cheaper than LindeX, meaning Linden Lab regains control of the value of L$. One of the very few reasons you would have to use such service would be if you have no ability to transfer money across the borders from a country not using any of the more than 5 currencies Linden Lab currently accepts, however any person who can get a credit card can already transfer money in this way without having to pay any extra fees.

An official list of resellers participating in this pilot program have been released, and I see some familiar names on there. Among others, VirWoX and AnsheX have resettled to resellers rather than exchanges.

Where this pilot will lead is up to the future, but what are your thoughts on this? I’m looking forward to your comments on this subject.

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Second Life Walkthrough: How to Get Lindens in SL? ( How do I get a job?)

Second Life has its own, very active, economy and currency. It is called the Linden Dollar (L$) and is about 0.01USD = 1L$. Time  for a few FAQ (or Frequently Asked Questions)

Why do I need Lindens?

To buy goods and services, such as clothes and a place to live.

How do I receive Lindens?

There are two ways:

1) Buy Lindens from the Second Life website using real money. You can do this by signing in to the Second Life website (using your SL username and password), go to your Dashboard, then to buy. It will ask you how much you want to purchase noting that the minimum allowed is at least 500L$ or 3.00USD.

2) You can get a job in world. There are several jobs that you can do in Second life. You can find these jobs through Job Agencies in world.( Search Job agencies). You can also create items to sell for Lindens or open your own business.

What kind of businesses/jobs are there in Second Life?

There are several jobs/businesses you can become involved in. The most common jobs are available through clubs and other music based establishments  , working as a DJ, Host/Hostess, and Dancer. There are others jobs that are less common such as Managers, Assistants, Models, Writers etc.

Businesses include Clothes Designer,Builder, Script Writer, Club Owner, Property Owner, Blogger (Fashion, News, Music & Destinations). These are jobs that takes a lot of commitment, so if you do not have the time and don’t want the stress the most frequent jobs would be more ideal for you. Some jobs, particularly the most common ones, have a promotion system (Start at the bottom and work your way to the top) but this depends on the owners. 

How do I find work?

Job agencies are a great way to find jobs. There are tons Job centres and agencies for you to find work. Most jobs require you to fill out an application form and send it to the employers. 

What are employers looking for?

Many employers are looking for Reliable employees, someone who will show up when they say they will and do their job well. As a result many employers will not hire you until you are 30 days old and in Second Life on a regular basis.

There are some jobs that will need experience and even training. Being a DJ in SL will require you to have training and experience (There are schools and help guides out there that specialize in  DJ training). Hosting is another job that requires training,  most clubs will offer to train you since  Hosts need  to use different marketing equipment to pull customers in.

Helpful Links:

So You Want To Own A Business in Second Life Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3 & Part 4

Becoming a Dj in 8 Steps 

Jobs in Second Life Series

These are some of the questions that have been the FAQ for the Torch, if you have any more questions ask at valkyrie@thetorchslguide.com

Well,  you have the money, how about we look for a place you can call home? Join us next time on Second Life Walkthrough.