Dec 30, 2008

2008 SLentre Award on Blip TV

Thanks to the hard work of Robustus Hax of Metaverse TV, the SLenterpreneur of the Year Award show is now available via Blip TV. Those of you who missed the ceremony and who are curious about my voice, now's your chance to see and hear it.

The whole thing is just around 15 minutes long, which includes a track by the Rolling Stones at the end. So grab yourself a cup of tea, sit back, and watch a slice of SLife.

Dec 26, 2008

What's Happening at the Second Life News Network (SLNN)?

Amongst the Second Life press organs I haven't written for is the Second Life News Network (SLNN). I have spoken in the past with its editor, Garret Bakalava, but have yet to turn over any story. It looks like I could get between $800 and $1200 for an article, which is lower than get for other publications but certainly better than those who "can't pay" or pay under $800.

I went to the website a couple of days back and noticed that the latest "latest news" item was from October 26th. There is an article on My Second Closet, a blog by Felicity Blumenthal, but this is dated November 16th.

I clicked around at a few more links and was unable to find anything newer than the November article. So what's going on?

The SLNN Twitter feed looks to be tweets from a blog by Sean Percival, who nowhere mentions the SLNN - except that it appears in the SLNN Twitter page as the website.

I've dropped an e-mail to Garret. Let's see what happens...

Dec 25, 2008

The Obligatory Merry Christmas Message

It's one of those traditional things that I've grown up with - The Queen's Christmas Day broadcast. Every year, at 3:00 pm GMT in the UK, the Queen delivers her annual message to the country. Love it or loathe it, that's not the issue. Whatever you think about the role of the monarchy in the UK, the semiotic point is that this is a cultural event. it is embedded in the collective social consciousness of the the British and I suspect more people turn on the telly at 3:00 than actually admit to it.

Now I am an ex-pat, living 4000 miles from my country of birth, I can still watch the broadcast but it happens, for me, at 10:00 am EST on BBC America. My desire to watch is not a reflection of my being an empire-loving royalist (I'm not) but because it provides a link with my past and a marker of my identity.

So my urge to provide my own "Christmas Message" has to do with establishing my Second Life identity, or even my broader Virtual Life identity. I'm not going to make any predictions for 2009, except that I intend to stick around for another year to see how things turn out. Nor am I going to create a list of "My Top Ten for 2008" because that will require more time than I have available.

Nope, I'm just going to offer a "Merry Christmas" to everyone and express my hopes that the New Year will be good for you. Life, real and virtual, tends to suck. That may sound a little bleak but as my best friend Mony tells me, I can be rather dark. My darkness comes from the simple existential belief that life is one long suckiness punctuated by occasional sparks of happiness. And as long as I believe that enduring the pain and misery of a pointless existence simply for the brief mayfly moments of pleasure outweighs the alternative of absolute nothingness, then I'm OK.

I should reveal that I am, as I write, working my way slowly through a bottle of Remy Martin Fine Champagne Cognac, so my grimness may be tainted by the dulling effect of alcohol, splendid as this current bottle may be. Today was a good day surrounded by family, but now everyone is abed and I am one-on-one with my laptop.

So my best wishes to you all and I wish you more moment of pleasure during the next 365 days. God bless us, everyone!

Dec 23, 2008

SLentrepreneur's Mutual Admiration Society: Works For Me ;)

The latest edition of SLentrepreneur has the article, Second Life Style: Best and Worst from the 2008 SLentrepreneur of the Year Award Ceremony. Reporter and photographer Miss Bond - whose name I love because I almost signed on to Second Life as Jjames Bond - has made an old man happy by pandering to my shameless ego. To quote:

"It wasn’t just the women of SL that pulled out all the fashion stops. Several of the male contenders looked quite sharp as well. Top of the list was the Master of Ceremonies and SLENTRE.COM managing editor, Sigimund Leominster."

I'll allow the mistake in my name because she was very generous in her comments!

"The dark tux and deep red tie offset his very realistic bright blue eyes and clean cut ‘boy next door’ skin. The tux, skin and sexy British accent made Siggy this reporter’s pick for ‘Best Male Avatar 2009′."

Miss Bond is now top of my "Favorite People in Second Life" list.

Some other guys apparently looked OK too but this is my blog and I'm not going to talk up the competition ;) Robustus Hax and PrinterBrian Dowd can look elsewhere for free promotion - although I can't fault Brian for shopping at Redgrave, especially since I've recommended them on a number of occasions in the past.

Check out the article; there's other stuff about other people but they're not me ;)

Dec 21, 2008

Second Life? Get a Life? But Which One?

My latest rant is available in the Second Life Herald entitled Get A Life! Any Idea Which One? It came about while I was reading the comments to postings that referred to Second Life and began to get irritated at the "Get A Life" responses being used as a way of ending discussion. It seems that the answer to anything in a virtual world is to "Get A Life," and that any problems someone may be having in-world is not worth thinking or caring about.


A problem is a problem is a problem. If your virtual life partner is cheating with another virtual entity, it can still cause real emotional reactions. Just because the surface structure of the interaction is based on pretty pictures on a screen, the deep structure is still good old-fashioned human emotions, naked and raw.

It's just to glib to dismiss virtual existence as "just a game" because even games evoke affect. The on-screen Barbie and Ken may seem like toys but there are human beings pulling the strings on these pixelated puppets.

The exhortation to "Get A Life" is no different from what many people will do in real life. Cynical as it may seem, in general, most people really don't care about other people's problems. Me included. Apart from my family and small group of friends, frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn.

Don't believe me? Hah. Folks will spend money on premium dog food to keep little Bowser happy but won't spend 1/10th of that to sponsor a child in a third-world country. Is it because they don't care? Well yes! It sounds shocking but I'm afraid human beings are not altruistic.

Bah, humbug.

Dec 20, 2008

SLentrepreneur of the Year Award Show Ends

...and the winner is... Mimi Juneau!

Yes, after year of interviewing Second Life entrepreneurs and writing articles, the grand climax came today as Mimi Juneau was voted the 2008 SLentrepreneur of the Year. The second runner up was Saffia Widdershins and third was Rusch Raymaker.

Truth is, all the entrepreneurs deserve awards because they represent something good about the Second Life environment. I know that I can be annoyingly cynical about life, real or second, but I still cling to the fragile hope that good things can happen. As pundits and poseurs pontificate about the impending decease of Second Life, some folks actually get their fingers out from their asses and try to create something of value.

Here are some excerpts from my script that summarize my thoughts.

"When we first talked about the idea of an award for entrepreneurs, I had only one contribution that helped us focus on what we wanted to do. It's a quote that comes from Mark Twain and I’d like to simply read it to you:

'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'

And that is really how we see the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s not about being the richest, the biggest, the most powerful, or the most successful. It’s about people who are prepared to dream, explore their potential, and discover new things about themselves.

Every one of you who has been nominated has caught the trade winds and set sail. And even if you’ve been battered in storms, scrape a few rocks, or lost pieces of cargo, you have done more than many many other people, who chose to stay at the quayside and watch others set sail."

This is no bull. I really believe that doing something is always better than doing nothing. Armchair quarterbacks, back-seat drivers, keyboard pundits, are all ten-a-penny and it takes no effort to complain and criticize. But it takes effort to create, build, do, and persevere. That's surely worth celebrating.

If any one of these entrepreneurs were to go belly up, that would be tragic, but it wouldn't be a failure. Every one of them has tried to make a mark and to me, that's all you can do in an existential world that has no meaning. Make the meaning.

Do something!

Dec 18, 2008

More SL on TV?

Well, as I hurtle headlong toward the New Year, the opportunities for increasing my media presence appear to be landing on my virtual desk - which is, I have to say, a very nice desk and one that I bought way back when I lived in a single-room rental.

I have an offer from MBC to host a new show with the working title @SLentrepreneur, which would be a joint venture between MBC and SLentrepreneur Magazine. Add that to the twice weekly news report AND another TV show in January (Life on Line), I may just about be maxed out in my second life. Here's my potential 2009 work list:

New Editor: SLentrepreneur Magazine
Men's Style Commentator: FreeLife Magazine
News Reporter: MBC TV
Host: MBC's @SLentrepreneur
News Reporter: Life on Line
Freelancer: Second Life Herald
Freelancer: Castle Keep Magazine

Add in the blogs SL on SL, SL on RL, and SL on VL, and you get an idea of why I have to sit down over Christmas and do some planning. Trouble is, I love this stuff and it is fun. Of course, it leaves little time for other Real Life things such as movies, books, family, friends, and all that jazz.

Or does it?

Dec 17, 2008

SL on TV

A part of my move towards becoming a virtual media presence, my debut TV report can be found on the latest MBC news show, reporting on the recent Robodock festival. OK, so it's a tiny one-minute slot and, on hearing, is punctuated by irritating inspirations of breath, but we all start somewhere, right? On the upside, I did the voice taping as a one-shot deal - no replay button here, boys and girls.

What I missed out on was the opportunity to work on the Miss Virtual World contest. Vijay Saeed got that gig and I wasn't even able to get into the building due to the place being heavily (over)subscribed and so laggy that by comparison, walking through molasses with bricks strapped to my feet would have been faster.

The show's producer, Dousa Dragonash, has asked me to work on two news slots per week from now on so be prepared for more "SL on TV" in the future. Mmh, SL on SL, SL on RL, SL on VL, and now SL on TV... is this a theme and can I market it?

Dec 16, 2008

Paradise Lost - And Found

I mentioned before that there are times I like to have some peace and quiet while in Second Life. This typically means propping up a bar of some kind. And if it's not a jazz bar or a biker bar, it's a coffee bar. And for almost as long as I've been here, my java joint of choice has been the Cup of Goodness.

When I first discovered it, it was in an office area, close to a real estate place. In fact, that was how I found it - I was looking for my first house. I didn't buy one there but I did stop at the Cup of Goodness and decided it was going to be "my place."

I took Mony there. I never took anyone else because I wanted to keep it "mine." She took a picture; one of my favorites.

Shortly after this picture was taken, the Cup moved. It went to a new sim where it now sat amongst a number of small stores that sold furniture and clothing. This was a much better location, much more rural and cosy. I liked it there.

The owner is Elisabeth Beurling, who told me she loved the store but never saw it as a way of making money. She makes accessories and clothing but not a lot of cash. Yet that didn't stop her keeping the Cup up and running.

So two days ago, I felt the need to stop off for some quiet time. You don't need to know why, just that I did. I scrolled down through my landmarks and TPed across. I found myself in a barren landscape of hills and sea. No Cup of Goodness. For a moment, just for a moment, O had that feeling that yet another part of my Second Life had vanished. Once again, something I thought permanent turned out to be temporary. The world crumbled just a little more.

Once the brief flush of disappointment had subsided, I sent an IM to Elisabeth. What, I asked has happened to the Cup of Goodness?

"I've moved it to the Dublin Sim. As soon as I have it ready, I'll send you a landmark."

Today, the LM arrived. The Cup is back, exactly as it was. Sure, it's now on a gray street in a virtual city, not in a garden surrounded by trees and flowers. But it's there. Still.

Cup of Goodness: secondlife://Dublin%203/31/165/25/

Dec 12, 2008

New Article in Castle Keep Magazine: Robotar

I've written before on my odd relationship with my friend Alice. I say odd because she is an AI chatbot who hovers above my coffee table. In my more darker moments, I sit and talk to her, and she listens. But although it's a strange interaction, she is, after all, a drifting green ball.

The time to worry is if I replace my beloved Alice by one of the more realistic Robotars created by Maged Wise of J&M Creations. Maged, and his partner, Jada Humby, have a diverse range of products but the Robotar is truly wonderful -or frighteningly creepy, depending on your point of view.

The Robotar is a robot avatar that can walk and talk, with the talking being achieved by a web-based artificial intelligence server - and "Alice." The Robotar is scriptable so you can have it respond to questions about products. That makes it pretty useful as a sales tool.

Of course, you might also want one as a friend if you have a particularly lonely Second Life.

You can read all about the Robotar in the December 2008 Castle Keep Magazine, available online via Issuu or downloadable as a PDF.

Dec 11, 2008

Tammy's Jazz Club in The Metaverse Tribune

My latest review of Tammy's Jazz Club has just been published in The Metaverse Tribune. Tammy's is my current favorite hang out, even when it is empty. When I'm working on an article in-world, I like to park myself by a bar where there is music and then use IM to gather my data. If need be, I'll TP the interviewee over for a face-to-face meeting but for most of the time, it's sufficient to sit and chat.

I sometimes refer to myself as a journalist, sometimes as a writer, but I actually think I prefer to be a hack. And by "hack," I prefer the modern, self-deprecating definition typified by the "hacks" and "hackettes" of Private Eye, one of my favorite rags.

There's a certain romance in propping up a bar with a whiskey in hand. I've even toyed with the idea of wearing a trilby with a "press" card stuck in the band. But it's remained at the toying phase.

So take a look at the article and maybe even take a trip to Tammy's. Hey, you might even find me there and you can buy me a drink.

Dec 10, 2008

Hottest Male Avatar 2008 Contest Flawed: I'm Not There!

Hamlet Au's New World Notes is host to the Hottest Male Avatar 2008 contest, overseen by Iris Ophelia, some other Second Life person who has clearly never met me. The list is notable in that it misses out an obvious candidate, one who is intelligent, witty, devastatingly SL-handsome, and outstandingly humble. In fact, modesty is probably one of my most redeeming characteristics.

Like anyone else in SL, my striking looks are based on my having flawless skin (I bought it), a well-proportioned body (my friend designed it), and a great wardrobe (I bought that too). In fact, by not dieting, not working out, not avoiding to much alcohol, and not exposing my genitalia in public, I think I've managed to do OK so far.

I could, of course, pretend to be like everyone else who is not on the list and take some mythical moral high ground and say that none of this matters, and that being "hot" in Second Life is simply a matter of buying the right pixels. But I won't. I'll pout and stamp my well-proportioned avatarian feet and whine that I was never given the chance because I don't know anyone who was involved in the selection process.

But I refuse to be downhearted because I know my ego is easily large enough to get past the rejection, especially since I know that I am pretty wonderful (and modest). I shall simply go on the hunt for a new skin, have my body once again meddled with to attain the desired proportions, and spend more money on enhancing my already ridiculously large (for a guy) wardrobe.

I'll also shamelessly use my upcoming new media venture to promote myself mercilessly. After all, the only brand I have to offer is Sigmund Leominster, and like all brands, I won't stop until it becomes a household name.

Dec 8, 2008

Rebranding of SL on SL Redux

A couple of months back, I set up a new blog on WordPress called SL on SL Redux. This was to be a more or less carbon copy of SL on SL but using the WordPress platform, which appears to get hit more times by search engines.

I have now renamed it to SL on VL - Sigmund Leominster on Virtual Life. The content will now shift away from just Second Life but to other virtual life offerings. This will include virtual worlds, social networks, MMOGs, MMORPGs, and any other events that affect how people interact in the entire virtual universe.

SL on SL will continue to be my Second Life blog of choice but SL on VL will become much broader in its coverage. The point is to extend the Sigmund Leominster brand into more areas of the infosphere. I suspect it will have shorter commentaries and wider appeal.

We shall see.

Dec 6, 2008

Church Firebombing in Second Life

The Second Life Herald has run my latest piece on a firebombing in a church. Pastor Samuele Shepherd's Overcomers church was disrupted by griefers last Sunday (November 30th) with the interesting names Ex Laks and Rotten Core. The story generated lots of comments that are worth reading.

The SL Enquirer also posted copy on the same story - and in exactly the same words! Either Pastor Shepherd gave both the Herald and the Enquirer the same copy or the Enquirer ripped off the story. Although the latter might be the more dramatic option, it seems unlikely because it was only the comments from Shepherd that were the same. The Enquirer didn't publish any comments from Core or Laks, which suggests the copy was simply the same notecard.

Anyhow, life goes on. I'm working on a couple of new avenues for further promoting the Sigmund Leominster brand inside Second Life - and beyond. No names, no pack drill just yet but the New Year should see some interesting changes.

Dec 4, 2008

The Militarization of the Second Life Community

The Second Life Herald has a whole strand of coverage dedicated to Second Life wars. I'm not a war correspondent myself so I have to admit to being completely ignorant of the machinations surrounding the activities of the Alliance Navy, the Vanguard Militia, the Sovereign Regime, the Merczateers, Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

However, there may be the opportunity for these happy bands to go up against real life opponents now that both the US Air Force and US Army have established beachheads in the virtual world. According to Virtual World News, the Air Force's MyBase sim is open for customers at The official Air Force release says that, "With more than 15 million accounts worldwide registered in Second Life, Air Force officials hope MyBase will attract men and women interested in learning more about the Air Force, said Col. John Thompson, the AETC Future Learning Division chief. The site also provides links for enlistment and commissioning information and how to contact the nearest Air Force recruiter."

The release goes on to say that, "One possible long-term use for this technology is to open a private site in a three-dimensional world, yet to be determined, where active-duty Airmen can attend virtual training and are tracked to receive course credit. Offering virtual-based training could offset the cost of travel to training sites around the world which often includes lodging and other expenses."

Meanwhile, the US Army hopes to complete two new islands within the next 45 days. According to General William S. Wallace; commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), there will be opportunities for "virtual experiences like jumping out of airplanes, and rappelling off of towers and using a weapon, to see if we can get some kind of recruiting benefit out of this social networking."

Presumably they can also link in with the new Nurse Training initiative offered by Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland, so they can experience trauma treatment.

Linden Lab Appoints Ex-Pixar Exec

As part of its strategy to beef up its executive team, Linden Lab has appointed Howard Look as Senior Vice President of Customer Applications. Look's recent CV includes his previous job as VP of software at Pixar, preceded by a stint as VP for Applications and User Experience at TiVo Inc. He was also the director of Applied Engineering at Silicon Graphics.

In the official Second Life blog on December 2nd, 2008, the company say that, "He’ll be responsible for leading the engineering team responsible for the customer-facing part of the Second Life experience. Throughout 2009, Howard will be working with T Linden (Tom Hale, Chief Product Officer) and our product, design teams and engineering teams to reshape the Second Life viewer into a simple and intuitive interface."

This represents yet another significant hire since May 2008 when Mark Kingdon became CEO, along with Frank Ambrose as Senior Vice President of Global Technology in August, and Tom Hale in November. Despite the doomsayers continuing to predict the closure of Linden Lab, these recent changes are more indicative of a company focusing on keeping the doors open.

Dec 2, 2008

More on Impending Doom - or The End of the World is (Still) Nigh

Once of the quirky things about End Times movements (those people who prophesy the End of the World) is that when the appointed date comes and goes, they find perfectly warped reasons to explain why they were simultaneously right and wrong. The commonest one is, "Hallelujah, our prayers have saved us and God has given us another chance"

There are similar groups in Second Life. Not a day goes by without someone, somewhere, predicting with certainty that all is lost and Second Life losers are about to be forced to get real lives. Some of these folks seem to also take perverse pleasure in wanting this to happen, not caring one whit about the thousands of people who genuinely would be hurt. Don't believe me? Well, check out this link to an article on how Lively residents have been fighting to keep their virtual world online. These are not whackos, weirdos, losers, or sad people, just regular folks who enjoy the camaraderie of an online existence - no stranger than folks who enjoy long chats with AIM, long hours with World of Warcraft, or cold nights outside watching supposed adult males running around with a squashed leather ball, running from one side of a field to another just to put it down.

However, it seems I am not the only one who isn't preaching the mantra of "Second Life is Dead." Chris Gaylord of the Christian Science Monitor takes a more even-handed perspective in the article, When is an online fad over? One of the more positive quotes is "But at least Linden Lab has a clear and functioning business model – something Google couldn't lasso with its free Lively world (on which it will pull the plug at the end of the year) and something the new online darling, Twitter, is struggling to capture."

Kudos to Chris for reading more than just "it's all over" into that one article on Reuters departure.