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6/28/2007
01:01 PM
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner
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InformationWeek Gets Voice In Second Life -- Sort Of

Recently, I checked on an obscure corner of my vast Second Life real-estate empire, and by gosh, voice is working there. I was excited -- I've been impatient to start incorporating voice into my regular Second Life usage.

Recently, I checked on an obscure corner of my vast Second Life real-estate empire, and by gosh, voice is working there. I was excited -- I've been impatient to start incorporating voice into my regular Second Life usage.

Linden Lab announced plans earlier this year to bring voice to Second Life, and has been rolling it out in increments, with many delays. Voice started going live on the production areas of Second Life -- the so-called "main grid" -- this month. Linden Lab is rolling it out slowly, in the order in which areas of Second Life were activated. In other words, the oldest areas of Second Life get lit up for voice first.

The two areas I spend the most amount of time in Second Life are my home in Second Mirage and Dr. Dobb's Island. They're both relatively new areas, so I figured they'd be among the last areas to be voice-activated. Linden Lab has been quoted in various places as saying it'll take 30-60 days to activate voice throughout the whole Second Life service. My guess: it'll actually go live across all of Second Life by Labor Day, and I was prepared to wait until late August before I really had a chance to integrate voice into my regular Second Life experience.

A few days ago, my friend Prokofy Neva, who owns a lot of Second Life real estate, said that her was activated for voice, because it's among the oldest land in the world. It took me a few days to make the connection: I own land near Prokofy, in Carnforth. If her land was activated for voice, possibly mine was too.

I don't really think much about the Carnforth land anymore. It's a small tract, the the first land I bought in Second Life, a couple of months ago. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a much larger tract in a much nicer neighborhood, my home in Second Mirage,and I've been meaning to sell the Carnforth tract, but I keep forgetting.

I paid about US$50 for the Carnforth land, and I expect I'll be able to get the same amount when I sell it.

I visited my Carnforth land a couple of nights ago. It was the first time I'd visited in weeks. The neighborhood has continued to decline. There's a small casino next door, just a row of slot machines, and avatars wander over at random. They're mostly unfriendly people, they don't respond to a hello. Also, a corner of the land is now occupied by obnoxious rotating advertising, spoiling the formerly pleasant view of the sea.

I logged in with the Second Life voice beta client software -- and by gosh land is working on that old, ugly tract. Good thing I forgot to sell it!

So now InformationWeek is voice-enabled in Second Life. Sort of. I say "sort of" because the land doesn't belong to InformationWeek, it belongs to me personally. But we'll be using it for IW business anyway; I'm looking forward to doing interviews for articles there.

Note that we will not be moving the Geek Meet discussion groups (formerly known as the kaffeeklatsches) to my little tract of land. Those meetings will continue to be held at Dr. Dobb's Island.

I invited a Second Life friend to come visit and chat over voice. He had a little trouble configuring the client to operate. Like all things Second Life, the user interface is powerful -- you can do a lot of things to mute out speakers you don't want to hear, and adjust the volume of individual speakers who are within virtual earshot. However, like all things in Second Life, the user interface is confusing at first.

While I was on the little tract, I set up the land controls to beef up security. I configured the land so that only people I invite by name can come onto the land, which will be a bit of a pain in the neck but will make it harder for people to grief me.

Although, now that I think of it, what do I care if people grief the land? It'll make for an interesting blog post if they do it cleverly.

If you see me logged in to Second Life, come by and say hello -- with voice. My avatar name is Ziggy Figaro.

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