Avatar Height vs. Vehicle Users in Second Life: Statistics

My head explodes when I contemplate statistics. However, it is important for Second Life vehicle designers like me to understand our audiences. Read on for a brief treatment of avatar height as it relates to vehicle users, and what that might mean for vehicle designers. I’ll present the data, then discuss how I got it.

Avatar height has a lot to do with vehicles. Specifically, how big do you make the vehicle such that it fits the pilot/driver and any desired passengers comfortably? Will you need to fold them up with an animation so that the avatar collision box won’t interfere with vehicle functionality?

As in RL, the fashion among top tier vehicles tends to run toward “snug-fitting.” Av heights can naturally range from 1.1 to 2.4m, but users aren’t evenly distributed among this range.

The following table presents the quantiles for height among vehicle users in SL, expressed in units of SL’s native metric system.


Height (m)

100% Max








75% Q3


50% Median


25% Q1








0% Min


n = 739,777

mean = 1.91 m

For those of you reflexively going zomgwtf, the tight range between quantiles 1 and 3 suggest that a big chunk of SL users are tightly clustered with respect to height. In this case, they happen to be clustered near the median height, 2.0 m.

For those of you still going zomgwtf, here’s a nice picture (click for full size):

Use-weighted vehicle user height distribution

Notice a few things:

1) You can see from the graph that most all users are within +/- 0.2 meters of 2.0 m tall.

2) See the uptick on the left hand of the graph? Those are tinies (1.1 m) and ageplayers (1.2 m). Haha! I’m kidding. Sort of.

3) From a biometry standpoint (and a sociology of virtual worlds standpoint), these results are endlessly fascinating. Recall from your biology class that many physical characteristics, including human height, are normally distributed. That is, there are roughly an equal number of people taller and shorter than the average, and symmetrically so when you graph it out, as above.

That is clearly not the case “here” in Second Life. Vehicle users for whatever reason tend to favor being taller, but not extremely tall, and *extremely* short. The distribution pictured above isn’t by any means normal.

Specifically, we can use skewness and kurtosis to look at HOW non-normal SL heights are. For those of you trained in experiments, Kolmogorov-Smirnov D is 0.1839, p < 0.01. For those of you not trained in experiments, the SL distribution doesn’t model RL at all.

But that’s true in many ways. 😉

Now, these are use-weighted data, meaning that vehicle users who drive/pilot more often are accounted for more heavily. Non-use weighted data are similar enough in this case that it isn’t worth my time to report.

Twinity Beta versus Second Life

So I get an email today that the Twinity beta test now has room for me. Joy.

Dear Logan,

There is now a space open for you in the Twinity beta!
You have the opportunity to be one of the very first
people to see Twinity, the new virtual world that mashes
up real and virtual life.

Signing up for Twinity is free.

And so forth and so on with a link to the client download. So I run through the setup screens and I get dumped into a world map. Very pretty.

Twinity World Map

It is all glowy-when-you-mouseover a country. So I select a country, but nothing much really happens. I select one a buncha times, still zip. Not to be stymied, I look around, see a list of cities at the bottom of the screen, and find a “create place” button. That sounds promising. Off we go. Along the way, I see that I am either registered user number 310, or number 310 currently online. Who knows?

I go through the create place dialog. For some reason Twinity constrains me to create my location in one of four or so cities in my selected country, the USA. So I pick New York out of the list, and name my little place after my actual city.

Then Twinity gives me the chance to select the layout of my place from a short list of templates, like club, atelier place, etc. Finishing these options, I create my place and voila, there I am.

Right away I see that this Twinity has something over Second Life. It drags you along on rails and makes you learn how to… do whatever it is you’re supposed to do in Twinity. My little avatar, we’ll call him Joe Chubbycheeks, shows up in a nicely texture-baked flat or apartment.

Joe Chubbycheeks

Joe’s not going to win any fashion contests with his well-rounded (read: fat) head, but let’s be honest. Second Life’s Ruth avatar is at least equally fugly. Ok, at least Ruth doesn’t have little stripes tattooed across her face. Maybe some day.

Joe’s an enterprising guy, so I decide to have him decorate the place. I know I can decorate because the helpful little tooltips told me so. Right clicking on anything brings up an integrated shop/my inventory/upload asset interface, all apparently linked to the thing I right-clicked on.Object mod interface

Apparently I don’t have anything in my inventory with which to furnish the place and everything in the shop costs linden dollars spacebucks or whatever the local denomination is [“globals” –ed.], so for a moment I’m sad. Then I realize the kind beta developers have given me a thousand spacebucks to start with! Welcome to my financial empire!

On my way to shop for a loveseat, I get distracted by the clothes section of the shop. Mr. Chubbycheeks dons his shiny new baseball cap for $20 spacebucks globals a moment later.

I try to camscan out the window– I see ripple water out there– but the camera is constrained to stay inside my brown-wallpapered walls. Shame. If I can’t figure out how to open the windows, then I can’t throw myself out them. Safe for the moment.

Already I can see that even in beta, parts of the UI have so much more finesse than the Second Life client does. Menu panels fade in and out, and clothing items at least are previewed in 3d before you buy them within the shop interface.

I have started with three outfits, default, basics and business, stored in a nice tabbed interface. Slightly disconcerting that one cannot yet strip to the buff, but then again, I’m still standing next to the window.

As I wander a bit more, it becomes clear the the lighting model is still under development. There’s a sense that Joe’s face is underlit, while the back of the poor guy is well-lit.
Lighting model

To console myself of Joe’s skin problem, I decide to buy a sink from that handy store interface. A couple of right-clicks and clicks and yes-its-ok-to-spend-my-spacebucks globals, and my sink is now hovering in space in my room. It is tipped forward 90 degrees, but never fear! We can rotate the sucker. But not on the right axis…? A few minutes tinkering doesn’t quite get me to where the sink wants to be, so I scrub it and try to go exploring.

As I’m driving myself nuts over how to pen my front door, I realize that Twinity has one killer interface feature over SL so far: the shop is integrated right into the inventory. No minimizing the client to find slexchange or onRez. No teleporting to some laggy shop filled with flexi prim trees and bling. Just a few clicks. Not terribly immersive to the sense of being in the world of twinity, but extremely convenient. Perhaps the Second Life inventory Library section is an apt parallel.

After banging my head on the door for awhile, it seems clear that I can’t quite go outside very easily yet. It’s ok, Twinity is still in early beta. So instead, I drop back to that world map and teleport somewhere, Chez Mareike. After a minute or so, the place rezzes in fully. For awhile, it is a little strange; the walls and floor rez last of all, leaving me standing in midair, surrounded by bar kitsch until the floor materializes.

Browsing through the location info, to my surprise I see a weather report giving temperature, moon phase, and cloudiness? The temperature looks about right for this time of year, just above freezing.

Here, someone has installed lights. The local lighting looks better than in SL, and maps nicely onto the objects around the place as well.

Poking around the chat interface, it looks like no one else is around. Well, at least there are cheery little butterflies flitting around.

Taking a step back from Chez Mareike, I reflect on how at this stage, Twinity is so far a stripped down and simplified version of Second Life. It takes the “pimp out a default house and meet people” approach as far as I can tell. Put up your posters, rewallpaper, install a web browser framed on your wall, rub elbows with people.

As a Second Life user, this place is a little frustrating so far, but it is early yet, and I must not lose sight of the fact that so many people don’t WANT an SL. They want a mySpace version, just like most people aren’t interested in learning HTML to put up a proper website. Afterall, the simple version is all a lot of people are seeking.

Vehicle Use in Second Life: Spatial Distribution

As part of an ongoing effort to understand vehicles and their users in Second Life, I created a series of maps that depict where users of the vehicle that I’ve designed, the Elemental, go while they’re using it.

Currently there are about 100,000 Elementals in circulation on the Second Life grid.  About a third of those, or 30,000+, have been active in the last month or so.  There may be a better way to understand how many Elementals/users are out there and active, but I will let LL, Massively,  and Terra Nova wrestle that out.  It isn’t my focus.

When you make a gridwide plot of where the vehicles have been (about a quarter million records), you get a map something like the following, composed in ESRI’s ArcMap:

Point Plot of Vehicle Use Locations in Second Life

Using the Elemental use as a proxy for vehicle use more broadly, we see interesting tidbits emerge.  The outlines of the “mainland” continents are clearly  in the lower right quadrant of the map.  Vehicle use on private estates, by contrast, is much much lower.  This spatial relationship becomes much more apparent when we use a smoothing algorithm to interpolate densities of use between known points:

Density Map of Vehicle Use in Second Life

Density Map of Vehicle Use in Second Life

View this like a thermal image: lighter equals more dense vehicle use.  Black means little or none.  This kind of spatial interpolation is something of a ruse, though in the SL grid; vehicle use must be zero in True Void, that is, those gaps in the grid where no simulator is happily simulating away.  In practice, so much of the grid is the True Void.  In RL, the surface of the Earth has no such gaps.  Still it provides a useful visualization of vehicle use on the grid.

Interestingly, it is apparent that only a few dozen private estates feature vehicle use as  densely as the mainland.  I would speculate that this is due to region contiguity, that is, it is more fun to operate a vehicle on the grid when you have lots of connected sims nearby– you cover a 256m square pretty fast in a vehicle.  However, I must underscore that my speculation is just that.  Unfortunately, I don’t have an automatic way to evaluate region contiguity yet, or other possible contributing factors.

Zooming in a bit on the mainland areas and cranking down the search radius for the density algorithm, a clear hotspot for vehicle use emerges.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, the sandbox and vehicle regions in the extreme southwest of the old original landmass are the most densely used areas for vehicle use:

Old Mainland Vehicle Use

It seems clear that several ingredients are necessary for heavy vehicle use, which also appear to be unifying factors among the sims most heavily used above: clear, open, gently terraformed terrain, powerful servers (except in the case of water void sims, where few collisions occur) , and contiguity.

Note the clear visibility of the marine strait connecting the old main continent to the Lepidoptera continent to the north (lepidoptera are butterflies and moths, etc.).  Also, note the small cluster of sims to the far east.  I believe those are water voids as well.

Unfortunately, this reveals a powerful quandary in vehicle design: proper enjoyment of this aspect of Second Life requires large open spaces with unmediated access which are very expensive!  Given the tight competition of the vehicle market, I would be surprised to see any vehicle makers easily able to provide this kind of resource for customers.   Pontiac, a huge RL carmaker, is closing up shop in Second Life, shutting down one of the most active and well-managed vehicle centers on the grid. Lacking these resources, vehicle enthusiasts are more or less forced to rely on the largesse of void sim owners for space to recreate.  Food for thought.

Dec. 18th 2007 Havok4 Office Hours Transcript

[11:06]  Andrew Linden: Last week I offered a limited time bounty for finding new ways to crash Havok4 regions.
[11:06]  Andrew Linden: The challenge expired Sunday at midnight
[11:07]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Oh, any takers? I think Redux managed to crash it
[11:07]  Andrew Linden: I awarded two bounties
[11:07]  Andrew Linden: I received a third submission, but the region and time were not included in the info
[11:08]  Andrew Linden: and it looked like a duplicate of the second award at a casual glance
[11:08]  Andrew Linden: I think Dan Linden sent me some chat transcripts and other info on some other crashes
[11:08]  Andrew Linden: it wasn’t clear to me if those were submissions for the bounty or not
[11:08]  Squirrel Wood: I tried to find out how many script instructions per second the havok 4 sims would handle… we hold at about 4 million ips ^^
[11:09]  Gaius Goodliffe: Can you tell if any old random crash on the beta grid is related to Havok4 or not?
[11:09]  Andrew Linden: Squirrel, do you have a comparison of ips on Havok1? I’d imagine the host machine would influence such a benchmark.
[11:09]  Squirrel Wood: the crash me sims on the main grid are on h4
[11:10]  Squirrel Wood: a class 5 sim tends to max out at 4 million ips
[11:10]  Andrew Linden: Gaius, I was checking the coredumps to find out if it was a Havok4 problem specifically.
[11:10]  Andrew Linden: Both of the crash modes that received bounties were from running out of memory
[11:10]  Andrew Linden: however they went about it two different ways
[11:10]  Gaius Goodliffe nods.
[11:11]  Andrew Linden: Neither crash mode was something that I have time to fix in Havok4
[11:11]  Andrew Linden: however I submitted reports to Don Linden
[11:11]  Andrew Linden: who is in charge of the #blacklight studio, and is usually working on important bugs and critical issues.
[11:12]  Andrew Linden: There hasn’t been a lot of noteworthy bugs fixed, or development in Havok4 in the last week or two.
[11:13]  Andrew Linden: Simon has been tweaking the Runtime Collision Control System and has checked in a few improvements.
[11:13]  Andrew Linden: Over the last week or so I’ve been working on some mass-properties utilities
[11:13]  Wind Key 2 ~ GAMBIT: BAM~!
[11:13]  target-aim 0.3: Hello, Avatar!
[11:13]  Andrew Linden: the idea being… we should compute our own mass and inertia instead of asking Havok for that info
[11:13]  Seifert Surface: why?
[11:13]  Andrew Linden: such utilities will fix about three different bugs, and I’m almost finished
[11:14]  Andrew Linden: just writing unit tests now and trying to find one last known bug in the utilities.
[11:14]  Andrew Linden: Seifert, Havok’s mass properties utilities have some problems.
[11:15]  Andrew Linden: (1) the object must have a RigidBody in the phyics engine before we can query it for mass properties
[11:15]  Andrew Linden: and attachments don’t have RigidBody’s any more, and yet the script-energy depends on the object’s mass
[11:15]  Seifert Surface: ah
[11:16]  Andrew Linden: (2) the values we’re getting from havok are just wrong… they use a surface mass distribution method, instead of a solid geometry system.
[11:16]  Andrew Linden: (3) … There is a third problem but I can’t remember what it is atm
[11:16]  Gaius Goodliffe: Will it ever be possible to programatically set the mass of an object, so say a bag of sand has more mass than a bag of helium?
[11:16]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Though I’d like to mention, attachments in Havok1 never seem to run out of energy
[11:17]  Andrew Linden: oh right… (3) the mass properpties computations are somewhat expensive, and I’d like to cache some of them
[11:18]  Andrew Linden: Gaius, it won’t be possible to manually override the mass properties of objects until we have our own mass properties utilities
[11:18]  Andrew Linden: so… our own utilities will enable:
[11:18]  Andrew Linden: (4) manual overrides
[11:18]  Gaius Goodliffe nods.
[11:18]  Andrew Linden: (5) per-prim density settings
[11:18]  Seifert Surface: cool
[11:18]  Andrew Linden: However, (4) and (5) would come sometime after Havok4 is actually done
[11:18]  Gaius Goodliffe: Of course. First things first. 🙂
[11:19]  Andrew Linden: So that is all of the “state of Havok” updates I’ve got.
[11:19]  Andrew Linden: Sidewinder probably has some announcements..
[11:19]  SL Exchange Magic Box w/ANS: SL Exchange – Delivered item Elemental HUD.
[11:19]  Sidewinder Linden: thanks… yes… we are going to reload the beta preview this afternoon, with a different region configuration
[11:20]  Sidewinder Linden: this is based ont he chanes that we talked about at the last office hours
[11:20]  Sidewinder Linden: i’ll hand out a notecard iwth the proposed new “core configuration”
[11:20]  Andrew Linden: specifically, you’re talking about reducing the number of regions to some minimum
[11:20]  Andrew Linden: to allow for more private estate trials on the preview
[11:21]  Sidewinder Linden: yes… this list is what i came up with for a “core configuration” – reginos that should be there on an ongoing basis for various specific reasons
[11:21]  Sidewinder Linden: this leaves a lot of slots for rotating other regions from the main system into the preview so taht we can test completely assembled and operational regions easily
[11:21]  Seifert Surface: seems like a sensible thing to do
[11:21]  Sidewinder Linden: we also have put up a rack of class 5 servers – i think there are now going to be six class 5 hosts on the preview, which is 24 regions of class 5
[11:22]  Kitto Flora: Wish didn’t make it huh?
[11:22]  Sidewinder Linden: should it be on the core, or the rotating set?
[11:22]  Sidewinder Linden: i can add it if it should be…
[11:22]  Andrew Linden: (hrm… I’m pretty sure the last bug in my mass properties stuff is floating point error, exacerbated by adding and subtracting large nearly equal numbers)
[11:22]  Sidewinder Linden: btw one thing to know is that now putting new regions on to the preview will be very easy and can be scheduled
[11:22]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Can we do half core half rotating?
[11:22]  Sidewinder Linden: that is actually *about* what this is
[11:23]  Sidewinder Linden: i havnen’t got a final count, but i believe that this is about half of the total region slots
[11:23]  Squirrel Wood: furnation… those sims tend to get griefed a lot
[11:23]  Sidewinder Linden: the plan is to set up so that regions on the beta preview will run on the same hardware that they use on the public system, so to some degree this will depends on the mappings of region to class of host
[11:23]  Seifert Surface: will they get griefed in beta?
[11:23]  Sidewinder Linden: yes… there is one furnation sim in the core list… do there need to be more?
[11:24]  Sidewinder Linden: probably
[11:24]  Squirrel Wood: if its one of the sandbox sims that should do the trick
[11:24]  Sidewinder Linden: well i shouldn’t say probably… wouldn’t be surprising, however it would be handled in the same way as main system
[11:24]  Sidewinder Linden: and with h4 hopefully it won’t be as successful
[11:24]  Andrew Linden: The estate owners can set their regions private if they want… it’s just the Beta
[11:24]  Sidewinder Linden: right
[11:24]  Sidewinder Linden: oh good point andrew – when we copy a region to the beta, it will automatically pull all of its security settings
[11:25]  Sidewinder Linden: so private regions will be private on beta
[11:25]  Sidewinder Linden: unless the owner decides to openthem up
[11:25]  Sidewinder Linden: does this look like a reasonable core list, with the idea that we can swap in other regions for a few days for specific testing easily?
[11:25]  Couples MultiAnimator v2e whispers: * Abranimations Couples Animator Ready…
[11:25]  Kitto Flora: Seems like a vast quantity to me
[11:26]  Squirrel Wood: looks good to me
[11:26]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Looks good tome
[11:26]  Sorraya Pera: sissipoo
[11:27]  Sidewinder Linden: kitto – too many in the core?
[11:27]  Sidewinder Linden: easy to trim it 🙂
[11:27]  Velve Hax: ~~*~SiSsssSSssy!!~*~~
[11:27]  Kitto Flora: Well any testing I could do there Ive already done. And it only needed 2 H4 sims and 1 H1 sim
[11:27]  Sidewinder Linden: we were also thinking that with a lot of people on the beta preview folks will want enough space to spread out at times
[11:28]  Sidewinder Linden: oh btw – the havok1 sims are not in this list, but would be maintained after the reconfig
[11:28]  Kitto Flora: If one cannot set up large scale stuff on the sim, its pretty much useless for me now
[11:28]  Sidewinder Linden: what does that mean kitto?
[11:28]  Sidewinder Linden: in other words what would you need?
[11:28]  Kitto Flora: Ability to keep stuff around for more than 30 mins
[11:28]  Kitto Flora: or 60 mins.. whatever it is
[11:29]  Sidewinder Linden: hmmm
[11:29]  Sidewinder Linden: well if wish were on the preview you wouldn’t have that problem, right?
[11:29]  Kitto Flora: Right
[11:29]  Seifert Surface: large amounts of the space generally up on beta seems to be no build (or at least has been in the past)
[11:29]  Sidewinder Linden: actually i think i have it in the “resident regions list” to be deployed – just not in core
[11:29]  Kitto Flora: Exactly Seifert
[11:29]  Kitto Flora: All one can do in suchj places is play with whats there
[11:30]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Well, we need no build areas too, as well as no object entry, no script, etc.
[11:30]  Seifert Surface: yes
[11:30]  Gaius Goodliffe nods.
[11:30]  Andrew Linden: We usually pull the regions over as-is, so if they are no-build originally that is how they show up in the preview
[11:30]  Seifert Surface: but not entire sims of it
[11:30]  Ryozu Yamamoto: As it stands, there is a bug that affects no build areas
[11:30]  Kitto Flora: And usually thats not physics critical stuff
[11:30]  Sidewinder Linden: ok… so how about this… we start with this list, and then we can tune this to get cloer to “right”
[11:30]  Sidewinder Linden: right… andrew’s point is the reason for figuring out “the right core list”
[11:30]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Remember, “Physics” doesn’t just affect prims with the physics checkbox checked
[11:30]  Sidewinder Linden: the easy and maintainable solution is to pull over the regions that are already configured in the way that is useful
[11:31]  Redux Decosta: right; theres an h1 crash that involves sitting inside or walking over natural toruses; its still a massive physics crash even though they’re nonphysical
[11:31]  Kitto Flora: Well the GSLR sims are one such – and you got them
[11:31]  Sidewinder Linden: ok
[11:32]  Gaius Goodliffe: If we have Blue, Mauve, and Lime, might I suggest Mocha? When you’re flying around testing, being able to circle a “four corners” spot can be helpful.
[11:32]  Sidewinder Linden: ok
[11:32]  Squirrel Wood: h1… all you need is rez two physical tori that are stuck within each other… should cause an instant crash
[11:32]  Redux Decosta: has there been any playing with havok4 on void sims yet?
[11:32]  Sidewinder Linden: only marginally – that’s why i added the sailing courses those are void sims
[11:33]  Sidewinder Linden: and the sailing community is quite sensitive to dynamics (and have some pretty sophisticated sailboat scripting)
[11:33]  Sidewinder Linden: so this will let them find problems and retune their boats
[11:34]  Kitto Flora: Oh – I take that back. Looks like GSLR sims are not on the list either
[11:34]  Sidewinder Linden: k well maybe i misunderstood – which sims in particular are you talking about?
[11:34]  SL Exchange Magic Box w/ANS: SL Exchange – Delivered item Elemental HUD.
[11:34]  Kitto Flora: Well, guess I get Christmas off. Nothing to do.
[11:34]  Kitto Flora: The Sims that the GSLR run throug
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: Periwinkle…
[11:35]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Welcome Eata, grab a seat 😉
[11:35]  Sidewinder Linden: ahh oops – i had periwinkle and purple on the resident list
[11:35]  Sidewinder Linden: are those two the ones you meant?
[11:35]  Sidewinder Linden: hi eata
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: Yes
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: purple
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: maroon…
[11:35]  Sidewinder Linden: ok i’ll pu tthem in the core lst
[11:35]  Sidewinder Linden: do we need all three for testing?
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: two minimum
[11:35]  Eata Kitty: Well I just attempted to try the new windlight but it keeps silently dying before the loading screen gets up
[11:35]  Kitto Flora: Need to check boundary crossing
[11:36]  Sidewinder Linden: right … periwinkle and purple ok?
[11:36]  Ryozu Yamamoto: </3 New login =P
[11:36]  Kitto Flora: Yes, periwinkle and purple should be good
[11:36]  Sidewinder Linden: “done” 🙂
[11:37]  Eata Kitty: Havok 4?
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: ok so otherwise this looks like a decent starting point?
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: yes
[11:37]  Ryozu Yamamoto nods.
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: all of the core regions would be set up with havok4
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: and the existing havok1 regions would still be there
[11:37]  Gaius Goodliffe: Will they still have the useful warning ground texture saying Havok1?
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: yes
[11:37]  Gaius Goodliffe: Excellent. 🙂
[11:37]  Sidewinder Linden: oh – good point…. gaius… you may
[11:38]  Kitto Flora: Anyone know if Garth Fairchang is still active?
[11:38]  Sidewinder Linden: see over the next couple of weeks, some regions with other ground textures
[11:38]  Sidewinder Linden: another of the projects may put a few regions on the beta preview, so just make sure to check the ground texture before assuming it’s h4
[11:38]  Andrew Linden: Havok4 has been sitting on the preview too long. Other projects need some time there.
[11:38]  Sidewinder Linden: anything that is not h4 *should* have a ground texture explaining what it is
[11:39]  Squirrel Wood: Mono ?
[11:39]  Ryozu Yamamoto: May as well stick the H4 ground texture on H4 sims, heh
[11:39]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Just for the sake of clarity
[11:39]  Sidewinder Linden: could be 😉
[11:39]  Sidewinder Linden: ok… so last chance to hop up and down… any reason not to pull the trigger on this reconfiguration today?
[11:40]  Gaius Goodliffe: My apologies for missing the last couple meetings, I may be behind the curve a tad: last time I’d been here, we hadn’t moved on to vehicle bugs yet. Is that still the case, or are we looking at vehicle stuff now too?
[11:40]  Sidewinder Linden: ok… so then when i can get things lined up we’ll reload the region configuration. it probably makes sense to have the beta offline for an hour or so to make sure this went right, and i’llbring it back up asap after that
[11:41]  Sidewinder Linden: we are getting to the point of digging in farther on vehicles – likely with some more vigor after the holidays
[11:41]  Andrew Linden: We’re not quite back working on vehicles yet. But that is next.
[11:41]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Before we run out of time, I wanted to ask about the avatar velocity caps
[11:41]  Sidewinder Linden: go kitto
[11:41]  Kitto Flora: where?
[11:41]  Andrew Linden: Ah yes… avatar velocity caps…
[11:42]  Sidewinder Linden: @kitto (to your point!) 🙂
[11:42]  Andrew Linden: Ask the questions Ryozu.
[11:42]  Kitto Flora is lost
[11:42]  Sidewinder Linden: /oops – wrong name sorry kitto – thought ryozu’s question was yours…
[11:42]  Ryozu Yamamoto: I’ve played with them quite a bit, and honestly, I’m just not happy with them. In Current Havok1, velocity caps are nearly non-existent, and I have no qualms with putting caps into place
[11:42]  Kitto Flora: 🙂
[11:43]  Andrew Linden: Ryozu, you’ve tested the Havok4 caps recently? (In the last three weeks or so?)
[11:43]  Ryozu Yamamoto: Yes, specifically on the Crash me sims and on the beta grid

Random Ego Googling

a few random links about my recent work in Second Life.http://www.podango.com/podcast_episode/290/20299/The_Latest_at_Second_Life/Two_cars__Two_Islands





It is still a bit strange to see me referred to as a master builder or scripter.  I am just out to have some fun, but it is nice to see that people enjoy my work a bit.

Mecha Construction in SL, Lesson 1

[11:54]  Jurgi Harlan: kage, I came to Second Life to design, pilot and sell mecha.
[11:54]  The Sojourner: Hi Xanshin
[11:54]  Jurgi Harlan: I believe you are my superior in this, and I wish to learn from you.
[11:55]  Xanshin Paz: hiya,
[11:55]  Xanshin Paz: Soj1
[11:55]  Xanshin Paz: jeez…..keybd impaired again
[11:55]  Xanshin Paz: hi guys!
[11:55]  You: I’d be happy to help you learn everything I know about mecha design. WHen would you like to begin?
[11:55]  Jurgi Harlan: At your convenience, I am a complete novice.
[11:55]  You: Hello, Xanshin
[11:56]  Jurgi Harlan: I am offering myself as apprentice, and intern.
[11:56]  Xanshin Paz: hello, Kage!
[11:56]  You: Well, if you have an hour or so, we could start right now, Jurgi.
[11:56]  Jurgi Harlan: I do.
[11:56]  The Sojourner: I will sit on the fence and write notecards
[11:57]  Jurgi Harlan: There, that got rid of the fur.
[11:57]  You: Great! Let’s have a seat and get a sense of what you already know.
[11:57]  Jurgi Harlan: Alright.
[11:57]  The Sojourner: Kage and I are good sitters
[11:58]  Jurgi Harlan: Apparently, I am not!
[11:58]  Kage Seraph dreams of the day when LL makes sitting a painless process.
[11:58]  Jurgi Harlan: Bah
[11:59]  Xanshin Paz: I’d pay to be a fly on this wall, but I’ve *got* to get some sleep :/
[11:59]  Jurgi Harlan: Nonetheless, what I know thusfar is slim.
[11:59]  Xanshin Paz: nice meeting you, guys
[11:59]  You: We can notecard the chat transcript, Xanshin, if everyone consents..?
[11:59]  Jurgi Harlan: I can show you my work, and it will say more than I can.
[11:59]  Xanshin Paz: oh, that’d be great !
[11:59]  Xanshin Paz: thanks!
[11:59]  Kage Seraph nods, no problem
[12:00]  Jurgi Harlan: These are the starting point of an idea I had…
[12:00]  Xanshin Paz: ‘nite, all……!
[12:00]  You: Night!
[12:00]  DragonChiq Thereian is online
[12:00]  Jurgi Harlan: You might not notice, but it is actually sized for your DIY kit.
[12:01]  Misty Rhodes is online
[12:01]  You: Intended as an attachment to the hips?
[12:01]  Jurgi Harlan: A pelvis attach…though eventually I planned to add actual moving treads.
[12:02]  Jurgi Harlan: This was my first attempt, disassembled for you.
[12:02]  Kage Seraph ponders. Shooting for a Madcat?
[12:02]  Jurgi Harlan: Feel free to get a closer look, and yes, I was basing my idea on a reverse knee Clan mech like a Mad Cat or Vulture.
[12:03]  You: Sounds good so far.
[12:03]  Jurgi Harlan: At the time, I hadn’t learned rescaling the whole model, so you’ll notice they’re too large.
[12:04]  Jurgi Harlan: For the DIY kit anyway.
[12:04]  You: Perhaps we could begin the discussion with animations and how they work in SL. They’re kinda the key concept in mecha design
[12:04]  Jurgi Harlan: Indeed, I have made animations in Avimator. Is that useful?
[12:05]  You: Yes, that is an excellent start (though I use Poser, so I can’t walk you through difficulties in Avimator directly)
[12:05]  Jurgi Harlan: That is what I have learned of particle effects.
[12:06]  Jurgi Harlan: The fly/follow effect is sadly copied from someone else’s work.
[12:06]  Jurgi Harlan: My goal was to keep the particles in the ball.
[12:06]  You: Looks good as a start, Jurgi.
[12:07]  Jurgi Harlan: It also makes a useful hands-free light source, when it’s not chasing pretty girls.
[12:07]  Kage Seraph grins
[12:07]  Jurgi Harlan: Well, I have one more work piece to show you.
[12:07]  You: Okay, rez it at will. =D
[12:08]  Jurgi Harlan: This was based off your Steam Golem design.
[12:08]  Jessica Qin is offline
[12:08]  DragonChiq Thereian is offline
[12:08]  Jurgi Harlan: It’s not done, but I was more trying to get the techniques you used down more than to copy every facet.
[12:09]  Jurgi Harlan: I hope my imitation didn’t offend.
[12:09]  You: Sure, it looks like you have a good eye for the forms involved
[12:09]  You: No, I have no problem with practicing that way.
[12:10]  Jurgi Harlan: I really like your Steam Golem as it gives you size, as well as maintaining a posable head which which conversations stay fluid.
[12:10]  You: Well, let’s use the Steam Golem as a conversation piece. We’ll pull it apart to see how it works, then put it back together as a complete piece.
[12:11]  Jurgi Harlan: At your leisure, sensei.
[12:11]  You: I’ll transplant the functional bits out of the anim overrider so we can concentrate on functionality, not form at this stage
[12:12]  Object: Loading notecard ‘*Default Anims’…
[12:12]  Object: Finished reading notecard. (4215 bytes free)
[12:13]  Ned Nolan: hello
[12:13]  Jurgi Harlan: So the invisiprims are on the feet, and the mech legs are on your lower legs, yes?
[12:13]  Ned Nolan: hi Soj
[12:13]  Higbee Protagonist is online
[12:14]  The Sojourner: Hi Ned.. working on something
[12:14]  You: Okay, as you saw before I attached the wooden box anim overrider, the attachments on the legs don’t determine the position of the av above the ground. Only the anim overrider does that
[12:14]  Bob Bunderfeld is offline
[12:14]  Jurgi Harlan: yes, I learned that, hence I was sizing my treads to match the overrider’s height limit.
[12:14]  You: So the legs can be arbitrarily short or long, and only have to extend to the ground if you’re shooting for a sense of realism. 😉
[12:14]  Jurgi Harlan: The code involved is completely unknown to me.
[12:15]  Zekeen Phoenix is online
[12:15]  You: In this case, I’ve integrated the invisiprims covering the mesh avatar’s calves and feet right into the lower legs of the prim av
[12:15]  Jurgi Harlan: Okay, give me a second there.
[12:15]  You: clarification in terms: mesh av = the regular human av almost all of us use
[12:16]  You: in my case, the mesh av is the one in jeans and a tee shirt
[12:16]  Jurgi Harlan: Okay, so those invisiprims are built into the legs, not separate attaches.
[12:16]  Zekeen Phoenix is offline
[12:17]  You: yes, though they could be separate attaches if you preferred to build it that way. I try to minimize the number of attachments used for sanity’s sake when tuning the av’s movement
[12:17]  Jurgi Harlan: Learning the exact function of invisiprims is going to be a lesson I will require.
[12:17]  You: Certainlyh, let’s handle that now.
[12:17]  Jurgi Harlan: Please do.
[12:19]  You: invisiprims use special textures to obscure any texture behind them by canceling the texture out. Some textures contain an extra “color” (called an alpha channel)
[12:19]  You: that programs like SL can interpret as transparency.
[12:19]  Jurgi Harlan: Alright, by “behind them” you mean contained within the prim’s area?
[12:20]  You: within and/or behind, the effect is the same. All that matters is which texture is encountered first when you sort them by distance from the SL client’s camera
[12:21]  You: so for me, the SL client camera is over and behind my shoulder
[12:21]  Jurgi Harlan: Well, I notice that when the mech’s leg is behind the invisiprim, it is not being obscured.
[12:21]  You: Very astute.
[12:21]  Jurgi Harlan: How is the prim discerning betwixt your foot, and the mech’s knee?
[12:22]  Jurgi Harlan: I also notice -I- am being obscured by them.
[12:22]  You: SL is mercifully set up such that textures that do NOT contain an alpha channel are not obscured by textures that DO contain an alpha channel
[12:22]  Jurgi Harlan: And my staff is not.
[12:22]  You: so, for this application we have two kinds of textures, alpha textures and non-alpha textures
[12:22]  Jurgi Harlan: Alright…
[12:23]  You: alpha textures obscure (hide) each other, and non-alpha textures of course obscure both alpha and non-alpha textures behind them.
[12:23]  Jurgi Harlan: I see.
[12:23]  You: so, it follows that the rusty textures on the mecha’s legs are non-alpha, and the textures on you and me are alpha textures
[12:23]  Jurgi Harlan: How can we manipulate what possesses the alpha channel state, and what does not?
[12:24]  DragonChiq Thereian is online
[12:24]  You: alpha channels can be added to any image in an offline image editor such as Adobe Photoshop or GIMP
[12:24]  You: Numerous excellent tutorials are on the web to do this.
[12:25]  You: Also,
[12:25]  Jurgi Harlan: I will acquire them.
[12:26]  You: when we change the transparency in the object editing toolbox (“Texture” tab, “Transparency” box), SL forces the texture in question to have an alpha channel
[12:26]  Jurgi Harlan: Even if we reset it to 0%?
[12:27]  You: Setting it to zero removes the alpha channel from a texture that was originally non-alpha to begin with.
[12:27]  Jurgi Harlan: Ah, I see.
[12:27]  Jurgi Harlan: I believe I have a functioning grasp of the concept.
[12:27]  You: Good! Let’s move on to the next brain-bender.
[12:28]  You: As it turns out, you and I and Soj each have two representations here on the inworld grid
[12:28]  Jurgi Harlan: Our location and our avatar.
[12:28]  You: First, the avatar that we all know and love and can see
[12:29]  You: Second, as you mentioned, our position is analogous to the agent representing each of us
[12:29]  Jurgi Harlan: yes, agent, the term had escaped me.
[12:29]  Jurgi Harlan: It is the agent by which we “play”, seeing and moving.
[12:29]  Jurgi Harlan: The avatar becomes merely the visual placemarker for the agent.
[12:30]  You: Most of the time, the agent and avatar can be used interchangeably. But there are a few crucial differences.
[12:30]  You: Yes, you’ve nailed it.
[12:30]  Jurgi Harlan: I have studied some, sensei.
[12:30]  You: The camera and collision detection are tied to the agent, NOT the avatar, and it is this distinction that makes giant mecha in SL possible
[12:31]  You: i.e., if we use an animation to move the apparent location of the avatar (for giant mecha, we move it straight up, no?), the agent’s position does not change.
[12:31]  Jurgi Harlan: Indeed.
[12:32]  Jurgi Harlan: We continue to interact with terrain, despite being above the ground.
[12:32]  You: that is, it stays on the ground. So, where is my agent right now?
[12:32]  Jurgi Harlan: Because our agent is at ground level.
[12:32]  You: true true
[12:32]  Jurgi Harlan: I have a question.
[12:33]  You: So, all of that to say that as you construct animations and later prim models,always remember where the av is and where the agent is.
[12:33]  You: Yes?
[12:33]  Jurgi Harlan: If our agent is on the ground, how does the avatar look correctly when I focus my vision below me by bending over?
[12:33]  You: Losing track of the relative positions in agent and av leads to some pretty glaring animation issues. =)
[12:34]  Jurgi Harlan: Allow me to visualize my question.
[12:34]  Jurgi Harlan: Now, I am starting at Soj.
[12:34]  Jurgi Harlan: My agent is at ground level.
[12:35]  Jurgi Harlan: Why does my head tilt down?
[12:35]  The Sojourner: soj waves
[12:35]  Jessica Qin is online
[12:36]  You: This is one case where LL did excellent bookkeeping.
[12:37]  Jurgi Harlan: So their systems manage it inherently?
[12:38]  You: Recall that the avatar is not fully tied to the agent, so each of our clients can calculate the proper avatar articulation regardless of where the agent is, that is, the av’s position and orientation are handled relative to the agent, but the algorithms
[12:39]  You: that determine head facing and foot facing in particular, are handled separately. That way, your feet are properly angled onto the ground and you can look about naturally regardless of most animations( i.e., animations that do not take over the head)
[12:39]  Jurgi Harlan: I see.
[12:39]  You: Other questions before we move on to articulation?
[12:40]  Jurgi Harlan: So this is not an issue we must constantly correct when building a mech with a poseable head.
[12:40]  You: that is correct. LL has done a good job formalizing how an unconstrained head should act. =)
[12:40]  Jurgi Harlan: I think I have a grasp of it, sensei, please move along if you are ready.
[12:41]  You: Okay, on to articulation.
[12:42]  You: The root of the magic in the animation here is to set the hips in the animation upward into the air as appropriate. The position and overall orientation of the avatar are determined thus:
[12:42]  You: get the position and rotation of the agent, add the effect of the active animation(s) to that, then display
[12:43]  You: As you know one can have multiple animations playing simultaneously, as when we are standing and typing at once
[12:43]  Lazarus Bogan is offline
[12:43]  Jurgi Harlan: Yes.
[12:44]  You: So, SL combines the animations mathematically and drops any subset of the animations that are of a lower priority that the highest-priority animation, as well as non-animated bodyparts.
[12:44]  You: another way to say that:
[12:44]  Jurgi Harlan: My staff overriding my left hand while I type, for example.
[12:45]  You: a priority 4 animation (the mecha standing animation) negates the default standing animation for all joints that the mecha animation takes control of
[12:45]  Jurgi Harlan: Ah, my slouching animation is a priority 4…can you teach me of the priorities?
[12:45]  You: Yes, your staff is a perfect example of that
[12:46]  The Sojourner: poor Kage looks like he has been riding a horse too long
[12:46]  You: Ha! Actually, Soj, that’s a pretty important detail we’ll get to soon
[12:47]  You: Priority for our needs with mecha are a sledgehammer kind of tool, that is, Mecha animations are totally “unnatural” to the normal SL av, so I typically set all the mecha animations to the highest priority to minimize overlap
[12:47]  Raistlin Otis is online
[12:48]  You: The notable exception to that is that I did not animate the mesh avatar’s head with the mecha animations, which is why the mesh head remains naturally articulated / animated even when I’m wearing this avatar.
[12:48]  Jurgi Harlan: Alright…at the same time, my priority 4 slump overrides my head movement.
[12:48]  Jurgi Harlan: How did you prevent the head override exactly?
[12:49]  You: Good question, and a key skill for animating capably
[12:50]  You: As it turns out, any animations we make only affect the joints for which we explicitly specify animations. So, in Poser or Avimator, we load up an SL mannequin and start manipulating, say, the left arm.
[12:50]  Forseti Svarog is online
[12:51]  You: If we upload that arm-waving animation without specifying any new movement for the other limbs, SL will continue to animate those other limbs normally while the arm animation plays or loops.
[12:51]  Jurgi Harlan: Does this cause a more natural blend, or more jerky chaos?
[12:51]  You: So, for this mecha set of animations, the arms, legs, and torso all have movements specified, but the head and neck do not.
[12:52]  You: Regarding jerkiness, much of that is dependent on (1) the character of the animation itself. Is it jerky? (2) the values specified in the transition-in and transition-out attributes when uploading the animation
[12:53]  You: those values determine how much weight the client gives to the early and late frames of the custom animation as it starts and ends.
[12:53]  You: basically analogous to a “fade in” and “fade out” effect
[12:54]  Jurgi Harlan: Transition-in and transition-out were very difficult for me, I mostly hotwired it until it ran for my slump.
[12:54]  Jurgi Harlan: I didn’t really have an understanding, just poked and prodded till it worked.
[12:55]  Jurgi Harlan: More training and examples would help…
[12:55]  Jurgi Harlan: But we can save it until appropriate…
[12:55]  The Sojourner is offline
[12:56]  You: Sounds good. Let’s finish up this discussion on articulation with a brief bit on joints of the mesh avatar and how we ‘hack’ them
[12:56]  Jurgi Harlan: So the goal when animating is to produce smooth movements that override as little as necessary to keep the body’s reactive coding intact.
[12:56]  You: Generally, yes. THat’s a good way to summarize it
[12:57]  Jurgi Harlan: Oh, yes, that’s a part I was definately curious about.
[12:57]  You: THough for mecha, we tend to have to take control of almost everything with the custom animations.
[12:57]  You: Soj noted earlier that I look like I’ve been riding a horse too long
[12:58]  Jurgi Harlan: Because of the wide hips.
[12:59]  You: That is an artifact of the fact that we cannot with custom animations break the joints of the av. That is, I cannot specify a shoulder joint position that is 5m, say, from the rest of the body. The joints, though they’re all raised into the air, have
[12:59]  You: to remain at normal human proportion to one another, except as far as we can push them with the normal appearance dials / sliders.
[13:00]  Jurgi Harlan: Yes.
[13:00]  You: So, since mecha are of course bigger than we are, all of the size-related sliders are maxed out for this mesh av to get the joints closer to where they should be for humanoid mecha.,
[13:01]  Jurgi Harlan: Yes, to keep the attachments moving as much like the body as we can.
[13:01]  Jurgi Harlan: The closer the body to the joints, the more natural the interplay.
[13:02]  You: But as you can see, the mecha’s knee joints are further out along the av’s y-axis (left-right). For legs, this isn’t much of a problem, since the hips and knees primarily function like hinges
[13:02]  Jurgi Harlan: For upper arms, you’ve substituted energy streams.
[13:02]  You: Since the prim legs are only slightly displaced, the effect is pretty good. Arms, however, are much trickier.
[13:03]  Jurgi Harlan: An inventive technique, in my opinion.
[13:04]  You: A last-ditch one. 😉 As you can imagine, the ball-and-socket joint and movement of the shoulder leads to crazy displacements as the animations play; the particle streams are one way around this problem
[13:04]  Jurgi Harlan: Yes, I couldn’t figure out how to make it work either…
[13:05]  Jurgi Harlan: I’ve been planning to save for a Decepticon or Gundam one to study their trick…
[13:05]  You: How much are they?
[13:06]  Jurgi Harlan: Though the code to make the streamers move from shoulder to elbow is another mystery to me.
[13:06]  You: I’ll walk you through that another day if you like.
[13:06]  Jurgi Harlan: I could take you to them…I don’t have prices memorized.
[13:06]  Jurgi Harlan: …um, wow.
[13:07]  Jurgi Harlan: Bring them with me when I come next time?
[13:07]  You: That should be enough to get you started on one or the other. Consider it a homework assignment to tear them apart and learn their techniques? Bring them if you wish
[13:07]  Jurgi Harlan: Will do sir!
[13:08]  Jurgi Harlan: I was also noting that the steam golem itself is moddable.
[13:08]  Jurgi Harlan: Though the demo version I have is not.
[13:08]  Lazarus Bogan is online
[13:08]  Jurgi Harlan: As I understood the sign.
[13:09]  Jurgi Harlan: And so you know, I am a buyer of your work.
[13:09]  You: Yes, that was intentional; the demo is simply a demo– if it were mod, folks would have no reason to get the full version. For those that did, I wanted them to be able to make it their own if they wished
[13:09]  Dirty McLean is offline
[13:09]  Jurgi Harlan: I have a question on this model however…
[13:09]  You: Yes?
[13:09]  Jurgi Harlan: if you would look at my left hip.
[13:10]  Jurgi Harlan: There is some loose tubing or handles or some such, free floating.
[13:10]  You: Ah, so I see. Carelessness in the gunship attachment on my part
[13:11]  Jurgi Harlan: Yours doesn’t have it.
[13:11]  Jurgi Harlan: Wait, there they are
[13:12]  Jurgi Harlan: After you transformed back to robot mode.
[13:12]  Jurgi Harlan: They’re there now.
[13:13]  Nomad Nighbor: COOL transformers convention 😀
[13:13]  Jurgi Harlan: Now they’re gone
[13:13]  You: Much better
[13:13]  You: Just had to fox 3 scripts
[13:13]  You: *fix
[13:13]  Jurgi Harlan: Alright…
[13:14]  Jurgi Harlan: Once they test clean, can I expect a copy?
[13:14]  Jurgi Harlan accepted your inventory offer.
[13:14]  You: I’ll update the vendor as well
[13:15]  Forseti Svarog is offline
[13:15]  Jurgi Harlan: Nice.
[13:15]  You: I think we’re at a good stopping point for today; Any last questions for the moment? Message me when we’re both online and we’ll continue
[13:15]  Jurgi Harlan: Only this.
[13:16]  Jurgi Harlan: May I use some of that Linden to purchase a Steam Golem to study?
[13:16]  Jurgi Harlan accepted your inventory offer.
[13:16]  You: Not much need for that. =)
[13:16]  Jurgi Harlan: THANK YOU!
[13:17]  Jurgi Harlan: I have been wanting this since I first laid eyes on it.
[13:17]  Jurgi Harlan: You have a thankful student.
[13:18]  You: Hey, no problem. Some folks learn best by pulling apart previous stuff and seeing what makes it tick.
[13:18]  You: That should be all moddable right down to the scripting
[13:18]  Jurgi Harlan: Thank you sensei, I will study well before our next meeting.
[13:18]  You: Open ‘er up and see what forms more questions for you. We’ll cover them when next we meet.
[13:18]  Jurgi Harlan: I will, and thank you again.
[13:19]  Kage Seraph nods.
[13:19]  Jurgi Harlan: I am off to purchase more mecha!
[13:19]  Jurgi Harlan: Farewell!
[13:19]  You: Have fun!

SLNN’s Ashley Gasser Interview

Ashley turned this chat into a very nice article over at SLNN.  Read it here:


[11:16] You: Hi, it’s very nice to meet you finally!
[11:16] Ashley Gasser: hi nice to meet you happy new year
[11:16] You: Happy new year to you as well. =)
[11:17] You: What can I do for you?
[11:17] Ashley Gasser: thanks
[11:17] Ashley Gasser: i actually wanted to talk to you about charity and giving to charity in sl
[11:18] Ashley Gasser: i know you run a group that is about charity
[11:18] Ashley Gasser: could you tell me a bit about that
[11:18] You: Sure, no problem.
[11:19] You: I started the !Meta charity group after a lot of thinking about how SL could be more than just a fun diversion for (primarily) well-off Westerners.
[11:21] You: So I figured, why not make something fun like the Elemental vehicle, and if people enjoyed it, !Meta would provide a way for them to offer thanks in a way that helps a community in Africa.
[11:22] Ashley Gasser: can anyone set up a charity or giving to charity in sl
[11:23] You: Informally, yes. Formal nonprofit charities are a bit more work than that. !Meta’s in the process of becoming a U.S. 501(c)3 organization, which just means lots of paperwork and things to become gov’t-certified.
[11:24] You: For example, Jade Lily’s Relay for Life in SL was (if I understand it) informal, but donated thousands of dollars to a formal RL charity.
[11:24] Ashley Gasser: so your group is in rl as well, right
[11:25] You: It is in the process of being in RL as well, but we’re not *quite* there yet.
[11:25] Ashley Gasser: what are you doing to get there
[11:26] You: At this stage, working through how the RL nonprofit will be structured, according to the rules at http://www.irs.gov/charities/charitable/index.html
[11:26] You: This is a pretty new way of doing things, so there are a lot of question marks to get through.
[11:27] Ashley Gasser: so what exactly is your group and what does it do
[11:27] You: As you know, the government only just got started investigating taxation of online profits– they’re still getting used to the idea of virtual charities.
[11:29] You: Well, !Meta is the group and essentially it acts as a conduit for SL merchants to donate a portion of their profits to charity. We’re currently discussing with several merchants about them donating entire products to the effort, so to speak.
[11:30] You: On the RL side, !Meta cashes out those $L to $US, and then wires the funds to active charities, such as the Kibaale Community Center in Uganda. The last step is to provide documentation of all these transactions so that people know their donations are getting to the right places.
[11:31] Ashley Gasser: so people can go through you to get the money to the charity
[11:32] You: If they prefer to, yes, though I must stress we are not yet a 501(c)3, so we cannot provide tax breaks for donors. Still working on that part. =)
[11:33] Ashley Gasser: so do you as charity get a lower l/us dollar exchange than other residents of sl
[11:34] You: Not that I’m aware of, though that’s an excellent idea to bug Linden Lab about.
[11:34] Ashley Gasser: i think so
[11:35] Ashley Gasser: :)
[11:35] You: Of course, by aggregating lots of small donations together, we save a bunch of $L on transaction fees and get more to the destination charity.
[11:35] Ashley Gasser: so why should people donate to charity in sl instead of rl
[11:36] Ashley Gasser: how can residents know that people raising money for charity in sl will really give it and keep their word
[11:38] You: That’s a huge concern for us, and it’s exactly why !Meta’s moving in the direction of becoming certified by the US government. Also, it’s the reason for the documentation I mentioned earlier.
[11:38] You: As far as donating in SL versus RL,
[11:39] You: I guess we don’t recognize the distinction between the two– the SL money is destined for the RL charities anyway, so at the end of the day the only difference is where the donors are.
[11:40] You: If people are more comfortable donating in RL, then we support that 100%. The point is helping charities, not making !Meta be the big name in SL charity work.
[11:42] Ashley Gasser: i know there are probably a lot of charities set up in sl and residents trying to raise money for charity. what can those wishing to donate do to investigate and make sure the claims are letgit
[11:42] Ashley Gasser: legit
[11:43] You: Good question! I would always advise as much investigation as is possible. If *anything* seems suspect, simply walk away. As you said, there are plenty of other charities that could certainly use the money.
[11:44] Ashley Gasser: how can residents investigate
[11:45] You: Be certain that the charity has a clearly articulated mission and provides adequate evidence that they DO what they say. Residents can investigate by contacting officers of the charity, past recipients of the funds if any are provided, etc. It all comes down to doing one’s homework responsibly to ensure that the charity is being responsible as well. =)
[11:46] Ashley Gasser: what about charities in rl vs those in sl
[11:46] You: I’m not sure I understand your question?
[11:47] Ashley Gasser: sorry should residents stick to charities they have heard about in rl
[11:47] You: Oooooh! Ok
[11:49] You: That is a safe, conservative strategy, yes. For people who decide that SL/virtual charities are worth the investment, it’s a pretty good idea to spread out donation over time, to give the donor a chance to track what the charity does with the money.
[11:50] Ashley Gasser: how can people track what is done with the money
[11:50] You: In !Meta’s case, most of the donations fall within the $L 10 – 2000 range, which is less than a nice cheeseburger in RL, so people can safely make small donations and see what happens.
[11:52] You: A good way to track donations is to check the charity’s website for scanned receipts / wire transfer slips, or once you know where the money ends up (for example, the Red Cross, though !Meta does not work with them currently), just contact the Red Cross and ask if they got the donation that the charity SAID they did.
[11:52] You: Always, always ask questions, yeah?
[11:53] Ashley Gasser: definitely
[11:53] Ashley Gasser: i guess you can’t say approx how many charities have set up in sl
[11:54] You: I sure don’t know, no. Hamlet Au would have a much better sense of that, as he is the ‘reporter’.
[11:54] You: But as SL grows rapidly, I would expect the number of charities to grow alongside that.
[11:54] Ashley Gasser: are more coming to sl is this a big sector of the economy
[11:56] You: Human nature being what it is, I would always expect the weapons and sex economic sectors to be much larger than charity work. However, the Relay for Life and the Katrina Relief charities were huge successes.
[11:56] You: I won three Linden Labbers for an hour each during one of the Katrina celebrity auctions. =) Great fun!
[11:57] Ashley Gasser: what was that
[11:57] You: A bit after hurricane Katrina, folks got together and hosted a number of charity events. Let me see if I can dig up a URL for your further research.
[11:58] Ashley Gasser: thanks that would be great
[11:59] Ashley Gasser: anything else
[11:59] You: As featured on MSNBC:
[11:59] You: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9338984/
[12:00] Ashley Gasser: thanks
[12:01] You: Nothing else comes to mind. !Meta’s still getting set up, so I’d urge folks to hold off on donating for now if they have any reservations or doubts. Organizations like the Red Cross can always use the help, though. =)
[12:01] Ashley Gasser: so what will your organization donate to or is it more of a go between
[12:03] You: !Meta is designed as a go-between, yes, in the sense that we don’t spend the donations. Instead, we are the means to transfer lots of small donations to the folks on the ground doing the work, (in our case, at the Kibaale Community Center, http://iccf-holland.org/kcc.html ).
[12:04] You: If SL is 2 million-plus strong, imagine all the good stuff to be done if each person passed on $L 100 to their favorite charity. Good stuff.
[12:05] Ashley Gasser: if someone raised money and get your organizaton to handle it and give it to the organizatin of their choice
[12:06] You: We figure if someone can afford a powerful SL-ready computer and broadband, then $L 100 won’t hurt them too much. =)
[12:07] You: Eventually, yes. The initial plan, however, is to concentrate donations into the Kibaale charity, so that transaction and wire-transfer fees are held to the absolute minimum. As we grow, however, we’d *love* to be able to help additional charities that donors are interested in.
[12:07] Ashley Gasser: what is that charity
[12:08] Ashley Gasser: are u the only ones in sl doing it this way
[12:09] You: Given SL’s rapidly growing and already large size, I’d be surprised if we were the only one doing it this way, but I’m not aware of any others yet.
[12:10] Ashley Gasser: so do most charity supporters in sl just exchange the money and write a cheque to the charity
[12:12] You: It is difficut for me to speak for other charity supporters, but I supect you are correct. Especially given that LL exchanges currency out to Paypal, which is a pretty liquid (and therefore easily donated) format. Good question.
[12:12] Ashley Gasser: anything else
[12:12] You: The only other thing is that I’m honored to be interviewed by SLNN. =D
[12:13] Ashley Gasser: thanks for your time
[12:13] Ashley Gasser: best wishes with your organization and work: 0
[12:14] You: Thanks! It’s exciting stuff!!
[12:14] Ashley Gasser: c u
[12:14] You: Nice to meet ya! See ya!
[12:14] Ashley Gasser: u 2
[12:14] Ashley Gasser: thanks
[12:14] You: /wa
[12:16] Ashley Gasser: btw if you have any pics of yourself or the org could u send them to me
[12:16] Ashley Gasser: thanks
[12:16] You: Sure, will do!
[12:17] You: would you like them as textures or emailed as jpgs?
[12:17] Ashley Gasser: jpegs email is ashley.gasser@gmail.com
[12:18] You: Excellent
[12:18] You: I’l take care of that today
[12:18] Ashley Gasser: have fun with the wings
[12:18] You: =)
[12:18] Ashley Gasser: thanks
[12:18] Ashley Gasser: c u
[12:18] You: Later!