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IBM Corp. didn't throw a lavish casino party or set up an over-the-top booth to mark its return to the International Consumer Electronics Show for the first time in a decade. Rather, the company reserved its most ambitious consumer initiative for the virtual world.
On Monday, IBM announced plans to build virtual stores for Sears Holdings Corp. and Circuit City Stores Inc. in the popular online world "Second Life." The partnerships could help IBM expand its consulting services to corporate clients interested in the growing number of people who belong to immersive online environments, also called the "3-D Internet."
"Second Life" is a subscription-based, 3-D fantasy world devoted to capitalism - a 21st century version of Monopoly that generates real money for successful players. More than 2.4 million people worldwide have Second Life characters, called avatars.
At one point Monday afternoon, 22,000 avatars were logged onto Second Life, socializing by instant messages or engaging in virtual pastimes such as flying, dancing, gambling or watching adult videos.
At the "Sears Virtual Home," avatars of IBM architects greeted guests with glasses of merlot and invitations to sit in recliners and watch flat-screen televisions in a fantasy home theatre.
The idea is to help consumers see how Sears' refrigerators, televisions, counter tops, garage doors, storage cabinets and other products look in a 3-D environment. Visitors can swap cabinets with counter tops to determine which combination they like most, and they may follow links to purchase items from the Sears' main Web site.
Eventually, avatars will be able to type in precise room dimensions and come up with design ideas and even blueprints for kitchens, garages or home theatres.
In the Circuit City headquarters on Second Life, avatars could get information on products sold in real stores and configure couches and flat-screen televisions to see what might look best in their real-world living room. A "digital adviser" gave tips about moving the couch back or forward depending on the size of the monitor.
IBM's chief technologist, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, acknowledged that virtual-world business is in the experimental stage.

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IBM Corp. is launching an ambitious marketing campaign in the hip virtual world "Second Life."
Big Blue has developed 12 "virtual islands," and most will be open to anyone with a Second Life account starting next week. Other areas will remain private haunts for about 800 IBM employees - including the CEO - who have cyber alter-egos.
Second Life is a subscription-based 3-D fantasy world devoted to capitalism - a 21st century version of Monopoly that generates real money for successful players. More than 1.95 million people worldwide have Second Life characters, called avatars.
At any given time, 10,000 or more avatars may be logged onto Second Life, socializing by instant messages or engaging in virtual pastimes such as flying, dancing, gambling or watching adult videos.
Second Life is notoriously buggy; avatars may spontaneously shed clothing, hair or limbs, and sometimes graphics take several seconds to render. In September, the San Francisco-based company that runs Second Life, Linden Labs, warned that a security breach may have exposed subscribers' data, including credit card numbers and passwords.
IBM's chief technologist, Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, acknowledged Tuesday that virtual-world business is the "experimental stage." Big Blue doesn't expect to generate a profit in Second Life soon.

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Second Life 1.13.0 was released on Wednesday, 29 November 2006. The grid was closed from 7:00am - 12:00 noon PST (15:00-20:00 GMT).
You will need to upgrade to the newest version to login afterwards.

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The International Spaceflight Museum is a museum in the virtual world of Second Life. It hosts exhibits and events about real-world spacecraft, rockets, and space travel. The museum is located on the island sim Spaceport Alpha.
The organization that manages and develops the museum is the Spaceflight Museum Planning Group, a group of Second Life residents from around the world who share an interest in spaceflight.

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Second Life (SL) is a privately owned, partly subscription-based 3-D virtual world, made publicly available in 2003 by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, and founded by former RealNetworks CTO Philip Rosedale. The Second Life "world" resides in a large array of servers that are owned and maintained by Linden Lab, known collectively as "the grid". The Second Life client program provides its users (referred to as Residents) with tools to view and modify the SL world and participate in its virtual economy, which concurrently has begun to operate as a "real" market. At precisely 8:05:45 AM PDT, October 18, 2006, the population of Second Life hit 1 million Residents.

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http://secondlife.com/


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