I have to apologize to any and all followers of my ToyTalks website this "Toybox Shouts" blog page.  I have been so busy in the 1st half of 2012 with so many real life activities that I have neglected to spend any time on this site to reflect some of the many artworks and activities that I have tackled in Real Life related to my art career.

So what is it that Toysoldier Thor has been doing all this time that he has neglected his ToyTalks website???  Well let me tell you ...


Started New Art Business in Real Life 
The biggest accomplishment in my real life related to my SecondLife role as an Artist is that I decided to formally start up an art website and business under my real life identity.  So basically, all my SecondLife friends and artists have already been exposed to my 2 years of artwork creation either in Flickr, Deviant Art, or in SecondLife at my main 8 floor art gallery or the many art exhibits I have been a part of.  Well over the past 3 months I have taken most of my SecondLife exposed art and I now sell this artwork onto fine quality stretched canvas & watercolor paper at any custom size!  

It took an incredible amount of time and effort to transform these photos to be ready for printing to canvas, converting them to be branded with my real name, creating the website design as well as all the content, developing a pricing strategy, figuring out how to process and ship and collect the $ securely from sales, and creating custom branded logo's and stamps for the back of all my prints.  

Well I got through all this work and the new art website looks amazing!  I successfully went live in early April.  I even have had some a few but very important sales and accomplishments related to my new real art site.  I have sold 2 of my artworks and created a very large ( 60" x 29" ) custom artwork canvas print for another customer who was amazed at the results!  Also, one of my artworks of a company branded water tower in Chicago was actually acquired by the owners of that company - my artwork now hangs in the Founder's office wall !

As part of my marketing of my art business & website in real life, I was completely humbled that I was invited next year to exhibit up to 40 of my artworks for 6 weeks at a very large corporate head quarters art wall.  I am so excited about that.

Started Creation SecondLife Mesh Artworks
I promised myself in 2011 that I would make it a goal in 2012 to ramp up my skills and learn how to create SL MESH models complete with custom model textures.  Well in early January I did start my road to learning SL Mesh and Texturing.  If you go to my inworld art gallery - on the first two floors you will be able to see several of my SL Mesh art statues / sculptures that are completely custom textured in the modeling tool and imported into SL.  Also, I have created 2D artworks of many of the 3D models.

It was an incredibly tough road to gain the skills I wanted to learn in creating these mesh models in the way I wanted them but I am now starting to get more comfortable with mesh creation.  I still have a lot to learn but the path is less bumpy and the creations are becoming much more efficient and advanced.  

I am just now starting to put several of these mesh models up for sale in Marketplace.

FLASHLIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY - My Latest Art Form Passion!
Another new and exciting area that has interested me greatly and has taken up my time is the creation of a new form of still life photography that I started experimenting with and now I have fallen deeply in love with ... Flashlight Photography.

What is that? you ask?  Well basically its a style of still life photography whereby you set up your subject and the DSLR camera on a stand.  Then you turn out all the lights, open the shutter of the camera lens, and use a dim flashlight to illuminate the parts of the subject in creative ways which is all being recorded on the camera lens.  It is the equivalent to painting the subject with a flashlight.  Below are a few samples of my resulting works that have used this method. 
Picture
Petrified Petals
Picture
Midnight Orchids - Glowing
Picture
Mystic Mask
You can click on any one of them to see an enlarged image of them OR you can go into my SecondLife inworld art gallery and see all of my flashlight photography artworks on the 1st floors.

As you can see from the three examples I have shown, the colors and and shadow control and ability to completely black out the background makes this method of still life photography so exciting for me !!

More Things To Do!!
So those are my highlights of some of the exciting things that have kept me so busy in real life and unfortunately not as attentive to keeping this site up to date as much as I would like to.  Obviously many of the things I mentioned in this blog posting that have kept me busy will continue to keep me busy as they evolve and grow.  But I will try harder to keep this site updated with what I am doing.

Thanks to all of you for following my site and my activities in SecondLife and my art community.  

Hugs!!

Toysoldier Thor
 
On February 24th, 2012 Toy's portfolio of art was artistically reviewed by Italian art critic Lucianna Pinazzo from the Mondi Virtuali Art, Fashion, and Technology website.  The review was thorough and went into great depth.

Following is a link to the full review:

  http://www.mondivirtuali.it/portal/en/content/toysoldiers-landscape

Lucianna, who manages the GRAPHIC DREAMS group within the SecondLife art community's popular www.koinup.com virtual art website, spent a great deal of effort to fully review all of Toysoldier's artwork portfolio - including many of Toy's latest 3D artworks.

After reading the review, Toy is humbled at the extremely kind review and compliments expressed in the review.  To even be stylistically compared to the works of El Greco, Van Gogh, Chagal, and Dahi is truly humbling and appreciated.

Toy wants to thank Lucianna and Mondi Virtuali site for the surprising and detailed artistic review of his art.
 
Almost as a symbol of Toy's commitment to understand and start developing SecondLife 3D Mesh, in the first couple days of 2012 Toy created and imported his first Mesh Model into SecondLife. 

This was not planned.  The perfect timing of Toy's creation of a 3D model created as a photo model to create a series of  2D artworks and an announcement from the University of Western Australia (UWA) of a 3D Artists challenge inspired Toy attempt to bring his new model into SL for an entry to this challenge.


After a marathon of trying to get an extremely high rez sculptris model (not designed to be used as a SL mesh) into SL via several export/import processes, Toy got a workable SL mesh of the SWIMMERS into SL.  He only had 5 hours left to create a submission for this UWA event.  He accomplished his goal.  You can see a SL photo of his submission as it sits at the UWA event.

Toy's submission has the Swimmers couple escaping from swirling darkness.to arrive to their goals.  Toy included a displayed copy of the 2D artwork that was used as a template for the SL 3D submission.
Toy initially was inspired to freehand sculpt a 3D digital model in a tool called Sculptris.  After 2 days of creating this model, it was digitally photographed and integrated into the first of a few 2D photo art works called SWIMMERS - THE ARRIVAL.

When Toy received an announcement from the coordinator of the UWA 3D Artists Challenge of the up-coming "Self Portraits" challenge, he felt his recent work would be a good candidate.  It only had a 2 day entry deadline.  Toy decided to make his first attempt to import his 3D model into SL as a Mesh.  If he could, he would try to make a submission resembling the 2D artwork. 
Toy is very humbled to be an entrant among several of the other Artists and their absolutely amazing submissions at this UWA challenge that officially opened for all to see as of January 5th 2012.  The theme of the challenge is called "SELF PORTRAIT".  Toy strongly encourages all his friends in SL to come tour this event and be amazed at how some of the first public examples of SL Artistic Mesh models can look.  Remember that you must have a viewer that is MESH Capable.

Below is the poster of the challenge.  Click on the image below to link to the official blog providing all the details of the event.

Hope to see you all there and please remember to vote for the 
 
So as many of my countless good friends in SecondLife already know, for 3 years I have been an avid and addicted regular SL KARAOKE SINGER - mainly at the O'Lounge Karaoke Club.  My growlie grissled voice style has been my singing character and I use it to belt out several new and old rock tunes from some of my fave bands like Nickelback, Staind, Seether, Metalica, and many more.  I also mix it up with some soft tunes in the rock, country, and pop genres.

Well it seems the management from the very popular KICKIN Club in SL believes my unique voice stylings and tune selections would be great fun at their club for a singing gig!  So, against my better judgement, I accept to do my first even real singing gig in SL.

I would love for you all to join me on Wednesday December 28th at 11pm SLT at the Kickin Club to support me, cheer wildly (even if you dont like what you might here - hehehe), and have a good time listening to me sing some awseome popular fott tapping tunes.

Here is the LM (LandMark to the Club:
  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Waving%20Palms%20Beach/49/226/21

I would love to have you join me - hope to see you!

Toy
 
Just a cool announcement to make to all of Toy's Website / Blog followers...

Toysoldier Thor is featured in the November issue of the popular Moolto More Magazine's PHOTOGRAPHER OF THE MONTH.

In this two page feature spread, a detailed bio of Toy's background and history in SecondLife is presented as well as a few sample photo artworks.

http://issuu.com/moolto-maxesloon/docs/november2011/98
 
On Sunday Morning in the virtual world of SecondLife (at 1am SLT)  the amazing builders and owners of the LOOKING GLASS sim ( Location "Horizon Dream 20/24/27" ) hosted an amazing concert of lights sights and sounds!

I took countless SL photos during the concert and decided to create my first ever Video!

The 1+ hour spectacular show of moving flowing virtual world light particles was a feast for the eyes of all audience members that sat around the gorgoues greek temple ruins on the top of a perfect landscape mound.  As our eyes were dazzled by fireworks of moving lights, the amazing electronic music sounds added the amazing blend of emotions to the incredible lights.

TheLights spectacular was created by the amazing Particle Artist INTERFACED DREAMSCAPE!  The music was created by the talented works of NUVOLINO.

Unfortunately this video is only a collage of several photos I took of the show as my mind melted into the stimulation of sight and sounds.  I was lucky enough for Nuvolino to provide me a sample of his incredible music that was used for this show.

Hopefully this small video of images provides you a small taste of the beauty that was created by these Artists within SECONDLIFE.
 

So for all my fellow SecondLife residents that are heavily involved in the Creator / Merchant community and are active Merchants in SL, you are very well aware of the disastrous and even on-going events that occurred on September 13th when the LL Commerce Team finally and with extreme levels of communication stealth deployed the first major fundamental Marketplace (MP) overhaul changes in preparation for the up-coming Direct Delivery (DD) deployment.

Prior to last week's fiasco there already had been a growing level of Merchant community mistrust and suspicion regarding the stealthy activities going on behind closed doors in the LL Commerce Team over the spring / summer.  The traditionally LL loyal Merchant held out hope that even though Brooke's team refused any communications about her team's activities (especially the major overhaul of the MP delivery system to DD), they trusted that whatever was being done in secret would be done right, properly tested, deployed with little risk to the Merchant's ability to sell, and most importantly, it would be communicated very openly and transparently and with a lot of advanced notice.  

Brooke's video captured presentation at SLCC when she talked about DD stated very clearly that - to paraphrase - "we are dealing with financial transactions here so we MUST get it right before we get it done quick..." may have given some Merchants a wrong sense of increased blind faith that THIS TIME LL WILL DO THINGS RIGHT.

Others like myself were openly and vocally expressing concerns and growing mistrust.  We had already witnessed this team's (even past generations of this team) long standing rock solid reputation / history of poor coding, near zero basic code  testing, horrid level of open communications with the community, and a well-practiced strategy to use their customers as their Testers by deploying beta-classed code into production.  

So as we (the Merchant sceptics) watched how Brooke was running this DD deployment, the warning bells were ringing loud for anyone that would listen in our community that there was trouble brewing when LL starts to actually deploy DD.  Her repeated refusal to openly share her team's progress on any activities - much less DD.  Her decision to gag the DD Beta testers with NDA.  Her refusal to openly ask for and accept inputs from the Merchants on even the requirements for the DD.  And then last week when only a day before the dreaded Sep 13th deploy of the first DD code, Brooke posts a short and vague warning message to the community that - to paraphrase- "...some changes will be going in place tomorrow we wont tell you until after the change what we did".  


Well the change was an utter completely deployment failure.  Even the most basic bugs were not caught by the LL team.  Merchants like myself that rely upon MP for 70% of our sales watched our already collapsed sales in August plummet to near zero sales in the days after the change.

Fully expected and justifiable, the Merchant community exploded in anger and frustration in the days and now weeks since.  LL did not back the change out and go back and retest.  They did what they are always known to do... they left the beta-code in production and didnt care how the bugs were impacting their customers.  They decided to fix the bugs in place.  Why? because that way they could use us Merchants once again as their code testers.

When this anger and frustration of the LL Commerce Team's pure incompetence was brought to Rodvik's attention, sadly there was nothing from the Leader of LL about this.  He took no visible actions.  He showed no leadership nor did he or has he spoke up on the bogs / forums and started to rebuild the lost trust the community has in his LL Commerce Team.  Rodvik to date is following the same Blackout Communications strategy that his Commerce Team follows. 

SOOOO.... among the countless things that LL has done wrong within the Commerce Team, what is the NUMBER ONE factor that has destroyed this team's and even LL's credibility within the Merchant community?

  1. Its not the proven inability to develop strong effective strategy for the Commerce Product group.
  2. Its not the proven long history of not being able to fully understand the requirements of LL's customers when developing new code.
  3. Its not the team's ineffective and bug-ridden coding.
  4. Its not the team's horrendous Q/A code testing - even though its proven again not to exist

Then WOW.... if its not any of these factors, what is the biggest hole in the LL Commerce Team's boat?  What is the number one factor that has sunk all confidence and trust among the Merchant community and scares the Merchants the most in the week / months to come?

 POOR INEFFECTIVE NON-EXISTENT CLOSED BIASED COMMUNICATIONS

When Brooke made her first presence in January and took over from the last generation of failed Commerce Management, she seemed to show signs of wanting to take a more interactive yet unemotional business-level approach to communicating.  A great approach to stay calm and unbiased and interact even with those that might be your most vocal critic.

The first major problem was that the first major deliverable forced upon her by some out-of-touch Sr. LL management to deploy into MP was the poorly planned maturity filters.  As we all know, the maturity filters (which were the MP execution of the disastrous Teenification of the Grid strategy of 2010) were already a sore spot for most Merchants.  Then her team's deployment of the filter were poorly coded and QA'ed (as is the case with most LL deployments) and caused major disruptions and confusion and lost sales to large segments of the community. 

This is not a good way for any Sr. Product Manager to start her career with her customer base.   "Hi I'm Brooke and over the next few weeks I will start by making an even bigger mess of the new and infinished deploy of MP.  I hope you all still trust and like me when I am finished."

For any seasoned Sr. Product Manager, this would have been a bad strategy but even if it was forced, he/she would have kept in mind that the #1 success factor to maintain trust with a customer is open, transparent and unbiased communication with the customer.  In fact, even more communications - specially with the critics - would have been a major strategy component.

What was Brooke's strategy?  Well shortly have getting through the angry responses of the maturity filters, you could visibly notice her new strategy was to:
  1. Reduce open communication with the community on forums to bare minimum updates of changes to MP
  2. Abandon any initial attempts to bridge all past attempts of establishing a healthy constructive method of communications with Merchants.
  3. Communications blackout with her most vocal critics - the ones with legit concerns.  Me being one of them - I can tell you how blatant her snubbing of the nose is to me as I get fellow Merchants to get her to respond to my questions.
  4. Shut down any communication of strategy, direction, updates of even the most critical activities her team is working on.  (ex. NDA secret Beta Test Team for DD)
  5. Downplay the details of any changes that were being deployed into MP in hopes things go right and no one will notice.

The climax the level of degraded communications from Brooke and her team was her handling of the change deployed on the 13th and the subsequent refusal to communicate publicly with the community on where her team went wrong, what they will do to fix the lost trust in her team, and to begin finally being open with Merchants (who have openly asked her to start answering question on DD) on what in store for us in the coming weeks. 

Even if this Sep 13th change was properly coded and properly QAed by LL and the secret Beta team, the magnitude of these changes would have still upset the Merchant community for failing to adequately prepare us for the magnitude of the changes. But what compounded the level of anger was that her hope for a smooth clean bug-free install (which NEVER happens with LL) that went any way but right.

Brooke has assured that any trust of LL and the Commerce Team is DESTROYED.

When an entire product team's trust and community confidence is lost, the only solution is for the CEO to engage and visibly take action to start rebuilding this trust.  Sadly, regardless of all the escalations to Rodvik on this critical issue, the man in the LL BIG BOY CHAIR has decided to follow the same strategy as the Commerce Team - refuse to take accountability, pretend the public doesn't see the serious issues, hope the community will settle down again, and take a quiet DO NOTHING APPROACH.

This is where Rodvik, the Sr. Commerce Management,  Brooke all receive major failing grades.

The actions of Brooke and the Commerce Team are not surprising as this has been how all past generations of the Commerce Team have operated and with no cleanup from the LL Executives.

BUT, my biggest disappointment lies with how Rodvik is handling this critical issue.  I really did have hopes the Rodvik "GOT IT" and understood that regained trust within his existing customer-base would be the #1 priority since a happy customer is a company's best form of PR.  But I have lost a lot of respect and trust on Rodvik's ability based on his lack of handling of this critical growing issue.

So, Rodvik, its time to get out of your Big Boy chair, take accountability & visible action to prove you can deal not only with the fun toys of SL like Mesh, but also the tough burning fires within troubled product groups like the Commerce Group.

Toysoldier Thor
http://ToyTalks.weebly.com
 
If you are an SL PHOTOGRAPHER & SL PHOTO ARTIST that does sell or plans to sell your photo-art creations.... you might want to read this blog as it will surely impact you.

I wanted to bring up an issue that myself and several fellow SL Photo Artists have noticed as a growing trend that will effect many of us SL Photo Artists.  As I am a budding SL Photo Artist that has actually transitioned my SL photo art hobby into a small but hopefully growing commercial activity, this issue is already and will sure increase as a growing issue for me.

The issue is that a growing list of SL's amazing Sim Builders & Owners of some of the most beautiful and photogenic sims are actively changing their sim / Parcel covenants to ban or heavily restrict SL photography.  Some of these sims that have recently taken on this photo restriction include some of the most beautiful an most commonly photographed sims in SL.  sims that many of us love to explore, take photos of and convert to the photo art we display in groups like the Deviant Art group that I run, Flickr, and in the countless in-world galleries.

Just to provide many of you a little background knowledge on photo rights in SL, the default Linden Lab TOS permissions allows the photography of any publicly accessible parcel of Land for what ever use the photographer sees fit AS LONG AS THE SIM OWNER DOES NOT OTHERWISE RESTRICT IT - AS STATED IN THE LAND'S COVENANT. Therefore, if you go to a beautiful public accessible Sim and see a beautiful scene and take photos of it, you can do whatever you want with the photos you take - including using the photo outside of SL for personal or commercial use.  

Following is Linden Lab's official policy on Snapshots and Machimina so you can read it verbatim.  Take particular note of section #1.

LINDEN LAB Official:  Snapshot and machimina policy

Sadly for SL Photo Artists there has been a growing trend recently among SIM Builders / Owners to restrict SL photography by placing explicit restrictions in their covenant of their Land.  Each is uniquely defined.

The level of restriction varies but often the restriction is to ban the use of any photography of the sim for commercial use.  In other words, photographers are allowed to take snaps of a sim and the builds upon it but only for personal use. For a lot of SL photographers this is not much of a restriction since they NEVER had any intension to convert the photos into gorgoues Photo Art that might be possibly sold.  But for many of us Photo Artists, we have intentions to possible sell the SL Photo Art we have created.  In fact, if you have an SL photo art here in Deviant Art and you press the "SELL THIS AS A PRINT" like I do on almost all my DA art then you are in violation of the sim Owners restriction if the art used a photo that was taken while there was a covenant restriction on it.

I give one of my artworks as an example of a very popular set of simes that most of us have been to and photographed and set up for sale - my MORNING MEADOW HUNT  at the gorgeous Gulf Of Lune.  This sim as well as other sims like Misty Mountains that are from the same group ownership ( Forest of Lothlorian ) recently added restrictions on photography.  Luckily for me, I took the photos before they changed their Covenant and recorded the text of the covenant and the date when I took my photos there. Since the sim owners cannot retroactively enforce a change in photography policies, my current photos are safe and can still be used commercially. BUT sadly this group of some of SL's most beautiful sims will no longer be on my list of sims to photograph and convert to PHOTO ART - thanks to the new photo restrictions the group has added to their sims.

Now, I want to make a clear statement right now that I do not hold any anger against the SIM Builders and Owners in SL if they wish to start placing photo restrictions on their lands since I do see their 3D building, texturing, and design/assembly as being a true work of art.  It is fully in their rights as allowed by LL TOS to specifically restrict photography however they wish.  In fact, I am a builder of scultpy landscaping terrains & water and many of my customers are some of these amazing sim builders that we all love to photo.  


Also, some of these sim owners are good friends of mine.  In fact, several months ago I approached one of my friends that has one of SL's most beautiful sims to inform him that even though I did not require asking permission to use my photos of his sim, did he have any issues. He was very surprised and not aware that by default LL's TOS policy allowed my rights to photo his sim and use it the way I want.  He allowed me and then changed his sim's photo restriction covenant.  This is the gorgeous "Looking Glass" sim.  Although I have been given permission to photo there for potential commercial use, I know of other photo artists that have already stated they would not spend time doing photo art at Looking Glass or other restricted sims and instead direct their efforts elsewhere in SL.  This is not a surprising response.

I want to also point out that for some of these sim builder / owners, the restriction is not absolute.  A commercial photo artist could approach the sim builder / owner and ask formal permission and clearance to take photography for commercial use.  Unfortunately, many of the sim owner's covenant details do not make this clear and as such many of my fellow photo artists will simply not bother with the hassle of locating the actual owner and going through all the formalities of getting formal written permission to get approval.  Path of least resistance, we will just take photos at sims with no restrictions.

But as an SL Photo Artist with commercial aspirations regarding what I create using SL photos, I find this growing trend to be sad and disappointing.  This growing trend will also will have a natural and growing reactionary response from SL Photo Artist community (not those that are just taking SL photos for personal use) of avoiding these restrictive sims as a source / subject for their photo art.  This in turn will mean that some of SL's most beautiful sims be avoided by some of SL's most amazing SL Photo Artists as a subject.  

Not only does this harm many of the SL SIM Builders who have intention of building a beautiful sim as a powerful marketing tool to attract traffic (often by us Photo Artists), but, it also harms Linden Lab and SL growth in general since one of SL's more powerful marketing tool to attract new residents is by non-SL residents admiring our art at sites like Flickr and Deviant Art and being intrigued enough to decide to become SL residents themselves.  And of course it hurts us SL Photo Artists that spend a lot of effort converting the raw SL photos we take in SL for the purpose of selling our art.

If you think this doesnt affect you as an SL Artist - remember that even if today you were to go to the GULF OF LUNE and take a photo of it and create a photo-art from it and then sell it inworld at your gallery in SL, you are violating the sim owner's covenent and LL TOS.  Selling inworld is a commercial activity.

Early in SL's history, LL created the amazing and popular ability for SL Residents to take photos of any public accessible sims and treat the licensing of these photos similar to a RL person going to a public place and taking photos. This action has created one of SL's busiest activities and industries.  There are literally 1000's of Art Galleries in SL.  There has countless SL residents that have risen to become popular SL Artists and even sell their amazing works in RL.  But with the growing trend of SL Sim Builders / Owners restriction photographer's rights, I fear this will be a move that will have long term negative impacts to many players involved in the issue - including the sim owners themselves.

There is no Right or Wrong on this issue and I see both sides, but I am personally sad to see this growing trend.

What are your thoughts?

Toysoldier Thor

http://ToyTalks.weebly.com
 
So LL Residents and anyone else who would seem to care about the health of SecondLife's economy which also directly relates to the health and viability of Linden Lab as a company, here is my take on the latest Linden Lab Q2-2011 Economic Summary.

The reason I am posting my comments on this LL Economic report is not as much the dissappointing results reported, but moreso to expose both the fact that many of the reporting charts are trivial & missing some critical data elements and that the creative license that the LL author used to sugar coat the bad news or squeeze the most excitement out of the little good news was to the level of embarrassing.

Before I begin, here is the link to the Official LL Q2-11 Economic Summary , by clicking on it you will get a new window of the LL page.  Keep this window up as you read this blog so you can use it as a reference.  I will talk through the report's sections from top to bottom.  So let me go through a few of the latest Q2-11 charts and report summaries.

DAILY COMPLETED REGISTRATIONS:
In the report's introduction, the stats in this section is used as an anchor highlight statistic to tell us that this something for all of us to get excited about.  And when you look at the chart without taking a critical look at what is being present, you would be inclined to agree with LL that this is a good sign.

But for any  LL / SL resident with any experience about the virtual world, you would quickly see that this stat by itself has little value to provide any true picture of what to get excited about.  This chart shows total completed daily registrations.  What LL is not reporting in this highly summarized chart are two critical breakdowns of this number which would escalate this chart from trivial to a very telling and valuable bit of information.

There should be two charts created in this section:

  1. A 3 element chart showing TOTAL & its NEW CUSTOMER vs ALT account creation ratio.  Without this breakdown, we all do not know if most of the new and growing completed registrations are just more ALTs for existing customers.  ALTs are not strong GROWTH accounts and does far less to generate new infusion of cash vs a NET NEW RL User would.
  2. The TOTAL & its PREMIUM vs FREE ACCOUNT accounts being registered.


So to Rodvik, if you want to provide a more clear view of SL's economic health, have your team enhance this section.  Until then, the LL Author of this report should not brag too much this section being a HIGHLIGHT growth indicator - its incomplete trivia.

AVERAGE MONTHLY UNIQUE LOGGED-IN USERS:
So this is a section where the stat is valid (in fact I am happy that they are reporting an industry standard benchmark) but the LL Report Author took creative license on interpreting the results to make a bad picture look good.  

Notice how this Q's results are explained as being 2.8% better than last quarter.  

First of all, comparing this stat to last Q is not that important as what most analysts would be looking at is how this Q compares to the longer term history.  Since LL reports current Q to the past 5 Q's, I am looking at the bigger picture.  Yes its good news that SL saw a growth in unique logins, but its still in a recovery mode from a presented peak in Q1-2010 and still about 2.5% below this peak.

Second, as you read this report, notice how the Author decides when the current Q is compared to the previous Q vs comparing this Q to the longer term history of last year.  Let me help you out - when its bad news the Author compares to last Q only, but, when its good news the Author compares against the more important longer term history.  

This is the embarrassing part of the report.  Does the Author not think we are smart enough to look at the charts and see bad new for ourselves?  It just make the Author look like a Propaganda Flinger.

USER  HOURS:
So this section shows the most clear factor of BAD NEWS for SL and yet the Author spins the results with a very brief "its not that bad now lets quickly move on" summary interpretation of the results.

This is one result that I am sure everyone noticed and what keep Rodvik awake at night as a CEO.  Why?  Well for many reasons:

  1. It shows that User Hours continues to slide this Q and has been throughout the past 6 reported Qs.  The trend is that total time spent in SL is constantly declining.  No signal that the trend is breaking or turning around - even with Rodvik at the helm.  
  2. Its down 11% from its peak in Q1-2010 which means that since Jan 2010, users are now spending 13 million hours less time in SL than now!  Even compared to last Q, SL has lost ~ 1 million hours of user activity.
  3. This stat also sheds clear light on the truth behind the first stat of completed daily registrations.  If daily registrations have significantly increased but user hours has declined, it tells me that most of the new registrations are ALTS since a single human SL User is often logged in with only one of his/her ALTs (the time logged in is shared among the ALTs he/she controls).
  4. This is also a potentially disturbing indication that maybe a lot of SL User Accounts are being abandoned since users have walked away from the game.  What chart I would love to see reported is a chart showing total registered accounts and what percent of the accounts have Last Logged In within the Last month, Quarter, Year.  This would clearly show the rate of account abandonment and turnover.


For all you SL Analysts / Observers, watch this number over the following Qs.  Rodvik needs to turn this one around and so far that is not happening.  Lower online activity directly relates to lower economic activities - including for the Merchant community trying to sell products.

AVERAGE MONTHLY ECONOMIC PARTICIPANTS:
I will honestly admit that I am still not sure what this stat is all about.  But I did decipher that the lower the number - the worse the situation.  As was pointed out above, take note - BAD NEW = Compare to last quarter only and quickly move the reader onto the next stat.

AVERAGE EXCHANGE RATE:
This reported stat is one LL could have pretty much saved virtual space on the report by not reporting to the community.  Since LL completely controls and manipulates the $L/US$ exchange value by the amount of its own selective participation in the Lindex, they can hold the Exchange rate at pretty much what ever value they want.  so unless the SL economy completely collapses, LL will always be able to make this value look steady and healthy.

What you will notice in this section is how the Author saw an opportunity to brag about how the results are better than LL's longer term history, especially for a stat that LL can fully manipulate.  The Propaganda Flinger in action.

move on to the next stat.....

L$ SUPPLY
This stat looks like exciting and positive but to me I do not see how the $L cash reserves held by customers is any indicator of strength or weakness.  Until it is understood why Customers are holding more Lindens vs cashing it out, the stat is just an interesting stat.  It could just as easily indicate that the economy is staling out as LL Customers are holding onto vs spending their L$.  For example, if someone buys from my store, that indicates economic activity but since I cash out my profits every week, you should see a drop in overall reserves.

Also, the Author reported that they have been changing the factors that goes into this report.  So, you dont even know if the increase or decrease is an apples-to-apples comparison.

LINDEX VOLUME:
Two things about this stat.

First, as per normal in this report, the Author sees an opportunity to compare this Q to a longer term history of Q2-2010 because it makes SL look more healthy.  

Second, this report is also missing a major breakdown of activity which would be a lot more telling and more valuable a figure.  LL should break this report into TOTAL VOLUME  and also the TOTAL LINDEN PURCHASES FROM US$ vs LINDEN CREDITS TO US$ (i.e. inflow vs outflow of Lindens to US$).

WEB MERCHANDISE SALES VOLUME:
So this stat is one that again looks exciting but without a larger picture, this could actually be bad news.  It looks awesome that LL can show how Merchandise sales volumes on the Marketplace has increased by as much as 38% from last year  (PS - this fact is getting old but notice how the Author brags about the long term amazing growth).

But now as a Merchant who makes about 70% of my sales in the SLM marketplace and 30% from inworld sales, this stat does not and cannot show if the increase in merchandise sales volume is at the cost of lost inworld sales.  This is what so many Merchants have talked about for a long time.  Has SLM created a market environment that is forcing / encouraging SL Customers / Shoppers to leave the inworld community to shop on the web? If they do, what is the impact of inworld sales of merchandise - how big has the inworld drop in sales been?  And if shoppers are discouraged from exploring and browsing the inworld to shop - how many impromptu sales are being missed?  

Its already known that a lot of Merchants have been reducing the number of inworld store, and reducing the size of their stores (i.e. smaller parcels, abandoning shopping/mall sims, moving to renting at a mall, malls shutting down).  So LL might be excited that SLM sales have rocketed - but they do not show the full economic impact of how much LL has lost in reduced Tier revenue and reduced inworld sales.

This is not a stat for LL to brag about unless they show how it plays with the bigger picture.  All indications from all the Merchant discussion boards are that LL is gutting inworld Merchant activity and moving it to SLM.

WORLD SIZE:
Last stat provided in the report.  Well its like all the other stats that are bad news.  And, as I just explained in the last section, this stat shows evidence how LL could be forcing a reduction in inworld activity because of policies and activities like strongly promoting SLM and the encouraging SL Residents to spend more time on places like Facebook instead of promoting inworld activities.

CONCLUSION:
So, as you can see, the LL Q2-2011 report is not great news at all.  It shows that even with Rodvik at the helm the SL Titanic has still not shown signs of turning away from the Iceberg ahead.  And it also shows that the LL Staff feel its better to try to sugar coat the clearly bad news than to just be objective and call a spade a spade.

So, what are all your thought on the Q2-2011 Economy Report as well as my analysis of the report.  throw your comments in here!  As this analysis blog post is posted during the annual RL SLCC ... someone there ask Rodvik these questions.

Toysoldier Thor
http://ToyTalks.weebly.com
 
A very exciting milestone passed by yesterday evening - July 30th 2011...
 
After only 2 weeks since Toy's Art Gallery Grand Opening event "Mirages of Art" on July 17th-18th, the gallery welcomed its 500th Visitor!

Toy could not be more shocked and happy at the overwhelming response from the SecondLife residents and its vibrant art community to have reached 500 visitors in just under 2 weeks since it opened its doors.
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SecondLife Destination Guide Listing
Although Toy could attribute a lot of this success to a strong awareness promotion campaign within many of the active online SL Media outlets, twitter, SL blogs, and SL's official forums, the primary factor to this heavy traffic has been Linden Lab placing Toys Art Gallery and the Mirages of Art exhibit into their official SecondLife Destination Guide

Toy is not sure how his event got noticed by Linden Labs to the extent that it was placed an official Destination Guide listing, but he wants to express appreciation to whomever at Linden Lab that visited the Gallery, took photos, and added the gallery to the Destination guide.

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SL Newsers - Gallery Review Article
Another potential reason for the amazing traffic was a recent full and detailed Exhibit Review/Article from the SECONDLIFE NEWSER online magazine.  As was described in a recent ToyTalks Shouts blog posting pointed out, the review was so well written and offered a glowing review of the exciting features of Toy's gallery and the 50 works of art that visitors would experience when visiting.


As Toy continues to create new artworks, he will be placing them into the gallery to keep display of art fresh for repeat visitors.  He also encourages visitors who wish to have a beautiful and peaceful place to relax and slow dance under the mystical flowing stars on his top floor patio to please send as much time as they wish.

Toy wishes to thank everyone that both helped promote his new gallery & Mirages Of Art exhibit and more importantly to all SecondLife residents that love and support the vibrant art community within SL.


If you have not yet visited the Art Gallery, you are welcomed with open arms.  If you wish to receive any updates Toy's art and gallery activities please follow postings on this site.  Alternatively you could join Toy's Art Gallery Group in-world.  The "subscribeomatic" group signup kiosk can be found on the top floor of his gallery.

Thanks again everyone!

Toysoldier Thor