Skydiving in Second Life

Listeners of the podcast would know that I have been delving into Second Life recently. The GGP number 69 Special edition just came out also, recorded entirely in Second Life. I am really enjoying Second Life, the chatting and the interaction has been great. But this week I went looking for some excitement… I found it.

Second Life gives people the ability to do just about anything they want to. I am slowly discovering how far that can go. I have always wanted to go skydiving, when a Second Life (SL) friend offered to take me in SL I jumped at the opportunity, we had a blast!

First up I was given a free parachute. Now the free version is not that great but it works. It puts you into a freefall pose and stops you hitting the ground with an auto deploy. On your float down you can see the canopy wires and nothing else. There is also no control over flight direction. So we did a bit of jumping from high objects in SL. These came in the form of floating platforms that we flew up to. If you want to give this a try in SL you will need “The Flight Feather”. Without it you won’t be able to fly very high, you reach a ceiling and go no further, with it the ceiling is 4000 meters.

One thing worth noting is that the spatial awareness of the voice communication in SL really added to the experience. Imagine the diminishing volume coming from an avatar that just jumped off a building! Adds to the reality and the fun of it all.

Now while the jumping from objects was great, it was hard to find ones that were high enough and at great locations. So in our search for better locations, we found the jump pod. Wow! The pod is able to seat four people, it is powered and can get you up as high as 4000 meters in seconds. Before this we were jumping from, at most 500 meters. Woot! Ignore the funny pose of the avatar in the photo, some stupid faulty script about an hour earlier. Although I laughed every time I saw him…

Now we had the ability to get to a greater height we started to review our parachutes and figured that there had to be beter ones out there. For a small price there is. The Mark III chute is the next step up and we got ours for about 200 Linden (One US dollar will get you 269 Linden dollars, or there abouts). Now this chute gives you many more options:

  • Visual chute
  • Flight control
  • Target
  • Wind noise
  • Plus it will keep track of your in world scores

There are a few other features, but can’t remember them 😛

So we did a few drops with our pods and our new chutes. I laughed so hard and so long I had tears running down my face. My jump buddy was likewise impressed with the experience, we got some awesome photos, especially since they were taken with the new beta version of the viewer; WindLight. Another day dawns on SL.

Skydive 02

One of the absolute funniest things that happened during this time was that we found a great dropzone and went from the pod at 4000 M. In SL you can build in the sky, as long as you stay on the alloted area that defines your land. Seems we found a wayward building on this jump and smacked straight into it at Terminal Velocity.

You might see it in the photo, but yup that is a graveyard, it seems we were not the first to discover it. Note the structures in the back ground (you can’t see them at 4000 M!).

Skydive 03

Yesterday, we found that there was a model up from ours and we went ahead and bought the “Pro” version for an extra 100 Lindens. Money well spent and we should have got this one in the first place since it was a bit over one US dollar!

Now as well as the features above we now have added stuff that really does make this an experience worth having:

  • Deployment control
  • Altimeter HUD
  • Stunts
  • Realistic controls like flaring; don’t do it and you fall over and get knocked for the “hard” landing
  • Customizable textures (colours and look)
  • Extra animations in the script like a pool of blood when things don’t go right

Using the new chutes we found that we were able to also do co-ordinated stunt work, have heaps more fun and even attempt some base jumping. Although the base jumping has it’s issues, note the above example. The closer you are to the ground the more sky junk there is, we discovered a lot of it. I have also base jumped from the new HQ of The Podcast Network in SL, I think that is a first. We are on the lookout for more sites to jump from so let us know if you find anything in SL that you think is worth a look.

There is a lot more to this than I have included here. It is damn fun though and if you would like some help getting started then look me up in SL. My name in Second Life is “Rooster Rubble”. Say hello and how you know me. Don’t forget to get the viewer and register first!

Finally this is the best photo that was taken by CannedTuna on our first dive into Skydiving in SL, impressive isn’t it? Also thanks to Gary for being by jump buddy and exploring skydiving in Second Life.

Skydiving in SL Image by CannedTuna

Image by CannedTuna

Top Blogs on WordPress

WordPress LogoMany things attracted me to WordPress. Many things I discovered when I got here have kept me here. One of the things I discovered when I got here was the “Top WordPress.com Blogs of Today” that is displayed on the dashboard. It gave everyone the chance to be “featured”. I feel this is now a thing of the past.

The top blogs of the day feature is great and it used to be better. It used to be that anyone with a blog hosted on WordPress had the chance of being featured right there on the “homepage” when you logged into WordPress. I was excited about the fact that anyone could end up there and you did not have to be an “A-List” blogger. I am interested in what people have to say, especially that which is well written or of note. Now the list of the top four blogs on WordPress.com are usually VIP Blogs that are popular because of who they are.

[Note: Non WordPress.com readers can see the top blogs for today on WordPress here.]

Scoble and his blog Scobleizer has been hosted on WordPress for some time. WhenTop Blogs on WordPress Screenshot I joined it was always on the top, everyday. It doesn’t matter what he wrote it was on top. But, every now and then one of us not so well known bloggers piped Scoble off the top dog spot. These were the posts that really got me interested, mainly because it was because the content was worth looking at. It got my attention. So what has changed?

In late September WordPress started to off a new service for VIP bloggers. For $500 setup and $250 per month the WordPress team will set up a blog, maintain it and you get some nice VIP features. You become a VIP blog on WordPress. This is attractive for companies and “A-List bloggers” that make their income from blogging. They need a reliable service, with WordPress they get that. WordPress is a great service and offers great reliability and stability along with expertise that keep everything going and always rolling out new features. It can also handle the bandwidth required if a post ends up on Digg or Slashdot. So how does that affect me?

Now that we have VIP bloggers on WordPress like Anousheh Ansari’s “Space Blog”, Om Malik’s Web Worker Daily and more recently the Official Linden Blog, they are the Second Life people, they are always featured on the top blogs of the day. The sheer popularity and reach of these players now make the possibility of anything that I write have zero possibility of getting on the top blogs list.

I do not resent the fact that WordPress is inviting VIP’s to blog on WordPress, it makes very good business sense and I appreciate that it gives them exposure and respect within the blogosphere. But I don’t want to see a top blog list of bloggers that I could go to Techmeme and see! I want to see the “average Joe” have the opportunity to be listed as a “Top Blog”. I could not care if I never got on the list again, but I would like to think that there was always the opportunity that I could be. At this present time I have zero to none chances of making the cut. In addition this list should be dynamic and change all the time. At the moment it is like “Ground Hog Day”! Same blogs there day after day with no change, or very little. So what do I think should be done?

I think that the answer might be for the great guys at WordPress to make another list on the dashboard. Sure keep the “Top WordPress.com Blogs of today”, make that for everyone, who knows we might be able to get the traffic required to get on the list with the “A-listers”. Have another list that is formulated by taking out the “A-List” blog factor. That is; a list for the rest of us. At least then it would feel fair and not impossible to be a “Top WordPress.com Blog”.

How do other WordPress.com users feel about this idea? Is it something that you think you would appreciate? If so let the WordPress guys know and maybe we will see it. I do not think that it would be that hard to do. So how about it?