2008 Predictions Reviewed

child avatars, economy, forecast, last names, research, software development 9 Comments

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On January 1, 2008 I made 10 predictions for the new year. One of them was voted #3 most popular in New World Notes a few days later. Now that 2008 is nearly over, let’s see how I did with all of them. If I did well enough, I’ll post something similar for 2009 shortly. Read the rest…

Changes to Official “Join Now” System

last names, research, software development 6 Comments

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I have been researching the new Join Now facility. Here is what I have found so far.
When you go to one of the old registration portals, which were Join Now #0, Join Now #1, Join Now #2, Join Now #3, Join Now #4, Join Now #5, Join Now #6, Join Now #7, Join Now #8, Join Now #9, Join Now #10, Join Now #11, Join Now #12, Join Now #13, Join Now #14, Join Now #15, Join Now #16, Join Now #17, Join Now #18, Join Now #19, Join Now #20, Join Now #21, Join Now #22, and Join Now #23, there is now a chance to be redirected to a new Join Now system. I call the new system “Webster” based on the hostnames of the destination machines, webster0.lindenlab.com through webster9.lindenlab.com. To avoid confusion, I will refer to the previous secure-web0 through 23 system as “the old system”.
You still have a chance of staying on the old system, but it is more likely than not that you will be redirected to the Webster system. It does not seem to be deterministic, but doesn’t seem to be totally random, either. I cannot figure out the system, if there is one. I believe this falls in the category of A/B testing, which Linden Lab® previously announced.
In the old system, you are presented with a drop down of 40 last names to select for your new account, no matter how many last names are actually available system-wide. At this moment, there are 100 last names available through all the official join now pages, in aggregate. If you land on a secure-web page and are not redirected away from the old system, you will see only 40 of these names in the drop-down menu. The list depends on what secure-web# was used to form the url, and what time of day you visit. Go to two different secure-web# pages at the same time, and you will get two different lists of names. This state will last for 15 minutes or so, and then the names will shuffle around. They will stay in this state for another 15 minutes or so, etc. This is what made my web solution, Get The Last Name You Want possible.
The Webster system has some similar characteristics, with some key differences.
Linden Lab® makes an assumption that you start from an interesting first name, and you want to find a good last name for it. (As you can see from some comments on my previous post about SLNameWatch, this approach to selecting an account name is not universal.) Because of this assumption, you will not see a list of last names to choose from until you enter a first name. After you enter a desired first name, you press Get Available Last Names. Then, a drop down will be populated only with last names that have the desired first name available for it. Even thought this drop-down has a maximum capacity of 40 last names, I don’t believe the list is fixed as it is in the old system. In my limited tests it appears that if you chose a somewhat popular name that is still available, the Webster system will go OUTSIDE of its normal pool of 40 last names, and present you with a complete list of last names available for the given first name, assuming that said list is shorter than 40. This is difficult for me to verify without direct access to the database, but I have run one test and its seems to be the case.
Assuming my tests are accurate, I believe that Get The Last Name You Want is rendered obsolete. My recommendation to SLNameWatch users is to go directly to the non-specific official join now page and let yourself be re-directed. If you do not land on the Webster system (you can tell because the Webster system has a dozen images of avatars to chose from at the top of the page), then try again later. As always, you can stop by SLNameWatch home page to see what names are available system-wide, and to join an alert list to be notified when LL adds new names to the available pool so you can have the first crack at getting a great first name to go with a good last name. Kudos to LL for making their own Join Now system better, and for partially closing the gap between my add-on service, and the official registration system.
I will miss the small Refer-A-Friend bonuses. I will keep my eyes open for any additional services I can provide if LL should change the system again, or if the Webster system turns out to have any exploitable shortcomings. Thank you.
– Big Adz ))

SLNameWatch Donation Kiosk and Update

last names, photos, products, software development, volunteer 10 Comments

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I made this SLNameWatch Donation Kiosk in May, but I haven’t posted an announcement until now. I don’t regret working many hours on this project one bit, and I will probably work many more. I am having fun and learning alot about C# and libsecondlife that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise — much more than I signed up for, LOL. That is reward enough for now. I’m not about to give details about the maintenance costs of the SLNameWatch webserver and census robot, or claim that your financial support is desperately needed to keep it running — not yet, at least. slnamewatch donation kiosk in Milu

(If you are familiar with php+mysql web hosting costs and the hardware requirements for a libsecondlife bot, you can probably make a pretty accurate guess at my recurring costs.) Any “fictional currency” you “donate” goes directly to me to offset hours worked. I cannot guarantee that your donations will directly help make SLNameWatch better, but they will help my motivation. You can visit this kiosk (SLurl) if you use or have used SLNameWatch and are dying to show a token of your appreciation for my extensive human labor on this project so far. This kiosk is currently the only way you can donate Linden Dollars™ to SLNameWatch.com. The kiosk is located in the first-continent region of Milu (67, 47, 28). It is next to a Linden Road. In-world, you can also search Places for “slnamewatch” and teleport there.

Moving on, what the heck am I going to do with all these calling cards? As of 2008-07-12, eight hundred seventy (870) users have signed up for Second Life® accounts using SLNameWatch’s Join Now Page Catalog, a.k.a. the Get The Last Name You Want page since 2008-03-17 when I first started taking advantage of the refer-a-friend program. I have a calling card for each one, and though I thank each and every one of you, these calling cards are really cluttering up my main account’s inventory. The inventory system does not offer a way to archive them, or transfer them to an alt. I could use an alt account for all subsequent referrals. I’ll probably make that change soon. The child avatar thing can throw some people off a bit, so I will probably change the referral code to link to an account with an adult-av profile. The drawback is I almost certainly will not be online under this alt to answer the occasional first-day questions.

The last thing I want to say today is that I’m interested to know more about what makes visitors interested in SLNameWatch.com, and what features they like or do not like, and what they would like to see more of. Are the usage counts interesting to you, or are you mostly here for the Join Now instance tracking feature? I think one way to gather this information is to start a forum on the slnamewatch.com website. Users will be invited to discuss possible features so that I can gauge a level of interest in them, and best make use of my time and energy.

890 slnamewatch referrals

I hope the forum will be a good place to assemble feature requests, bugs, suggestions, and success stories. Additionally, it might be a place to discuss outside forces, such as looming changes to Linden policy regarding last names. A change in last name policy has threatened to make SLNameWatch obsolete since before I even created it! Yet, this change in last name policy hasn’t happened so far… its been over year. I digress. Expect an announcement soon about a new forum in my little corner of SL™ where dreadfully boring things such as this can be discussed. YAY!

Take care and thank you all for using SLNameWatch!

-Big Adz ))

WEB-678: Last Name Early Retirement?

analysis, bugs, last names, research, software development 1 Comment

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WEB-678: 200+ Barely-used last names retired after only 18 days; only 100 new names released to offset them Read the rest…

SLNameWatch Bot Journal [Update]

last names, software development No Comments

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I have not been able to compile libsecondlife since before Release 0.3. This bothers me. I want to see if any improvements to libsecondlife can make my SLNameWatch bot communicate more efficiently with the grid, or be less prone to crashing. It bothers me that I haven’t been able to compile a fresh checkout of libsecondlife since 2007-07-11. It still works, I guess, with a stream of unhandled events. But, I feel bad that I’m connecting to the grid with such an old version of libsecondlife. In any case, someday it’s going to suddenly completely not work anymore, and SLNameWatch.com will suffer for it. So, I’m on a mission to fix this. I will post my adventure here. Read the rest…

Stop Changing the Join Now Page Please

last names, policy, software development 2 Comments

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Will Linden Lab® please stop fiddling with the Join Now pages? New feature: visitors to Join Now have about a 1 in 20 chance of seeing ~150 names instead of just 40. Well, that’s nice and all, but its not persistent. Reload the page, and you get a different list, usually with just 40 shuffled names in it as we’ve come to expect. This is yet another barrier to getting two accounts with the same last name (i.e., for extended-duration, family role-play). Read the rest…

Digest – Last Names on SL Forum

last names No Comments

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Not everyone can access SLForums, and they are not indexed. Here is a digest of what I had to say there regarding the changes to the Second Life new account process. Sorry for posting one side of a two-sided conversation at times. I didn’t feel like asking permission from all authors. Read the rest…

Settable Baby Blocks (Freebie)

artificial boy, games, photos, products, software development 1 Comment

Some friends have asked me “When will you release more baby blocks?” To be honest, the original ADZ baby block freebie was just a 3D representation of my 2D logo, which simply spells my first name. I never intended to make a complete baby block set. Read the rest…

How To Get The Last Name You Want

last names, policy, software development 16 Comments

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As I discussed in my article LL Changes Join Now Page Again, on 2008-03-14, LL made an unannounced change to their Join Now page. No longer are all available last names listed in a drop-down. Instead, only 60 of the 1000-2000 currently available last names are given as choices. Why Linden Lab has made this change is unclear, and I won’t dare speculate. In any case, this new policy can make it difficult to join the game with a certain last name. You might want to do this if, for instance, you and a friend or partner want to create new characters (brothers, perhaps?) that share a last name. Or you might see a newly-born character with a cool last name in the game, and want to make a character with that name too. So, how can one create an character with a certain last name, given this new, frustrating barrier? Read the rest…

LL Changes Join Now Page Again

last names, policy, software development 22 Comments

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From the perspective of the SLNameWatch.com script I use to determine if LL has added new last names, it looks like names are being rapidly created and retired. I have a working theory. I think LL might have changed their policy so that only a random subset of the last names appear in the drop-down at a time. Refresh the page, and the list changes, even though nothing has really changed as far as overall name availability. This is really going to confuse the script I use to determine if the name list has changed! I write resilient code, but I have to say this is something i didn’t plan for. I determine last name availability based on this drop-down. Read the rest…

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