With the latest release of SecondLife comes a talk function – so I was eager to test it out. Anya Ixchel and iAlja Writer were already online and they were testing the talk function too. I invited them over to my modest block of land and was quickly joined by Sharon aka Teal Etzel, and soon we figured out the new menus and talked about talk. The quality wasn’t bad from my end – although the processing speed meant a slight delay between talking and hearing. And as more bandwidth was used the voices became a little broken – at one point I sounded like a Dalek from Dr Who!

But the real test came when I played fiddle through the talk function – it was hilarious! Anya rezzed up a dance object and soon all the avatars were dancing so I pulled out the Guarnerius violin from my inventory and set my avatar playing while I played in real life. And it worked really well – my first live concert in SL :-)

SL fiddle

Interestingly some of the SL neighbours also flew in to see what the fuss was about, so we gave the function a good test with in the end about seven avatars together and nearby.

Certainly this build is MUCH more stable than the beta “FirstLook” version, and it was easy to set up the talk function. But the sound was much better through Sharon’s MacBook laptop than through the mac G5 as the desktop one seemed to pick up a lot of hard-drive noise. It also worked much better through headphones in order to prevent echo from the mic picking up the voice on its return through the speakers. So it can take a bit of practice to get the levels right. In the end I managed to get a reasonable talk quality.

One of the aspects of virtual world SecondLife is the social interaction it enables between people from different real locations. I was curious as to how live music performances worked, and, having joined several live music social groups I quickly found a live performance in progress and teleported to a club lounge, where I found about 15 avatars dancing or standing around, and one with a guitar on stage animated to play the guitar, while the sound was streamed live into the sim.

The lone singer-guitarist seemed bemused that the host had vanished offline (perhaps their computer had crashed) and one of the audience indicated that they had a club and everyone could transfer there.

The new club “Sound Factory” was well set up with a dance floor, and several avatars were already dancing before the music had begun to stream.

Sound Factory SL

Conversations were broadcast across the screen and when the sound came through the performer, Mr Jonze, spoke in response to several of the comments being broadcast. He interacted with the small crowd and conversed between songs, as though there was a small gathering in his lounge-room.

I asked the crowd if there were any tutorials on sound streaming, and got a rather abrupt response from the club owner, Politically Beck to say “it’s so easy even a caveman could do it”. Perhaps its not etiquette to ask tech questions of a probably knowledgeable crowd in a social setting, but I found that a bit unhelpful.

Nonetheless the music was good and the sound quality was surprisingly good lending a good club/restaurant atmosphere to the scene. It differed substantially from any Real life (RL) situation in that you could dance, converse and interact with the performer to a far greater extent than you could in RL. I had a good dance and conversation with Marieke CLoetens and laughed at the antics of Peet the monkey :-)

And with it being evening in Australia, the performer Mr Jonze had just been up for an hour in the US and others were there in the room from the UK and from NZ – quite a mix that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

I learnt a lot about the social side of SL, and look forward to checking out a couple more of the music venues.

Cheers
Jerry

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