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Second Life turns on screams of horror tool

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OSCON You'll soon have the chance to talk directly to flying penises and fire hydrants in the void known as Second Life. Linden Lab CEO Phillip Rosedale revealed that VoIP (voice over IP) will hit the Sadville streets "in a couple of weeks," during a speech here at OSCON.

Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life, has been testing the voice technology via a community beta since March. Apparently, a company called Vivox has provided the wherewithal to make the virtual screams of boredom possible.

Rosedale announced the VoIP news as part of a grander speech advocating the use of open source software. Linden Lab relies on open source software, he said, and plans to let people run their own, open Second Life servers just as soon as possible.

"The servers have got to come out of our control," he said.

Anyone who has even dabbled with the game knows that pulling Second Life away from Linden Lab's data center might be the only way the project will succeed. The software runs painfully slow, kicks people out of the game and allows for all kinds of miscreants, such as those baddies that bombarded CNET's Sadville propaganda minister and Rosedale sweetheart Daniel Sadville with flying cocks.

The mainstream press spent months glorifying Second Life, and big business bought into the hype. Companies such as Sun, IBM and Coca-Cola hemorrhaged cash on virtual offices and the like.

Many of you won't remember BusinessWeek's open-mouthed Second Life swallow that documented the rise of Sadville.

It seems, however, that some reporters and companies have woken up from the bad dream. (We don't hold out much hope for Chairman Tim.)

BusinessWeek, er, needed about a year to pen "Beyond Second Life: Companies thinking twice about the popular virtual world are finding more security and flexibility in alternatives." This week, Wired managed "How Madison Avenue Is Wasting Millions on a Deserted Second Life."

Those of you who have made it to, say, Sun or IBM's virtual spaces will have noted that they're as empty as Rush Limbaugh's pill jar.

The end result is a very sad state for Adam Reuters, the eponymous newswire's correspondent who volunteered to ruin his career by reporting on nothing but Sadville. The big stories this week? "Growth slump threatens gloom for SL businesses," "Second Life developers report drop in revenue, projects," "Second Life population slumps in June," and "Second Life Sketches: Random Grid Failures." Reuters may find his First Life reeducation painful when Reuters comes to grips with the line they were sold.

But at least now he can enjoy the remaining days in Sadville by holding actual voice conversations with all the people humping and zombies dancing.

"This thing has a positive impact for everybody on Earth," Rosedale said today. "We should roll out this 3D existence as fast as we possibly can."

Got that, BusinessWeek? ®

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