An image of the starter-pack's promotional graphic on the Amazon.com Web-siteLinden Lab pulled down the Starter Vehicle Pack that was a part of its Friday launch of Second Life on Amazon within just minutes or within a couple of hours of the announcement of its availability, depending on whom you ask.

The pack included a hoverboard vehicle and L$1000 (a little under four US dollars in Second Life currency) and was limited to one-per-customer. Intended to sell for USD9.95, the pack was a free promotion for the weekend, but was removed quite promptly after the announcement.

Peter Gray, spokesperson for Linden Lab, tells us why the offer was pulled.

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A LinkSys WRT54G wireless/wired routerYes, your home router could indeed be letting your Second Life experience down, and a couple quite common series of routers are among the most culpable.

I’ll start by pointing out that the IEEE 802.11 networking standards aren’t the easiest set of networking protocols to implement correctly in device firmware. It’s all too easy to get them almost right, resulting in wireless access points and routers that work just fine for some kinds of workloads and that fall down spectacularly for others. As a bonus, RFC-2663 IPv4 Network Address Translation is also a commonly poorly-implemented feature in many network devices.

In my experiences from 2000 to 2005, the vast majority of wireless access-points/routers of that period – while just fine for Aunt Tilley and her Facebook habit – turned out to be duds (ranging from extraordinary failure to far more subtle symptoms) once you hooked up a power-user or a small three or four person office. They might choke and die, they might toss stations off at random, they might just run some connections very slowly, or some might unpredictably stall, leaving you wondering.

Finding good hardware during that period was a chore, and it hasn’t gotten that much better since, in my opinion. Often the best you can hope for is “just good enough” (if you’re lucky) unless you use something like a dedicated Linux system as a firewall and router.

Even such networking giants as Cisco Systems has gotten them wrong on occasion. Few (if any) manufacturers seem to be entirely exempt from glitches in these particular standards implementations.

All that said, Linden Lab has recently been performing somewhat extensive testing of consumer routers as a part of Project Shining, and come up with two common series that are already problematic with Second Life.

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On Thursday, Linden Lab had a large in-world meeting in their private Second Life regions. Linden staffers that we’ve not seen in-world for a long time (at least not using their Linden accounts) dusted off their long-unused Linden accounts and logged in for the meeting. Since then, I’ve been getting queries and questions from Second Life customers who are a bit concerned about this sort of gathering.

Right or wrong, these rare “all-hands” (or so they seem) meetings are considered to be portents or harbingers of bad news by Second Life customers. People tend to associate them with the announcement of nasty things like layoffs or major strategic direction changes.

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You might be wondering where the Q4 2011/Full-year 2011 Second Life economy figures are. Sure, they’re late, but it isn’t unusual for them to be very late for Q4 and Q1.

Well, those reports are discontinued. We won’t be seeing one for Q4 2011, or any others.

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