Ultra mega powerhouse Google announced Lively, a ‘build your own avatar’ animated chat program, yesterday. It’s currently only available for Windows XP/Vista users who are running Firefox or internet exploder. With me being the ever inquisitive connoisseur, I had to check this out. The first thing that crossed my mind after setting up my avatar (which is not a quick process) was “this is Google’s answer to second life”. Another thing you notice right off the bat is it’s slow; very, very, terribly slow. But, hey, it’s still in beta, so you can’t really expect all that much from it just yet. The controls are a little awkward and the help pages seem to leave out basic things like walking around (a task that’s still baffling me); but man oh boy, I sure can body slam people. Google tacked on a ton of interactive animations: you can kick, hug, dance, ‘kung-fu’, and yes, even body slam other people – just to name a few. You can also build your own chat room and embed it into your site or blog. All in all it’s a pretty nifty chat setup, but again, it’s still in beta and most people would probably ditch it just for the load times.