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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Quick! Get Rid of QuickTime!

Hello, faithful readers!

Today's post is short, but it deals with a serious issue.

Second Life has always recommended installing Apple QuickTime on your computer.  It's required to view videos in the .mov format.

However, Apple has announced that they are no longer supporting QuickTime for Windows (they're continuing support for QT on the Mac...of course.)  Even worse, two vulnerabilities have recently been uncovered in the Windows version that could allow a hacker to get access to your computer.  No less an entity than U.S. Homeland Security is recommending that if you have QuickTime for Windows on your computer that you uninstall it at once.

You can get more information on this here:  http://blog.trendmicro.com/urgent-call-action-uninstall-quicktime-windows-today/

As if that wasn't bad enough, when I was doing some research for this post, I ran across an article written in 2011 that reported on a QuickTime exploit aimed specifically at Second Life residents.  Attackers using this exploit could steal $L from anyone entering their land.  Here is the link to that article: http://www.zdnet.com/article/quicktime-hack-allows-second-life-currency-theft/  (Note:  I do not know if either Apple or Linden Lab patched the software subsequent to this report.)

"But...will Second Life work without QuickTime?"  I'm glad you asked.  I wondered about this myself, since I have always had QT installed.  I uninstalled it, and went to see for myself.

Everything appeared to work normally...with the single exception of video media players.  This is highly annoying, but not a deal-breaker for me, because I very seldom watch TV in Second Life.  If I wanna watch TV, I'll do that in Real Life!  The MOST annoying part is that the new LEVAHome TVs that I had JUST bought last month from VEA Media for my tenants no longer work AT ALL...and the VEA Media showroom has vanished.  I guess they pulled up stakes and walked off into the sunset when they realized their product wasn't going to work any more for most people.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

LL Offers Lower Tier!

For years, people have complained about the high cost of land in Second Life.  And it is expensive, at least compared to most other things you can buy in SL.  However, for various economic reasons, it seemed unlikely that LL would ever cut tier fees significantly.

The highest fees are paid by the owners of private estate regions...$295 USD per month for a full performance region.  But it used to be less.  Way back in time, estate owners paid the same monthly price as the owners of mainland regions, $195 USD per month.  These regions became very valuable when estate land fees went up to the $295/mo. level, because the rate was "grandfathered".

But that only helped the original owner.  If they sold a grandfathered region, the new owner would have to pay the current $295/mo. fees.

A few months ago, that changed.  For an additional up-front purchase fee of $600, an existing grandfathered region could be sold to a new owner and retain its lower $195 per month tier level.  See: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2015/11/flash-major-savings-and-minor-update.html

Now, for a limited time, LL is offering to sell NEW private regions at the $195 per month tier level.  A similar savings is offered for Homestead regions.  To lock in the lower tier, you must pay an additional $600 one time "buy down" fee up front.  This is a GREAT deal for anyone who plans to hold their land for more than 6 months, which is the break-even point.

Only time will tell, but this could help reverse the slow, steady decline in the number of private estate regions on the grid.  I'm cautiously optimistic!

For the official word on this remarkable offer, see: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Want-Lower-Tier-Now-You-Can-Get-Grandfathered-Land-Rates/ba-p/3019148

Monday, April 11, 2016

"What are the key aspects you think of when making your avatar?"

The title of today's post is an exact quote of a question asked by Ht241 Resident in the Second Life Answers forum.  I thought it was interesting enough to follow up!

Who am I?  This is my first thought.  I don't mean "what do I look like in Real Life."  I mean, who am I, when I'm inside my head?  Am I old, young, male, female, outgoing or shy?  Am I old-fashioned or modern?  Assertive or agreeable?  I want my avatar to say something about who I am.

On the other hand, maybe I intend this avatar for a specific roleplay purpose.  In that case, the question becomes, "Who do I want to be?"  This could be formal roleplay, in a group with rules, and maybe even some sort of scoring system.  Or it could be informal roleplay, simply presenting myself as a winged faerie, or a sultry vampire, or a jolly, overweight, donut-breathing dragon and riffing in character with the people I meet.

But roleplay isn't a general thing with me.  I might "put on a costume"...wear an unusual avatar for a short time, for fun or for a specific event...but usually I am "myself", my main avatar.  While I change clothes, hair, makeup and even eye color frequently, I'm still recognizably Lindal.

Do I look good?  My Lindal Kidd avatar was not made in an hour, or a day.  I worked on my shape off and on for oh, probably about six months, tweaking it until it was just the way I wanted.  And even today, I might make minor changes now and then.  Skin was another thing that I altered, over the course of about five years.  My first purchased skin was hideous, although I thought at the time that it looked good. That could also be said of my hair.  Over time, as I found better products, my appearance improved.
Early Lindal.  Ewww.

Fast Forward About Four Years

Me, Today

A subset of that might be, "Do I look good to the sort of people I want to attract?"  Perhaps I want to have a high fashion, haute couture, polished look.  Or if I am interested in SL's adult activities, maybe I want to look sultry, lush, and provocative.  One wants to look a part of one's group, even while looking unique.

Do I look human?  Of course, this only applies if you are using a human avatar.  But so many human avatars don't look human!  With some, this is glaringly obvious...women with enormous breasts and hips that won't go through a doorway, avatars with short little T-Rex arms, eight foot tall men with biceps as big around as sixty year old oak trees and tiny heads.  It's possible to keep your avatar within human proportions and still look handsome or beautiful, and unique, but you have to have a gentle touch on those Appearance sliders!

The advent of Mesh avatar bodies has made it easier to get Instant Beauty and sensible proportions, although they have also made it harder to look unique.

Now, I consider "making your avatar" to consist of the process of making (or buying) your shape, and finding a suitable skin, or set of skins for it.  Everything else...hair, eyes, clothing, manicure, jewelry, shoes...is simply "getting dressed."

Getting dressed can take a good bit of time every day, unless I have an Outfit already put together and ready to go with a single mouse click.  I'm declaring "getting dressed" to be outside the scope of Ht241's question...but shopping for new things, trying them on, putting together a Look...is a big part of Second Life's attraction, at least for me!  Oh, all right, it's an adult version of playing with dolls, if you insist.  But it's still fun!


Friday, April 1, 2016

Free Hugs!

Hi everyone!

One of the gadgets that I wear ALL the time is my hugger.  A hugger is a HUD that lets you offer to hug, kiss, or do other couples animations with another avatar.  It's one of the best ways I know of to express affection and pleasure in the virtual world.

Many years ago, Meike Heston created what I consider to be the best hugger in Second Life.  It has eleven different animations built in, which can all be performed for a set interval or indefinitely.  It can be set to Male or Female users.  Its positioning is quite accurate, if you start facing your intended partner, and if you wind up misaligned, it's fairly easy to re-position yourselves to hug correctly with the usual movement keys.  The controls are simple and compact, and it can be minimized to take up very little screen space.  The HUD was fairly expensive, as you'd expect for such a well-made device.


Unfortunately, Meike left Second Life and her small shop is long closed.  But before she left, she gave us all a wonderful present...she made her hugger full permissions, and now it's a freebie!  I've put the hugger into a vendor and you can pick one up for free in the lobby of the Masocado Resort.

EDIT:  I just realized that I posted this on April 1.  If any of you were thinking, "oh, an April Fool's joke," no, it isn't.  There really IS a free hugger in the Resort lobby, and it doesn't make your avatar turn into a chicken or anything.  Honest!

Friday, March 18, 2016

TANSTAAFL

The title for today's entry isn't some obscure Russian word, or the name of an exotic ethnic food.  It's an acronym coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and it stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

But some people are always looking for that elusive Free Lunch...and when they do, they are laying themselves open to con artists, thieves, and scammers.

Over and over in Second Life, people ask me, "How do I get free $L?"

The answer is, "You can't."  Oh, you can get $L without paying money for them, sure.  You can win a contest at a club, or get paid for teaching a class.  You can get a job as a stripper or an escort and earn pretty good tips.  You can try the "Fish Hunt" or "Gold Hunt" gaming systems.  You can play Linden Realms and exchange the crystals you collect for $L.

But all of these cost you time, even if they don't cost you money.  Time that you could have spent exploring SL, or learning to create beautiful things to sell, or enjoying the company of your friends.

Some people looking for a Free Lunch don't want to spend either money OR time.  These are the people who become the scammers' victims.  They fall for things like:

"Click this link for Free Stuff!"  They click the link, enter their user name and password, and their account is stolen by a phisher.

"Wear this object and click Allow to win $L10,000!"  They do it, and the object sucks all the money out of their account.

"Sign up to Take Surveys and get paid!"  The survey sites they visit install malware or spyware on their computers.

"Here's $L50,000.  Pay $L45,000 of it to my friend ShadyCharacter and keep the rest as a service fee."  They do that, and find LL has banned them from SL for participating in money laundering.

It's a law of nature.  You don't get something for nothing.  You get something for SOMETHING...your time, your skills, your talent, your investment.  True in Real Life, true in Second Life.

TANSTAAFL!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Very Belated Tour of Men's Fashion

Way, way back in April of 2015 I wrote a piece in which I ruminated on the lack of men's fashion in Second Life, and some possible reasons for it.  In the Comments section, a reader asked for advice on where to go to turn his avatar into a studly male fashion plate, and I replied, "See tomorrow's entry"...and then apparently forgot all about my promise.  Oops!  Today's post is a very belated response to that anonymous commenter!

Hunts.
The preeminent annual hunt for men is "MenStuff."  This year's hunt ended Feb. 29, so you have rather a long wait until the next one.  Still, bookmark their page to keep abreast of news.  http://menstuff.stuff-sl.com/

While you are waiting, many hunts with more general themes also have items for men.  Keep up to date on all the major hunts here:  https://slhunts.wordpress.com/

Blogs.
Quite a few of us girls keep up with SL fashion by following a selection of fashion blogs.  You guys can do the same.  A Google search on "SL Men's Fashion" will find many of them, but here is a shortcut.  Visit the SL Male Fashion Feed for a long list of male fashion blogs and related links.  http://malefashionfeed.info/

Fashion Showcases.
There are several places where you can go to see an item or two from each of a large number of participating creators.  The Men's Department, a showcase that is male-oriented, can be found here: http://themensdeptsl.com/

Freebies.
Though they've closed their dedicated in world freebie store, Fabulously Free in SL ("FabFree") remains an incredible source of information about freebies.  Their blog allows you to filter by categories, and the Men's category has over 2,000 entries!  You can join the FabFree group in world too, to get a notice when someone runs across a new freebie.  https://fabfree.wordpress.com/category/mens/

Bargains.
The various bargain hunter programs...Sixty Linden Weekends, Secret Wednesdays, 55L Thursdays, My 60L Secret, and so on...all generally have at least a few men's items.  You can join their groups and get a weekly list of all the offerings.

Mesh Bodies.
Although I own one and sometimes use it, I'm not the greatest fan of mesh bodies.  I think the improvements which they offer over the classic avatar body are incremental at best, and come at the expense of having to deal with a whole new set of configuration controls.  I think it's very easy for a guy to look super hot with a classic avatar body, and it's a lot cheaper too.  Still, if you really want to jump on the Mesh body bandwagon, the best place for mesh body and body part reviews is here: http://meshbodyaddicts.com/mesh-body-reviews/mens-bodies/

Hair.
Most large hair stores in SL have a selection of styles for men.  In addition, many styles can be worn by either men or women, as you will see from some of the advertising pictures in the stores.  Don't be afraid to try on a "woman's" hair style...it might look great on you!  I was in Alli&Ali the other day, and noticed that they have a very large selection of men's hair.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wonderland%20Beach/155/127/24

Shapes.
I've always advocated making your own shape, with the Appearance sliders.  It may take some time and tweaking, but it costs you nothing.  If you go this route, I would make the following suggestions...but feel free to ignore them if you wish, it's YOUR body!
  • Keep your height under 2.5 m. at most.  Unless your girlfriend is super tall, then you may want to go a few cm. over her height.
  • Don't overdo the shoulders and biceps.  Personally, I find a flat tummy and a six pack to be way sexier than apelike arms.
  • To avoid short little T-Rex arms, you'll need to go further to the right with the arm length slider than you might think.  Stand up, let your hands hang at your sides.  Notice how far down they go.
  • Neatly trimmed facial hair is sexy.  Big, bushy lumberjack beards are not.
There are free shapes available that many designers use as their models for making Mesh clothing.  These will tend to fit Mesh quite well.  Get them here: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Standard-Sizing-Package-Updated-Male-Female/2894727

Skin.
You'll probably need some minor tweaks to your shape, especially the facial features, to get the best results from any given skin.  This is one reason why it's important to try the demo version before buying a skin.  Here are some places to check out:
Private Parts.
Again, don't overdo it with the size.  I don't find it very exciting when a fellow's tool goes in my front and pokes out my back.  Ouch.  I also must give Two Thumbs Down to the "On Duty" product...I don't appreciate being "made pregnant" without my approval or consent.

You can find genital attachments in all degrees of realism, all price ranges, and with a wide range of operating features.  If your regular partner(s) use a particular system, such as Xcite, then consider getting a matching product for interoperability.  Otherwise, check out the suggestions below.
Remember:  Don't wear your genitals in public, even with them turned invisible.  A gentleman doesn't attach his bits until the appropriate time and place.

Formal Wear.
Every woman I know is a sucker for a guy in a tux.  Yeah, me too.
So there you have it, gentlemen.  Now go out there and make Second Life a showcase of male Eye Candy for us gals!




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Good News, Bad News - Changes to $L Payouts

Yesterday, Linden Lab announced changes to their system of buying and selling Linden Dollars ($L).

On the good news side, one of the things I've complained about for a long time is the time it takes for LL to get money from your $USD balance to your PayPal account in a "Process Credit" transaction.  They say "5 business days" but it sometimes takes as long as 10 days.  At the same time, LL insists on INSTANT payment when WE pay THEM.  This has never seemed fair.

In their announcement, LL says that now, most Process Credit transactions should complete in 2 business days, although they do hedge their bets and say that some transactions may continue to take up to 5 business days.

That's the good news.

In the same announcement, LL says that they are raising the fee for purchasing $L from $.30 to $.40 per transaction...a 33% increase.  That seems excessive, although because of the small actual amount of the fee, I suppose most people won't complain much.

The announcement does not speak to the 3.5% transaction fee charged for selling $L and converting them back into $USD, so I'm assuming that remains unchanged.

Then there is the $1.00 processing fee they have been charging for a Process Credit transaction.  That is now changing to a 1.5% fee per transaction, with a minimum charge of $3.00 and a maximum cap of $15.00.  That is a MINIMUM increase of 200%!  Ouch.

To minimize the cashout fee (as a percentage of the transaction) you should plan on transferring at least $200 USD per single transaction, and over $1,000 if you can.  The larger the transaction over $1,000, the lower percentage of it that $15 will represent.  Those of you who have been taking out $20 or $100 per month should re-think your business models.

For the official announcement, see this link: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Faster-Credit-Processing-amp-Upcoming-Changes-to-Fees/ba-p/3011794

Frankly, Ebbe, I would've preferred to just wait the extra few days for my money.