Sunday, December 4, 2011

Not Now, I'm Busy!

Today it's back to basics for newcomers!  Specifically, let's talk about the Away and Busy modes.

"Away" or AFK just means you've stepped away from your keyboard for a moment.  It's polite to activate this if anyone is nearby, because it lets them know why you aren't responding to their remarks to you.

You can activate Away mode by simply minimizing the Second Life user interface window.  Or you can type "AFK" in local chat, without the quotes.  You can activate Away from the top menu by choosing Comm/Online Status/Away. Your avatar can be set to automatically enter Away mode after a set period of time; this is the same idea as having your computer turn off the screen or activate a screen saver if you haven't input anything for a while.  Un-minimizing the SL window, hitting a key or moving the mouse cancels Away mode. 
When Away mode is activated, your avatar appears to "fall asleep", and the word (Away) appears in the nametag over your head.  Some viewers give you the option to also force your avatar to sit while Away, which may be a bit more realistic than the "standing slump".  If your Animation Overrider contains high priority animations, it will override the Away "napping" animation, making it harder for people to see that you are Away.

Stop Poking Me!  Can't You See I'm Sleeping?
Busy mode tells people that you're...well, busy.  If someone IMs you, they will receive your Busy message. Nearby avatars can see you're Busy by the (Busy) notice that appears in your nametag.  Busy mode is used by creators to discourage people from bothering them while they are concentrating on making something.

There are a couple of problems with Busy mode.  For one thing, being in Busy mode does not stop the phone from ringing -- if someone IMs you, a tab or toast still appears and flashes at you, and you get an "incoming IM" sound.  If you are like me and can't resist answering every phone call, or at least seeing who it is, this is nearly as distracting as not being in Busy mode at all.

Busy Mode Notification Options
But the real danger of Busy mode is that, while it is active, nobody can give you anything.  This includes vendors and the Marketplace.  If you try to buy something while in Busy mode, delivery is attempted, but your avatar refuses it -- and the item vanishes into digital limbo.  You can set your UI to give you a warning notice if you forget and try to buy something while Busy, but that won't help you if you are buying something from the Marketplace.
All in all, I very seldom use Busy mode.  If someone calls and I'm busy, I just type a brusque "sry, busy ATM" and get on with it.  Sometimes, doing things yourself is easier, quicker, and safer than using an automated feature.  If I simply must have some solitude, I can log in with an alt or log in to another, quieter grid, or even use OpenSim in standalone mode to log into a region completely disconnected from the internet.


  1. That problem with Busy mode has caught me out a few times! Still, I rarely buy anything on the marketplace when I'm actually in SL, so marketplace purchaes haven't suffered.
    Since I trance a lot in SL, I need an automated way to tell people I'm currently occupied (by another's will). If I don't use Busy, I see that IM message pop up, and start to wake up, because I feel its rude to leave a message unanswered.

    I'd like a Busy mode that allowed me to accept stuff silently and just informed me of what I missed when it's over.

    Is there a way to stop that irritating popup and "bing!" you get when you recieve an IM?

  2. There's still a danger in buying Marketplace items, even if you are not logged in. If you logged out while Busy, anything you buy on the Marketplace will still fail to be delivered and will get lost.

    I agree that having Busy mode silence all incoming IMs would be a distinct improvement!