Sunday, April 27, 2014

Getting Started in Second Update!

Those of us who have been in Second Life a while remember what the New User Experience was like...although, because of changes made over the years, we may remember quite different things!  Although the current New User Experience has been in place for quite a few months now, I thought it might be interesting, for both new and prospective residents, as well as us oldbies, to see what it is like to enter Second Life for the first time nowadays!

Signing Up.

Before you do anything else, make sure you have the latest Adobe Flash plugin installed in your browser.  You'll need it to view the website correctly.  Also, make sure your computer is up to the challenge.  A lot of the current crop of PCs have "integrated graphics" instead of discrete graphics cards to save money...and these are, in many cases, not capable of running a graphics intensive application like Second Life.  See some minimum system requirements here:

When you first browse to http:\\ you see this page:
Click the Play for Free Button!
After you click the orange button, you get this:
Choose an Avatar
You can select from several different groups.  Here I'm showing the "normal humans" selection, but you can also choose from among furries, vampires and lycans, animals, and vehicles.  Don't feel pressured here, because you can always change your mind later and put on a different avatar appearance.  Plus, you'll quickly start to collect new appearance items and customize your look with them.

When you've picked your look, you next have to choose a name:
This is Important!
This will be your "user name," but it's not like most account user names.  It will also be your NAME in Second Life, and everyone (everyone who wants to, anyway) will be able to see it.  It must be one word, and can contain letters and numbers, but no special characters.  DON'T pick an obscene name, or one that can't be pronounced, or one that's too long.  DO pick a name that can be used with a variety of avatars, especially if you think you might be trying on different genders.  A boy named Sue or a girl named Bruno can result in some raised eyebrows.  If your name is taken -- "Jennifer" is long, long gone -- you can try variants, like "Jenn1fer," "Jennifer3795," or "JenniferPeterson."  But take your time here, because you can never change your user name once you have selected it.  When you are finished here, you see:
More Important Stuff!
 This is another important step...choosing a password, and entering your email, real life birthday, and a secret question/answer combination.  Don't use the same password for SL that you use for other web sites.  USE YOUR ACTUAL BIRTHDAY.  If you are under 16 and you get caught lying about your age you will be permanently banned from SL, and so will anyone else using your computer.  If you are 75 and think that it would be great to be 17 again, don't do that won't be able to get into a lot of interesting places in SL.  Nobody except Linden Lab will ever be given this data, so enter the correct date.  And for heavens' sake, WRITE DOWN the user name, password, email address, and secret question/answer and save them in a secure place.  Recovering a "lost" account without this information is possible, but it's a huge pain.

Next, we move on to:
Basic or Premium?
Here you can choose your account type...a free Basic account or a paid Premium account.  The Premium account has some benefits, but for now, choose Basic.  You can always upgrade later.  Besides, most people find that a Basic account works just fine for them!

Here's the last screen.  The next step is to download and install the "viewer" software, the program that lets you get into the Second Life world.
Don't Forget to Download and Install a Viewer!
Your First Login.
Once you've installed the viewer and fire it up, here's what you see:
Whoops!  Error, Will Robinson!
Well, sort of.  My screen's not showing any information in the What's Hot Now (places with a lot of avatars present) or Destinations (popular places selected by Linden Lab) windows.  But that's not important.  Down at the lower left of the screen, enter your user name and password, then click the Log In button.  (EDIT:  The latest viewer has moved the login boxes to the TOP of the screen!)

You will be presented with the Second Life Terms of Service.  You MUST scroll the TOS down, at least a little bit, to let the software know you have read them.  Then click Accept.  I know you are anxious to get on with it, so I won't tell you to actually READ the entire TOS and all the secondary policies that are linked to them.  But I do encourage you to look them all up, and read them at some point.

After several seconds, you should see something like this...
Eek, I'm a Cloud!
Up at the top of your screen is your location.  This is "Learning Island," the first of two mandatory stops on your way into the main Second Life world.  See the arrow on the post?  Follow those to get to the exit.

At the bottom right, you'll see a communications window.  Here you can communicate with everyone in the vicinity using Local Chat, or with people privately, one-on-one in an IM.  You'll see I'm chastising Dav2 here...the fellow holding the sign.  Dav has a whole slew of alts, and can be found at most of the new user areas most of the time.  Unfortunately, he doesn't always give correct or intelligible advice.  He's not malicious, but I think his brain is wired differently than almost everyone else's!  But, perhaps fortunately, he's in so many places at once that he's almost always AFK...Away from Keyboard.  Dav is only the first of many eccentric personalities you'll meet in SL!

You'll also note that I am a white cloud.  I did not manage to overcome this until I changed my outfit.  If you have this problem, and find you can't change your outfit*, see some additional things to try here:

One of the most scenic things at Learning Island is the shipwreck.  It doesn't DO anything, but it's very picturesque.

As you move along the path, you may notice another small window open up on the right side, just above the chat window.  This is an information HUD (a "Head Up Display.")  Most HUDs in Second Life stay on your screen all the time, but this is one of the new-fangled kind that appears for a while, and then disappears when its job is this case, providing you some basic information, like how to walk, run, and fly.
Information HUD on Right Side
Follow the path as it meanders over the island.
Aerial View of Learning Island.  Start at the left, wind up on the right!
One of the bridges is out.  This is to encourage you to try flying across!
Fly, Young Avatar!
At the end of the path is a coliseum with a single portal door.  Walk through this door to be teleported to the second (and last!) mandatory stop, Social Island.
Our Goal is in Sight!
On to Social Island
For a tour of Social Island, see my previous post, "A Visit to Social Island."  Ignore any crowds of griefers or troublemakers, should they be present.  Just enjoy exploring the island and continuing to play with your menus and controls.  Then use the Search or Destinations buttons (a magnifying glass and a map push pin, respectively) to find other places of interest to visit in Second Life!  Or, there is a coliseum there too, with a variety of portal doors.  Each door will take you to a random destination within its general category.

Logging Out.
We always say "log out," but there's no "log out" button apparent, and that confuses some people!  When you have to get back to Real Life, just hit the big X in the upper right corner of the SL window to close it, or hit CTRL+Q.

See you next time!

*Changing your outfit.  Open your inventory, the button with the suitcase symbol (shortcut:  CTRL+I.)  Find the folder Library/Clothing/Initial Outfits.  Pick one of the sub-folders, drag it and drop it onto your, your cloud.  You should appear ("rez") within a few seconds.

EDIT, Nov 24 2014:  Instead of Library/Clothing/Initial Outfits, try an avatar from the folder Library/Clothing/Older Outfits.  The "Initial Outfits" folder now contains all-mesh avatars, which are not customizable and can really confuse you when you start to try to change your look.  Use an avatar from the Older Outfits folder, or any avatar that does not have "Mesh" in its name, and you'll learn how to wear different clothes and change your look a lot faster and easier!  An even easier way to do this is to use the Avatars button...the top button on the left side of your screen, with two people on it.  Choose one of the "classic"'ll find them much easier to edit and customize.

EDIT, Sept 3, 2016:  The Initial Outfits folder now contains "hybrid" avatars...ones that use the classic avatar body (easier to understand and edit) and Mesh clothing.  It also contains the all-mesh avatars mentioned above.  Some of the new hybrid avatars feature a new "fantasy" can choose from among ten avatars suited for fantasy roleplay.  In addition, Social Island has gotten a complete makeover, and now features a much more comprehensive set of tutorials and learning experiences.

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