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Monday, December 21, 2015

Today in Space History

Normally, I leave reporting on Real Life space events to my friend Inara Pey, but tonight I just had to write to tell you all about the incredible thing I just saw on live webcast.

Space Exploration Technologies, commonly referred to as SpaceX, is a newcomer to the field of rocket science.  But in just a few short years, they have gone from launching their first, small Falcon 1 rocket into orbit to becoming one of the major players in the field of space launch.  Their Falcon 9 medium launch vehicle competes with the much more expensive Atlas V, and SpaceX is one of two companies to have contracts with NASA to deliver cargo to the International Space Station using the Falcon 9 and their Dragon cargo capsule.  Soon, a man-rated version of the Dragon will carry crew members to and from the space station.

Following a launch failure this summer, SpaceX returned to flight in a big way tonight.  A Falcon 9 launched the Orbcomm 2 communications satellite.  The launch was successful.  "Ho hum," I hear you say, "what's the big deal?"

The big deal is that, once the second stage had separated and was on its way into orbit, the first stage of the Falcon 9 booster re-started its engines.  It turned itself around and FLEW BACK to Cape Canaveral.  We saw a brilliant sun falling quickly to earth as the rocket slowed, under control of its computers.  Four landing legs deployed and the huge cylinder settled to earth in a cloud of smoke and flame.  Then the flames died...and there was the booster, sitting on its landing pad...and the engineers in Mission Control erupted in a frenzy of cheering.

This is much more than just a stunt.  One of the things holding back our exploration of space is the enormous cost of getting there.  And one of the big reasons it's so expensive is that we THROW AWAY the rocket.  It's as if you built a Boeing 747, flew it once from New York to London, and then scrapped it.  Elon Musk, the visionary entrepreneur behind PayPal, Tesla Motors, and SpaceX, has just changed that equation.  The cost of getting to space has just dropped by about 90%.

Congratulations to Elon and the SpaceX team.  You've just made history.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

FLASH! Advent

Advent is, according to the church calendar, the four weeks prior to Christmas.  One of the ways many devout Christian families observe the Advent season is with an Advent Calendar, a day-by-day list of prayers, bible passages, and activities.

In Second Life, many popular stores and locations also have "Advent Calendars".  These vary in appearance and operation, but the basic idea is that they make a new gift available every day during the Advent season.  Many of these require you to visit the location every day, because the gift is only available on its designated day.  Others provide a new gift each day, but the previous gifts also remain available for latecomers.

Two of my favorite Advent Calendars are:

Abranimations

Caledon Oxbridge University (go to the koi pond, turn left, then right.  Look for the gazebo between the buildings.)

FLASH! New Avatar Skeleton Features - Project Bento

Many of us have complained over the years about the dearth of facial expressions for human avatars in Second Life.  The avatar skeleton has no facial bones, and facial expressions have been limited to the dozen or so stock "facial morphs," most of which look pretty creepy.

And those of us with non-human avatars have had to crush our bodies up small and hide them inside body attachments, which were often animated with a very complex and often clunky special HUD.

But Linden Lab has just announced the trial release of "Project Bento" which aims to solve both problems by adding a number of "bones" to the avatar skeleton.  The new features are now available for experimentation and comment.

Note that (unfortunately) LL has not changed any of the existing skeleton structure.  Much as I would like to see more realistic movement of, say, the shoulders, I am forced to agree that this was a good decision on their part.  Changing existing bones would break all kinds of content...pretty much any existing animations, and clothing and attachments that depend on those bones for their movement or deformation.

Read all about Project Bento here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Introducing-Project-Bento-New-Bones-Added-to-Second-Life-Avatar/ba-p/2987206

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

FLASH! Major Savings, and a Minor Update

Just a quick note today...well, two.

First, LL has dropped the setup price for new private regions by 40% across the board.  The $1,000 USD startup fee has been a huge barrier for people wanting their own region.  Now that cost has dropped to just $600 USD.  There have been other changes, too...for example, if you bought another resident's grandfathered region, the region reverted to the current $295 per month land fee, instead of the grandfathered rate of $195 USD.  Now you can purchase the region and get the grandfathered rate, provided you pay the $600 fee up front. 

Second, the popular Firestorm viewer has a new release, 4.7.5.  It's mostly bug fixes and a few new features, but it should increase stability for most people and may even provide a small performance boost.

There may be terrorists running wild, but at least here you found some Good News today!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

We'll Always Have Paris

As I write this, the world is still reeling over the series of coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris.  I am hearing things like:
"This is just terrible"
"I can't believe anyone would do this."
"Shocking!"
"I'm praying for the victims and their families."
"We must express our support and sympathy."

Well, yes, of course.  But while I sympathize with all the innocent victims, my main reaction is anger.

I am angry at the terrorists themselves.  Cowardly psychopaths who think that killing other people, strangers who never harmed them, somehow earns them points with God.

I am angry at our government, and the government of France, and governments everywhere who continue to permit scum like these people to exist and operate.  I am angry at the weak responses to incidents like these.  The responses are too often words, and too seldom deeds.

I am angry with the churches and the secular humanists who knuckle under to the demands of radical Muslims for special treatment, for the implementation of "Sharia law".  Those who, instead of opposing radical Islam, permit it to exist and flourish in the name of "diversity" and "tolerance."

Will the terrorists win?  I don't know.  I want to say "no," but it depends on all of us.  For the purposes of this discussion, we can divide the world up into four groups:
  • The terrorists and radical Muslims themselves
  • Those who knuckle under to the terrorists' demands
  • Those who oppose the terrorists and the spread of radical Islam
  • Those who actively fight against the terrorists, the military and police
It's the middle two groups who will decide the issue.  In this case, the meek will not inherit the earth...or, if they do, it will be very small pieces of it, approximately six feet long by two feet wide.  It's way past time for hand wringing and voicing shock and dismay at the latest atrocity.  It's time to take a stand against terrorism.  The lines are drawn, and it's Us against...against whatever they choose to call themselves.  Against Al Quaeda.  Against the Taliban.  Against the Islamic State.  Against jihadists of every stripe and in every place.  Against the demands of radical Islam.

Will Rogers once said, "Your freedom to swing your fist ends where my nose begins."  My nose, the noses of all France, and the noses of most of the world's billions have been bloodied for the last time.

Back off or die, you bastards.  We'll always have Paris.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Visit to Art in Hats

This is a short update to my earlier announcement of the Art in Hats diabetes benefit exhibit and sale.  I visited the event, and you NEVER saw so many whimsical, lovely, bizarre, far-out HATS!  Even if you never wear hats in Second Life, it's worth going just to walk around and marvel at the things that designers think we want to put on our heads.  Some of those designers must be, I think, twisted indeed, but others are obviously Artists of great skill and imagination.

The event is set up so that you can buy either the hat itself, or a piece of accompanying artwork that showcases the hat.  Or you can buy both!  That's why the full name of the event is "Art in Hats - Hats in Art."

If you do buy some hats, and are having trouble getting them fitted with your hair, here's a tutorial that may be of help:  http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2011/06/hats-off.html

Here are a few pictures I took, but they're only the tip of the iceberg.  DO visit this extraordinary event!

Feathers!

Flowers!

Warhol!

Friday, November 6, 2015

LL Listens to Mentors! New "Classic" Starter Avatars!

For the last year or so, those of us who frequently help newcomers to Second Life have complained about the all-mesh starter avatars.  They can't be adjusted with the Appearance sliders, can't wear traditional layer-based clothing, and when a newbie does manage to detach the mesh body, they often leave the alpha mask layer on and disappear entirely.

This is all very confusing to a new resident, to say the least!  A lot of the newcomer help areas have developed signs and tutorials to help explain this situation and persuade newcomers to switch to one of the older, "Classic" starter avatars, which are much easier to customize.

Now Linden Lab has (finally!) come to the rescue.  They've added a new series of Classic starter avatars, and they are available at the "Choose Your Avatar" page during the signup process.  These new avatars are part mesh, where mesh makes sense, but they respond to the Appearance sliders, and can wear clothing layers.  Not only that, but they look great too!

Check out the official blog post here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/New-Classic-Avatars-are-Now-Available-in-Second-Life/ba-p/2976888

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Art In Hats - SL Benefit for Diabetes

This arrived in my inbox, and I'm passing it on to all of you!

ART IN HATS 2015

DATES: NOVEMBER 4 TO 14, 2015


  
The coordinator of Art in Hats 2015 is Emma Portilo and this year ART in HATS has selected Team Diabetes of Second Life (http://teamdiabetesofsl.org/), an official and authorized team of the American Diabetes Association, as a charitable beneficiary of the event. A portion of proceeds will go to the charity and we will be holding a unique hat auction at the end of the event with exclusive designs!

-OPEN TO THE PUBLIC November 4, 2015 at 6 AM SLT

-GRAND OPENING DAY November 7, 2015 - Featuring Fashion Hat Shows and a Grand Gala Event - Open to the public

-BRING IT ON Public Styling Contest November 8, 2016 at 3 PM SLT

-FINAL DAY LINE UP November 14, 2015 Including:
TOP FASHION STYLE SHOW 2 PM
PUBLIC HAT CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT & CHARITY AUCTION 4 PM
FINAL CHANCE SHOPPING PARTY 8 PM

ART in HATS was founded by Quan Lavender in 2013. Quan is a blogger, curator of the Art India Gallery (currently on hiatus) and member of the LEA (Linden Endowment for the Arts) committee. (http://quanlavender.blogspot.de/)

Team Diabetes is the official and authorized team of the American Diabetes Association in Second Life.  Team Diabetes of Second Life’s mission is to raise awareness of diabetes, promote greater understanding of the issues those suffering from diabetes face, and to raise funds to further research into cures for diabetes.
For more information:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Charity Benefit at Creations Park

A note arrived in my inbox today announcing a ten day-long charity benefit for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.


The Winter Festival benefit is being held at Creations Park from November 6 - 15.  It includes shopping, with products provided by some of SL's top designers  including BamPu Legacies, Blue Moon Designs, and Kari's Kreations.  There's also live music and DJs, including  Seth Regan and over 25 other live singers.

There's a Hunt, free gifts, and amusement rides from Dutch Amusement Rides and Entertainment.  And, for your Winter enjoyment, a sim-wide ice skating area!

See more about Creations for Parkinson's on The Drax Files, Episode 13, available on YouTube:  Creations for Parkinson's  or read their blog at https://creationspark.wordpress.com

100 percent of all donations go to the Michael J. Fox Foundation.  Here's a great opportunity to have a lot of fun while Doing Good!  My Dad suffered from Parkinson's, so I'm planning on visiting Creations Park...more than once!  Here's your taxi: Creations Park Winter Festival

Friday, October 23, 2015

60 Clothing Layers!

When I first came to Second Life, most clothing was on "clothing layers."  These are textures that are painted directly onto your classic avatar body.  (See my earlier post, "Layers and Layers of Layers" )

At first, there were only skin and clothing layers.  Over time, new layers were added.  First we got tattoos.  Then came the "physics" layer that isn't really a clothing layer at all, and is used to make your body jiggle.  Finally, the old invisiprims were replaced by alpha mask layers to hide parts of your body under mesh clothing and other clothing or body part attachments.

The big problem was that you could only wear one thing on each layer.  One undershirt, one shirt, one jacket.  Clothing designers often provided the same top on all three layers, so that it was easier to put together an outfit.

Then Linden Lab made it possible to wear up to five items on a clothing layer by using the ADD command instead of WEAR.  This made it possible to stack shirts, for example...but the biggest benefit was that we could add multiple alpha masks...one for your SLink feet, one for your hands, one for your mesh pants, another for your mesh top, and so on.

But people were still running out of layers.  I had to compromise some of my outfits because I maxed out my available alpha masks.

Now LL has come to our rescue again.  They've implemented the "LayerLimits" functionality in the viewer.  I am not sure exactly when this moved from a project viewer to the released viewer, but it's been in place there for at least several months.  (Nobody ever TELLS me these things!)  It's in the Firestorm viewer too, and probably most of the other popular third party viewers.

LayerLimits removes the five items per clothing layer limitation.  Now you can wear up to 60 (!!) clothing layers IN TOTAL, in any combination.  This does not affect the "Essential Four" items (shape, skin, eyes, system hair) or the physics layer.  Only one of each of these items is allowed.  But it does affect tattoos, alpha masks, and the traditional clothing layers such as jacket, pants, gloves, etc.

Woot!  Good job, LL.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Tales from the Dark Side of SL

Today, I'm going to risk spreading a little FUD...that's Internet slang for "Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt."  I'd like you all to pay attention to the three stories I'm going to relate here, but please also bear in mind that this sort of thing does not happen often in Second Life.  In fact, it happens so seldom that it can be hard to verify. 

Verification is important.  Many people in SL have something startling happen to them, and they think, "I've been griefed!  I've been hacked!  I've got a virus!"  But in reality, what happened was their own fault, or they simply haven't understood what is really going on.  Or maybe something happens to someone, and they tell a friend, and they pass it on, and so on.  The tale gets distorted in the telling, until people wind up spreading wild and untrue rumors and complete misinformation.  That's why you sometimes hear people say things like, "Linden Lab is going to put a cap on Inventory items!"  or "LL is going to appropriate everyone's content for themselves!"  Utter nonsense, in other words.

But...sometimes...someone who seems to have their head screwed on tight comes to me with a tale.  I can't personally verify it, but it seems to be a real occurrence.  Here are three of those.

The Club Protection Racket.
The owner of a popular club came to the Answers forum with a complaint.  A group of griefers had begun showing up at the club.  They demanded protection money, and threatened to shut down the club if they weren't paid.  Despite being banned, muted, and ejected, they managed to completely disrupt the evening by persistent attacks with multiple accounts.  I have actually heard this scenario in several versions.  The griefers may use familiar tools like particle attacks, object rezzers, and sound emitters.  Sometimes they will use graphics crashers.  In at least one or two cases, they've used something that crashed the sim. 

The usual eject, ban, and mute tools, and repeated Abuse Reports on each griefer and each incident will generally resolve this, although it may take a lot of time and patience, waiting for LL to ban accounts.  Depending on how long the attacks continue, it can put a club out of business.

The Unstoppable Griefer.
Normally, you can keep unwanted people out of your land with ban lines or a security system.  You can keep most unwanted objects out by limiting object rezzing to group members, and by turning off object entry and scripts on your land.  But I have heard of one or two cases in which a griefer seemed to be able to ignore these limitations.  They have been reported as entering land which had all protections turned on, and somehow creating or getting griefing objects in as well.  Nobody seems to know how they did this.  The speculation is that they were using some sort of hacked, illegal viewer.

The Object Thief.
Here is the last and scariest tale of all.  A griefer was able to actually take objects that didn't belong to him.  The land was fully protected...access limited, security system, scripts turned off, all objects on the land Locked, even.  And yet a person was able to stand outside the parcel and somehow "reach in" and take objects, including several No Copy items.  This was not copybotting, they took the actual objects themselves.  The people this happened to tell me that they spoke with LL, who confirmed that this was actually possible, and that the incidence of such attacks was increasing.  Again, it is believed that the perpetrators are using an illegal viewer to do this.

The victims were able to get LL to check to see when the objects left the region and roll back the region to a time before the theft, and were thus able to recover their things.  However, LL does not do rollbacks often, and there is no guarantee that they will do so for every reported incident of this sort.

This is truly frightening, because the sanctity of objects in Second Life has been a matter of faith for all of us.  I don't use ban lines or security systems, and I've always said, "why worry about trespassers, they can't break anything or steal your spoons."  This may no longer be entirely true.

Pleasant dreams, everyone!

PS:  If any would-be griefers are reading this and thinking, "Cool, I gotta get me one of those illegal viewers," I would advise against it.  Most illegal viewers are more dangerous to the user than to his potential victims.  Besides the risk of getting permanently banned by LL for using one, a lot of them contain malware that can infect your computer and steal your passwords and personal information. 

On second thought...go right ahead!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Someone I Know is Posessed!

I've discussed phishing scams several times in this blog, and I warn against it in my Avatar Safety and Shopping Skills classes.  Yet, people who ought to know better keep falling for this type of scam.

Here's how it happens.

You belong to a group, and someone posts a link in group chat that includes a URL that they say will take you to new freebies or shopping bargains.  Or someone you know might post a link in an IM to you.  Or you might see one appear from a nearby person in local chat.

You think, "cool!" and you click the link.  Up pops a page that looks just like a Second Life website sign in page.  So you enter your user name and password, like you always do.  Or maybe you've been told that the link takes you to a page where you can earn lots of $L for taking a quick survey "from Linden Lab."

But you've just fallen for a classic phishing scam.  Even people who know better than to click links that arrive in their email can be taken in by these.  Especially when the message appears to come from a friend!  But you have to ALWAYS be on the alert.  Your friend may have already had their account compromised by a phisher, and now their avatar is controlled by an Evil Person looking to snare you, too!

And that's what happened, I'm pretty sure, to an acquaintance of mine.  He'd taken my Avatar Safety class, he KNEW about phishing.  But last night, his account started popping up in group after group, posting a link that was obviously a phishing attempt.  If someone you know starts doing or saying things that don't seem at like themselves, their account may have been compromised.  If you can, send them an IM when they are offline, so they'll get it by email.  This may alert them to the situation and let them notify Linden Lab.

How do you know if a link is a phishing scam?  Look at the URL.  If it does not start with https://, with an S at the end, it may be bogus.  If it does not have the domain secondlife.com, it's bogus.  The domain might LOOK similar, but it might be something like, say, sec0ndlife.com, or secondlife.rus.  The spelling here is important, so examine it carefully.

Maybe the link has been shortened, by using one of those handy services like TinyURL.  If so, it will have a different form, like bit.ly.xxxx.  This could be legitimate, Linden Lab does this all the time.  But it could be a phisher, too.  If you do open a link you get from someone, your browser will give you the actual address at the bottom of your screen.  If it's not one you recognize as valid, run away!

The safest thing to do is to not click any unsolicited links you get.  Browse MANUALLY to the site you want, or use a bookmark you've made yourself.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Avatar Safety Goes Off-Campus

One of the classes that I teach at Caledon Oxbridge University is "Avatar Safety."  In this 90-minute class, I cover a lot of the things that I've talked about here in this blog...griefers, practical jokes, scammers, con artists, phishing, and the emotional pitfalls of virtual life.  It's offered every Saturday at 1200...noon, SL Time (Pacific Time).

Recently I was approached by my friend Morgan Mickalobe, who runs the completely self-funded Care and Hope Center to provide women with information and support about domestic violence and violence against women.  She asked me if I would be willing to do a version of my Avatar Safety class at the Center.  Well, of course I said Yes!  While the forms of abuse that we're subject to in SL are much less harmful (physically at least, if not emotionally) than those of Real Life, it's possible to be a virtual victim...and learning how NOT to be one in SL just might spill over a bit into RL too.

Not a week later, another friend, Treacle Darlandes, who runs the enormously helpful New Resident Island and the White Tiger Mentors support group called me up...she'd been talking to iSkye Silverweb, one of the linchpins of Virtual Ability, who felt that they had a need for my class too!  Virtual Ability is a long-standing support organization that helps people with physical or mental disabilities in Second Life.

In for a penny, in for a pound, I thought.  So I agreed to do two offerings of Avatar Safety at Virtual Ability too.

Please bear in mind that these classes are open to anyone.  You don't have to be an abuse victim or have a disability to attend!  If you heard about the Oxbridge class, but the day or time of the offering didn't mesh with your schedule, here's your chance to catch up on what you missed.

Here are all the dates and places!

Caledon Oxbridge University:                     Every Saturday, 1200 SLT
Care and Hope Center                              Saturday, September 26, 1700 SLT
Virtual Ability, Yellow Hibiscus Cabana    Friday, October 2, 1200 SLT
Virtual Ability, Yellow Hibiscus Cabana    Saturday, October 3, 1700 SLT

Saturday, September 12, 2015

FLASH! Sansar Makes the News

Sansar, the new virtual world platform that Linden Lab is developing as a follow-on to Second Life, made the mainstream techie news this week!  Tom's Hardware ran a story on it which includes comments by Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab.  Read the story here: http://www.tomshardware.com/news/linden-lab-project-sansar-vr,30054.html

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Renting From Vampires

Today, one of my Oxbridge students came to me with a little problem.  She'd been banned from her home.

I won't go into all the Drama that led up to this.  Let's just say it involved a clan of vampires, a love triangle, and a slight case of mistaken identity.  You can make up your own story from those clues, I'm sure, and it will probably be much better than the actual series of events.  But the end result was that she couldn't get to the skybox home she'd constructed, and the land owner had not returned her objects.

I agreed to help her out.  One of the first things was to get the story of what had happened...well, her side of it, anyway.  It seemed to me to be a simple case of a minor mistake in etiquette on her part and a problem in communication, interpretation, or both.

The next step was to go to her land and see if the stuff was still there.  If it was not, it should be a simple matter to show her how to find the lump of returned prims in her Lost and Found folder, and show her how to rez them again and recover them properly.  But, when I arrived, sure enough her house and furniture were still there.  I also took the time to look at the parcel details.  It was Private Estate land, and it appeared that a vampire family owned the large parcel.  I had to assume that my student friend was there as a guest, or perhaps was sub-letting from the clan.  The Estate Owner was an old friend of mine, Derbor Torok.

As I was noting these details, still hovering in my friend's house, I received an IM from the head of the vampire family...the parcel owner.  He wanted, reasonably enough, to know what I was doing there?  I told him politely who I was, and my mission.  He demanded I come down and talk to him face to face, so I did.

Unfortunately, the gentleman was both fairly new to SL (a bit over three months old) and did not speak much English.  After a brief exchange, he brought over another person, a woman with whom my friend had had the conversation that led to her being banned.

I again explained my mission, saying that I was sure the whole thing was really a misunderstanding.  I asked the owner most politely if he would allow my friend back.  I agreed that he did not have to, and that it was his right to allow or ban anyone he liked on his land.  I then asked, if he chose not to allow my friend back, that he return her things.

I guess my translator was not working well, because shortly after that I found myself booted off the parcel.

I related my failure to my friend, and explained how she could get her stuff back, if the land owner didn't return it in a reasonably short time.  She should be able to go back to the region, in a parcel adjoining the land owner's, cam in and retrieve her objects.

I also told her, if she continued to have problems with the land owner, to contact the Estate Owner, my friend Derbor.  I figured that, as long as I have to deal with Vampire Clan Drama, I should share the joy!

But why, you may ask, am I telling all of you this sordid little tale?  It's very simple, Gentle Readers!  This is a perfect example of Second Life's Golden Rule in action.  That rule is, "He Who Owns the Land, Makes the Rules."  Regardless of what the lease or the Covenant says, a land owner is an absolute monarch on his little piece of virtual land.  If they choose, they can ban you.  Without warning, without explanation, without recourse, and without refunding the rent that you just paid them yesterday.  They don't even have to return your Stuff (although most will, they don't want your prims cluttering up the joint).  They don't have to listen to pleas, arguments, or excuses.  They don't have to put up with intermediaries like me.

Am I angry at the landowner?  No, not a bit.  Everything he did was within his rights.  I'm actually grateful that he let me stay long enough to get a few words in.  He could've just ejected and banned me without even saying boo.  I'm only disappointed that we were not able to communicate more clearly.  (Of course, if he ever comes to Masocado, I'll be gleefully happy to return the favor!  Muwahahaha!)

I will leave you with the same parting bit of advice I gave my friend:  "Next time, don't rent from vampires.  Their clans breed Drama as well as Undead Stalkers of the Night."

Friday, August 28, 2015

FLASH! Premium Membership for Less!

Another bit of good news from Linden Lab!

They've just reduced the cost of a monthly Premium membership from $9.95/mo. to $9.50/mo.  This is not a limited time or one-time promotion, like their occasional "half off the first month" or "half off the first quarter" deals.  This is an actual 5% cut to your Premium payment each and every month.

In addition, LL is no longer charging VAT tax on Premium memberships.  If your country imposes VAT, this can be quite a sizable savings.

And lastly, they are now giving Premium members access to Concierge level live chat tech support.  This was formerly only available to members who paid more than $100 USD per month in land fees.  I can report from experience that Live Chat is very helpful and responsive, much more satisfactory than filing a written Support Case.

Here is the Official Word: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Cheaper-Monthly-Premium-amp-the-End-of-VAT-Charges/ba-p/2961072

Saturday, August 15, 2015

FLASH! Remembering Lumiere Noir

Hello everyone!  I haven't written in this blog in...well, far too long.  And my subject today is not a happy one.  One of the Greats of Second Life has left us.

I never knew Lumiere Noir personally.  But I have often used his Ivory Tower Library of Primitives to find out how to do something with the Second Life building tools.  And I have sent, probably, hundreds of people who wanted to learn how to build with primitives to the Tower.

Now, Lumiere has left us.  For anyone who's ever been to the Tower, or even spent time tossing prims around, that's a great loss.

Tomorrow, Sunday August 16, there will be a Remembrance and Celebration for Lumiere at the Tower, beginning at 1300 SL time.  Here's the notice: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Upcoming-Events-and-Activities/A-Remembrance-amp-Celebration-gathering-for-Lumiere-Noir/m-p/2958014#M14238

God bless, Lumiere.


Monday, July 27, 2015

Using the Lindex

As most of you probably know by now, the various third party $L exchanges are going away at the end of this week.  As of August 1, the Lindex will be the only means of buying and selling Linden Dollars.

This has upset a lot of people, especially outside the United States in areas not served by PayPal.  However, LL has added the Skrill online payment system (a service similar to PayPal) as an accepted payment method.  MOST people should still be able to buy $L.

Of course, some people have objections.  They don't want to give LL a credit card number.  They don't want LL to have their actual personal information (despite the fact that they supposedly entered it when they signed up, some people (shock!) enter false personal data to protect their privacy.)  They don't trust PayPal.  And on and on...

People, stop whining.  Giving your account information to LL is no riskier (and no less risky) than making any other online purchase.  There are enough payment methods available that one of them should work for you.

Remember, though:  LL won't accept debit cards or prepaid cards.  These can run out of money, and LL insists on immediate payment.  You can link your PayPal or Skrill account to either a credit card or a real world bank account...but if you choose the bank account option, you must be SURE to keep enough money in the online account to pay your Second Life bills.  Linden Lab will not wait patiently for money to be transferred from your bank to your PayPal account, then to them.

My personal preference is to use PayPal, linked to a separate bank account from my main account.  This gives me exact control over how much money I make available to Linden Lab, and it limits my risk should my account be hacked.  Also, by using PayPal, if I make money in SL, I can sell $L and transfer the funds out of Second Life and back into my bank account.  You can't do that with a credit card.

Here are some useful links:

PayPal

Skrill

LL's accepted currencies and payment methods

If you have a problem and want to take it up with the Lab, call Billing at one of these numbers:

US/Canada: 800-294-1067
France: 0805-101-490
Germany: 0800-664-5510
Japan: 0066-33-132-830
Portugal: 800-814-450
Spain: 800-300-560
UK: 0800-048-4646
Brazil: 0800-762-1132

Long distance ( not free, but you can use Skype to save some cost ) : 703-286-6277
**Note: Support is offered only in English


What is the Meaning of (Second) Life?

Today I was asked a very deep question by a newbie:  "What is the purpose of Second Life?"  Lots of newcomers ask this, although it's usually worded so as to be a lot more limited:  "How do you play this game?"  Both are really asking the same question, although the first query at least shows that the person asking it isn't wearing the philosophical blinders of thinking of SL as a game.

My first response is another question:  "Well, what is the meaning of life?"  Second Life is a virtual world, full of real people and their works.  In this, it is like the real world.  The purpose of life, whether First or Second, is whatever the individual decides it is.

What's YOUR goal in life?  To get a good job?  To become famous?  To do something better than anyone else?  To become rich?  To find true love?  To teach?  To explore?  Do you like to tinker with things and try to make them better?  Do you want to live in luxury?  You can do all these things in Second Life, just as you can in Real Life.  And in the virtual world, the risks and consequences of failure are much less...so you can take chances that you never would in real life.

Or perhaps your goals are less laudable.  Maybe you are out to take what you can, and to hell with anyone else.  Maybe you are bitter, and have decided to try and make everyone around you as unhappy as you are.  The consequences of getting caught are less in a virtual world, and so Second Life can bring out the darker side of people every bit as much as it gives others unequaled chances to succeed.

It's not a "purpose," but it is a characteristic of the virtual world that it acts as a magnifier.  The good become better, and the bad become worse.

Linden Lab gave us a world, and the tools to shape it.  They did NOT give us a purpose.  What some people see as LL's failure to provide a goal for the "game" may in fact be the very best thing they could have done.  Whether it is or is not, it is in any case a grand social experiment.

But back to our original question.  My dear young noob:  Second Life has no purpose!  Shock!  Horror!  Confusion!  You must find your own.  That can be pretty scary, I know...but you know what?  That's called "freedom."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hair Fair Is Here!

It's time again for the annual Hair Fair in Second Life.  Here's the official website, right up front: https://hairfair.wordpress.com/



I have very mixed feelings whenever I go to one of these huge annual fashion extravaganzas.  On the one hand, the shopper in me squeals with glee and jumps up and down.  On the other hand, the Old Second Life Resident sighs in anticipation of another huge lagfest.  And on the third hand...

Tell me, what IS it about Mesh?  Why must EVERYTHING nowadays be made out of Mesh?  I absolutely HATE most mesh hair, and especially any long styles.  They look laquered in place with five cans of hairspray.  And nowadays, it is getting harder and harder to find any hair designers that are still making flexi hair.  Sure, flex hair penetrates your shoulders sometimes.  Or your forehead, or your eye.  But it moves much more realistically than Mesh hair.

If you want to avoid the lag, there's a great Shop At Home alternative.  You can join the Hair Fair Demo group (it's free!) and then check the group notices to collect demos from ALL the exhibitors.  Just paste this link in local chat, then click the group link that appears, and join the group.  Then look in the Notices tab.  secondlife:///app/group/2e30d166-f3e5-e2de-ff72-b3da2d06ded2/about

One good thing about Hair Fair:  You have the opportunity to see offerings from many more creators than the "usual suspects" that you, like me, probably have in your landmarks folder.  Some of these have some very lovely creations on offer.  Others...well, I will never understand what SOME women are willing to do to their hair to look...er, unique.

Another REALLY good thing about Hair Fair:  A percentage of every sale goes to support Wigs For Kids, a very worthy charity.



This year, Hair Fair occupies four regions, dubbed Blonde, Red, Noirette, and Brunette (not the actual region names.)  The regions have huge signs all over them, so you can tell when you are camming into another region and need to move over to grab gifts and demos.  The building theme is shopping bags...the individual stores all look like gigantic shopping bags, I kid you not.

When you go, go low-lag.  Take off high prim clothes and jewelry.  Wear a hairbase tattoo and a hat or a bandanna.  Wear simple shoes.  Take off scripted HUDs.  The sims are often full and you may have to bump around outside for a while before someone leaves and you can get in.

If you forgot the landmark, just search Places for "Hair Fair."  All the regions, plus low-occupancy "arrival" regions will be listed.  Click any of them and teleport to the Fair!

Here are a few more pictures of my visit.  I have not specifically included any pictures of any of the hair styles on offer.  For one thing, there are far too many.  For another, my taste may not be the same as yours.  Try the demos, or make a visit, and set your own style!  Hair Fair 10 runs from now until July 26.

Four Sims of Hirsute Extravagance


The Giant Shopping Bags
Young Matron Shopping With the Kids

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dreams of Second Life

The annual Second Life Birthday celebration is the grid's largest party, in both size and duration.  This year marks Second Life's 12th birthday.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about this event is that it's a perfect metaphor for SL itself.  SL is a world created by and for its residents.  Some years ago, Linden Lab organized and ran the Birthday event, but about four years ago they dropped their participation.  The residents were not about to let the Birthday die, however.  They stepped in and organized and ran the entire thing.  The Birthday, like Second Life, is a creation of Second Life's residents.

Today, Sunday June 28, wraps up the "live" week of the grand SL12B celebration...the last day for live performances and events.  But even if you missed it, the 15 "Birthday" regions and exhibits will remain open for the next week.

If you have haven't been, you REALLY should go.  The Birthday is always an event that can only be described as "sensory overload."  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come" and the residents of Second Life have outdone themselves in exploring that theme.

Find the SL12B official website here: http://www.slcommunitycelebration.info/

You can use the many SLURL links on that site to teleport to the Birthday sims, or just enter "SL12B" in Search/Places or on the main Map.

Here are some of the things I ran across, while wandering about and trying to hold on to my sanity...

Abigail Tempest Performing at the Cake Stage

Alien Visitors (The UFO they came in is behind me)

Fighting Sail on the Blake Sea

The Ginormous Cake Stage, Straddling 4 Regions

Caledon Oxbridge Exhibit, featuring Cavorite

The "Dreamitarium"

Evolution of Dreams, or an Escape?

The HuntSL Tower

Relaxing at Impressive Roads

Moles in Black!


POW-MIA Support Group Exhibit

Amazing Textures in the Sarcophagus of Sleep

"Shattered Dreams" Statue by Isabelle Torok

Sailing in Second Life

Aviation in Second Life

SLUniverse - The Oldest and Largest Independent SL Forum

Strum Diesel Performs Live at the Main Stage

Inside an Amorphous and Surreal Build

Dreams of Trains

Another Surreal Experience - "Visions"

The Entry to "Visions"












One exhibit that I forgot to get a picture of is The Forum Cartel Hangout.  The Cartel is a group of people brought together by their love of the old Second Life discussion forums.  They have a group in world that anyone can join, and an in-world Hangout.  The old forums are gone, but the Cartel lives on...its members are still chatting, and still dreaming.  If you want to find a bunch of friendly (if sometimes eccentric) people, look us up!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Linden Lab Announces End of Third Party $L Resellers

Well, dear readers, our friends at the Lab have done it again -- shafted the residents and merchants that support Second Life, and shot themselves in the foot into the bargain.

Today, LL announced that the Linden Dollar Authorized Reseller Program would close as of August 1.  The link to its SL Wiki page already has been deleted, and only an announcement that the program is closed remains.  Read LL's blog post here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Concluding-the-Authorized-L-Reseller-Pilot-Program/ba-p/2941442

The reason given is that LL has, over the past two years, provided more ways for residents of Second Life to buy $L, especially non-US residents who do not have access to PayPal, so the third party resellers are no longer necessary.

The changes made to the Terms of Service two years ago, when LL closed two-way third party $L exchanges, impacted a lot of residents.  Many believe that new US regulations on virtual currencies, or at least the Treasury's interpretation of the laws, was the driving factor behind this move.  The $L Authorized Reseller Program was put in place as at least a partial solution to those difficulties.

Most of the largest third party dealers went along with this.  Even though they could no longer buy back $L from residents, creating a two way exchange, they remained in the business of selling $L.  Over time, the program gained additional approved resellers, until there were about 29 choices in addition to the official Linden Lab exchange.

Now LL has decided, once again, to intervene in their virtual economy.  In my opinion, the move is not, as the previous one probably was, in response to a changing Real World legal environment, but yet another attempt on the part of LL to appropriate a Second Life revenue stream developed by the residents for themselves.  (In their blog post, LL even states this is a "business decision.")  I am also bemused by the fact that LL is now calling it a "pilot" program, a term that was never used to describe it before.  I suspect they did this to try to make it look like they are canceling a small, unproductive, or even failed effort -- when in fact the Reseller program was large, active, and growing.

This sort of behavior on the part of the Lab is not new.  They increased the costs of private estate ownership to give a greater competitive edge to their own Mainland regions and keep more of the income from estates for themselves.  They introduced themed areas like Nautilus and Bay City to try and get a share of the themed estate market.  They decided to charge fees for people making skill games and running skill gaming regions, skimming off a goodly percentage of that income.  Linden Homes took a huge share of the "first home owner" market away from resident landlords and estate owners.

Second Life is a business.  I understand that, we all do.  Unless Linden Lab earns a profit on Second Life, our beloved virtual world will vanish.  That's a fact of life, and no one with three working brain cells would assert that LL should provide us with our world simply out of the goodness of their hearts.  But when clever residents come up with ways to make money in SL, it smacks of bullying for LL to usurp those income streams by fiat.  Moreover, moves like this lead to uncertainty on the part of entrepreneurs.  No one is going to invest a lot of time, effort, and money to build up a virtual business if they think that as soon as it's a success, LL will come and take it for themselves.

The right way to profit from a virtual economy is to set the rules and then LEAVE THEM ALONE, for pity's sake.  If the economy is stable, it's more likely to grow...and so will LL's cut.  Trying to grab a bigger slice of a smaller pie is self-destructive over the long run.




Thursday, May 28, 2015

FLASH! New Limit on Groups for Premium Members

The maximum number of groups you can belong to has just jumped from 42 to 60!  That's a very unexpected surprise present from LL.  Because the number of allowed groups increased the load on the servers exponentially, tech-savvy SL residents all said it would most likely never happen.  Now it has...but only if you are a Premium member.  This is a very nice addition to the Premium benefits package.

Here's the official announcement: 60 Groups for Premium Members

And you read it here first!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FLASH ! Silent Art Auction to Benefit Relay for Life

If you like to sail, like art, and want to help in the fight against breast cancer, here's an event for you!

Sail4Life, the Second Life sailing community’s Relay for Life team, will hold its Silent Art Auction, May 22-24. All sailors and landlubbers from across the grid are invited.

Original, one-of-a-kind, maritime-themed artwork by SL artists will be available for auction.  An anonymous donor has volunteered to match the total donated in the auction kiosks.  All proceeds go to Relay for Life. The artwork will be on display at the serene, seaside Holly Kai Park at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/160/118/28.

The Silent Art Auction begins with a party featuring DJ Joy Canadeo, Friday, May 22, 5-7 p.m., in the Holly Kai Park Party Pavilion at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/191/150/21. The auction closes with a party featuring DJ G. Winz on Sunday, May 24, 3-5 p.m.

For more information, contact Winnie Sweetwater, chair, Sail4Life team.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What You See Is What You Get

This week, the blog buzz has been about the controversy between two virtual world bloggers, Eric Grundhauser and Hamlet James Au.  Mr. Grundhauser wrote an absolutely wonderful piece about his exploration of Second Life, guided by the knowledgeable Ziki Questi (who has a wonderful blog of her own...go read it and bookmark it!)  He was taken to a number of stunning regions that showcased the skill and imagination of Second Life residents...the "Best Of Second Life," if you will.  Do read his article here: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/forgotten-wonders-of-the-digital-world-second-life

Hamlet James Au runs the longtime New World Notes blog, another place I recommend bookmarking.  But this time, Hamlet stirred up a lot of controversy by taking exception to Mr. Grundhauser's portrayal, saying that it ignored all the Second Life sex and porn.

Inara Pey posted a very reasoned response to this, in effect saying that yes, SL has sex and porn...but that it is definitely not the "main thing" on the grid.  Depending on how you estimate it, pornographic content is somewhere between 5 and 20% of the virtual world.  Nalates Urriah also has a great rebuttal post, with links to other thoughts by other writers.

My purpose here isn't to join the debate on one side or the other.  I just want to make four points.

First, to Mr. Grundhauser:  You noted the strange absence of people in the places you visited, and speculated that they must all be off hiding in other locations.  Well, yes and no.  Second Life is limited by technical considerations to small groups of avatars in any one place.  The maximum number of avatars that can possibly fit into a region is 100 (40, on the Mainland) and things start to lag very badly well before that limit is reached.  The recent Linden Meetup event filled its region to bursting and frame rates were down in the single digits.  In the second place, there is a huge amount of land area on the grid, compared to the number of concurrent users.  With over 20,000 regions, and a typical concurrency of around 40,000 or so, you can see that even if we were spread out evenly, there would be only about two avatars per region.  Because we are NOT spread evenly, but clustered at popular places, there are a great many empty regions on the grid at any given time.

Second, to Ziki Questi:  Congratulations!  That was one amazing tour de force.  You took Mr. Grundhauser to some of my favorite places, and showed him (and me) a lot of places that I really must find time to visit!  This brings up a very vital point:  Second Life has many of these pockets of artistry in world building, but they are not always easy to find.  Unlike the stores and clubs, they don't advertise.  They may not hold Events, so you won't find them that way.  The only way you can find these wonderful places is if someone takes you there, or you read about them in someone's blog.

Third:  What that means is, it's up to YOU, the Second Life user, to find the really amazing places.  Talk to more experienced friends.  Read blogs.  Go charging around the Map, teleporting to random locations just to see what you might find.

Fourth, and last:  We make our own world.  That's true in a literal sense in Second Life, where everything in the world has been built by us Residents, but that's not really what I mean.  We make our own world, in Real Life and in Second Life, by our choices, every day and every hour.  Are all your groups stores?  Your world is fashion and shopping.  Are they all clubs?  You're a socializer and a party girl.  Are they all sex places and kink?  Then Second Life is, for you, a world of pornography.  Our choices make our virtual world...and our real one...and our inner, spiritual one.  What You See Is What You Get...and What You Get Is What You See.

Make good choices.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Be a Part of the Biggest Party on the Grid - SL12B

Just a quick note!  If you have an idea for an exhibit, or a presentation or a discussion forum or an entertainment...or even if you just want to volunteer...applications are now open for SL12B, the celebration of Second Life's 12th Birthday!

It happens next month, June 21-28.  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come," which seems to me to be both eminently suitable to Second Life and an invitation for the most surreal Birthday ever (and that's going some, they are ALL surreal and an invitation to sensory overload.)

Cruise on over to the website to read more.  Bookmark it to keep up with news and announcements.  And start making your plans now to be a part of it!  It's a week long, nonstop party, the biggest annual event in virtual reality.

http://www.slcommunitycelebration.info/

Saturday, May 9, 2015

FLASH! Inworld Meetup With the Lindens

Hello again, faithful readers!  It's been a while.

Today I noticed a blog post on the SL website.  Xiola Linden announced the date of the next in-world Meetup session (May 14), and threw the location of the meeting out for Resident inputs.  You can suggest a spot to hold the event.

To let your voice be heard, cruise over to this Forum thread: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Upcoming-Events-and-Activities/Help-Decide-the-Next-Inworld-Meetup-Destination/td-p/2930743

Monday, April 27, 2015

Goodbye, Galaxy...er, Correction: Galaxy to Be Under New Owners

As reported by Daniel Voyager and Inara Pey, the famous SS Galaxy cruise ship will be no more after this coming Sunday, May 3.

The Galaxy has been in Second Life for more than the eight years I've been here, and it is one of the most amazing builds in the virtual world.  It stretches across three whole regions, making it almost twice as long as the biggest Real Life cruise ships.  Its eight decks contain cabins that could be rented (you could live there!), stores, swimming pools and water slides, several dance venues, including a large domed ballroom, and many other features and amenities.

The Galaxy featured many events, including a lot of weddings.  So many, in fact, that it has its own blog!  http://ssgalaxynews.blogspot.co.uk/

When you step aboard and begin to explore, the Galaxy gives you the look and feel of a Real Life cruise ship.  Her appointments are incredibly realistic, especially considering the limitations of the Second Life building tools at the time of her construction.

Although the ship itself is stationary, the Galaxy provided the experience of "going to" different ports through its "Ports of Call" program, in which teleporters at the dock would whisk you off to the location that the Galaxy was "visiting" at the time.

Several years ago, the Galaxy nearly went away when its owners decided they could no longer afford the tier payments, but it was rescued from that fate and went on gracing the waters south of the Blake Sea for another five years.  This time, the problem does not seem to be financial, but other events and changes in the lives of her management.

If you have never visited the Galaxy, be sure to do so this week.  It's your last chance to see a marvelous example of just what Second Life can truly be.

Fair winds and following seas to you, Lady!

SS Galaxy Aft Embarkation Port

HAPPY CORRECTION:  See the comment below.  The Galaxy will be staying, but under direct Linden Lab ownership.

Friday, April 24, 2015

FLASH! Another Translator

A few posts back, I gave out a link to a free translator on the Marketplace that appears to be working.  I've just been made aware of another one, available in world.  Here's where to get it: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife//121/46/20  (Thank you, Dav2!)

This translator appears to have been made by a Japanese creator.  It's very intutitive and easy to use though, so the lack of detailed English instructions should not prove to be a difficulty.  It is not entirely free, but it's "donateware" and your donation can be as little as $L1.  However, I suggest a more substantial donation -- working translators are very thin on the ground just now, and this is a very valuable tool.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Here comes SL12B

Every year, Second Life residents celebrate SL's birthday.  This year, Second Life will turn 12.  The actual Birthday is June 23, but the SL12B regions, with hundreds of builds and exhibits made by Second Life residents, and many concerts and events, will be open from June 21 - June 28...this celebration is way too big to be constrained to just one day!

The organizers of SL12B are now taking applications from would-be exhibitors.  If you would like to have an exhibit this year (or even if you just want to keep up on news about the event) bookmark this page: http://www.slcommunitycelebration.info/  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come."

Some of the things we can expect to see:

  • Many live performers and DJs on several giant stages
  • An enormous Birthday Cake, which will also be one of the Event stages.  This cake will be exploded!
  • Tons of freebies and handouts
  • Live presentations and seminars
  • A Time Capsule, with contents typical of this year in SL
  • Linden Bears  (If you don't know about these...each LL employee is encouraged to create his or her own unique teddy bear.  If you happen to meet a Linden in world, ask them if you may have a Bear to commemorate the encounter!)
  • Hundreds of exhibits from the sublime to the whimsical, showcasing the creative talents of Second Life's Residents
  • Looks backward, looks forward
  • Amazing art
The annual Birthday celebrations are an absolute Must See event.  Each year when I go, I'm blown away by the things to see and do.  It's an absolute sensory overload...much like attending a World's Fair in Real Life, but even more so!

Maybe I'll see you there!  I'll be the girl standing in one spot, slowly turning around and around trying to take it all in.  IM me, but don't feel offended if I don't respond right away...I'm not ignoring you, I'm just in a daze!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Royally Screwed?

Today I was reading Julya Lykin's blog.  Julya tours around Second Life by taking more or less random walks and describing the places she visits...including a lot of stores, of course.  SL is, after all, "a nation of shopkeepers."

But I was struck by one of Julya's comments.  She said "guys get royally screwed in SL."  She was referring, I hasten to add, to the fact that fashions, skins, hair, and accessories for guys are a lot thinner on the ground than those for us gals.

She's right, of course.  There is at least five times as much Stuff for women in Second Life as there is for men.  On the other hand, one might say the same for Real Life as well.  Take a look at any major department store, and see how much square footage is devoted to women's items vs. men's items.

Why do you suppose this is?  After all, we women supposedly make (on average) 76% of what men do.  Doesn't that mean that we should be buying LESS stuff?  Maybe we are...my Resident Geek sure seems to spend a lot of money, anyway.  But it sure isn't on fashion...one look at him would tell you that.  No, he buys Toys.  Computers, video games, tools.  Model airplanes.  He drools over (but does not often buy, thank goodness!) sports cars, guns, boats, and high end stereos.

I think it is a cultural thing.  Our whole culture teaches us that women must be beautiful to be a success...and that beauty requires clothes, makeup, shoes, and accessories.  And you have to buy new ones every season!  Not to mention time at the spa, skin treatments, plastic surgery, etc. etc.  A guy, on the other hand, can slouch through life with maybe one suit, a couple of pairs of briefs, a few mismatched socks, an old pair of jeans, and a few moth eaten T-shirts...as long as he is driving a Corvette.

Second Life imitates Life 1.0 in this regard.  I believe that our cultural biases influence our shopping habits in SL...and that, therefore, girls buy fashions, guys buy Toys.  In turn, our shopping habits influence what the creators put out there for us to buy.  They create what sells!

So, maybe the guys are royally screwing themselves by not buying more hot bodies and hot clothes!  Stop drooling over that chromed Harley Davidson, fellows...make yourselves into Eye Candy instead.  We, your virtual girlfriends, deserve no less!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Auto Show!

The Linden Endowment for the Arts (LEA) is putting on an auto show!  It's "The History of the Vehicle" and it includes very accurate reproductions of famous Real Life vehicles as well as a lot of very whimsical contraptions you'd only find in Second Life.  See examples made from ordinary prims, sculpties, and Mesh.  I don't think I need to say more, the pictures speak volumes.  Pay this site a visit!  (And admire my lovely retro gown, from Cerri's Booty!)





FLASH! New Translator

Those of you who use language translators in Second Life have probably noticed that most of them are broken, both the kind that are add-on HUDs and the built in translation in the viewer.  The services that these devices rely on, Google Translate or Microsoft Bing, have changed the way they are accessed.  This is what has broken Second Life language translation.

My Q-Translate still works, intermittently.  But it's frustrating that sometimes it will translate a line of text, while other times it will just ignore it.

There is a new free translator that is set up to work with Google Translate.  You can find it on the Marketplace here:  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Translator-All-google-languages/7076496?

However, the very smart Nalates Urriah thinks that it may not STAY working very long.  For more information on why she thinks that, see her blog post here: http://blog.nalates.net/2015/04/13/second-life-free-language-translator-2/

She also reports that the Alchemy viewer development team and other third party viewer developers are working on a fix to get a working translator back in the viewer.  I wish them speedy success...Second Life has residents from all over the world and it's a real handicap to not have any ability to translate languages.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

FLASH! Premium Memberships, Half Price!

Every now and then, Linden Lab runs a special on new Premium memberships.  Past sales have been for the quarterly plan, and you could get your first quarter's membership for $11.25 instead of the usual $22.50.

This month, LL is offering the MONTHLY Premium membership at half off.  You can sign up as a Premium member for just $4.98, instead of the usual $9.95.  The discount only applies to the first month, and you pay the regular rate after that.

This is a really great way to try out a Premium membership.  You get all the benefits, including a free Linden Home, a $L300 weekly stipend payment, access to better technical support and live chat support, and access to some Premium-only locations.  If you decide you like it and continue past the first month, you get a $L1000 bonus payment after 45 days.

And if you decide that you REALLY like being a Premium member, you can switch over to the annual plan.  That costs $72.00, and if you decide to downgrade back to Basic later, you don't get a refund of unused subscription time.  But if you figure it on a monthly basis, it's just $6.00 per month, the best deal going for Premium in Second Life.

Save SL Go!

Most of us get into Second Life using a computer, usually a pretty powerful one.  But there are ways to use a mobile device -- a tablet or a smartphone -- to get into SL.  There's a text-only app, Pocket Metaverse, for the iPhone.  For Android devices, there is Mobile Grid Client, another text-only app, and Lumiya, which gives you a rudimentary graphics interface.

Last year, OnLive provided "SL Go."  This subscription service uses OnLive's servers to provide the graphics muscle needed to run a fully-realized version of SL on machines that don't have the performance necessary to run a "regular" Second Life viewer.  An unlimited subscription costs $9.95 per month.  It works with iPads and with Android-based tablets and smartphones.

But Sony has acquired OnLive, and last week they announced that SL Go would be closing at the end of April.

If you would like to contribute your voice to try and reverse this decision, there is a petition you can sign.  Go to this link and let your voice be heard!  Frankly, there's not much chance of success, but it would be a shame for us to lose this way of letting people visit our virtual world.

If you haven't tried SL Go, you still have a few weeks.  It's free to use until the closing date of April 30.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Perils of Blogging

Despite four years of blog posts here, I still consider myself a newcomer to the Art of Blogging.  You may recall my puzzlement when I discovered that, at least for a while, a whole lot of hits from Ukraine were inflating my page view count (Thank you, whoever you are.)

Today I happened to be looking at my blog statistics again, and noticed that a lot of today's hits had come from one website.  The address given was a "proxy," one of those shortened URLs you can get by using Tiny URL or similar services.  When I tried browsing to the page, my browser flung up a warning that it could be a Bad Place To Visit.  I'll post the actual URL here for anyone who feels in a daring and adventurous mood, but I DO NOT RECOMMEND visiting it and I take no responsibility for any consequences if you do.  http://affiliates.bet-at-home.com/processing/clickthrgh.asp?btag=a_80727b_34009&aid=

Isn't the Internet a strange and wonderful place?  Who would have thought that some scamming, spamming gambling site would provide references to my little corner of it?  I don't think I'll ever understand how this stuff works.  I had problems enough this past week when I inadvertently lost all the data on my hard drive due to a BIOS reset...and then lost the backup data by unwisely formatting the drive that I stored the image on.  Thank goodness for unformat drive recovery utilities!  I now have about 99% of everything back in place.

Here's wishing all of you a safe day among the perils of computer technology.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FLASH! Fine Hover Adjustments Return!

I've noted several times here that the "hover height" adjustment feature that used to be available in Firestorm and some other third party viewers became unworkable when Linden Lab introduced the new Server Side Appearance baking.

LL gave us a clunky workaround with the Hover adjustment in the Body sliders of the Appearance menu, but this had serious drawbacks.  It didn't work with No Modify shapes, and the adjustment increments were very coarse.

But now LL has incorporated a fine hover height adjustment into the latest Release Candidate viewer!  For more on this, with pictures even, see the post over on Inara Pey's blog or the official Linden Lab announcement at https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Now-Available-Hover-Height-Improvements/ba-p/2916962

Saturday, March 21, 2015

FLASH! Some Random News Notes

Today, a potpourri!

AMD/ATI has just released new video card drivers that are reported to fix the issue that these cards have had lately with Mesh objects!  http://support.amd.com/en-us/download

The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) conference is in full swing.  Today's program includes an hour exploring the Caledon Quest, a virtual world scavenger hunt in the Victorian Steampunk themed lands of Caledon.  http://vwbpe.org/conference/vwbpe-2015-calendar

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, gave the keynote address for the VWBPE conference, and it contains much news about upcoming changes in Second Life and about LL's "Next Generation" virtual world project.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WR_CBsP5nr0

Fashion For Life is a major event in the annual Second Life Relay for Life charity drive.  It opens today, with NINE whole regions of fashion gloriousness!  Read more at Daniel Voyager's blog.

Speaking of hunts and steampunk, the tenth annual Steam Hunt is this month.  You still have time to collect tons of steampunk-themed gifts (or treat yourself to a nervous breakdown, depending on your hunting skills or lack thereof.)  http://historicalhunts.blogspot.com/

My Avatar Safety class is today, at 12 noon SL time.  In fact, it's every Saturday!  Oh, what the heck, here's my entire class schedule.

  • Buying and Renting Land - Friday, 1700 SLT
  • Avatar Safety - Saturday, 1200 SLT
  • Smart Shopper Fundamentals - Sunday, 1000 SLT
Those are just the ones I teach at Caledon Oxbridge University.  COU offers many other classes given by our wonderful volunteer faculty.  All of them are FREE!  Drop by and check out the schedule.  While you're there, tour the lovely campus.  New Lecture Hall, Caledon Oxbridge University