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Friday, February 20, 2015

Stressed? Take A Break!

It's awfully easy to get totally wrapped up in Second Life.  For example, I manage my rentals at Masocado, teach classes at Caledon Oxbridge University, and have to make sure the Oxbridge tutorials and handouts are correct and up to date.  And that's before even thinking about shopping, visiting my friends, and spending time with my partner.  Not to mention inventory sorting and a number of partly-completed building projects.

Lots of residents are even busier than I am.  They may manage tens or even hundreds of rental regions, run a club, fulfill DJ gigs, plan weddings, or try to come up with the latest SL fashion trend.  Merchants in particular can get stressed, especially if their brand is in demand.  The customers always want something new, and they want it NOW.

And then there is emotional stress and upheaval.  Perhaps we have a new love interest...or maybe we've just broken up with the old one.  Perhaps your content has been copybotted, or you fell for a phishing scam and your account is in jeopardy.  Maybe you have a stalker or a griefer problem.

Second Life is supposed to be a break from the stresses of Real Life.  How did we let it become yet another source of stress?  Just human nature, I guess.  We get involved in the things we love!

But unlike Real Life, where the only exit is a one-way door, you CAN step away from Second Life for a while, when the stress gets to be too much.  In fact, I recommend it!  At least once a year, log out and DON'T LOG IN again for at least two weeks.  Take some time to do more RL things, reconnect with your family and friends.  Go dig in the garden, read books, try a new recipe, go for long walks.

Lots of people do it wrong.  They get fed up and tell everyone they're "leaving SL for good!"  They may even cancel their account.  Then, a few days or weeks or months later, the pull of the virtual world becomes too much to resist and we see them back again.  Those who deleted their accounts are in sad case...they have to pay a $9.95 fee to get the old account reinstated, and they might not get all their old inventory or $L balance back.  But all of these returnees feel a sense of failure and a blow to their self-image, because they didn't do what they said they were going to do.

Don't fall into that trap.  Second Life is like the Hotel California -- "you can check out, but you can never leave."  Don't delete your account in a moment of stress or anger.  Just log off...and take a break for a few days, or a few weeks.  Your account and your friends will still be waiting for you when you get back.

If you are a Premium member and are contemplating a long break, I recommend selling your land and downgrading to Basic.  If your payment method fails for any reason, Linden Lab may delete your account.  But a free Basic account will never be deleted. 

Leading two lives can double your stress and ruin your sleep.  When you need it, take a break!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Take the Test - How Into SL Are You?

Followers of Second Life blogs may have run across Strawberry Singh's "meme" posts before.  She posts a list of questions and asks people to answer them.  Here's her latest set, and my answers.  You may get a giggle out of taking her little test yourself!  Here's the link: Have You Ever SecondLifed

  1. Have you ever owned a sim in Second Life? – Most of one, yeah.  It's in Masocado, baby!
  2. Have you ever created content in Second Life? – Yes, homes and buildings mostly.
  3. Have you ever driven a vehicle in Second Life? – Yes, lots of times.  See some of my earlier posts for examples.  My latest favorite is a PBY Catalina amphibian!
  4. Have you ever gone sky diving in Second Life? – Yes! In fact I have a launcher in my home sim.  Visit there, or try Booville Skydiving.  Plus, get inexpensive gear at Abbott's Aerodrome.
  5. Have you ever played a sport in Second Life? – Yes, but I lose a lot.
  6. Have you ever gone clubbing in Second Life? – Yeah, a lot.
  7. Have you ever fangirled/fanboyed someone in Second Life? – I'm not sure how you do this to someone, but I am a big fan of certain people in SL.
  8. Have you ever taken a picture of your avatar in water in Second Life? – I don't think so, but my partner has taken many pictures of me in the water.  Oh wait!  I have some pictures I took of us scuba diving!
  9. Have you ever taken a picture of a sunset in Second Life? – All the time!  It's the most beautiful time of day.
  10. Have you ever taken a nude picture of your avatar in Second Life? – Yes, but my favorites are ones with clothes on.
  11. Have you ever dated in Second Life? – Yes.
  12. Have you ever had or attended a wedding in Second Life? – I've attended several.  See my post, "I Always Cry at Weddings."  I've never had a formal wedding myself.
  13. Have you ever drank, smoked or taken drugs in Second Life? – Yes, yes and yes.  Although the drugs was just once or twice and I didn't inhale.
  14. Have you ever engaged in sexual activity in Second Life? – Um.  Yes?
  15. Have you ever been to Bukkake Bliss in Second Life? – Yes, but only to pick up the landmark for a sex education class I was teaching at the time.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me! New Computer Build

My Resident Geek gave me an early birthday present this year...a brand new computer, and it's crazy big and crazy fast.  I'm mainly writing this just to make all of you envious and jealous of course, but in case you are contemplating building a new system, here is a list of components proven to work well together, and work VERY well for Second Life.

Motherboard:           ASRock X99 Extreme 4
CPU:                        Intel Core i7 5930K
CPU Cooling:          Noctua NH D14 (what a monster!)
Case:                        Silverstone Fortress FT02
Memory:                  G.Skill 32GB DDR4 2400GSKILL 32 GB (8GB x4)
Powered by:             EVGA NEX750G
SSD:                         Samsung EVO 850 Pro 540 GB
Hard Drives:            Western Digital Caviar Black 3TB  (4 drives in RAID 0)
More Hard Drives:   Seagate Barracuda 3TB (2 drives for backup, caching, and archiving)
Optical Drives:         LG 14X and 16X Blu-Ray burners
Graphics:                  EVGA Nvidia GTX980, 4GB
Monitors:                  2 Dell U2711 27" connected with DisplayPort cables
OS:                           Windows 8.1 64 bit

Overclocking:    The Geek just used the one-button auto-overclock feature provided in the ASRock "A-Tuning" applet, and the machine ramped up to 4.3 GHz without muss or fuss.  The huge Noctua cooler and the unique positive pressure, bottom to top airflow of the Fortress case keep the temperatures crazy low.

I'm crazy about my new computer and about my not-so-new but still wonderful Resident Geek!

Note:  You don't need all this power just for Second Life!   A much less expensive system will do just fine as long as you have a good graphics card.  I use this machine for video editing, Photoshop, and 3D modeling and animation as well as SL, so I wanted top-tier performance.

Are there any downsides?  Not really, but there are a few things you should be aware of.
  • Older optical drives may not fit.  We had to take out an older LG Blu-Ray burner because the back of it collided with the motherboard.  The newer and shorter ones will do fine.
  • The Fortress case is a unique design.  Three huge, slow, quiet fans draw in air at the bottom and one fan exhausts air out the top.  To work with this airflow, your CPU cooler should be oriented to blow in the same direction, and your graphics card should be a model that exhausts out the rear of the card.  
  • A radiator may be fitted at the bottom if you water cool.  
  • The motherboard is rotated 90 degrees, so all the connectors are up at the top too, covered by a snap-on grille.  This presents a clean and neat appearance, but cables may need to be a bit longer, or re-routed to reach.
  • Although it has a very clean and neat appearance, if you shove the thing under the desk accessing the cables and components and opening up the case may cause your Geek to swear a lot.  Consider getting a stout wheeled platform and leave enough slack in your cables to let him roll the beast out to work on it.
  • The case is physically huge, but it is a mid-tower case in terms of space inside.
  • The motherboard doesn't have legacy connectors like IDE, a rear serial port, or Firewire.  (There is an on-board serial connector, but you'll need to hook that to an add-in port in one of the rear card slots.)
  • The power supply is fully modular and very versatile, but you may still need extension cables if you have a lot of drives to hook up.
  • When switching to Windows 8, you may want a third party app to add the familiar Start menu back.  I'm using a free one called Classic Start Menu by Ivosoft.
One last tip for novice computer builders:  The website PC Part Picker is a great resource.  You can assemble a component list, and the site will check to make sure they will all work together, and find you the source offering the best price on each item.  You can even set it to alert you when a price drops to a set level.  We've bought from NewEgg and Amazon for years, but thanks to PC Part Picker we've recently added Outlet PC and NCIX US to our list of favorite PC component vendors.

FLASH! Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference

Professionals in any field love to get together and share information and experiences, and educators are no exception.  The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) is holding their annual conference next month (March 18-21).  It's free to attend and (of course!) it's being held in Second Life.  It can also be accessed from the OpenSim hypergrid.

Caledon Oxbridge University will have a presence at the conference, too.  As one of the premiere organizations using virtual worlds to teach about virtual worlds, COU brings a lot of practical experience to the table.

If you're a teacher, either on line or in Real Life, you should mark your calendar and plan to attend! 

Find out more here: http://vwbpe.org/conference/accessing-the-conference