Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Facelights, Revisited

Long ago, I wrote a tutorial about facelights.  It's still valid, but since Second Life implemented the Advanced Lighting Model*, there are three things to add about facelights:

1) The new lighting model makes most facelights look a LOT brighter than they used to.  If you are using an old-style facelight, there's a good chance that you look like a walking supernova to anyone using the new and improved lighting model.

2) The new lighting model improves the look of avatars even without facelights, to the point that many people think they're totally unnecessary.  They have a point, but I take a more middle of the road view; I think that a modest facelight still has a place.  The key word here is "modest"!

3) The new lighting model introduces a new type of light, projectors.  Projectors can throw light in a specific direction, like a spotlight, instead of spreading it in all directions.  Plus, projectors can use a texture to act as a "virtual gobo".  A gobo is the term lighting technicians use for an opaque sheet placed in front of a light, with various cutouts in the sheet to cause the light to form a desired pattern.

My friend and fellow blogger Nalates Urriah created a facelight using the new projector light.  She both sells a ready-made and very inexpensive one, and shows you how to make your own in this post on her blog: 

*Find the control to turn on the Advanced Lighting Model in your viewer's Preferences, in the Graphics tab.

Monday, December 25, 2017

A Christmas Surprise

Merry Christmas, gentle readers!

If you read these pathetic little offerings of mine about Second Life you may also be a fan, as I am, of the incredibly talented and prolific SL blogger Strawberry Singh.  She offers a continual stream of informative reviews and videos of Second Life products, especially mesh heads and bodies.

A short time ago, Linden Lab informed her that she was in violation of their trademark policy and demanded the removal of some material showing part of the Second Life sign-up process.

She, and a lot of fans of both her blog and Second Life, thought that this was an extremely heavy-handed application of LL's policy.

Well, as we all know, Linden Lab seldom communicates...and when they do, they usually manage to further confuse the issue.  But this time, the Lab surprised all of us with a little Christmas present...they admitted they were wrong, and publicly apologized!

Here's a link to their post:

And here's a link to Strawberry's blog.  If you aren't a reader already, you should be!

Kudos to the folks at Linden Lab for handling this in absolutely the right way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Can You be Raped in Second Life?

Every now and again, this question comes up.  For example, there's a thread with exactly that title on the SL Answers forum, Can You be Raped in Second Life .

In a similar vein, another resident started a very long forum debate about whether LL should continue to allow very violent and explicit activities.  She was specifically concerned about a group whose purpose is to roleplay "snuff" sex, scenarios in which a victim is slowly killed during the act of sex.

There are a number of very dark scenarios that can be played out in SL.  Slavery, rape, murder, kidnapping and torture, involuntary body alteration, even Dolcett (an innocuous term for the rather horrid practice of sexual cannibalism.) 

But the only form of kink that LL explicitly forbids is "sexual ageplay," situations in which an adult avatar has cyber sex with a child avatar, or an avatar with a childlike appearance and manner.

There are two schools of thought in any debate on these matters.  One school says, "It's only pixels on a screen.  It's roleplay.  People can use it to explore their darker sides without harming anyone, so maybe it's even beneficial."  In short, they are on the side of maximum freedom of expression for everyone.

The other school of thought says, "It's like a gateway drug.  Repeated exposure to horrors makes us indifferent, when we should be outraged.  Those who indulge in such things on screen may go on to commit actual crimes in Real Life."  They are in favor of establishing some sort of moral code, and not permitting behavior that violates those moral principles.

Early in my Second Life, I was "raped."  I had just discovered how to edit attachments, and I was standing on a pose stand in a public location, making some tweaks to my jewelry.  Suddenly, another avatar jumped on my back and started humping me, all the while whispering filthy statements in my ear.  I was paralyzed with fright...what was going on!?  After a short time, he jumped off and disappeared.  I finally remembered to log off, and I shook for what seemed like about an hour afterwards.  Of course, it was only pixels on a screen.  There was no physical harm done.  Nevertheless, I felt violated.  I felt shame, and helpless anger.

Whether or not you see a situation as "just pixels on a screen" or it arouses deep feelings in you depends on your sense of "immersion."  Immersion is the term we use to describe the feeling that many people get in virtual worlds like SL, a sense that you are really there, that you ARE your avatar.  Gamers, for example, while they may be intensely concentrating on game play, are generally not immersed.  If their character "dies," they don't feel devastated...just a bit frustrated at the need to go back and re-do that level again.  On the other hand, when I was "raped" I was immersed.  It produced a real reaction...not as strong as if I had been raped in Real Life, but still.

Experienced Second Life residents develop an ability to turn this sense of immersion on or off at will.  If they are in a romantic situation with a partner, immersion is good; in fact, it's the thing that makes cyber-sex so popular.  If they're dealing with a griefer attack, they un-immerse; they stand back a bit emotionally and deal with the situation.

So a sense, you CAN be raped in Second Life.  You can be affected emotionally by things that happen to you in a virtual world, at least until you develop the ability to separate yourself, to step away from what is happening and remember that "you" are not really there, you're sitting behind your monitor in your room.

Does that mean that we should prohibit rape roleplay, or any of the other kinks I mentioned at the start of this post?  I don't have the answer to that.  It must be one which we, as a society, reach by consensus.  Generally, I am in favor of the most freedom for the greatest number of people, so I would probably say, "no, we should allow it" even if some of those activities disgust me.  But those who argue that such things desensitize us, or make it more likely the participants will go on to even worse things also may have a point.  The most I can say now is, if everyone would work harder on developing their own better natures and wrestling their own inner demons into submission, we'd all probably be better off.

Friday, November 24, 2017

We Love Your Comments!

I love getting comments on my posts, I really do.  It assures me that somebody out there is actually listening.  Unfortunately, when I made the blog open for comments from everyone, I got a LOT of spam comments.  For that reason, I have limited comments to people who actually Follow this blog. 

That doesn't mean I don't want to hear from you!  Please Follow me, and feel free to leave me a comment.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Another long-standing problem fixed

For many years now, people have complained about the Transaction History feature of Second Life.  The complaint usually takes the form of, "I bought something a couple of months ago and I need to provide proof of purchase to the creator.  But my Transaction History only goes back 30!"

But there is no help in this situation.  Your Marketplace History goes back all the way to your very first Marketplace purchase...but unless you are in the habit of saving your Transaction History as a spreadsheet every month, there was no way to get information on your transactions in world further back than a month.

Until now, that is.  Linden Lab has recently increased the amount of data stored in your Transaction History to THREE months.  Now you can review up to 90 days' worth of data!  However, this only applies if you are a Premium member.  Basic members continue to be limited to 30 days.

If you run a Second Life business, or are just the anal retentive type, you will still want to download and save your transaction data...but at least now you only have to do it once a quarter!

Kudos to the good folks at Linden Lab for this small but useful improvement.  They keep adding little goodies to a Premium membership.  Many of them are small benefits, but they do add up.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

$L Transaction Fees Go Up...Again.

It seems like only a few months ago, LL raised the fees for buying $L, and for transferring cash out of Second Life to your PayPal account.  But last week, they went up again.

Now it will cost you $0.99 every time you purchase $L.  And the fee for a process credit transaction is no longer capped at $25, but is  2.5% regardless of the size of the transfer.

Linden Lab claims that they are doing this to offset increased expenses related to combating fraud, and I believe them.  The number of people losing control of their accounts due to phishing attacks is rising...due both to the sheer number of attacks, and their increasing sophistication.

It's one more example of how the actions of an unprincipled few hurt all the rest of us.

Here's the link to the official Linden Lab announcement:

It's not all bad news, though.  LL points out that Second Life is continuing to gain new features and new functions.  One is a grid-wide hunt-type game, "Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches."  And another is the coming advent of "animesh," a new capability that will allow the animation of non-avatar mesh objects.  You can play the Glytches game right now, and I expect animesh to be at least as big a change as Bento. 

There's still a lot of life in Second Life!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The WayBack Machine

Today's post is about a couple of pieces of Second Life history!

The first is what is reputed to be the Oldest Object in Second Life.  "The Man" is a statue constructed of basic prims.  It was created during the initial alpha testing of Second Life (then known as "Linden World") in 2002 by oldjohn Linden.  It survived the destruction of the build that surrounded it, an experimental prototype of a city.

Although it has moved from place to place, it's always been located in the Natoma region, itself one of the oldest Mainland areas of SL.  It currently stands on a grassy hill overlooking the rest of the sim, Philip's Hill.  The name of the hill, of course, refers to SL's creator, Philip Rosedale (Philip Linden in SL.)

The second item for today is also in Natoma, and can be seen from Philip's Hill.  The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives is perhaps the oldest educational/tutorial venue in SL.  Originally created by Lumiere Noir in 2004, the Ivory Tower reminds one of one of those interactive science museums.  As you wander its halls, you encounter a series of self-paced tutorials that teach you all about Second Life's built-in object creation features. 

In 2014, the original build was replaced by a very lovely round tower with oval or arched glass windows and a unique glass dome roof, designed and executed by Avi Arrow.  In keeping with its purpose and history, the new Ivory Tower is constructed entirely of mesh.

The Natoma region contains several other early Second Life builds.  Go there on pilgrimage, young avatar, and marvel at how far we have come!

"The Man" Statue

The Ivory Tower Library of Primitives

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Trade $L Like a Pro

Today's post is a tutorial about a subject that confuses a lot of people...even me!  That subject is currency trading; specifically, how to buy and sell Linden Dollars ($L) to your best advantage.

The $L is the currency of Second Life, and it is bought and sold on the Linden Dollar Exchange, or LindeX.  Like any stock market or currency exchange, the LindeX is a system that brings buyers and sellers together.  You're not buying $L from Linden Lab, you are buying them from some anonymous resident who's offered to sell.  The price of the $L varies up and down, following the laws of supply and demand.

That means that the price for buying $L right this moment is probably NOT going to be the price a few hours from now, or a week from Wednesday.  But we can breathe a sigh of relief, because Linden Lab regulates the market to prevent really huge price swings by trading with their own account, "Currency Linden".  So the $L generally trades in a range from about $L248 = $US1 to $L256 = $US1.  For rough conversion purposes, we can say that you get about $L250 for a buck.

That's good enough for most folks.  If you click the "Buy $L" button in your Second Life viewer, you'll be buying at the current market rate.  Simple and easy.

If you click the Buy $L link on your Dashboard page on the Second Life website, though, you are presented with two choices.

The "Instant Buy" is the same as clicking the Buy $L button in your viewer.  You're buying at the current market price.  Note a couple of details are specifying exactly how many $L you want to buy (2500 in this example).  You are given an "estimated cost" of $9.66.  After adding the fixed transaction fee of $0.40, your total estimate cost is $10.66.  (Note:  This is an old screen grab.  The current transaction fee is $0.99) The cost is estimated, because the market goes up and down.  The price might be slightly different by the time you click the Place Order button.

But it's the other choice, "Best Rate Buy" that we're going to talk about.  It's also the one that gets a lot of people in trouble, because they choose it without knowing what they are doing.  After all, who doesn't want to get the best rate?  For a best rate buy, or Limit buy, you specify the exchange rate you're willing to buy this example, $L269 per dollar.  You also specify the quantity of $L you want, 2500.  After adding in the transaction fee, the total cost is going to be $9.70.  In this case, it's not an estimated cost, because we know the exact exchange rate and amount.

But what we DON'T know is time.  Depending on how much the exchange rate fluctuates, and how many orders have been placed at this rate, it could take hours, or days, or weeks...or even never...for your order to be filled.  LL provides an estimate of how long they think it'll take, but this estimate can be wildly incorrect.

It's pretty clear that we need to know more in order to select the best exchange rate.  We'd like to get a better deal than simply paying the market price, but we don't want to wait until hell freezes over to get it.

Right next to the Buy $L button on your Dashboard is another one, "Manage".  When you click that, you'll get a bunch of further choices.  Click "Market Data".

...and you'll see a page with all sorts of confusing stuff on it!

Let's take a closer look.  The graph at the top left shows a history of the daily exchange rates.  The red bars show the spread between the high and the low for the day, and the blue dots are the average rate for the day.  You can see that in this example, the $L has been trading in a range from 246 - 256 per dollar, with the average price just under 250.  The Volume graph below shows how many $L were bought and sold each day.  The table below shows the same information as the graphs, but in tabular form.

At the top right, you can see more numbers.  I pretty much ignore the "Best Buying Rate" and "Best Selling Rate".  They are the same as the high and low numbers, and while choosing this rate may get you the best deal, as we said before, there's no knowing how long you'd have to wait for it.   But the numbers for "Today's Open" and "Today's Close" can give you an idea of the range you have to work with.

Next, go back to your Dashboard and either click "Buy $L" or click "Manage" again and select Buy.  But when you see those two choices, scroll down the page...and you'll see another table:
You can use this table and compare the volume of open orders at a particular exchange rate with the daily volume figures from the market data.  You can see there are about $L46 million in outstanding Buy orders at $L256 per dollar.  At a daily volume of around $L75 million (at ALL exchange rates) it's going to take a while.  There are fewer orders at higher rates, 257 and up...but these are long shot bets, because the daily fluctuations in price don't encompass those rates.

Now we know a bit about what the market is doing, and what sort of options we have.  Let's do a little experimenting to see what kind of deals we could get.

In the "Instant Buy" window, enter the amount of $L you'd like to buy.  In this example, I'm going to use $L25,000 as our target figure, or about $US100.00.  I recommend you buy as large a quantity as you can afford, because that way the transaction fee becomes a smaller cut of the pie.
I will ALSO choose an exchange rate over in the Best Rate Buy window.  In this case, I picked 255 per dollar.  

Now we can compare our options.  If I do this limit buy, I will wait an estimated time of 10 minutes (I'd give it a few hours, myself), but I'd save $102.23 - $98.64 = $3.59.  If I select higher exchange rates, I'll save more, but I'll wait longer.

Selling $L works exactly the same way, although the windows you see are a bit different:

Enter trial amounts in both the Market Sell and in the Limit Sell windows and compare the results.

Now let's say you made your Limit Buy offer.  Linden Lab will immediately bill your payment method for it, so when they don't immediately get their $L, a lot of people get concerned!  But what happens is that LL places that money in an "escrow" account until either the order is filled or canceled.

If you get tired of waiting for your order to be filled, you can cancel it.  Go to your Dashboard, and click Manage/LindeX Order History, and look in Open Orders.  When you cancel an open order, the money is immediately transferred to your $USD Balance.  You can then use it to place another order at a different exchange rate, or a market buy.

The narrow range in which the $L trades, plus transaction fees from Linden Lab, make currency trading impractical for most people, unless you are trading really huge amounts and are willing to make many tiny profits in hopes they'll add up.  But knowing how to make Limit buys and sells can definitely save you a few bucks!

Two Charitable Causes in Second Life

A very quick post!

Many people in Second Life raise money for worthy causes.  For example, there's the annual grid-wide Relay for Life campaign.  But just recently two events came to my attention that I thought I'd pass on for your consideration.

The first is a shopping fair set up by Second Life creators and the group Models Giving Back, called "Hope After Harvey."  Money raised from sales will be sent to victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana.  There are some rather nice outfits here, too!  If you don't see anything you like, there are handy donation boxes in several places.  Here's the SLURL: Hope After Harvey

The second is actually a series of events.  Spoonful of Sugar is holding their third Fall Festival to support Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders.  The event takes up five sims, with the theme "Fall in New England." There are over 150 SL designers participating, and you'll find fashion, home and garden, and breedables.  Not to mention lots of DJs and performers.  The festival runs from September 16 to October 1.  Get more information and check out the calendar of events here:  Or just teleport to the Festival with this link: The Spoonful of Sugar Fall Festival.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Make a Postcard in Second Life

Hello, readers!  Today's post is a How To.

Let's say you've just visited an astoundingly beautiful place in Second Life, and you want to tell your friends about it.  You could, of course, just send them an IM.  Open your Map, click "Copy SLURL to Clipboard" and then hit CTRL+V to paste the location in your IM window.

But you have more class than that, right?  Let's send them a postcard instead!

First, you'll need to take a picture for your postcard.  Here I am at the Iron Cloud sky platform in Caledon:

I saved this picture to my hard drive (one of the options in the Snapshot window).  Then in Photoshop, I added some text.

While I was at the Iron Cloud, I also used World/Create Landmark Here to make a landmark.  Then I right clicked the landmark and selected "Copy SLURL" to put the location information on my clipboard.  I pasted that into my Photoshop image as text.  But later, when we get our postcard back into SL, we can do better than that...I'll show you how to make your postcard offer the recipient the landmark.

Anyway, here's our postcard image:
Before we upload it to Second Life, we need to re-size it.  SL prefers images that have pixel dimensions that are a power of 2...for example, 512 x 512.  Also, you can't upload textures that are larger than 1024 x 1024 pixels.  So we'll re-size this image to 512 x 512.  It will make it look squished horizontally, but that's OK.  We'll fix it later.

Here's what we'll upload:

Next, we rez a prim, and change its dimensions so that it resembles a 4x3 postcard...but we'll make it a bit bigger, 0.02m x 2m x 1.5m.  Then we'll change the texture to Blank, for a white postcard, and also set the texture to Full Bright.
Then we apply the texture we uploaded to one face of the prim.  It will be stretched back to its original 4x3 aspect ratio, if we set the texture repeats in both dimensions to 1.0.
In the General tab of the Edit window, let's rename it.  I called mine IronCloudPostcard.

Now let's add some things.  Drag the landmark for Iron Cloud and drop it into the Content tab of the Edit window.  Then let's write a notecard describing the wonders we saw on our visit.  Right click in your Inventory window, select New Note.  Give it a unique name, so you don't have a few hundred "New Notes" floating around in your inventory.  Type your text, save the note, and drag and drop it into the Content tab along with the landmark we put there previously.
Finally, we need a script that will give the card's contents to its owner.  The script below is one such, and will give the contents of the prim to the owner when the prim is clicked.

// This script will automatically give the contents of the box (except this script)
// to the owner of the box when the box is touched.  The contents will be given in a
// folder with the same name as the box. The box can be set to prompt the owner to delete
// the box.
// Created by Digi Vox for OnRez, 2007, donated to public domain

list get_items() {
    string      this_script = llGetScriptName();
    string      name;
    integer     max = llGetInventoryNumber(INVENTORY_ALL);
    integer     i;
    list items = [];
    for (i = 0; i < max; ++i) {
        name = llGetInventoryName(INVENTORY_ALL, i);
        if(llGetInventoryPermMask(name, MASK_NEXT) & PERM_COPY && name != this_script) {
            items += [name];
    return items;

default {
    on_rez(integer n) {
    state_entry() {
        llSetText("Touch me for more information", <1.0, 1.0, 1.0>, 1.0);
    touch_start(integer n) {
        if (llDetectedKey(0) != llGetOwner()) return;
        llGiveInventoryList(llGetOwner(), llGetObjectName(), get_items());
        //llSetText("This box has been unpacked.\nYou can delete it now.\n(Right-click->Delete)", <1.0, 1.0, 1.0>, 1.0);

Copy the above text, right click in your inventory and choose New Script.  Paste the text into the script window and save it.  Then drag the script into the content tab of the postcard.
We're done!  Right click the postcard and Take it into your inventory.  Now just open a friend's Profile and drag and drop the postcard onto their profile picture to send it.

That's a lot of work just for a postcard!  Most people in SL limit projects like this to special occasions, like wedding announcements or Christmas cards.  But these steps are also what you'd do to create a box for a product and load the box with the these techniques are quite useful, even if you don't use them for postcards!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Indescribable Indie Teepee

A few weeks ago a woman I didn't know contacted me.  She had seen some of my Second Life forum posts, and had some questions about land and permissions .

And that is how I found out about "Indie Teepee".  It's an annual event, and this year it runs from July 21 through August 6.

What is it?  Well, I'm not sure I can really answer that question, even though I helped them set up the region.  I visited their official website it is:  The website was very helpful in describing what was going on when, and who was doing it!  But I went away scratching my head a bit, still wondering whether there was some sort of overall unifying  theme or goal.

Finally I got it through my head that this was because the aim of Indie Teepee isn't something concrete and specific, like, oh, Hair Fair, for example.  No, its vision is broader.  It's about virtual worlds, our virtual lives therein, art, creativity, and individual expression.

Indie Teepee has something fun for just about everyone.  There's a double handful of live performances.  There are DJs from popular SL clubs.  There's theater, and there are workshops, and a bunch of content creators are offering wares ranging from clothing to landscaping to makeup for mesh heads.  Oh, and there's something I haven't seen anywhere else in SL ever:  a Speed Dating event...with poseballs!

Visit the website, visit the event!  It's wild, it's eclectic, it's indescribable.  It's Indie Teepee 2017.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Those Bouncing Boobies

Last night, my new friend Hikari asked “How do you make your boobs jiggle?”  I explained about avatar physics.

Oh, have I lost you already?  Avatar physics have been around for quite a long time in Second Life, even longer than Mesh.  Avatar physics is a way to make your breasts, belly, and butt jiggle when you move.  The settings are controlled by a special Physics layer.  It’s worn just like any other clothing layer (although it’s invisible).  When you edit it, a set of sliders appears to let you adjust the amount of bounce.  Strawberry Singh has a very complete tutorial about it.

But then my friend asked, “Does that make my Mesh clothes jiggle too?” and I had to pause for a moment.  I knew that SOME mesh items (for example, my Maitreya Lara mesh body) were affected by physics.  But I also knew that a lot of my Mesh clothing didn’t jiggle at all.  In fact, with some close-fitting tops, I had to turn off physics or adjust my alpha mask settings, or my boobs would peep through with every step or bounce.

So I did a little research.  It turns out that Mesh clothing CAN be rigged in such a way that it responds to avatar physics…like the Maitreya body, it will jiggle when you do.  But a lot of Mesh clothing makers don’t take the time to add this rigging to their products.  Moreover, most creators don’t specify in their advertising whether their outfits offer this feature.

What’s the answer?  The only thing I can suggest is that you carefully try out the demo for any Mesh clothing, and if it’s not rigged for physics, decide whether you still want it enough to buy it.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Creepy People

Yesterday, I put on my Fourth of July festive outfit and was setting up fireworks displays at the Masocado Resort.  All was going well, until I got a message out of the blue.  Here's the log, with the name changed (although he doesn't deserve it) to protect his privacy.

[2017/07/03 11:23]  Creepy Resident: spanish english?
[2017/07/03 11:23]  Lindal Kidd: I speak English
[2017/07/03 11:23]  Creepy Resident: nice dress
[2017/07/03 11:24]  Lindal Kidd: thank you...but I don't see you?
[2017/07/03 11:24]  Creepy Resident: From?
[2017/07/03 11:25]  Lindal Kidd: this is creepy.  How can you see my dress?  I don't see you in my nearby list
[2017/07/03 11:28]  Creepy Resident: This is a dum game, yes but I am very far from you Nautilus MARINA
[2017/07/03 11:29]  Creepy Resident: You are a beautiful Laidy
[2017/07/03 11:30]  Second Life: Creepy Resident is offering friendship.  
 Would you be my friend?  (By default, you will be able to see each other's online status.)
[2017/07/03 11:31]  Second Life: Friendship offer declined.

The strange thing about this was that, even though my radar will show people up to several regions away, Mr. Creepy was not on the list.  When I tried to use the clue he provided and looked around the various Nautilus City regions, I couldn't find him there, either.  Yet he obviously had his camera on me.  I never did figure out where he was perving me from.

Perhaps even worse, Mr. Creepy's profile showed him to have been in SL for over five years.  You would think that after that much time, he would have developed at least a little understanding of the social mores of our virtual world.  Yet his conversation...the immediate request for Real Life personal information, the focus on my appearance, and the unsolicited Friends offer...were those of your typical newbie horndog.

After declining his offer of friendship, I blocked him and then banned him from Masocado's parcels.

Then I logged off and washed my hands.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Here Comes the Big One - SL14B!

Every June, Second Life celebrates its Birthday.  This year marks the 14th year of Second Life, and it looks like the celebration will be one of the biggest and best yet.

I'm not going to go into details here.  I would either have to leave out a whole lot of stuff (and probably the one thing YOU would be most interested in!) or this post would go on for pages and pages.

But for those of you who haven't been to a Birthday before, here are the basics:

Every year, Linden Lab sets up a number of special regions.  On those regions, Residents create what is essentially a World's Fair of Second Life...hundreds of exhibits, games, and attractions.  There are also nearly continuous live performances on several stages throughout the area.  One of these has traditionally been the "Cake Stage"...a venue in the form of a gigantic birthday cake.  At the end of the Birthday Week, the Cake is destroyed...and it's quite a sight to see such a large structure come apart.

This year's theme is "Carnivalesque".  That should tell you that you are in for a real mind boggling, colorful, surreal experience!  Maybe even more so than usual, and I will tell you that every time I've visited the Birthday sims, it's definitely a case of Sensory Overload.

So mark the week of June 18-25 on your calendars, and be sure to share in Second Life's biggest annual celebration.

Here's the link for more information:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Two Bits of Bad News

Normally I like to be upbeat in these pages, but today I have to report a couple of pieces of annoying news.

First, there's a poorly implemented feature in your Inventory that could cause you to permanently lose thousands of items if you aren't careful.

There is a helpful notice that now will pop up if there's a large number of items in your Trash folder, saying "your Trash is overflowing".  It's not, really...there is no set limit for how many things you can put in there.  But this helpful reminder to empty your Trash can combine with a bug or with user error (we're not sure yet if it's just one or the other, or both).  In any case, folders that you had no intention of putting in Trash can wind up there.  There can even be subfolders inside them, and the total number of items can be very large.

If you get this notice, and empty your Trash without taking a VERY careful look at its contents, you could easily lose major amounts of your inventory!

For more on this, see this Forum thread:

Second, Linden Lab posted a notice that they re-set everybody's Place Pages to the default values by mistake.  If you have Place Pages, re-visit them and reload your settings and photos!  For LL's official "I'm sorry" post, see:

Don't know what a Place Page is?  Check out:

Saturday, April 8, 2017

New Avatar Limits for Regions

This week, LL posted some upcoming changes to how Second Life regions will manage avatars.

Since the dawn of time, SL regions have had a maximum number of avatars that they will support.  For full regions, this is 100.  It's less in Homestead or Openspace regions.

Access has always been first come, first served.  Anyone can get into the region, but if it reaches its capacity, no one else can get in until someone who is there leaves, making room.

But Linden Lab is making some changes to that.  First of all, region owners and managers will always be able to get in, even if the region is at its maximum capacity.

Second, and perhaps more significantly, the maximum capacity of regions is being increased.  Instead of 100 avatars, now full regions will allow up to 110.  Homestead regions go up from 20 to 25, and Openspace regions from 10 to 12.

But there's a catch.  The new higher capacities are only available to Premium members.  If you are a Basic member, and a region you want to get into already has 100 people, you will still get the "Region Full" message.  But your friend who's a Premium member will be able to get in.

Probably a fairly minor Premium benefit, but they do add up.

Read more about this change in the official Linden Lab blog post:

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Place Pages - A New Way to Advertise Your Land

Last week, Linden Lab mainstreamed a feature that they'd been experimenting with, called Place Pages.

If you own land in Second Life, you can go to a URL for this.  Clicking My Places will display all the parcels you own.  If you have elected the "Show in Search" feature for a parcel (this costs $L30 per week, per parcel), you can display a "Place Page".  On it, you can include a description of the parcel, an ultrawide "Hero Image", and up to three additional images.  If you want, you can use a Project Viewer that incorporates the new spherical panoramic photo function to create the Hero Image.  If you choose this option, the image can be panned by the visitor to show a complete all-around view.

The Place Page includes a SLURL link so a visitor can teleport directly to your Place.

I have found what appears to be a minor bug in the system.  Although my land is Moderate, in the window where I view my Places, the parcels are listed as "Adult: Yes."  However, in the actual, viewable Place Page, the Moderate rating of the area is shown correctly.

This is a great way to give a little bit more advertising exposure for your store, club, or scenic spot in Second Life!

See the official blog post about Place Pages here:

Here is a Knowledge Base article about Place Pages:

Visit your own Place Page page here:

Here's the Place Page I created for Masocado:

Friday, March 31, 2017

The Return of the Neverending Thread

Hello, gentle readers!

As you probably know, I spend a lot of time on the Second Life forums.  A long time ago, when the forums used a very different software engine, one of them was called "Resident Answers".  It was unmoderated, and besides providing a lot of very helpful answers, the "regulars" on this forum engaged in quite a lot of frivolous, but fun, badinage.

Somewhere around 2008, one of the regulars, Lexxi Gynoid, posted a question.  She found her own answer almost immediately, and edited her post title to "Just Ignore and Let This One Die," figuring that it would quickly fade into obscurity.

Well, the other regulars were just contrary enough to NOT ignore it and let it die.  Instead, it became what was to be called the Neverending Thread, or sometimes just "The Thread."  People would post in it to say hello, to tell jokes, or to riff off of other people's comments.  It ran on and on and on for YEARS.  With occasional exceptions when people would get involved in arguments (some of them deliberately provoked and maintained by a few troublemakers) it was a source of fun and community, and considerable amusement.

When LL changed the forum software, the unmoderated "Resident Answers" forum became history.  The new forums were moderated to an extent that did not permit the continuation of the Neverending Thread, although a few abortive attempts were made.

Now, LL has changed the forum software again...and the Neverending Thread has risen from the ashes, as a thread in the General Discussion forum.  Many of the old regulars have already rediscovered it and have gathered to say hello.

The forum regulars don't limit their community to the forums, either.  There is an in-world group, open to everyone, called The Forum Cartel, and the group maintains a clubhouse in world.  You can visit it here:

Won't you join us?

LL Changes Rules for Cashing Out of Second Life

Warning!  This is a bit of a rant.

This week, Linden Lab imposed a new financial limit.  There have always been limits on how many Linden Dollars you could buy or sell within a 24 hour or a 30 day period.  These limits are generous, and I have never even come close to hitting them.  The only time they bother most people is during the first week or so that someone wants to begin buying or selling $L.  During those early days, the limits are quite low, as a fraud prevention measure.

Last Monday, LL imposed limits on the amount of money you can take out of SL via a Process Credit transaction.  In this type of transaction, you transfer money from your $USD balance on your Second Life account to your PayPal or Skrill account.

Unfortunately, the limit they set for this is fairly low.  In my case it was set at $999 USD.  (That's LOW?  Come on, Lindal!)  Yes, it is low.  I have considerably more than $1,000 invested in SL, in the form of land and $L accumulated from renting it out to tenants.  If I decide today to sell my land and cash out, it would now take me well over a month to do so.  What's more, I would have to pay fairly hefty transaction fees on several Process Credit transactions.

It's those transaction fees that annoy me.  Only a few months ago, LL increased the amounts they collect on Process Credit transactions.  Now it appears they are trying to increase their revenue in this area, by forcing residents to break up large transactions into smaller ones, and collecting several fees in the process.

For LL's unctuous blog post on this development, see this link:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FLASH! SL Community Forums Are BACK!

Yes indeed.  And they, well, according to Linden and improved.

New they most certainly are.  The new organization and interface are VERY different from the old forums.  I'm not going to say anything bad about them here, at least not yet.  We're all going to need some time to explore them and get used to the new layout.

No, I take it back.  I will make one complaint now:  The various Search functions seem to be VERY wonky.  However, I'm hoping LL will be able to fine tune this over the coming weeks.  They managed to fix a lot of problems with the recent Search update to the Marketplace, which is encouraging.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Second Life Community Forums Offline

Many of you have probably noticed this, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.  The week before last, Linden Lab announced that they were updating the Forums on the Second Life website for a "new and more user friendly" experience.

That's (maybe) good news...for years, residents have complained about the shortcomings of the current forums (which replaced a set of forums that MOST of us rather liked and were comfortable with.)  Of course, until we actually see and use the new setup, we won't know for sure whether it's really good news or not.

Anyway, the plan was for the forums to be down for just three or four days while the new software was put in place and the old content migrated over to the new platform.  But, as is often the case, that estimate proved to be over-optimistic.  LL posted a notice saying that the switch would be complete by Friday...and that deadline was missed too.

The forums are still down as I write this, with a blog post by LL apologizing for the delay and asking us to be patient...

I wouldn't have believed that I'd miss the opportunity to tell someone, for the umpteenth time, to reboot their router and do a clean install of the viewer.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Are You Buying on the Marketplace with $US Dollars? Don't!

Hello, gentle readers!

Most of us use the Second Life Marketplace from time to time...some of us even do ALL of our shopping there. And no wonder, there are over 2 million items for sale on the Marketplace.

The vast majority of us use Linden Dollars ($L), the currency of Second Life, to make our Marketplace purchases. However, there's an option to use $USD if you prefer, or if you don't have any $L.

But, if you're doing this, you should not be. Things on the Marketplace cost quite a bit more if you buy them with $USD instead of $L. Here is what Linden Lab has to say about it:

Charges and Costs When You Use US Dollar Pricing:

We Set the “US Dollar” or “USD” Price For Each Sale In Our Discretion

SL Marketplace merchants may select the price of their virtual goods in L$, at their own discretion. However, regardless of that L$ price, Linden Lab provides SL Marketplace buyers an additional “US Dollar” or “USD”  option, as a convenience to buyers and sellers. Buyers may select, on a per-transaction basis, whether they wish to pay using the L$ option or the USD option.

It is important to note that the USD price we charge for an item that is also listed in L$ is not based on the US Dollar price that the L$ would cost on the LindeX exchange. Rather, the USD price is generally between ten (10) and fifteen (15) percent percent greater than what a user would pay, were the user to make that same purchase with L$ already purchased on the LindeX -- and at any given time, the USD price may in fact be greater than that. For the exact exchange rate (i.e., how many L$ are provided per US Dollar) at any time, please see the “*Rates” disclosure that appears in your shopping cart.

In addition to this, we charge buyers who use the USD purchase option an additional $.30 “Purchasing Fee” per checkout. We may increase (or decrease) this Purchasing Fee in our sole discretion. If we increase this Purchasing Fee, it will be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the user interface. Thus, buyers seeking the best value should purchase L$ on the LindeX for use on the SL Marketplace, in order to obtain the best price.   (emphasis added.)

Set up a payment method and buy some $L before you go shopping on the Marketplace!  
If you are looking at a Marketplace page and saying, "What is she talking about?  I don't see a $USD option," here is where to find it.
Go to your cart, click the Check Out button

Click "More Payment Options"

Click the PayPal (or Skrill) Option.  You must first add one of these to your Payment Methods

Notice the Price Difference!  Almost $L100 More!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Marketplace Fraud

Just when you think that you've seen it all, someone comes up with yet another nefarious scheme.

This one takes advantage of LL's policy of tracking down transactions made with fraudulent $L or by phishers who have gained access to a person's account through trickery.

Here's how it works.

  • The scammer creates two accounts, Avatar A and Avatar B (or, there may be two scammers working as a team.)
  • Avatar A purchases an item on the Marketplace, and sends it to Avatar B as a gift.  He may do this several times, hitting a number of merchants, or buying multiple things from one merchant.
  • Avatar A then files a support case with Linden Lab, claiming his account was stolen and that the transactions were not made by him.
  • Linden Lab investigates.  If they ask Avatar B if they know Avatar A, who sent them a gift, Avatar B says, "No, I don't know him...I have no idea why he sent me a gift."  This supports Avatar A's claim that he didn't make the purchases, it must have been someone who stole his account.

Linden Lab then takes the money that Avatar A paid to the merchant back from the merchant, and returns it to Avatar A.  They tell the merchant, "we reversed the payment because it was a fraudulent transaction."

So, in the end, Avatar A pays nothing, Avatar B has some nice freebies, and the merchant is stiffed.

LL takes this stance because most merchants who sell their creations on the Marketplace have an unlimited according to their logic, the merchant isn't really harmed.  But this is not true; the merchant IS harmed, in at least one of two ways.

In all cases, a free copy of his creation, which ought to have been paid for, is now out there in the world.  And if the merchandise is a limited edition or one-of-a-kind item, he is also robbed of the item itself, as well as the payment he should have received.

I have always had my reservations about the Marketplace, for many reasons.  This is just another one to add to the scales.  Sure, I think the MP is a great place for creators who only sell a few items, or who are just starting out and can't afford to pay for land for an in-world store.  But as soon as you can, you really should set up a store in world.  It's a lot safer, as well as a lot more fun.

I hope that Marketplace merchants will be on the lookout for this latest scam, and carefully report instances of it to Linden Lab.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All Hail the Resident Geek

Some of you who follow my blog and Second Life forum posts may have heard me mention the "Resident Geek."

He's my husband, my love, and my IT Department.

Recently, the Resident Geek has been messing about with our home network, trying to set up a video server so that we can watch media on any computer or device in the house, or even when away from home.

As a result of this, he's become very grumpy.  It seems that my main computer, the one I use to access the internet and Second Life, isn't doing what it should.  He diagnosed one problem, a bad cable between my computer and the FIOS internet router in the hall closet, and fixed that.  But it seems that even though my computer says it's connected correctly to the network, and I can use the internet just fine, videos from our home theater PC won't play on my machine.

I explained that I don't really need that.  I use this machine to get into Second Life, to type entries for this blog, and to read my email and do photo and video editing.  I don't need to watch TV at my desk.

He just grumped at me and said, "But it's SUPPOSED to be able to do that!"

He's obsessive about things like that.  The other day, he showed me a picture that he'd made of our home network.  I had no idea we had all that Stuff, and that it was all connected!  When I said that, he smirked and said, "And that doesn't even show all the Smart switches and appliances!"

I am worried that he's going to kick me out of my office and start rummaging around inside my computer (again!)  But if he does, I can console myself with the thought that when he's done, my machine will be faster and better than ever.  He takes a while to get there, but the man can produce miracles.  At least until the next power outage.

Or maybe a power outage would be a GOOD might keep my refrigerator from telling me I need to go buy it some eggs.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

You Can't Please Everybody

Way back last April, I found that Meike Heston had left a full perm, free version of her excellent Hug & Kiss 2.0 "hugger" HUD with us in Second Life when she left SL.

I put up a vendor in world in the lobby of my apartment building, and another on the campus of Caledon Oxbridge University, so everyone could enjoy this excellent little gadget.  And I blogged about it:

A few months later, I became aware that a large number of people were selling versions of Meike's HUD on the Marketplace, for a very wide range of prices.  Regardless of price, all of these were no more than Meike's original HUD, which was available for free.

So, I made a Marketplace listing of my own and offered the hugger for free: .  Sales have been pretty constant, with about six or eight people a day grabbing a copy.

But one person wasn't satisfied.  She left me a one star review, claiming the product was not full permission, as I'd stated, because the animations in it were No Copy.  Well, that's quite true.  Once you wear the HUD, the animations DO become No Copy.  Not only that, the scripts at the heart of the HUD are both No Copy and No Modify.  You can't see them to copy or alter the code.  This is pretty standard practice for the makers of HUDs and other devices that contain content that's valuable in and of itself.

However, the HUD itself IS full permissions.  You can give a copy of it to anyone, and keep a copy in your inventory.  The animations transfer right along with the HUD.  And the HUD is modifiable; you can take animations out, and you can add your own.  You can change the textures and colors of the buttons.

I must admit that I'm miffed.  Here is a great product, for FREE, and I went to quite a bit of trouble to create the Marketplace listing and put it out for sale...and I get a one star review and a complaint.  Some days you just can't win.

Some Common Second Life Problems

Hello, gentle readers!

Today's post is a bit of a recap.  There are a number of questions that we see over and over again in the Second Life help forums.  Here are some of them, along with (hopefully) helpful advice.

How do I play Second Life?
You need to be at least 16 years old in Real Life.  You need to sign up for an account, and then you need to download and install the "viewer" software.  See this post:   And also read this:

Can I play SL on my phone/tablet/chromebook?
In a word, no.  Second Life requires a fairly powerful computer and a fast internet connection.  However, if you own an Android phone or tablet, there are a couple of viewers with a reduced feature set that will let you log in to SL.  See "Mobile Grid Client" or "Lumiya" in the Play Store.  My preference is for Lumiya.  Sorry, iPhone users, neither one is available for Apple devices.

I'm confused.  How can I learn more about SL?
There's a great walk-through tutorial, and live helpers, here:  You can find other resident-run help areas in Search, too.  Look for "New Citizens Incorporated" or "New Resident Island".  The Second Life website has a huge amount of help.  Check the link "What Next" at the top left of your Dashboard page, and also the Help/Knowledge Base link.

I'm confused.  I made an avatar, and did the initial tutorials.  What do I have to do now?
You don't HAVE to do anything!  Second Life isn't like a traditional computer game with rules, quests, or levels.  It's like life!  You decide what you want to do, where you want to go.  You can do anything you want with your Second Life, just as you have free choice in your real life.  This amount of freedom is upsetting to many people, I admit.  Having endless choice, they can't seem to choose.  If you are one of these, maybe SL is not for you.

I'm bored.
See the above answer.  You have endless choice and endless possibilities in Second Life.  If you're bored, you're Doing It Wrong.

I bought $L, and I never got them.
You placed a "limit buy" at an exchange rate that no one is interested in.  See this post:

I took off my clothes, and now I'm mostly invisible.
Mesh clothing is now the norm in Second Life.  Mesh clothes and body parts come with an "alpha mask" clothing layer that hides part or all of your avatar body to keep it from poking through the mesh and making you look moth-eaten.  Either put the clothing back on, or right click yourself and choose Take Off/Clothing/Alpha.  You can also fix your appearance quickly by clicking the "Avatars" button, the one with a symbol of two people on it and choosing an avatar from the pictures that are displayed.

I bought something, and it's only a picture of the thing.  And it's stuck to my hand!
You have a "boxed item."  Many things in SL are delivered inside a box, and you have to open the box to get the stuff out.  See here:

I can't get to Adult areas.
You must be at least 18 years old to access Moderate and Adult areas in Second Life.  You set your maturity preferences in three places.

  1. In Me/Preferences/General
  2. In the viewer Search window (the magnifying glass button, or CTRL+F)
  3. In My Marketplace on the Second Life website.  Follow the Shopping/Marketplace link.
You may have done the above and still not be able to go to a particular location.  Many owners of Adult venues limit access to accounts that are older than 30 days, to cut down on visits by troublemakers.  You'll just have to be patient for a bit before visiting these places.

I see some avatars as being all one color.
You can set a limit on how complex an avatar your viewer will render and display, in Me/Preferences/Graphics.  A higher setting will give you poorer performance, especially in places with a lot of avatars.  A lower setting will improve your performance, but make some or all of the people you see appear as ugly "jelly dolls."  For more information, see this:

I was unfairly banned from a location.
Tough.  A landowner has the right to admit or exclude anyone she likes, at any time, for any reason...or even for no reason at all.  You can send an IM or note to the landowner and politely request that they reconsider, but you are probably out of luck.  There are thousands of other places to visit in Second Life.  Go find some of them, and try not to repeat the behavior that got you banned.

I'm being griefed and stalked.
Your best tools to deal with persistent griefers or stalkers are Mute, Ban, and the Abuse Report.  Also, do not talk to or respond to the person in any way.  Ignore them as completely as you can.  Griefers are encouraged to continue their harassment if they see that it is bothering you.  Abuse report each incident, and refer to previous reports.  In extreme cases, you may want to create a new account, an "alt".  If you do so, be very sure to not visit your previous favorite locations and be careful about which friends you tell about your new identity.

I bought something and I never got it.
This could be due to several reasons.  One common cause is that you are in Busy (Unavailable) mode.  If you have set this flag, items sent to you are automatically refused and they are lost in cyberspace forever.  It might have been a glitch in Second Life, or a mistake on the part of the merchant.  Some stores have redelivery terminals.  Make use of them if they're available.  If not, check your Transactions History on your Second Life Dashboard web page, find the transaction, and send the information to the seller in a polite notecard and/or IM, requesting a redelivery.  NOTE:  The seller is not required to send you a replacement item, although many will.  If you bought an item on the Marketplace and got nothing but an empty box, you might be the victim of a scam.  In this case, Abuse Report the seller for fraud.  Here's more about that:

How do I have sex in SL?

Help!  I'm pregnant!  (Or, how do I get pregnant?)
Pregnancy in Second Life is a type of roleplay, often supported by various props.  If your boyfriend's pixel penis tells you that it's made you pregnant, that's just a prop talking.  You can ignore it if you wish.  Or, if you want a baby, you can go along and roleplay your pregnancy to any extent you want.  See this link:

Help!  I've been hacked!
Second Life accounts are never "hacked"...broken into right out of the blue.  But yes, your account CAN be compromised.  The most usual reason is that you clicked on a link someone sent you and you entered your login information on what appeared to be a Second Life web page.  However, it was a "phishing" scam, and now the scammer has access to your account.  He changed your password and stole your $L.   If you suspect this has happened to you, immediately follow the instructions here:

Besides phishing scams, the second most dangerous scam in SL is the account debiting object.  For more on this type of hazard, see:

That's all for now...but if you have more Common Problems and Answers, leave a comment!