Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Halloween in Second Life

Halloween is one of the biggest holidays in the virtual world.  Everyone obsesses over what costume they're going to wear.  Land owners create spooky builds, graveyards, haunted mansions.

Why is this?  I have no idea, even though I get caught up in the madness every year myself.  Here in SL, EVERY day is costume day!  After all, our avatars can be anything we choose.  What's so special about Halloween?

It doesn't matter.  It's fun!  And that's what SL is all about.  So get that special avatar.  Dress up as a wicked witch, a mermaid, a ghost, a zombie.  And check out some of the many Halloween-themed events!

Linden Lab's official blog has kindly put together a sampling:

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Experiments in the New User Experience

This might be of interest!

When you first sign up for SL and log in, your avatar appears on "Learning Island".  After you explore there, you come to a portal that teleports you to "Social Island" where there are more "getting started" tutorials.

There are actually about a dozen identical copies of Learning Island and Social Island, and when one starts to get crowded, new arrivals get sent to one of the less crowded ones.

Only actual newcomers can get to Learning Island.  Once you leave, you are an "experienced resident" and cannot return. 

Up until recently, everyone could visit any of the Social Islands.  Like the older Help Island and Infohubs, this resulted in these areas attracting griefers, scammers, and troublemakers who like to shock or take advantage of new, inexperienced residents.

That is still true, mostly.  But LL is experimenting, trying to improve the new user experience (and thereby improve retention).  On one Social Island, only newcomers can visit, just like Learning Island.  They have to find out stuff for themselves, but they won't be bothered by the riff-raff.  On another Social Island, members of a trained mentoring group may visit, and offer assistance to the new residents.  This is similar to the old LL Mentors program, but the mentors are a resident-run group.

In another experiment, there are two or three different versions of Learning Island/Social Island.  There's a Romantic one, and a Science Fiction one, and I think another one, but I don't recall its theme.  Anyone can visit these regions.  I haven't seen any newcomers there, so I don't think the automated intake system is using them, people have to find them on their own.

You can find the Social Islands on your world Map.  Just type "Social Island" in the search box.  You'll have to zoom out to see them all, but their shape is distinctive.  The themed versions are nearby.

Kudos to LL for these experiments, and I hope the data gives useful results that lead to improvements!

Monday, September 9, 2019

The Enormous Water Slide

Today I was just going through some random old landmarks, checking to see which ones were still correct.  I happened to visit Dreams, and thought my readers might like what I found there.

What I found was the biggest, longest water slide I've ever seen in SL.

I had to increase my draw distance to get it all in!

Here's a landmark, but it will drop you off at the entrance to the Dream Creations Store.  Local teleports are restricted, so you'll have to fly up to the top of the water slide to ride it.

Once you reach the bottom, stand up from the inner tube you're riding and drop down to explore the extensive undersea build!

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Strawberry Singh Returns to YouTube!

Many of us have relied for years on the prolific reviews and tutorials created by Strawberry Singh.  She posted them on her website...and made many videos which were posted both on her site and on her YouTube vlog.

A few months ago, Strawberry joined Linden Lab as an official employee.  While we were all happy for her, we also mourned the demise of all that great information!

But wait!  She's BAAAAAAACK!  (as Strawberry Linden, of course!)

Starting this coming Wednesday, August 28, Strawberry and Xiola Linden will be kicking off a new Second Life "variety show" on YouTube.  The show will be called "Lab Gab" and will be live streamed approximately bi-weekly.

Catch the first installment Wednesday at 3 pm SL time on the Second Life Channel.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

About that Tilia...

Linden Lab has created a new subsidiary company, Tilia.  As of August 1, all Second Life accounts' financial transactions will be handled through this new company.  Well, actually, your transactions have been going through Tilia since 2013, but now it will just be a little more explicit.

This change has caused a huge amount of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD) among SL residents, as is plain from the several Forum threads about it.

Soft Linden, LL's head of information security, has written a really outstanding blog post that should go a long way to relieve the minds of the concerned.  Read it here:

Now, THAT's the way to communicate.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Ads, Ads, Ads!

Let's open this post with one of my favorite quotes from "Futurama" 

Like Fry says, ads are everywhere.  They sure are all over Second Life!  But a lot of people who start up a Second Life business, or service, or rental operation don't know how or where to advertise.  With tens of thousands of competitors, if you don't advertise everywhere you can, you'll never get noticed.

I'm a long way from being a marketing or advertising genius, but here are some of the ways I use to get my little rental operation at Masocado in front of the public eye.  Hopefully, they'll work for you, too!
  • In your Profile. List your business in the main section of your Profile, and in your Picks.
  • In your Forum signature. If you’re active in the SL forums, this is a good way to get your place in front of people’s eyes. Check out my forum signature, for example:
  • With a blog. If you write a blog about SL, you can mention, or even link to, your SL property. If you don’t have your own blog, maybe you can get someone who DOES blog about SL to give your property a plug.
  • In Search. You can set your land to “show in Search” for $L30 per week. If you have multiple parcels, you can save money by just doing this with one central location, perhaps a business office.

  • With a Classified ad. You can write a Classified ad in the Classified tab of your Profile. You can pay as little as $L50 per week for an ad. If you choose to pay more, it will improve your place’s ranking in Search (in the Classifieds category). Some big name businesses pay thousands per week for their Classified ads. I don’t recommend doing this to try to get a very high ranked listing, though. I think I pay about $L100 per week for my classified ad, just to get it a bit above all the bottom feeders.

  • In the Forums. Advertise Estate rentals here: There's a different forum for Mainland parcels:  I visit the land rental forum once a month or so and create a new post, just to keep my place from getting buried too deeply in old posts.
  • In the Marketplace. You can create a Marketplace store and advertise a freebie...a notecard about your land, including landmark(s) to it. The category to use for your ad is Real Estate. Here’s a link to my listing for Masocado:
  • On an ad board in world. I don’t recommend this method, I have not found it to be cost effective. I do have an ad on the “Sponsors” board at Caledon Oxbridge University, but I don’t think I’ve gotten any tenants from the ad.
  • With Events. Hold a scavenger hunt, hire a live performer to do a set. If there are shops, announce a one day sale. Have an air race, a snail race, a Primtionary competition with cash prizes, a Trivia Night...anything you can think of that would be fun and attract people. Then list it in Events: Try to hold some sort of event at least monthly.
  • With discounts. Offer tenants a free month’s or week’s rent if they bring in another tenant.
  •  On the land itself.  Have a group inviter, a landmark giver, or a kiosk that delivers a notecard with information about your place.

    On the Map.  Some people put up an object consisting of giant flat prims.  You can't use a texture to create text or a logo here, it has to be built of prims; the Map won't display textures.  Place the object at about 100 to 400m high, make it Phantom and transparent from all sides except the top.  After a couple of days, it will show up on the world Map.

    But the very best way to advertise is word of mouth. Tell everyone you meet about your business.Pass out landmarks at every opportunity. Don’t rely on only your own word of mouth, though...happy customers, even if they move on, will help spread the word. (And UNhappy customers will, do everything you can to avoid unhappy customers!)

Friday, June 21, 2019

FINAL TWO DAYS to get Premium at the Old Prices!

Hey there...

You probably heard that Linden Lab is increasing the price of a Premium membership in Second Life.  That's not the greatest news of all time, but it IS the first price maybe we can't scream TOO loudly!

Here's the official post:

But here is the Very Important News.  If you are currently a Premium member, you can pre-pay for up to another year (the clock on this will start on your current renewal date).  By doing this, you lock in the old Premium price of $72.00 per year, for that extra year.

If you are not a Premium member yet, you can still sign up at the old rates. 

But there is a catch.  You have to do this (pre-pay, for existing members, or sign up for a new Premium account) BEFORE JUNE 24, which is when the new, higher rates go into effect.

That means you have just two days to lock in the old rates. 

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Quick Tip about Linden Homes and Premium Membership

Quite a few people want one of the new Linden Homes...and who can blame them?  They're on 1024 square meter parcels, so they have a land impact allowance twice as large as the old Linden Homes (351 vs. 175).

The last batch of them that Linden Lab released were all snatched up in less than 30 minutes!

So, what's a poor homeless avatar to do?

First, if you haven't done so already, sign up for a Premium membership.  In fact, if you have been toying with the idea of going Premium, do it now!  Choose the annual plan, at $72 USD.  This is going up to $99 as of June 24. If you are already a Premium member, and your renewal doesn't come up for a while, you can pre-pay for up to a year of membership at the old, $72 rate until June 24.

Now you have three choices.
  1. Wait to get land or a home until LL releases a new batch of Linden Homes.  You can follow this forum thread to get news about that: The New Linden Homes Update Post  While you wait, you can also check the Linden Home signup page often.  If someone abandons their home, that style of Linden Home will show in the list of available home styles.
  2. Get one of the old style Linden Homes.  You can always abandon it when more of the new homes are released.  
  3. Buy a vacant 1024 square meter Mainland parcel from another resident, or via the Land Auctions.  Again, you can sell or abandon this land when more of the Linden Homes are released.
One caution:  The new homes have been going so quickly that getting rid of an existing Linden Home or an existing Mainland parcel might slow you down enough so that you'd miss out on getting one.  You'll have to weigh this risk when choosing your options.  You might prefer to be homeless, but fast on your feet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

FLASH! New Linden Homes Go Live!

Big news for Second Life today.

Last year, LL increased the amount of Mainland a Premium member could own without being charged a monthly tier fee from 512 square meters to 1024.  That was great, but it still meant that residents had to pay the initial purchase price of the land.

Of course, many Premium residents already owned a free Linden Home.  But these were on 512 square meter parcels, and only had a land impact allowance of 175.

Over the past few months, LL constructed a whole new continent of about 350 regions, with lots of inlets and waterways.  Last month, they moved this new continent to lie between Jeogeot and Sansara.  See the map image below:

 This continent is probably not complete yet...a lot of the land in the south of it is simply described as "Protected".  Here's a little closer look:

There's obviously a huge amount of interest, judging from all the green avatar dots in the northern part of the new land...and that's undoubtedly due to today's blog post from Linden Lab, announcing the availability of two new Linden Home styles...a Traditional home, and a houseboat type home. The houseboats are in marina areas, which you can see in the upper left and right corners of the above picture.

Both from LL's blog post, and the un-terraformed straight edges visible in the new continent's coastline, they plan to continue to enlarge the new Linden Homes areas.

We've speculated a long time about how LL would offer this new benefit...perhaps it would be only offered to a new, higher cost, type of Premium membership.  But LL is offering the new homes to existing Premium members at no charge!  (And to new Premium members, too, of course.)

So now you can get an updated Linden Home, on up to a 1024 square meter parcel, and a land impact allowance of 351...for free, and with no monthly tier!  And just maybe, that continent will be extended in a way that will allow explorers to directly travel much further along the Mainland waterways between continents.

See LL's official announcement here: Fresh New Linden Homes...

If you currently have a Linden Home and want to move to one of the new ones, let's review the procedure.
  • Go to your current Linden Home.
  • Delete or Take all your objects to inventory 
  • Click World > Parcel Details, and then click the Abandon button
  • Sign up for one of the new homes using the same procedure you did for your old one
EDIT (April 19, 2019).  It took less than two days for all the new Linden Homes to be snapped up!  LL will be making more, but they haven't announced any schedule for when the next batch will be available.  Please keep a close eye on the official SL blog!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Internet Privacy

Hi, faithful readers!

Today, I'm writing about something I really don't understand.  So, all of you wireheads and techies, feel free to correct me...but keep it at kindergarten level, please!

Can you be private on the internet?  No, not really.  If someone wants your personal information, and you have any sort of online presence, they're going to be able to get it.

But, you can take some steps to at least make it harder for them.

  • Don't use Google Chrome as your web browser.  It's almost impossible to totally avoid Google and still be online, but at least don't use their main products - Chrome, Gmail, Facebook, Instagram, Messenger.  I switched to Firefox for my browsing.  You may want to go further and look into the TOR browser.
  • If you must have a Google account, consider using a false name, and don't link it to your main email account.
  • Ditto for social media.  Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Don't give out your main phone number online either.  Consider getting a "burner" phone and use its number for your online activities (Note, I haven't done this personally...but I'm thinking about it!)
  • Don't use Google Search as your main search engine, either.  Try Duck Duck Go.
  • Get a Virtual Private Network (VPN).  Your ISP can collect all sorts of information about you and your browsing habits...but not if you channel your connection through a VPN.  I recently signed up for NordVPN, and found that it was not that hard to set up and use!
  • Try using an encrypted messaging service.  You can't trust WhatsApp any longer...Facebook now owns it, and if they aren't mining your data now, they probably will soon.  I switched to Signal.
Will using a VPN hurt my online performance with Second Life?  I have, I think, noticed a small decrease in performance, using NordVPN and a US-based server...but it has been a very small impact, only a few frames per second.  I think the added protection is worth it.

I have noticed that there are a few websites that won't let me access them while using my VPN.  I understand that some sites do this because spammers and scammers use VPNs too.  It's not a big problem...if I absolutely must visit that site (usually to buy something that only they sell) I'll turn off the VPN.

When signing up for any "free" service, remember:  If they're not selling you something, then you're the commodity.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

New Way to Sell Land - Auctions

There have been land auctions in Second Life for a long time.  Land would be offered by Linden Lab for auction, and the auctions worked rather like an eBay auction.  You put in the maximum amount you're willing to pay, and then the current bid price is raised until it exceeds anyone else's maximum bid, and you become the current leading bidder.  Or, if another bidder's maximum is larger than yours, until the current bid just exceeds your maximum, and you're told you've been out-bid.

Linden Lab used the Auctions in two ways.  Auctions denominated in $L were used to sell off parcels that had been Abandoned by their last owner, and others denominated in $USD were used to auction off whole regions, when LL created a new Mainland continent.

Over the last few months, Linden Lab did an extensive re-vamp of their Mainland Auctions.  The Auctions page has moved to the Place Pages.  (See: ).

(Wait! I hear you say.  What are Place Pages?  For more on that, see here.)

Part of  the reason for the update was to include a new capability: Resident to Resident auctions.  LL just announced that this new method of selling Mainland is now available.  (See:  Official Blog Post)

There are, as you might expect, some fine points to keep in mind.

  • Only Mainland can be auctioned, not private estate land
  • The land cannot be group owned
  • Linden Lab takes a 15% cut of the auction proceeds
If you have some Mainland to sell, and don't know what price you should set, selling it at auction could be a good alternative to simply setting it for sale in the usual way.

Oh...and if you are selling land, by whatever method, please do remember to take down your ban lines!  Nothing is more annoying to a potential buyer than to arrive at your land and be confronted by yellow police tape telling them they're not welcome.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

FLASH! Four Days Left on this Incredible Deal

Hello again!  If there are any readers still out there after this long hiatus, I'd like to alert you to a really great deal on a Bento mesh head and body!

"Romeo" and "Juliet" are available for $L1 each, plus a group join fee of $L50 at Altamura...but only for four more days.  This Valentines' Special ends on Feb 27.

Here's a post from another blogger, Ryan Schultz, with more details:

Or, if you just want to hop in the car and rush down there, here's Altamura's location:

See?  I'm NOT dead.  And still shopping!

EDIT (Feb 25):  Well, darn it.  Altamura removed the gifts.  It's certainly their right to do so, but I'm disappointed.  I wanted to get one for my long-suffering alt.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Marketplace Update

Hi, faithful readers!  It's been a while.  Today's post is very short...I just want to pass on a small improvement that Linden Lab has made to the Marketplace: Wish Lists.

There have always been two ways to set aside items that you like, but aren't ready to buy just yet; you can just stick them in your Shopping Cart, but not buy them.  Or, you can add them to your Favorites list.  Now, there is a new option under Favorites...a Wishlist.

How is that different from Favorites?  Your Wishlist can be seen by others, and you can share it on social media.  You can see other people's Wishlists too.  So now you can use this to let your friends know what you want for Christmas!

There's a new option in Favorites, too.  In addition to simply adding specific products you like, you can also add a creator's Store to your Favorites.  Opening up a Favorite Store will show a feed of their most recent new items.  This should make it easy to keep track of the latest and greatest creations.

One small caveat:  You can't add free items to your Wishlist.  This makes sense to me...if something is free, and you want it, why would you put off buying it until later?

Here's a link to LL's blog post about the update: