Saturday, July 10, 2021

Another Wonderful Discovery - Lara Panthar's Ramshackle Gallery and Related Adventures

Second Life is full of surprises. At the suggestion of another resident I travelled down the Linden Road in Bennafield, and came to The Snarky Cake Shop. 

Next to it is the Graveyard of Unfortunate Deaths.

Both made me laugh, but when I took the teleport to the Gallery, there was so much more to see and experience. 

Beating the drum in the Gallery

Ramshackle Gallery is not just an art gallery. In her work Lara Panthar has used classic avatars, photographed in Second Life. Clicking on the "Adventure Awaits" frames will send you to a new adventure placed in the setting of her recent art pieces. Look for treasures, and see what photos you can take.

The parrot will not help me with clues, even when I ply him with rum.

Another location is the Jungle River Adventure.

Jungle River Adventure. Is it raining? 

The last, and most difficult challenge, was the Resident Evil Adventure where you search Spencer Mansion for clues, and collect hidden items along the way.  I found this adventure to be genuinely scary (I don't like zombies) but enjoyed the game nevertheless. If you are a fan of MadPea games you will like this one.

You can join Lara's 10L Group for only $10L, and each month there are new gifts for sale for only $10L, not to mention all the free gifts hidden in the adventures. There will be a new adventure in the Fall.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Visiting Asmita Duranjaya's "Fractal Art" Exhibit in Osgrid

 I belong to a group called Cercle Fafner, which sends out announcements of art exhibits and related activities. I had been visiting the artist Asmita Duranjaya's exhibits in Second Life ever since I had seen her "Oracle", but this time when I got an announcement of her newest exhibit, it was in Osgrid, another virtual world.

It turns out that my regular Firestorm viewer only works for Second Life, you have to use FirestormOS viewer to get to Osgrid and some other virtual worlds.

'The History of Fractals' in Osgrid

'The History of Fractals' exhibit is on a lower floor. I learned a lot about the different kinds of fractals and the people who discovered or invented them. There is a display of Asmita's fractal art on the upper floor. Visit the lower floor first, and then see if you can solve the crossword puzzle on the upper floor. 

A related exhibit, "Reconnaisance in a Time of Darkness", a shared art installation, is nearby.

A shared exhibit. Information on artists is on the perimeter.

Back in Second Life, Asmita Duranjaya's alt, Giridevi Duranjaya, currently has a skybox gallery in with retrospectives of her work and links to a wide variety of resources. 

I am sorry to see residents leave Second Life for other worlds, but I can understand why an artist whose works are large scale would want to find less expensive space.

I re-visited SLEA recently, and while it is an amazing place, there is only room there for half a dozen large installations at a time.

I'm still working on an outside Art Gallery for the Tourist Information Center.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Visiting New Babbage - A Steampunk City of the 1800's


New Babbage is a virtual representation of a steampunk city set in the 1800's.  Walking through its cobbled streets is like walking back through time and into an alternate universe.  Many writers have lived here and written stories about New Babbage*,  and many machinimas** have been made there. It is a place of mist, mystery, and story. Legend has it that all the mad scientists and villains that have been kicked out of other SL steampunk locations have moved here.

I spend days collecting landmarks, and I kept finding new places to explore, until I finally decided to shorten my list and just write about a few of the many interesting sites. 

It is recommended that you set your browser to "Shared Environment". Changing into steampunk garb will make you feel less like a tourist - there are several off-the-rack system avatars that will fit right in.

Let's start with a meal at Brunel Hall. Food is free, but you need to join the group first. After that, click on the Information sign for a brochure. Sit down at one of the set tables. Touch the plate to get a menu, and touch the cutlery to get utensils. Click the chair to get eating animations. You may have to make some adjustments. 

Lunch in Brunel Hall

There are reputed to be secret tunnels under the restaurant/hotel, leading to other parts of New Babbage.

Full of pancakes and strawberry mousse, I head to Piedmont Landing. This large open space was set up as an event space and ballroom. 

Jack the Parrot doesn't want to talk.

Next, down the stairs to see the elegant brass rose fountains. Then down the left-hand stairs and to the left to Langdon Gardens. The small building here is a recreation of a study made for Mark Twain. 

Mark Twain Studio

Along this street are the offices of the Babbage Gazette, Loki's Airshop Company, and The Urchin Shop. There is a tram stop just around the corner. 

Everything you need to urch!

The New Babbage Paleozoic Museum. They are having a bake sale to help pay for the Zombie Removal Tax. Touch the fossils at your peril.

The Silas Marner Gallery offers a wide range of art, from sculpture to painting. There are art gacha machines if you just want to try your luck. Who knows what you will get!

A fine selection of sculpture and painting.

Quarry Road Private Residence

More locations and snapshots at the Second Life Tourist Office (Unofficial) in Mocha.  There are more bars, art galleries, museums, shops, and fascinating builds than I have room to put here. Who knows what you will discover!

*Tales of New Babbage is now up to Volume Three.

**'machinima' is a video made in virtual reality. Check out YouTube.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Looking For A Refresher Course In The Basics? (See update note on bottom)

 Linden Lab is in the process of updating the new user experience for Second Life, which is good, but sometimes those of us who have been around for a while would like a refresher course in some skills. Second Life is constantly changing and we can't keep rolling up new avatars. Right now the system will not let you go back to the Learning Regions after you have gone through the new user experience. You can still visit Social Island, but its resources are limited. 

There are a number of places in Second Life that offer real-time help and/or structured tutorials. I am listing them in no particular order. Some places may appeal to you more than others. 

Virtual Ability - Disability Support & Community. This island is operated by a group that provides training and information facilities for people with disabilities and chronic illness.  There are no full-time on-site helpers, but they have volunteers that will set up appointments for newcomers who need it,  Anyone can visit the public grounds, and I found the tutorial path easy to follow.

Caledon Oxbridge Gateway - New Resident Help - Caledon is a steampunk/Victorian themed mini-nation within Second Life and has a long history of helping newcomers.  It offers many in-person classes about different subjects, and the Gateway Tutorial offers extensive information  and also some interactive learning.

Caledon Oxbridge Orientation Course

New Resident Island, Lawst Paradise = Lawst Island is set up like a medieval fantasy landscape. Many of the tutorials are in small cottages that offer information on related subjects. One of the exhibits I appreciated was  a walk-through tutorial area on avatar body types. As you work through the tutorial you are given a free mesh body and clothing. There is a board that shows staff on duty to help with questions.

New Resident Island

New Citizens Incorporated - This large group has several different learning centers, and satellite information kiosks in different parts of Second Life. , The volunteers at their Kuula location are especially helpful. There is an area to one side of Kuula that looks like a library reading room, with notecard information, and there are tutorial boards on one side under the large sign that says "Balloon Rides." NCI excels at providing group activities and classes on SL skills. There is also NCI Island where tutorials are more spread out but no active volunteers.  Join the group to get frequent notices of activities you can join.

Helping Haven offers more classes and in-person help. You can take a teleport to the New Resident Information Shack to get the written tutorials and afterwards look around for all the other services they offer.

Many real life educational facilities have virtual space in Second Life and offer SL orientations for their students. Rockcliffe University is one.  The start of their orientation path is under the black dome on the hill and is pretty traditional but as you walk  you will get additional chat messages in each zone.

Rockcliffe has many activities and learning opportunities open to Second Life residents, and also hosts meetings of educators and students who have never been in Second Life before..􀀐

Firestorm Resident Help Area starts with a small path with simple tutorials, but at the end of the path there is a teleport to different places in the Firestorm area. I've found the support staff here to be very helpful.  There are many activities here - for those who are interested in science fiction a visit to the space station is a must.  The Social Area has portals to random destinations. The nearby Ghost Town is a great game where you can solve a mystery and practice camera skills at the same time.

These next two places do not offer basic tutorials but they are welcoming to newcomers and offer a variety of classes and activities.

 Inspiration Island is welcoming to newcomers and offers a variety of classes and activities on subjects like "Whole Brain Health" and Tai Chi. They have huds that will help you visit a number of subjects on different themes. 


Inspiration Island

 Library Island in Cookie is affiliated with the American Library Association and often hosts activities that bring in educators and librarians who are not familiar with virtual worlds. Their 'beginner tutorial' recommends "Visit a good orientation site during your first week",  but it has a wonderful display of other information.

London City Gateway - Unfortunately, I am banned from the tutorial area, but it has a good reputation. There is an age limit, but if you are fairly new it could be a good choice. . All of London City seems to be very popular, so it could be your cup of tea - just the tutorial area is off-limits to us oldsters.

I recommend joining all the different organizations that sponsor orientation areas to get notices about all the classes and activities that they provide. 

There is a lot of information on the Second Life forums and related pages, and Strawberry Singe has made some excellent videos about learning to use Second Life. 

There are many other resources and I have found that residents are almost always willing to answer questions. I just prefer to have some information first, so that I know what questions to ask.

Don't overlook the classes offered by places like Happy Hippo, Dreams, and Builders Brewery. Check their bulletin boards and join their groups to get notices. 

Visit the Tourist Information Center in historic Mocha for a notecard with landmarks rather than slurls, and other free information.

Update July 22, 2021. After reading about upcoming changes on Inara Pey's website I visited the new "Welcome Back" Island for residents who are returning - not much there. The New Resident Island experience, though, for new users (who use the official Second Life Viewer) integrates the physical island with a pop-up 'help' window that explains basic things like walking. Nothing about flying, though, although apparently there were live volunteers offering help if you needed it. Apparently the idea is that newcomers are already computer savvy and can just google more information if they need it. A step in the right direction.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Events: Second Life Birthday

The Second Life Birthday Party is one of Second Life's big yearly events, and has many different parts.

Part of it is "Shop and Hop" - there is a huge temporary Mall with over 100 stores, and each shop has a free gift for residents.

Another part is the non-commercial Regions that house different exhibits, large and small, by residents and by Linden Lab.

A third part consists of live events including music, dance, and presentations. This year there was a presentation of a new home theme for residents.

That's a lot, and I will refer you to the different links to get a complete picture.

I have been to maybe three of these Birthday parties in the past. In my opinion the exhibitors' area most resembles the "community exhibits" of a large County Fair, with the resulting chaos, only you don't get full-sized dragons at County Fairs.

This year, though, I made a thing...In County Fair terms, it might be considered the equivalent of a lint collection...

Turtle fountain - background de-rendered

Another view 

What this is, is a large fountain surrounded by giant picture blocks. A huge turtle floats below cascading clouds, with four life-size elephants on her back. The elephants support a map of Second Life, and above the map is a red balloon carrying a small hippopotamus with a spy glass. I didn't make the turtle or the elephant or the hippo - I just made the simple parts, but I did put everything together*. 

The title of my exhibit is "Where Are These Places in Second Life?" with a CarmenSanDiego theme. I have been collecting landmarks for hidden, forgotten, secret and overlooked places in Second Life for some time. Each block has a photo showing a destination, and clicking on the block gives visitors a notecard with the landmark and some information. I also made a box of "Free tools for explorers".

The whole process was exciting and terrifying. I had about two weeks to put everything together, and kept changing the layout. I had to re-check all the locations and make sure that nothing had changed. In one case I had to spend time to make sure that you could still complete a long quest. It was a lot of fun to see the other builds go up and talk with some of the other exhibitors.

After the Birthday exhibits are over, I will take some of the build back to the Tourist Information Center and install it there. Maybe even the fountain.

Now I can relax and visit the other Exhibits.

I was very excited when I heard someone chatting about 'that great big turtle', but then I found out that there was a bigger turtle in the Spellbound Region made by Walton F. Wainwright of Contraption. His turtle has a cathedral on its back, and a giant tree on top of the cathedral. The whole structure is 233 meters high. The turtle moves, and Walton made it himself, so I have to agree it is superior to MY turtle - still...

Next year.

*Yeah, Terry Pratchett reference. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A Visit to Paris in 1900

A Central Landmark is Paris Eiffel, one of five regions that make up this faithful reproduction of Paris in 1900.   Paris Eiffel 35/97/22. Many of the signs and information are in French, but there are English translations for most of them.

The reproduction of the Eiffel Tower dominates the central region, flanked by a reproduction of the Arc de Triumph. You can walk along the streets of old Paris, hire a cab, take a tram, or rez one of the self-driving cars along the avenues.  Underground you can take the Metro between three stations, or ride a boat through the Catacombes.

There are many educational displays throughout, that make it seem very much like a living museum.

You can rez a period vehicle.

La grande roue
At the base of the Eiffel Tower

This might be a good place to brush up on your French

In Galerie des Machines a ghost came up and spoke to me - but it was in French..

I have to leave now - but next time I'm not taking this dummy*

*This is "BGC Diner Patron - the Reader, by Krikket Blackheart. It was a prop for a photo assignment.

Monday, May 17, 2021

Shopping in Second Life

Shopping is a popular activity in Second Life. Linden Lab even has a page that tells you all about it. There is a list of selected stores in the Destination Guide

There are several ways to shop: Inworld at virtual stores. online through the Marketplace, and at periodic inworld sales events where items are on sale for a limited time.

My 'go to' for sales is Seraphim, which has a pretty comprehensive listing of sales and hunts; however, sometimes I will also see items from SL bloggers who are showing off items they have gotten on sale or as a group gift. I also get sales notices from groups I belong to.

When I am inworld and see something I like I will try to find out who the creator is, and look for their store.

Some things to remember:

Disputes between buyers and sellers are considered private matters. In Rand Linden's words:

However, Linden Lab cannot verify, enforce, certify, examine, uphold, or adjudicate any oath, contract, deal, bargain, or agreement made by the Residents of Second Life.  Nor does Linden Lab enforce or uphold rental agreements between Residents.  While you may have a valid agreement with another person, Linden Lab is not a party to and cannot resolve your dispute.   Please contact the Resident involved and resolve the issue with them. 

Looking at Marketplace Listings: You can look for items either by sorting through categories and sub-categories, shown on the left side of the Marketplace page, or you can use keyword search. 

Either way you can narrow the search by putting in price ranges, land impact, and permissions. You can also ask not to see Limited Quantities and Demo Items. 

Different "Keywords" will get different results - Remember you can use terms like "And", "Or", and "Not" to help narrow your search.
This is what I got when I put "t-shirt" in the Keywords field.

Top part of Marketplace Ad

The numbers refer to different parts of the ad.
 1. General maturity level: Unless you are specifically looking for 'Adult' objects, it is safer to put 'General' in your search fields. Maturity level is right under Merchants/Stores tab at the top.
 2. General categories and sub-categories. The merchants usually choose this, and they can choose wrong, but search results are erratic in any case.
 3. 'Add to Cart as Gift' means you can pay for it and send it to someone else.
 4. 'Buy Now' - Pay for it right away and get it without putting other items in cart.
 5. "Get the demo version" - always a wise idea. Remember that whether or not a clothing item fits depends on what kind of avatar body you have. 
 6. 'Visit the Store' shows you all the other Marketplace listings, not the Inworld Store.
 7. "Works with Mesh Avatars" - some things don't.
 8. Permissions:
 "Copy" - You can make copies
 "Modify" - You can change this product 
"Transfer" - You can transfer this product
Having all these permissions means it is "Full-perm" -  you will see a lot of products on Marketplace that are "Full-perm" and some merchants make a living by buying full-perm items, modifying them, and re-selling them. Read the fine print.
 9. Automatic redelivery - means that they have a re-delivery method that works without you having to contact the seller directly.
10. "100% Mesh, Fitted Mesh" - Just because it is 'mesh' doesn't mean it is great. Also, be careful of ads that state item is "Low Land Impact" - Just because an item is only one prim doesn't mean it will rez quickly - badly configured mesh, poor scripts, or too many complex textures, can slow things down.
11. "Flag this item" - if you think there is a problem with the listing you can flag it and ask Linden Labs to eject the seller. Unfortunately, the scammers just seem to set up shop under another name.
12. Details. The more information the better. Also check "Features" and "Content" for more information.
13. Reviews. It is always good to read reviews, if there are any; however, you can only leave a review if you buy from the Marketplace. Merchants have to pay a fee to sell on the Marketplace, and may prefer to sell from their inworld store

Some merchants offer a lot of information at the bottom of their listings. One seller had links to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, and Instagram, as well as videos of his product. Smaller merchants may not offer all this information, but it does not mean there is a problem with their product.

 "See Item In Second Life" - if you decide to visit an inworld store listed on the Marketplace always teleport in 'flying' mode, and be prepared for surprises. Marketplace listings have a lot of parts, and when a merchant is moving his inworld store the last thing he thinks about is changing the teleport location on his Marketplace ad.

I prefer shopping Inworld if it is an option but using the Marketplace makes it easier to find items. Inworld you usually get a chance to see the merchandise in person, and many merchants go to a lot of trouble to make their inworld stores interesting places to visit. Some may have both inworld and Marketplace stores. Some may offer a wider variety of goods on the Marketplace simply beause of space limitations.

You find some merchants that operate only inworld and some that sell only on the Marketplace, so look around.