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Thursday, May 13, 2021

Shopping - Some of My Favorite Stores - D-Lab

D-Lab has always been on of my favorite stores. It was where I bought my first flying pig. As more and more SL creators got into the 'cute animals' business D-Lab branched out to more realistic furniture and sci-fi builds.  Most recently I bought their 'Iron Wall' space station.

D-Lab used to be headquartered near Poecila on the Mainland but now it has its very own Region.

D-Lab was always fun to visit, with its large and small animated creatures, and its humorous builds, but as they added inventory, their space was getting crowded.

Animated toy animals.

Now it has more room to display everything.  Here you can see old and new creations, including houses, vehicles, furniture, and dolls.  There is an impressive "Sky Pirate" line, futuristic space stations, and the tiny animated Piccoli.

Some of the "Sky Pirate" pieces. The 'whale' is a vehicle.

Andika, which produces mouth-watering virtual food and celebration items, shares the Region.  

Why am I suddenly hungry?

Take a while and explore. Just look for "D-Lab" Region. 

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Fantasy Faire 2021

Fantasy Faire in Second Life happens for about two-weeks every Spring. This year there are over twenty regions*. The virtual real estate is provided by Linden Lab, but Second Life residents make the landscape and the builds. It is a magical place, and it is only here for a short while. There are merchants, and music. There is storytelling and roleplaying. There are quests and contests. Over all there is a riot of costumes. It is an enchanted environment, but Fantasy Faire is one of the events in Second Life that raises money for the American Cancer Society.

Trying to do and see too much at once can cause sensory overload.

There are legions of bloggers** covering the event, so I'm just going to do a tour of each region and practice taking pictures: 

Wandering Woods:

A meandering path through a blue twilight world.



Scrimshaw Warrens:


In the deeps, wisps of light amidst giant bones, surrounded by a warren of icecaves.


Looking up at the snowlands above.


Valhalla

From the ocean level, where giant statues guard the entrance, through level after level of heroic builds, this region is amazing.


At the entrance to Valhalla. 




Featherfall

A soft land designed to look as if it had been knitted out of yarn.




A giantess tries to join the dance.


Khol Dracy's spires are the home of legendary dragons. Their puny dinosaur cousins roam below.
A large dragon on a high perch.

I wait for a small dragon to use the teleport first.



In Ostara the skeleton of a dragon is near an altar with a gigantic egg.

My avatar is just a speck on the skeleton's skull.



Ling Xiao Long: I don't know how, but the artists made the entire landscape look like an ink-brush painting. Even for Second Life, this is weird.

I'm in a painting!

There is a cave in Ling Xiao Long where, in a more real environment, they are showing a feature-length film made in Second Life by author Huckleberry Hax.  There is also a display of books on different subjects, including many by the writers Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, who are guests of honor at the festival. 

Tempest Bay:  On the surface, this looks like a typical sailing port, but when I explored a cavern that led below the town I found a crew of skeletons dancing near the wreck of a pirate ship.

Dancing Skeletons




The Seventh Valley

One of the major quests at Fantasy Faire this year is 'The Language of the Birds' and many of the quest birds are in the wooded valley.

Heron

The Amethyst Rift:

A still picture does not do justice to the beauty of this Region.

The translucent paths are safe.

On the edges of the rift there is evidence 
of a prior civilization.
A group of young explorers seem to have captured 
a monster of some sort. 


Cerulean Bombora:

Small islands with monuments where you can light a memorial candle in remembrance of those you've lost.

Memorial candles

A'Dracunas:

Some residents have hollowed out these strange ovoid objects to serve as shops.


But one seems to be hatching.

Royal hatchling Gilgadrac

Peaville Goes Nuts:

A fairy-tale world where a Peanut Prince meets a mysterious stranger. 

Tiny treehouses and mushroom houses.

A 'Hipp-Pea' under a Dragon Tree


Mithlumen:

Will future elves live in a neon jungle? Part of the Region is dominated by a statue made of a net of lights that gradually changes color along with parts of the surrounding build.

Statue of light

Isles of Tarrin:

A peaceful pastel village floats above the sea. 

A floating island village.

Somniatoris Arx:

In a city of spired churches, the central cathedral houses a giant skeleton.

Who (or what) was this?


J'adoube:

Giant chess pieces scattered around a rich landscape.

J'adoube means to reposition a chess piece without moving it.

Yin Yang:

A land of Japanese temples, rainbow waterfalls, and golden dragons.

An  unexpected delight.

Upper Yin Yang Region by moonlight.
Paer Thura:

The upper part of this region is one of the event areas, and the bottom part is an undersea art installation. The stage changes according to the nature of the entertainment.

The 'flowers' are seats. "Drum" is about to start.

A small piece of Haveit Neox's sculpture. 



The Dark Awakening:

A transition area of small vendors and ghost sculptures.

Looking towards the sea.

Quests at the Fantasy Faire:

For many years now, there have been quests at the Fantasy Faire.  This year the Main Quest was "The Language of Birds"and involved finding and talking to birds all around the Faire, then using the information you've gathered to solve a puzzle that opens the way to a treasure trove.

It is going to take me weeks to unlock all the presents.

The cost for all this treasure? The Quest Hud cost less than a US dollar. For a slightly higher fee you also got a themed costume.The quest and the prizes are the same.

Smaller quests in Valhalla and A'Dracunas also offer prizes.

The odds are that you will read this when there is NOT a Fantasy Faire in progress. Mark it on your calendar for next year. 

5-5-2021  The Faire is winding down now, and in a few days all that will be here is empty space. I'm still wearing my Quest costume and I feel like the little girl who is still wearing her Halloween costume in November. Don't let it end! So far the Faire has raised the equivalent of $56,000 US dollars to support The American Cancer Society.







*A region is an area 256meters by 256meters.

**I have read through most of these blogs and I'm fascinated how each blogger sees Fantasy Faire from a different perspective. A lot, of course, are series of selfies disguised as 'fashion blogs' but many include storytelling elements that enhance their photos.

I skipped the ones that had 'adult content' warning.

I added some of the better ones to my blog list.





Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Blogging About Blogging In Second Life

I started my blog because I wanted to share information about Second Life. Some of it is about things "I wish I knew back when". 

I read other bloggers to see what is current.  The gadget I use for the blogroll keeps the more recent posts at the top. I am always finding new blogs to add. I tend not to include those that get too highly technical, or are in a language I have no way of translating*.  I am not fond of fashion blogs that highlight the costume the avatar is wearing, and only show a smidge of background. I trudged through a list of 'official' bloggers the other day, and three-in-a-row had the same 'spoiled elf' face. 

A website called Blogging Second Life keeps a list of Second Life blogs.  They do not do ranking, you just have to ask to be put on the list. A glance at the number of blogs under each topic shows you what seems to be most important to readers (hint: it's fashion).

Another website, Feedspot, has a list "Top 60 Second Life Blogs, Websites & Influencers in 2021" but I think their list is flawed because it lists some bloggers who have not posted for years.

The Second Life Community  has excellent destination blogs, and if you notice on the sidebar they have collections of blogposts relating to different aspects of Second Life. 

Second Life also has an Official Second Life Blogger Network. My blog does not qualify for multiple reasons. . but I keep blogging.

Even if no one else ever reads it, my blog serves as a sort of diary/scrapbook of my time in Second Life.

And again, someone may read it and learn something. 




*I am working on improving my vocabulary, I think that last sentence is a tautology in the sense that it is saying the exact same thing in different words. 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Community Virtual Library (CVL) in Cookie

Several of the bloggers I follow* had mentioned the party for the 15th Anniversity of the Community Virtual Library, so I went to see how the library had been updated since I last visited.


What does a library look like in a virtual world? Well, on the surface it looks like a RL library, with card files, bookshelves, and reading rooms, although I suppose that a RL librarian might have cringed at the sight of all of us walking around with wine in our hands, paws, or whatevers. (Not because of our appearance, but because wine stains are hard to get out of paper..)

But it only looked like a RL library. If you touched the books on display or used the card catalogue you were directed to a digital, rather than a physical, book. 


The traditional library reference desk.

I am a fan of libraries, and in RL have offered to volunteer at our local one when restrictions are lifted. Here in Second Life the 'library' represents just one aspect of the work of educators networking in virtual reality to seek ways to improve learning and understanding in real life. 

I confess I felt outclassed in a group whose members casually discuss topics like metamodernism, metaliteracy, and digital citizenship. I am, after all, just a tourist, so I wandered outside and found that you could take a Tardis to the science fiction section of the library - which had a holodeck!

The science fiction library.


Holodeck controls showing the options.

Cookie Region also hosts a variety of other educational activities. There are gathering places scattered around the grounds, and spaces dedicated to music and art. 

One of my favorite places there is the building for the Short Poetry Workshop - built at a scale for giants, it has a huge collection of volumes of short poetry composed during the weekly sessions.

Virtual Outworlding has a calendar of the many educational meetings scheduled every week. The calendar is called "Educational Events in the Metaverse", a clue that not all the meetings are in Second Life. Second Life is not the only 'virtual reality'. I believe there is a "Cookie II" Region in Kitely.

These are bookmobiles that can be used in other communities.

I feel I am seeing a glimpse of the future. Covid restrictions brought more of my contemporaries into 'the digital age' because they had to use applications like Zoom to see their grandkids, and many of them have found out that with the right ebook app they can read print more easily. Older people who came to computers late in life may not be comfortable visiting virtual worlds, but will the next generation casually accept them as part of their natural environment?

In my opinion it was a mistake for Linden Labs to stop giving special discounts to educational groups, causing many of them to move to less expensive virtual worlds. When these educational pioneers set their students on the path to 'digital citizenship', it would be nice if it started in Second Life.

-------------------

Blooper reel:  Some time ago I was visiting the VCL in Cookie and was trying to use the 'Reader' attachment provided by the Library. I forgot that I had an NPC sculpture called "The Reader" in my inventory and was confused why the attachment wasn't working after I put it on.


Be careful which 'Reader' you attach.


*Blog articles covering the library anniversary

Virtual Outworlding

Ryan Schultz

Inara Pey




Saying Goodbye to a Favorite Destination

I hadn't visited Simple's Zoo for a while, so it was a shock when I stopped by last week and found both the Lythria and Plebja sites surrounded by ban lines.  The parcel information indicated that Whitney Linden had taken over the property on 3-31-2021. I was told that there had been a sign at Plebja indicating that everything would be closing effective the end of March. This seemed to be permanent.

Builds stayed up for a few days. I was able to cam in and take a few more pictures and buy copies of some of Simple's builds and books that I didn't already have, but yesterday the Lythria site was barren, and I expect the builds on the Plebeja site will go soon.

A greenie opening a soda

Simple Wunderlich was 'born' in 2007, before I came. I never met him, but his Zoo in Lythria was one of the first places I visited when I was new, and it gave me the opportunity of seeing many of the early Second Life larger art works in a parklike setting. This was one of the first places I had seen the Greenie sculptures, the works of Pumpkin Tripsa, Art Laxness, Ub Yifu, and many others.  Most of the sculptures were high-prim, and because they had a lot of land impact as he bought more art Simple kept expanding his land until he owned parts of at least five regions so that he wouldn't go over his prim allowance.

Later I found his annex in Plebeja, quite some distance away, where he took advantage of a sheer cliff to build spiraling staircases up to a viewing spot, with cascading water features on many sides. 

In Plebeja, water cascades down the cliff near the High Mountain Road.

He had a big freebie collection that he gave away. Unfortunately, as he wrote "Most are set to notransfer, so your friends have to visit the zoo too " I found that Lankarian Lock is still offering some of them: a Box of Greenies, a copy of the Lion & the Horse sculpture, and a box of Starax sculptures for free on the SL Marketplace.


All of these sculptures are high-prim. I have seen copies of them in a few museums, and land managers with large parcels* may display one or two, but if you are a normal resident with a 1024 parcel or less, one statue might use up all your prim allowance.

One of many sculptures that were in the Zoo.


Simple was a gifted photographer. You can see a gallery of his photos on Flickr, and on his blog . His Flickr album has about 297 entries, from February 14 2003 to February 14, 2011. His blog was apparently started on 1-22-2011 and the last entry appears to be March 5, 2015. He placed his photos, with accompanying text, in books you could buy and read in Second Life. I bought all of them and hope to display them at The Unofficial Tourist Information Office at some future time.

Thoughts on Second Life mortality: Nothing lasts forever. Second Life has changed so much since it started. When someone stops participating in SL it is hard to know whether the person has passed away, found other interests, or is just not interested in keeping up with all the new technology. In my wanderings I sometimes run into parcels where nothing has been updated for years, but someone is still paying tier. Perhaps it is better for a landowner to close their parcels suddenly than to leave them neglected -- like one I visited recently where the fish were swimming in the air outside their aquariums and scripts in some of the builds no longer worked.

I hope in Simple's case he has closed his parcels because he has found better things to do. As he used to write

"Be nice and have fun!"


On the platform in Plebeja, a skeleton plays a guitar.

*The Hollywood Region currently has a copy of Starax' "Drowned" sculpture on common land near a yacht club.  


Friday, April 16, 2021

Your Avatar and Your Wardrobe: Buying Clothing in Second Life


BUYING CLOTHING:

This is what little I think I know about fashion in Second Life.

Your clothing choices will be determined by what body, head, and components you choose to wear. Second life clothing cannot be altered by letting out a seam or putting in a tuck. You might be able to rotate a hat, or tint or re-size a classic garment, but mostly you are stuck. If you choose the wrong clothing parts of your bod may stick out in embarassing places, or you might look like The Invisible Man getting dressed. 

It is always good to try a demo of any clothing before you buy. After you put it on, look at yourself from all angles and also check how it looks when you move! Once you've found a good clothing/body combination save the outfit under the 'outfit' tab. You can even take a snapshot and put it in an outfit gallery. 

Some clothing will not fit your body no matter what you do. 

Avatars vary in complexity, from the very simple "Ruth-like" primitars to the avatars with multiple bento parts. 

When you first come to Second Life you are currently given a choice of "system" avatars that usally include the head and body, shape, skin, clothing, alphas, and basic animations. Use the "edit outfit" tab to see what your off-the-rack avatar is wearing, whether it is part of another item of clothing (like the hat and hair in the "Bitsy" avatar) and what part of the body it is attached to.

This sounds strange to say, but the body and the head are usually one unit with the "classic" avatars. When you decide to upgrade your appearance you will usually find heads, bodies, skins and shapes being sold separately, because creators tend to specialize in one area. I remember how shocked I was when I went to upgrade my image and bought a body and it didn't have a head. 

If you go through New Resident Island (which is run by volunteers) you will find a lot of information on fashion. You can get a new mesh body, hair, and clothing. The body is a mesh body, and the clothing is Bakes on Mesh (BOM) which means that they are textures that cling to your mesh body. The tutorial is excellent. The "alpha" hud that you get during the tutorial is a lifesaver, because it helps you choose small parts that show through clothing and make them disappear.

The parts you can't do without:

Body - 
Head-
Shape -
Skin -

Now, parts you can find being sold separately:

  • Body
  • Head
  • Shape
  • Skin
  • Eyes
  • Hands
  • Feet
  • Nail polish (if your hand has nails)
  • tattoos
  • Hair
  • Hairbase (basically a tattoo)
  • Shoes
  • Animations - An AO (Animation Overrider) is an attachment that makes your avatar move a certain way. The one you get when you sign up is pretty basic. Without an AO, we would all be 'duck walking'.  If you have a classic body you can find a more advanced free AO for it on New Resident Island.
  • Poses - Most of the beautiful models you see on Second Life blogs are usually using special poses or animations.  You can buy these or make these. You will find that there are a lot of poses included in newer furniture.
  • Gestures -
  • Physics - I added 'physics' to my avatar and parts of my body started jigglying like jello. I didn't like it.
  • Clothing
  • Other parts - if you plan to be 'sexual' in Second Life you can buy and attach the appropriate body parts. It is advised not to wear  them in public, even 'under' your clothing, because it is common for your clothing to download last* and you will just look silly. 
  • Non-sexual parts include things like horns and tails, wings, prosthetic limbs, etc...

An alpha is just an invisible piece that makes part of your body disappear so it doesn't show through your clothing.  You can have an alpha for small parts like eyes, or a whole body alpha for some fantasy shapes. When you change clothing without changing alphas you may have air space showing. say, if you were wearing a dress with a dress alpha and you put on a top and jeans your middrift may be empty space. Some body/clothing combinations may not need alphas, but try different poses without an alpha first to make sure you don't have problem areas when you move.

Since I first came to Second Life there has been constant evolution in avatar fashion, and I'm not always sure it is an improvement.

"Legacy" may refer to the older classic bodies, or to a particular brand.

"Bento" is a term referring to a body with more 'bones' and hence more movement possibilities. 

You are not alone if you are having trouble getting your clothing and avatar together.

For expert advice I recommend the SL forum, and information from the newcomer centers. Some of the bloggers I list on the sidebar put out good tutorials. Still, it is not uncommon to find disagreement about problem solutions and sometimes even the most experienced residents will say "I was wrong."

How not to end up partly naked: (If that wasn't your intention).

If you change clothing and then part of your body is now naked it is because when you select "wear" the creator of the garment made it to be attached to a particular body attachment point. Selecting "add" works better.

When you change clothing and find part of your body is now invisible it is because you have an alpha over that part. Try to find the correct alpha. 

If you have a seamline at your neck it is probably because the body and the head don't match. I have been told to use the 'shape' that came with the head. There are always turtlenecks.

There is a contradiction in the fact that we are encouraged to wear 'low-lag' clothing when we are in a public place, but then who but your friends is going to see the wonderful outfits and poses you have put together?

If you are interested in knowing what other people are wearing you can ask them, or you can look for an app like "What is she wearing".

Do not ask me about BOM, appliers, or relays. I know only enough to get into trouble. Take a few deep breaths, find an isolated spot, and go through the manufacturer's notecard and play with the HUD.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if I got anything wrong or if you think there is a better way to explain things. 

How complicated does it get? Try reading this thread. 

*All those naked people at big events are not perverts, they are just waiting for their clothing to unload.




   

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Shopping in Second Life (4-10-2021)

And where shall I begin?

In Second Life the currency is the Linden dollar. If you are a Premium member you will get a weekly 'stipend' or allowance of 300 Lindens, which is currently worth about 98 cents.  You will also get a one-time $1,000L bonus if you stay premium for 45 days.

If you have payment information on file you can buy Lindens at any time by clicking the handy "BuyL$" usually at the top of your viewer screen. 

There are various ways of making money in Second Life, but none of them easy, and all requiring special talent. Still, for that L$300 a week you can do quite a lot.

Shopping for a place to stay:

Housing and Land? - A Premium member with available tier can choose one of the wonderful Bellisseria homes without having to pay extra tier. Or, you can use your 'free' 1024 tier and purchase a parcel where you can place the home of your choice. You can buy land at auction, or from private residents. I have seen quite nice parcels sell for a few weeks' stipend - check the auctions listing to get some idea of what the prices are like. You can also rent quite nice places if you don't want to be tied to land.

You don't need a house or land to live in Second Life - you can 'set home' in most of the Infohubs, or just select 'log-in to my last location'.

Buying a House:

Since it requires a lot of land to display houses, many builders often have an inworld parcel with a 'house rezzer' that will magically construct the house of your choice in front of your eyes. Some will give you a demo version of the house, or at least a prim that shows the house footprint. If you are watching your Lindens and have an odd-shaped 1024 be especially careful when choosing a house because it might fit a 'square' 1024, but not your 'pickle-shaped' 1024.

You can sometimes find bargain homes at large sales events or weekend sales. No harm buying a house that won't fit your current needs and saving it until you own a larger parcel.

You have a place to stay. Now to decorate the house.

Where to Shop for furniture, clothing, and suchlike:

The Marketplace:  Maintaining a large inworld store costs Lindens, and the advent of electonic catalogues and eventually The SL Marketplace made it possible for some merchants to sell their products entirely online. On my browser the 'SL Marketplace' is under the 'Content' tab. The advantage of having the online Marketplace is that, with a little practice you can look for and compare items and prices. The disadvantage of the online Marketplace is that, unless you have actually seen the product 'inworld' or know the seller's reputation, you could end up with something quite different than you thought you were buying. (one gambit is someone selling a 'cow' that is actually just a 'cow texture'). Caveat and all that. Note: When clicking on "See inworld" it is good to be in flying mode, and don't be surprised if the place where the store used to be is now using a nasty security orb to get rid of all those unexpected visitors.

While not all SL Marketplace stores have inworld stores, there are also inworld stores that do not use The Marketplace. Sometimes a large inworld store will only list a small portion of what they sell on The Marketplace, because keeping all those listings current can be a chore.

Inworld Stores: Inworld Stores are found both on Mainland and in Private Regions. They may be at ground level, or up in the sky. Once I've found an inworld store I like I try to make a landmark - i.e. "Shopping - (Insert Name of Store Here) - nice clothing. " Again, when teleporting to any landmark, it is good to be in flying mode. 

Most inworld stores will have vendors. 


Typical multi-item vendor. Note that the bottom arrows determine what item is shown in the middle panel. If you click on a side panel and select 'pay' you will probably get the item in the middle, so please pay attention.


Special Events: 

These days it seems like there are special sales almost every day in Second Life: "Fifty Linden Fridays", "Hello It's Tuesday", etc... There are so many fairs and events, and special sales groups, that it boggles the mind.  I get daily notices from shopping groups I belong to, but I also read Fab Free and Seraphim, to see what is going on. Look at the online galleries to see what you want to buy before you go to save time when you get there. Bloggers will also write about shopping events. Big events, like the Skin Fair or the Hair Fair may be listed under Second Life Destinations. Second Life also sponsors "Shop and Hop" events for those who miss the Mega-Mall experience.

The Resale Market:

Items with transfer permissions, usually gachas, may be found at small flea markets, resale districts, and online.  In the Marketplace they are usually listed under 'gacha' or 'used'. I enjoy visiting these inworld places that have a lot of resale shops - they are like visiting rl flea markets and antique shops.

FURNITURE:

Furniture buying is a little less complicated, but it is important to learn about LI (land impact) and check to make sure that something will render well enough to be seen at an appropriate distance. 

You can find a lot of decent 'primmy' furniture for free - fine if you aren't short on LI points.  I prefer a good prim product to a bad mesh product. Some people hate sculpts. While shopping, check to see if the item is listed as 'prim', 'sculpt', or 'mesh'. Some items will be a combination. Again, just because an item says it is "100% mesh" does not mean it will look good rezzed. Try looking at the item from an appropriate distance to see if you can still see it. 

A note on hunts: In Second Life a 'hunt' is a structured event, usually time-limited, where you look for an item and get a prize. They are also a great way to visit a lot of stores to find out what you didn't know you needed until you saw it. I refer you to Ryan Schultz for Top Six Tips for Successful Hunts in Second Life .

Finding Brands You Like:

Just like in RL, in SL we often stick with a brand we prefer, but when I'm wandering around and see something I like I use the 'inspect' option on my browser to see the creator and the land impact. If a store is listed in the profile I will then often teleport to the store, if only to Landmark it for later.

Be open to change.

OPENING BOXES:

There are a myriad of ways that you can 'open' boxes, and it isn't always clear whether the icon in your inventory is a box that contains a product or the item itself. Helpful creators will add a listing "boxed" by the box-that-is-a-container. Some have boxes scripted so that when you choose 'open' the item will be added to your inventory but there will always be surprises. Best to open new purchases in a large sandbox, so when it turns up that your new motorcycle is somehow attached to your head no one will notice. I think that as 'making a mistake', in Second Life, 'wearing a box or not-clothing' article comes right after 'removing the floor of a skybox while standing on it'.

Hope this helps. I'm off to the weekend sales. 



*I could do without special effects when I open a box, thank you, since poorly-made special effects are sometimes hard to get rid of. A few days ago I found I was being followed around in SL by the Logo of a designer that seemed to be attached to me long after I had finished opening a box....