Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The Last Roll: An SL Avatar Builder Makes a Fun Game For Real Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

2020 has been both a tragic, and crazy, year. On one hand, the Coronavirus has caused a great deal of tragedy. On the other, it's caused people to behave in strange ways. Local grocery stores in the United States and some other developed countries have often been short on particular foods and supplies. But for some peculiar reason, the item many seem to want to hoard more than anything else isn't canned food or bottled water. It's toilet paper. A number of us, presumably a small minority, bought up all they could early on in the Pandemic. And to this day, bathroom tissue can still be hard to come by.

Nance Clowes, a noted Second Life game maker, recently informed the Newser about "a free downloadable board game" poking fun at the absurdity of the situation made by an avatar maker in Second Life. So I tracked down the person better known for dinosaurs than tush tissue, Wanders Nowhere.

"It has, absolutely nothing to do with Second Life, or what I do (here), which is the Dawn Kingdoms dinosaur sims," Wanders told me, "And it's mostly my partner's work. But it is fun and topical. It's a printable, downloadable boardgame which is a satire of the Toilet Paper panic. We call it 'The Last Roll.' and you can find it at www.lastrollgame.com . It comes in (so far) two forms, the family-friendly boardgame version, Supermarket Dash, and the upcoming tabletop RPG version, TPocalypse."

When asked just when did he and his partner get the idea, he answered, "We were at a friend's house in the early days of the Covid crisis, before lockdown became a thing. We live in Australia, so things have all progressed a bit differently here, and at the time we'd convened for a solstice celebration party. We were discussing upcoming D and D games, and I got up to go to the bathroom. Someone made a joke about the toilet paper panic. And by the time I got back, everyone was laughing at the idea of turning that into an RPG set in a post-apocalypse, where TP is the only remaining currency.

"As the country locked down, the idea eventually shifted into doing two games, one that would be a family-friendly boardgame aimed to help families locked down together to have a laugh at the crisis. And another that would be the post-apocalyptic RPG, with a kind of over the top Mad Max meets Nightvale in a supermarket vibe. That's the upcoming 'TPocalypse' variant, which we're putting the finishing touches on now.

"We're offering both games on a pay-what-you-want basis. We understand that the crisis has hit people very hard economically and want to be able to share this even with people who can't afford to buy frivolous things like games right now. It's designed to be printable at home, but even if you don't have a printer, there's instructions for making your own board and markers. If we can give people even a bit of levity at this juncture, we'll consider it a success."

Wanders told me the game hadn't been around long enough yet for much of a response on social media, but, "We have playtested all our games and had a strong positive response. Dash in particular has become a favorite with some of the local families in our area."

He went on to explain the difference between the two games, "Supermarket Dash is a friendly silly tongue-in-cheek kind of game, TPocalypse goes all out on the surreal humour. Fungus zombies in the veggie section, a vacant-eyed cult of former staff members serving a Lovecraftian unseen Manager locked in an aisle-by-aisle turf war with a koven of murderous Karens gunning for the Manager's blood. And that's just the tip of the iceberg lettuce, shambling mounds made of shopping bags that can devour your character whole, you name it."

There's also a third game in the works: The Last Roll: Biggest Hoarder. In the words of the website, "Form alliances and break them, help out and hinder, tempt and trip up. You all arrive at the store together, but when it comes to the finish line, it’s every shopper for themselves. Pack out your cart with panic-buying, elbow whoever you can out of the way, and come out on top. But it’s all for nothing if you don’t have that precious roll of TP! An irreverent parody board game for 2-6 players aged 12+ (parental guidance). May the most underhanded shopper win!"

As for what Wanders makes in Second Life, he's one of the people at Dawn Kingdoms, making dinosaur avatars. When I asked him which was his favorite, he answered, "Whatever dinosaur I'm currently working on, that's my favorite at the time. I fall in love with each creation as it is born. It's the John Hammond in me, I swear." Prehistorica had grown since the Newser last wrote about it, "It's three sims now. There's a rocky plains, deep jungle, canyon, active volcano, all the classic dino tropes. There's also three underwater areas, a reef, kelp forest and abyss caves. And a floating dragon island with a minigame where you battle earth elementals." He did say there was one thing in the works, "That's my big hush master project (grin), so that will need more time." He then laughed, "Hell the only limit on my ambition is now 'how many prims do I have left to spawn animesh creatures with?' "

When asked if he had anything else to say about the game, Wanders answered, "I guess I could say that in times like these where everything is unexpected and everything feels like it could go badly at any minute, it's more important than ever to hold on to a sense of humour and be able to use that to get through things instead of only blocking out the bad stuff, particularly for kids. We hope our game can highlight that and give parents a way to introduce the idea of these sorts of changes, shortages and restrictions in a way that doesn't seem scary or overwhelming as it can be, even for adults. And with the TP panic easing off in many places that can be a relatively harmless aspect of this serious and terrible crisis, something safe to have a laugh at. Because let's face it, the fact that, when the chips are down and we're facing a global crisis, the first thing people do is panic buy toilet paper is really, really silly."

Read more about the games, and get them if you wish, at https://lastrollgame.com/ .

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Reader Submitted: The Cloud Move


By Kἶէმƈεlἶმ Lմἶղƈօɾἶმlօէε Kεlνმɾl (Kitacelia Resident)

The first thing I have noticed, is much slower rezzing sometimes taking as much as 20 minutes to rezz an area and some items still not rezzing no matter how long you wait or leave or relog that weren't blocked or blacklisted.

The next thing I have noticed is that DJ streams seem to hiccup or skip quite often now, regardless of their internet, PCs, DJing program or location. I notice this because I host quite often so listening to DJ streams is  a large part of that. I hate to imagine what a DJ goes through trying to run a DJ  program and Second Life with all the current SL issues.

I have also experienced increased logging in times, as much as two to three times longer at times.  I have experienced increased lag and crashing as well.  I have major cable company high speed internet and while my PC isn't top of the line it is fairly decent and relatively newish.

Another issue, while I am uncertain it is related, is that I had once experience several months ago where all the scripted objects on land I rent broke, and had to be reset. Some permanently broke, and had to be replaced or were gone forever.  Several other times the same land my avi wouldn't rezz and nothing could be rezzed.

Several items that were scripted seem to have broken in some fashion due to updates and often it was up to the creators to fix them or not as LL apparently did little to nothing to deal with the script issues on certain items caused by these updates.

I have also noticed more bugs, and it taking longer for them to fix them. One especially annoying one that apparently took two weeks to fix was the recent timestamp issue on group notices where they looked like they were all sent the exact min, second, hour, day etc you looked back at the notices.  There were also issues with flickr and other things that came up and didn't seem to be resolved in a particularly timely manner.  

Increased scheduled and unscheduled maintenance has also been happening, which makes it difficult to do much in Second Life, much of it during prime time hours for the US and/or Europe. Also, it seems the servers either have a very small limit or aren't good at keeping track of blacklisted items.

While they have introduced some really cool new projects in the last few years, I hope they will reconsider this cloud move as it seems to be not only hindering the application of the cool new additions to a degree but also making more traditional applications/objects difficult as well to a point Second Life is sometimes barely playable and possibly not playable at all for some.   I have been in SL almost daily for nearly eight years. So while I am not one of the first or close to it, I am not even remotely close to new, recent, or a casual user.

I think Second Life has the population they have kept going mainly because they have had no real competition. If these issues persist or worsen I wonder how many will remain here post Covid-19.

Kitacelia

Friday, April 10, 2020

Reflections: Ten Years Ago ...


By Bixyl Shuftan

I forget the exact date, but it was one weekend a decade ago that the decision was made by it's editor to close the newsletter I worked for at the time, the Second Life Newspaper.

It had not been the best of times. Second Life's Golden Age was behind us. This was partially due to the hype from the 2006-08 years having faded as stories in real life media about the possibilities of what could be done here such as the Relay for Life became replaced by tales of marriages broken by virtual adultery and "flying penis" griefing attacks. So fewer people were signing up. The global economy was still sluggish after the 2008 crash, and it was reflected in Second Life with fewer people having plenty of money to spend. The number of private sims down began a long slow decline, and it was harder to make good money.

For the Second Life Newspaper, we had our own troubles. One of our sponsors had suddenly up and went under in a very public collapse that angered many of his customers and some of it went our way due to his sponsorship. There were also fewer reporters on the staff. The owner of SLN, JamesT Juno, had left Second Life for personal reasons. Editor Dana Vanomer was in charge, but was also being dragged down by real life matters. Fortunately, the paper had a short-term contingency plan for times she wasn't available for a day or two. The "office manager" of the newsletter, me, would post articles when she couldn't. So we continued on.

But eventually, Dana came to a realization. So it was one weekend in early April 2010 that we met for an "emergency meeting." I had hoped it was a new sponsor. But instead, she told us the newsletter would be closing in three months. I was, stunned. For over two years, most of my time here in Second Life, I'd spent my time as a reporter, and it had become my online identity. And now, we were faced with it coming to an end. Gemma Cleanslate was the most outspoken of us, saying there had to be a way to keep things running. But the way Dana saw it, it was James' paper, and she had no right to give it to anyone else.

And after that, some of the team dropped out. The rest of us continued to do what we'd been doing, reporting the news about Second Life. But we talked to one another. And four of us came to a conclusion: start a new paper, a new newsletter. And the very day Second Life Newspaper folded, the Second Life Newser would begin.

If it was in my power, I would have taken the chance in an instant to be the owner of the old Second Life Newspaper. But after a rough start, we continued to do well under the new name. Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here. Life, virtual and real, is full of change. But life goes on. Sometimes it means saying goodbye to something, or someone, you've cherished. But still, life goes on. It always has.

Ten years later, Gemma Cleanslate and I have been part of the Second Life Newser, having worked with some fantastic writers over time, Grey Lupindo, Shelly Sands, DrFran Babcock, and many others. Numerous sponsors have backed us over the years. Times have changed, both in virtual reality and real life. But our mission remains the same: reporting the news big and small about the people, places, and events across Second Life. And we have every intention of keeping it up.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

ApRiL fOoL!!!


Happy April Fools Day from the Second Life Newser!

May your April Fools Day be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.

For previous April Fool jokes, check out 20192018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 20142013, 2012, and 2011.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Online Comics: Five Longtime Running Strips


By Bixyl Shuftan

Many of us as kids have fond memories of reading the comic page in the newspaper. For those of us in their 40s or 50s and older, we may remember serial cartoon strips which had a plotline that would last for weeks or months. But as time has gone on, some newspapers have retired those. But while most of us have a favorite one or two, for many a number of the strips aren't that enjoyable or not enjoyable at all. And if you cancel your newspaper subscription, no more "funny pages." So where can you go for more cartoons?

In this age of online content, the Internet.

It's difficult to say when the first reguarly-updated serial cartoon went online. The oldest ones I've seen are from the mid-1990s. By now, thousands of artists have posted online cartoons up. Unlike the comic page in the newspaper, you don't have to wait for one to be dropped to see a new one. Online cartoonists don't have to worry about a newspaper censor either, and can range from squeaky clean to midly edgy to something you don't want to get caught seeing at your workplace. The quality of the artwork, and the stories, can also vary a lot. Some cartoons are done by skilled artists but have bland plotlines. Others have fantastic stories but the artwork has much to be desired. Some have both good art and good stories. And some have, plenty of room for improvement. The artist also doesn't have the same level of pressure to update as one from a newspaper comic, and so the frequency of updates can range from daily to a few times a week to once a week, to once a month or so.

Yours truly first came across them in August 1999, and have been reading ever since. Over time, a number of new ones have appeared. Some old ones have also concluded or simply stopped. While there are hundreds I can reference, here's five that I've kept up with over time.

Kevin and Kell

Drawn by Bill Holbrook, "Kevin and Kell" is a furry cartoon about a large male rabbit and a lady wolf in a mixed marriage. In a society where who you are is judged by what you eat, the concept of a herbivore and a carnivore married and raising a family together hasn't gone well with everyone. So Kevin and Kell Dewclaw, and their friends and family, face no shortage of situations. The strip is clean enough for a real newspaper, and while there is some violence as it's a place where the carnivores gotta eat, it's "cartoon violence" in which a prey animal is shown unhurt in one pannel and in the next one there's bloodless bones, not unlike some animated cartoons by major studios. The cartoon also has numerous computer jokes and references.

The comic has updated daily since Sept 3, 1995, and since then a LOT has happened. As time has passed, characters have developed and changed. Some early running gags were changed or dropped to reflect changes in the characters involved. Kell started out as a worker for "Herd Thinners," but since then her career has taken many twists and turns. The couple's daughter Connie was born shortly after the strip started, and over time has grown.  Kevin's adopted daughter has graduated from college. Kell's son from a previous marriage has graduated high school and gone on to college. The early strips reflect the computer technology of the day, and a few years in there was a Y2K plotline. Numerous new characters have been added over time, and a few from early on would drop out.

Kevin and Kell updates seven days a week, and with only cartoony violence is G-rated. You can start reading from the start, though with thousands of strips in the archives, be prepared for a long read.

Main page : https://www.kevinandkell.com/

Story start :  https://www.kevinandkell.com/1995/kk0903.html

Freefall

This is the second online comic I've come across, and perhaps my favorite. Drawn by Mark Stanley whom started in 1998, the science-fiction strip takes place on a colony world far from Earth and revolves mostly around three characters. Sam, or Sam the Sqid, is the alien owner of a starship that at the start of the story is so badly damaged very little works. He wants to get the ship up and running, but also fancies himself a con-artist and doing misdeeds is no problem with him. So he bribes a clerk to arrange a "clerical error" to get the help of an engineer: Florence Ambrose. Florence is a "Bowman's Wolf," a genetically-engineered lifeform that while wolflike is just as intelligent, if not moreso, than most humans she meets. She's also an extremely skilled and adept engineer. The third main character is Helix, a fully intelligent but still simple-minded and naive robot whom acts as Sam's sidekick.

The story starts out fairly simple, the characters doing their best to get the spaceship up and running. One of the early running gags is Florence's honesty coming in to conflict with Sam's con-artist ways. Finally, the ship is repaired enough to move to a hangar at the spaceport, where the story gets more detailed as the main characters are seen coming into contact and otherwise dealing with more people, and robots. As an "organic AI," Florence lacks many of the rights humans have, and while her paitence and friendly manner win over many, it's still the source of some trouble.

It's soon clear to Florence that many of the robots here are fully inteligent, a fact that has escaped most of the humans. As robots far outnumber humans, it's easy to see many would rather not believe it. Eventually, an antagonist in the story hatches a plot that puts the robots, and the colony, in danger.

Sam's pratfalls aside, the story is not usually very "cartoony," at least in the sense of going beyond the laws of physics. Even when the story sometimes gets serious, the strips have a way of always ending with a punch line. Aside from the D.A.V.E. (Dangerous And Very Expensive) faster than light engines on starships, "Freefall" stays within hard science more than most other science-fiction tales. Sam's people, known as the "Sqid," are the only known intelligence to humans. Sam would comment following a scoutship coming across their world, humans were not impressed by what they found. The comic has an active forum (link), that's been described as having the most intelligent fanbase for an online comic on the Internet, with occasional off-topic threads on science news. One fan even made limited edition books of the first 1024 strips, along with some of Mark's earlier work.

Freefall updates three times a week, and although there are a couple shower scenes, rates a G.

Main page: http://freefall.purrsia.com/

Story start : http://freefall.purrsia.com/ff100/fv00001.htm


The Cyantian Chronicles

Drawn by Tiffany "Skye" Ross, "The Cyantian Chronicles" are a collection of comics taking place in the same sci-fi story universe. Starting off in the late 1990s as "Satin and Silk," it has grown to a number of serial comics. Most of these have been concluded or on hiatus as Skye works on one or two. Currently, the main one is "Campus Safari."

The Cyantians are a number of anthromorphic races that were created over a thousand years earlier by an alien race mixing human DNA and the DNA of various animals, felines, rabbits, ram, mice, wolves, foxes, fennecs, coyotes, and a few others. Then hundreds of years ago, their creators up and left, leaving them to run themselves. More recently, a company called "Exotica Genoworks" created several more, including skunks, the kangaroo-like Jiiac, and the raccoon-like Sirac. Following a time of calamaty on their planet, there is a desire to get in contact with the planet of their orgin, Earth, and they start to terraform Mars and set up a base there, Mars Academy. Unfortunately for them, those authorities on Earth that are aware of life outside of the planet consider any alien hostile.

The original story centered around Chatin and Chilke Akalee, two Cyantian skunks. Sisters, Chatin is an engineer and a tinkerer while Chilke is the better fighter although more nieve. Chilke finds an experimental device that Chatin hasn't yet finished, and before the engineer can stop her, they and several of their friends are teleported to various places on Earth. Chatin and Chilk end up at a science-fiction/anime con and meet up with Jules and Marcus. Both agree to help the Cyantians, but Marcus' fanboyish behavior proves to be an annoyance. They also run into Twinky, whom at first looks like an ordinary skunk but is actually someone whom can assume the form of a human, regular skunk, or anthro skunk. Eventually the characters manage to call for help and meet up, but the journey home does not go as planned.

Skye would start other strips. One is "Sink and Swim" about the adventures of a group of Exotica Genoworks Cyantians whom treated as slaves manage to escape their captors on a ship and make a living as traders. Another is Shiave, the characters being some of Cyantia's "sapient wildlife," the descendants of dinosaurs that somehow made it from Earth to Cyantia and over time became intelligent but remained feral and wild. When the original story was concluded, Skye began "Akalee," which takes place years before the main story. Eventually, she would get back to the main story, renamed "Campus Safari." But instead of continuing from where it was, it would be rebooted with some changes here and there. Like Freefall, the action is not usually "cartoony," with a few exceptions such as Marcus' misfortunes (often caused by his behavior around women).

Cyantia is not a simple world, but a complex one with many sapient races and a thousand years of history of the "Immigrant Cyantians" alone. There is occasional violence, and occasional hinted at adult situations. WIth all the details, the comic has it's own Wiki page (link) to help readers keep track of what's what. There was a forum-based roleplay based on the comics, Mars Academy, that lasted a few years.

The Cyantian Chronicles is currently updated once or twice a week, and rates G/PG

Main page: https://cyantian.net/

Story start : https://cyantian.net/comic/10012000/


Sabrina Online

Sabrina Online is the first serial online comic I've come across. Drawn by Eric Scwartz, this furry comic is about the life and times of Sabrina the skunk and her friends, online and off. Started in September 1996, Sabrina comes across an Internet Service Provider at a computer show, and decides to get her computer connected. After some attempts, she finally succeeds. But life online isn't so simple, especially for a girl. She soon ends up with an online boyfriend, whose identity isn't revealed until a few years into the comic. And when looking for a job as a website designer, much to her embarassment ends up the webmistress of a porn studio, ZZ Studios, run by Zig Zag. Zig Zag finds Sabrina cute as well as inteligent, and her flirting with the new employee becomes a longtime running gag for the strip. Sabrina's roomate Amy the Squirrel ends up pregnant, which is the source of more than a few situations for a time.

Scwartz has a way of pushing the envelope without going past a certain line with "Sabrina Online." Although there are clearly some occasional adult situations, the only nudity is "tasteful" (covered by a towel or something like a tail in the way). And in all the years the comic has taken place, there are very few swear words (I can only recall one, but there's probably one or two more I forgot about). This balance, along with the quality of art and likeable characters, is part of it's charm.

Early on, Scwartz was an Amiga computer fan, and this shows in the first few years of the strip. As time went on, the Amiga references stopped. Zig Zag was not Scwartz's creation, but a character borrowed from Max Blackrabbit, who was a self-described fanboy of Sabrina. In the late 90s, Sabrina Online was highly popular, and got a lot of fanart and even fanfiction. The tone of the comic changed somewhat after 2000 following the birth of Amy and Thomas' son and the identity of Sabrina's Internet romance revealed. But the comic remained popular. In Second Life, one fan named Cindi Babii took on the identity of Zig Zag and created a virtual version of "ZZ Studios."

Sabrina Online would update regularly for 20 years. Then on it's twentith anniversary in 2016, Scwartz announced the story was concluding. But he would start the strip again the following year with a new story, "Baby Steps." The newly-married Sabrina is now pregnant, and not unlike Amy near the start of the first strip has a new set of challenges.

Sabrina Online updates once a month, with several strips uploading at once. Due to it's mature content, it rates a PG-13.


Comic page : http://www.sabrina-online.com/thismonth.html

Story start : http://www.sabrina-online.com/1996-01.html


General Protection Fault

Drawn by Jeff Darlington, this is the story of a group of computer geeks. The name comes from the name of the small Internet business they work at, which is also a term for a computer problem you don't want to have. The main character, Nick, is in the words of the artist, "a relatively short, quiet, and, well... nerdy kind of guy with quite an imagination." Ki is the "girl geek" of the group and the company's programmer, whom has a crush on Nick. Fooker is the weird guy, the one whom never quite grew up and has hygiene problems and a seeming aversion to long pants. Dwayne is the owner and boss of the company, whom is usually friendly and reasonable. Trudy, the marketing director, is seemingly just a cute and happy woman at first, but a darker and more malicious and scheming side of her soon appears. Fred isn't human, but a sapient slime mold that lives with Fooker, seemingly having evolved in the squalor and garbage of his apartment, and helps pay the rent in return. Dexter is an overweight fanboy who loves all things sci-fi whom would be more popular if he wasn't so annoying.

For most of the comic's history, it would have the characters go about life at the workplace and on computers doing things like coding and other things such as science-fiction conventions, enduring alien abductions, taking a ride on the time machine of Nick's uncle (destroyed at the end of the adventure), and more. There are also occasional dream sequences such as "Harry Barker and the Napier's Bones" that parody popular stories. Over time, Nick's skills go beyond programing and he starts building things that over time help set the stage for some adventures for the characters. However, over time they also attract the attention of secret agents, James Bondish villains, aliens, and a few characters not of this universe.

Three times in the course of the story are major plotlines that take months to resolve, "Surreptitious Machinations," "To Thyne Own Self," and "Scylla and Charybdis." Following the end of each, the characters have to deal with some big changes in their lives, the last one being the characters end up in space for an indefinite time period.

Over the course of the strip, the lighthearted and often silly fun at the start eventually made way for some more serious plotlines. But there's still plenty of chuckles and humor. There's been no outright profanity, no nudity, and while there's been a little violence, it's not much. Computer fans will enjoy the references and programing jokes.

General Protection Fault updates three strips a week, and rates a G, with occasional PG.

Main page : https://www.gpf-comics.com/

Story start : https://www.gpf-comics.com/archive/1998/11/02

These are just five of the many, many, online comics out there. So feel free to look for more. The Freefall comic site had a page of links to a number of them. It also had a page of comic directories. Among these is "The Belfry," which is a huge database of comics, some from the newspapers but most by unpaid artists, that is frequently updated and ranks them (CAUTION: some are very explicit).

Do any of you have favorite online comics? Feel free to make a comment in the comments below.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

How To Second Life : A Guide For Those Who Are New - Part Two


By Cyfir (Cyfiremmerich)

In part one of this guide, I focused on getting started and taking your first steps in Second Life. In this part, I’ll focus on more advanced features. Before that, though, reader Cynthia Farshore recommended the Caledon Oxbridge University which is an educational center for new and/or young Second Life residents. This place can be found here, Caledon Oxbridge (93/194/27).  Once you teleport there, just follow the numbered path and begin reading the signs. This place goes much more in depth than I could with a series of articles and is a valuable resource.

Now that you’re fairly familiar with the basics of Second Life, I’ll share some more advanced features you can take advantage of in Firestorm. First, assuming that you’re over the age of 18, you can choose to make more Adult locations visible in search (which we will touch on in a moment). Click ‘Avatar’ in the top left corner of Firestorm and then click ‘Preferences’ from the resulting drop down menu. In the general tab, where it says ‘I want to access content rated:’ you can change this to whatever you want. By default, adult locations are filtered out.

In the same General tab, you can also set up your ‘start location.’ You can set this to be the area you designated as your home (World/Set Home To Here) or your last location and you can check the box that says ‘Show on login’ which will automatically show you the location you set when you are first logging in. From this same tab, you can also set up how you want name tags to be displayed and what you want the browser to do when you are away. You may have noticed that my menu buttons are purple. You can set up different colors for your browser in the ‘Custom Colors’ tab.

You don’t have to touch the graphics tab. In fact, your browser should automatically set everything to what your computer can handle efficiently. However, I customized mine to show a little more detail just for the sake of having things look better. I used to get better performance with these settings when I was running Windows 7 with the same hardware. Now I’m lucky if I reach 60 FPS on Windows 10.


In the ‘Move and View’ tab, you’re going to want to click the checkbox that says ‘Disable camera constraints.’ Now hold Alt on your keyboard and click anywhere in the world while moving your mouse around. Check the box that also says ‘Allow the camera to move without constraints through prims’ and the box that says ‘Disable minimum camera zoom distance.’ You now are able to zoom all the way out and see everything there is to see. Holding Ctrl+Alt and clicking while dragging the mouse lets you pan around any fixed point.

In the privacy tab, click the ‘LookAt’ sub tab and if you don’t want others to see what you’re looking at, check ‘Don’t send my look at targets to others’ and ‘Don’t send any lookat targets at all, not even to myself’ for good measure. If you don’t want people to constantly see what you’re editing in world check ‘Don’t send my selection target hints.’

One of the most important tabs is the Backup tab. Click this tab and select the assets that you want to save and back them up. You never know when you may have to reinstall Firestorm only to find that all your settings are now wiped.

Now, to search for any person or place just simply type Ctrl+F to bring up ‘Firestorm Search.’ Here you’ll find different tabs to search for resident names (People), Groups, Places, Events, and Classified ads. This is one of the most valuable resources in Second Life and will help you find communities based on interests of yours. For instance, if you’re in to Star Trek, type Star Trek in the ‘Places’ search tab and you’ll be presented with a list of sims to choose from and teleport to to check out.

Before you go hopping around though, a word on trolls/griefers: Whatever you do, do not feed them. Do not give them a reaction. Do not talk to them. Do not even acknowledge their existence in your space. There are bad actors in Second Life who just want to have fun at the expense of others. If they are bothering you, click the region information in the top center portion of your Firestorm browser. This should bring up the ‘About Land’ menu which should tell you who owns the region. Inform them of the troll and move on with your day. If they are really bothering you, following you, making threats or anything of the sort. You can report them directly to Linden Lab. The easiest way to do this is to right click on their avatar, and click View Profile. At the bottom right corner of the profile window there should be a button with a gear on it. Click that and then click ‘Report’ from the resulting drop down menu. Now click Block in the bottom right hand corner of their same profile window. They should now be a harmless orange cloud.

In part 3, I will be focusing on land and setting up your first home. What else should I focus on in future installments? Sound off in the comments below!

Cyfir


Wednesday, March 11, 2020

How To Second Life : A Guide For Those Who Are New - Part One


By Cyfir

Counting my older account that I lost the password to, I’ve been in Second life for over eight years. In that time, I’ve learned from many people on how to use Second Life. I’ve done everything from a sim janitor (picking up spare objects that people have lost) to a sim co-owner. However, if there’s one major thing that I’ve learned it’s that there is a major learning curve and thus a sizable barrier to entry into Second Life. I’m hoping that this article will be useful to those who are thinking about joining Second Life, are new, or know someone that is thinking about joining. It’s really not that difficult to learn, and once you get it down, you will take it all for granted.

The first thing that you will obviously want to do is create an account. You will do this at http://www.secondlife.com Click on the ‘Sign Up’ or ‘Join Free’ button and from there you will enter in all your information, choose your username, and begin to choose your first base avatar. Don’t worry because there are near infinite possibilities on how you can customize this later.

Now here’s the important step. Do yourself a favor and skip the download of the official browser. You’ll want to download the third party client called Firestorm instead. It can be found here (https://www.firestormviewer.org). It is much more capable than the official browser and most people you will run into will be using it so they can help you better if you run into any issues.

Once you have Firestorm installed you can go ahead and launch it and enter in your new account information. Your new account’s avatar will likely be plopped in the middle of an info hub. I would recommend walking through this and reading all the signs to get acquainted with basic movements and such. The rest of this article assumes that you went through with that.

One of the main issues that I had when I first joined Second Life was that I didn’t know how to open items that I received in my inventory. I don’t remember there being any infohubs telling me how to do so back then. When you receive an item, your inventory window should automatically pop up for you. To get back to the inventory menu, all you have to do is click on Avatar in the top left corner of Firestorm and then click Inventory from the drop-down. Alternatively, you can type CTRL and I at the same time to bring it up or clicking the button for it in the Toolbar down at the bottom (should look like a briefcase). From here, you can click on and drag the item to the ground or right click on and attach the item from the resulting drop down menu if it’s a hud that provides the object. However, don’t just go trying to drop items from your inventory anywhere. You need to go to a place where you have permissions or “rez rights.”

Usually, you can drop (“rez”) items at sandboxes. One sandbox that I would recommend to those who are new is Curious Sandbox (Curious 20/19/23). This also happens to be where you can find a free feline avatar called the Felis to get you started. Assuming that you’re a furry, this is a perfect starter avatar. To obtain the avatar, find the rotating box below where it says ‘Felis’ on the wall. This particular avatar is not boxed, making it easier for those who are new to wear, but if you did need to ‘unpack’ it, you would go to the sandbox area (the big empty space) and drag the box to the ground. Once you see the box appear on the ground, you would right click on the box and then click ‘Open’ from the resulting drop down menu. The items should then appear in your inventory in their own folder.

If you want to wear the contents of the folder, the easiest way is to take out any parts that you may not need such as alternative ears (pierced ears or none-pierced for instance) or male and female shapes depending on which gender you want to be. Then right click on the root of the folder (the very top of where the folder starts in your inventory where the name of the folder is) and then click ‘Replace Current Outfit’ from the resulting dropdown menu. To save this outfit, you’ll want to click on Avatar at the top right of the browser window and then click Appearance from the resulting dropdown menu. In the appearance window, click ‘Save As’ and name the outfit.

You may have noticed a sign when you arrived at the Curious Sandbox that tells you that you may not be able to enter the sandbox without payment info on file. One of the reasons why I chose this particular sandbox is because this is a perfect opportunity for you to become familiar with your Second Life account. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to have payment information on file. While you can enjoy Second Life for free, you’ll really want to buy Linden Dollars (the platform’s virtual currency) in order to buy things that you’ll need. This is especially true when you’re new because you’re going to have trouble finding a Second Life “job.” Most clubs and other places do not hire accounts under a certain age because they want to make sure that their staff know how to use Second Life. That will come in time and before long you may find that you no longer need to hand over real money to buy things in Second Life.

To add payment information, you’ll want to go back to secondlife.com. Once you log in to your account there, click on ‘Account’ in the left hand menu and then click on ‘Billing Information.’ From here, you can add a payment method (such as a debit or credit card or paypal account). You can buy Linden Dollar at any time by clicking the ‘Buy L$’ button near the top right of the Firestorm browser. Simply enter in the amount of ‘L$’ that you need and click ‘Buy Now’ but be careful because it takes a second for things to update as you type them since it has to calculate how much it will charge you for the L$. You don’t want to accidentally buy 50000000L and end up overdrawing your checking account! Now buy yourself a better avatar on the MarketPlace. You deserve it.

In Part 2 of this series, I will be focusing on some more basics of how to use Second Life as well as some more advanced features you can use. If by chance you have any suggestions for what to include in future installments, please feel free to comment or message me.

Cyfir 

Friday, January 31, 2020

Top Stories of The 2010s, Part Four


By Bixyl Shuftan

This is the fourth of our series of some of the top stories of the 2010s. For part one, Click Here. For part two, Click Here. For part three, Click Here.

The Content Creation Terms of Service Controversy


When content creators build things on Second Life, they allow Linden Lab a certain amount of control over their goods. Some is necessary as glitches on the Grid can easily mess up products and it takes the Lab to be able to manipulate the content to be able to fix it. There's also that when trying to market Second Life, the Lab will use pictures of the content others have made (as do online newsletters covering the virtual world). And for years, of people's creations inworld, the Lab had "rights to use it in Second Life and not much more," which practically everyone thought was reasonable, if not desirable.

Then in September 2013, word began going around about a certain change in Second Life's Terms of Service.

[..]you agree to grant to Linden Lab, the non-exclusive, unrestricted, unconditional, unlimited, worldwide, irrevocable, perpetual, and cost-free right and license to use, copy, record, distribute, reproduce, disclose, sell, re-sell, sublicense (through multiple levels), modify, display, publicly perform, transmit, publish, broadcast, translate, make derivative works of, and otherwise exploit in any manner whatsoever, all or any portion of your User Content (and derivative works thereof), for any purpose whatsoever in all formats, on or through any media, software, formula, or medium now known or hereafter developed, and with any technology or devices now known or hereafter developed, and to advertise, market, and promote the same. You agree that the license includes the right to copy, analyze and use any of your Content as Linden Lab may deem necessary or desirable for purposes of debugging, testing, or providing support or development services in connection with the Service and future improvements to the Service.[..] 

To many, this looked like a power grab by Linden Lab, saying it reserved the right to take people's hard-made content and sell it without contacting the maker in any fashion. Some accused the Lab of acting out of greed. Others felt the Lab was unlikely to just up and sell people's intellectual property outside Second Life, but these poorly-written terms ought to be changed as soon as possible to stop the loss of confidence of content creators. Still others called it an act of stupidity, "Other companies manage to sell digital merchandise without making the artist surrender their rights to their creations - the only thing they actually own. If LL cannot accomplish the same thing, then not only do they forfeit the right to claim to be a visionary tech business, but they will forfeit the right to be in business at all." Aeonix Aeon (Will Burns) speculated this was likely a long-term "exit strategy" by the Lab for the day they no longer felt Second Life would be profitable, selling what they could of the users content after closing the Grid.  He compared it to the owners of a warehouse where publishers go to store their books claiming equal rights to the contents. The slogan "Your World, Your Imagination" he felt no longer accurately applied to Second Life.

The Lab's initial response was to issue a long and wordy statement, saying their intention was to "unify the existing terms of service for our various products into a single version." They would go on to say they respected the rights of content creators expressing their "regret that our intention in revising our Terms of Service to streamline our business may have been misconstrued by some as an attempt to appropriate Second Life residents’ original content." But there was no change in the terms of service.

People in and out of Second Life would respond in various ways. CGTextures, a website for 3D artists, would state it was no longer allowing it's content to be used for Second Life goods, "The new Second Life ToS is simply incompatible with our own Terms of Use." They stated they contacted Linden Lab, and got only "nameless, canned replies … Apparently they don't care about this problem, so we don't see how we can come to a solution." Bryn Oh and other exhibitors resigned from the Linden Endowments of the Arts' committee, "As it stands now I don't feel comfortable luring artists into creating content for Linden Labs who can pretty much do whatever they want with it."

Tuna Oddfellow and Shava Suntzu responded by closing down their Odd Ball performances in Second Life, "Dear Linden Lab -- it's been a nice eight years, but you just broke the social contract with me as a creator in Second Life BIG TIME." Shava expressed her fear that should Linden Lab go bankrupt, that the intellectual property of it's users, such as the builds and images used in the Odd Ball, would end up taken away by it's creditors. They would take their show to the second-largest virtual world, Inworldz, for a time. Qarl Fizz, the former Qarl Linden, announced in his blog that he had deleted his sim, citing Linden Lab's new Terms of Service in regards to content creators, "i can imagine nothing more despicable. truly, you have become the most craven of the internet low life. i can hardly imagine where you might go from here - nigerian scam spams to your users, perhaps?" I myself would comment between the Lab trying to shut down third-party Linden exchangers a few months before and now this move, it was continuing to erode the trust of it's customers.

One of the more important responses was the formation of the "United Content Creators of SL" group, led by Kylie Sabra (Kylie Angel Skyborne) on Sept 29. It would hold a legal discussion in mid-October. Among the things brought up was a seldom-mentioned part of the ToS change, that the Lab could sue a third party in someone's name and act as the person's attorney. Linden Lab's actions were called part of a trend in social median, a number of companies such as Facebook demanding more control of their users' content. While there was the possibility of taking the matter up with the FCC or a lawsuit, Kylie felt the latter was unlikely to succeed as in recent years California law, which Linden Lab fell under, had been more friendly to arbitration agreements. What was the most likely to succeed was a peaceful resolution with Linden Lab.

The UCCSL would send Linden Lab an open letter. Days later, someone from the Lab would respond. It declined their request for an open meeting, "We believe that it would be more fruitful to avoid further debate of the assertions made to date regarding the intent and effect of our updated Terms of Service." But they did say they were "currently reviewing what changes could be made that would resolve the concerns of Second Life content creators." Kylie was initially optimistic, but her later messages to Linden Lab would go unanswered. On January 30, she stated that she had concluded "Linden Lab has no intention of making any change to the Terms of Services." She would step down from the group in March, saying in her last statement the Lab had caused lasting damage with it's relationship with comment creators, "we will never again feel that we are partners in this endeavor with Linden Lab: We will never again trust so blindly as we once did."

But behind the scenes, Linden Lab was going through a change. In mid-January, The company's CEO Rod Humble left Linden Lab, no one outside the company knowing until he made a Facebook post about it days later. The Content Creator ToS Controversy would be one of the darker moments of the Lab under the tenure of CEO Rod Humble, and cloud his legacy.

The new CEO, Ebbe Altberg, would address the issue at the VWBPE conference in April, saying he was looking for a solution. Just as importantly if not more, he spoke more about the issue that hour than the company had in months, which gave residents concerned about the issue new hope. Finally in July 2014, after almost a year after the controversial change had been made, Linden Lab finally revised the wording of it's Terms of Service in regards to content creators. Some of the wording was iffy enough to make a few people hesitate to say the issue was finally over. But most were finally satisfied, and the controversy faded into Second Life history.

In an interview in October 2014, Ebbe Linden felt the main problem wasn't what the Lab intended for a Terms of Service update, but "the way it was rolled out." For the residents however, this was another big example of how by accident or design the Lab had a way of unnecessarily angering it's customers. While later Terms of Service changes would raise a few eyebrows, this would be the last time, at least in the 2010s, such a change created this level of outcry. Exactly why Linden Lab dragged it's feet on the issue for months can only be speculated on. Maybe they were feeling "ignore it and it will go away," or maybe they didn't truly realize what a mess they had on their hands. If so, Kylie Sabra and others are deserving of thanks for keeping the issue in the headlines for as long as they did.

The Rise and Fall of InWorldz

While Second Life may be the most successful virtual world, it hasn't been the only one. Early on, Second Life had some competition from "There." But it never did capture the media spotlight like Linden Lab's world, and shut down in March 2010. This meant that the alternative to Second Life were the various OpenSim worlds. By 2010, two were standing out from the rest, Avination and InWorldz. InWorldz was the more successful of the two. I took a look at it that year, but at the time I couldn't stay there more than a few minutes. Trying again a few months later, I was able to stay on and look around.

So what was InWorldz like? Someone compared it to like Second Life but with fewer bells and whistles and fewer people. The people making their virtual homes there, I had the impression many were attracted to the place as sims were cheaper than Second Life and/or they were fed up with Linden Lab. I imagine for some it was what they saw as a happy medium, smaller than Second Life, but larger than the other OpenSim worlds.

I would pay only a little attention to the place for a couple years afterwards, although did mention there were events going on there. Om January 2012, it would reach a total of fifty thousand users. In May 2013, the number had grown to 75,000. Many of these were probably Second Life residents who came over to get an occasional curious glance like myself. But as only just over a hundred were online at once, I was somewhat skeptical about the place as a source of news for a publication centered on Second Life.

Then came 2013, when Linden Lab made two controversial moves that upset many residents, the Third Party Currency Exchanger ban and the Content Creator Terms of Service controversy. With their way of buying Linden dollars now in jeopardy, some communities made up of residents outside the US began talking about moving to another grid. And when Linden Lab appeared to some to be saying, "anything you bring here is OURS to take and sell as we wish to anyone," some residents began feeling it was time to make a place for themselves elsewhere. And InWorldz would get a lot more attention from the residents of Second Life.

The first big name in Second Life to make the move was Tuna Oddfellow, whom closed the Odd Ball in Second Life and moved it to InWorldz. Their first event in October went without much trouble. In November, an InWorldz Connection Center run by Zia Larnia sprung up to help residents from the larger virtual world more at ease with transitioning over. When it suddenly closed a month later when Zia's partner up and left, Nydia Tungsten would open "The Grid Walkers Welcome Center" with her help. Nydia, along with a number of my friends in the Sunweaver/Angel community were getting increasingly uneasy with Linden Lab's blunders, and felt it was time to set up a "lifeboat" in InWorldz as a place to go to if the Lab shut Second Life down. On Saturday November 30, there would be an "InWorldz Discussion Group" chat to answer questions.

With more attention on InWorldz, I began finding out a few things. One was that Wingless furry avatars were available in one location. Luskwood would also give you a copy of an avatar you bought in Second Life to your InWorldz account if you requested. The Relay for Life was holding a second fundraiser season in the smaller virtual world. Club Fur would be duplicated in Inworldz in Oct 2013. The Podex virtual currency exchanger would offer it's services to InWorldz in Jan 2014. I would end up interviewing InWorldz founder Beth Reischl (known as Elenia Llewellyn inworld). Between this extra attention on InWorldz and the desire of some readers and writers to talk about gaming, there wound be a new SL Newser section: Other Grids and MMOs, later changed to Other Grids, MMOs, and Games. And over time, InWorldz numbers would grow to almost 90,000 in November 2013, and 100,000 on May 2014. When InWorldz had it's fifth anniversary celebrations in March 2014, it was those of an up and coming grid that looked like it had a bright future.

But things were about to change. In January 2014, Rod Humble stepped down as CEO, and in February Ebbe Altberg took his place. Linden Lab under Altberg became more talkative to people, and among the first things he announced was that the controversial changes in the Terms of Service in regards to content creators would be undone. And in July they were changed to the satisfaction of most.

With the reasons InWorldz was getting more attention now relaxed, residents in Second Life became less inclined to hop over. The Relay for Life would continue to hold events there. But overall attention fell. With Linden Lab announcing the development of their next-generation virtual world Sansar, perhaps attention that would have otherwise been paid to InWorldz by residents of Second Life was focusing there. The Newser itself would continue to pay a little attention to InWorldz, but not as much. The numbers of active users would go up and down some, then in Spring 2015 start a decline that would continue. The number of sims would spike in mid-2015, then start to decline. The decline in sim numbers was slower than the numbers of active users, though. Then InWorldz found itself facing competition not just from Second Life, but another OpenSim world. Kitely grew rapidly in just a few years to become about half InWorldz size in the number of registered users. By 2015, the two grids were about equal, and in 2017 Kitely had become the largest of the OpenSim grids. Another grid, Avination, which was a competitor for the largest OpenSpace world in their early days, was the target of theft by criminals, and then hit by a "catastrophic" data failure that led to it going under in 2017.

InWorldz itself began making some moves that raised more than a few questions. This had begun early on when in August 2013 their General Discussion forums were closed, citing an increased activity of trolling and hateful posts that was taking time and effort to moderate them away from their activities in keeping up the grid. In April 2017, they announced they would no longer publish their statistics of how many regions or active users they had. And to a number, this was a signal the grid was in decline, and the owner wasn't sure how to stop it other than hide it. Reischl was distancing InWorldz from other OpenSim worlds, insisting it wasn't really one, "InWorldz has moved on from Opensim a long time ago," and seemed to be saying she was no longer publicizing the statistics because of an "us vs them" attitude there.

In January 2018, Hypergrid Business published an article saying merchants in InWorldz were becoming concerned about the grid's future. "...we have seen a drastic decline in sales and residents," one merchant told Hypergrid, requesting anonymity saying he was concerned about possibly being banned. An "InWorldz Chamber of Commerce" had been set up in fall 2016 "To help promote in-world commercial activity, and to collectively advocate on behalf of their interests." But their director expressed disappointment in her meetings with Reischl, Hypergrid reporting, "She said it was not her job to keep merchants or residents in InWorldz." The article also stated, "Residents have also complained on social media that the founders haven’t been paying attention to their concerns. Of the top managers, owner Reischl moved to Panama and founder and CTO David Daeschler has mostly moved on to other projects." Another resident commented that early on, "one of the best things about IW was the fact that it was so easy to talk to the founders on the forum and they actually listened to us and gave us feedback it made IW feel like a community." But now it was looking more and more like how she saw Second Life at the time she joined InWorldz.

But there was no sign of serious trouble to most until Monday July 23 when Beth Reischl announced the grid was facing shutdown in a few days. At the same time, she set up a Gofundme that was supposedly to save InWorldz. But after most of her goal amount was raised, she changed the objective to starting a new grid. This caused no shortage of confusion and feelings of anger. Zia would comment, "There are a lot of disabled people and older people who play here.  That sort of sudden 'get out' message is hard for someone not in great health to stay up for two days straight and download 8 years of their life." But there was also sadness as after almost a decade, the virtual world where so many hopes and dreams had been created was going away, and on Friday July 27, 2018 the lights finally went out.

Following InWorldz's closure, one of it's staff opened up a small OpenSim grid for former InWorldz residents. Other OS worlds would invite those displaced to go to theirs, and a number did, one example being Kitely Marketplace sales going up 300% in the days after the larger world's closing was announced. A number went back to Second Life. But others held out for Reischl's next world, Islandz. It would finally come online in November 2018. But it didn't last long. On Saturday January 26, Reischl announced that due to real life financial troubles she couldn't overcome, she would have to shut down Islandz, "I'm done with the metaverse. ... I have zero, zilch, zip, nada, just maxed out credit cards." Following a rash of confused and angry statments, the Islandz Discord server was taken down. Instead of a new beginning, it was a sad epilogue.

So what happened? Not being in Reischl's inner circle, one can only guess. It appears that the team she assembled early on was able to make and maintain a great grid. But as people left, the positions were either unfilled or someone not as good took over. With fewer people and less money coming in, she eventually had to borrow money to maintain it. Either the bill came due and she didn't have the money, or as she stated there was a failure to communicate with the people she borrowed it from.

As a resident of Second Life, I couldn't help but feel uneasy. The big thing was seeing the hopes and dreams of hundreds fade away. But deep down, I wondered if years from now I myself would be in their position as Linden Lab would make the decision to shut down Second Life. But our virtual world will likely be around for a long time to come. It is a small irony me and my friends got a few sims there a few years ago as we wondered if our virtual homes were at risk of being closed, and in the end it was the place we were interested in that closed down. As time has gone on, another Opensim Grid, the Great Canadian Grid, would end up being shut down. It would seem as clumsy as they can be at times, Linden Lab ended up creating the virtual world that endures year after year.

Bixyl Shuftan   

For Part Five, Click Here

Monday, January 27, 2020

Reader Submitted: My Story at Virsino


By Angel Fencer (Ender Leven)

So I have been an long-term visitor and player of the Game Greed which is  Virsino's main attraction, I can say its an fun place. The hosts there are very polite, although there customer service has been ignoring me. The experience was very confusing at first. But once I got the hang of it, it was very nice. Although the money winnable is nowhere near enough to fill up the hole needed to train for it, its still an amazing feeling to become forth, and it was fun beating my own highscore. Although I wish the system keeps track of that and that they share the pot over the four winners instead of one, it's still way better then most gambling places which are only luck based. I tried them, they're even more confusing and not as popular or social.

IRL vs Second Life gambling
                             
So I have only gambled once in real life, and I can tell you those machines are confusing. Although I did win 7 Euros, I quit after that. But I do have to say that winning an real-life jackpot is way more rewarding money wise, if you did not throw in to much money (i only thrown in 50 cents so its literally nothing in my eyes) and stop after winning the money. There is less danger in Second Life, although I still say watch out that you do not throw in too many Lindens. There, just know your limits.

The Final Answer:
                       
If you are just willing to pay and are willing to learn the game I recommend it, Although I also want to warn it is an very known fact that gambling is highly addictive and thus should be used with caution My rating is an 7/10 would recommend with moderation and low expectations money wise (smile).

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virsino%20Games/75/174/27

Angel Fencer

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Top Stories of the 2010s, Part Three


This is the third of our series of some of the top stories of the 2010s. For part one, Click Here. For part two, Click Here.

The Currency Exchanger Bans

Getting and/or selling Linden dollars used to be a lot more complicated than it is now, especially if you lived  outside the United States. Some residents living outside North America found the LindeX too difficult or impossible to use. For residents who couldn't buy or sell Linden dollars quickly or easily, or would rather deal with someone other than the Lab, a number of third-party virtual currency exchangers went into business to help and make a little money for themselves. Among these was Podex, owned by Jacek Shuftan, which was the Newser's first sponsor. Every month, we would run commercial adverts for them, notably the misadventures of a bungling burglar who kept trying to rob the place but always failing hilariously. The "Clumsy Cooper" adverts were ones I loved doing, and got readers chuckling.

But in early May 2013 came an unwelcome surprise. Linden Lab changed it's terms of service to ban the buying and selling of Linden dollars with anyone but the Lab. The results were protests by residents, some saying as they couldn't use the Lindex they would have to abandon their virtual homes. There was talk of entire communities up and moving to Opensim. Some exchangers shut down right away. Jacek remained open, trying to talk to Linden Lab. But the Lab would not listen to him and chose to suspend his account. Finally, the Lab did a partial reversal. The currency exchangers could reopen after getting permission as "authorized resellers," but would operate under tighter conditions. Most notably, they could only sell Linden dollars, not buy. Several were initially accepted. Podex and others would have to wait until early June to be back in business.

Exactly why the ban came to be was the subject of some debate. Many felt the Lab was acting out of greed, seeing the currency exchangers as making money that they felt belonged to them. Others felt something else was at work. A couple months earlier,  the US Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a statement on guidelines for the regulation of virtual currencies. While this was written with virtual currencies such as Bitcoin in mind, and Linden Lab called the Linden dollar a "virtual token" or a "limited license" that could be traded inworld, one commentator felt it could potentially apply to Second Life's currency as well. "FinCEN goes by the approach 'If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it is a duck,'" he stated, "And Linden Dollar sure does 'quack' like one. Linden dollar is a virtual currency because it has value in real currency (a buck will buy you about 270 linden bucks); and people buy good and services with it." So perhaps the Lab panicked and pulled the plug without thinking of the consequences.

All was well for two years. Then in June 2015, Linden Lab announced it was disbanding the Authorized Reseller Program, and the currency exchangers had until the end up July to conclude all business. The Lab stated, "we have expanded the payment options for Second Life users, and today, you can easily purchase L$ in more countries than ever before." Once again, there were protests, but not quite at the level of before. So despite the calls for Linden Lab to reconsider, including a petition with over a thousand signatures, Linden Lab this time would not relent.

And so the virtual currency exchangers closed, including Podex. And by November, their office in Second Life had faded away. Nothing else from them is known to be around, save for one of their machines at the Newser office left up as a momento. The Newser's first sponsor was gone, and the character from so many of it's adverts would end up in one more story, a piece of SL fiction, and no more. Final salutes to an old friend.

The 2016 Presidential Election

Covering politics can be tricky as you risk alienating half your audience. If your job is to inform the public instead of appealing to readers to favor one side, you have to put aside your personal prejudices. In Second Life, it's trickier in some ways as many people come here to briefly escape real life, but so do a few whom seem to be intractable political animals (with or without furry avatars). Politics can be one of the more annoying parts of life or virtual life to many. But it's something that can't be ignored either as the results can affect you personally.

I covered the previous two Presidential Elections. The 2008 Election between Barrack H. Obama and John McCain was overall polite and even tempered, for an election. The 2012 Election between Obama and Mitt Romney, not so much as supporters on both sides seemed more annoyed and irritated with one another. The 2016 Election was a strange one in that an outsider and political newcomer, Donald Trump, won the nomination for the Republicans. While unpolished and reckless, Trump was a master of social media and had a way of making the debate all about him. Hillary Clinton, the candidate for the Democrats, was intelligent, but awkward and aloof. With the increasing political divide, they were two of the most unpopular Presidential candidates in recent US election history, and it was among the most divisive elections as well.

Early on, there were a few small political builds. Then in March came larger ones, a Trump supporter named JP Laszlo built the Trump Manor, based off of Trump's manor in Florida. A supporter of Clinton's opponent for the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders, built the Sanders HQ. Later in May, another supporter would build "Feel the Bern."

In April, things heated up when some Trump supporters erected a huge wall in front of the Sanders HQ, making a few comparisons to the "War of the Jessie Wall" (NWN link) early in Second Life's history. Trump supporters called it a prank. Sanders supporters called it an "annoyance" that overshadowed a number of examples of griefing. The people I talked to told me they wanted level-headed dialouge, but there was no agreement on what the "rules of engagement" should be. With some trolls causing trouble at the Sanders HQ in the name of Trump, there were calls for Linden Lab to take action.

In early June, the Trump Manor would suddenly close it's doors, with plans to build a larger location, as did the Trump Wall. Ironically, a Clinton HQ would be set up on the very spot it had been.  Bay City would also get a Clinton HQ.

Then came some surprising news. Linden Lab had banned the leader of the Trump Organization, as well as several other member of it's group. Exactly why they were banned the Lab didn't say, though as a map view of their private sim showed a large black eagle, Hamlet Au compared it to a Nazi symbol. JP Laszlo would later come out as a supporter of Woodbury, an infamous group associated with griefing and trolling, which some Democrat supporters called further evidence their opponents were basically trolls.

After that, the political drama in Second Life slowed down. The remaining Trump supporters basically laid low, some creating a "Trump Pub" where they kept to themselves. Locations such as the Clinton HQ in Bay City would show broadcasts of the Presidential Debates to small audiences.

In real life news, the plurality of polls showed the two candidates were roughly even, with Clinton having a slight lead but small enough for a statistical tie. So many Democrats were cautiously optimistic and some Republicans were prepared for a loss. But Trump ended up winning the election, after a long nail-biter of an evening in which the results were not official until close to Midnight SL time. On my Facebook feed, about a third were in a celebratory mood. About a third were shocked and dismayed, wondering how this could have happened and some accusing the voters of "betrayal." About the only liberals with less than heated opinions were a few Sanders supporters whom were going "We told you so." It seemed only bout a third of my social medial contacts didn't say much of anything on the subject.

After the election results many of the political left were in shock and fear, some of those in Second Life going to "Safety Pin" support meetings. While the mood of those who supported the Republicans was more cheerful, some were less than enthusiastic. The Presidential Inauguration's largest celebration would take place not in an American sim, but London City.

The election didn't settle political matters as many of Trump's opponents grew increasingly bitter, the most visible example of this in Second Life being the artist group known as "Avatars Against Trump." Their artwork had one or two pictures that were funny, poking fun at the new President. But most were dark and humorless. Not all who supported him were satisfied either. One conservative podcaster would go on hiatus, saying political debate had become an echo chamber and he didn't feel like taking part in debate that had nothing new to discuss.

After that, the Newser didn't write much on political matters. This was partly due to a few complaints from readers. No one complained about bias. In fact we were praised for making an effort to cover both sides. But some grumbled that they came to Second Life to escape real-life matters such as politics, one comparing the Dems and Reps to two bands of shrieking monkeys throwing poo at one another. And with the election finished and the immediate results covered, it was time to move on.

Four years later, the country is facing another Presidential election. And now, the Newser has to decide how much to cover the "shrieking monkeys" once more.

Bixyl Shuftan