Thursday, December 29, 2011

MORPG Review: Rift

A few people have been asking me where I've been, and why I haven't put up a couple of articles for the Newser in recent times. The simple answer is that I haven't been in-world; I've been distracted by a game known as Rift... essentially "World of Warcraft" if WoW had respectable graphics.

Rift is a shameless WoW knockoff, but it's a good one. It's set in the world of Telara, and there are two factions, the Alliance and the Hor... I mean, the Guardians (chosen by the gods to go after evil) and the Defiant (relying on technology over "gods"). The two factions are at odds about how best to deal with a bunch of evil dragons that want essentially to eat the world. As of right now in the storyline, two of those dragons (Greenscale, dragon of Life, and Akylios, of Knowledge) have been taken out by players.

The classes are kind of the same, with skill "trees", only in this case, the more points you put into the "branches" of the tree, the more "root" skills are unlocked. There are a few differences from WoW in this regard; Rogues can tank (their tanking tree comes with a lot of shields and teleports both to and from the monsters) and mages can heal with a "Chloromancer" build.

Rift has a few things going that make it different from WoW. For one, it has its namesakes, the Rifts. These are mini events in which you "kill x amount of monsters" that are usually stronger than the norm. Rifts have multiple stages, with stronger and stronger beings appearing until the last of them drops and the rift is sealed. The other thing it has is its Artifact system, where during the course of your travels you can come across artifacts that make up "sets" and which you can turn in for a gold reward (and sometimes a costume piece, like the head of an iron golem you can use as a helmet). It also has "Chronicles", mini-dungeons/adventures that allow you to solo "high end" content (so instead of needing a 20 man raid to down Greenscale, you can do it alone or with one other person). Currently there are only two Chronicles, but I am sure there are going to be more.

Other than that it's the same as WoW. You go out questing, do dailies and holiday events, go on raids (the current end content, Hammerknell, has 11 bosses that take 10-15 minutes to down... each), get better gear. They just opened up a new continent for content, Ember Isle, with a tropical "jungle feel" to it for the Level 50s (the highest level you can be so far). I decided to play a Rogue, as I was looking for a Hunter build like my WoW days.

It's not without its faults. The aforementioned hunter only has three pets (tanking boar, dps wolf, and a mutant velociraptor called a blood raptor); there is a lot of groaning about how clerics seem to be underpowered, and one thing I have noticed is that the devs can't seem to get world events right. Their first (the opening of an instance called the River of Souls) was a disaster, and the ones following haven't been all that hot either, with a lot of unexpected bugs. Their PvP leaves much to be desired, as there's no scaling. You can be a "rank 2" (out of 8) PvPer, and routinely run into Rank 8s whom you can't put a dent into. When their newest expansion, Ember Isle, opened you had world bosses with 60-80 people fighting the boss trying to down it. The lag generated by so many people in one place means the boss despawns after two real-time hours before you finish killing it. The technology is advancing faster than most home computer users.

I've been playing since the beta that started in March. Having been kicked out of my WoW guild for stupid reasons, I was quitting cold turkey (a good decision; I found I didn't miss WoW at -all- after two years total of play). Rift's a good game that has a LOT of potential for improvement if they don't make stupid mistakes, so I'm giving it an optimistic 3 Dragon Hoards out of five, because it has room for improvement.

I've also been playing several other games and am pondering getting Skyrim, and I simply haven't been in Second Life all that much otherwise except to allow my Tiny Empires HUD to advance a few turns. So if you were looking for me, that's where I've been.

Now for an announcement. I've become a rather jaded equine reporter here on the Grid, it's very hard for me to find something I can get really excited about writing about. Twice already I've had to pass stuff back to Bixyl (the recent Meeroo story, for instance) because I couldn't get excited enough to write a piece on it.

With that in mind, for the 2012 year I want -you- out there to get me to do things. I'm a reporter, make me report things! :) If you can point me to something or have something to plug that I can get excited about, AND I give it a good review, it's $L in your pocket; I'm putting my $L where my mouth is. If I give something you bring to my attention 4 Dragon Hoards out of five, I'll pay you 500 $L. If I give it a full five out of five (harder than it looks), I'll pay 2000 $L out of my own pocket.

Xymbers Slade

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Have Yourself a Tiny Little Christmas

Remember the "Tiny Carollers" whom entertained the audience at the last show of the season of "the 1st Question" during technical difficulties? Well, their whole performance was too long for the article then. So here it is now.

~*~ O' Little Sim of Raglan Shire, Where Tinies come to Playyyy ~*~
~*~ To run and chitter endlessly and RiverDance all dayyyy ~*~
~*~ And in the Snow of Winterfest, Tinies are heard to Call.. ~*~
~*~ To Visitors of Biggie Height, Asked Why Are You So Tallllllll? ~*~

* ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ *

~*~ It's beginning to look alot like Wootmas! ~*~
~*~ All across the shire you go! ~*~
~*~ Take a look at the village chalet, ~*~
~*~ The snowmen and the sleigh, ~*~
~*~ With candy canes and tinsel all aglow! ~*~

~*~ Its beginning to look a lot like Wootmas! ~*~
~*~ Tinies in every store! ~*~
~*~ But the nommiest site to see ~*~
~*~ Is the waffles that will be ~*~
~*~ Inside your own front door. ~*~

~*~ A pair of bunny hop shoes and lazors that shoot ~*~
~*~ Is the wish of Copper and Reign! ~*~
~*~ Dolls that will talk and go for a walk ~*~
~*~ Is the hope of Jillan and Jane! ~*~
~*~ And Kayak and Toady can hardly wait ~*~
~*~ Till Raglan U opens agaaain! ~*~

~*~ Its beginning to look alot like Wootmas ~*~
~*~ All across the shire you go! ~*~
~*~ Theres a great tree name of Steve, ~*~
~*~ That all the tinies can see, ~*~
~*~ He's GINORMOUS, and doesnt mind the snow! ~*~

~*~ Its beginning to look alot like Wootmas! ~*~
~*~ Soon the bells will start! ~*~
~*~ And the thing that will make them ring, ~*~
~*~ When all the tinies sing, ~*~
~*~ Is right within your heart!!! ~*~

* ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ *

~*~ Hark the Tiny Critters Sing, Glory to the Waffle King! ~*~
~*~ Peace on the Grid & Syrup mild, Otters & Ferrets Reconciled! ~*~
~*~ Joyful with all your fur so slick, Raise up your Cookies on a stick! ~*~
~*~ And with upward paws proclaim, We shall RiverDance again! ~*~
~*~ Hark the Tiny Critters Sing, Glory to the Waffle Kinnnng ~*~

* ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ *

~*~ Jelly Beans, Hunks of Cheese, Sugar Frosted Ham. All Deep-fried, Toast on the Side with Wootberry Jam.. ~*~
~*~ Chocolate Cake all wrapped in Bacon, Nachos on a Stick! Come Along, Let's eat some Noms & Hope we don't get Sick... HEY!! ~*~
~*~ Nomming Treats & Sweets, from Our Raglan Shire Buffet, Fills our little tummies, with Food this Holiday! ~*~
~*~ Just singing 'bout it now, Make's our Hunger Rise! We can't wait to grab a Plate & Stack it real High.. Withhh.. ~*~
~*~ Jelly Beans, Hunks of Cheese, Sugar Frosted Ham. All Deep-fried, Toast on the Side with Wootberry Jam.. ~*~
~*~ Chocolate Cake all wrapped in Bacon, Nachos on a Stick! Come Along, Let's eat some Noms & Hope we don't get SICKKKKKKK! ~*~

~*~ Here we come A-waffling please feed us Breakfast Food! Here we come A-hungering so ~*~ Knives & Forks Come to Me, And a Warm Butter Patty, And please Serve us some Syrup & Chopped up Pecans Tooooo...~*~
~*~ And Please Sprinkle some Berries on them Toooo! Here we come A-waffling please Feed us Tasty Treats!~*~
~*~ Here we come A-chittering so give us something Sweet! Thanks to All for the Snax! Now we all can go Chillax!~*~
~*~And go about the things that we all Dooooo..... And Happy Holidays from All of Us to YOUUUUUUUUUU~*~

* ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ * ~*~ *

~*~ Sleigh bells ring! Are you listening? ~*~
~*~ In the shire, snow is glistening! ~*~
~*~ A wootiful sight, we're happy tonight, ~*~
~*~ Walking in a waffle wonderland! ~*~

~*~ Gone away is the blue bird ~*~
~*~ Here to stay is the new bird ~*~
~*~ He noms on chocolate ~*~
~*~ With bacon on a stick ~*~
~*~ Walking in a waffle wonderland! ~*~

~*~ In the shire we can build a snowman ~*~
~*~ Pretend that he's a chef from outta town ~*~
~*~ He'll say 'Want some waffle?' We'll say 'YEAH MAN!' ~*~
~*~ Then he'll pour the syrup while we chow! ~*~

~*~ Later on we'll conspire ~*~
~*~ As we riverdance in the shire ~*~
~*~ Tiny faces alight ~*~
~*~ With all the presents in sight ~*~
~*~ Walking in a waffle wonderland! ~*~

from the Tiny Crew of "the 1st Question"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Meanwhile Back in Azeroth: Holidays and Updates

Recently, the massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft made news with plan announced for the new expansion. In the meantime, the players have been going through holiday events from Azerothian versions of Halloween to Thanksgiving, plus the latest update in which they can take a trip to an amusement park island and finally face down the arch-villain of the current game.

October brought the “Brewfest” holiday, during which players sampled various brews and could help out by bringing fresh ale to the festival grounds and defend them against the jealous Dark Iron Dwarves. Later on was “Hallow’s End.” Previously, it was featured with the Horde’s burning of the Wickerman near the Undercity with the Alliance watching from their neaby town of Southshore, Horde stinkbomb pranks on Southshore and Alliance cleaning them up “with the power of pine,” and of course going from inn to inn for tricks or treats, which besides candy could get you a mask or a costume (there were hunters with bat pets ending up with bat costumes), or perhaps a trick and getting temporarily turned into a worm or black cat.

With the introduction of the Worgen and Southshore lost by the Alliance there were some changes to Hallow’s End, as well as additions. The Forsaken’s burning of the Wickerman was closer to the Undercity, just inside the walls of the ruins of Loredon. And the Gilneans held their own Wickerman burning just outside the gates of Stormwind. And both the Forsaken and Gilneians had witches to offer players the chance to drop stinkbombs on the other’s city, as well as offering quests to clean up the messes left by the other. There was also a quest to douse the fire on the opposing side’s Wickerman, though just venturing near would get you flagged for PvP combat. Needless to say, I only attempted this late at night when there were few opposition around.

There was also a special Hallow’s End questline. A man at a bar asks you to get a crate that was recently shipped over. Naturally it’s missing, and the character has to search for it. Along the way, you discover the crate is far from harmless. Once you find it, you have a choice, go ahead and give it to the man who hired you, or to someone else you met better prepared to handle it’s dangers?

And like before, there were the Headless Horseman quests. During Hallow’s End, his spirit terrorized several Horde and Alliance towns, setting them afire. Players have the task of teaming up to put them out and stop the specter. But to truly slay the Headless Horseman, one has to go to his grave in a Scarlet Monastery dungeon, draw him out, and smash his head. Among the possible drops by besting him, his spooky flying horse. And of course there was the treat or treating at inns, which got you candy and possible prizes, such as masks, and broom mounts that lasted until the end of the holiday.

In November was a dual event. The more notable part was the Thanksgiving holiday theme “Pilgrim’s Bounty." There were no changes from last year, so characters were still going from capital to capital with holiday foods to complete quests. The good part of this holiday, characters could advance their character’s cooking much more quickly than usual to expert levels. And the special stat bonuses from the food were a help in combat, that is, for those who took time away from the cooking to fight.

Also was the “WoW 7th Anniversary” Event. In previous anniversary events, the reward had been a special companion pet. Unfortunately for pet collectors, this was not the case this time. Instead, players got a packaged that when activated shot a firework in the air, and gave the player a temporary special tabard with “WoW” on it plus a 7% boost to experience and reputation gains. It was good for two weeks, ending on Dec. 3rd. While some liked the little bonus, others expressed disappointment there would be no lasting memento.

And after Pilgrim’s Bounty came to a close came Patch 4.3 for the game, also known as “Hour of Twilight.” It is here that the quests to defeat Deathwing, the main villain of the third expansion, finally arrive. This includes a special rouge’s quest line, which supposedly deals with a mid-ranked quest in the Badlands in which the player ends up with a dragons egg (note to any WoW player reading, you *did* keep that egg, didn’t you?) There are a number of others, eventually ending up with the players on the massive black dragon’s back to rip off his specially armored plates long enough for a superweapon to be fired at the weak spot.

But these quests are for the strongest characters. For those of all ranks, there is the new Darkmoon Faire. Before, the Faire was a traveling show that alternated between showing up near Goldshire or Thunderbluff every month. Now, the carnival workers have set up a portal that takes players to the new Darkmoon Faire Island. There, players can buy tokens to play games from ring toss to wack-a-gnall to target shooting in exchange for tickets. They can also take on daily quests (daily for as long as the faire lasts) to complete the games. There are also quests to help out some of the carnies, the rewards being tokens and five levels of experience for the profession involved in the quest. All six professions are involved, not just cooking and fishing. For yours truly trying to become an Illustrious Leatherworker, the Darkmoon quest linked to that provided a welcome shortcut.

The Faire first appeared in early December, up for a week. The Faire may be gone now, but it won’t be long for the Christmas holiday, Winter Veil.

For yours truly, as well as many other players, it’s been a year since playing the game in our new favorite characters, starting them when Cataclysm appeared and brought with it Worgen as playable. So far, I’ve gotten to Level 83, but wanting to experience lots of quests and work up my professions, plus get materials for the guild's larger bags, I still have yet to experience the new Cataclysm regions with my newer characters. Still having fun in the Sunweaver guild, set up by my Second Life friends on my home estate, and still having fun in Azeroth after all these years.

But not everyone who was playing World of Warcraft is sticking around. More on that later.

Picture Source: WoWHead

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, November 25, 2011

Meanwhie, Back in Azeroth: "The Mists of Pandaria"

World of Warcraft, the most popular of the Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games, has been in the news recently. A few days ago, it was for it’s Chuck Norris TV commercial. But before that, in October Blizzard announced their plans for the next expansion for their bestselling game: "The Mists of Pandaria.”

To begin with, a new PC race is introduced, the panda-like Pandaren. No this isn’t some “Kung Fu Panda” joke. Longtime players are probably familiar with the Pandaren Monk companions (most often seen in capital cities). As it turns out, they were originally created years ago as an April Fool’s gag. But the response was so popular, they were included in the Warcraft III game. Rumors of them soon to be introduced in World of Warcraft persisted for years, as well as rumors of complaints from China. But at Blizcon 2011 in October, the word was official.

The racial traits of Pandaren, at least according to current plans, include twice the stat benefits from foods, in addition to starting out with 15 points in the Cooking skill. Their rested experience will be twice as long as other players, and take 50% less damage when falling. The Pandaren’s background describes their homeland, Pandaria, as being secluded from the rest of Azeroth and its fighting. Beginning Pandaren PCs start out as among a group of explorers on the back of a giant turtle. The Pandaren are neither Horde or Alliance, but unaligned. After some time progressing, new Pandaren characters will need to choose which faction to support.

Pandaren were provided by Blizzard with an interesting background. Naturally, much of their in-game cultural background is based on that of China, with elements of Daoism and Tai-Chi used as inspiration. Much like the Tauren, they have a respect of Shamanism. Similar to the dwarves, they have a love of alcoholic beverages, brewmaking considered a revered tradition among them.

A new class of character is introduced as well: the Monk. They are available to all races except for the Worgen and Goblins. Monks have three specilizations: Brewmasters, which can take more damage, Mistweavers, which are healers, and Windwalkers, whom deal more melee damage. They can use staves and fist weapons, in addition to one handed maces, with Mistweavers being able to use off-hand items. They wear leather armor. They use a new resource bar, a Chi-bar, which is described as being similar to the Energy bar for Rogues.

The Talent system is being described as “entirely redone.” Talent trees are being replaced by being granted another specialization ability every few levels. Plus, every fifteen levels a talent point that can be spent on one of three talents. There will also be Challenge-Mode dungeons, requiring players to complete them in a certain time. There are also plans for Scenario battles, where players team up to accomplish a goal such as capturing or defending an area. Then there’s the “Pet Battle System,” which will do doubt get the attention of “Pokemon” fans. All those companion pets which are currently just for show will be able to fight and level, as well as able to be traded on the Auction House. As of now, Mists of Pandaria is planned to have nine new dungeons, and three new Raids. And players will be able to level up to Lvl 90, with adjustments to profession skills.

There is one change that will be a bit upsetting to some players. All classes are losing their secondary weapons, which means hunters lose their melee items (though will be able to shoot point-blank), and other clases lose their raged weapon slots, though warriors and rouges can throw their weapons, and casters can use wands in their main hand.

Blizzard got an enthusiastic response to news of the expansion at Blizcon. Since then, reactions have varied, as one can tell from the WoW forums. Joystik called the expansion an interesting move in new directions. They quoted game lead designer Dave Kosak, "What we're trying to do is find other ways to incorporate other playstyles into the game and give everybody something to do. ... We have this big, giant, incredible world -- what else can you do in it?"

But “Pandaren” and all its changes are about a year away most likely. Until then, WoWers still have some new content coming up, which we’ll be covering in our next article about World of Warcraft.

Images from Blizzard.
Other articles at PC World, Joystik, WoWWiki, ING

Bixyl Shuftan

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Images of Imagine Peacefest

IMAGINE PeaceFest was a respite from Occupy protests, where global solutions are envisioned, and Second Life's most fabulous talent converge in spirit of peace, love, and harmony. An eclectic melange of art, music, poetry, politics, and positive thinking, IMAGINE PeaceFest was a 3 day weekend, over 50 hours of events on dozens on Second Life regions.

Second Life's best and brightest and most talented, all turned out to bless us with their special human gifts. Donations went to READA, RAWA, and One Laptop per Child, important and under-reported small causes, where our Second Life contributions really do make a big difference.

Amazing Second Life immersive artist, Artistide Despres, stood alongside a huge hand peace symbol on New Caerleon region.

The IMAGINE MUSIC stage was set up by Gary Kohime and Pixels Sideways at New Caerleon for IMAGINE PeaceFest.

Bankers on the run!!!

Leading the parade of Occupy Movement protest marchers.

Famous photographic artist Gracie Kendal joined us at IMAGINE PeaceFest. Her new book 1000+ Avatars is in production. At the Peacefest, she declared that if you had your portrait taken for her first book, 1000 Avatars, your picture is definitely published there.

Epic artist, curator, and Second Life builder, Trill Zapatero comes out in her Occupy outfit for IMAGINE PeaceFest. Her RAWA and Afghanistan builds kicked off the festival, and on Sunday she hosts the RAWA BoHo Hobo Fashion Show of authentic and inspired traditional designs.

Photons of Imagine and Peace radiate from a large hand in peace symbol, sending a message of love towards the heavens.

The IMAGINE PeaceFest home page is at .

Any1 Gynoid

Article & images originally on CNN.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Four Years of Reporting

It was four years ago this month in which I started writing about the Grid as a Second Life reporter. It had been just weeks since my time as a newcomer had come to an end, having taken a greater interest in the virtual world, logging on more frequently, finding a hangout and making friends, and ditching the newbie ringtail in favor of the Lusk red foxboy. I wanted to learn more, so began searching the ‘net for websites related to Second Life. It was this search that led me to Second Life Newspaper, run by founder JamesT Juno and Editor Dana Vanmoer, and began reading it daily. I took pride in keeping up with real-life news, so felt keeping up with it here would only help.

In October 2007, I came across a notice calling for “Reader Submitted” articles and pictures. I responded by sending some amusing screenshots along with noteworthy personal accounts. It wasn’t long before James and Dana called me to their office for an interview, and offered me a job. Needless to say, it was an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I would do more than just read the news, I would take part in reporting it.

And the rest, as they say, is history. With my first payment, got a trenchcoat and hat to look the part of a “Fox Reporter,” standing out in the SL Newspaper staff. I continued to produce at least one article a week, along with at least one picture for a cartoon, which added a little humor to the paper. Although some writers specialize in one field, such as music, I preferred to cover a variety of topics, reporting on the various people, places, and events across Second Life. Sadly, real life caught up with James and Dana, and SL Newspaper closed. In response, Second Life Newser was created for most of the remaining staff to keep reporting on the news. But I now had a new role: editor.

Second Life has changed quite a bit since I began writing on it. Back then, it was still somewhat new, and it was being talked about warmly. In the BBC News website at the time, one reporter was describing his experiences of creating an avatar, getting past Help Island, and going about the Grid. Politicians such as Newt Gingrich appeared via an avatar to make a speech before residents. It even made network TV a few times, most notably in an episode of CSI that was a cooperation with Second Life. Viewers saw the police track down a killer in the virtual world, and on the grid residents got a chance to play a CSI game. Companies from Honda, to Circuit City, and most notably IBM appeared on the Grid.

As the years went by, Second Life didn’t make real-life news so much. It has gotten a little attention for veterans getting help there recently. But unfortunately people seem to know of it more through someone getting in trouble through a love affair on the Grid. Talking about it with real-life friends and co-workers, most have a hard time understanding what it is. One guy kept calling it a “porn site.” Another I talked to was interested only in it’s seedier aspects. People have been much more familiar with World of Warcraft, and especially Facebook.

My own personal experiences in Second Life have also changed over time. When first writing about the Grid, I had only recently found a couple hangouts and a group of friends. Over time, I’ve lived in a few estates, taken part in a few communities, become part of a combat RP, helping run a few virtual clubs, taken part in the Relay for Life, and gotten to know many friends and talented individuals. People like Pooky Amsterdam and Delinda Dyrssen have made a name for themselves showing what one can do with Second Life. Other talented individuals, such as Lomgren Smalls and Alleara Snoodle, prefer to work more quietly behind the scenes, such as at eh Relay for Life.

And of course there’s the people I’ve been writing with. I’ve had a number of interesting people I worked alongside with at SL Newspaper, some of whom I had the fortune of joining up with me at the Newser such as Gemma Cleanslate and Grey Lupindo. I’ve had a number of interesting people on the team along the way, and more recent arrivals such as Netera Landar and Xymbers Slade show there are still more people interested in writing about the Grid.

Writing about Second Life has been no small challenge, but it’s been an experience well worth it. And I’ll continue for as long as I can.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Xymber Slade's Horoscopes for November

It's been a while, I know. To celebrate the passing of Halloween I did a 5 card spread for each sign instead of a three-card like I normally do. Consider this one good for the rest of the year, and I'll post a ten-card for each sign at the end of January to be a "2012 incoming" spread.

Capricorn (12/22–1/19), Magician upside down, 3 of Swords, 3 of Cups, Wheel of Fortune, Queen of Pentacles upside down: Things screwed up, but they got screwed right back down. Many bullets were dodged and will continue to be dodged. Don't put any resources toward long term projects; nothing is stable right now and there's a saboteur in the works. Fortunately said saboteur is affected by the same unstable environment and will not be effective.

Aquarius (1/20–2/18), Death upside down, Ace of Swords upside down, King of Wands upside down, 4 of Swords upside down, Judgement: Cut ties to the previous chapters in your life. It's all dead weight for a variety of reasons. An older man in your way is too established and has his resources too defended/protected and has friends in high places; go around him rather than through him, or if you can't go through him, get away from him as much as you can. They will fall soon enough and you will be able to step in and clean up their messes, both political and material. But do not directly engage this older man.

Pisces (2/19-3/20), 6 of Pentacles, 10 of Cups upside down, 7 of Wands upside down, The World, 8 of Wands upside down: Lots of talk, talk, talk, and very little action that accomplishes anything. You're not doing anything wrong, simply keep trying and keep yourself out of the interference of those who are strutting around like they own the place (even if they do).

Aries (3/21–4/19): Ace of Cups, 7 of Cups, Death upside down, 4 of Wands upside down, 2 of Swords upside down: Take advantage now of all that you can and "test" all routes of potential before committing to one (and only one) particular road). Once you pick a road you cannot go back. Don't make plans from home; do them in social spots. Plan for between-a-rock-and-hard-place situations.

Taurus (4/20–5/20), Star upside down, Page of Wands upside down, Death upside down, 3 of Swords upside down , Hanged Man upside down: Simply put, don't push your luck in relationships or business. You're at a low point right now, best bet is to just run, hide, and retire until things thaw out in the spring of next year. All Stop, instead of Warp 9.

Gemini (5/21–6/21), 3 of Wands upside down, Death upside down, 6 of Cups, 8 of Swords upside down, Temperance: A trojan horse is about to go off but it's too late to stop it; people were lulled into monotony and blind to the obvious and now it's the snake's turn to strike. Patience rather than fighting back will be the name of the game here.

Cancer (6/22–7/22), 6 of Pentacles upside down, 8 of Wands upside down, Ace of Swords upside down, 8 of Cups, 2 of Swords: What seems like a profitable venture likely will not be (either through fine print or people not wanting what is being sold) so leave yourself an escape route before you're stuck between a rock and a hard place leaving you without resources.

Leo (7/23–8/22), 7 of Pentacles, 7 of Cups, Knight of Wands, The Lovers, 10 of Swords upside down: There is a LOT of good potential here, but that one person you seem to have a good connection with? There's a nasty flavor of betrayal behind them. Your new friends might not be so friendly, so don't let them lull you into a false sense of security.

Virgo (8/23–9/22), 10 of Swords, 10 of Wands upside down, Page of Wands upside down, 7 of Pentacles upside down, Page of Cups: You got set up. There was nothing you could do, so do not worry. This is an "it's not you it's them" series of events that drain your resources. Let them have their fun; karmic payback does exist and will be felt full force. Whether the trouble makers involved learn (or ignore) the lesson is another story.

Libra (9/23–10/22), 5 of Wands, 10 of Swords, Ace of Wands upside down, Justice upside down, The Moon: Secrets and gossip will have more of an impact than the petty fighting for position everyone is doing. The road currently traveled seems like a good one, but things have to be "unlearned" before they can be learned properly. Justified Karma is a bitch, so watch your actions no matter how minor they seem.

Scorpio (10/23–11/21), 7 of Pentacles, Justice upside down, Knight of Pentacles upside down, The Sun upside down, The Chariot: Resources spent now will bear fruit but that fruit will be coveted with everyone biting off a tiny bit off as "their little secret share." If not stopped, when the fruit gets big, the bitten-off chunks get just as big. The new year will start with a roller coaster of events, so be ready for them after a "cold snap."

Sagittarius (11/22–12/21), Tower upside down, Knight of Cups, 7 of Wands, Ace of Cups, Hermit upside down: A fall from grace and a collapse of whatever was held dear leads to better connections... a "knight in shining armor" pulls out a victory from nowhere (infurating those who set up the fall in the first place, setting the stage for petty revenge later on, so be careful) but only if it's done -quickly- after the fall. If there is a "complete" loss of things, don't give up and don't be intimidated by those in power.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Areo Park's Fifth Annual Halloween Trail

The Areo Pines Park area, usually known for horseback riding in the virtual countryside, has a different look for this Halloween season. For the fifth year in a row, it is offering it’s “Halloween Trail.”

The Halloween Trail takes full advantage of the ten sims of space, offering more than thirty exhibits. Some are a simple scare, such as a tribute to Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.” But there are also larger and take a little time to go through. There are several haunted houses & castles, plus a haunted prison, in addition to a crypt and corn maze. Besides looking at them, there are levels of interactivity, such as being able to dig in the dirt at the Hiltop cemetery. Some are exhibits from previous trails, but there are some new ones.

Upon arrival at certain places in the sim, one is offered a notecard with teleports to various attractions. One can use the LMs, or just tour around on the Trail. The places are best seen at sunset or Midnight.

Vampire Bat Lair Motorcycle (154, 99, 53)
Hilltop Cemetary, Equus (130, 88, 35)
Cannibal Island , Caledfwlch (117, 68, 28)
Ghost Pirates, Caledfwlch (86, 69, 28)
Man-Eating Plants, Horse Ranch (94, 73, 22)
Bilavio Haunted Manor, Horse Ranch (57, 115, 23)
Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds", Horse Ranch (129, 241, 23)
Seaside Haunted House, Seaplane (178, 64, 23)
Thriller Back Alley, Motorcycle (26, 172, 22)
Haunted Castle & Crypt Maze, Firehouse (43, 52, 31)
Witches Camp, Horse (28, 129, 32)
Hilltop Crematorium, Horse (136, 143, 74)
Killer Bees, Aero Pines Park (21, 110, 24)
Haunted Prison, Aero Pines Park (32, 214, 23)
Bates Motel, Aero Pines Park (151, 19, 22)
Chop Shop (Bad Noobs Processing Center), Equus (103, 229, 22)
Corn Maze, Equus (34, 193, 22)
Guillotine, Horse (216, 23, 23)

Some places offer a small gift, like the “Thriller Back Alley” giving you a Thriller AO. The Hilltop Crematorium is near Roxies Roadhouse, where one can get a motorbike, or a balloon ride. At various locations, one can rez a broom to ride around.

Besides the exhibits on the Trail, there are also events:

Fri Oct 28 Halloween Costume Bash with Sandy "The Sandman" 6pm-10pmSLT
Equus (17, 203, 23)

Sat Oct 29 "Who ya Gonna Call?" It’s the GHOSTBUSTERS! Interactive Movie Adventure! It’s a 72 hour screening! - All Ghostbusters, Slimers, and Stay-Pufts Welcome!!!!

Sat Oct 29 5pm-7pm Halloween Costume Party
Equus (17, 203, 23)

Sun Oct 30 Ghostbusters! All Day & Night
Aero Pines Park (111, 3, 22)

Sun Oct 30 5pm-7pm Halloween Costume Party
Equus (17, 203, 23)

Mon Oct 31 Ghostbusters! All Day & Night
Aero Pines Park (111, 3, 22)

Mon Oct 31 Young Frankenstein 6pm 8pm & 10pm
Equus (17, 203, 23)

For questions, the notecard recommended contacting Cindy Bolero.

The Halloween Trail exhibits will remain up until November 6, for latecomers to the Halloween fun. But you don’t need to wait. The place is fantastic Halloween fun.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Basketball in Second Life: Changes at the VBA

Recently I came across some Internet chatter about the VBA, the organization of basketball teams in Second Life I wrote about last spring. Deciding to hear from the source, I send a notecard their way, and got a message from their co-founder Emerald Ishtari invited me to talk with her about what happened in the past few months.

Emerald greeted me upon my arrival at the VBA’s Alpha Cold sim, and offered me a tour around. She pointed out the Recruitment Center. Asking her how things had been with the VBA, Emerald answered, “As with any business especially one as new to the grid as basketball, we have had our ups and downs.” One major change was the introduction of the Womens’ Virtual Basketball Association, or WVBA. But the results were less than ideal, “The response has been mixed. Women get excited to play then get apprehensive. So it has been up and down.”

She then ported to the Arena, sending me a TP after her, “This is the Alpha Cold Arena.” In their original one, there was a mall, so they “kept the concept” by having some stores around, “Game of the Week and special games, i.e. playoffs and finals, are played here.” To let fans know of upcoming games, people could cick on a “Subscribe-o-matic.”

Emerald told me they try to keep a family friendly environment, though she admitted there had been problems, “As with real-life, we have had to exercise the right to eject, as have team owners. Second Life has it’s share of ‘misbehaving’ people, and that ranges from blatant rudeness, to not abiding with league standards such as lowering their arc or turning off their mic..”

She showed me another court. Asked if it was a practice court, Emerald told me,”his court is used for (both) practice and games. Players are welcomed to come here anytime, as long as there isn't a game going.” She grinned, “some fall asleep here practicing.”

“This particular court is exclusive to the VBA. It is linked to our website and records stats of official games. It was a major project to get it just right, and I am happy it has come to fruition. The scripting had to be just right to record realistic stats. Not only team stats, but those of individual players as well. (smile) As a matter of fact anyone just wanting to try out the court can come here. It is open to anyone. Even a fox can play (grin), as long as they are the right height.” Emerald went on to say, “... the court forces the player to be the right height. ... we used the general range of real-life basketball pros.” The range was three inches.

At this point, we were joined by one of the VBA players, Valentino Fallen. Emerald introduced him, “Valentino is one of the players that comes here to practice at times.” Valentino explained, “Been with the league for a little bit, I was a member with the Bulls.” After a little talk, he went to the court, pressed a button, and the scoreboard announced, “Valentino Fallen has joined the H-O-R-S-E game.” Emerald told me it was a kind game on the court, “e spells out H-O-R-S-E to complete the game. Each made shot equates a letter. It is a great one person game. It’s also great for just horsing around, thus the name. (giggle)”

Emerald and I then headed to the Executive building. She showed me a special fountain that had been set up, “For Sept 11th, we put up a memorial reflecting fountain ... the Pentagon, World Trade Center, and the flag erected by the soldiers/firefighters.” She added it was just “a small gathering” whom where there for it’s unveiling, feeling perhaps more would be there next year.

We headed into the Executive building’s main lobby, where the VBA championship trophy sat. The season was still going, delayed somewhat by Hurricane Irene, “some of our players were affected, so teams had to regroup. We had to reschedule approximately 10 games.” The playoffs most likely would be in November.

I asked a few more questions. Of the occasional female av with a male behind it, and vice-versa, Emerald told me they were acceptable as long as the avatars fit their league’s gender. She went on to say there were some teams up for sale, both from the VBA and WVBA.

Of the funnier moments/sports bloopers at the basketball games, Emerald mentioned, “Pre-game at the last game a spectator rezzed in nude. She didn’t know, there were little boys here, and they chased her until she teleported out. (laughter) Rezzing issues are the biggest bloopers, or the person who fell asleep on mic in the stands with a high arc, and I "tucked them in" by sending them home. (laughter) I think some players sang a lullabye.”

Emerald did say there was one sad development at the VBA, “We had a major shift in league ownership. My dear friend/co-owner/co-founder for personal reasons has for all intents and purposes left Second Life. On July 31st he and I finalized turning sole ownership of the league and all holdings over to me. ... It has been quite exhausting. When you grow accustomed to working with someone and suddenly they are not there anymore in any capacity, it can be overwhelming. ... to go from having him there at times, to no times, that has been a very difficult pill to swallow. I appreciate everything he did when he was here, and still does on his guest appearances, and we all wish him the best.”

The VBA is based in the Alpha Cold sim. They also have a website at, with a Facebook page and Twitter account.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 3, 2011

Gemma Cleanslate Appears on 1st Question

Gemma Cleanslate has made a name for herself in Second Life's written media under Second Life Newser, and before that SL Newspaper. But yesterday, she got an appearance on Second Life television. She was invited to appear on Pookymedia's science game show "The 1st Question."

The show's webpage describe's the show as a "fast-paced, fact-based, fun (half) hour of science related merrymaking is the best quiz show on the web. Featuring audience participation, prizes, wit & wisdom. Pooky Amsterdam & Hydra Shaftoe make it all happen." With it's variety of science questions and trivia, it's been called "like having lunch with Albert Einstein." Three contestants answer various questions, some they try to beat one another to press the buzzer first. The highest score wins the show. Often, the show has a theme, such as all the contestents being musicians or in a certain brand of media. This Sunday, the theme was people from the Burn2 festival.

Reporters from SL Newspaper and Second Life Newser have appeared on the show before. Nazz Lane appeared a couple years ago on Sept 2009, and I appeared a few months before that in May, and more recently in July last year. Now this time, it was Gemma's turn. The two other contestants were DeAnn Dufaux, and DMom2K Darwin

The show had been planned to be at one of the Burn2 sims, but there were technical difficulties, and it was decided to move the show back to it's usual location in the Sci-Land sim of Spinthrift. Pooky's tiny friends performed some antics for the audience for a few minutes while she and Hydra got things ready for the show.

First was "Yay Me or Nay Me," in which the contestants were told of a supposed current science event in the news, and asked if it was true or false. Then came "Word-Up," where the contestants had to make up a word and it's definition, and then the audience would vote on which was best. Gemma's was "fishwhap," which she defined as "to slap someone with a fish instead of their hand." She told the audience that it was inspired by her time at the 7Seas Fishing matches. The other two contestants made up words of Second Life hijinxs. Gemma's word tied for first.

Gemma took an an early lead in the score. The others tried to catch up, but Gemma kept on the pressure. She won the match. Gemma was later awarded a prize by Pooky.

Pooky Amsterdam had a little sad news for the audience once the show was over. "The 1st Question" was switching from a weekly show to a monthly one for at least the rest of the year.

Sunday's show should be available for viewing in a few days, both on "the 1st Question" webpage and the archives.

And Gemma, you never told us what a nice voice you have.

*Addition* And here's the video:

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 23, 2011

Spooks & Spiderwebs

Halloween is an American phenomenon, well, I think it has roots in the past history of The world and if you don't believe it go search it. However in America it has become a holiday equal to the running of the bulls in Spain.

Sweetsister Silverstar and Saucy Loire have some spectacular and spooky décor for you at The Corner of Revolving Time. I took a tour of the outside gardens and encountered some wonderful items you really need to decorate your sims, all for free. There are skull trees, bare black trees with ghostly figures, graves, and other outdoor scenes. A cemetery fence and a wrought iron gazebo that could be used anytime.

I was happy to put into my warehouse of saved, maybe used sometimes, objects. Great pumpkins and cornfields make a wonderful autumn view for your sims. Make your way all around the garden and then go inside where you will find much more. I found a zombie cave where I could dance with the zombies.

If you are prim poor you will be able to pick up one prim textures to place around your home. Remember, these items are all FREE! Vickijo Rivera, the owner of the Corner has always made sure the holidays have lots of décor that will not cost you. I can't wait til Christmas! In the meantime get yourself over to The Corner and have a great shopping experience.

Gemma Cleanslate

Sunday, September 18, 2011

SL Poetry: Fall

Fall is a slow but beautiful death
The end of the bounty,
of growth.

With a last hurrah the trees triumphantly display all their colors;
flowers struggle to hang on to the last vestiges of sun and warmth,
but they too will wither and die.

Trees shed their leaves and stand barren in their wake.

We harvest and reap the product of the summer's hard labor
we reap what we sow...

Insects begin their desperate struggle to live,
creeping into homes, buzzing about frantically.

The sun wanes more and more each passing day
and its warmth diminishes.

School starts, traffic snarls;
With dreary resolution we dive back into the very humdrum aspects
of life.

Summer is gone...we prepare for the dead of winter.

Shellie Sands

Monday, September 12, 2011

Poetry: "I am a New Yorker"

I am a New Yorker
I do not live in the five boroughs or on the Island or Upstate
I may live hundreds or thousands of miles away
Or I may live just over the GW Bridge
But I am a New Yorker nonetheless

I am a New Yorker
Whatever took me out of New York:
Business, family or hating the cold
did not take New York out of me.
My accent may have faded and my pace may have slowed
But I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
I was raised on Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Rockefeller
The Yankees or the Mets
Jones Beach or Rye Beach or one of the beaches on the sound
I know that "THE END" means Montauk.
Because I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
When I go on vacation, I never look up
Skyscrapers are something I take for granted
The Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty are part of me
Taxis and noise and subways and "get outa heah" don't rattle me
Because I am a New Yorker

I am a New Yorker
I was raised on cultural diversity before it was politically correct
I eat Greek food and Italian food, Jewish and Middle Eastern food
and Chinese food
Because they are all American food to me.
I don't get mad when people speak other languages in my presence
Because my relatives got to this country via Ellis Island and chose
to stay
They were New Yorkers

I am a New Yorker
People who have never been to New York have misunderstood me
My friends and family work in the industries, professions and
businesses that benefit all Americans
My firefighters died trying to save New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers
They died trying to save Americans and non-Americans
Because they were New Yorkers.

I am a New Yorker
I feel the pain of my fellow New Yorkers
I mourn the loss of my beautiful city
I feel and dread that New York will never be the same
But then I remember:
I am a New Yorker

And New Yorkers have:

Tenacity, strength and courage way above the norm
Compassion and caring for our fellow citizens
Love and pride in our city, in our state, in our country
Intelligence, experience and education par excellence
Ability, dedication and energy above and beyond
Faith--no matter what religion we practice

Terrorists hit America in its heart
But America's heart still beats strong
Demolish the steel in our buildings, but it doesn't touch the
steel in our souls
Hit us in the pocketbook; but we'll parlay what we have left
into a fortune
End innocent lives leaving widows and orphans, but we'll take
care of them
Because they are New Yorkers

Wherever we live, whatever we do, whoever we are
There are New Yorkers in every state and every city of this nation
We will not abandon our city
We will not abandon our brothers and sisters
We will not abandon the beauty, creativity and diversity that
New York represents
Because we are New Yorkers
And we are proud to be New Yorkers

Trader Whiplash (trader1.whiplash): from 8-1-1979 to 9-11-2001 my work address was Four World Trade Center, NY. NY, 10048

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Omega Properties’ Owner Vanishes, Renters Lose Homes and Deposits

While at the Twas sim for the Meeroos article last week, I ran into a Paris Firelyte. We talked, and what was on his mind was more than virtual critters, but virtual land, “I rented property from a gentleman. He has a big organization called Omega Properties. Well on that sim, he kept all the boxes for all the properties he was managing or collecting tiers from. He just ups and leaves. No one has seen or heard from him. ... He just disappeared, took everyone’s cash.”

Paris told me the Omega building was still around, “which I don’t understand. ... The sim owners reclaimed my land, and gave me one hour to get my stuff. Apparently this man didn't pay for the sim preminum. ... Anyway, I don't understand how SL is still allowing his company to remain with the pay boxes still there.”

Paris took me to the building in question, in the sim named Omega Group Properties (29, 123, 22). The two-story structure had a number of boxes for different properties, listing the owner of the place as Chaos Ametza. People could pay one week at a time or pay ahead up to a year in advance, “I had land at Tycoon Island ... you can still pay, ut the entire sim has been reclaimed and has been moved. So Tycoon Island is non-existant.” He pointed at the boxes around him, “all these boxes, people had property with him.”

Paris had no idea how long Omega Properties had been around, “I was there for about a year and a half. Then he just disappeared without a trace supposedly?” He and others were getting their eviction notices last month in July, ”And after my land was reclaimed ... I kept getting notices saying that my property payment was past due. PFFFFT!! Whatever!” He pointed out one particular box, a lady whom had paid for a year in advance, “She only 27 wks left and that sim is gone. She had to buy another property. They reclaimed her sim too.” He looked around, “I just don't understand why this place is still here, makes me very angry.” I would later read the lady had lost nearly a quarter million Lindens, close to a thousand US dollars.

Paris told me what he did, “I went to every single board and sent notices to every person here, told them not to pay anymore cash to Chaos Ametza, is his name. They pretty much all listened to me. He owns Omega Group, but he does not own the sims. I found out the hard way. The Dreamland group took them over. I guess they were the owners, or at least they told me that.”

“(I) wish I knew his real name. I would hire a lawyer and sue him. ... I am not the sort of person who believes in suing, but I don't like to lie dead while people steal me blind either. And I am very angry with Second Life. They have not removed this place. All these people were wronged by him. Not right.”

Paris told me he had saved a conversation with the Dreamland group. He passed me that as well as a few notecards of responses from other reners plus conversations with Omega employees TIlly Putzo and Karla Preiss. Paris told me he had been initially upset with Tilly and Karla, but concluded, “No one knew what Chaos was doing. Tilly and Karla had land with him too. They got ripped too. ... They can't do anything with this building because he didn't give them any rights.”

An Internet search revealed Omega was listed on the Destinations Guide, as well as a Facebook Page. On the Second Life blogs, someone else had complained as well (Paris later added comments of his own).

I sent notecards out to several of the names mentioned by Paris. One tenant, Jonrad McCallen answered, sending over a conversation with his servant with Tilly, plus an announcement he sent to other residents on his sim of Paravaci Outrider

To Paravaci Outrider residents:

It is with a heavy heart that we find ourselves without our beloved Sim. Regardless of how it happened, news has reached me that the sim was going down anyway.

Short version: Omega Properties has not heard from Chaos ..apparently MIA..and Lindens Lab, has been shutting down each of the Sims owned by Omega Group..because the tiers have not been paid by him and they are reclaiming the lands.

At any rate. Please look over your tier payments..and if you still had days coming to you, I will personally reimburse you. Just give me an amount and I will forward payment to you.

My sincere apologies.

Jonrad McCallen

Victoria Chung also answered me, “It was as simple as Omega, its leader, left and did not pay his rent to Dreamland ACS so it was reclaimed. Then the lands was divided to each avatar estates and i am one of those. We just set them out for rent since it was abandoned and reclaimed. ... Sorry, but that is all I know.”

Doing an Internet search, Dreamland is a part of “Anshe Chung Studios.” To those residents not familiar, Anshe Chung (Ailin Graef in real life) is by far the biggest of Second Life’s land barons, the “Rockerfeller of Second Life.” In 2006, Anshe announced she had made a million dollars from land dealings in Second Life. In June 2009, the ACS had purchased the Outerland Estate. Another Internet search revealed a few more details of it on the “Second Life, A Second Chance” blog, plus some details this year on the “Adventures of the Chung Sisters.” Apparently they went after the Azure Islands Estates as well. There have also been some complaints about their service to longtime renters as well, as this blogpost from Kitty O'Toole shows.

That the biggest land baron would be involved here does raise some eyebrows. Why did Chaos Ametza rent the sims from ACS and then use those to rent out parcels instead of going directly to Lnden Lab? And with Chaos gone, why is that rental building still there?

And of course, what happened to Chaos? Was he somehow banned from the Grid by Linden Labs for some unknown reason? Or as Paris felt, did he “take the money and run?”

What is certain is that a number of people found themselves out of virtual house and home, and lost their deposits, some having paid big money.

“I paid $15,000 linden (almost $60) ... I learned my lesson. I only pay one week of teir (at a time) now.”

Sources: Second Life Newspaper, Linden Blog, Destination Guide, Second Life a Second Chance, Wikipedia, Kitiwitchin

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Meeroo Mess

In May, we took a look at the new hit breedable pet on the Second Life Grid: The Meeroos. Being more interactive, having more personality, and slower reproducing than previous breedables, it looked like the company behind them had a sure hit. Nothing it seemed could go wrong.

Unfortunately, trouble did come. The Meeroos blog stated that “since the beginning of July,” someone “had been committing a series of exploits with the Meeroos.” Then a counterfeit store was built in the Twas sim, which began selling fake food. It was traced to two day-old accounts whose names were variants of “Meeroos Resident, the asset manager of the Meeroos’ company staff. Besides depriving the company of Lindens, the phony food contained unknown scripts with unpredictable effects that could be fatal to the virtual critters.

Linden Labs soon stepped in to ban the griefers. Unfortunately, they blocked the wrong account. They blocked Meeroos Resident from the Grid, as well as shutting down the Twas Sim. The result was the company unable to sell food, and pet Meeroos going hungry. New world Notes described Meeroo owners as tweeting Linden Lab’s Rodvik Linden, pleading him to let them feed their pets.

Fortunately, unlike some other breedables, Meeroos do not starve to death. Instead they’re described as running away in search of food, able to be recalled by a “whistle of return.” So there apparently was no danger of pets being lost through lack of food. And eventually, the Meeroos Resident account was released, as was the Twas sim.

It's been quite a weekend here, for all of us at Malevay Studios and our wonderful community around Meeroos. We know this has been a challenging time that has been both frustrating and often discouraging, but I am pleased that we have weathered this storm and have arrived on the other side. Linden Lab and Malevay Studios have been working together to remove fraudulent content from the grid in order to restore confidence to Meeroo Parents. As always, you are our number one priority, and with Linden Lab we have taken the required steps to reduce the threats that have been plaguing us.

Second Life Newser contacted the Meeroo owners Grey interviewed, but they had since given up on raising pets. Dropping by the store in the Roo sim, residents were dropping by to get food and other goods. In once corner was a big pile of grain, as if to advertise there was now plenty of food. One lady told me she was getting her first Meeroo. Others, however, told me of troubles, “... all of mine and the stumps vanished and still are missing, I had 24. So now I have to buy a new stump and food. Gone, vanished. I’m so angry because I just bought a snowpaw. Now I have nothing and lost my $400 and Meeroo people have not found them yet! Now I’ve just ordered berries and again not delivered. This is the 4th time this week I did not get delivery as well.” He was filing reports to the Meeroo website at support. Apparently, this resident was still having some problems.

A few days after the Meeroo troubles, another virtual pet company, Petables, announced plans to eventually close it’s operation in the Second Life Grid. While their turtles will still be running for now, “At a future date when the turtles are no longer paying for their server costs and the tier for the store in Shark, we will give a week or two warning, and then shut them down completely.”

Petables went on to explain the reason for this was an exploit left unresolved, “There is an issue on Linden Lab's end that was reported in 2006 that Linden Lab has never addressed. This issue allows people to steal whatever they want from vendors, and there is nothing that we can do to stop it. ... We have done everything short of go to the Linden Lab office building and refuse to leave until they at least talk about this problem, and have been ignored or dismissed every single time. For us to see something that we have poured thousands of hours into treated like that by the platform provider is probably the most de-motivating thing that I have ever experienced.” They explained one person in particular had stolen “thousands of US dollars worth of product from us,” and could no longer deal with Linden Lab’s refusal to solve the problem.

Second Life’s most popular pet remains on the grid, but another has given up due to the same kind of trouble that apparently the danger of will be around indefinitely.

Sources: New World Notes, Meeroos Blog, Petable's Blog,

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Xymber Slade's Fortunes for August

Aries (3/21 to 4/19): Wheel of Fortune (fate and chance), upside down 5 of Cups (crying over mountains made from molehills) and an upside down Knight of Wands (Right thing for the wrong reasons) --- don't bet that just because the "ends justify the means" that you'll be happier because of it. Don't take such a crap-shoot and go more solidly with tried-and-true methods; don't be a maverick.

Leo (7/23 to 8/22): 4 of Pentacles (Stubbornness), the Lovers (personal connections) and the Knight of Cups (Honest knight) --- There may be some relationship spats both in business and pleasure. Your personal strength and inability to give in may in fact be a hinderance here. At least people will be accepting once it is time to kiss and make up, though.

Sagittarius (11/22 to 12/21): 2 of Cups (Gift giving and friendship restoring), upside down World (things turned on its head) and an upside down 5 of Cups (not seeing the forest for the trees) ---Good intentions end up on the paved road to hell. Some things are too far gone to restore; the most important things are not too far gone. Keep that in mind.

Taurus (4/20 to 5/20): 9 of Cups upside down ("All that glitters..."), the 8 of Pentacles (hard work), and an upside down Ace of Pentacles (bad finances) --- people are going to attempt a hostile takeover; do not let them take credit for your good deeds or you'll never get out of the hole.

Virgo (8/23 to 9/22): The Sun (personal relationship opportunities), the Ace of Swords (Victory) and Justice (karma, destiny) --- Now's the time to ask people out, the window of personal relationships is not going to remain open this wide forever! And if they turn you down, it's a pretty sure sign they'll -never- want to connect.

Capricorn (12/22 to 1/19): Upside down 6 of Cups (boring routine), the 5 of Pentacles (big dreams with a lack of resources) and the King of Wands (Stability) --- If you ask someone with resources to aid you, you'll get that aid but be prepared to be in a "boring" situation for a long time as you dig yourself out of the hole.

Gemini (5/21 to 6/21): 2 of Swords (Black and white choice), an upside down Ace of Swords (growth in the wrong direction) and the upside down 10 of Wands (big burden) --- Double back on all major decisions this month. Just because all roads lead to Rome doesn't mean you have to pick the one with 24-hour construction covering it.

Libra (9/23 to 10/22): 6 of Pentacles (communications), upside down World (scrambled signals to those communications) and the upside down 5 of Wands (petty babbling) --- watch what you say, words have a stronger impact than normal and you might not realize to what out-of-context extremes people might take what you say.

Aquarius (1/20 to 2/18): Upside down King of Pentacles (Greedy man), upside down Knight of Pentacles (his lacky) and the Devil (danger) --- Danger comes in the form of someone who wants/knows too much and wants more. Don't get shaken up by the goons they send and hold your ground. They'll "go to hell" eventually...

Cancer (6/22 to 7/22): King of Cups (Stable man), upside down 8 of Swords (Lies, hiding the truth), the Queen of Cups (Stable woman) --- if there seems to be secret keeping between a relationship you know of between two other people, do NOT get in the middle of it! You don't need to be getting any of the lies on you.

Scorpio (10/23 to 11/21): Upside down Page of Swords (Not looking before one moves), upside down 10 of Cups (Disaster), and the upside down 3 of Swords (breakups) --- If you jump the gun and don't verify your facts before you act, you're going to REGRET IT. Make sure all the layers of lies and deceiving are lifted before exposing the heart of the matter!

Pisces (2/19 to 3/20): Upside down Page of Pentacles (Someone talking out of his butt), upside down 5 of Swords (lots of combat and squabbling), upside down 7 of Wands (Victories not worth holding) --- You might hold the moral high ground in an argument but the moral high ground in this case is potentially worthless; you're going to have to be ruthless instead of acting all worried about what other people think of your actions.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Biker Rally at ZZ Studios

A friend of mine had told me ZZ Studios, the exotic “blue movie” studio, was holding a biker rally on Sunday July 17th. It had originally been scheduled for Saturday, but after hearing about the Relay for Life walk moved the event up a day. The event was at 6PM Second Life time, just across the street from the Studio’s theater and social club in Falcon Valley.

So what’s a biker rally hosted by an adult media company like on the Grid? There were a few more women than the one’s I’ve seen in real life, sometimes with skimpier clothing, and there wasn’t any beer. But they had the essential element: motorcycles. Over a dozen motorbikes were parked in the lot. To get around the prim limit, two riders brought in a couple more bikes by staying mounted on them. And of course, Miss Cindy “Zig Zag” Babi, the infamous tigerstriped skunkgirl whom was the owner and main actress of ZZ Studios, was there.

Most of the bikes were made up from 28-39 prims, some looking fairly well designed. But there was one monster primhog, the GSXR88, taking up 239 prims. While well detailed, those on the Grid whom have had to deal with lag (and who hasn’t) might question the wisdom of using all those prims. Also, maybe it was a glitch of the Grid that particular day, but periodically the GSXR88 would vanish then gradually rezz prim by prim.

The DJ for the event was Husky Fang. And just what music gets played at a ZZ Studios biker rally? Most were pop hits one could expect at most any other party. They included, “The Reanimator,” “Numa Numa,” a Tron “Derezzed” remix, which got Cindy going, “Wow! I like this song,” and of course one skunk song, “Stamp on the Ground.” Also played was “I Can Only Imagine,” which I hadn’t heard in Second Life since a visit to a Christian club. And the DJ played one song just for one biker ...

On the day I was born, the nurses all gathered 'round

And they gazed in wide wonder, at the joy they had found

The head nurse spoke up, and she said leave this one alone

She could tell right away, that I was bad to the bone.

Bad to the bone!

Bad to the bone!




Bad to the bone!

They talked about the bikes and the music, but talk went to other things. Somehow food and deserts came up, and conversation turned to cheesecake. One of the girls sighed, “Cheesecake? Oh, I would make LOVE for cheesecake.” Some of the guys promptly began doing Internet research for cheesecake recipes.

Cindy Babi had a bike of her own in the rally, her “Super Sybian.” But at another point she rezzed something else, a kind of rideable jet. Readers may remember from her interview “never put Zig Zag in the cockpit,” so what would happen if she tried driving the thing? The jet launched, and quickly zipped around the office building. It quickly went past the beach, and into the water. But before the engine’s fire was flooded out, she got it out of the water, and ZOOOM!! It took off like a rocket. Within a couple seconds, the jet was out of view. Would Cindy end up being the first porn star in orbit? A minute later, she walked back to the bike rally. She had managed to get away before becoming an accidental astronaut without a suit.

It was soon time to judge the bikes. Third place went to Valen Greymoon, second to Krae Evanier, and first went to Polecatt Merryman, who owned the GSXR88. But the crowd wanted a little more, and Cindy agreed to a “Burnout” contest. Krae and Valen entered, along with “Bad to the Bone” Ronald Milev. One after another, the two biker babes and biker guy drove to the street, revved their engines, and sped down the road for a short stretch. Krae Evanier was declared the winner of the Burnout and 600 Lindens.

With the end of the contest, the bikers began going their separate ways. And this ended the bike rally at ZZ Studios.

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Behind Bronyville’s Fall

Bronyville was up for only a few scant months before it went down, and went down hard. All signs point to Bronyville (and its co-existing sim, Derpy) being lost forever with the removal of the original owners (Overbrain Unplugged and Twinkie Swizzle), the latter of which I did an interview with while things were finishing up being built. Krypton Radio is reporting at that both Overbrain and Twinkie were "ban evasion" alts of trolls/griefers, real troublemakers against Linden Lab.

I talked to a few people, and they seemed to be in agreement. In the eyes of Linden Lab, "once a griefer, always a griefer" --- meaning if these two straightened up and "went legit" on their ban-evasion accounts, they'd still get in trouble if caught no matter how many good deeds they did (such as building Bronyville, getting people interested in SL BECAUSE of Bronyville, etc).

Then I got wind that the Bronies were recovering at a new sim raised by donation money, known as Bronytown (the sim next to that, Everfree Forest, I am not sure of if that is part of the new Brony sims or not). I tracked down one of the bronies who offered an interview, and they had this to say:

[12:19] Xymbers Slade: Ok, so what can you tell me about the massive avalanche that went on with Bronyville? I've been hearing a lot of reports of different things, from an admin coup to an admin troll.

[12:20] Magenta Stars: Well, I think it was the troll. I had heard rumors, but never really made the connection myself. That Overbrain was a Troll ALT was surprising

[12:21] Magenta Stars: I've seen coups before, they're never so clean or quick as this was.

[12:21] Xymbers Slade: Did you lose a lot from Bronyville when it went down? I had a plot I'd just dumped a good 6 or 7 more weeks into when it went down.

[12:23] Magenta Stars whispers: I had a plot in Derpy that still had three weeks rent on it, and I was on the waiting list for a merchant stall. They told me I could open for business when the Arena was finished.

[12:24] Magenta Stars: Beautiful sim you have here.

[12:24] Xymbers Slade: Are you going to grab a stall or plot on the new sims? Do you think the same thing will happen, that trolls disguised as "good people" will wreck things?

[12:26] Magenta Stars: Yea! And will I worry? No. Even if i know the leaders are trolls elsewhere. Trolls don't bother me, being a furry in SL makes you have to grow a thick skin, lol.

[12:27] Xymbers Slade: Thicker than most, at any rate. Do you think this was the intention of the trolls... to build everything up and to get their "lulz" later on, knowing it would come crashing down?

[12:28] Magenta Stars: No. I don't, maybe they got some lulz out of it, maybe not. But you know they invested some significant cash into the two sims. I think it was the genuine article. Maybe I'm nieve, but I like to hope for the best =^.^= mews Happily =^.^=

[12:29] Xymbers Slade: I'd seen at the meeting where the sim was going to be named... between the bouts of noise spam from those outside, it looked like [Another Brony], who I thought was a driving force, was basically ostracized.

[12:30] Xymbers Slade: Any idea why?

[12:31] Magenta Stars: I'm not sure, by the time I came in, Bronyville was largely formed and Derpy was only weeks away. [Another Brony] seemed to me to be a quiet type. Hope he's doing well, I havent' heard from him since this all started.

[12:32] Xymbers Slade: I think that's all the questions I can think of... thanks for your perspective. I remember interviewing Twinkie for my first article on the Bronies... hard to believe that he (according to other sources) was a troll alt as well.

[12:33] Magenta Stars: Yea, he seemed pretty cool.

[12:33] Magenta Stars: and no problem. Bix told me you were doing a piece, so I thought I'd offer.

I'm expecting more troll attacks in the future. I know that much of /b/ had declared the Bronies "cancer" (they did tell them to go get their own board, which they did at and they like nothing more than trolling something as "innocent" as a kids show aimed at little girls. When something this popular rebounds this quickly in the face of the trolls, it just turns into too tempting a target. I didn't lose much from my little plot when Bronyville went down (other than a couple of no-copy freebie water jugs from years ago), but I'm not going to buy another plot for rebuilding my store... not until I see things are solid and stable and hopefully troll free. I'm sure Brony Town when finished will be a nice place to visit, but I'm not going to live there.

Xymbers Slade

Editor's note: Reading the Krypton article, I noticed the name connected to the alt "Overbrain Unpluged" was a familiar one: Intlibber Brautigan. Sorry to say the SLN veterans in Second Life Newser are all too acquainted with him.