Friday, December 15, 2017

My Last Article For SL Newser


By Wesley Regenbogen,

Dear readers and SL Newser staff,

I joined Second Life Newser in July 2014 after searching for a virtual newspaper to write for in Second Life.

My virtual journalism career started around the year 2000, when I was member of a virtual world called Cybertown.com ( it doesn’t exist anymore nowadays ). At the time I saw an ad where they were looking for writers at CVN ( Cybertown Virtual News ). I decided to send in an article that I wrote and I thought by myself “here goes nothing.” But after a while, the editor emailed me back that the article was good enough for publication. I must admit that I was a bit blown away by the fact that my article was accepted anyhow.

But in the year 2003, the Cybertown.com virtual world had new owners and they decided to make it a subscription based website. I decided to leave CVN and thus the virtual world of Cybertown.com. After that I wandered around the web in search of other virtual worlds like Cybertown.com, but I found none that gave me the same “feeling.” Until in November 2006, I saw a video about Second Life and decided to join in and created my account.

After a few years of learning the basics of Second Life, I found out that SL Newspaper, owned by James T. Juno, was looking for writers. I then made the decision to join his team and write articles for them. But I lost interest in Second Life a while after that and decided to leave Second Life for a while. I briefly came back in 2012, but I didn’t find any virtual newspaper again and I learned that SL Newspaper was no longer existing. 

In July 2014, I found out that SL Newser, owned by Bixyl Shuftan, was writing about Second Life. I decided to join them and I have been writing for them ever since, until now.

Today ( December 13 th, 2017 ) I wrote my goodbye article and I will move on. I hope this career switch will be a good one, we will see what happens.

I would like to thank the crew of SL Newser, and especially Bixyl Shuftan, for letting me part of their team and write with them. I sincerely greet you, the readers, for reading my articles and enjoying the things I have written about.

So, I say farewell to SL Newser and I hope that the virtual newspaper SL Newser will continue to grow and will expand in the near future.

Yours truly,

Wesley Regenbogen

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Reader Submitted: Mourning in Second Life

By Alura Messing
 
Death.  We can't escape it in our first lives or our second.  If you have been in any type of gaming community, you know how close an emotional bond you can build with people.  You talk to them almost everyday.  You hear about their families, their problems, and their successes.  You often know them better than most of their families do.  But once in awhile, you log in to get the news that something terrible has happened.  One of your friends has passed away.

In my years of gaming it has happened more than once.  One was very ill and just never came back.  I can only assume that they passed on and their family didn't know how, or felt no need to tell their gaming friends.  One was very young and died suddenly in a house fire with his mother.  I was lucky a real life friend was able to pass on the sad news.  Which brings me to my current gaming experience in Second Life.

I am part of a family here.  We all live on the same land and see each-other daily.  We go shopping together, attend special events the someone is in, and just talk about life.  I logged in the other day, to find out that one of my family had passed away.  Even as I write, we are still waiting to learn the cause.  He was young and no one saw this coming.  We were all devastated and needed to find a way to mourn.

I believe many people in Second Life are faced with this.  They don't know what to do, or how to honor the memory of someone they cared for.  For many years, the Lindens themselves hosted a memorial garden that you could go to and have the name of a resident who passed away added to.  Sadly in July of 2011 they stopped accepting names to add to the memorial, though you can still visit and see existing memorials.   

Residents now have to devise their own ways to memorialize their friends.  We can't rely on the Lindens to have a common in world place as a memorial.  Over the years I have see many ways that people have attempted to find their peace and remember the light and life of a lost soul.  In my early days I happened on a small shrine on the main grid.  It gave me a texture when I clicked it and lit a candle for a time.  On that texture, was the following poem.

     An Uncertain Memorial
     By: Calliandris Pendragon
     Beyond time and space
     I met a fellow traveller
     And we journeyed for awhile.
     Then, I lost sight of them.
     I cannot tell where they have gone,
     Wether they vanished back
     Into the throng of life,
     Or slipped across the threshold
     Into another world,
     Turning from time, to eternity.
     All I can say with certainty
     Is that there is a place in my heart ❤
     Into which that other fits
     Which is empty now.

A beautiful expression of coming to terms with the loss of someone close.


We don't always know how to express what is inside and some people simply place a picture in their profile with a few words about the person. Others, like Noel (Ixinoel) have building skills and build something in world to spread the memory of their lost friend.  Noel owner of Dust Bunny, built a Memorial Garden with her friend Amy's (Scarlet Chandrayaan) favorite things.  She gives it out for free to anyone who comes to her store.  In doing that, her memory is shared by many who display the item in their personal space.

But if you and others would like to gather someplace and take time to remember them in a more "Earthly" way, there is Living Memories Memorial Garden.  There you can dedicate a tree to your missing loved ones.  There is no cost to do so, but donations are welcomed to help cover the cost of the land.  It is a beautiful location that you can visit and and hold a memorial service on your own or with others.

We may not be able to just ignore the grief of losing someone in Second Life, but as you can see there are many ways to honor a memory.  Be sure to take a moment to visit the memorials to remember someone you might have lost here or to pay respects to the others who have come and gone that you may not know.  We each contribute to this wonderful verse and when even one of us passes away it is a loss to the community.  Safe and healthy paths to each of you.


Shrine of Remembrance, Linden Memorial Park (146, 88, 7)
Living Memories Memorial Garden, The Sardar (6, 101, 21)
Dust Bunny New Mainstore!, Dust Bunny (118, 200, 16)

Alura Messing

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Faces (That We See)


By Gemma Cleanslate


Thought provoking is what I would call the exhibit in Lea23. Ilyra Chardin (Ilyra Chardin) in collaboration, with friends has created a project named “Faces.” It involves you, and me. 



The entrance room has pictures and poems and comments about people and life , in real life and in Second Life , from people we know or have read about. We are all people behind an avatar. Some we come to know well because they want to let the two worlds meld, others do not so we know them as Second Life residents only. The portraits reflect the varied choices we make as a persona in the virtual world. The words on the wall remind us of the connection between our persona and the real person behind the face. Read it all well. The information in the slide show of a survey from 2015 is part of the basis for what is going on here I would suggest.  




Every visitor is invited to join in a writing contest . Look on the posts for information and rules. After checking out everything out in the anteroom walk through a door of your choice and begin your journey in creating your story . The information pack in the anteroom that you pick up will help you . Choose the scenario you like best as a basis for your story and begin to create. A map in each folder will guide you to the sites that offer options for thought.

Or, just go visit and explore the venues that are out there. I  took a tour of all the venues and your choices are many. You might approach the venue from one angle or another and come up with a completely different thought about what you wish to do. In one of the folders there is an interesting insight into Trolls. I found it really so interesting just looking at all the various sites that Ilyra has created.


I loved all the sites and saw so many options. It will be so interesting to see the stories that develop. There is much to think about in this installation. Just visiting each site caused me to come up with several possible stories of characters I know here or in real life.

As an example of this is from the folder at the hospital, “Did you know that 81% of those surveyed reported that someone close to them was in the hospital in real life during their time on Second Life?  Fifty-one percent reported that they were in the hospital at least once during their time on Second Life.  Eleven percent reported that they had a child during their time on Second Life.  84% reported a death of someone close to them during their time on Second Life.”  I have had both experiences. 



I am not sure if I will have time to write for the contest but am thinking about it. I have to get going on Christmas and winter places for you to explore! Visit and explore the region and the many environments created for you.

Gemma Cleanslate
  

Monday, November 20, 2017

Reader Submitted: How to Broadcast from Anything


By Tantari Kim

To me, the whole point of DJing is to perform for an audience. For most of us, performing in front of a live audience is something that’s impossible or something we’re just not ready for yet. But finding audience online, especially on games like Second Life, is far easier. That’s what I do. It’s easy to get set up in a club or even in your home and invite some people over. They tend to be extremely tolerant of DJs who are just getting started and who make mistakes. And you might even make some pocket money from tips. But how do you get started doing it?

The first place to go is How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way. I have written this extensive guide on how to DJ from home using nothing free software. While it specifically addresses the challenges and opportunities of doing so in Second Life, these techniques can be adapted to many online games and services.

In my guide, How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way, I cover how to broadcast from the free and open source DJ software MIXXX to SHOUTcast. But what if you want to use a different piece of DJ software? Or you want to broadcast to something other than SHOUTcast? Read on!

While MIXXX is great and runs on almost everything, I’ve personally moved on to Virtual DJ 8. This is very powerful but expensive software ($300 for a full license or $19 a month). There is a great alternative. Virtual DJ offers a Home Free version. It allows you to do everything, including recording your own mixes, but has two big limitations. First, you can’t use any controllers with it, which is not a big deal for starting DJs. Controllers are expensive and you probably don’t have one. Secondly, and most importantly, you can’t broadcast to SHOUTcast. The same is true from the other two big commercial DJ software packages, Traktor and Serato. Don’t worry. We can fix this!
In this guide, we’ll cover how to broadcast from almost anything, specifically from Virtual DJ Home Free, to SHOUTcast. You can even record audio from programs that don't allow you to record. And we'll do it all with free software, so you don't have to pay anything.
-
What You'll Need

This guide is written with Windows in mind. Specifically, I use Windows 10, so this guide addresses that operating system. With some research, you can use this for other operating systems like older versions of Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The specifics of your particular operating system are up to you.

You'll also need:
  • DJ software - There are many choices available for this. If you're using MIXXX or something that supports SHOUTcast streaming directly, you don't need this guide. This is meant for software that doesn't stream like Traktor, Serato, etc. In particular, I am going to be using the Home Free version of Virtual DJ which is available here: https://www.virtualdj.com/download/ 
  • Virtual cable software - I use the VB-Audio Virtual Cable at https://www.vb-audio.com/Cable/ because it works for me and it is free to use (donationware).  It should work for all modern versions of Windows. If you use a different operating system, you will have to find something that works for you. 
  • BUTT - Broadcast Using This Tool. This software is free, open source, and works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You can get it at https://danielnoethen.de/ . 
  • SHOUTcast server – You'll need a SHOUTcast server of some kind. If you already rent one online or you have permission to use one at a club, that will work. If you want to set one up on your personal computer for testing, directions are in How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way. 
  • (Optional) Audacity - In this context, we will use it to record your live mix if your DJ software refuses to do it for you. You can also use it to trim your mix, encode it, and a million other things. It is free, open source, and works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. If you don't already have it, you should get it here: http://www.audacityteam.org/ . More information about how to use it is in How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way. 
-
How It Works

SHOUTcast consists of three main components, a Source (like MIXXX, Virtual DJ, etc), a Server (the SHOUTcast DNAS), and your Listeners. If you want more information, check out the main article, How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way.



All of the components we'll be looking at in this article take place inside the Source, which is your DJing computer. Your DJ software expects to connect to a sound card. When you open the configuration panel, it looks through the Windows sound driver list and finds all the sound output devices.
The virtual cable software installs two device drivers, one for a Windows sound card speaker output and one for a Windows sound card microphone input. Whatever is sent to the speaker output is copied byte for byte to the microphone. While you can only have one program sending data to the speaker output at a time, any number of programs can be listening to the microphone input simultaneously.

The software in your DJing computer will be configured like this:


In your DJing software (like Virtual DJ), you will need to set the output to be that virtual audio cable's speaker output. Then in the broadcast software and (optional) recording software, you set their input to the virtual audio cable's microphone input. The broadcast software will send the audio to the Server (SHOUTcast DNAS) while the recording software (Audacity) will dump your mix to a file.

Installation and Configuration

Install the virtual cable software using the instructions provided with it. If you are using VB-Audio Virtual Cable software, you can check to make sure it is installed by opening the Device Manager and expanding the “Audio inputs and outputs” section. You should see something like this. You are looking for the “Cable Input (VB-Audio Virtual Cable” and “Cable Output (VB-Audio Virtual Cable)” lines. If you see those, then you're ready to go!


Install BUTT following instructions on the website. Click the Settings button to open the settings.


In the Server Settings, click Add. Enter a name, then choose ShoutCast. Enter the data for your SHOUTcast server. When you're done, click Add. In the future, you'll be able to select this Server from the pulldown menu and click Edit. You can have as many as you want!


In the Stream Infos section, click Add. Enter a name, a description, and a genre. You can fill out the other fields if you want. When you're done, click Add. In the future, you'll be able to select this stream from the pulldown menu and click Edit. You can have as many as you want!


 At the top of the box, click the Audio tab. Here you will select your Audio Device to get the audio data from, as well as the sample rate and coding. Fill it out similarly to what I show below. You can also use BUTT to record your audio mix. I won't get into that here. I prefer to use a separate program to record because I generally like to record a much smaller amount of time than the entire broadcast session.


To start the stream, hit the Connect to Server button. It looks like a Play icon. To stop, hit the Disconnect from Server button. It looks like a little Stop icon. Hit the Play icon right now. When you're playing, you'll see the little UV meters moving show the volume of sound being pushed into it and the timer will count. It should look something like this below. For now, you won't see any lights because you aren't putting any sound into the cable just yet, but you will see the timer counting up.


 Finally, open your DJ software. Every one will look a little different. Consult your manual for details. In Virtual DJ, click the Options button (it is on the top of your screen and looks like a little gear), then click Audio on the left side. Configure it so the Headphones output goes to your regular speakers and your Master goes to the VB-Audio Virtual Cable. It should look something like this. Then hit Apply to save it.


Now load a track in your DJ software and start playing it. If everything is configured properly, you should see the UV meters in BUTT moving along with the music. Connect to the SHOUTcast server with listening software like VLC. You should hear your music, but delayed because of the streaming process. Congratulations! You're streaming!
-
Optionally, if you want to record your mix and your DJ software doesn't allow you, install Audacity. Use the pulldown next to the microphone to select Cable Output (VB-Audio Virtual Cable). Then you can click the Record button at any time to record your mix. You'll need to trim and export the audio after you're done. Consult How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way and the Audacity documentation ( http://www.audacityteam.org/help/documentation/ ) for more details.



Conclusion

Now you can broadcast from virtually any DJ or music program directly to SHOUTcast and record it. As long as you can configure the program to use the virtual audio cable device, you're good to go.

While I recommend starting with MIXXX for beginners, if you have outgrown it and want to move on to another piece of software, this is an excellent way to go. While I personally use Virtual DJ 8 and love it, Traktor and Serato are also excellent programs. I recommend you download the free trials of all of them and play with them to see which suits your personal style best before laying down your hard-earned cash.

If you use the free version of Virtual DJ for Home Users, this is a great way to get started with some great software. If you want to add a single controller, an excellent option for beginners is the Numark Mixtrack 3 for about $130, though I've seen it on sale for as low as $99. As of right now, if you hook it up, the Virtual DJ for Home Users will give you a free 30 day license to use your new controller. After that, the license for this controller is $100. If you get serious about DJing and want to make money at it, you should really buy the Pro Infinity for $300. It includes streaming, so you can finally get rid of your virtual audio cable and BUTT for good. I discourage you from using the Pro Monthly license for $19/month. Those add up quickly and before you know it, you already paid the $300 with nothing to show for it!

As of now, Traktor and Serato don't support SHOUTcast streaming at all, so using a virtual audio cable and BUTT is pretty much your only option.

I've had a lot of fun as a DJ and hope you do too. I look forward to hearing what you make!  I’m a very busy person, but if you do start DJing and post a recording, I’d love to check it out!  Find me on Second Life as Tantari Kim, Mixcloud at https://www.mixcloud.com/DJTantari or email me at tantari.kim (at) gmail.com.  If this guide helps you become a DJ, I'd be thrilled to hear about it.  Please let me know!

A great DJ plays the music you never knew you always loved.

--DJ Tantari

Monday, November 13, 2017

Commentary: Ten Years of Writing About Second Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

For most in Second Life, their big day is their rezzday. For me, I've had other milestones. There was when I first began logging onto the Grid on a regular basis, when I got my fox avatar, and most importantly, when I first became a journalist here, in November 2007.

My journey to Second Life actually started almost a year earlier. Although I'd been told about Second Life before, notably by an online friend who went by Kamilah Hauptman here, telling me how great the place was, that unlike an MMO one could build their own place and look how they wanted. But as I only had dial-up Internet at the time, I didn't think I could access the place. Finally in Dec 2006 I got high speed Internet and came here. Unfortunetly, Kamilah was suddenly unavailable due to new responsibilities. Going around, I found mostly just homes and ban lines, with no idea where the events were or how to find interesting places. There was no Destination Guide back then to look for them. So my visits became few and far between, spending more time in "World of Warcraft" with friends whom were available.

Things began to change in July 2007. Kamilah told me about the Relay for Life, and gave me the landmark for the Relay Track. Seeing many interesting builds, my interest in Second Life was rekindled, and I began to both learn more about how to go about and look around. I came across Luskwood, and began finding friends there. I soon ditched the starter ringtail for a red Luskwood Fox, and began looking over newsletters and blogs about the virtual world. The most interesting of these was "Second Life Newspaper," owned by JamesT Juno and edited by Dana Vanmoer. I found it more informative about what one could see and do in Second Life than certain other tablodish webpages. After reading it for a while, I saw a call for readers to send them stories and interesting pictures. So I sent in a few, feeling at least it would get me a little attention. It got me more than a little; James and Dana asked me in for an interview. During the chat, they were satisfied with what I could offer, and I was invited to join the team. With my first payment for a story, I bought an overcoat and a fedora, the classic reporter's garb. Combined with my avatar, it made for the "Fox Reporter" look that I continue to wear to this day as my everyday look.

I would write about all kinds of subjects in Second Life, it's people, places, and events. There were popular places and noted personalities, and there were out of the way locations that I found interesting and relatively unknown people whom had done things I felt were worthy of attention. There were many events, such as holiday celebrations, openings and the anniversaries of locations, the Second Life Birthday event, Burning Life, which was later changed to Burn2, the Relay for Life, and many more. There was the occasional personal experience that I found noteworthy. And there were the screenshot cartoons that I would send in every week. I was always able to find something noteworthy to write about every week, covering a little bit of everything, and was always finding scenes with potential humor. And we were a team, were I made friends such as Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Covadonga Writer, Shelly Sands, Nazz Lane, and many others. Eventually, I was giving the position of "Office Manager," which meant updating the paper when Dana couldn't.

Not everything went well. Sadly one of the first things I would write about in 2008 was the closing of my first hangout after Luskwood, the STA, and over the next few months many of my friends at the time would drop out of the Grid. Over time, I would be invited to be a part of other places and groups in Second Life, the Fortunas Club and Fortunas Estates, the Woodlin community (not to be confused with Woodland which had a different atmosphere) and the Star Tails club, the Foxworth community and the Blue Parrot Club (later known as the Bahama Beach Club or BBC). But all of these locations would eventually close and fade, with nothing left but screenshots and memories, and the treehouse I would take with me from Woodlin. It wasn't until Spring 2010 that I finally found a place that lasted, and became a part of the Sunweaver and Angels community, where I remain to this day.

By this time, my role in virtual journalism was about to change. In Fall 2009, JamesT Juno had to depart Second Life, and Dana Vanmoer wasn't able to give the time to the paper she once could. So she reluctantly made the decistion to close Second Life Newspaper. I along with the rest of the team was shocked and saddened. The newspaper had been such a big part of our experience in the virtual world, we couldn't imagine life here without it. So I talked with the others, and three others, Gemma, Grey, and Shelie, agreed to join me in the founding of a new paper that would take over from where James and Dana left off: The Second Life Newser. With the new paper starting up in June 2010, my role changed from being just one of the reporters to the editor and head of the publication. The Sunweaver/Angels offered us a place for the office at the start, and we soon had an inworld office. Under a new banner, we kept on covering the people, places, and events across the virtual world.

Over the past ten years, much has changed in Second Life. I came on when it was the darling of the tech media, considered "Internet 2.0," and mentioned in big media, including newspapers and TV news, even prime time TV shows. By the time the Newser took over from the old SLN, it was already fading from public view and the public was changing it's attention to other computer applications it could easier understand, such as Facebook. Many places here have come and gone. A few such as The Lost Gardens of Apollo have been lucky enough to be brought back by Linden Lab. Second Life's media has changed as well. Treet  TV used to do live programing across the Grid, viewable on inworld TV sets. Today, live programing is a rarity, reserved for a few special events. Shows like "Tonight Life" and "The 1st Question" that went on for a number of years are gone.

But while some things have been lost as time has gone on, there have also been some additions. Over time, new people have come to Second Life and made their own marks on the Grid. New places and builds have been constructed, giving those here new areas to explore. There's always something new here. One just needs to know where to find it.

Of "The Lab," as the residents call Linden Lab, the owners of Second Life, the love/hate relationship the residents have with them is still there. When I first came on there was some interaction with the residents. But after Linden Lab's founder Philip Rosedale/Philip Linden stepped down, they seemed to become more distant. Then with the appearance of the current CEO Ebbe Altberg/Ebbe Linden, there was more interaction again. But while the increased interaction helps, the view the residents have of The Lab is still mixed. They appreciate it's founders inventing Second Life, and the present company maintaining it. But at the same time they groan, sometimes curse at it for it's blunders. It seems the Lab puts developing new bells and whistles to getting rid of bugs and glitches. When it comes to banning people, there's a general feeling that the Lab has a way of being unable to stop a location from being repeatedly griefed by day-old alts made by the same owner, yet accounts that have lasted for years end up banned for trivial infractions. And then there is Sansar. While a few people here see promise in the "next generation virtual world" as it was originally called, at least some years from now, most residents see it as a waste of Linden Lab's time and their money, feeling all Sansar does for them is delay the amount of time bugs and glitches get fixed and raise their fees.

For myself, there have been ups and downs along the way. Old friends have stopped coming on, often when real life demands their full attention or otherwise makes it impossible to be here. This includes some hands at the Newser staff, of whom we've had to say goodbye to some talented writers such as DrFran Babcock. But new ones have continued to come in to bring in their own skill at reporting, such as Deaflegacy and Klaus Bereznyak. My home of the Sunweaver and Angels Estates has seen some changes, sims vanishing and appearing, clubs closing and opening, and people leaving and coming in. Club Zero Gravity for instance had to close it's doors for a time when finances forced it to, but recently reopened back and as good as ever. I myself have been helping Nydia Tungsten and Skylark Lefavre manage the community's beach club the Happy Vixen.

So what's ahead? Ten years ago, I had no real idea what my future was here beyond the next year or two. I never saw myself two and a half years later heading the publication that would replace the one my old employers had then. Despite Linden Lab's heavy handedness at times, it's a safe bet the Grid will still be around for a few more years, probably several more years, unless there's a major catastrophe such as a devastating earthquake in California that takes out the Lab and it's servers. I have expanded my writing beyond the virtual world, doing a blog about matters outside of Second LIfe, which I named "Food on the Table" on hopes it will eventually lead me to a writing job I can make a full time living on. I've also been writing a science-fiction novel on the side, the working title being "The Corsean Encounter." In the story, two humans end up on a pre-Industrial alien world, followed later by others with hostile intentions. If it does modestly well, I'll write more.

But I have no plans on stopping my reporting on Second Life, and the good this virtual world can do for people. As long as you keep reading, as long as I have a team by my side and as long as I'm able to, I'll keep on writing about the news here..

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Media Looks At Second Life: Ars Technica and Atlantic Monthly Write About The Grid


By Bixyl Shuftan

Second Life got no shortage of attention from both the tech media and mainstream media in it's golden age, when it was regularly featured in both online and real life technology publications, newspapers, real life TV news and science programs, and more. These days, not so much. So when larger media writes about the virtual world these days, it gets the attention of residents.

Ars Technica, an online publication about news and opinion articles about technology, published an article on October 23 by Samuel Axon. Axon had been in Second Life in earlier years "and found it to be more successful (and less ambitious) than its critics and commentators advertised." Wondering how it had changed, he recently came back. So what did Axon think of Second Life today? On one hand, he felt "the platform today enjoys a healthy community."

One example of this is the commerce the residents engage in, such as in breedable pets of which the rarest "still sell for thousands of US dollars." But the making of the goods has changed as technologies like mesh and Bento mean the "hobbyists and tinkerers have given way to more experienced professionals." And "the Amazonification of retail seems to have happened to Second Life" with shopping taking place less in inworld stores and more on Marketplace.

And it wasn't just traveling to stores that people were spending less time doing inworld, but exploring in general. Axon wrote, "as with the shopping experience, discovery and exploration are things some users are not all happy with right now." While there is some traveling to different places on the Grid, "most of the action really happens around events or on private property." The Destination Guide, Axon feels, doesn't get that much attention. He stated that this lack of exploring didn't necessarily mean "Second Life has become is any less interesting. It’s just more evidence that Second Life has evolved into something more specific and personalized. "

Axon also touched on the issue of sex, which he stated is "often one of the first things people think of when Second Life comes up." Although it still goes on he wrote, what he went on to say was a big contrast in the picture some in larger media give, "just as I was years ago, I’m convinced that framing it primarily as a cybersex emporium isn’t accurate. Anecdotally, it seems to me that the same or even a smaller segment of Second Life is dedicated to sex-related content when compared to what you’d find in the Internet at large. Second Life is, above all else, a gathering place for people with special interests. In some cases, that means Star Trek role-playing nights. In others, it means very specific fetish dungeons. Like the Internet, Second Life simply stands as an expression of the diversity of human experience."

Besides Ars Technica, another publication has taken an interest in Second Life. New World Notes recently reported that Atlantic Monthly (https://www.theatlantic.com/) would soon "feature an in-depth exploration of Second Life ... both online and in print." The article was written by Lesile Jamison. Hamlet Au talked to her, and she told him, "I found users generous and acute and incredibly thoughtful about why Second Life was meaningful to them," whatever the reason. She also found help when trying to learn about how to get around.

Hamlet was optimistic about Jamison's article, saying this "could be the most essential article on Second Life written in its roughly 15 year history." We'll soon find out, as the article should be published in mid-November

Sources: Ars Technica, New World Notes, lesliejamison.com/
Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 23, 2017

Barbie Alchemi on Creations For Parkinson's


By Wesley Regenbogen

About Barbie Alchemi

Barbie Alchemi is the founder of Creations Park. She created this place with the help of her family, and holds events there for Team Fox, for the Michael. J. Fox Foundation. Her real life father died with Parkinson’s and one year later her mother was diagnosed with the disease as well. Her brother introduced her to Second Life about eight years ago and her mother spend more and more time in Second Life and it improved her real life by doing so. They were all so amazed that Second Life had a so positive influence on her real life management of the disease that they felt that they needed to do something positive with their time on Second Life. Her mother is 90 years old in real life now and she is still active in Second Life today!

Interview

I met Barbie Alchemi in Creations Park. First I asked how she got into Second Life and how she created Creations Park. The answer to that question is in the introduction above. Next I asked how the raise money fo the foundation in Second Life. They started to raise money and awareness for Parkinson’s disease. Over the last eight years they raised 10 Million Lindens ( over 40,000 USD ). In addition to raising donations, they have held a weekly support group, which is open to anyone with Parkinson’s.

This year they created a Gotham Halloween Event, which is held the whole month of October 2017. They have 75 shops with fashions and home and garden decorations. Barbie told me, "You can explore our Haunted House, Cemetery and Asylum with wonderful details and surprises at every turn. We have a fun Amusement Park with Halloween themed rides and also a Lil' Pumpkin Park for families to bring their children"

They will have a fabulous line-up of DJs and live singers. They will have three performances of the "Misfit Dance and Performance Art Troupe" at 5pm Oct 21, 28 and 29. There is a raffle and auction. And we have a terrific HUNT with original gifts in every shop for only 10L each!

Then I asked how the donations are done for the foundation. She replied to me We believe it is very important for people in SL to know how their donations are handled. Our family covers all SL expenses. Team Fox has arranged to have LL to wire all donations and money raised directly to the Team Fox Headquarters. Visitors can donate at the cute Ghost Kiosks we have around the sim. And 50% - 100% of all shop sales are scripted to go to the official Team Fox Account.
"We are extremely proud to tell you that The Michael J Fox Foundation has the top rating from Charity Navigators. Team Fox gives 100% to The MJF Foundation. They have perhaps the lowest overhead of any major charity, at only 11% !!! Which means that 89% of Your donations are going into the most promising research. We are getting closer every day to a cure. And when that cure is found it will help lead to a cure for all other neurological diseases. “
Then I asked how she manages to create the sim and the decorations. She wanted to thank a few people for this, "This event could only be possible with our talented team who has worked so well together." She listed them as.
Rose Mikaelson (djroseathena)- Events for Parkinson's Coordinator
Nola Hellershanks- Events for Parkinson's Co-Coordinator
allιє pαrĸєr (swazeyrivers)- Event Music Coordinator
Miyushu Babii- Assistant Decorator
Ayesha - Solace Beach Estates (ayesha.lytton)- Amusement Park
Linden Labs- Region Sponsor
Then I asked her how she sees the future of the sim and the events she holds for the foundation. She told me, “ Gotham Island will be here for the month of October. Creations Park has been our permanent region for 6 years now. We will continue with the fabulous Shopping, Hunts, Music and on-going weekly fun activities which we all enjoy. Our Events for Parkinson's Team has some fun plans for another big event this Spring and more in the future!"
I thanked her for the interview and wished her luck with the sim and her events for the Michael J. Fox Foundation.
You can visit the place at this SLURL :
Check out this video :


Wesley Regenbogen

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

News and Commentary: "Fat Shaming" Publicity Stunt By Store Draws Protests, Traffic


By Bixyl Shuftan

Trolls have harassed stores throughout the history of Second Life. But it's not often when it's the store that does the trolling.

The "No Fat Chicks" meme has been around for some decades, both an insult to women of large size and a suggestion that the speaker is both shallow and insensitive. As it's usually men with juvenile streaks in their mentalities that use it, I was surprised to hear about a store that had a sign with the slogan, and an image of a black outline of a large woman with the international "not allowed" red slash sign. Beside the sign was another offering free "No Fat" shirts made for the store's (thin) female avatar.

Looking at the profile of the owner, I found this description:

Fat in your body! Fat in your a**! Fat in your boobs! Fat in your brain! Fat! Fat! Fat!.... OMG!!!!
STOP IT! PLEASE!
Remember that real beautiful girl Is the slender and graceful, and not looks as a fat pig!
Stop to be fat! Back to graceful!

Yours truly has seen a few female avatars in the past several years sporting what could be called a "Kardashian" look, large behinds and thighs. While there are ways to suggest the more extreme forms of this kind of look are less than realistic, this is hardly the way to do so and expect people to listen. On the Second Life Friends Facebook page and New World Notes, there were pictures and descriptions of protests of women avatars, both large and otherwise, at the store. While yours truly came at a time there weren't any, there was someone at the store who told me there had been, "Yesterday there was a protest here, it's a horrible shop. Today I came to see if there were people protesting."

But have the protests backfired? The presence of the women were certainly an increase in traffic, which does get noticed by the inworld Search function. So they may have inadvertently ended up drawing shoppers to the place. There was a sign at the store placed by the owner that appeared to be aimed at the protesters.

Thank you very much for promoting my brand, my store and my products! Before I was need to pay money for to raise a traffic, but you do it for free! Please continue your flash mob! Do not stop! I love you all!

So if one can look however they want to, why would these girls chose to be plump? Yours truly can think of a few reasons. Maybe they don't want to look like everyone else. Maybe they're plump in real life and see wearing a thin avatar as being less than honest. Maybe they're trying to avoid being IMed for sex repeatedly. In any event, it's their avatar, and with a few exceptions such as racial stereotypes, they can look however they want to.

And it's my impression most men would prefer a woman with a few extra pounds and a sweet disposition than a thin woman who's a rhymes-with-witch.



Image Credit: Fia Wycliffe

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bay City, "Hot Bay City Nights," And Other Events

By Deaflegacy

Marianne McCann is a resident of Bay City.  She also organize and run the Bay City Alliance, a group for other Bay City residents to meet and work together to the betterment of the community.  Marianne also had the great, good fortune of being able to help manage and present events for Bay City for several years now.  As long as the folks feel that Marianne is doing a good job, as long as she physically can, and as long as Second Life and Bay City exists, she will continue doing that.

Marianne hopes that Bay City has many more years to come.  “It's a great community with some great people in it. I hope we'll see more good folks become its citizens, and we'll continue to have fun long into the future..” said Marianne.

“Bay City is a unique little slice of the Second Life mainland. It's about 24 residential regions and about the same number of Linden Lab owned ones, decorated by the LDPW "Moles." It's loosely themed to the American Urban Experience, circa 1945-1965, with a distinct art deco influence. Unlike much of the mainland, Bay City has developed a strong community of folks who have sought to make the place all that more special.” said Marianne.

Marianne would say that Bay City is a very special place because it's a great blend of people and places, all seemingly working in concert.  It makes Marianne happy to see.

Bay City will have large events just about monthly.  Most are concerts, or at least have a musical components.  They can take many forms.  For an example, February “Mole day” event honors the LPWD, and their work helping to build Bay City.  In the holidays, they have a “Tree Lighting” event that includes charitable giving and live music, etc. They also have two weekly events.  Their meetings happen every Tuesday, while a weekly “rumble” race happens Thursday nights.  Toward the end of September, they usually have their Oktoberfest.  Oktoberfest is a Germanic tradition.  All big beer-focused, harvest-time event.  Oktoberfest is usually a couple hours long, with Djed music and much celebrating. Details are, as yet, pending.

Marianne would recommend Bay City to newcomers who come to Second Life for the first time.  “It's a great place to sightsee and explore, with a lot of mole and resident made content with visiting.” said Marianne.  “It's a good place and a great community.”

I got a chance to ask Marianne about "Hot Bay City Nights".  Marianne said, "Well, the "Hot Bay City Nights" event is designed to be a vintage car show and sale, focusing on the Bay City "theme era" of 1945-1965. We will bring in vendors to show their cars at the fairgrounds. We also have a couple other events at the same time: car washes to support Child's Play Charity, and the "Miss Bay City" pageant."

The first "Hot Bay City Nights" was in 2012.  The name is a take-off on "Hot August Nights", an annual vintage/custom car show in Reno, Nevada.

As long as the folks are interested and Linden Lab keeps the lights on, then Marianne suspects that they will keep doing it.

"Well, it's a group effort. This year it was primarily ran by Maureen Boccaccio and ADudeNamed Anthony, in that they did much of the decor, arranged for the vendors, and organized a lot of other details. I was also part of the planning and set up. Meanwhile, Evola Courtois managed our charity car wash, GoSpeed Racer DJed Miss Bay City, and Pygar Bu emceed Miss Bay City. So it's really done by a number of us around town." said Marianne when asked about people in charge of "Hot Bay City Nights".

"Hot Bay City Nights" ran from August 19 to 27, 2017.  Miss Bay City was held during the event on the 27th.  The car wash was held on the 23rd, if Marianne's memory serves.

Sounds like I have missed out on the fun but there is always next year and I'm already looking forward to the next event!

You can look up more about Bay City at it's Community Center at Daley Bay (234/24/25)

Deaflegacy

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A Double Sim Move in the Sunweaver Estates


By Bixyl Shuftan

The map of the neighborhood the Second Life Newser office sits in will soon be changing. For years, the Sunweaver Estates has had Pacific Waters in the northern part of the land owned by Cynthia Farshore and the home of the Farshore Field airport. And in the eastern middle part of the landscape there was Sunlight Bay, owned by Nydia Tungsten and the home of Mouse Hole Manor. Right now, the two sims are undergoing an ownership swap. When finished, Mouse Hole Manor will be at the end of the estates in Pacific Waters, and Farshore Field will be in Sunlight Bay in the more centrist position with planes able to fly in from two directions.

Over the last 4 air shows and in general this field has been hampered by the restrictions of only having one open side. I have asked Nydia to help me by doing a land swap. So starting now you will see things disappearing on Pacific waters and Sunlight Bay, don't be alarmed.


Yep, here's the deal, Cynthia needs a sim with access on both sides for her airport to do better. She has come to me asking if we can swap. I see no reason we can't help her out. So, that means we need to pack everything up and be ready to move. I would like everything up by Thursday if possible. I have a few Idea's on creating a home  for us, maybe a beach house? We'll see. Please start packing things up when you get this notice. Thank you my angels.

I would have a few words with both Cynthia and Nydia on Tuesday evening inside her Goblin Cave. Cynthia told me, "I'm just now getting the working area cleared." Of how long it would talk, "The aim is to have the some things in place and ownerships done by Thursday evening. (The) reason is the local renfair starts this coming weekend, and my tent has about everything but Internet. ... Nydia already has her sim cleared. I need to get all my things off so we can changed renters." Sunweaver chief Rita Mariner, who was there, stated, "Everything but the road is off Sunlight Bay, but if I need to remove that, it's a minor thing."

Cynthia stated it was she who first had the idea of switching the sims, "I begin seeing problems when I first built the strip. I had it a lot shorter because you were so close to the sim border taking off one way. And then you hit the sim crossing coming in but others as well as myself found it too short. Long story short, found the sim with only one open way too confined, First air show, everyone including me kept running into the sim border and either the plane went poof or crashed. Over time things got better, but nothing can fix the closed borders but getting a sim with open ones. So I started looking at what sims could fit the bill and one was Sunlight Bay. I like it because it was centered and opened across."

The airport owner mentioned some possibilities, "You can put a runway in and use both ends, or put in two runways in an 'X.' There can be more area for a wharf. You can see Raschid's pierside warehouse is stuck in a tiny nook. ... I will try to have a passage all the way around, you'll notice right now you can't sail behind Nydia's house. There wil certainly be open water where there is right now. However, to place the things there will be less water. But you will be able to sail through. I do want a small port so we can have boat traffic, as well as plane. Which means we may be able to seriously look at a boat race for next year's Relay for Life." Rita then boke in, "I do want a pedal car race next year too." Cynthia commented, "Rita wants a race using cars she is capable of driving." "Slow enough to stay on the darn track!" Rita laughed.

Cynthia looked around the Goblin Cave, "I will see if I can give it a slightly larger dance floor, since we have dragons among us now," meaning DJ Geerkil and a few of his dragon peers, "So it will need a larger entrance and dance floor. Both easy to do when it is moved." Rita joked, "Since dragons smoke, we will have to designate this a smoking bar." There was a bit of joking back and forth for a few minutes.

It was agreed that everyone would be ready to swap the sims on Thursday, "I think Thursday is fine," Cynthia felt, "I can see I'm still going to be packing through tomorrow. Just look at the cave alone how much there is."

After Rita left, Cynthia stated of the railroad bridge connecting Pacific waters to the sim to the south, it would still be around, but probably adjusted slightly. The Puddle Jumper mall would not be moved, but torn down and replaced with a more 19th Century looking building, "It's building design is not fitting with the steampunk theme I'm aiming for. ... It will be a taller one to take less land space." She didn't have a design for it just yet, " looking around but may still just build my own." Much of the road around Farshore Field would likely be scrapped, though, "Tjere already is one running through. That said I, will have it stored and can pull it out for the Relay races. "And the new way the sim will be laid out will allow new things to be thought up for the races."

"As Shocky (Shockwave Yareach) said, it's exciting. The door has opened to new possiblities. ... It will be a lot of work coming so there will be constrution for a long time."

Talking with Nydia, She told me, "When she approached me with the Idea, I agreed that an airport should have at least two ways in and out, and we spoke some more, and I agreed to the swap to help her out. So we emptied out our sim today for her to start her side." She then took me to Sunlight Bay. "Goddess, this place looks empty...." Nydia looked around, " It hasn't looked like this in a while." For only the second time in many years, the first being a brief time between the taking down of the old Castle Mouse Hole and the setting up of the new Mouse Hole Manor, the sim was practically bare. there was only the Sunweaver road going from HV Community to the east and to Sunweaver Space to the north,

"Seems wierd not calling this sim home any more *laughs* But, one of the Angels had a need for a better area. We will still be in the Sunweaver community, which is a very important thing to us, and to me. I have been with the sun weavers from almost day one as you know. Being here among them, being allowed to have one of my Sims here with Rita, it means a lot to me."

I asked Nydia about any possible changes to the vicinity of Mouse Hole Manor besides the move. She told me, "I am toying with a few ideas, semi tropical themed, you know me. I have always been a sucker for a good beach. We plan on still having the open water area for the community, for small  boats and personal water craft, maybe even some fishing. Rita and Cynthia will have the road and train coming to our sim, to maybe a pier and have the house across the lake." I mentioned Cynthia's plans for a wharf and boat traffic, and suggested if there might be a little boating between the two sims. Nydia answered, "There is the small river between the two sims, so that is quite the possibility."

Nydia allows a few guests to reside at her manor, and I asked how they were handling the move. She answered, "Of the ones that live here most have said they had no problem with the move once they knew why. I think the most difficult part of the move for me is picking up each of the movies, almost 300 of them. *laughs*" "That is a lot of movies," I commented. "Yeah, but again, it is more of a hang out thing. I leave them out so no one needs to be in a group or anything to come watch them, quite a few of them have been requests. I don't mind opening my home for people to watch a few movies. As long as they respect personal spaces ( Bedrooms) and respect others that are there, all are welcome."

Nydia thought more about possible changes, "We started a theater, when we first had that 1/4 sim, an underwater theater. I am thinking I may put up a form of water theater thing time, with innertubes for seats....maybe? Ranchan helped me with that (the theater), I am no builder by any means, I am lucky I know so many talented builders. ... We'll have the family club of course, have a personal water craft everyone can use. ... I want someplace that the Angels can be proud of."

Although Nydia's home will now be at one end of the Sunweaver Estates instead of the middle, that doesn't mean she'll be less involved, "Just because I will not be next to my sim HV (Community) doesn't mean I won't still be keeping an eye on it." She will still be dropping by Ranchan's space carrier a few times every week and her partner Brandi Streussel has her shop next to the Newser office.

And so, the Sunweaver Estates will see the biggest change in a while with two sim owners swapping sims and structures. And both will be exploring the new possibilities that the move allows them to take advantage of. The Sunweavers could very well see more flying and boating around in the near future.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 31, 2017

Little Issues: Explaining The "Fox Reporter" Look.


By Bixyl Shuftan

Most of what I write about is at least mildly serious, such as charities, or a location someone spent a great deal and time and effort to make. But occasionally there are certain trivial but amusing, nagging, or both, issues that aren't going away from your mind. Especially when someone keeps reminding you.

As a fan of science-fiction and fantasy, I've had as my look a "furry" avatar from the start of my Second Life experience. Initially, it was the starter "ringtail" that was available as an option for a beginning avatar at the time. But once I had the cash for another, after some thought I chose upon the Luskwood red fox avatar. I had roleplayed a felinoid in a sci-fi game a few years before. But after reading Tiffany Ross' "Cyantian Chronicles" in which the foxfolk in her story universe had one of the more detailed and interesting, sometimes tragic, histories of the peoples there, perhaps it was time for a change. That the red foxes in the Cyantian stories were traditionally soldiers or blue collar workers was the reason for the fur color.

At first, I would wear a green shirt, which was a leftover from my days in the "Runescape" MMO (what I played before "World of Warcraft"), along with clothes similar to what I wore in real life, a brown jacket and slacks. I had to skip the shoes as my feet were just too big. But after I landed a job in James and Dana's Second Life Newspaper, I used my first pay to get myself a white fedora and tan leather overcoat. Since I was a reporter, I wanted to look like one. And so, I went about in the classical 20th Century reporter's look. And with the most popular news channel being Fox News, well, that helped add to it with the "fox reporter" catchphrase.

Over the years, I would get other avatars, from Lusk stripped skunk to Kani bunny to AX hyena, to black human, and many others, which I change to on occasion. But the Luskwood red fox has continued to remain my main avatar. I sometimes change to other clothes while still being foxy, such as the red Victorian era suit I occasionally wear at the Steamlands, or a black jacket and jeans while on a motorbike. But usually I can be found with the fedora and overcoat. Although all of my avatars, aside from the human, are PG nude due to the coat of fur, I always go about with at least a pair of shorts in them, except for the mesh tinies and micro fox, which I have yet to find pants for.

Most people are happy with this look, calling it neatly dressed. But one friend for some time has been nagging me a bit, "Why do you wear clothes?"

Although she on occasion has on a full dress, she prefers going about with very little clothes. If someone had a coat of fur, even a short one, she feels realistically would mean he or she couldn't wear much for long. The overcoat and long slacks, she feels, would realistically lead to me quickly overheating. So she feels the coat and pants have to go.

I disagree. For one, this look was popular even indoors in the days before air conditioning. People just dealt with the heat. And in the colonial era when Europeans went to travel about, or take jobs, in places in the tropics, while a few were "going native," most continued to wear their existing clothes meant for a much colder climate in the hot tropical sun. Even if they didn't see the locals as "savages," it was simply the thing to do.

Tiffany Ross would also say a few things on the matter in her comic forums some years ago. The furry people of her fictional world of Cyantia didn't have a nudity taboo, but most who lived in cities and towns still wore clothes in public. As she saw it, clothes allowed her Cyantians, as well as humans in real life, a chance to distinguish themselves as individuals, even for those who aren't fashion snobs. Plus it helped distinguish themselves from those who went "feral" and abandoned civilization, and their clothes.

And of course, if you're standing upright, your "family jewels" are more exposed to things like low branches and flying rocks. So some kind of cover is needed to prevent what realistically would have you bending over in pain.

So the clothes stay. While you may see me in something other than the coat and fedora on the fox on occasion, or an avatar other than the fox such as the skunk at some Relay events, if anyone sees me stark naked in public, it's from a computer glitch.

As for why always a male avatar, aside from when my friends raise an enormous amount of money for charity, that's an issue I've already discussed in December 2013. As for why I haven't replaced this avatar that's been around for over ten years, that's another story.

Bixyl Shuftan