Sunday, February 20, 2011

Reader Submitted: My Journey in Second Life by Skylark Lefavre

Way back when I started on Second Life I was but just a newbie. Everything was new and fascinating. I saw a new world worth exploring, yet I knew how to do nothing. Someone I made friends with on a website got me to sign up for Second Life. I met him on my most favorite hangout then named Beat Island. This sim I remember was education and full of musical entertainment. My friend lived and worked here. It is here where my journey started.

I eventually caught up with my friend who is a New Zealander. I thought "how cool is this?" and after getting voice to work learned to build and move lickety-split. Still using the freebie white winged wolf angel av I picked up from Help Island, I looked for avatars different than I saw as mainstream. "What could these be called?" From time on furry websites I knew they were furry avs. I did a search and low and behold I found a place called Rocket City Furmeet.

Knowing this to be a real life furry convention center I thought "what the heck?" I walked into the structure and into the vendor room. Back then it was small and in the Second Life building instead of where it all is now. I found the Aventity vendor which back then they sold a few avs. I bought an orange fox after realising where to buy it from. I was still under the Linden Currency buying cap being new. Now I needed to wear it. How do I wear it? I wore it and dragged the contents from the box it was in to a new folder in the inventory. Then a resident says it's easier to use a sandbox. Hmm sandbox, well something to use for a later day. Well back then I didn't know it was inappropriate to not have clothes so I searched for clothes. I found Bare Rose in 2007. This was nice, good looking clothes at affordable prices. I bought as much as I could. Back then Bare Rose wasn't laggy not did it have the sheer volume of what it does today nor selection. I this time used a sandbox.

I hung out with my new friend and his friends which led me to a medieval RP sim called Alchera. This was a very noteworthy RP sim that had alot of possibilities had it not gone under with the time and rising costs of land. It was this magical place I met two other friends where all three would become my oldest and best friends. Later on I wanted a dragon av, and at the time I still had trouble purchasing Linden currency through lack of experience. I had purchased enough to get an Isle Of Wyrms Fire Wyrmling of what was then known as Xstreet, a Second Like marketplace offline of Second Life. Well I was proud of my new avatar. I wore it all over I even danced with a Second Life elf from another medieval RP sim called Avalon a sister island to Isle Of Wyrms. I became Dragon of the Mist with the help of someone I would know only for a short time and miss everyday. He was already a Dragon of the Mist there. We dated some hung around shopped for things teens liked like Superheros stuff. Me and him were flying in a sim that was a wasteland of rock and caverns that was supposed to be like the place bad people go when they do evil in life. Me and him flew around having fun we felt right at home. Two humans were on the ground below us. A New Chapter unfolds.

The two humans bought a sim it had a glorious mountain with a waterfall and grotto, there was a cave for me and my love. on the other side cottages. The two humans adopted us as Pet Rider Dragons . We were the first and last to be in this pet rider dragon group they called Climbing Rose Rider Dragons. Time passes, and two more were added to the group, our daughter and son dragon hatchlings. The RP fell apart misunderstandings and wrong assumptions led to the selling of the island and to the end of the RP. I was heartbroken. I had lost touch with my lover due to things beyond my control. My handler thought I wanted to quit.

I went to Exterminatus Labs and got me a Black Therion av and had Black Demon Rot Wings and an aqua Green gown, 'cause Avalon rules then were if you walked on two legs you wore clothes. I met a Portuguese elf that took me in as his dragon lady. I helped him with lots of things off of SL and been best friends with him. I left Avalon and headed to Isle Of Wyrms. This place was a place where I am accepted and loved. I learned important life lessons, and my first taste of keeping order to chaos was here. I bought me at their Cathedral a Storm Hatchling. I joined the group Hedgies Hatchlings and Tinies and became a Tiny. I later rented my first home in Hatchie Haven.

I lost contact with my Portuguese Elf friend but I met two other Portuguese kids. One loved me with a kind and happy heart. We went to a water sim that had a road. On the side was the entrance to a Water Dam. Inside there were freebie Transformer avies that transformed from the transformer movie. He got me a free black cat av from a sim that now is a werewolf RP store. Things changed though. The breakup and loss of my home and family and friends at the RP and a plethora of troubles associated with this first account. I made this account. This account became my primary. My journeys were not over. I had gotten more work hours and found a better way to buy currency and make currency. I knew how to do more. I started collecting avs and making cute and beautiful avatars. I met a horse avie and we hit it off. Thus a memory entails our meeting and a legacy never dies.

Me and my best friend forever and then my lover had an idea, a dream, a dream to bring something special to this virtual world. He was a crackpot telecommunications programmer. A Hatchling I had met that later created the Gadzoo line of furry avs helped build the final version of the building that started a legacy. My friend from Alchera was the DJ manager. I was the manager, but I preferred and was good mainly at hosting. Yes this was a club: Furry Desires. I was co-owner with it with my lover. We had a different way to do things. We never did adult themed things. We never allowed pole dancing, we never did event contests. The crowd we drew came for the music and a good time nothing more.

He lost his job and the payment for all the lots for the club, avatar mall, and other more adult themed items mall down the street was threatened. We sacrificed the malls but we never gave up. We payed monthly rent all on tips alone. I met up with the owner of a popular av making company and the owner came by in this small av and told me how much he enjoyed reading my notices to club gigs at Furry Desires. Well this was becoming a strain on the regulars. We shut Furry Desires down for a short time, sold the parcels. This would not be the end!.

My Lover was in a bad way and in poor health. We basically just parted without hatred anger or vengeful thought. Instead I did what I do a lot. I became best friends with him. Well I met a few others afterward I dated. I ended up in Wolf Valley. It was a little laggy and somethings like my diving Board and kiddie train I couldn't use. But my best times were spent renting there. I didn't know this, but the time I was there the one running the sim was teaching me how to be a sim admin which I will always be thankful to him for since later down the road I would be sim admin to three sims.

I eventually had some job hour cuts and had to sell all my parcels. Last I heard I rented just under the amount the gf of the one who was teaching me had and she had a good share of Wolf Valley rented. My second exposure to renting a home. I moved to Cape Suzette a Sunweavers sim owned by my now Second Life beloved mother owner of the Sunweaver Islands. Due to a failing economy in and off world, people could no longer afford rent. Before the final death of Cape Suzette, a place I wished I could have kept, I was lured to a place called Kitsuhana, Japanese Kitsune and forest themed. The owner there was fascinated with my landscaping talents and I made her Faerie Acre Forest. People came from all over Second Life to see it. With what I was taught I kept script lag down low while keeping it aesthetically pleasing with a faerie theme. I had finally found a place to set up my kiddie train and it worked the Christmas before I had to leave due to the owner selling off a big part iof it and my parcel was on the list of parcels to be sold.

I remet up with a person I met in Wolf Valley who had ventured to my giant 5 story castle. He is the owner of Mythica Woods. He asked me to adopt him, which I did. My Second Life Mother owns the homestead his place was on. So I became Estate Manger there. He asked me to make things. I far outdone myself in originality and creativity. I even created a community or mixed residents furry, neko, dragon, and human. Seeking a place I could call home I looked for a sim or part of a sim. I met a fur who later became my sister a pink bunny and fox mix or fennec. She took me in on her sim. I rented 1/5 of a sim on mainland. I had so many prims I didm't know what to do but build the first of the many space stations I would call home. I loved that place as well. The owner and the co-owner had a difference of opinion so I left that place before it wa shut down and moved to Mythica Woods. I finished most of my work there and kept everyone happy as I was the landlord as well and I made the rules on how to run it and I did banning, ejecting, and all that an officer and sim admin would do. Drama has followed me since I had a taste of running sims and my family had grown bigger. I got pulled into fights and war I didn't belong in and I got tired of it. Another life lesson learned, look out after yourself.

Well I sought a group access place or adult themed hideout for a home. I found it finally and no farther away from my Second Life mom's home. But along the way I met special people, been to special places, and found out things that will in turn allow me a more peaceful life in any life and last if not least a lover who I am now engaged to in real life I have been seeing 5 years. For me Second Life was more than a Virtual World. Its been a magical fairy tail full of memories I will never forget. Not everyone has had my luck or my kind of journey but there is no reason to give up hope of having it!

Cheers and hope your Second Life is as good as my own life.

Skylark Lefavre

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Best Viewer Apps for SL

Second Life Viewers are maturing rapidly and avatar users are choosing sides. I am decidedly multi-viewer. As an active user and teacher of several major viewers, I'll share some important news and insights. In my recent survey of 133 experienced Second Life (SL) users, the viewer market share breaks down like this:
56% use Phoenix Viewer @
26% use Linden Lab's Viewer 2 @
3% use Other New Viewers (e.g. Imprudence/Kokua, Emergence, Ascent)
16% use Linden Lab's Viewer 1 and Miscellaneous

More surprisingly, SL ages appear to correlate with Viewer choice…
Phoenix users are mostly 1 to 4 years old in SL
Viewer 2 users are mostly less than 1 year old in SL
Viewer 1 users are mostly over 3 years old in SL
* Of course there were several outliers who don't fit these norms

Linden Lab (LL), the maker of Second Life, stopped development of Viewer 1 at version 1.23 in October 2009. LL launched Viewer 2 the same year, and offered the Viewer 1 code to 3rd party developers. First Emerald emerged as third party leader, which was replaced by the Phoenix project, which now dominates SL viewer market share.

When I announced this survey to some groups, people came forward to announce their Viewer 1 loyalty. Indeed, oldbie avatars (avis) are laggards, by and large, and even very old versions of Phoenix are being blocked from SL (156 and 168).

You see me in Phoenix Version 818 with all my glorious Heads Up Device (HUD) gadgetry in Picture 1. The pictures are all raw SL snapshots, un-retouched (i.e. a little dark), where I compare Viewer 2 and Phoenix for this story.

40 GROUPS NOW in SECOND LIFE: Here's How!!!

From time immemorial in SL, users were limited to 25 SL groups. Someone at LL made a ridiculous assumption that if we let people join too many groups, the resulting communications would overload the virtual world. Kind of like a nuclear chain reaction, we would collectively melt their server farm!!! LOL Finally LL came to it senses. Hee Hee!

If you are Viewer 2 user, you are already 40 groups capable. If you are in Phoenix, you may need to enable this feature, here's how: Enable the Advanced Menu by holding down CTRL and ALT… then press D. In Advanced > Show Debug Settings, then type "Phoenix40…" (auto-completes)… and click the TRUE radio button, then OK button. Done!

Viewer 2: Market Share by Default Downloads

If you don't have a desktop iMac and or a superwide HDTV 16:9 display, forget V2, Bada Bing! V2 has a right margin bar that takes up too much screen on ordinary computer displays, Picture 4.

Nevertheless, I have always liked the Viewer 2 (V2) interface, and declared that to M Linden (then LL CEO) while V2 approval ratings among SL users was only 3%. See my letter to M Linden on SL Newser:

I suggested M dump Google… they were botching V2 search quite badly, the key feature that makes SL SL (e.g. Compare with OpenLife). Instead, LL drove Google very deeply into V2, to the extent that, it's fair to say: V2 IS SPYWARE. V2 requires full enabling of Google's Analytics, AdServices, AdWords, and LeadServices… otherwise the "action" buttons in search don't work at all: Teleport, IM, Profile, and Details. Why does Google need to know who's profile I'm opening? Groups I research? Where I'm going in SL? Or who I'm IMing? YIKES! See

Remember… I like Viewer 2. Adding Phoenix to my SL quiver was hard for me in some ways. V2's groups list is awesome; I love the Favorites Landmark (LM) bar across the top (Picture 3); and the Instant Message (IM) icons are way cool… little caption bubbles pop up when a chat arrives.

In-World search in V2 actually works! Yay! But the user interface is very annoying, making you slowly reopen search numerous times, every time you TP. Slow Google-driven buttons… need to be re-started from scratch for your next search. For Event Search, your best bet in V2 is to click the Profile button then Notify, for a bunch of Events, before you TP. In Phoenix (after you TP), to use the next search result… Ctrl F, Click-Select an event, and Teleport. Dead simple and fast! Duh!

The surgery LL did on Group Notices, IM's and chat with Toast pop ups, Toast Time, Toast Fade time… is pretty ill-defined and unworkable for users. Either you go with their ADD-inducing 5 second defaults or… go with their ADD-inducing defaults… You Will Lose Settings with Every Viewer 2 Update!

Now, what really irks me is Viewer 2 lag. Clouding and Ruthing are a form of lag. I get serious Clouding most every time I log into Viewer 2, and seldom a problem in Phoenix. Viewers 2.4 and beyond significantly increased lag… I noticed instantly because I surf in SL, and I CAN'T SURF IN THE LATEST few V2 releases e.g. my SL Surfs Up iReport:

This lag in LL's own viewer is a great irony, because the new CEO of LL is a video gamer guy.
For Clouding/Appearance fixes see my iReport:
And see this amazing Phoenix Wiki note… incredible De-Clouding advice!

Why Phoenix is Winning Market Share!

TA DA!!! PHOENIX OFFERS FREE LIVE TECHNICAL SUPPORT… In-World for their browser… delivered by Phoenix staff… through their SL group Phoenix Viewer Support. During peak SL hours, Phoenix has at least 2 dedicated staff answering your questions. This is an amazing feature because in my 3+ years in SL, I've never seen LL do direct technical support. Not even close.

If you are in Viewer 1 (or any non-V2), moving to Phoenix is dead easy. No learning curve, 95% upward compatible, you won't notice the difference. I assure you. I urge you NOT to stay on Viewer 1.23… since there are no code updates in years, the security/griefer situation will continue to deteriorate. The multitudes of V1.23 users are a juicy target! Oh Yeah! Don't get hacked silly, upgrade painlessly now!

Most features of Viewer 2 are available in Phoenix in some form. The Outfits folder was a great V2 innovation, fully available in Phoenix, and built into Appearance > Make Outfit. Your V2 outfits are already in Phoenix and work great!

Zoomable Mini-Map with mouse wheel! Great V2 feature! It's in Phoenix too! Yay! (Picture 2).

Favorites links… are an inventory folder in Phoenix. Often, I get annoyed with V2's way of splitting up inventory… into Places and Outfits and whatnot… Yikes! I'm in the WRONG V2 window again! But no, in Phoenix it's all in inventory and searchable without switching panes.

Phoenix let's you see which SL Viewer other people are using. Making this story possible! Hurrah! Look at avi name tags. Picture 2 shows many Phoenix cool cats hanging with a handful of Viewer 2 and miscellaneous avatars.

Phoenix has many "beyond Viewer 1" extensions… Some are integrated into familiar SL controls… but many are in the new Phoenix menu and the new Phoenix tab on Ctrl P Preferences. Fun to explore… no worries, the good olde features are just where you expect!

Bottom Line: What to Do?

If you are on Viewer 1, upgrade to Phoenix. If you are on Viewer 2 and don't mind the avi clouding and lag… you are cool and should stay. Enjoy your SL! Otherwise migrate to Phoenix and join Phoenix Viewer Support SL group! You can't go wrong!

And join my classes, I re-start teaching in February, every Saturday and Sunday at 6:30am SLT (US Pacific). All at our remodeled way-cool campus in SL: Dream Seeker (206, 132, 22)

For more info, download my free SL book, links in this iReport:


SL, like Dog years, feel like 7X faster than RL years. In my decades in SL, I've accumulated over 22,000 items. Omg! Most oldbies use a lot of HUDs and attachments as shown in any Picture 1 and 3. All this stuff is pretty easy to find in the SL Search classified ads, or just ask any SL help group.

Starting from Mini-Map upper left, and going clockwise, you see HUDDLES EZ Animator. I have this one setup to do modeling poses, but it's main function is to animate dances and invite friends to sync dance. Buy the deluxe model because it's copyable.

Top center is the free Simbolics Translator. Does dozens of languages, translating both directions. You also have built in Google translator in Ctrl P Prefs, Chat tab, but that translation is only 1 way :-(. Ferd's free translator is also great and does 3 or more languages at once.

Just under Group Notices in Picture 1 is the JLU signal HUD. This is anti-griefer panic button that summons the super-hero-clad Justice League Unlimited experts to your location. It's the 911 of SL for fighting griefers!

The Pink button next to the chat window is Musyume-AO from MAMESANDO Rings (Japanese AO seller). Gotta love those way-cool AOs to get some 'tude in ur avi postures!

Above the chat window is Avatar Online Tracker. I find SL's online friends notification to be way laggy and annoying. This great device helps me track online status of anybody, especially useful for iReporters and event promoters for finding people online they want to meet!

P.S. I only specialize in the features of SL that enable fun. I would love to have an open discussion (i.e. public SL meeting) with people who are truly knowledgeable about SL techno stuff.

P.P.S. Viewer 2.4+ very important… (otherwise it's DOA)… Advanced Menu > Show Debug Options, then in the box type adminmenu, set the radio button to True and OK. Then… Advanced > Show Develop Menu and Develop > Show Admin Menu. Now you can ALWAYS FLY real high (fixes loads of SL problems) and work round the SL music failure bug… Essential for true SL fun lovers! See Chapter 2 of my free SL book for more info:

P.P.P.S. The next version of Phoenix is FIRESTORM... and the next Imprudence viewer is Kokua... the new new thangs! Get the buzz on the SL group Phoenix Viewer Support! It's cool to people-watch the SL support fun! Go Figure!

P.P.P.P.S. The 10 thousand odd members of the Phoenix Viewer Support group make it an amazing forum... SL's true Towne Square... A recent interaction really "made my day"... someone asked sincerely... if we could help her friend who was lagged and clouded and having tremendous SL problems... Whirly Fizzle promptly offered this sage advice... "If boobs are not jiggling... go to edit... prefs.... 2... effects,,, make sure boobs are enabled & set numbers to 100, 15, 100, 16, 1 (if you have low fps you need max/min vel at 100/1). If still no jiggle go to advanced... debug settings..... PhoenixBreastPhysicsToggle...set to FALSE, then back to TRUE" LOL LMAO!!!, used with Whirly's permission!

(originally on CNN)

Any1 Gynoid