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: 
  • Virtual cable software - I use the VB-Audio Virtual Cable at 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 . 
  • 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: . 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 ( ) for more details.


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 or email me at (at)  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 ( 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,
Bixyl Shuftan