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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FLASH! SL Community Forums Are BACK!

Yes indeed.  And they are...um, well, according to Linden Lab...new and improved.

New they most certainly are.  The new organization and interface are VERY different from the old forums.  I'm not going to say anything bad about them here, at least not yet.  We're all going to need some time to explore them and get used to the new layout.

No, I take it back.  I will make one complaint now:  The various Search functions seem to be VERY wonky.  However, I'm hoping LL will be able to fine tune this over the coming weeks.  They managed to fix a lot of problems with the recent Search update to the Marketplace, which is encouraging.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Second Life Community Forums Offline

Many of you have probably noticed this, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.  The week before last, Linden Lab announced that they were updating the Forums on the Second Life website for a "new and more user friendly" experience.

That's (maybe) good news...for years, residents have complained about the shortcomings of the current forums (which replaced a set of forums that MOST of us rather liked and were comfortable with.)  Of course, until we actually see and use the new setup, we won't know for sure whether it's really good news or not.

Anyway, the plan was for the forums to be down for just three or four days while the new software was put in place and the old content migrated over to the new platform.  But, as is often the case, that estimate proved to be over-optimistic.  LL posted a notice saying that the switch would be complete by Friday...and that deadline was missed too.

The forums are still down as I write this, with a blog post by LL apologizing for the delay and asking us to be patient...


I wouldn't have believed that I'd miss the opportunity to tell someone, for the umpteenth time, to reboot their router and do a clean install of the viewer.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Are You Buying on the Marketplace with $US Dollars? Don't!



Hello, gentle readers!

Most of us use the Second Life Marketplace from time to time...some of us even do ALL of our shopping there. And no wonder, there are over 2 million items for sale on the Marketplace.

The vast majority of us use Linden Dollars ($L), the currency of Second Life, to make our Marketplace purchases. However, there's an option to use $USD if you prefer, or if you don't have any $L.

But, if you're doing this, you should not be. Things on the Marketplace cost quite a bit more if you buy them with $USD instead of $L. Here is what Linden Lab has to say about it:

Charges and Costs When You Use US Dollar Pricing:

We Set the “US Dollar” or “USD” Price For Each Sale In Our Discretion

SL Marketplace merchants may select the price of their virtual goods in L$, at their own discretion. However, regardless of that L$ price, Linden Lab provides SL Marketplace buyers an additional “US Dollar” or “USD”  option, as a convenience to buyers and sellers. Buyers may select, on a per-transaction basis, whether they wish to pay using the L$ option or the USD option.

It is important to note that the USD price we charge for an item that is also listed in L$ is not based on the US Dollar price that the L$ would cost on the LindeX exchange. Rather, the USD price is generally between ten (10) and fifteen (15) percent percent greater than what a user would pay, were the user to make that same purchase with L$ already purchased on the LindeX -- and at any given time, the USD price may in fact be greater than that. For the exact exchange rate (i.e., how many L$ are provided per US Dollar) at any time, please see the “*Rates” disclosure that appears in your shopping cart.

In addition to this, we charge buyers who use the USD purchase option an additional $.30 “Purchasing Fee” per checkout. We may increase (or decrease) this Purchasing Fee in our sole discretion. If we increase this Purchasing Fee, it will be clearly and conspicuously disclosed in the user interface. Thus, buyers seeking the best value should purchase L$ on the LindeX for use on the SL Marketplace, in order to obtain the best price.   (emphasis added.)

Set up a payment method and buy some $L before you go shopping on the Marketplace!  
If you are looking at a Marketplace page and saying, "What is she talking about?  I don't see a $USD option," here is where to find it.
Go to your cart, click the Check Out button

Click "More Payment Options"

Click the PayPal (or Skrill) Option.  You must first add one of these to your Payment Methods

Notice the Price Difference!  Almost $L100 More!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A New Marketplace Fraud

Just when you think that you've seen it all, someone comes up with yet another nefarious scheme.

This one takes advantage of LL's policy of tracking down transactions made with fraudulent $L or by phishers who have gained access to a person's account through trickery.

Here's how it works.

  • The scammer creates two accounts, Avatar A and Avatar B (or, there may be two scammers working as a team.)
  • Avatar A purchases an item on the Marketplace, and sends it to Avatar B as a gift.  He may do this several times, hitting a number of merchants, or buying multiple things from one merchant.
  • Avatar A then files a support case with Linden Lab, claiming his account was stolen and that the transactions were not made by him.
  • Linden Lab investigates.  If they ask Avatar B if they know Avatar A, who sent them a gift, Avatar B says, "No, I don't know him...I have no idea why he sent me a gift."  This supports Avatar A's claim that he didn't make the purchases, it must have been someone who stole his account.

Linden Lab then takes the money that Avatar A paid to the merchant back from the merchant, and returns it to Avatar A.  They tell the merchant, "we reversed the payment because it was a fraudulent transaction."

So, in the end, Avatar A pays nothing, Avatar B has some nice freebies, and the merchant is stiffed.

LL takes this stance because most merchants who sell their creations on the Marketplace have an unlimited supply...so according to their logic, the merchant isn't really harmed.  But this is not true; the merchant IS harmed, in at least one of two ways.

In all cases, a free copy of his creation, which ought to have been paid for, is now out there in the world.  And if the merchandise is a limited edition or one-of-a-kind item, he is also robbed of the item itself, as well as the payment he should have received.

I have always had my reservations about the Marketplace, for many reasons.  This is just another one to add to the scales.  Sure, I think the MP is a great place for creators who only sell a few items, or who are just starting out and can't afford to pay for land for an in-world store.  But as soon as you can, you really should set up a store in world.  It's a lot safer, as well as a lot more fun.

I hope that Marketplace merchants will be on the lookout for this latest scam, and carefully report instances of it to Linden Lab.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

All Hail the Resident Geek

Some of you who follow my blog and Second Life forum posts may have heard me mention the "Resident Geek."

He's my husband, my love, and my IT Department.

Recently, the Resident Geek has been messing about with our home network, trying to set up a video server so that we can watch media on any computer or device in the house, or even when away from home.

As a result of this, he's become very grumpy.  It seems that my main computer, the one I use to access the internet and Second Life, isn't doing what it should.  He diagnosed one problem, a bad cable between my computer and the FIOS internet router in the hall closet, and fixed that.  But it seems that even though my computer says it's connected correctly to the network, and I can use the internet just fine, videos from our home theater PC won't play on my machine.

I explained that I don't really need that.  I use this machine to get into Second Life, to type entries for this blog, and to read my email and do photo and video editing.  I don't need to watch TV at my desk.

He just grumped at me and said, "But it's SUPPOSED to be able to do that!"

He's obsessive about things like that.  The other day, he showed me a picture that he'd made of our home network.  I had no idea we had all that Stuff, and that it was all connected!  When I said that, he smirked and said, "And that doesn't even show all the Smart switches and appliances!"

I am worried that he's going to kick me out of my office and start rummaging around inside my computer (again!)  But if he does, I can console myself with the thought that when he's done, my machine will be faster and better than ever.  He takes a while to get there, but the man can produce miracles.  At least until the next power outage.

Or maybe a power outage would be a GOOD thing...it might keep my refrigerator from telling me I need to go buy it some eggs.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

You Can't Please Everybody

Way back last April, I found that Meike Heston had left a full perm, free version of her excellent Hug & Kiss 2.0 "hugger" HUD with us in Second Life when she left SL.

I put up a vendor in world in the lobby of my apartment building, and another on the campus of Caledon Oxbridge University, so everyone could enjoy this excellent little gadget.  And I blogged about it: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2016/04/free-hugs.html

A few months later, I became aware that a large number of people were selling versions of Meike's HUD on the Marketplace, for a very wide range of prices.  Regardless of price, all of these were no more than Meike's original HUD, which was available for free.

So, I made a Marketplace listing of my own and offered the hugger for free: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Meikes-Hug-Kiss-202/9714182 .  Sales have been pretty constant, with about six or eight people a day grabbing a copy.

But one person wasn't satisfied.  She left me a one star review, claiming the product was not full permission, as I'd stated, because the animations in it were No Copy.  Well, that's quite true.  Once you wear the HUD, the animations DO become No Copy.  Not only that, the scripts at the heart of the HUD are both No Copy and No Modify.  You can't see them to copy or alter the code.  This is pretty standard practice for the makers of HUDs and other devices that contain content that's valuable in and of itself.

However, the HUD itself IS full permissions.  You can give a copy of it to anyone, and keep a copy in your inventory.  The animations transfer right along with the HUD.  And the HUD is modifiable; you can take animations out, and you can add your own.  You can change the textures and colors of the buttons.

I must admit that I'm miffed.  Here is a great product, for FREE, and I went to quite a bit of trouble to create the Marketplace listing and put it out for sale...and I get a one star review and a complaint.  Some days you just can't win.

Some Common Second Life Problems

Hello, gentle readers!

Today's post is a bit of a recap.  There are a number of questions that we see over and over again in the Second Life help forums.  Here are some of them, along with (hopefully) helpful advice.

How do I play Second Life?
You need to be at least 16 years old in Real Life.  You need to sign up for an account, and then you need to download and install the "viewer" software.  See this post: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2014/04/getting-started-in-second-lifean-update.html   And also read this: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Second-Life-Quickstart/ta-p/1087919?lang=en-US

Can I play SL on my phone/tablet/chromebook?
In a word, no.  Second Life requires a fairly powerful computer and a fast internet connection.  However, if you own an Android phone or tablet, there are a couple of viewers with a reduced feature set that will let you log in to SL.  See "Mobile Grid Client" or "Lumiya" in the Play Store.  My preference is for Lumiya.  Sorry, iPhone users, neither one is available for Apple devices.

I'm confused.  How can I learn more about SL?
There's a great walk-through tutorial, and live helpers, here: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Caledon%20Oxbridge/103/184/27  You can find other resident-run help areas in Search, too.  Look for "New Citizens Incorporated" or "New Resident Island".  The Second Life website has a huge amount of help.  Check the link "What Next" at the top left of your Dashboard page, and also the Help/Knowledge Base link.

I'm confused.  I made an avatar, and did the initial tutorials.  What do I have to do now?
You don't HAVE to do anything!  Second Life isn't like a traditional computer game with rules, quests, or levels.  It's like life!  You decide what you want to do, where you want to go.  You can do anything you want with your Second Life, just as you have free choice in your real life.  This amount of freedom is upsetting to many people, I admit.  Having endless choice, they can't seem to choose.  If you are one of these, maybe SL is not for you.

I'm bored.
See the above answer.  You have endless choice and endless possibilities in Second Life.  If you're bored, you're Doing It Wrong.

I bought $L, and I never got them.
You placed a "limit buy" at an exchange rate that no one is interested in.  See this post: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2016/08/i-bought-l-but-i-never-got-them.html

I took off my clothes, and now I'm mostly invisible.
Mesh clothing is now the norm in Second Life.  Mesh clothes and body parts come with an "alpha mask" clothing layer that hides part or all of your avatar body to keep it from poking through the mesh and making you look moth-eaten.  Either put the clothing back on, or right click yourself and choose Take Off/Clothing/Alpha.  You can also fix your appearance quickly by clicking the "Avatars" button, the one with a symbol of two people on it and choosing an avatar from the pictures that are displayed.

I bought something, and it's only a picture of the thing.  And it's stuck to my hand!
You have a "boxed item."  Many things in SL are delivered inside a box, and you have to open the box to get the stuff out.  See here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Opening-boxes/ta-p/700185

I can't get to Adult areas.
You must be at least 18 years old to access Moderate and Adult areas in Second Life.  You set your maturity preferences in three places.

  1. In Me/Preferences/General
  2. In the viewer Search window (the magnifying glass button, or CTRL+F)
  3. In My Marketplace on the Second Life website.  Follow the Shopping/Marketplace link.
You may have done the above and still not be able to go to a particular location.  Many owners of Adult venues limit access to accounts that are older than 30 days, to cut down on visits by troublemakers.  You'll just have to be patient for a bit before visiting these places.

I see some avatars as being all one color.
You can set a limit on how complex an avatar your viewer will render and display, in Me/Preferences/Graphics.  A higher setting will give you poorer performance, especially in places with a lot of avatars.  A lower setting will improve your performance, but make some or all of the people you see appear as ugly "jelly dolls."  For more information, see this: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Why-are-all-these-people-made-of-colored-jelly/ba-p/3031255

I was unfairly banned from a location.
Tough.  A landowner has the right to admit or exclude anyone she likes, at any time, for any reason...or even for no reason at all.  You can send an IM or note to the landowner and politely request that they reconsider, but you are probably out of luck.  There are thousands of other places to visit in Second Life.  Go find some of them, and try not to repeat the behavior that got you banned.

I'm being griefed and stalked.
Your best tools to deal with persistent griefers or stalkers are Mute, Ban, and the Abuse Report.  Also, do not talk to or respond to the person in any way.  Ignore them as completely as you can.  Griefers are encouraged to continue their harassment if they see that it is bothering you.  Abuse report each incident, and refer to previous reports.  In extreme cases, you may want to create a new account, an "alt".  If you do so, be very sure to not visit your previous favorite locations and be careful about which friends you tell about your new identity.

I bought something and I never got it.
This could be due to several reasons.  One common cause is that you are in Busy (Unavailable) mode.  If you have set this flag, items sent to you are automatically refused and they are lost in cyberspace forever.  It might have been a glitch in Second Life, or a mistake on the part of the merchant.  Some stores have redelivery terminals.  Make use of them if they're available.  If not, check your Transactions History on your Second Life Dashboard web page, find the transaction, and send the information to the seller in a polite notecard and/or IM, requesting a redelivery.  NOTE:  The seller is not required to send you a replacement item, although many will.  If you bought an item on the Marketplace and got nothing but an empty box, you might be the victim of a scam.  In this case, Abuse Report the seller for fraud.  Here's more about that: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2014/04/an-example-of-empty-box-scam.html

How do I have sex in SL?

Help!  I'm pregnant!  (Or, how do I get pregnant?)
Pregnancy in Second Life is a type of roleplay, often supported by various props.  If your boyfriend's pixel penis tells you that it's made you pregnant, that's just a prop talking.  You can ignore it if you wish.  Or, if you want a baby, you can go along and roleplay your pregnancy to any extent you want.  See this link: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-does-babby-grow.html

Help!  I've been hacked!
Second Life accounts are never "hacked"...broken into right out of the blue.  But yes, your account CAN be compromised.  The most usual reason is that you clicked on a link someone sent you and you entered your login information on what appeared to be a Second Life web page.  However, it was a "phishing" scam, and now the scammer has access to your account.  He changed your password and stole your $L.   If you suspect this has happened to you, immediately follow the instructions here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Password-and-account-information/ta-p/700017#Section_.5

Besides phishing scams, the second most dangerous scam in SL is the account debiting object.  For more on this type of hazard, see: http://acrossthegridwithlindal.blogspot.com/2011/09/disappearing-dollars.html

That's all for now...but if you have more Common Problems and Answers, leave a comment!