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Monday, July 27, 2015

Using the Lindex

As most of you probably know by now, the various third party $L exchanges are going away at the end of this week.  As of August 1, the Lindex will be the only means of buying and selling Linden Dollars.

This has upset a lot of people, especially outside the United States in areas not served by PayPal.  However, LL has added the Skrill online payment system (a service similar to PayPal) as an accepted payment method.  MOST people should still be able to buy $L.

Of course, some people have objections.  They don't want to give LL a credit card number.  They don't want LL to have their actual personal information (despite the fact that they supposedly entered it when they signed up, some people (shock!) enter false personal data to protect their privacy.)  They don't trust PayPal.  And on and on...

People, stop whining.  Giving your account information to LL is no riskier (and no less risky) than making any other online purchase.  There are enough payment methods available that one of them should work for you.

Remember, though:  LL won't accept debit cards or prepaid cards.  These can run out of money, and LL insists on immediate payment.  You can link your PayPal or Skrill account to either a credit card or a real world bank account...but if you choose the bank account option, you must be SURE to keep enough money in the online account to pay your Second Life bills.  Linden Lab will not wait patiently for money to be transferred from your bank to your PayPal account, then to them.

My personal preference is to use PayPal, linked to a separate bank account from my main account.  This gives me exact control over how much money I make available to Linden Lab, and it limits my risk should my account be hacked.  Also, by using PayPal, if I make money in SL, I can sell $L and transfer the funds out of Second Life and back into my bank account.  You can't do that with a credit card.

Here are some useful links:

PayPal

Skrill

LL's accepted currencies and payment methods

If you have a problem and want to take it up with the Lab, call Billing at one of these numbers:

US/Canada: 800-294-1067
France: 0805-101-490
Germany: 0800-664-5510
Japan: 0066-33-132-830
Portugal: 800-814-450
Spain: 800-300-560
UK: 0800-048-4646
Brazil: 0800-762-1132

Long distance ( not free, but you can use Skype to save some cost ) : 703-286-6277
**Note: Support is offered only in English


What is the Meaning of (Second) Life?

Today I was asked a very deep question by a newbie:  "What is the purpose of Second Life?"  Lots of newcomers ask this, although it's usually worded so as to be a lot more limited:  "How do you play this game?"  Both are really asking the same question, although the first query at least shows that the person asking it isn't wearing the philosophical blinders of thinking of SL as a game.

My first response is another question:  "Well, what is the meaning of life?"  Second Life is a virtual world, full of real people and their works.  In this, it is like the real world.  The purpose of life, whether First or Second, is whatever the individual decides it is.

What's YOUR goal in life?  To get a good job?  To become famous?  To do something better than anyone else?  To become rich?  To find true love?  To teach?  To explore?  Do you like to tinker with things and try to make them better?  Do you want to live in luxury?  You can do all these things in Second Life, just as you can in Real Life.  And in the virtual world, the risks and consequences of failure are much less...so you can take chances that you never would in real life.

Or perhaps your goals are less laudable.  Maybe you are out to take what you can, and to hell with anyone else.  Maybe you are bitter, and have decided to try and make everyone around you as unhappy as you are.  The consequences of getting caught are less in a virtual world, and so Second Life can bring out the darker side of people every bit as much as it gives others unequaled chances to succeed.

It's not a "purpose," but it is a characteristic of the virtual world that it acts as a magnifier.  The good become better, and the bad become worse.

Linden Lab gave us a world, and the tools to shape it.  They did NOT give us a purpose.  What some people see as LL's failure to provide a goal for the "game" may in fact be the very best thing they could have done.  Whether it is or is not, it is in any case a grand social experiment.

But back to our original question.  My dear young noob:  Second Life has no purpose!  Shock!  Horror!  Confusion!  You must find your own.  That can be pretty scary, I know...but you know what?  That's called "freedom."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Hair Fair Is Here!

It's time again for the annual Hair Fair in Second Life.  Here's the official website, right up front: https://hairfair.wordpress.com/



I have very mixed feelings whenever I go to one of these huge annual fashion extravaganzas.  On the one hand, the shopper in me squeals with glee and jumps up and down.  On the other hand, the Old Second Life Resident sighs in anticipation of another huge lagfest.  And on the third hand...

Tell me, what IS it about Mesh?  Why must EVERYTHING nowadays be made out of Mesh?  I absolutely HATE most mesh hair, and especially any long styles.  They look laquered in place with five cans of hairspray.  And nowadays, it is getting harder and harder to find any hair designers that are still making flexi hair.  Sure, flex hair penetrates your shoulders sometimes.  Or your forehead, or your eye.  But it moves much more realistically than Mesh hair.

If you want to avoid the lag, there's a great Shop At Home alternative.  You can join the Hair Fair Demo group (it's free!) and then check the group notices to collect demos from ALL the exhibitors.  Just paste this link in local chat, then click the group link that appears, and join the group.  Then look in the Notices tab.  secondlife:///app/group/2e30d166-f3e5-e2de-ff72-b3da2d06ded2/about

One good thing about Hair Fair:  You have the opportunity to see offerings from many more creators than the "usual suspects" that you, like me, probably have in your landmarks folder.  Some of these have some very lovely creations on offer.  Others...well, I will never understand what SOME women are willing to do to their hair to look...er, unique.

Another REALLY good thing about Hair Fair:  A percentage of every sale goes to support Wigs For Kids, a very worthy charity.



This year, Hair Fair occupies four regions, dubbed Blonde, Red, Noirette, and Brunette (not the actual region names.)  The regions have huge signs all over them, so you can tell when you are camming into another region and need to move over to grab gifts and demos.  The building theme is shopping bags...the individual stores all look like gigantic shopping bags, I kid you not.

When you go, go low-lag.  Take off high prim clothes and jewelry.  Wear a hairbase tattoo and a hat or a bandanna.  Wear simple shoes.  Take off scripted HUDs.  The sims are often full and you may have to bump around outside for a while before someone leaves and you can get in.

If you forgot the landmark, just search Places for "Hair Fair."  All the regions, plus low-occupancy "arrival" regions will be listed.  Click any of them and teleport to the Fair!

Here are a few more pictures of my visit.  I have not specifically included any pictures of any of the hair styles on offer.  For one thing, there are far too many.  For another, my taste may not be the same as yours.  Try the demos, or make a visit, and set your own style!  Hair Fair 10 runs from now until July 26.

Four Sims of Hirsute Extravagance


The Giant Shopping Bags
Young Matron Shopping With the Kids

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dreams of Second Life

The annual Second Life Birthday celebration is the grid's largest party, in both size and duration.  This year marks Second Life's 12th birthday.  Perhaps the most amazing thing about this event is that it's a perfect metaphor for SL itself.  SL is a world created by and for its residents.  Some years ago, Linden Lab organized and ran the Birthday event, but about four years ago they dropped their participation.  The residents were not about to let the Birthday die, however.  They stepped in and organized and ran the entire thing.  The Birthday, like Second Life, is a creation of Second Life's residents.

Today, Sunday June 28, wraps up the "live" week of the grand SL12B celebration...the last day for live performances and events.  But even if you missed it, the 15 "Birthday" regions and exhibits will remain open for the next week.

If you have haven't been, you REALLY should go.  The Birthday is always an event that can only be described as "sensory overload."  This year's theme is "What Dreams May Come" and the residents of Second Life have outdone themselves in exploring that theme.

Find the SL12B official website here: http://www.slcommunitycelebration.info/

You can use the many SLURL links on that site to teleport to the Birthday sims, or just enter "SL12B" in Search/Places or on the main Map.

Here are some of the things I ran across, while wandering about and trying to hold on to my sanity...

Abigail Tempest Performing at the Cake Stage

Alien Visitors (The UFO they came in is behind me)

Fighting Sail on the Blake Sea

The Ginormous Cake Stage, Straddling 4 Regions

Caledon Oxbridge Exhibit, featuring Cavorite

The "Dreamitarium"

Evolution of Dreams, or an Escape?

The HuntSL Tower

Relaxing at Impressive Roads

Moles in Black!


POW-MIA Support Group Exhibit

Amazing Textures in the Sarcophagus of Sleep

"Shattered Dreams" Statue by Isabelle Torok

Sailing in Second Life

Aviation in Second Life

SLUniverse - The Oldest and Largest Independent SL Forum

Strum Diesel Performs Live at the Main Stage

Inside an Amorphous and Surreal Build

Dreams of Trains

Another Surreal Experience - "Visions"

The Entry to "Visions"












One exhibit that I forgot to get a picture of is The Forum Cartel Hangout.  The Cartel is a group of people brought together by their love of the old Second Life discussion forums.  They have a group in world that anyone can join, and an in-world Hangout.  The old forums are gone, but the Cartel lives on...its members are still chatting, and still dreaming.  If you want to find a bunch of friendly (if sometimes eccentric) people, look us up!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Linden Lab Announces End of Third Party $L Resellers

Well, dear readers, our friends at the Lab have done it again -- shafted the residents and merchants that support Second Life, and shot themselves in the foot into the bargain.

Today, LL announced that the Linden Dollar Authorized Reseller Program would close as of August 1.  The link to its SL Wiki page already has been deleted, and only an announcement that the program is closed remains.  Read LL's blog post here: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Concluding-the-Authorized-L-Reseller-Pilot-Program/ba-p/2941442

The reason given is that LL has, over the past two years, provided more ways for residents of Second Life to buy $L, especially non-US residents who do not have access to PayPal, so the third party resellers are no longer necessary.

The changes made to the Terms of Service two years ago, when LL closed two-way third party $L exchanges, impacted a lot of residents.  Many believe that new US regulations on virtual currencies, or at least the Treasury's interpretation of the laws, was the driving factor behind this move.  The $L Authorized Reseller Program was put in place as at least a partial solution to those difficulties.

Most of the largest third party dealers went along with this.  Even though they could no longer buy back $L from residents, creating a two way exchange, they remained in the business of selling $L.  Over time, the program gained additional approved resellers, until there were about 29 choices in addition to the official Linden Lab exchange.

Now LL has decided, once again, to intervene in their virtual economy.  In my opinion, the move is not, as the previous one probably was, in response to a changing Real World legal environment, but yet another attempt on the part of LL to appropriate a Second Life revenue stream developed by the residents for themselves.  (In their blog post, LL even states this is a "business decision.")  I am also bemused by the fact that LL is now calling it a "pilot" program, a term that was never used to describe it before.  I suspect they did this to try to make it look like they are canceling a small, unproductive, or even failed effort -- when in fact the Reseller program was large, active, and growing.

This sort of behavior on the part of the Lab is not new.  They increased the costs of private estate ownership to give a greater competitive edge to their own Mainland regions and keep more of the income from estates for themselves.  They introduced themed areas like Nautilus and Bay City to try and get a share of the themed estate market.  They decided to charge fees for people making skill games and running skill gaming regions, skimming off a goodly percentage of that income.  Linden Homes took a huge share of the "first home owner" market away from resident landlords and estate owners.

Second Life is a business.  I understand that, we all do.  Unless Linden Lab earns a profit on Second Life, our beloved virtual world will vanish.  That's a fact of life, and no one with three working brain cells would assert that LL should provide us with our world simply out of the goodness of their hearts.  But when clever residents come up with ways to make money in SL, it smacks of bullying for LL to usurp those income streams by fiat.  Moreover, moves like this lead to uncertainty on the part of entrepreneurs.  No one is going to invest a lot of time, effort, and money to build up a virtual business if they think that as soon as it's a success, LL will come and take it for themselves.

The right way to profit from a virtual economy is to set the rules and then LEAVE THEM ALONE, for pity's sake.  If the economy is stable, it's more likely to grow...and so will LL's cut.  Trying to grab a bigger slice of a smaller pie is self-destructive over the long run.




Thursday, May 28, 2015

FLASH! New Limit on Groups for Premium Members

The maximum number of groups you can belong to has just jumped from 42 to 60!  That's a very unexpected surprise present from LL.  Because the number of allowed groups increased the load on the servers exponentially, tech-savvy SL residents all said it would most likely never happen.  Now it has...but only if you are a Premium member.  This is a very nice addition to the Premium benefits package.

Here's the official announcement: 60 Groups for Premium Members

And you read it here first!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FLASH ! Silent Art Auction to Benefit Relay for Life

If you like to sail, like art, and want to help in the fight against breast cancer, here's an event for you!

Sail4Life, the Second Life sailing community’s Relay for Life team, will hold its Silent Art Auction, May 22-24. All sailors and landlubbers from across the grid are invited.

Original, one-of-a-kind, maritime-themed artwork by SL artists will be available for auction.  An anonymous donor has volunteered to match the total donated in the auction kiosks.  All proceeds go to Relay for Life. The artwork will be on display at the serene, seaside Holly Kai Park at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/160/118/28.

The Silent Art Auction begins with a party featuring DJ Joy Canadeo, Friday, May 22, 5-7 p.m., in the Holly Kai Park Party Pavilion at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Holly%20Kai%20Estates/191/150/21. The auction closes with a party featuring DJ G. Winz on Sunday, May 24, 3-5 p.m.

For more information, contact Winnie Sweetwater, chair, Sail4Life team.