Thursday, March 31, 2011

Some Resources For Your Second Life

In a brief departure from the recent norm I wanted to highlight some of the resources available to those of us living in Second Life that I use most often. The photos may or may not have anything to do with the content of this post - in most cases they are of places I just haven't had a chance to mention as of yet.

One of the best sources of information on Second Life, with links to answers for questions you haven't even thought of yet, is Daniel Voyager's blog. Daniel is one of the most active correspondents we have on the grid and if you go through the tabs at the top of his page you'll find a wealth of information gathered in an easily accessed format. If you want to know more about this world Daniel is always the "go to" person.

If you want to know how to make something for Second Life but don't know where to start the best place is the MetaLibrary. Compiled and maintained by Indigo Mertel this is a treasure trove of smart and invaluable information about everything from Blender to poses. Take advantage of all of Indigo's hard work (and support the library if you find it helpful).

Speaking of poses - I'm certainly not a model. However, I do on occasion like to tell stories and include illustrative photos with them which requires my "character" to look at least semi appropriate for the narrative. If you want to start creating a "pose library" then you need to visit Status. Elusyve and Gidge display a wonderful sense of humour and I haven't found anything there so "precious" that I didn't want it. The icing on this cake is that the prices are fabulous! Besides, how many designers do you know who create a colour scheme for their store which somehow magically mirrors that of the two cats playing outside?

Words are important, even in a virtual world, and there is a rich culture of book clubs, writing and literature in Second Life. Locations such as the Milk Wood Writers' Colony & Showcase and Book Island are good places to start.

Crap Mariner writes a 100 Word Story every day and invites others to do the same in his weekly challenges. In addition he performs his story readings every week on Edloe and at various storytelling gatherings around the grid. Follow him and his adventures and find links to this active group of verbalists.

To find those residents who feel the same way you do about your favourite author just use search. You may be astounded at the number of sims and groups that share your fascination.

I realize that this is just a small sampling of the resources available to us but they are some of my favourites. I believe that all of the inworld sites mentioned or photographed (with the exception of Milk Wood) are rated "Moderate". I'll get them added to the page that sorts by maturity rating as soon as I can. :)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Running Away to Steeltopia in Second Life

It's been one of those days. They happen every now and then. One of those days when I realize that I'm an idiot and trying to fix things just makes them worse. So I decided to run away.

I opened the map and clicked on group of islands at random without even looking at the names. I wound up in Steeltopia (moderate maturity rating). Well, to be specific, I wound up at Poseidon's Aquatorium and the first thing I saw was a sign that said "Rocket Launch Controls". I don't think it's a good idea for me to be messing with wmd's at this moment.

I travelled over to the first island and found many things - including the Krimson Karnival. My attempt at the strength test didn't ring the bell. It wasn't a complete disaster though, I did find the mallet again afterwards and I'm sure they have backup copies of those windows in inventory.

I became very curious about this Parabolic Trajectory Enhancer though. I mean how much trouble could I possibly cause with that? I'm going back later to find out.

I started to wander around the various islands and found, among other things, the Pythagorus Airbase. There are some cool flying machines parked there but I decided I probably wasn't qualified to test any of them.

After playing tourist in the residential areas I found an old coal mine. It wasn't til I was about to descend that I realized that the place is haunted. I could use phrases here involving discretion and valour but the truth is I chickened out.

I concluded very early on in my visit that "There is too much to see and do on Steeltopia". Then I realized that if I wanted to run away and ignore the rest of the world this is a perfect place to do it. There's so much there there that I can happily explore for a long time.

First I'll see where the train takes me.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Pastoral Bonanza in Second Life

It doesn't matter how many times I tell myself to "look at the map" when I visit new places, I still forget. And I miss things. Things that would be glaringly obvious if I just clicked that little button.

I recently visited the Gulf of Lune as part of a multi-sim journey and if I had looked at the map I would have realized that it's just one part of a 10 region build called the Calas Galadhon Park (moderate maturity rating).

Anchored by the small town of Calas Galadhon, this park is a stunning destination for those who like to hike, ride, paddle or just sit and ignore the stresses of all of the worlds we live in. I spent most of my journey through the beauty of these islands muttering insults at myself for having missed this before.

Miles and miles of country roads wind through forest and farmland. You can find marsh and sea scapes and tiny rivers with boats available to allow you to sail or paddle your way around the countryside.

I'm certainly not the first person to find this park. There were visitors on all 10 sims but the sense of peace and quiet wasn't disturbed by sharing the space with others. For one thing it's just too big to not be able to find a lot of areas for solitary contemplation if that's what you're looking for.

I did have my first opportunity to meet a unicorn though. Yuna Bellios didn't actually speak but it was a friendly encounter and, although I'm not great with portraits, I couldn't resist this shot. I believe I understood the body language well enough to feel I had permission to take this photograph.

This is a wonderful collection of islands. You can explore for hours and leave all your stress and worries far behind you. This has become my "go to" place for just that. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Swedish Fairy Tale Hosts Art in Second Life

An art gallery whose name comes from a Swedish fairy tale has a new home. Norden Art is now situated on Nordan om Jorden (moderate maturity rating) and is an eclectic mix of old european, futuristic metal and Second Life water design. I loved it!

Inside the main buildings you will currently find animated art by Natsha Lemton, tryptichs by Helene Lytton and sculptures by Rebeca Bashly. Don't neglect the futuristic build attached to one side - there are some stunning pieces in that display as well.

Flora Nordenskiold does not restrict her display areas to the buildings however. Nearby in the shallow water offshore is the full installation of Rose Borchovski's Memories. Here Susa Bubble returns without losing any of her complexity or power.

Make sure you use the teleporter to travel up inside the sphere. You will have a completely different understanding of the piece and a whole new view of Susa.

This is a terrific collection of artists and their works. I look forward to future shows at Norden Art.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

General Doesn't Have To Mean Childish in Second Life

It was a pleasant surprise in a way to realize that a number of fabulous builds (e.g., Pteron and The Forgotten City) are rated "General" and so accessible to all of Second Life's residents. But I set out to find more.

In my quest to identify destinations with a maturity rating of "General" I found a few new spots and rediscovered a couple of old favourites. The first must be considered a grid institution by now - Mad Pea Games. I've done the Kaaos Effect and there is nothing childish about this adventure.

Mad Pea has dramatically increased the number of their offerings and I recommend that everybody go experience at least one of their very high quality games. Start at the Games Hub and choose your challenge. You'll have a great time!

New to me was Escapades - an island full of games and quests. This one is "younger" than the other offerings in this post but a beautiful build and well worth exploring. You can even go down to the docks and tp up to visit a very lonely robot.

Frost on Alirium is a stunning winter fantasy landscape (no mucking around in windlight was done for this photo - that's all the result of the designer's talent). If you need adventure you could certainly create your own in this bizarre yet beautiful setting.

Another old favourite was the Pot Healer Adventure on Numbakulla. Many have tried but few have completed this quest. I'm sure you'll succeed but even if you don't it's a great place to spend some time trying. :)

The last option in this post is another terrific landscape. Although it's a bit puzzling - the Rouge Forest is not red. But you can obviously do amazing things with blue, black, white and the occasional splash of green. :)

These five destinations have been added to the page where I sort my travels by maturity rating. I look forward to adding more. :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

A Distressed Landscape In Second Life

I took time out from the Burnal Equinox this morning to go visit a lovely store called Distressed Textures situated on Eternidad (moderate maturity rating). There is a peace and calmness about this island that brings back the feeling of warm spring days in the country.

I saw a couple sitting on the end of the pier with their feet dangling over the edge just staring out into the water and chatting. You could feel the warm sunlight and hear the water - it's a very evocative landscape.

And, yes, of course I played around with windlight a bit. Those sliders are addictive but the build has an impact without them. It's a fabulous study in minimalism and the colours and textures are sublime.

I adore textures even when I'm not actively building anything. This is a terrific place to go seek out new ones and just enjoy what the designer has created. Eternidad is a must see.

I've added Eternidad to the page listing my explorations by maturity rating. I still need to find more "general" locations and I'm working on it. :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Burn2 2011 - Passages in Second Life

The Burn2 Burnal Equinox (moderate maturity rating) celebration has begun and you are all invited! There is dancing and cavorting and carrying on as I write this and all of the mayhem will continue throughout the weekend.

As part of the kickoff there were a few key announcements:

  1. Burn2 2011 will begin on October 1. The aim is to have 18 sims this year (I'd better start training now).
  2. The theme is "Passages". Based on the theme for Burning Man 2011:

    There are moments of crisis and frisson in our lives which inform us that we've somehow crossed an inner threshold and are changed. Thus moving from one state of being into an unknown other obliges us to face our innermost insecurities, and it requires faith, a willingness to leap off the ladder of ordered existence. Our theme this year invites participants to join with others in creating rites of passage.

    The organizers would like the artists and camp builders to consider creating "rites of passage" for those who attend. Applications for camp sites will be available shortly.

  3. There is a huge opportunity to volunteer. If you'd like to build but never have - look at the "hotties" in the Department of Mutant Vehicles as a fabulous place to learn and contribute while belonging to a team of truly mad creators. If you love people in all their flawed beauty - look to the guides and greeters and linguists. The website will be announcing all of the volunteer opportunities (and there are too many for me to list) so bookmark it and check back frequently.

Burn2 is one of the few gridwide events held and it's enormous fun. More importantly it tries to include everybody and we all have the chance to get involved in something truly magical.

This weekend is one big party. There is music and insanity 24 hours a day. This afternoon the DMV races will start at 5:00 pm and I plan to be there. Start thinking about what you want to do for Burn 2 this year but go have some fun while you do. :)

Mulligan Can Finally Visit Zindra

Mulligan is 18 years old today. All 6 pounds of her. You'd think at her age she'd be a sedate grande dame but instead she's more like the juvenile delinquent I've always known.

I've given up worrying about feeding her the "right" things. Keeping her eating seems more important and she does eat about 4 times a day. The problem is that I keep misunderstanding what she's ordered off the menu and wind up having to throw stuff out and replace it. I'm apparently a very slow learner but in my own defense she changes her mind about what's good every day or so and I have trouble keeping up.

A few weeks ago she started yelling at me. It sounded like the usual call for some kind of protein so I fed her. She ate for a while and then started yelling again. This went on every 60 to 90 minutes for more than 24 hours. Nothing I did seemed to appease her.

Part way through the night I suddenly thought that maybe she was really sick and in pain. Maybe this was the end. The next day I happened to walk into my bedroom and saw a small something on the floor. It was a catnip bud.

Understand that one of the famous crops from here is BC Bud - the most powerful marijuana around. The same growing conditions produce the most potent catnip buds known. I had hidden a bag of them very carefully. She found them.

Mulligan wasn't sick or in pain. She was seeing dragons. My almost 18 year old cat was stoned out of her gourd. sigh

I've never known an animal who gets into as much mischief as she does and somehow she always winds up looking at me like I'm the one to blame.

So here's to Mulligan. Long may she drive me crazy. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Something's Burning in Second Life

Dust is starting to blow in the wind on the playa. There is activity once more in the middle of nowhere and you should plan to take advantage of this. :) It is time for the Burnal Equinox!

Beginning at 11:00 am SLT on Friday March 25th and lasting through the weekend you will be able to join with other residents to dance and sing and watch Mutant Vehicle races. The Department of Public Works is busy making sure there are adequate port-a-potties and that they are suitably decorated.

At 11:00 SLT there will be the opening ceremonies at Burn U (maturity rating "Moderate") and an announcement will be made regarding the theme of this year's big festival in October. Volunteers make this event what it is and you will get more information at the same time concerning how to become involved.

The rest of the day will be packed:

  • Noon Mommaluv Skytower
  • 1:00 Drum
  • 2:00 Burner Studio with Dusty Udal
  • 3:00 Phoenix Gerhadsen
  • 4:00 BubbaC John
  • 5:00 DMV Flower Power Races
  • 7:00 Myst Dancers
  • 8:00 Lamplighters Procession

As always be prepared for surprises!

I will be covering as much of the event as I can but you should really go see it for yourself. I won't be able to get to everything! Although I do plan to watch the races - the DMV has a well deserved reputation!

On a slightly different topic - I saw an interesting question yesterday about destinations that are teen friendly. It occurred to me that I rarely indicate the maturity ratings for the regions I cover on this blog. I intend to change that and, in addition, I've added a page where I'm listing the various destinations in my posts sorted by category. You can find this page here or use the link at the top on the right hand side.

There is obviously a tendency for people to classify their regions as "moderate" - I'm not sure it's always appropriate. The good news is that some truly wonderful builds such as Pteron and the Forgotten City are classified as General so the 16/17 year olds on the grid can enjoy them. I will try and find a lot more. :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Say Goodbye to Imagine Plus in Second Life

Miss Art Deco by jin acacia

The word is that the gorgeous outdoor water based art gallery that is Imagine Plus will be closing on April 2. This is a heads up that you really need to go visit before it's too late.

Even the (very) large version of my favourite avatar is waving goodbye. You should do the same.

A Dreamers' Paradise in Second Life

My name is Honour McMillan and I love colour. There, I've admitted what you've always known. I also love gardens and Dreamers' Paradise gives me both. Something about the combination of lush plant life and riotous colour just makes me feel good.

Titled "Candy for the Heart, Mind & Soul" I was actually expecting something less impressive. My fear of overtly sweet and sugary was, however, misplaced. This fae sim is owned by the Lucid Dream Travelers group and they've done a fabulous job of creating a romantic fantasy that is all grown up.

In many places it's like walking through an impressionist garden painting. This is not easy to achieve without relying on cliches and I applaud them.

While I was here I experimented with a windlight setting by AM Radio that I had finally installed thanks to Raul Crimson. The results were really interesting (at least to me).

And speaking of art, the photo above reminded me of works by Toni Onley. So I focused solely on the sim surround and got something reminiscent of one of his watercolours (although of course he did it much better).

Go see Dreamers' Paradise and discover your own inspiration. :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Secret Forest Musings on Second Life

I had some time to reflect on things when I went to see the dark rp store (Rune Magic) situated on a sim called the Secret Forest. This is a really cool place to do what I like to do which is play with windlight and shadows and see what happens when you move sliders around. I don't like the composition of most of these photos but, again, my objective was to play with buttons not create classic works of art. :)

I recommend you go visit this build and see what happens when you mess around with all those wonderful settings.

My musings seemed to center around the need we all appear to have which is to impose our own personal views on everybody else. Have you ever noticed how often people pronounce what amount to rules for Second Life? "Avatar shapes must have this size butt." "Male av's shouldn't look muscle bound." "Shadows should only be used to subtly highlight."

Really? We have a brave new world and we're aiming for homogenized milk?

I guess I'm a little cranky but all of these types of pronouncements (which often involve rants and group taunting against perceived offenders) seem like an awful lot of weight is being attached to superficial nonsense. It reminds me of the old "don't wear white between labour day and easter" which was mostly a way for an "elite" group of southern belles to distinguish between themselves and the common folk. After all you had to both know the rule and follow it if you were going to prove your place in the upper echelons of society.

I'm not claiming to be innocent in all this. I have my own personal biases. For example, as much as I hate to disagree with all the really smart people - I may be a customer of Linden Lab, but I am still a resident of Second Life. There is a difference.

Maybe I should write a rule.