Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Kristin Linden And The "Bid The Lindens Bald"

By Bixyl Shuftan

"Bid Me Bald" events have been going on in the Relay for Life in Second Life for a decade, in which someone pledges to have their avatar go without hair for a certain amount of time if a certain amount of cash is raised. Over the years, there have been some interesting twists, such as "Bid Me Tiny," furred avatars doing a "Bid Me Human," "Bid Me Purple," people promising to go bald in real life, and more.

But this year comes something new. While Linden Lab no doubt has been proud of the Relay, highlighting it and being of assistance for the sims on the Relay Weekend Walk, they themselves had not taken part in the event, until now. On March 29, it was announced that twenty-eight Lindens would take part in a Bid Me Bald event. They would be split in three teams, Concierge, Land Operations and LDPW, and Customer Accounts. Each would have a kiosk in one corner of the Relay dAlliez sim. And on the afternoon of April 19, the totals would be tallied and the loser getting shaved.

Among the twenty-eight taking part is Kristin Linden of the Customer Accounts team. She has been with the Lab since at least March 2013. I had the chance to meet up with her at one impromptu event at Relay dAlliez. While no one generally thinks of Lindens as being typical, there's a stereotype that they have ordinary avatars. This wasn't the case with Kristin as hers was a skeleton sporting a red wig. "... look.. it's Skeleton Linden," Rowena Dubrovna, the tiny otter of the Relay exclaimed upon seeing her, "SkeleLinden."

Kristin was going through a few IMs, "My apologies, I am multitasking." but greeted me and hoped I was doing well. I asked her, "can you tell me anything about where the idea for Bidding the Lindens Bald came from?" Kristen answered, "Unfortunately I don't have any information on that as I was not a part of the planning. I was told about it and encouraged to participate. I thought it was an awesome idea, so I figured I'd bring my luscious hair along (smile)." "Is that a favorite hairpeice of yours?" I asked her. Kristin responded, "I think it accentuates my cheekbones."

I then asked her about her appearance, "Is this the avatar you're usually in, or were you at an event earlier?" Her answer was it was her usual look, for now, "This is my usual avatar for the time being. I wanted the outside to match the inside." "It's rather .... unique." I stated, "Where did you get the idea for it?" She answered, "Honestly, I just thought it was a cool idea. Plus easy to maintain. Don't have to worry about having a face....or clothing...or much of anything really. (grin)" "Like being bald would be?" Trader Whiplash asked her. "Don't have to worry about skin care that's for sure." Kristin answered. I then asked about the jokes others had made about the avatar, "I take it you've heard a few?" "Some have hit my funny bone for sure,"

Kristin wryly answered. "Can you give some examples?" I asked. "I can't remember any specifics off the top of my head," she answered, "Though I get offered food a lot." "I take if people call that your low-lag avatar?" I asked amusingly. She answered, "I fell asleep at the blood drive." There were a few chuckles and groans, Fuzball Ortega saying, "I like this Linden."

Although Kristin had been a Linden only since 2013, she had heard about Second Life much earlier, "I believe I heard about it around 2007...ish..give or take. I've been in the industry for a while and there was an opening, so I took it (smile)." "I take it your first days were interesting?" I asked. She responded, "Every day is interesting." Someone asked, "How do you get to be a Linden?" She answered, "You apply for a position/job like with any other company. Our current open positions should be available on the Careers section of the Linden Lab website."

I asked Kristen, "What inworld experiences stand out besides taking to the guy with the biggest hair in Second Life, and talking to a fox reporter? (smirk)" Kristin answered, "Any time I get a chance to hang out and interact with Residents is always a pleasure."

Someone soon asked, "Kristin, may I have one of you adorable mustache bears?" Most Lindens have teddy bears they give out on request. Some have unique features, Kristin's being green with lip hair. The bony Linden answered, "Of course!" "I love that one (laughter) Thank you (smile)." "You're welcome (smile)."

The Linden reminded everyone, "And feel free to spread the word! We do have a post about the event on the forums as well:"

Eventually, the crowd for the impromptu event thinned. And Kristin had to go Away From Keyboard to take care of some matters.

The Bid The Lindens Bald event ends on April 19. There will be further Bid Me Bald events. It is unclear how soon Linden Lab will get involved again.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, April 6, 2017

April Fool's In and Out of Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

For those who love a good joke, or even a lame one, April Fool's Day is a day to look forward to. It gives one a chance to play a few jokes or pranks (harmless ones). The idea of a day for jokes and merriment goes back at least to Roman times. April Fool's Day as we know it has been around for a few centuries, supposedly it started when the adoption of the Gregorian calendar (the one used today) moved New Year's Day from April 1 to January1, and that those whom still celebrated New Year's on April 1 were called "April Fools."

Besides people playing jokes, newspapers and other news media have also done some foolery of their own with joke articles, one famous example being a BBC TV show about "spaghetti farms." And so the Newser has been doing an April Fool article every year, our foolery this year being that Linden Labs pushed back Sansar over a year due to a Windows 10 update, and was working on a third dinosaur-themed virtual world. Last year, we joked Donald Trump had bought Second Life. In 2015, Michi Lumin of Luskwood was in on the joke, us saying she had been hired by ABC News as their technology news anchor. In 2014, the joke article was Linden Lab was doing away with last names in older accounts. Our first one in 2011 was of Linden Lab announcing it was about to shut down Second Life for six months as glitches were about to make it so laggy as to be unplayable.

But the Newser wasn't the only one pulling April Fool's stunts. The Furry Fashion mall was temporarily sporting a new look on the roofs. The owner Amethyst Crystal gave me a picture of the new aerial view of the place, "We also changed the sim terrain texture to a picture from the 'Bee Movie.' That is a bit of a meme on the Internet. So we changed the sim terrain for a April Fool joke." She didn't tell me how long the prank paint job would "bee" up.

But this wasn't the only joke. The staff of Furry Fashion played a joke on those frequenting the place by replacing their display names with temporary ones based on the store owner's nickname: Ame. "It's an April Fool thing," Amethyst Crystal explained, "Many people try to say staff are my alts. So some of us have all changed our names to be like me." She then gave me a list of those in her staff who made the change in their names.:

Never be the Ame again (Amethyst Crystal)
The Ame with the D (RickGuyy)
Ame the Crux (LabMadeCrux)
Ultraviolet Crux Ame (TonyBurk)
Maybe Ame (Skyler Glasswing)
Disney Ame (Becky Doulton)
Amethyst (Strype Puddlegum)
Always Ame (Sugalite Silverfall)
Say my Ame Say my Ame (Caelia Bailey)
Not your Ame (CaeliaAmethysia)
Noob Ame (VileNik)
Distracted Ame (f2004w)
Could be Ame (Alexiel Magnolia)
Ame that could be Ame (Becky Nosferatu)
Is It Ame (Klomonx)
Violently Ame (LemonPledge)
I Can't Believe It's Not Ame (MoogaSpectrum)
Oh look its another F-ing Ame (ScratchMusikatt Sprocket)
That one Ame in the corner (TatteredTwilite)
Famous Ame-us (VesperBloodwing Parx)
Aim (xdakafallx)

The Furry Fashion Lounge would have an April Fool-themed event: "April Fool/Memes." The group notice for halftime went, "Thats right we are here and having fun this April Fools Day!!! Come Join In the fun !!! all you need to enter the contest hosted by Amethyst get some silly outfits or fashion nightmares mix and match or jester outfits on and come to Furry Fashion Lounge! DJ I Cant Believe its not Ame, has the ABSOLUTE BEST music to help us have fun today. And we have 1300L Up on that board!" People were encouraged to bring their funniest, craziest, goofiest looks. Ukli Resident had a particularly strange appearance (pictured left), "I'm laughing at my own avatar!" Feline avatars were also encouraged, "Cats are made of memes." There were a number of funny tunes played, and a few that had become memes themselves such as the "Rick-Roll" song. The contest was won by Emorald Resident, with Ukli coming second.

Furry Fashion wasn't the only place to have an April Fool Event. Grendel's Children did as well. Toady Nakamura had the following announcement.

Sixth annual!!! April Fool!  The ANNUAL April Fools event from your friends at "Frog-n-Cat productions" is back, this time in a yuge castle!! ... No fooling. !!   :)  Ride the Rocket where you arrive to get to the Castle!!  More than 164.5 gifts all over -- in things or in gift boxes -- and ready to go home with you!!

Looking around from the entrance at Grendel's, it didn't take long to find the rocket to ''Catsel Bufo." Inside, there was a shopping area were one could get discount items, such as an underground tunnel kit, as well as a freebie dragon. Going further, there were a number of fun exhibits (be careful about bumping the dino skeletons). Finally getting back outside, there was a "Munchman" game (a Second Life Pac-Man spinoff game).

And then there was the "Everfest" event in Bay City. For three days from Thursday March 30 to Saturday April 1 Bay City celebrated the life of their late noted resident whom passed away three years ago, one noted for her quirky sense of humor.

"It went quite well," Marianne McCann, Bay City's most noted resident, told the Newser, "Chaos and frivolity rules, with quite a focus on sharks this time out. Ever did like her shark fancy dress costume, so I s'pose that's no surprise. What struck me is that the events tended to go much, much longer than expected. Folks had a blast bowling, and the dance party was going strong an hour after it officially ended. There were a number of residents who never had the chance to meet Ever, but I Hope some of us who did know her were able to help share some of her spirit."

Marianne also pulled an April Fool stunt that was apart from Everfest. She posted an update on her SL page, "END OF AN ERA: after 10 years in Bay City, it's time for a change. Traded my land with a Kama City landowner. It's time to shake things up in Zindra. ... I hope to be opening "Lirp Aloof's Home for Wayward Child Avatars" in the Oritz region soon!" There were responses of "Oh noooooo!" Before she finally admitted it was a joke. "I got quite a few folks with my April Fool," she stated, "I don't know if I should be happy or dismayed that I actually did fool quite a few."

In the past in the world of gaming, there have been some noteworthy April Fools stunts. Blizzard, the maker of World of Warcraft, made an announcement early in the game's history they would be introducing a panda-like race: the Pandaren. But the joke proved so popular, Blizard eventually brought them into the game for real. And there have been some playable April Fool's stunts, such as War Thunder's "My Little Pony" fighters. But this year, there was a surprising lack of April Foolery in the games yours truly checks out. Elder Scrolls Online had a "Jesters Festival." That was pretty much it. No special games in War Thunder, World of Tanks, or World of Warships. The ships game did have an unplayable submarine added to it's players' rosters, which turned into a free slot when the stunt was over, So at least there was that. No joke announcement in World of Warcraft either. Star Trek Online made a reference to "Contact Day," which made me wonder if the game was saying the day the Vulcans had chosen to make contact was April 1. It wasn't. Perhaps that April Fools Day fell on a Saturday and not a weekday this year was the reason for the lack of gags this time. Ark Survival Evolved did have a major update that put severe limits on flying mounts and boats that frustrated many players, Nydia Tungsten's Furry Gamers group included. But this was no April Fool, and no one was laughing.

So in the world of gaming, in which Second Life residents sometimes step into for a break in the routine, there would be no chuckles. But here on the grid, there were a number of examples of residents cracking jokes and having fun.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, March 31, 2017

Scenes From the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Press Day

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education (VWBPE) Conference is going on this week. Last week on Sunday March 19, the Newser was invited for an early peek on the Press Day.

The theme for this year's conference: "Legacy." It had been ten years since the first VWBPE conference in Second Life. And so the people of the organization want to celebrate their past successes in addition to looking forward to what the future will bring and what the present has to offer.

"The more things change, the more they stay the same." This wasn't just a theme, it would be the theme of one of the discussions on the first day of the conference.

Noted blogger Strawberry Singh was there. She would do her own article about the VWBPE.

There was a press badge giver we could pick up one from.

And there were souvenir sailor hats one could also get.

One could teleport to various spots using the interactive maps in various spots.

One spot we were shown was the Legacy area, still under construction, that looked back at the previous nine years of the VWPBE.

 We would be shown other areas.

 Including the auditorium

 Then came the place that was named the Social Area.

At one point, we were directed to some stairs leading down (hold your breath).

The stairway led below to an underwater area, of plants and fish around the remains of an ancient town.

 We then headed inside the Social Area building.

 Inside was an opening to the water below, and an underwater scooter.

After the tour was done, we were invited to take rides on it (the scuba gear was my own, not provided by them).

 Back down into the watery underwaterworld to explore

Stay clear of the tentacles.

Back on the surface, I had a little more time to explore the Social Area building before events called me away

Saturday April 1 is the last day of the VWBPE conference. There is much to see and some to hear. So if you have some spare moments, have a look.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 27, 2017

Sci-fi Convention in Second Life

By Grease Coakes

Most people in second life know that Relay For Life is a huge force in the grid as many teams compete to raise lindens to turn into real money to fight against cancer in the real world. Second in itself is a virtual experience with a sci-fi theme. Log in into a world where anything is possible from creating a fantasy or sci-fi environment. Also you can meet people from around the globe whether in your own country or somewhere else in the globe. So Second Life is an excellent medium to present a sci-fi convention which is subtitled passport to Hope.

The 2017 Sci-Fi Convention is held at Forty Two (103/124/23) and you learn about it here From March 24th until April 2nd this year you can stop by and have a galaxy of fun with vendors, DJs, and events. I was surprised to find a Klingon city that was empty (I guess the Klingons killed everyone and went back to Kronos). And also I was surprised when I found  Jadziyah Resident’s shop which had rockets from Tintin the European comic. I couldn’t help it but to buy the rocket where Tintin flew to the moon in one  of his adventures.

The sim was spilt up into earth,fire,water,air,life, and equilibrium as themes. All throughout the convention I saw lots of exciting things such as a RP area based on Star Trek. Also a theater which had real life photos of actors and a special actress that passed away recently. It showed actors such as Alan Rickman who played Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Also Carrie Fisher who was princess Leia in the Star Wars movies. Inside was a stargate from the Stargate movie and a huge Doctor who display.

At 3pm SLT I found a theater play called “The Lucid Journey.” Where a woman’s husband named Lewis Liddell is presumed dead. His wife still alive to take a journey in a dreamscape and beyond to find him. The character’s dialogue was in green text as the avatars were on stage. It was great to watch. There’s also scheduled events and a dj here and there. I saw lots of vendors selling Star Trek goodies and a few Star Wars vendors selling lite sabers.

I grabbed Ariadne Fall, who was one of the people in charge of the convention, and asked her what her thoughts were about the sci-fi convention and she had this to say, "It's wacky and fun, exhibitors form all over the grid, and events every single day....  it's proof of what pixel people can do when they believe in something. We love sci-fi and we hate cancer.  It's that simple."

I asked her, "What's your fave sci-fi movie, book series, whatever?"

Ariadne told me, "Ooohhhhh, good question!  'Biting The Sun' by Tanith Lee for favorite sci-for book. ...and favorite movie is a choice I cannot possibly make... if 'Earth Girls Are Easy,' 'Evolution,' 'Demolition Man' are on, I watch!"

One of the things people hope for in the future is that the human race destroys cancer. We always look for a future such as star trek where racism is a thing of the past and equality for all is what people strive for. The sci-fi convention here in second life is one cosmic leap in that direction.

Grease Coakes

Friday, March 17, 2017

CENT Discussion at Ethnographia

By Deaflegacy

The session at CENT place was in text/voice.  Shyla the Super Gecko (krijon) was the host.  The presentation is about the new organization Shyla helped create, which is for disabled people doing business on Second Life.  Shyla started the presentation off with some words about CENT.

"CENT stands for Capable Entrepreneurs Nurturing Talent. It is an organization for people with a disability of any kind, or who are friendly to us, to come together to network, share ideas, and grow the capabilities within our own community.  It is an idea I was bouncing around for quite a while before I first spoke about it with a friend. I have a lot of ideas, but it generally takes me quite a while to do something with them. I like them to be just right." said Shyla.  "Not sure how long my friend and I talked about this idea amongst ourselves, but we thought about bringing it to one of the Ethnographia chats. In December, at an Ethnographia chat, folks were trying to think of something to do for the holiday. There were lots of suggestions, all of them would require effort, commitment, and time."

"Many of the builders on these islands are also entrepreneurs in Second Life. I play it being an entrepreneur, I’m more an artist. I own a business in Second Life, but I more dedicated to my art, which is poetry. Either way, I know the holidays are a busy time for entrepreneurs as well as artists in Second Life.  I have thought about taking my art to an entrepreneurial level in Second Life, but I’ve not done not yet. I use Second Life’s open mics and opportunities to read my works as motivation to pursue artistic efforts in the real world, so to speak, since I am particularly homebound." said Shyla.  "But I did start a business at some point last year, and it was very eye-opening. It’s not easy. Perhaps, and I think this is true, it gets easier over time, but it gets busier too. What I mean is, running a business in Second Life involves certain skills, and if you don’t have them, knowledge of where to find them, or who can assist with them.  Over time, many entrepreneurs learn a variety of skills in Second Life. Thus, some of the earlier efforts we engaged in as business people would be easier today. But if entrepreneurs in Second Life successful, their business grows, and with it grow the demands of the business for their time, their creativity, their skills. So it is not as if becoming easier means it demands less time."

Shyla continued on with the presentation and said, "So to that conversation last December, it seemed to me most all of us might be very busy time of year, something someone who is not a Second Life entrepreneur might be completely unaware of. I mean, when I was new, everything in this virtual world was kind of like magic. One day it wasn’t here, the next day there something was as if it happened in just a moment.  That aspect of 'magic' is part of what makes what entrepreneurs in Second Life do so valuable. Many have no idea how to do these things or to put together a project or to maintain a sin or to protect the Sim, or to stream music or media, how to place an advertisement in the Second Life directory, who might be best to network with, whose for real and who’s a con, and so on.  But the reality is, and for those of us who have become skilled creators in one or more areas of Second Life, be it in creating prims or providing services, these are skills which we have acquired over time with the help of those who came before us. It took us time to sort out networking."

"Heck, for some of us it took time to believe we had something to contribute to the virtual world at all.  And now, for some of us, we contribute more than we ever imagined. And yet, we wonder what more we could do. If we just knew the right person to work with, the right person to share skills with, who knows the amazing things we could do?  What I know is becoming a creator in Second Life, opening my first business here, which is, again secondary to my art, as I have learned a lot. It is given me a great respect for what everyone does, builders, scripters, textures, customizers, service providers, DJs, organizations, coordinators, and the list goes on.  Second, I feel empowered. I feel better about myself, my relationship with the virtual world, and that I have something to contribute.  And this is what I hope CENT has to offer others in our community. That we may share, grow, flourish, prosper and be more empowered together.  This is probably the more ethereal view of CENT."

Shyla went on to say that at the core, they are entrepreneurs, and to steal from a blog post, which provides a whole lot more information on the vision of CENT (, they work. It is how they earn their living and become self-sufficient.

"Work is not a dirty word, but it does imply a pay-off. And I believe this idea is central to CENT’s success." said Shyla.  "The vision is an organization of Capable Entrepreneurs, who define Capable as they so choose. Business people aligned with the idea that we serve ourselves best if we are as self-sufficient as possible.  With CENT, we can organize ourselves so we can readily identify member scripters, builders, idea generators, marketers, and so on. Not so we can ask each other for favors, but so that we can share ideas and engage each other in business; offering compensation both parties can agree on and benefit from.  Finally, as a group we know others gave their time to use, freely and without question, as they were able. In so doing, they gave us the gift of success. We wish to pass this on, to Nurture Talent of those who wish to give this self-sufficient way of life a try. Some gave time in the way of encouragement, others via online tutorials or manuals and others with one-on-one training. None gave us all their time, but they gave some – and as our skills grow and we become more adept at running our businesses successfully, we wish to emulate those who helped us, as good citizens, offering what we can while still sustaining the businesses we build."

"In this way we can further grow the disabled business community and give, from what I can see, one of the greatest gifts of all – an opportunity to see ourselves in a positive way, a successful way, as self-sufficient individuals participating in the virtual world as a whole, with a viable voice that is worth hearing and a message which demonstrates inclusiveness is good, solid business for everyone. Hopefully, someday, this will be CENTs legacy: We came together, worked together, helped each other and demonstrated how capable we all are." said Shyla.  "For today, CENT is here, it is free to join and wants to hear your voice, help support your goals and offer hope to those who might follow us into business in the virtual worlds. We’d be honored to have you join us."

Tom Bukowski and Tredi Felisimo were the people who gave CENT the space to put the building on.  As Shyla puts it, "Tom and Tredi gave us the space to put this building on. And it will be the membership who determines what goes inside." Shyla said.  "Jayden created these logo options for us."

"It's a lovely building, but we had nothing to do with it - it's all CENT's wonderful creation!" said Tom.  "Great logo indeed - both versions!"

"Truly our honor and pleasure!" said Tredi.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Relay For Life Season Kickoff

By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday March 5 at 10 AM SL time, the Relay for Life's official fundraising season had it's Kickoff event. The first events had actually been the day before when "Paint Second Life Purple" had started, so this made for a little confusion as too which was the official start. But this being the "Kickoff," this was.

 This year's theme was "Passport to Hope." a reminder that the struggle against cancer is an international one. Yours truly was there representing his community's team: the Sunbeamers.

Speaking to the crowd was the Relay Committee.

Some were a little more relaxed than others.

Gem Sunkiller was a bit "Stilted" from a glitch.

IshtarAngel, Micheline, one of the photographers of the event.

Henning Lionheart aka "The Wolf" of Team Strange Journeys.

Tasha Fairplay

Wildstar Beaumont, Holocluck Henley, and Oldesoul Eldemar. Olde is wearing a "Shady Fox" t-shirt.

Bain Finch and Panza Elde.

Isolte Ember, the captain of the "Ponies for Life" team.

Kalila Mahoney's avatar complexity was a little high, so she wasn't showing on some people's viewers.

This lady was wearing a mask, though it looked a little like the "dirty binoculars" prank from years ago.

RacerX Gullwing of the Giant Snail Racing team and Arizona Ballinger.

Avariel Falcon was a little late to the event, but made it over.

At one point, they were discussing the new "Passport HUD."

The Passport HUD, named after this year's theme, is a new tool one has to use this year to get certain Relay tools, such as the Relay team kiosks. This year, the kiosks cannot simply be passed around freely.

Looks like something broke. I myself ended up crashing several times

At one point, many of us were in a conga dance.

Some other girls were doing their own dancing. Note one nearby avatar that would not fully rezz.

 Some of the "Tiny Chrononauts."

Eventually, the Kickoff was over. But there would be a large number of events that day, as well as the Fashion for Life that had started. Once again, it was time to Relay. Time to once again raise money to help the American Cancer Society in it's effort to find treatments and funds against cancer, and have a little fun while doing so.

Already after less than a week, a few teams have already hit Gold rank in the fundraising totals. My own team, the Sunbeamers, haven't raised much so far as we've already had to raise funds for a friend in need. But we're expected to soon catch up. You can find our kiosks at Club Cutlass in Sunweaver Bay  (114/117/757), the Happy Vixen at Purrfection Estates (236/219/24), and the SL Newser office at HV Community (140/85/25).

On one amusing note, "Stinky the Relay Skunk" is back. Already one team has been "skunked." So this is sure to mean a number of skunk parties, and no doubt a few SL skunks dropping in.

For a recording of the RFL Kickoff, Bain Finch made one available at . Wildstar Beaumont made some pictures available on his Flickr page.

"Go Relay!"

Bixyl Shuftan