Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Moon Landing Anniversary in Second Life

 Almost unnoticed in both real life and Second Life media, the latter due to the Relay for Life Weekend, July 20 was the forty-fifth anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. But the National Space Society's chapter in Second Life didn't forget. At their sim (also called National Space Society), they held a party in honor of the historic event.

Celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first humans to land on the Moon with the National Space Society in SL and the International Spaceflight Museum.  Learn about the Apollo 11 mission, discuss the past present and future of human spaceflight, pick up thematic freebies, and dance to ballads of the space age at our authentic First Moon Landing memorial site. 

The gathering was relatively small when I got there, probably because of the Relay Weekend still going on. But they were still enthusiastically discussing the Apollo landing, and the space program in general, as well as cracking a few jokes. Some people danced while others just stood. One guy talked about about whipping out the old cow-riding dancer as a "cow jumped over the moon" joke.  There was a jumpsuit and other freebies available, "Please be sure to check out the lunar instruments on the surface here, the info signs, goodies etc. Click away!" They would also launch a rocket up into sky once in a while. Near the floor was a mock-up of the Lunar Lander and other NASA moon objects. In the background songs like "The Only Way to Go From Here Is Out" played, "Radio NSS, your source for music that's truly 'out there.' "

There were a few jokes about builders not getting quite the attention others did in comparison to what they built. One avatar's well-designed spacesuit got some complements, "Ryder's suit is awesome," and provoked some jokes about jealousy from other builders, "goes straight from suit envy to suit *LUST*."

There was also a little discussion about the Saturn V rocket ride built in Second Life at the time of the 40th anniversary five years ago. While the International Space Museum does have a Saturn V up, it's not the same one. It may be the creator had to hold onto his build after the Space Frontier Sandbox sim closed, as the ISS doesn't have a lot of spare room, "Kat has mentioned they're about at their prim limit." "We've suggested rotating exhibits. But some of the most prolific builders left SL and did not leave their (permissions) behind." It was also mentioned the ISS was expanding to the Kitely Grid.

The NSS's chapter in Second Life meets every Monday at 3PM SL time at National Space Society (128/152/1260).

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

RFL 2014 Wrap Up – An Editorial

By DrFran Babcock

Relay For Life of Second Life™ (RFL of SL) is over for another year. This was a very successful year for donations, with over 409,000 US Dollars collected at this point. I had a wonderful Relay this year, working with a solid team, staying on the track for 21 hours, and collecting a lot of money, mostly by selling old gacha items I had in my inventory.

I wanted to take some time to go on record with my thoughts and reactions to the event this year. I will talk about the things I loved and the things that could be made better; maybe next year.

Things to Fix For Next Year

Sim Stability - I am not a noob, and I understand that when too many avatars are on a sim the resources get stressed to the max. I have a very fast computer and very fast Internet. I could not count the times I crashed trying to do the lap with my team. I almost turned off my computer and left the house, because I had become so frustrated.

Lag is not LL’s fault. All of us can and should do all we can to make the team lap a low-lag event. I suggest that the committee recommend that teams dress in system tee shirts, and go bald for this first lap. Will that help? I am not sure, because I have read all kinds of conflicting information about what does and does not put a demand on sim resources. Let’s face it; most of the camps are very high prim and script-filled affairs—my team’s Relay Wizards for Spunky included. However, it’s really the number of avatars on the sim, and I am not wholly sure that a “naked” lap wouldn’t help.

I had no trouble doing laps once it got much later. There were still a lot of avatars on the track, but they were spread out more.

Original vs. Bought Content - I know I may make enemies for saying this, but I have issues with the way some of the camps and designer builds were presented. In my opinion, there is a vast difference between a build that is created by a content creator, and one that is created by buying the work of others, and putting it together as a build.

I understand that many content creators, myself included, can’t make trees and some plants, can’t make hair, avatars, etc. However, I do try to include my own content in the camp, even if it is not as good as what I could buy or modify.

Many of the builds contained works made by Aley (Arcadia Asylum) that are always full perm and easy to modify. I think that if you want to do that, you need to acknowledge that. I write research for a living, and I would never use other’s work without an attribution.
I want to be careful here…I am speaking just for myself and no one else on the SL Newser or in Second Life™, but I fell in love with one of the designer builds (more about this build later), and realized that aside from some trees, the entire build had been constructed by the designer who had been asked to build it. I noticed other designer builds that had entire, large houses from other content creators on them, and these builds seemed to get more attention and accolades. I am not really comfortable about that.
Again, I suggest that the committee create new categories for Best Designer Build that are for mostly original content, and for best use of objects created by others.
I want to give a big shout out to Lilith Heart of Heart Botanicals. Her work, with partner Dolly, was ubiquitous in Relay, and if she treated other camps as she did Relay Wizards, those items were provided free of charge.
What I Loved
Whew, I am glad that’s over. I don’t like being negative, but I have to say what’s on my mind. For the most part, I adored the camps and the laps and the Relay. There is something in me that just melts when I see those lavender arrows on the Relay track. There were many, many, many more things I loved, than didn’t like.
Alia Baroque’s Designer Build -  I went mad for this build, because of it’s look and it had canals! I inspected enough to realize that Alia had done most of the heavy lifting, and that the concept of Birth and Decay was quite moving. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of this build, with its two forums and winding waterways and bridges. If you go inside the buildings strange things can happen to you.
I had been entranced by the way the Fantasy Faire had looked, and hadn’t realized that the main builder for this masterpiece had been the very same Alia Baroque. I IMed him to heap praise on him, and found him to be both humble and inspiring. I immediately went to check out some of his other builds, and I was not disappointed. Alia’s work is definitely worth exploring.
By the time this article is published the sims will be gone. I hope Alia can be convinced to resurrect this build on one of his sims.
Beq Janus' Escher Build - This build has gotten quite a bit of well-deserved attention, and all of it is quite justified. Beq is the only person I know who can make a black and white sim as compelling as the brightly colored builds that surrounded it. Things move, and things don’t move, but your eyes are dazzled as you walk around.
It wasn’t until after the Relay that I got a good look at this build, because the Relay track runs right through the whole thing—uphill and downhill, but not at an angle where I could see it well. The 3-D lizards climbing the wall are fun and very Escher.
The Activities Sims - Grace Loudon was in charge of putting together the area where the opening and closing ceremonies would take place, along with concerts, sales, and even a museum of RFL of SL.
The central meeting places for large events are often overlooked in favor of the activities happening there. Grace’s touch with these four regions is exactly the perfection that was required. Unless you focused specifically on the details, they just became a part of the happy experience. The verdigris walls and lamps were just there in the environment, but they served to pull all of the different areas together. The subtle shading on all the elements provided a soothing balm from the madness of the track. There is even a history museum where you can see the giant hair that cemented Fuzzball Ortega’s title as Spirit of Relay.
Steelhead Salmons Camp - This really was a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. There were individual items in this build that were exceptional—the sharks, the octopus—but, it really was the entire build that just screamed steampunk. I am always a fan of the steampunk builds, and the Salmons hooked me (like that pun, Bix?).
The build is also educational, and speaks about behaviors in support of treatment and lifestyle. A bit hard to do without modern energy sources, don’t you think?
It’s A Small World, the build you love to hate – Last, I would be remiss if I didn’t salute the Relay Rockers, and their camp build that recreates the Disney Small World Ride. This build, and its ear worm tune, has become a symbol for mock annoyance the world over. Everyone loves to grumble about It’s a Small World After All, at the very same time that they keep getting on the ride.
The Rockers used the ride to point out how very international the fight against cancer has become, and how Relay for Life events are being held all around the world. The committee thought it was a super build, and gave it first prize for Education.
Whatever your response, or story—everyone has a story about this ride—you can’t deny that Second Life™ and Relay for Life have made us a truly international community. The outside world could learn a lot from us.
Relay was mostly wonderful, and only a bit irritating. In fact, the letdown of it being over makes me sad and gets me to think about plans for next year. Our Gold Team Relay Wizards is shooting for platinum next year. I hope to see you there!
DrFran Babcock

Monday, July 14, 2014

RFL Events At Farshore Field and Rita's New Monorail

By Grease Coakes

One of the many social groups of Second Life is the Sunweavers headed by Rita Mariner is still going strong as there's always something going on in her network of sims.

On July 12th Rita told me there was going to be a RFL event at Farshore Field, named after everyone's favorite goat Cynthia Farshore. The general theme was miltary with a plane race and a dunk tank you try to hit with a cannon. But the dunk tank and plane races weren't free. One had to pay for shots at the dunk tank or lindens to race in the clouds with one of the planes. But the Lindens you pay go directly to the RFL team the Sunbeamers. Rita is well known as a bunny rabbit, but for RFL she was bid to be a male skunk. I saw her in a "Pepe LePew" avatar from Looney Tunes cartoons.

The event took place 8am-5pm SLT Saturday at  Pacific Waters 140/74/32 . The first class consisted of motorcycles from 8 AM to 11 AM. The second class would be automobiles 11 AM -2 PM SLT. It made me think to look around for the car I purchased for charity a few years ago. The third class was "whatsits," which was driving whatever one wished.

The entry fee was 500L for the first five laps and only the best time counted. If someone wanted a second try, 200L for another five laps.

There was also a dunk tank with an 88mm cannon instead of tennis balls. One could take 3 shots for 100L or 10 shots for 250L at that nasty furry within the Sunweavers you wanted to get back at for putting worms in your bed, or some such. There was also a balloon ride from Skylark Lefavre for a donation to RFL to see the mad chaos of the car race.

Another neat feature I noticed on Rita's Sim network was the monorail I saw going through her lands. Thinking of the first Linden bear I found which was Simon Linden's where he didn't directly hand me the bear I had to go on a mini hint quest on his land to find it. One of the things he had was a train which led you to the next clue. As the legend goes any time you meet a Linden ask him or her for their bear and you get one.

As I write this article I'm riding around on Rita's monorail seeing the various sights and a mechanical humm. Anytime the railcar stops you hear a tone to announce the rail stopped. You also see in green bold letters what stop you're at. For example, "KFStationMarker: SUNNY BEACH STATION" showed up as one of the stops. 

In regards to the monorail I had this to say and Rita agreed with me.

Grease Coakes: "You know life whether it's Second or first, life tends to go at a fast pace. It's nice to slow things down and take a breather on a monorail or blowing up a dunk tank."

The monorail, which took two weeks for Rita to build, is well done. One of the stops happened to be the SL Newser Building. In fact one of the end points happened to be "KFStationMarker: PACIFIC WATERS STATION," Where Cynthia held her RFL events today.

The other end of the rail happened to be Holmes station. After the monorail ride, I went to get food in real-life, and came back in time for the car race.

I had fun racing against Kiwi and Skylark and Rita Mariner. I found out the trick was to slow down when my car hit the turns. If I drove to fast I ended up in the water. I went splash a few times which slowed me down but I just jumped out and re-rezzed my car.

Bixyl Shuftan, in a skunk avatar from his own "Bid Me" event, came on later and raced on his motorcycle. As he was the only motorcycle driver he won the top prize for motorcycles. According to Shock I won the top prize for cars with the fastest lap at almost a half minute with my sports car I bought for charity.

Lap2--Grease Coakes last lap was 31.317260 seconds!

A great time was had by all as a pony tried to run me over with her and people were dunked by cannons. Rita herself drove a batmobile and lost a wheel. Give credit to the furry Sunbeamers as they raised over 215K Linden for the fight against cancer.

Not only was the day fun, we came a step closer to defeating cancer, and everyone wins.

Grease Coakes

*Editor's Note*: Grease did better with the sports car than I did with my "Hercules," my top speed being about 55 seconds. Attendance was somewhat small due to other Relay events that day, such as the Breedables Fair. Even the season's longest cross-sim Giant Snail Race had a smaller than normal turnout of it's kind than normal. And some were out doing real life work, were on summer vacation, or otherwise unable to show up. But enough people and donations came in, especially one generous one from Raschid Marenwolf, to put the Sunbeamers into Gold Rank. That evening, Skylark LeFavre's "Bid Me" event came due, and she was "Bid Mousie" until after the Relay Weekend.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Look Back at the SL11B

By Bixyl Shuftan

Second Life's Eleventh Birthday was the third that was organized without the assistance of Linden Lab. As DrFran Babcock pointed out in her article, it was smaller than the previous two. With the SL9B, the decision by Linden Lab not to sponsor the event drove residents into action. The SL10B was a milestone event, the Grid had reached a decade old. Eleven just doesn't have the same ring to it as ten, plus residents had spent their energy with two big events in a row. There would be no display showing the history of Second Life over the years, no store of historical "freebies" such as the starter furry avatar, or an exhibit that got as much attention as the "Behemoth."

There was also that The Birthday was not the most important concern to many residents. Just a few days before was when Ebbe Linden announced the Lab was working on a next generation virtual world. The collective "What the Frack" moment, plus the panic by some, stole much of the limelight away from the event.

Still, this was Second Life's event of the year, only the Relay Weekend and Burn 2 coming close to in size in terms of attendance and land size. And it deserved the coverage it got. And with the opening on June 22 at Noon, the flags went up shortly afterward and the celebration was in business.

The Phoenix Wave Team build (Not Team Firestorm, which has a similar logo), a mentor group aimed at helping new residents.

"The Future of Nuclear Power as Seen From the Past" by Catboy Qunhua

People were *much* more optimistic about nuclear power in the past, imagining nuclear powered airplanes, even cars. Nuclear-powered spaceships are still considered to be part of the future of spaceflight.

Qwark Allen's "Quantum Entanglement Communications Tower" build.

The "hamster cage" I remember from an event years ago.

The "Kittycats" build.

"The Tree of Life"

"The Bubble," a walk-in, artistic exhibit.

An overhead glance of several exhibits, including a number of water ones.

The SL Coast Guard's exhibit

"Tugby," a game in which tugboats try to push a ball around a watery field, trying to get the goal.

The build of a "Star Wars" roleplay group.

A surfing group set up this interactive build.

One could get a board and surf around on the inside.

"Scwarz Malerei," this artistic monochrome visit kept changing as cubes appeared and disappeared.

Jaycatt and Frogg at a music event Saturday June 28.

This musical duo has been performing live across Second Life for years.

The Cake Stage on the last few hours of the event, Sunday June 29.

DJ Laz Dressler would be the musician for the last official party, which at 11PM SL time had fireworks going off.

It was a great ending to a great event, more fireworks pictures can be seen (here).

Thanks to the exhibitors, performers, and other volunteers, it was one great event. So long, Second Life Eleventh Birthday.

For some other articles, check out:

DrFran Babcock's Take on the SL11B -

Dulcies Destinations -

Daniel Voyager -

Virtual Outworlding -

Bixyl Shuftan