Friday, September 26, 2014

Trotsdale's Third Birthday Celebration With Musicians Jaycatt and Frogg

By Bixyl Shuftan

 Last Saturday, September 20th, the Trotsdale pony sim celebrated its third anniversary, with a party high above the sim. A few dozen locals in their characteristic "My Little Pony" avatars, along with some visitors from Luskwood and other places danced away to the music of a live performance by Jaycatt Nico and Frogg Marlowe.

"Frogg and Jaycatt are now playing at Trotsdale's third birthday here at Trodsdale Heights. After F+J, Suri will be DJing, and we're going into the night."

Michi Lumin, one of Luskwood's founders, was among the two-legged visitors helping to celebrate.

The locals came out in pony avatars large and small, one whom dressed up for the occasion.

Eventually Jaycatt and Frogg finished their routine, and the audience applauded, "Thanks for the the music-ings!" "It would be nice to see you two perform at Trotdsale more regularly." "Thanks again, Jay, Frogg." "Thanks for playing F&J you two are awesome." "Hopefully we don't have to wait till next year to hear you guys again." "Dont' worry, Trotsdale has a catch and release policy for musicians I'm sure."

There were a few comments about making the pair honorary ponies, "We could declare them already ponies by fiat," as the tender part of a horse's hoof was sometimes called a "frog," "We're walking on our frogs." That got a few chuckles from Frogg Marlowe, "never heard that before! Cool!" There were also a few jokes about their avatars being contagious, "You will get ponied in your sleep. It happens." "Unleash the ponification ray!" "... ponification isn't required, it just sorta ... happens around here (grin)."

Jaycatt and Frogg thanked the crowd for their well wishes, "It was a lot of fun." "Always glad to be a part of special occasions like this ... Thank you all so much!" Then they headed out as the local DJ,  DJ Dash (shurikenangel), began playing, "Thanks again everyone. Happy anniversary Trostdale!" Michi also headed out, "Thanks everyone for being here and I'll be back later tonight. But mostly, thanks for three years of this, putting up with our growing pains, and the changing pony sim scene, and sticking by. It really is appreciated, and you guys being here is what makes this possible."

*Addition* I later chatted with Michi. It seems she's not exactly just a friend to Trotsdale, but the owner of the place. She told me she was co-owner for a time, then made full owner.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Third Annual Hot Bay City Nights a Roaring Success

by Celene Highwater

  Set between 1940’s and mid-1960’s America, Bay City is a sprawling city with forty regions, with 24 of those regions containing land owned by residents. And as its time period suggests, this metropolis takes us back in time before computers, fast internet, color TV and missions to Mars. And every August, this mid-century city seeks to bring together the finest car designers in SL for an unforgettable exhibit of classic cars from decades that car lovers consider the hay-day of classic autos.

  These cars are on display for a reason. They are quite realistic. It is obvious from looking at them that the designers take a lot of pride in their creations. Most if not all of the models at this year’s event featured working lights, doors that opened, realistic steering, multiple speed andturn settings, and customizable license plates. These vehicles came in a wide variety of styles and colors. I even saw a light pink Cordail that I was highly tempted to purchase!

  Some of the companies featured in this exhibit were Bull God Choppers, Alkloto Fun Cars, GEMC,  Cindy Henusaki Custom Cars,, What-Iff Motors, and CHC.  Launched three years ago by the Bay City Alliance, this event is produced by Marianne McCann, a city resident.

  Recently I sat down for an interview with her in which she explained a bit about Bay City and its events. “The land is Linden-owned and used by the Bay City Alliance for local events, such as Hot Bay City Nights, our annual Tree Lightings, Mole Day, our anniversary, etc. Bay City is mainland. We all own our own parcels here, though about half of the infrastructure is owned by Linden Lab and used by all Bay City Residents. Well, anyone on the grid, really.”

When I asked how the event got started she said: “About three years ago, we did our first Hot Bay City nights. The idea for it is simple. We invite in some of the best vintage car designers in Second Life to show their wares. No cost to them. They can show and sell the best of what they have. We just ask that they keep it in the "theme era" of Bay City, of course, which is 1940-1965. Then we as a community hold car washes throughout the week, to raise money for charity.”

Those car washes were very successful, with L$115,900 raised for ChildsPlay, a charity that provides toys to sick children who are hospitalized. And this, it seems, is what the residents are most proud of. is the charity’s website, and Marianne says that with such low overhead cost, the organization is very effective.

She went on to discuss another highlight of Bay City Nights: the crowning of Miss Bay City. “We have our annual Miss Bay City competition, where one lucky contestant will be crowned.” This year’s winner was Uccie Poultry-Seale, a Bay City resident herself.

At the conclusion of our interview, when I asked if she had anything to add, McCann said “just thanks for all who did participate in hot Bay City Nights, from Linden Lab for their help in promoting, to our car designers, to all our Residents who came out to wash cars, participate in Miss Bay City, and just enjoy the event.”

Pictures by Bixyl Shuftan, Uccello Poultry

Celene Highwater

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

"Talk Like a Pirate Day" Parties in Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

A few days ago was September 19th, which is unofficially "International Talk Like a Pirate Day." What started out as a joke between two friends became known to the public when they wrote about their idea to a newspaper humor columnist in 2002. Since then, this play on the romanticized view of pirates of old and in fiction has been celebrated here and there, from restaurants such as Krispy Kreme and Long John Silver's offering free food to those talking or dressing a little like buccaneers, to computer games such as World of Warcraft doing a one day salute.

So little wonder that one can find some pirate fun in Second Life on this day. To begin with, there are some Pirate vs Navy roleplays and combat at any time of year in Second Life. One shipmaker this year was giving away it's wooden frigates. Then there are the various clubs and social areas holding pirate parties. Luskwood for instance can be counted on having at least a low-key pirate event with people passing out costumes to one another and going "Arrrr!" But they weren't the only place.

On Friday night, the Steelhead Estates threw their Pirate Day party. Or rather, a party celebrating that and one other event. The following day, September 20, was the start of Oktoberfest. So officially the party was celebrating both.

It be "Talk Like A Pirate Day."
And it be Oktoberfest, and we be celebratin' Steelhead style. Pirates and Beer. Deadly combination.
Fun starts at 7:00 with music by Fuzz, 9:00 PM Zanya brings the after party.

And so, the Steelheaders headed to an airship pirate vessel flying high over the Nevermoor sim. Fuzzball Ortega, normally the lycan sheriff of the community, was the "scurvy dog" spinning the various pirate tunes.

Mayor Totallunar Eclipse and other Steelheaders, the majority in pirate costume, a few in lenderhosen, danced away. A couple were waving a banner for Octoberfest that Baron Klaus Von Wulffenback passed around, or what someone called an "OktobARRRRRfest" banner.

Kara, aka "Supergirl" of the JLU was there as a skeleton. The running joke was somehow her X-Ray vison somehow got reversed.

The party was lots of fun.

*  *  *  *  *

Club Cutlass at the Sunweaver Estates got it's start as a pirate-themed club. But on Friday night, they held a Sci-Fi themed party, perhaps to give those a little weary of the pirate theme a break. But Saturday night was when we got our own cutlasses, along with our peglegs, tricorner hats, and shoulder parrots, and headed over.

DJ Cynthia spun the piratey tunes for the event, music such as, "A Pirates Life For Me," "Airship Pirate," "The First Pirate of Saskatooan," and Ray Stevens' Pirate song.

Looks like this micro fox is trying to swim in the booty pile. Lomgren Smalls, the Sunweavers' microkitty, was also there, but didn't swipe anything.

Lots of fun was had by all.

And finally, here's my own look for the event, a buccaneer mouse, or "pie rat." Here it is with my pet Firekitty that I picked up from Team Firestorm last month.

"You know the mice are tough when they have pet cats."

And that's all for "Talk Like a Pirate Day" for another year. Until then, "clear skies mateys."

And that's all for

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 5, 2014

Team Firestorm's Fourth Anniversary and Interview with Jessica Lyon

On Wednesday September 3rd, Team Firestorm celebrated their fourth anniversary. High above the Phoenix Firestorm Support region sim, the team alongside friends and well-wishers partied and danced to a little music, as well as discussing goings on past and present.

Team Firestorm had it's orgins with Second Life's first popular third-party viewer, the Emerald Viewer, which Second Life residents began using rather than Linden Lab's reviled Viewer 2 which many found difficult to use. But in August 2010, Team Emerald fell under scrutiny when some members launched a Denial of Service attack against a rival's website. Linden Lab soon demanded the resignation of three key members, and there was soon a split in the team, the breakaway faction led by Jessica Lyon. Quickly christened Team Phoenix, they and their Phoenix viewer quickly won over the support and respect of Second Life's residents as the last of Team Emerald faded away from Second Life. But as time went on, they developed a second viewer, Firestorm, which resembled the official viewer somewhat but was still easier to use, as well as fully mesh capable. But working on two viewers was just too much for the team of volunteers. In December 2012, support for the old Phoenix viewer was stopped, and the team concentrated on the Firestorm viewer.

For the event, there were a couple of gifts available for well-wishers. One was an old style motorbike commissioned by Desert Morning Motors, made in the style of motorcycles manufactured between the Depression and the 1960s. The other was a commemorative pet kitty from KittyCats, the Firebell. The cat requires no food and doesn't reproduce, "The FireBall kitty comes with a party hat, engraved collar and cute matching bed! You can even hold it, play with it and have it walk around with you!"

There were between two and three dozen at the party, including well-wishers such as Daniel Voyager, and noted Firestormers such as Tonya Souther, the head of the Apple viewer team, and Chakat Northspring, whom had an ARC meter on her back. And of course there was team leader Jessica Lyon.

Jessica stated she was willing to answer questions via instant message, so I asked her a few.

"Since the beginning Jessica," I asked, "what have been Team Firestorm's most notable challenges?"

Jessica's response was, "Ha ha! Sanity! And also managing not to kill each other ... things have been interesting for sure. (laughter)"

"I recall the team's decision to halt the updates on the Phoenix viewer," I brought up, "I think you stated it was becoming too much work for your team of volunteers."

"It really would have been tough," she answered, "And the team was very divided on the whole thing as well."

"How well was the public reaction??

She responded at first with laughter, "Ha-ha!" followed by a pause, then, "Not so good. Well, Firestorm users were happy. Phoenix users, not so much."

"Did most accept your explanation for the decision?" I asked.

"Not so much either," she briefly laughed, then her tone became less cheerful momentarily, "But folks just aren't able to understand the complexities of what we have to do, and would have had to do to keep Phoenix going. But," she brightened, "Singularity managed to keep the V1 (design) going, and I'm really actually glad for that. And impressed too, they proved me wrong. I like very much that folks have that option though."

I then asked, "Did most Phoenix users eventually move on to Firestorm?"

"By a longshot," Jessica answered, "No viewer has ever had such a high user share than Firestorm does. It is really the change that people hate. Folks hate change. Totally human that is too. Can't hold that against folks."

And just how big is Firestorm? Jessica told me, "We carry in the neighborhood of 3/4 of the user base. But the conditions LL holds us to for getting statistics from them is that we don't divulge actual numbers because it might cause others to be upset with their own numbers. In other words, I don't think they want folks to know the actual percentages," she laughed a bit, "Though Oz has stated publicly some time ago LL has about (an) 11% user share. So that can be said."

"So now that the team is now four years old, what are your plans?" I asked.

"You remember the last April Fools joke that wasn't actually a joke?" she responded, "We did the Firestorm DUI, detachable panels and such, that can be moved outside the viewer window constraints. And it turned out it was real." She chuckled, "Oh man, it was epic. The year before I did firestorm Mobile as a joke. ... Then I did Firestorm DUI... and you'll see the video was made in such a way that it must be a joke.  But actually it wasn't. I revealed a few days later that we had actually in fact accomplished moving floater panels outside the viewer window."

"Now.. the point of me bringing this up.. is because it ties in with what is next. But I can't tell you directly because it's uber secret, has to be a surprise. But, there is a pattern," she laughed again, "But for now, stuff you can talk about, mirrors."

"Mirrored surfaces, like on polished black marble, and of course mirrors, in the Firestorm viewer?" I asked.

Jessica sent me the link of an Aug 6 article on the subject by Inara Pey, "The problem is, because it falls into the 'shared user experience' condition of the third party viewer policy the only way we can move forward on it is if LL accepts it in their viewer and releases it first. So we're pushing (them) to take the contribution."

The party itself went on from 1PM to past 4PM. In the first hour, Seth Regan/Mandkind Tracer sung live for the audience. After that Ed Merryman played some tunes as the DJ.

 Bixyl Shuftan.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Relay Wrap-Up: The RFL 2014 Season's Official End

Sunday August 31st marked the official end of the Relay for Life season in Second Life. Since March 7, the Relayers have had numerous events raising funds for the American Cancer Society, and having fun doing so. The season's peak, and the second to last big event was the Relay Weekend on July 19 and July 20, after which most teams ceased activity or held just one more event. Finally at 10 AM Sunday, the Relayers came together for the last time for the 2014 season.

Unlike the Relay Weekend, not so much grey showed up in my pictures, so I was able take clearer ones. This was despite the more than 45 avatars present, according to Daniel Voyager. I was in my skunk avatar, as both a tribute to "Stinky the Skunk" and a reminder of the "Bid Me" events my team the Sunbeamers did. Dr Fran Babcock was there along with her team captain Shawna Montgomery of the Relay Wizards.

On stage was the Relay Committee, speaking to the crowd over the radio. They gave their congratulations for a job well done, and announced various awards. And there was reason for congratulations. A whopping $415,422 US dollars had been raised. This amount made the Relay for Life in Second Life not only the top charity in Second Life, but a leading one worldwide.

Of the awards, there were many.

The Gordy Klatt Award: Dwen Dooley

Community Champion Award Recipients: Wildstar Beaumont, Saffia Widdershins, Daniel Voyager, Stingray9798 Raymaker

The Spriti of Relay Award (Team): Tribute City Relayers

The Spirit of Relay Award (individual): Cuddle Waffle

Top Team Conventional Fundraising: 3rd Place Relay Rockers, 2nd Place Circle of Life, 1st Place Harmony of Hope

 Top Individual Conventional Fundraising: 3rd Place Cesta Franizzi, 2nd Place TS Darrow, 1st Place Blynn Heron

Conventional Website Participation Award:

3rd Place--Unmasking a Cure, placing second with the number of team members registered (15), along with an average of 5 gifts per email.
2nd Place--Harmony of Hope, registering the most team members (20) and sending the second highest number of emails (59)

1st Place--Relay Rockers, sending the highest number of emails (107), and receiving 17 gifts.

Top Team Fundraising Award:  3rd Place Goreans in Relay For Life, 2nd Place Relay Rockers, 1st Place Amaretto Ranch Breedables

Best Man and Maid of Honor Recipiants:

Ahoffman Philly
Ava Jhamin
Bainfinch Resident
Cashew Writer
Chevelley Resident
CiaraNiamh McDonnell
Chipmunk Foxtrot 
CodyPason Resident
Cuddly Waffle
Daiseze Dahlstrom
Dawnbeam Dreamscape
Debi Dastardly
Dianna Wycliffe
Dwen Dooley
Eugenia Burton
Fizban Underwood
Fuzzball Ortega
Gem Sunkiller
Henrietta Demina
JIhan Wonder
johannes1977 Resident
Kaila Mahoney
Lanai Jarrico
Mackenzie Metall
Madonna Milena
MamaP Beerbaum
Mary Teodosio
Nikki Mathieson
Oldesoul Resident
Panza Elde
Prettykitty Gumbo
Rob Fenwitch
Rowena Dubrovna
RoxyLee Rayna
Sarandel Llewellyn
Sasha Fairywren
Sidonie Carlberg
Sienna Thor
Sigh Underwood
Sue Peregrine
Suzetta Moonites
Sylisan Resident
Tiviyah Resident
Trader Whiplash
TS Darrow
Valkyrie Twine
Vickie Maidstone
Zaphara Cazalet

The Clown Awards Recipients:

Twerking for a Cause--Saffia Widdershins
Most Drenched Dragon Rider--RoxyLee Rayna
Sit on a Tack Award--Dawnbeam Dreamscape
It’s Not Always Fuzzball’s Fault Award--Sigh Underwood
Keeping You in Stitches Award--Cody Pason
7Seas JailBird Award--Dallas Russell
Strange World Award--Rowena Dubrova and Cuddly Waffle

Finally the theme for next year was announced: "The Future is Now."

Following the announcements, there was music and dance. At 11:30 AM Singer Max Kleene performed live for the crowd, and at 12:30PM, Trader Whiplash DJed a set of tunes.

And so another Relay season had come to a close. But in the next few months there will be other cancer fundraisers, such as "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Across Second Life," "Relay for Life in InWorldz," and the "Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair." And of course the Relayers anxiously await March 7, 2015, when the next Relay for Life season begins.

Bixyl Shuftan