Monday, January 8, 2018
By Shaza Denver,
Hello my loyal readers,
Well the hectic holidays are behind us for the most part. I know I for one need to find the time to take down all the decorations and pack them away for next year. Its still snowing of course. Winter has not left us, at least not yet. I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season. I hope you made new friends. I hope you had good times with family and a peaceful and happy holiday season.
There were so many hunts going on, and so many group gifts to be had. It was indeed a joyful time for me. My inventory is bursting at the seams. I have no idea when I fill find to time to get this lot of goodies sorted. Its probably going to take me a year!
With the holidays over I am skipping around Second Life looking for things to do and see. Well as it happens I was out on New Years Eve and I met a gentleman at a popular venue. We had a dance or two and he told me about this charity that he sponsors, Feed A Smile.
Feed A Smile has events all over Second Life that help the Live and Learn in Kenya Int'l program. The proceeds help very poor children in Kenya to receive hot meals. A school is being built so that these children may learn. How wonderful is that. There is an art gallery where you may purchase artworks by SL artist. These sales benefit the charity as well.
Jump on over there and check out the artwork for yourself. I know I bought several as the work is quite good and well......it does help this worth while cause. Here is your taxi to the gallery.
Art Aid at Commonwealth Village, Momil (34, 125, 68)
There is an venue that caters to the needs of this charity. This venue is called Lavender Fields. At the venue you will find a replica of the school being built for the children.
I myself visited the replica. It is quite impressive, and to know just what it stands for and the benefits it gives to others is heart warming.
Do get over and check out the venue. You will be impressed as much as I was, of that I am sure. Here is your url to the venue. Get over and check it out. While you're there, Feed A Smile. You won't be sorry. The feeling it will give you is like no other.
The Lavender Field, Feed A Smile (53, 124, 23)
Until next time loyal readers. Please stay tuned for articles about this amazing charity here in SL.
Monday, January 1, 2018
By Alura Denver (Alura Messing)
What they soon found, was that they had more response from people wanting to help and sponsor kids, than they did have kids. "At first pepols was scared to sign up. Sometimes pepols judge kids for being needy. but but the role of RPing a kids is being able to provide for us selves." said Cryssie "Lots of times kids are afraids to ask for help. Thems not wanna seem too needy." But they found a way around this fear by asking the community to refer kids to them as well as sponsor, in a notecard that the sent to their whole customer base.
The outcome of the event was a smashing success. Some of the families fell in love with the kids they sponsored and asked them to join their families and adopted them. Others just got the joy of opening not just the one thing they hoped for, but a whole slew of presents. "Every kids that signed up gotta present whether they asked for it or not! I had 3 stores donate toys and stuff and 5 stores donate clothing but but Sweet Tots donated huge gift cards to all the kids that signed up. So each box has about 25-30 presents" said Cryssie.
With such a successful event and so many wonderful experiences coming out of it I asked Cryssie if she would consider doing it again next year. Her immediate response was, "yes! I hope to do it for many many many many many years to come. I like knowing the lil bit effort helps sooooo many kids." So be sure to look into it next year if you would like to donate or participate and share in some holiday love.
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
Many residents in Second Life have at least one alt, short for "alternate account" for those outside the virtual world. It's on the record yours truly has two. Some have a few to several. But few can boast of having the number that Rita Mariner, the chieftess of the Sunweaver community, does. She has over a hundred, most in what she calls the "Sawyer Squad." Her alts are no real secret as she often has a few around Club Cutlass, and will occasionally have one by her. Recently, I had a few words with her about these accounts.
"Maybe 120 plus Sawyers" Rita answered when I asked how many she had. Asking her how did the Sawyer Squad start, she answered, "It started just after I got started in Tiny Empires and Tiny Empires 3000 myself, we were finding it hard to find enough players to become subjects or subordinates. Also many players would start in one, the other or both, get bored and quit. So I started the Sawyers to fill the gap and try to give active players ... at least one person in their downline, that was active."
How soon and how fast did the alts grow in number? "That happened over a period of years," she answered, "only as I needed them and also due to the investment each one represented. I figure between the avatars, HUDS, clothes, etc, each alt has, they cost me approximately 20,000L each. ... I have close to $14,000US invested in them over the years."
So what did they have besides HUDs and basic clothes? The chieftess replied, "Well, right from the beginning I decided that all Sawyers would be black, my Babes in Black, as I call them. Most have aat least two avatars, an Uchi Kani and then a second one of a different critter and most also have a EP pony. Then you toss in several changes of clothes, 7 Seas Fishing game, Crowley Corp ships, AO's. The costs add up."
Why the name Sawyer and why black? Rita answered, "Sawyer is from the female cat, Sawyer, from Cats Don't Dance. I liked her. I picked black, 'cause a black Kani is very sexy looking."
Besides the Sawyer Squad, Rita stated she had a few other alts, "I also have a bunch more named ones I created just for fun, The Chipettes have been used in a music video, by Nydia Tungsten. I have the chipmunks too, still looking for the proper hair and outfits for them. Once I actually found a nice chipmunk avatar I created set of named avatars with that, for fun, the female ones are cute, the male ones, not so much."
I brought up Valkyrie Ice, whom was the one non-Sawyer in the "Babes in Black" group. Rita told me, "They are not a separate grroup, Babes in Black, is part of my Sunweavers group. If you have a black avatar, you can be in it. I put the Sawyers in all the regular groups and treat them like a regular player. If someone tlaks to them, I try to get them to respond back. They are not there just as eye candy. I do try to have some fun with them too. That's why they are NOT disposable to me. I come to Second Life for only a couple reasons, be with my friends and play Tiny Empires and Tiny Empires 3000. I don't build much and don't script, (but) I have a massive investment here already in my ten sims. I do participate in the Relay For Life with my Sunbeamer Team, and I am happy to raise what money we can for the American Cancer Society."
Rita stated the response others have had to her alts has been positive as far as she's seen, "They like them, Queen Ranchan titled me 'Sawyer Swarm Queen' in Tiny Empires. In TE3K, I am Space Booty Hunter. (Also) in TE3K, I was able to move some of my Sawyers under a new player who moved to our guild and bump him back up to Director. ... That's what the Sawyers are for."
Rita then mentioned a problem that had recently come up, "I want to get my alts off Singularity and onto a better viewer, I can't do it without help. All my pass codes were written a ledger book and months ago, (and) it got accidentally tossed out in the trash and I mean ALL my pass codes, not just for Second Life. So that is why I am trying to get Linden Lab to understand the situation. I can't go through the normal procedure to recover pass codes, the e-mails tied to the various accounts have long since disappeared or been changed into something else." And when she tried contacting Linden Lab, their response was bureaucratic, "I put in a ticket to try and get this issue with my alt avatars fixed and have run into a roadblock they NEVER had out in the open, but buried in their wiki site. Who goes to the wiki site? They say, on their wiki site you limited to five alts! They will help me with five. And even they screwed that up. They are stuck on Singularity, I want to move them to Firestorm/Phoenix, can't do it without the passcodes."
Some days later, Rita had an update on the situation of her alts, "Linden Lab actually took my suggestion and I got my five accounts back." I asked if she was going to get help with the rest, and the Sunweaver leader answered, "It's all done. I told them to just put a simple code on each one for now, e-mail me the code, I would use that to access their AL account page and reset the passcode myself. So they did it, I accessed eacch one and they are all reset."
And so all is well once again with one of the largest groups of alts in Second Life. If you want to see some of them, come on over to Club Cutlass, or message Rita Mariner.
Monday, December 11, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
When asked about the progress of his recovery, his answer was, "In one word, slow. (laughter) Joking aside, it was very tough to come to terms with having bipolar. It wasn't what I had hoped for me, but that is part of life. We cant decide what cards we are dealt. It took me a couple of years to come to terms, and even longer to fully accept my diagnosis. Nowadays I embrace it, and I spend a lot of my time helping others who are going through similar experiences in their lives."
I asked how many were in the group. Sebastien told me, "743 members at the moment (smile). We are the largest active mental health / peer support group in Second Life. Of course some of our members are more actively participating than others. We think it is so important for the group to be open to everyone. We do get a lot of people come through during the holidays. We have mentor boards on the wall by the staircase where anyone can click on our mentors boards to speak to someone one on one." I asked if the group included people other than those affected by suicide. He told me, "Yes, we are open for anyone. Some of our members are not even suffering from mental health issues, but are carers for friends and relatives that do."
How did Sebastien go from a regular member to one of the staff? His answer was, "I think it was a natural progression. As I got better, I started needing less and less help, and simultaneously having more and more advice to give. I started here as a mentor, helping members through difficult times and sharing my own experiences. Then when Krissy needed a Director of Mentors, I took on that role. I have had managerial experience in real life, so I guess that helped in her decision to appoint me. Then as she had to withdraw even more from Second Life, she made me a co-founder, and I've been doing that for the best part of a year now. I think another important part was that I am very committed to staying well and healthy, and I try to help others do the same. My favorite saying is 'When the sun shines through again, it is time to patch the roof for rain.' It is kind of my motto, really. Knowing that we have a chronic illness, and taking steps to prevent and minimize relapses."
How would he say the group has been doing this time? "It has been pretty steady," Sebastien answered, "Participation in group meetings have increased over the last six months. The average is between four and ten people at a time, which is a really good group size really. Of course we are slightly busier now during the holidays which sadly is a peak time for depression and suicide. I think it reminds people of how lonely they are. So we are here to make sure nobody feels alone." I asked how much busier they are during the Christmas holiday. He answered, "At least thirty percent busier. Maybe fifty percent."
So what would Sebastien recommend to someone who suspects a friend of theirs has depression, and at what point should there be cause for concern? He admitted, "That's a tricky question because everyone are so different. But I'd say its time to start worrying when someone changes drastically from their usual selves, especially if the person is talking a lot about death or suicide. I will say though, if someone decides to withdraw, give them space but encourage them to participate in things, even if its just going for a walk together." I asked him what stories besides his stood out. He told me, "There are too many stories to share them all, but we have helped people suffering with anything from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, disassociative personality disorder to childhood abuse victims, each and every member here has their own unique stories."
I asked Sebastien about other mental health groups. He told me, "I have seen quite a lot of mental health support groups come and go in the over six years we have been open. I don't want to comment on them as they are no longer open."
Sebastien then showed me the upper meeting room, located almost a couple thousand meters high above the sim. It was a somewhat small room with four chairs large enough to seat more than one person, a bookshelf that looked like it came out of a modern art painting, and a window showing a view of a major city from above, as if in a skyscraper. He told me, "When people click my mentor board I like to bring them here to talk. It is a private and calm space where nobody will disturb us. I have even held an intervention here with one of our members and their friends. Suicide is a serious matter, and we take it very seriously here. I do have to say, that we are NOT mental health professionals, and we don't offer counseling. We are purely a peer support group here to help and support one another through difficult times. Even if we were trained mental health professionals, it would be highly unethical to practice that here in Second Life."
It was about then the interview was over, and we parted ways.
Currently the Survivors of Suicide meets on Wednesdays at 4pm SLT, and Mondays at Noon SLT
Monday, December 4, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
DJ Geerkil, who pronounces the name "Gurrkel," first came to Second Life in May 2006, and has been DJing in Second Life for quite some time. For years, like most other DJs Geerkil just played music, explaining that when working alone he doesn't have much to say. Then in Spring of this year, JB Raccoon and LS Racoon first came to Second Life, April and May respectively. They are real-life friends of Geerkil, and had found out about the virtual world through him. At the time, Geerkil was working with someone named Dirty Dawg. "They did the Saturday show together and I would join them in Discord (a text and voice chat service)," JB told me, "but stay silent when they went on the air, until I got caught not knowing we were on the air (laughter)."
But sometime around late July or early August, Dirty Dawg left due to an issue. "JB was the only one who would chat with me (on Discord)," Geerkil stated, saying he talked JB into joining him on the air during his show. And the two of them just clicked, or as Geerkil put it, "the BS just started to spring out." On occasion, someone else would join in, "but JB was the one who kept showing up." Geerkil calls JB the brains behind the show, and credits him for the reason the show is what it's become, though gives credit to Dirty Dawg for helping out at the start.
Most of the time, Geerkyl is in his large Seawolf dragon avatar, although on uncommon occasions will be in an anthro dragon form or other avie. Because of his size, when DJing at the Happy Vixen, he does so from just outside the wooden deck, laying on the sand. He calls Club Zero Gravity his favorite location as he can sit behind the DJ stand. "I had the impression ... designed with Seawolf dragons in mind," he stated, saying it "popped my bubble" when that wasn't exactly the case.
When I asked for examples of their craziest times, Geerkil laughed and told me it might be hard to pin down one. He then stated, "When JB was wearing his blue underwear, without his pants." JB brought up, "There was that one time you lit my a*s up," saying the dragon had caught his tail on fire. Geerkil responded, "That was an accident, sort of. ... I don't remember." "A memory lapse of convenience is what I call it." There could also be technical issues, Geerkil saying, "that's why we call ourselves the Epic Failure Show." LS has this to say about Geerkil and JB's act, "They're hilarious as always. They do a wonderful show, always putting effort into making sure people have a good time and to draw more in. (The) events are very much as fun as the skits, and we all enjoy having a good time as do others."
The schedule of the Dragon Crew will be changing soon. When the Happy Vixen shuffled it's Thursday events from 6 to 8 PM and 8-10 PM to 4-6 PM and 6-8PM, they were offered a second set in the 6-8PM timeslot. Geerkil told me their Saturday schedule is likely to change. Of his real life, there has been some trouble as Geerkil is on insulin and other medication, of which he had trouble affording. Fortunately, he managed to get some help with it.
Be sure to catch the Dragon Crew at the Happy Vixen from 4-6 PM Tuesdays and 6-8PM Thursdays, and check the schedule at Club Zero Gravity for their appearances.
Friday, November 24, 2017
By Bixyl Shutan
This year's hurricane season was a destructive one. Hurricane Harvey would affect a number of residents when it slammed into Texas and Louisiana in late August. But this would not be the only hurricane to wreck havoc on Americans. On September 20, Hurricane Maria slammed into the territory of Puerto Rico, which had already suffered damage from Hurricane Irma a couple weeks earlier. The result was devastating. Officially, the number of people who were killed by the storm is 55, although there are suggestions the death toll was much higher. For the power grid, which was already in bad shape, the storm was the finishing blow. Practically the entire island lost power, with estimates that some parts could be without electricity for as long as six months. When it turned out that a company contracted to rebuild the power grid had only two full-time workers, the move to cancel it added to delays.
For Second Life resident Serenity Stahlwalkur (AyameAkemiSakura Resident), the disaster was personal as she herself lives in Puerto Rico. Seeing she was online after weeks, I contacted her, and she and I talked about what had happened, "My home flooded ... over 5 feet of water. I was asleep when it was filling, 3 feet, almost drowned. ... Ihad to sleep in a high chair 'till (the) water drained at 5 AM. That was when the National Guard came." Once she could get back to her house, "me and Mom cleaned the place and salvaged what we could." She blamed the flooding on city government, "was the mayor's fault that the sections were flooded. He didn't clean the gutters or the channels before the storm. ... for the water to flow down to the sea. It deviated to the urban area, taking bridges and a few homes and cars with it ... plus the storm surge pushing salt water. ... They had to open the dam's doors and it flooded the 5th, 6th, and 7th sections."
"Overall, been bad here. ... broken trees, fences, houses, collapsed power lines, power poles on the (ground) broken. ... Mentally I'm still stressed out, had a few accidents. ... I cracked and fractured both of my ankles cleaning the devastated back yard. ... Plus one of my pups was run over by a car. She survived, but badly injured." When I asked how many stores and businesses remained open, Serenity answered, "None, the stores were damaged and flooded, between 6 and 7 feet of water." She and her neighbors had gotten supplies at "the National Emergency Center, and the Army convoys came to give water and food." The first stores and businesses nearby would open "a few weeks after. Power came back the 20th of November," with Internet shortly afterwards, and running water about a month ago. But power, and her Internet connection, are still less than reliable. More needs to be done "to stable the communications and net," as well as more cleaning up.
Serenity stated it was about a month before she had gotten more or less used to life without the Internet, "though as for power, I was going nuts. The dark nights were too depressing." Of how the storms, damage, and long outage will change things for the long term, she felt, "This hurricane changed everyone, some for the good, some for the bad." Some would leave the island and move to the mainland United States. Of her plans in Second Life now that she's back, "Well, my plan is go back to my old life (here) and start over, a new chapter."
Sources: Wikipedia, CNN, Wired, New York Times
Addition: More links about the hurricane's aftermath.
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
There's no shortage of clubs around Second Life. Someone once told me, probably more than one person, that residents in Second Life either had their own club, or dreamed about having one. This is obviously an exaggeration, but perhaps not a very great one as clubs and hangouts are always springing up. And over time, yours truly has seen his share, and friends sighed about a favorite hangout going under. Some last for years. Some just for weeks.
Yours truly has never owned a club, though I've helped with a number. So I know a few things about what goes into a club, and what can help make it last.
Do you want a big flashy club with lots of events and people? If so, be prepared to invest a lot of time in your venue to the point it feels like a second job. A tiny beach hangout that has only a few events per week, not so much. But you'll be surprised how much time event a little club can take, especially if you're doing things alone.
Very seldom do clubs in Second Life make money. It's very possible none of them do any more. Unless you're a builder, you'll have to buy the building and furnishings or pay someone to make them. More importantly, there's the land which needs to be paid for every month. The radio stream costs more money too. And unless you know how to DJ and have the software, which costs money, you'll need to find someone who can, and probably one ore more hosts/hostesses. While most are willing to work for tips alone, be prepared to take care of that yourself on days when the crowd is reluctant to part with their Lindens. If you want a live musician, prepare to spend even more. And with club after club offering contests, most likely you'll need to offer those too if you want more than a small crowd. More money there.
Getting By With A Little Help From Your Friends
One issue is if you hire your friends, it becomes less of a boss and worker relationship and more of a team effort in which those you know will expect to have a say in how things are run. So this kind of arrangement isn't for everyone.
Sadly where there are people, there is the potential for Drama. The contests alone can be a source of it as people can be surprisingly possessive when even a tiny amount of Lindens are on the line, and complaining of "cheating" when they don't get it. And when one or more persons seem to win a lot, people will complain about the contest being rigged or by alts stacking the vote. And then there's "(S)he shouldn't have won, I fit the theme much better than (s)he did."
Politics (I haven't noticed religion be an issue, but it can happen) can also be a problem as some people can be upset by something in the news. Many clubs have rules discouraging political talk, especially when the crowd is more than a tiny few. There's a reason for this: many people come to Second Life to escape the pressures of reality, and political talk can result in several people TPing out of the place.
Then there are people who seem to always find something to complain about. Sometimes they're under pressure from their real life jobs, or friends and family. But other times, the reasons are clear only to them. And then there are the horndogs who will pester women for sex, the bullies who seem to like pushing people around, the griefers whom love disrupting club events for the joy of making others miserable.
Being a "people person" is a must for a club manager. If a club owner has problems relating to people or with his or her temper, a manager with people skills will be a must for keeping the club healthy.
I have seen a few people lose heart with their clubs after a heated drama incident, wanting to shut down the place or leave the staff if they're a part of the team, feeling the "taint" has permanently crippled the club's ability to attract people. But it's my impression most visitors, while not wanting to deal with the hassle of drama, aren't especially phobic. If they don't see a problem there and then, most will show up as usual, and those that are wary will come again after an event or two when it's obvious the problem is gone.
Another problem I've noticed are people who make trouble, then use having Aspergers or some other mental condition as an excuse, saying they don't mean to cause it. But many of my friends don't believe this, one saying, "I know a number of people who have Aspergers, and they do not act like that." One club owner stated in his rules, "If we have to tell you how to act, don't bother coming here."
Most Second Life residents are familiar with those whose sole purpose of their virtual lives is to make others miserable. We're all familiar with the "grief and run," someone rezzing a particle emitter nearby that floods the place with dozens of images of Mario or some other image. Or they may just be trying to create drama, by insulting the DJ, or talking about how great or how bad a certain political faction is. Often, they're brand new avatars with little attention paid to detail, or seem to be deliberately deformed a bit. Because of the stereotype, many clubs will throw out such avatars on the spot, or simply automatically not allow any avatar under 30 days.
As true as this stereotype often is, it's not always the case. There are some people who are simply bad at designing themselves (http://slnewserpeople.blogspot.com/2017/10/slime-and-times-banned-for-looking-odd.html) and continue to have this attempt at an appearance long into their virtual life. And club after club with a "not welcome" sign for newcomers isn't exactly encouraging to keep new people interested in the Grid. And of course some griefers are properly dressed. Or perhaps they have a way of knowing the "fine line" before the club owners give them the boot. These people are truly aggravating for patrons and club owners alike, especially for those who feel without procedure, people will be reluctant to come out of fear for being banned for no reason.
Some years into Second Life history, a new kind of griefing came into play: extortion. Instead of just trying to annoy, these people would employ things like "sim crashers" repeatedly at a club and then demand money in order for it to stop. Otherwise they would keep it up until they either got their money or the club closed. There has been at least one case in which the Lab wasn't much help, and the club and it's community had to hunker down for a while until they felt the coast was clear (http://slnewserextra.blogspot.com/2013/01/news-and-commentary-graphics-card.html), a nightmare scenario for a club owner.
May The Best Man Win, Or Maybe Not
Going back to those who gripe about losing a contest to someone not dressed as good, while more often than not it's someone venting after not winning, on occasion things do look like they have a case. One complaint I've heard is that of people TPing friends or alts in at the last minute to vote for them. It's my experience this doesn't happen often, but it does on occasion. And a club owner being paranoid of alts for voting can easily end up throwing out people who were simply curious newcomers who happened to hear about the club.
But vote-stacking isn't the only issue. One person I know who works meticulously on her outfits complained about being "jellydolled," saying people who couldn't be bothered to adjust their settings in order to see her avatar and therefore didn't vote for her. Some people may also be using old viewers that show some avatars as scrambled or otherwise deformed. So a more detailed outfit could end up costing someone votes.
And then there's the human factor, someone not voting for someone because they feel they've already won a lot, of voting for a newcomer to the club to make them feel more welcome, not voting for someone because they didn't like they way the person was acting earlier, etc.Talking to one club owner, the person felt while they can always discipline someone for cheating, in the end things come down to the voters and they have a right to chose a simple outfit over a detailed one if that's their wish.
With so many clubs out there, you'll often find people going to more than one. Sometimes clubs with much the same crowd will cooperate, especially if they're in the same community. One example is the relationship between Club Cutlass and the Happy Vixen, the events of the two clubs never overlapping and have usually been on different days.
But often, there are rivalries. One example was that of two disco clubs which were similar in structure as they were built by the same builder, and one invited it's patrons to make out in the open while the other told visitors that anything more than a kiss was "get a room." Then one day, someone with the latter found the online forum of the former, and invited people if they were uneasy with a sexual environment, they could check out their club. The owner of the first club reacted badly, saying only his club had the right to the design and kept demanding that the other shut down. The rivalry got to the point when one of the second club's workers was threatened, saying if the venue was sued anyone affiliated would be among those targeted.
While one club can hire DJs and/or hosts from another, there are a few dos and don'ts. Club owners can be angered if they feel someone is trying to "poach" their DJs. So it's best to meet up with the DJs between events and don't try to take them away from the club they're already at.
Sometimes those who are prepared to handle a busy club when they start out end up having to face unexpected surprises down the road. Your landlord may go out of business and you'll have to relocate, and the new place may charge a lot more than where you were. Your star DJ may end up not being able to play any more due to real life. And your own real-life situation may change, such as your Internet connection becoming bad, marriage and children, financial hardship, a death in the family, and others. It's possible you may need to step back from running your club for a few weeks or months. Could your managers and staff handle things without your direction, possibly your money, for a while?
And there's always the possibility you may need to depart Second Life indefinitely. When the owner has to leave the Grid, it usually means the end of the club. But a few have survived their founder. In these cases, the original owner made plans with certain people he or she could trust to keep the place going.
If you're not sure you can run a club after reading this, maybe you're better off keeping one going. There are hundreds in Second Life, and many will be glad to have more help. If you decide to build a club and this article has helped you prepare for the road ahead, then happy to have helped and I hope your venue continues to entertain people for many years to come.