Friday, August 11, 2017

Africa Live Revisited


By Bixyl Shuftan

It was four years ago in 2013 when I first wrote about Africa Live in the Estings sim. Today, the sim and community are still around, although there have been a few changes over the years. I was recently invited back to see what's changed and what hasn't.

I was welcomed back by Hobbi (Joanne Kimono), "Glad to see you again after all these years. ... I want to show you the breadth and depth of Africa Live so your readers will feel welcome to all of this place." She pointed to some wood buildings with thatch roofs over the water, "As you see across the water is blue shacks that is ecology area. ... This is TerreDarmoise African Nature Refuge. Beside us is the open water ... making a very place to tour SL on a boat." One could boat around on the water, or take the "Aero-Putter" flyer, a basket with a couple balloons and motors, which was still around from last time. There was plenty of nature scenery around, that of a river area, with some prim animals around, such as elephants and hippos.

Hobbi would introduce me to CarryLee, whom I'd met here before, "CarryLee made my dress and her group FAFA  has offered as a group gift," going on to say her designs have improved over time. Hobbi mentioned another store owned by  Analeee Balut, "Analee Balut  made my boots." CarryLee herself told me the place has had, "many changes, but the idea is still the same. It's only the looks that has changed a bit. Oh, and we have the stores." Her FAFA was just one of a number of shops there. CarryLee told me later on, "We try to get only shops that offer African fashion, but thats not easy."

We happened to be around at the time of dawn, Hobbi telling me, "Look! The sunrise is beautiful! ... The sun here on water is a great advantage here on a water based village." Besides the regular boats to get around, "you can sail under, all the stilts you can pass trough," Hobbi told me there was also a speedboat rezzer, "there are also wind surf sails rezzers." CarryLee commented, "and the duckee bumper very fun (giggle)."

Next to the shops, there was also an open area club and dance floor, owned by Bafana Beaumont. Hobbi told me the club's normal events are, "Saturday, sometimes Monday and then the weekly reggae event Thursdays. Recently there was a Sunsplash Reggae event and ongoing reggae and dance."

Near the old entrance high above the sim, which could be accesed through the teleporter and  had a permanent sunrise over a savana, there was a gallery area with pictures of Africans and other peoples, "very beautiful photos in my opinion," CarryLee thought. Next to it was what CarryLee called "the little jazz bar," which had a couple of drums people could play. Some events, such as poetry readings, take place there. The teleporter could also take people to a couple other places high above the sim. One was a small library area, with various paintings. Some looked like they were done in traditional African style, but there was one that reminded me of a American WW2 "Rosie the Rivetter" picture.

I asked if a number of Africa Live were still French speakers. CarryLee told me, "There are still many French coming here. But we do our best to keep English as main language." Bafana was among those whose first language was French. Another was Frederic Herberle, "Frederic has poetry here ... All cultural events are welcome, art, music, poetry."

Another question of mine was if any of the visitors here had misconceptions about Africa. CarryLee answered, "I meet a few here, but it's rare ... ask about the wetlands, since many do see Africa only as dry savana. ... The main idea is to bring people away from the negative impressions they get from the media. ... they show us the bad news yes, and that's ok and understandable. But it does make an impression." Hobbi felt, "Perhaps because Africa is a large continent of people that is an issue.  People for example in Nigeria are not having crisises too much. There are places where people live well and others where crisis does prevail at this time."

CarryLee stated, "My point was, we want to bring people the beauty of Africa. There is so much! What I want SL readers to know is this is a safe and welcome open arms place to travel and have fun."

I was told currently the number in the Africa Live group was close to 2000, and this year the community turns ten years old.

For those interested in meeting up with people in other parts of the world, especially Africa, Africa Life is an interesting place to visit.

Estings, (220, 130, 143) (don't forget to take the transporter down)

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Marvel Universe


By FoxietheJamie

I was looking for a place to let loose my creativity, and throw down with my demons of writers block. What I found, will amaze you and just might thrill you. This sim, is by far, one of the finest there is. No, it is not considered a classic place. And no, it's not the "classiest" either. However, this place still should have it's name up in lights.

The Marvel Universe, on the Cartius region, is an astounding representation of space, used well, being a full sim, yet boasting a small city section, the entirety of the Xavier Academy, the X-Men HQ, as well as at least 10 rentable areas, 5 of 200 prims, and 5 of 500 prims. This place takes the Marvel Universe to a whole new level, by allowing canon and non canon characters to fight side by side, and against one another.

Ever wanted to be a superhero, one that you made yourself? Then this is the place for you. It is masterfully built, even using different aspects to its advantage. For example, instead of having a teleporter sitting out in the open, you click a taxi to head to the academy, and a bus to return to the OOC area. I mean sure, there are some teleporters, but it's the Marvel Universe, can't not have them.

I found this place only a week ago, and I fell in love with it, the moment I found it. Not only is it impeccably built, the people here are amazing as well. I was welcomed with open arms, on my very first day of being here. I've had fun talking with them, and roleplaying with them. Everyone here loves a good laugh too.

This is, in this reporter's opinion, the best sim I have seen in a long time. All it needs is more people to call it home. Then it would be at its peak. But right now, this is a reasonable place, with a lot of promise.

There are forums of the roleplay at http://marvel-sl.com/forums/, which includes a list of the rules, such as character creation, non-PG behavior, combat, and behavior.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cartius/125/125/2364

Kimiko Kanagowa aka Foxy

Monday, July 17, 2017

Reader Submission: Second Life Museum of Nuclear War


By Fritter Enzyme


Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right.  Real life has been an active place lately in the area of nuclear threats.  Some truly scary people have their fingers on the button.  I am not feeling the love.

SL is a place of fun and fantasy.  Beauty abounds, find friends, role play, dance and get away from the realities of life.  But just like real life, it is all in here.  Educational opportunities, religion and even hate groups.  Museums of all kind.  Some to celebrate life and art, some to commemorate disasters, past or future.  This one covers both.  What damage we have done, both in usage and in testing of thermal nuclear weapons.  What damage we can do.  What we hope will never be.  Who has them, and who they can reach?

When you see a small red pyramid, click on it for a Wiki link, giving you the design, history, capacity and more for the things around you.  There are so many places to TP to, control rooms, missile silos, defense systems, drones, even Sputnik makes an appearance.  Tour a nuclear reactor.  See the rods cooling.  Click and get the information.  Learn about the Manhattan Project.  The Cuban Missile Crisis.   And North Korea.

The spot I leave for last is very important.  Real drawing made by survivor children.  This is real.  They tell quite a story, if one takes the time to listen.  Please save it for last.  But please do go.
The gallery of children’s drawings after Japan was bombed is particularly disturbing to view.  Their depictions are heart breaking, to say the least.  Skin melting off of people, faces in flames, skeletons laying in the streets.  These are the real witnesses to horrors unimaginable to us, and children to boot.  And, maybe, never got to see adulthood.  Their horrific artwork is the epitome of the whole museum.

This site might not be cheery and cute, but touch the truth that is there.  We have done some damage.  The next round is the last.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Xemia/37/218/22

Fritter Enzyme

Editor's Note: While the atomic bombing of the Japanese Empire was controversial from the start, in these politically-charged times, it is possibly more than ever. Critics charge the bombings never should have been carried out. Others respond that the alternative was to continue the conventional bombing of Japanese cities, which would have resulted in about as many or more dead. And then there was the planned invasion of Japan. Given the fierce resistance at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, it was estimated that the invasion would have cost about a million American dead and wounded, and four million Japanese.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Second Life's Entry Areas: Learning And Social Islands


By Bixyl Shuftan

"A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step," goes an ancient proverb. And for Second Life residents, there has been an entry area for most of it's history. Over the years, Linden Lab has made changes to what kind of experiences those entering Second Life for the first time receive, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better.

In the early days, at least when yours truly started out in 2006, there was Orientation Island. While a pleasant grassy area when the lag was low, my initial experience was slow and laggy. Trouble was, only an estimated ten percent of newcomers were bothering to continue past their first day, Hamlet Au saying, "Within sixty minutes of creating an avatar name and entering ... most people become too bored, frustrated, or confused to continue."

By 2010, Orientation Island was retired as the newbie starting area, though remains open to residents wishing to see it. In it's place were Welcome and Discovery Islands, in which the trees and grass were replaced with a white, high-tech, looking place. The reviews on the place I saw were mixed. Hamlet Au compared it to how an Apple store would sell Microsoft PC computers, saying it was an overall improvement, but didn't solve all of the basic problems. From early 2012 to mid 2013 were a couple changes for the worse. Destination Island was a much simpler, more bare bones experience, which gave people a few basic instructions before offering them a choice of portals that threw them at a random location, the one I chose throwing me out for having a new account. The New Resident Experience that was apparently around in Summer 2013 was described as even worse by Uccie Poultry, being dropped into a shopping area with no instructions at all. One could be forgiven for thinking the Lab was basically giving up on ways to find ways of keeping new residents.

In September 2013, I found out about Learning Island. This was the first half of a two-stage process for newcomers, the second half being Social Island, which was open to more experienced residents. Taking a look around learning Island, I found it to be a definite improvement from Destination Island, and an overall one from Orientation Island. Looking around Social Island, I found occasional older residents giving pointers to newcomers, a club area, and a whole islands with nooks and crannies to explore.

Some months ago, Social Island was changed to a more Greco-Roman look. But it wasn't until I created a new alt to test the new starter avatars announced on July 5 that I learned that Learning Island had been changed as well. I don't know how many months ago it was redesigned, but here's a look at it.


 And a new account, Rezzdarnnit, takes his first steps into the virtual world, sword in hand.


 There was a sign nearby explaining how to move around, and a HUD popped up with instructions on where to go next.


 Panning around, I saw the place had been given an overall Greco-Roman look. Of course, a newbie would not be thinking of that, so this was probably done for aesthetics, or to keep bloggers and newsletter writers from making questionable remarks.


Learning Island on the map.


More instructions. Newcomers would learn how to jump over gaps, the HUD giving an encouraging ring when you made it across. If not, there were stairs one could find their way back up.


 The third set of instructions was on how to fly up, and then back down.


Continuing on.


 The fourth set of instructions was about how to pan around to get a better look at things.


This was an area with an aquarium, so there were some fish to zoom in on.


As well as some weasels running about.


 Going through a portal, I ended up in the Courtyard. The fifth lesson was how to talk to others, or in this case the parrot that had also been used in the days of Orientation Island.


Approaching the portal, I was told this was the way to Social Island for continued instructions, but once through I could never return.


Comparing this to the Learning Island a few years ago, the big difference to me was no instructions on how to adjust your avatar. But as people were now using mesh and Bento, new residents wouldn't need to know that with avatars like those. And as I would mention in an article about the Bento avatars, there were no instructions on how to take off and remove objects on your avatar, as people just don't walk up to one another, sword drawn.


And Rezzdarnnit's first look at Social Island.


 There was a video screen nearby, that when clicked had Magellan Linden welcoming the new resident to Second Life.


Among the first things mentioned was the people, "some may look strange. Others may actually *be* strange." The second remark was most likely a muted warning about the griefers that have been noted to hang around places to harass newbies.


 It was then down the steps to a central area.


 It was there that the player would start to learn about Linden dollars.


 But for now, they would have to make do with "Tutorial Dollars," which were displayed in a new part of the HUD. People got more by completing certain actions.




 Nearby were some basic rules to follow when going about Second Life.


And there were some details such as this little birdie.


There was a room about building things in Second Life, "Not only is building ... possible, it is encouraged!" It would go on to explain things like prims and how to move them, and mesh.


 One display was a demonstration of textures, another one, not shown, was about how to move them around.


This display was about how scripts work, this one being for a light bulb that went on and off when touched.


 Another section was introducing new residents to shopping, the video showing Magellan getting out of his hardsuit and wearing something else.


Tutorial dollars are used to guy the handful of products here, hairpieces, shirts, pants, and shoes.


I got the angel a new shirt and hairpiece. I figured this is where some newbies would learn how to ditch the sword. There was a changing room one could click on to be ported to.


 Another area was the "camera challenge," where there was a game to help people practice their camming skills.


 There was a reminder on how to do so. The build in the middle of the circle had seven red spots you had to press to get the 50 Tutorial dollar reward. The three fastest times were on display.


And camming arount, there was much detail to see around the place.


I noticed a gathering, and among the newcomers was an experienced resident. I greeted him hello, and he gave me a landmark to a freebie store. I saw a couple others, and chatted with one, a Spanish-speaking resident, but she only wanted to talk for a few minutes.


Going down to the lower level.



Like the old Social Island, there's a club here.


 There were instructions on how to get a music stream going. Note the naked guy sitting down, which would probably make a newbie think of Magellan's warning, "some of the people actually *are* strange."


I never could get the danceball to work by clicking on it. But there was no one to dance with, though.


One newbie hasn't bothered to change his look yet.


Another activity I saw was the boat ride.


 There were a few, flat, images, of hammerhead sharks swimming around. Falling or wadding too deep into the water would get you tossed out onto shore, with a remark telling the player the sharks aren't to be fed for several hours.


The player was instructed to get in the boat, and sail through the rings in the cave and head back to get the tutorial Linden dollar reward.


 The last activity was the maze.


 One was reminded you could always pan up for an overhead look to figure your way out faster.


Getting the prize in the middle got you the tutorial dollar reward. You still had to find your way out, though.


 The video before the last area, the portal circle, was Magellan instructing


There were nine portals to chose from, marked as: Art, Roleplay, Popular Places, Portal Park, Newcomer Friendly, Gaming Island, Editor's Picks, Music, and Adults Only.


I decided to try "Newcomer friendly" first.


By chance, it led me to what looked like a community gateway at Lazy Adams, in Great Staughton. The description of the place was of a community and social hangout, and there were a number of games, and people around. I never did talk to anyone, but this looked like a promising start to a newcomer.


After trying the "Art" portal, and ending up at the Vordun Gallery, I then decided to give Portal Park a try.


Newcomers might be inclined to give "The Cornfield" a try, so I gave it a whirl.


After getting about a hundred cornbucks, and a souvenir t-shirt, I was ready to call it here. I've seen enough of what happens when noobs try to flirt with girls whom are regular residents, "You need to up your game, Mister," so I can only conclude those heading straight to the Adults Only areas would likely be disappointed. But my impression of the new Learning and Social Islands was this was an overall improvement from their predecessors. Will it encourage more newcomers to stay? Combined with the community gateways, it just might.

Bixyl Shuftan