Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Exploring eLab City

By Grey Lupindo

      While on another assignment for SL Newser a few weeks ago, I met Froggy (sanfroggy) a SL photographer whose home is located in eLab City.  She invited me to tour the city, which is located at eLab City West (103, 141, 33).  Froggy took the photographs that accompany this article. 
SL resident Professor Lax, who in RL is Professor Thomas P. Novak, started eLab City as a research project to study behavior in virtual worlds.  He conducts his RL academic research at the University of California at Riverside.  The eLab City project began in 2008, and it soon involved over 5,000 SL residents as visitors and participants in the research.    To create the city, he contracted with SL developers to create two regions where a true community of living, working, and playing could be conducted.   Professor Lax, through his RL persona, wrote that “...eLab City’s primary functions were to be a working laboratory and a mechanism for building a subject pool of participants for academic research studies.”       
     Although the research project has ended, eLab City remains as an interesting urban/university site to explore.  A good beginning point is the eXpress kiosk located at eLab City West (103, 141, 33).    When the research was going on, SL residents could sign up for study panels if they wanted to take part in the research project and earn some Lindens.  Since the research has ended, ignore any of the signs about signing up.  But do step inside the eXpress building and pick up a free messenger bag that is hanging on the wall.  It’s a stylish and free souvenir, and it’s filled with some freebies. 
      From this point you can get a view of the river and many of the buildings that make eLab City a realistic and fun place to explore.  Inside Building E is the student lounge.  A little grimy, with out-of-date mags, games that don’t work, and a snack shop with lousy service.   Just like I remember my college student lounge.  If you need an old computer or desk, you can pick up a copy of one here for free.  
      If you go out the back door, you can walk down to the river or explore some of the buildings and shops.  Although there appears to be some things to buy, many of the shops are decorative only now that the research has ended.
       On the street level you can borrow a car to drive.  Or take a walking tour.   Since the site allows flying, it’s fast and easy to tour.  There are also a lot of interactive maps that show key locations in eLab City.   A built in teleport system provide quick transport, too. 
      Like all good cities, eLab City has apartments, shops, gardens, a theater, a library, and places to meet and work.  The Library and Theater can be found at eLab City East (136, 83, 22).   The Library has some interesting note cards about companies that had been in SL in the past.   I was especially sorry to learn that I had missed the Ben & Jerry sim.   I bet they gave out great freebies.    Another display shows books and movies that have a presence in SL and offers a teleport to them.  
       The apartments can be found at  eLab City West (84, 115, 25). The apartments were originally built for the RL students/SL residents who were working on the research project.  The buildings were labeled Building A and Building B.  One of the interesting things that Professor Lax discovered was that the students/residents “quickly displayed a sense of ownership. For example, when the first set of student residents moved in, they changed the name from the non-descript ―Building A‖and Building B --to ―Oceanside Suites North and Oceanside Suites South.”   
      Most of the office buildings are empty, although they are quite detailed and contain conference rooms, auditoriums, visitor centers, and other space.  An exception to this, however, is the Design Center, located at eLab City East (44, 143, 28).   A collection of animated art work by Peter Stanick, titled “Virtual Virtual”, is on display here.  A note card by Stanick explains the origins of this collection.  “... I decided to put together a program that basically took all of my existing images and generated an animation from those images. ... Basically that program produces an animation, but a secondary function of that program is that it does produce secondary images which are part of this exhibition here at eLab.  And ...what we're dealing with here is a series of images that are really produced on the computer and shown online and therefore exist in a virtual reality before they become an actual reality. ... so what we have is a virtual reality within a second virtual reality of the eLab project.”    
        There are many other sites within eLab City East and West to explore.   Unfortunately, the third sim, Northwest Island, is not going to remain.  It can be found at Island of the Lost - NW, eLab City Northwest (16, 129, 30), although how long it will be there is not known.  It was not part of the original plan.  Unlike the rest of urban  eLab City, it is a nature lover’s delight.  There are miles of rocky coasts, and plenty of sea life.  Orcas and sea lions can be found at NW, eLab City Northwest (104, 226, 21).  
        As to the future of the original eLab City, Professor Lax told me that he is “exploring some ideas for using it in new academic research projects.”  The research is on hold at the moment, but Professor Lax said that  eLab City East and West are funded through 2014.  “SL remains unique in its combination of a dedicated user base, outstanding collection of user generated content, and a functioning virtual currency,” he said.  “For me, these three factors make SL very useful for academic research on user behavior in virtual environments.”
           He stated that he is “interested in connecting with like-minded others who might be interested in forming a research community centered around eLab City.”  He pointed out that “it could serve as a virtual campus for a community of Second Life researchers who are looking for a common home in which to explore ideas. “   
Grey Lupindo

Monday, March 25, 2013

The First Sims: Da Boom

By DrFran Babcock

I just bought a small plot of land on Varney, one of the first of the sixteen sims that made up Second Life™ when it first came on line in 2002. I had been hoping for land like this that was wildly terra-formable (plus or minus 40 meters), and the original San Francisco sims have this added benefit. There are a few other sims like this on the mainland, but they are rare. I am happy to be a part of old Second Life™ history.

Second Life™ is about to celebrate its 10th anniversary! With that thought in mind, and because I am a history buff here, I thought it might be nice to do some exploring of the earliest portions of this vast virtual world. This article will be about the first sim: Da Boom.

With each installment of the First Sims, I will cover what remains of the original sim (not much in most places), what there is to see and do, shopping, sites, and points of interest. I hope you will read and learn with me. If you have any additional information, I welcome it.

It would be naive of me to think that I am the first one to write about the early sims. Both Lalo Telling ( ) and Alex Hayden ( have recently visited and written blog posts about Da Boom. I will try to point out some of the things not covered by these two wonderful fans of Second Life™.

Welcome to Da Boom

If you search for Da Boom on the World Map, and take the teleport offered, you will land in the Linden Playground, an amusement park. This must be  a more recent build, because it was created by Sunny Mole. The Moles, who work under the supervision of Michael Linden, came into being to be the Linden Department of Public Works. They create infrastructure and other builds throughout the mainland. The playground has many rides and activities on it, and it is fun to explore. What is interesting to older avatars, is that the vast majority of textures come from the Second Life™ library, which makes them easy to rez, because they are often cached by many avatars. Take your choice, and swing on a pirate ship or an octopus’ tentacle. There’s lots of innocent fun to be had in the playground.

I am not so sure about the next parcel I encountered. The Christian Church of Da Boom, is a lovely Fatima Ur built church that sits on an almost void 3456 meter parcel. It was acquired March 16th of this year, and provides audio and video about Christianity around the clock. In front of the church is a teleport that takes you up to a huge ballroom in the sky. The only thing in the ballroom is links to watch media on a prim, and these prims link to videos about religion. The one I watched explained the necessity of tithing to the church. The land is owned by Erwin Solo, who is seen preaching in some of the videos. Go, and look for yourself, and let me know what you think.

One of my favorite places on Da Boom is Seifert Surface’s sculpture shop. Seifert uses math for all of his constructions, and I had to teleport my friend Lomgren Smalls over to explain some of the things to me. However, you don’t have to be a mathematician to appreciate the beauty of the forms.

One thing that is sad to me is that Linden Lab and the early residents really didn’t have any idea of what they were creating, and thus, did not take pains to preserve some of the early builds. The Alt-Zoom Disco, built by Philip Linden is nowhere to be found. It would really be nice to have that preserved. There is the Governor’s mansion on Clementina, but it’s a later build.


Although none of these rides are original Da Boom builds, they are great fun. There are many ways to get around on Da Boom. At the base of the Da Boom Building, which is a more recent build, is a Whirly-Putter rezzer. ( ). When touched you can fly a two person vehicle, which crosses sims so well, I flew it all the way back to my land on Varney. In addition, there are water tubes to rez, and a riverboat that gives tours. All of the rides worked really well when I tried them, and the lag was low. 

Even if you don’t like or appreciate history, Da Boom is worth a teleport from anywhere. Lots to see, and fun to be had. I recommend it highly, which I am not sure will be the case with some of the other original sims. Stay tuned, dear readers.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, March 22, 2013

Shockwave's Alien Egg Hunt Maze

By Grease Coakes
When people think of Easter a lot of people think of the Easter bunny and chocolate. For religious and spiritual people the death and rebirth of Jesus comes to mind. What Shockwave Yareach of the sunweavers had in mind was one of his fun mazes. Instead of you eating colored eggs from those egg coloring sets you played with as a kid, Shockwave thought what if the eggs ate you?

 Shock to celebrate the Easter season instead of making Easter bunnies created an excellent maze based off the "Alien" movies with Sigourney Weaver. When you warp to the LM that Shock gave out in the Sunweavers notice, you see a massive building shaped like a long rectangle. Click on the nearby square to get your HUD. There’s an egg outside the maze to shoot at to make sure your gun works. 
Picking a gun at random, I found a plushie gun I bought year ago and forgot about. I told Shockwave this and here’s what he had to say: "Kill them with cuteness!"
Apparently it works with the HUD on I get a message saying you have slain this egg it cannot harm you as I hit the dangerous egg with a plushie. When you open the door I hear the star trek sound from whenever the holodeck doors open. The inside of the maze looks realistic as if you’re in a science fiction movie or reading a book.
Don’t be fooled however. Even with my deadly plushie gun in hand this maze is no mere walk in the park. Like the NES game contra one hit you’re dead the same is true for Shock’s maze. I’m walking around the maze lalala ... AHHHHHHHH FACEHUGGER!!! And your avatar goes back to the start of the maze with a facehugger on your screen losing your score. Shockwave himself said his wife was getting on him in real life for yelling in terror as his wolf avatar got killed in the maze.
The maze is cheat proof too if you try to walk in without the HUD the door won’t open. So walking around the maze with no HUD to not experience death is a no-no. I said then the maze wouldn’t be a challenge.
Shock said it’s fun to build in Second Life as to build a real life maze would be way too expensive. I commented that it’s very easy to buy a furry avatar for 800-900 Linden. In real life you would have to build one yourself or pay someone a large sum of real money to build a fursuit to walk around as a furry in real life.
Shock may not have a Hollywood budget in real life to make the next Aliens movie, but he certainly did a great job making a great maze to entertain the Sunweavers or anyone else who likes shooting things. Next time you eat or paint eggs this Easter season be careful that it doesn’t explode and hug your face like when I visited Shock’s fatal Alien maze.
Shocky's Lair, Sunweaver Space (191, 135, 61)
Grease Coakes

Friday, March 15, 2013

Tribute City

By Gemma Cleanslate
I have been fishing at the Tribute City sim for a while. At first we fished from the steps of the canal. But now there are three new and interesting venues, a wooded area with ponds, a moon venue,  and a seaside beach. There are also weekly contests where you can just hang out and fish and hope to have the highest points for a prize. The venues are hosted by Johannes 1977, known as John, and he does two fishing contests daily, morning and night.  
I looked around the sim and thought this looks like an interesting place to visit so took some tours around the entertainment and shopping district to see what was there. It was part of the Flying Tigers sims which closed in 2012. Club Capital management, owned by Jessii2009 warhol, (jessii) and Guarocuya Giano, now has  a very pretty sim reminiscent of Venice with lovely canals and walkways. You can hop on a gondola that will take you through the canals, by lovely shops and buildings as the gondelier sings to you, or you can rezz a segway and go around the streets and walkways. 
 There is a lovely church building that is great for newbies. Not only is there a good collection of freebies necessary to start SL properly, but also tutorials to help orient the new arrivals.   Right now there is a Green celebration going on through out the region through March.
There are four clubs for partying : Club Capital, Amelias' Pilot Lounge, Club Nation, and xTreme CT Rock Club. The sim is always busy with visitors and partiers. I attended two parties that were packed and rocking!  There are contests and special activities for the month of March in honor of St Patrick’s day. You will see pots of gold at the end of the rainbows  arching over the main canal.  The green shamrock decorated kiosks along the canal offer clothing from several of the shops and other goodies for sale. I found a gazebo that offered a free shamrock hat for St Pat’s day and also a glass to green beer to wear with it for the 17th. There is a Green Festival Raffle  for 1000L . Look for it in a windowed building near the church facing  the kiosks and the canal or in the clubs. 
I asked Jessii about the sim and she told me “My goal when setting up the sim was to have a nice and friendly place for all residents. I also wanted shopping and clubs where people could enjoy, dance, listen to good music and be away from drama. We do have a newbie area on sim, that has freebies and SL help information. The Torch SL Guide, a blog and inworld help center for newbies, is also located on sim, for newbies who need help and resources.” 
The owners maintain a  wonderful website for Tribute City that will keep you up on all the activities  If you like the sim you can rent there also. Have fun exploring! 
Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, March 8, 2013

Bible Study at the "House of Prayer" Church

by Grease Coakes
Bixyl mentioned that he wanted an article about a church in Second Life, so I thought I’d check one out. Using a random search I found “God’s House of Prayer Church,” which showed a high level of traffic, about 10k. When I warped into the sim, I was inside what seemed like a real-life church that may be in your neighborhood. I looked around and saw a schedule which showed that when I warped to the sim a Bible study was about to start in 5 minutes! 

 Walking inside the church I felt positive energy as I followed a lady up into a large room with artwork you might see in a church. I found a seat as I was surprised that it wasn’t 4 or 5 avatars came in attendance but about 20 or so not including the Bible reader Jehoshabeath.  Before the Bible study started Chanasitsayo sang a song with a live acoustic guitar over voice chat. She sang the song “My Life Is in You Lord.” He stopped reading and asked the group do they as individuals feel they are more or less Christian then others? Agape Scorpio said that it depends on family and your upbringing whether you are in a Christian family or not. She certainly makes a strong point as family does help make you a good person along with being a good Christian.
Moka, another lady at the Bible study expressed, that she felt as if she wasn’t always perfect at being a Christian. It sounded to me as she was talking over voice chat that she was being hard on herself. I told her to take your time and, “So Moka you should learn about Jesus at your own pace ^.^ .” Moka also said that she wasn’t good with hard things as challenges that God presents to her “Not good with hard things  :s” I answered back to her,“Moka the hard things will still be hard but you will still be able to accomplish them”.
The Bible study leader asked a second question about why does Paul say to see God with your heart and not with your eyes? Lots of people answered in various ways. I answered, “God is pure love you can't see love with your eyes or your brain." Another question was how large is God? I answered that he is infinite while Moka said infinite at the same time I answered. I chuckled at that.
A lot of the Bible study was discussion based and it was neat to hear what everyone said. I commented that Moka was hard on herself for not knowing so much about God. But also she was participating a lot which made me think that she knew a lot more about God then she may admit or realize. A question that was asked was “Why is praise important?” I answered that God wants to receive love just like we do.
The Bible reader Jehoshabeath said he has no kidneys and that will continue to keep serving God until he is called home. Moka’s voice comment about she thanked Jesus of how she is alive and well every morning. That made me think that not everyone in life has the ability to walk that most people take for granted. Not everyone has the ability to walk and that’s something to keep in mind as I worked for MDA aka Jerry’s Kids as a telemarketer in real life.
Chana offered an ending prayer and sang a song called “Even If” by Kutless to end the Bible study. As Jehoshabeath quietly said that the bible study was meant to be short but ran over time anyway.
God is praised in many ways in Second Life and real-life. I can’t speak for whoever reads this article whatever way towards God is best for you. My experience at “God’s House of Prayer” church was certainly a positive experience. If you are feeling down and out this church seems like a good place to express yourself to God. There seemed to be lots of people there to share their experiences with God. When I wrote this article their Bible study was on 6pm SL time on Tuesday. That seemed like the right time to stop by.
When I mentioned I was writing for the SL Newser, Agape Scorpio was thrilled! She also said that tonight’s Bible study happened to have a lot more people than usual. I’ll be glad to share this bible study and the group’s love for Jesus in this article as I had fun.
House of Prayer (72, 113, 38)
Grease Coakes

Monday, March 4, 2013

Reflection Island

By Grey Lupindo

Reflection Island is a beautiful place where residents can live or visit.  Reflection Island (206, 14, 22).   The island is lush, with lots of trees and waterfalls.   Exotic sounding birds sing and call to one another and add to the tropical atmosphere.  While my home on Syzygy was being transitioned, I rented a tree house apartment there from Spirit Rock Rentals.  The island is a mix of fantasy and nature. There are dragon tours, lakes, lots of meditation places, volcanos, and more.
        I especially enjoyed the dragon ride, found at Reflection Island, Reflection Island (95, 147, 24).  This is an excellent way to get a first look at the island.  As his wings swoop up and down, he flew me on a tour.  Don’t be alarmed by the fire and growls.    
     Reflection Island is owned and managed by longtime residents, Ka Brevity and her partner, Seth Haalan.  Ka has been a resident since 11/10/2006, and Seth since 2/23/2009.  Their group is One World, Many Paths.  Their notecard states, “There is something deeper behind all the magical and metaphysical teachings in spiritual traditions and philosophies. Our vision is that by bringing people of diverse but sympathetic views together, these deeper truths can emerge and become more clearly evident to all involved.“   
        Chakra spheres and meditation sites are located throughout the island-- in water, underwater, beside fire pits, in a volcano, and many others.   One meditation tower, located at Reflection Island (225,119,28), offers an ocean view.  Jump off the tower, and you’ll splash into a refreshing pool.  Climb through a little door at the edge, and you’ll be transported to a maze-like structure in the sky. I explored this build and found a beautiful book on alchemy and a life-size chess set.    
     On the island, near the dragon tour, there is a library to explore and get items at, some of them free.  Many other places can be explored, too.   For example, The Nest, a treetop platform, is located at Reflection Island (190,70,148).   A beautiful underwater park is located at Reflection Island, Reflection Island (206, 220, 8).   Sea turtles and sea horses, lovely coral, schools of fish swim by.     There's a bathing pool with lavender water for residents, too.  Mermaids will love this place. 
        For SL residents who are interested in exploring  spiritual and philosophical ideas, Seth holds discussion groups and maintains a library of writings on his webpage,   I attended one of the lectures, which are held in the Hall of Creativity, located at Reflection Island (128,123, 2036).  Six or seven of us participated in the lecture that Seth led on the topic of “Fun”.   I had to leave before the discussion was concluded, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the exchange of ideas.         
Grey Lupindo