Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Second Life Geography

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When we began writing for SL Newser, in 2013, our first article was about the major continents, or mainlands, of Second Life. In that article, it was calculated that one could undertake the longest possible journey, without use of teleportation, by traveling from the Southern tip of Satori all the way to the Eastern end of Gaeta. Readers were challenged to attempt to verify this, by making the journey themselves. On the above map, this journey is shown by the red line. Seven months later, one of our alts, a dragon named Katzu made the journey, which covered 25 miles and took three days to complete.

If you have been following my articles in the Newser, many of them are about adventures to places, scattered all around the virtual world, called "The Grid". As each article is being prepared, we open a "world map", which can be found in the viewer and at the website. From this map, we can pinpoint the location of the planned adventure, on the grid, and make local maps, to show greater details. The map, shown above, is a composite and shows the main part of the grid. There is more to the grid than shown here, but these fringe sims are, for the most part, used for premium account homes and land developments by LL. We have surveyed some "fringe" sims, but found little in the way of adventures to write about there. All of my articles for Newser took place at locations on the above world map. In preparation for new articles, I ask myself where have I not been and what have I not done. This time, I found myself asking, how big is the virtual world and how many people live in it. The search for the answers to those questions proved to be enlightening for me and I felt would also be of interest to readers of the Newser. An online search took me to a web page called, "Second Life Grid Survey". This page is updated every day and the world map is also adjusted daily. Let's have a look at what I found, on the Grid Survey, Christmas day.

The total number of residents is given as 44,357,627 Keep in mind that a large number of these could be alts or even bots, so that brings it down a bit. Fortunately, there are closer to 30-50 thousand online, at any given time. How much space do all these avatars have, to move about in?  The current number of sims is 24,909, with 13% of them rated for [G], 67% for [M] and 30% for [A]. The total area of all sims, sea sims included is 1632.44 square kilometers. That means, if you packed all the sims into one, giant square continent, it would measure 25 miles on each side, 625 Sq.Mi. (green square on map), or slightly larger than the city of London, England. If all of the 44+ million came on at the same time, and spread out evenly, there would be 1700 avatars on each sim. The entire grid would shut down, long before they could all get on. With the typical number of people on line, spread out evenly, the number would be a more comfortable 1.5 avs per sim. This is more like the numbers I see, when I visit sims to write about. When avs gather for events, lag increases, because they are being rendered by the computer that you are viewing them on. Most of us can handle a party of about two dozen avs, but there are some clubs and events that attract such large crowds, low end computers get stopped in their tracks, literally.

Some final words on the grid map:

You can use the world map in your viewer or at the site. and zoom and pan to see all of the grid. I found the composite maps online, added details and reduced the size to fit here.
The gold diamond, just below center, is the location of the Sunweaver Estates, home to the SL Newser and this reporter. Download a copy and find your home sim. I'm going to hang the map in my castle. The sims are on a blue base, giving the impression of islands on a vast ocean. In fact, most of the blue area is really space which has no sims or servers at all. If you could go there, which I recently did, you would experience being a singularity. There is nothing to see in any direction. You cannot move and even your [HOME] button won't work. You are point A. There is no point B.

The base map would also make an incredible movie, with each frame advancing one month since the beginning of Second Life. Another animation could use overlays to show population densities, over a day or week. How about an animation that shows everybody that's on with a dot of different color,depending on the time zone the player is in real life. I don't know if the data needed to make such animations exists. It would be a major project, any way you look at it.

We hope you have enjoyed the little map-hopping adventure. Hopefully, you'll be inspired to get out and blaze your own trails, in our vast virtual world. There are endless adventures for all of us.

Happy Trails,


Thursday, December 24, 2015

The Sunweaver Estates

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When one contemplates the workings of the universe, adjusting our perceptions of scale and time, to view it in it's entirety, down to the tiniest sub-atomic particle, we discover it is all controled by a single fractal formula. This formula is the matrix of life. Everything is connected and part of the whole. The universe is a living thing. It and all of it's parts, for optimum health, act as one. Small lives gather to form greater lives, with greater powers, from clod to god, as the saying goes.

The Sunweaver group is founded by Rita Mariner and is about nine years old, with 660 current members. The group's roots go back to a gathering on the MUD sim, that came to be known as MUD's Women. As they grew in size, the gathering moved to Pockwock and filled half the sim. The first full sim was named Sunweaver Isle. I wasn't around, when they decided on the name, but have always felt it inspires faith and hope in a greater life. Over time, new sims were added around the isle. They were all connected, up to 9-10 at one point. The included map shows an up to date view of the cluster of sims, Sunweaver Estates. The six sims are connected face to face, permitting ground and air traffic, from end to end. Boating will involve a short portage on HV Community. A new roadway allows ground traffic and has a single rail trolly to all the Sunny neighborwoods. I'm a Sunweaver Highway Junkie. I'll walk, ride or fly the length and back, several times a week, discovering new points of interest and making new friends. We'll take that journey, checking out some of the points of interest in a moment.

There are other sims which are tied to Sunweaver, but not "physically" connected. A few sims distance to the East, we find Sunweaver Isle, Rita's home. There are isles between her and the main group, but they parlez vous Francais and little else is known about them. A few miles west of the cluster, you'll find plenty of Sunweavers on the Purrfection Estates, especially at theme parties, Tuesday and Thursday nights, at the Happy Vixen Beach club. To the South, there are MLP themed sims,which, at one time were connected to the Sunweaver sims. I should mention that, although Sunweavers are predominately Furries, they are open, friendly and helpful to all other avforms.

Hop on my jet hover bike and we'll take a quick tour of the six connected Sunweaver sims. We'll point out some of the better known points of interest. We could name many more, but a) after all this time, I am finding new interesting areas and b) you should come and explore them for yourself. We'll begin at the Southern end, my home in Second Life. My life long involvement with family, friends and community carries into Second Life. As I explore the grid, for new adventures, I always keep an eye out for signs of evolved communities. I've found quite a few fine communities and, for most of my years in SL, have lived in the one I love the best, Sunweavers.

Sunweaver Bay

 When I am not out exploring the SL world or dancing at the many local theme parties, you'll find me keeping watch on the sim and teaching new members how to build, make clothing and be good citizens. My two castles are always open to the public and often have house guests,staying until they get a place of their own. The bay has two large nightclubs. Cutlass VI hovers above the bay and, as the name suggests, has a long, successful history. It's open on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights, for theme parties. You'll find plenty of friendly folks there. Bring your funny bone and try to out-pun Bix.

On the N.E. corner of the sim, we find a dark castle, Primal Passions club. This club is owned by Rayven Tentigo. The atmosphere is "Noir" and attracts a different clientele than Cutlass, but also hosts Sunweaver events, like the Kiss concert for RFL. There are also two smaller, less known clubs, to gather with friends; the Drunken Parrot Pub, located at the trolley stop and the Rainbow Club, hidden behind the Fire Station, for those that like Reggae music to chill by. Two more stops, before we leave the sim. To the East of the fire station there is a large structure with a landing strip on top. The interior houses our Sunbeamer RFL team meetings and a museum of Sunweaver history in pictures and 3D models of sims. East of the air strip, be sure to visit the Fimi Memorial Tree house. As we take a last look around, the Castle towers, tree houses, air strip and Sunbeamer's HQ and flying night club give us the impression, the inhabitants of Sunweaver Bay have their sights set to the heavens.
Sunny Beach

This sim is still trying to decide what to be, when it grows up. For a long time, it featured surfing and a beach club. After that, Club Fur made it's home there, for about a year. Currently, it is available for rent and wears a winter coat of snow. I call it the over the river and through the woods sim. Although in reality I avoid cold climates, this sim has always been a favorite place to chill. Those wishing to make this homestead sim their home can contact Rita Mariner or Nydia Tungsten, for details.

HV Community
As we head East, to this sim, we are greeted by businesses on both sides of the highway, including Angel Creations, Alien Wise Enterprises, Hidden Valley, Brandi's, Angel Beach Land Rentals and SL Newser's office. There is far more to this sim than just the 9 to 5. As we pass the Newser office, we thumb our nose at Bix and head for higher elevations.

As we climb, we note that a good portion of the Northern part of the sim is owned by RECoyote and his partner, Perri Prinz. At ground level, it's a wonderful playground, for kids of any age. At the higher altitudes, they have skyboxes and platforms for their lofty pursuits. Perri's Spectral Shadows Art Gallery is a showcase of her story telling talents. Higher still, we find the Vinyl Museum, a night club featuring Perri and other master DJs. The club is currently dormant, but still in the same location. I caught up with REC, in the club and was told it would always be there. I noted that it had a new name over the door. We look forward to when events will be held there again.

While we are thousands of meters up, notice there are many sky objects to navigate around. Passing through this sim, the radar shows that most of the residents are in the sky. Ahead, you will see a large, man made moon. Within it's phantom shell, you might find Ranchan, building her next generation star craft. Dropping altitude to navigate, we again head East, to the next sim.
Sunlight Bay
This sim is mostly water, with the highway and trolly passing through it. On the East side, there is a large castle, the home of Nydia and Brandi Tungsten and friends. I understand the castle is open to the public and, if your timing is right, they might even show you around. I have written about it before, so we will move on with our tour of Sunweaver. We are now heading North.
Sunweaver Space
This is one of the older sims in the group and has a large and varied population. Space was the previous home of club Cutlass and right below it is the Sunweaver Mall. There are also some cool venders on the S.W corner of the sim. This reporter loves going shopping. You'll also find me here, every Sunday night, at the Feral Fury, watching movies, provided free by Shockwave Yareach, with my friends. There's even free popcorn. From Feral, we head down and find ourselves lining up for a landing on the final sim.
Pacific Waters
We come in for a landing at Farshore Field and taxi off the runway. There are some vintage aircraft, lining the tarmack. At the Far end, check out The Puddle jumper Mall. On the S.E. corner of the sim, there is a seaport for ships and sea planes. Around the perimeter of the isle, a race track allows you to test your latest hot wheels. In the hilly woods, in the N.E. quadrant, there is an underground bunker/clubhouse. There's no guard posted, so walk right in and take the elevator down.
This sim is the work of the well respected Cynthia Farshore. She and Shockwave built Cutlass VI, together.
In this article, I have given the names of a handfull of Sunweavers out of the 660 total membership. Dividing the few by the many, I have introduced my readers to the most notable one percent of Sunweavers. For closing comments, I asked what people liked about Sunweaver. I'll end with a few of my favorites.
Shockwave, "I like it here. That's why I stay here."
RECoyote, "Y'all are my kind of crazies"
Bixyl, "I've lived at a few places before the 'weavers. Most didn't last very long. I've probably called it a "prac-topia" at times. Not an utopia, but as close as one can practically get. Little drama and level headed discussions on how to handle what issues we have."
The saying is true, "When you live in Sunweaver, you get more than land. You get a community."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Winter Wonderland

By Gemma Cleanslate

Finally, now that the Christmas Expo is over I was able to get to the Winter Wonderland that the Lindens put up for lots of winter fun. To get there, you must start at the Portal Park which is in its wintery Christmas décor. Walk down the path leading to the portal itself and just jump on in. You will be transported to the lovely whimsical village. 
A big red gift box awaits you in the gazebo in the village square. In the box is a cute snow globe with snowflakes and a howling wind when you click it created by Garden Mole. Take a look at the signage in the village to guide you to the various sites you will want to visit. The snowball arena is sometimes busy with avatars hiding among the rocks and waiting for unsuspecting newcomers or having a full blown snowball fight with the weapons you will find there. At the ice skate arena you will find several pairs of skates of different sizes from which to choose. The Ferris Wheel is very popular with couples and gives a terrific view of the entire land, and the huge snowman that watches over all. 
Another favorite area is the Winter snow track that winds in and out and around the hills and arenas and offer a great track for those who love speeding over the snow on a snowboard that you rezz.  It looks like something left over from construction).  The region windlight offers a glow to everything around and a pleasant environment for your visit. I wonder if the Lindens will be in for a snowball fight? I have to check into that! I did! There will be a gigantic snow ball fight on December 21, Monday, between 10am slt and noon!! Oh I hope I can make it!!!
Before you leave the portal park look around at the other offerings ther . This is where you can start many adventures. Each path from the center leads to some different activity: The Linden Realms, Paleoquest, a social place and more. There are free gifts by several of the paths so look for the boxes. 

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dark Dharma's Haunted Manor

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

At  our last Newser staff meeting, I was asked to prepare an article about a sim, designed by a big name Second Life artist. After visiting the exhibit however, I was more than disappointed. So I looked for somewhere else to explore. As I looked through the Destination Guide, one quickly gained my attention, "Dark Dharma's Haunted Manor and Haunted Forest." Dark Dharma was the creator of the North Pole Village & Santa's Workshop, which I had just published an article on. I was impressed with Dark Dharma's work, because it goes beyond mere technical abilities and effected my heart and mind. I felt sure that this artist was well qualified to scare the socks off us and just had to go see for myself. Yes, we are well past Halloween, but for two reasons, I'm offering it here and now. For one, this artist had impressed me and two, when my daughter was young, she talked me into playing a video game, called "Alone in the Dark." I stayed up late, many nights, playing ahead so I could coach her through the scary parts. I learned a good trick on that game. Each time I got to a door, where I knew there was a big challenge awaiting, I would save the game, so I didn't have to start from scratch if the ghost killed me.

The first thing I do, at any new sim, as things begin to rez, is take a look around, check the map to see where I am on the grid and check radar to see how many avs are there. I noticed, across the street from the haunted house, a shop that sold scary props, used in the haunted house. In a small graveyard to the right of the shop, there were about a dozen complete avatars for sale. When I saw the Elvira (Cassandra Peterson), I knew I had to buy and wear it for this adventure.

Dressed for the role and approaching the entry to the manor, we are informed that music should be turned off and sounds turned up. Personally, this theme is one that has always given me the creeps, so I was already on the edge of my seat. I will not spoil this adventures for my readers, by scouting ahead and warning you of any dangers, the way I did for my daughter. However, I will tell you there are indeed dangers and, like in "Alone in the Dark", they will send you back to your home sim. One misshap sent me to a location between sims, a Limbo I didn't think was possible in SL. The only way out of this Limbo was to restart the viewer and begin from scratch.

In all, I was very impressed by what Dark Dharma created here and I am pleased to share this adventure with my readers. Don't be surprised if you find a tombstone with my name on it there.

Benten (87, 220, 28)


Monday, December 14, 2015

Calas Christmas Sim

By Gemma Cleanslate

One of the most beautiful regions to visit during this season is the special separate Christmas sim put together by Ty Tenk and Truck Meridith of Calas Galadhon sims.   It is always so spectacular in all its effects from the entrance to the North Pole. When you arrive enter a sleigh for a ride through the sparkling snow laden woods that will eventually arrive at the Pavilion.
After you admire all the wonderful foliage around the Pavilion and the skating lake, enter the open doors to the great hall and turn to the right to see the package filled Christmas tree room with its cozy tea setting. (Before you reach the room there is a table of gifts for group members) The magnificent Tree room is just jam-packed with boxes large and small. Far across the great hall is another charming room with cakes set out for company and a roaring fire to warm the skaters. I always find friends sitting and chatting about the wonders of the region. Couples dance in the great hall guarded by large toy soldiers standing at the doorways. 
Outside again, the snow is blue in the windlight and skaters fly by on the ice solo or in couples. I took the hot air balloon ride with Daniel who was filming a video. It travels above the ground all around the entire sim so you can view all the decor.  Then it begins to rise slowly and passes into a “wormhole” as Daniel called it and on up past the glowing Aurora Borealis and finally arrives at the North Pole. 
A charming village of buildings line the street there with Santa’s reindeer resting in their stable and in front of houses. I visited the several toy factories just filled with toys and musical instruments ready for delivery  I stopped inside a home to view the decorations, and sat on Santa’s bed (I think). The elf house was very neat with all the beds made. They were nowhere to be found in the village or were wearing a cloak of invisibility. There are two ways to get up here to the north pole. The balloon ride which gives you time to relax and enjoy the trip, or if you are short on time there is a teleport by the balloon.  
The This sim is here until after Christmas but don’t wait too long to visit or attend the parties in the Pavilion. Dress warmly! Thanks again to Truck and Ty for their gift to the residents of Second Life.

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, December 11, 2015

Santa's Workshop

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

When searching for the next great adventure to take my readers on, there is one thing we can all count on. If you can name it, there is probably already a sim for it. With that in mind, we are pleased to find that a search for "Santa's Workshop" provides us with a whole list of sims to explore. In theory, the search will list places with the highest traffic (popularity?) at the top, so we head to "North Pole Village and Santa's Workshop" at the Winter Porvoo sim (208,136,127)

Porvoo sim is located in the part of the SL mainland which is perpetual winter, so we were prepared for a snowy landing. As our suroundings came into focus, we spot some signs. The first sign informs us that we must follow the path, to get to Santa's Workshop. A larger sign calls attention to the fact that there is a Santa's Elves Hunt in progress. There are 12 gifts, well hidden in the workshop and North Pole Village. We are advised to click everything, if we want to find the hidden gifts. As we walk along the path, we keep our eyes open and our radar on and notice there are many other avs on the sim, enjoying the adventure. A message comes in local chat,for maximum effect, turn of Music and turn up Sounds. Wearing headphones makes it even better. As we negotiate the path, the wind in our ears, snow crunching under foot and the tintinnabulation of ice crystals bring up the thought that it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. At the end of the path, we find a signpost, showing the direction to the various local attractions.

   In the search for Elf gifts, I wanted to leave no snowflake unturned and began by exploring the near-by Crystal Cave. Seen one crystal cave, you've seen 'em all, is our first impression, as we enter, but the soothing sounds and colorful lights weave their way into the mind.  It wasn't until I began writing about it that I thought something strange had happened there. I returned to the scene to revive my memories and yes, there was indeed an abominable surprise within.

Across from the cave entry, we climb the stairs to the workshop area. Here, you will find, in addition to the toyshop, the launch ramp for Santa's sleigh, the reindeer barn and a garage for sleigh mechanics to work in. You can even buy a full size animated reindeer here. Moving on, we find the toyshop. This area is full of wrapped presents and goodies to buy, to decorate your home, for the holidays. You'll be here a while, clicking on everything, to see if any provide free gifts.

Leaving the workshop area, we enter the North Pole Village, to see what it has to offer. Here, you'll find the Bakeshop, the North Pole Post office, the North Pole Newspaper press room, Elf Comm Central and the Elfamentary School, all around a central skating pond.

   At Elf Comm Central, they have a high tech, computer communication system, to keep tabs on who's being naughty or nice, so you better watch out. On the hill, behind the center, they even have their own coal mine.

Santa keeps his elves well educated, thanks to the Elfamentary School. We stopped in for a lecture on toymaking, that kept getting interrupted by the new elf, behind me, Alfred Elf.

Seems that at least one elf prefers learning on his own. At his vacant desk, I spotted a big yellow book, called "Toymaking for Dummies". Perhaps it can be ordered from Amazon and arrive before Christmas.

After a fun adventure at this Santa's Workshop, I made a quick stop at another destination, where a "Santa's Workshop Photo Contest" is in progress. It turned out to be a promotion by the near-by mall and only open to their group. I snooped around a bit, to see if they had any seasonal backgrounds, for my Christmas card photo and noticed an oddly familiar old building. There was a gathering of people and animals, so this reporter inched closer, to see if there was a story here. What a great joy to find, after traveling to the four corners of SL and even to the moon, for a story, your humble informant is given a photo-op with the King of Kings.

Peace on earth, y'all,


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Winter Holiday Village and Calas Galadhon Park

By Gemma Cleanslate

One of my favorite  skating places every year is Winter Holiday Village  that belongs to  Mairead Fitzgerald and Karra Babii. This is their 8th year of preparing a sim for everyone’s enjoyment.  Mairead is also known as Mrs Santa Claus and you will find her and Santa in the sims often at the many parties until Christmas or sitting at the ‘North Pole’ taking requests. I found elves waiting there by the throne for Santa’s arrival. 

It is always good to see the old familiar build but every year there is something new and lovely. This year there is a beautiful glass skating and dancing palace. I also saw a cozy camp with a fire where you can hang out while skating and there is a Grinch’s Greedy Parlor is you like that game. This sim has a really extensive skate way through a tunnel and under bridges and there are always people skating there.  Join the group so you know when the performances are held. Be sure to visit the Magic of Christmas shop which is always filled with winter décor and outfits. Cross country skis are available or take a tour in the carriage. Don’t miss this region :

Calas Galadhon Park as you already know is another of my favorites so I will mention it here now but will be doing another article about the  Christmas sim . The winter sims at Calas offer a wonderful area for skating over two sims . Cross country skiing is enjoyable and you will find cross country skis.    Near the bridge there is a rezzable carriage ride, or bring your horse for a trot on the snow laden roads and through the fields. It is always a great place to hang out. This is the entrance to the parks and from here you can walk to the huge lake or stop in town for a cup of coffee before you start:

Gemma Cleanslate

Friday, December 4, 2015

Telrunya and Christmas at the House of Avro

By Gemma Cleanslate

Nessa Zamora (Noralie78 ) has a marvelous seasonal sim called Telrunya which she calls “my expression, my passion, my greatest hobby in SL! It's also a home to me, my family, friends and whomever feels at home here.” In its winter glory with lightly falling drifting snow it is beautiful and welcome to visitors. It is a most relaxing setting with quaint small buildings to visit, a vast glass walled hall for eating and dancing. At the skating pond you will find free skates and some more elegant with a color changing hud for sale.  Grab a hot chocolate and hang out by the fire. As you wander there are other places to dance with your honey or relax by the fire in the lodge. Don’t miss the magical Ice Palace if you are looking for a quiet place to dance. The setting itself is very relaxing and charming  and Nessa suggests trying the region windlight for the best effect. but also suggests trying others. This is a great region for photographers.

Another great place to visit for shopping for any possible item you might need to decorate your region is Christmas at the House of Avro in Christmas Decorations sim. Two regions full of Christmas! It has “ 21 Top Christmas Creators selling festive wares including  Clothing, decorations, furniture and Christmas trees etc, Free gifts Downhill skiing, Ice Skating.” While I was there I took a tour on trolley car number 5. Try it!  I checked out the ice skating rink which has skating balls for singles and couples. Even if you don’t shop you will still have fun in the sims. 

Grab the notecard with easy tp points on it here. -

Gemma Cleanslate