Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reader Submitted: Gardens Of Grace

By Alysabelle

Every once in a while you encounter a place or a person that touches your heart (I'll explain how this place has touched and affected me personally later in the article). This dear lady who is the owner of this sim, her name is Aridis Inaka, whom I had a few conversations with. And by the way, at the time she didn't know I was interviewing her for this article but later told her before it was published.

She, without a doubt, put her heart and soul into this place. A true labor of love, I expressed how special it is and she is incredibly humble about her creativity. She has sensitivity for others who have traveled a path that only those who know what it feels like inside. From sadness or loneliness and or just joy of life, she understands you even without any communication simply because if you look around the sim its all for those to see. She is truly a beautiful person inside and an incredibly attentive to detail.

When she first built this sim, she would watch people where they stood. And if they stood in a spot long enough, the next time they re-entered the sim she would have a seating area there for them. She mentioned to me that some people actually noticed: She as well incorporated things that she loved into the sim . This place she created is a gift for others a true selfless gesture . If this sim doesn't touch you as much as it has for m,e then the place hasn't spoken to you as of yet. But I'm sure eventually it will . The name of the sim, which is appropriately called, is "The Garden of Grace." It's a place where you can write , dance , or just ponder and relax the day away alone or with friends or a loved one. It truly has all the same quality of peacefulness that embraces you, wherever you are on the sim. As you walk around, you will certainly find a place to sit on a chair perhaps, or a cushion, a bench or even a swing with that special someone or a friend or alone. What is a bit different then most sims you have a clear view of the sunset or sunrise whatever you prefer to be on either opposite.

Once you teleport here, you will find yourself given on the top right hand corner of your screen two gifts, and a notecard about the rules: One gift is a hug attachment, and the other is a red rose (such sweet gifts). And as you cam down on the ground, there is a gift box of silly items from Aridis Inaka. And surely some would bring a smile, or some laughter. Near the box, you will see a teleporting pad. There are several on sim where it brings you to different locations on sim example: the ballroom the chapel and so on. And there is a group invite to the right.

As you walk down a few steps to a small platform overlooking the sim facing you you will see a few waterfalls and the one to your right if you cam in through the waterfall you will notice a seating area and a roaring fire. Quite creative, who would have thought to put a seating area there? A cute little hidden area if you continue to cam upwards. There is a piano for a small child to play on and a large piano for an adult, and two rocking chairs. A little to the right, you see a few dance balls as you cam upwards, one for a single man and another for a single woman, and a couples crystal tear dance ball. In fact there are crystal tear dance balls tucked here and there across the sim.

Turning completely to the left, you will notice there is a lighthouse, which has been deemed originally a safe haven, a beacon of light for those who are lost. As you enter inside, you have a ladder that you climb to the top that over looks the sim. If you cam up over the top of the lighthouse, you have two pose balls, a resting place. Climbing back down the ladder, or as I prefer jumping off the lighthouse (giggle), you face the front of the light house. As you turn to your left, you as you cross over a bridge, you see a floating log. Clicking on log, you sit, swim, or meditate. And to the right, there is an open umbrella with several animations.

Passing the umbrella as you continue to walk the path, you will come upon Gmoky's, the large bunny with a floppy ear, a bird that is pecking on his ear, and a hugging pose ball . I don't know about you, but sometimes I just want a quiet hug without anyone asking me 'are you okay?' And Gmoky, if you click on him, gives you notecards of advice, from 1 to 18. On this particular day his advice to me was "Don’t fry bacon in the nude." *LaughingOutLoud* Winks! Well, that's a given! *grins*.

As you jump off Gmoky's hug and continue walking through the forest, to your left you will see a treehouse. As you continue walking, as you cam up there is a hot air balloon where a couple can dance or float away on a smaller balloon. Back on the ground, you will notice cuddle blankets or logs, until you come upon to the left tai chi and meditation cushions, and further out 4 seating area with a fireplace. To the right there are two small bridges crossing over. To the bridge, you will notice the waterfall and a seating area facing the waterfall. As you cam up, you will notice the little church where you can actually elope. On the right side of the church you will notice "Cica's Cafe Romance 2." Click-sit on the chair while the butterflies are flapping overhead. In other words, it's interactive, and you are part of the painting. Eventually as you continue to walk through the path, you will notice a houseboat. At the very top of the boat there is a table and chairs. Perhaps a small romantic dinner for two?

Then as you continue to walk, you will arrive to small memorial garden of people who have passed away and those who memorialize them. Is it depressing? No, it's a touching expression. It's also a moment of personal reflection, a time spend with memories that surround you. One may wonder why? Why not in real life? Why here? Well if you're here in Second Life or real life, it doesn't matter, It's all the same. Who is behind the avatar but you? And sometimes a person can't get to someone's resting place in real life, or they couldn't afford to have one. There are many various reason. But ultimately they decided to place a memorial here. And to embrace that feeling this way, it's actually intently beautiful. I have personally been touched that way by this little corner of the sim. I often come here and think about the loved ones in my real life. And when I glance to my right and see the lighthouse, it truly is a beacon of light for those who are now home, and for those like me who feel lost at times to feel safe.

There are countless other things I haven't mention, so please explore the sim. She also has a way of changing it up a little, adding and removing certain elements to the sim. You will notice all her little touches.

Aria mentioned to me that she doesn't understand how this place has helped so many people, even as far as into their real lives, she said. Well, to me it's simple. Who but the person that created this sim for all those who at times are like me. who enter when emotions arise and engulf you, and you just happen to turn and look at the lighthouse with its beacon of light shining a path, that light. Aridis welcomes you. YOU welcome us all home .

And how do I thank you Aria, but in the only way i know how. Thank you Aridis Inaka from the bottom of my heart to yours for creating a safe haven for everyone. My quest and hope was to do justice writing about this sim because somewhere along the way and with all it's personal touches, it has moved me so much so enough to the point I have taken the time to reflect and write about it. And take very care about this beautiful place.

Cloud Nine (128, 127, 33)

Thank you,

Monday, March 21, 2016


By Becky Shamen

  Recently at club Cutlass, we had a big Dj spinning tunes. By big we mean, he was a huge dragon, named Geerkil, that could barely fit in the club. Sha told Geerkil that Katzu had recently done an article about dragon sims, in the Newser.

   Geerkil asked her to extend his invitation to Katzu to come visit and report on his own favorite, new dragon realm, Ever Wing, on the Commune sim in the far NW corner of the grid. On hearing the news, Katzu buffed all his claws and horns, picked up and rubbed a local bunny under each arm, and flew off to Ever Wing. His report follows.

   The landing point at EverWing is a large, flying, three level platform, which is known as the Lounge. This is also where the dragons have their big social gatherings. The Lounge can hold many dragons, much larger than myself and it even has a set-up for DJs. I noticed the sim was playing Geerkil's music channel and that added to the pleasure of the adventure.

   In the center of what I called the dance floor, there is a teleport with five destinations on the sim. I tried all of them and was amazed at how big one sim can look. Each destination is at a different altitude on the sim. Each area is rich in mountains, trees, waterfalls and lakes, but thanks to "off sim" backgrounds, look like the scenery continues in eight sims surrounding you. So far, the music and scenery alone are making this a great place for a dragon to stretch his wings.

   At one level I spotted a pair of large dragons, stretched out by a lake. Being new here, I approached with caution. They welcomed me and, when informed I was writing about the sim, were open to answering my questions about the local dragon life. The dragons each have a human size, which they use when being more efficient, building things. What do they like to do, in their spare time? The shiny metal dragon explained that they all liked tweaking their dragon av mods. This fits right in with all the furries, back home. As we talked, he worked on his latest head. It was kind of like watching Sha, building at her workshop. I seem to have been there at dragon dinner time, as each of them excused themselves in pursuit. I took off to view every bit of the place that I could. One of the things I've observed in my dragon adventures leads me to a new theory. We have all noticed that time seems to run at a different speed in SL, from that of RL. I think dragons have a whole different speed of time. I'm not sure if it's faster or slower,
   Every area I visited was beautiful. Rather than repeat the same list of superlatives, I will warn of the one, minor mishap that I encountered there. I was flying in one of the lower areas and turned flight off to land. My aim was off and I landed in water. After seeing how nice everything looked, above water, I decided to walk about below the surface, to see if the designers carried the details there. I found a cave entrance and decided it was only natural to explore inside. Well, it turned out to be closed to the public and a security orb sent me back home. Lesson learned, I went back to EverWing and explored some more.
   You don't have to be a dragon to enjoy EverWing. The atmosphere is very relaxing and the scenery provides countless backdrops for photos. This is one LM that I will use many times.
Commune (116, 217, 259)
Your scaly friend,

Thursday, March 17, 2016

St. Patrick's Town

By Bixyl Shuftan

Laura Liberty is known for her holiday-themed towns every time there's a major holiday in Second Life. And with it being March, she's out with her latest holiday themed town: "St. Patrick's Town." Like other Liberty-themed towns, there's a few freebie items one can get and a few gift shops to get more. But there's also attractions to see and try out.

 One can pick up one or more of a number of free green hats.

There's also a couple less traditional (though more reflective of some revelers' passions) beer hats, along with a free lucky horseshoe arch

 One can slide down the rainbow, which leads to a huge pile of gold (sorry, you can't take any of the coins with you).

 Besides the freebie items, there are a number of St. Patrick's themed outfits for sale.

 And there's a few other decorations for one's place up for sale.

 There was a beer dunking booth at the town. Something suggests there's likely to be as many volunteers willing to get dunked as pitching the softballs.

There were a couple of avatars (presumably alts) who spent the time dancing an Irish jig. There were poseballs around them for those wishing to join in.

A festive place appropriate for St. Patrick's Day.

Mango Bay (133/20/21)

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 7, 2016

Virtlantis: Lifelong Learning In and Out of Second Life

By Wesley Regenbogen

Introduction of VIRTLANTIS and a bit of a history behind VIRTLANTIS

Started off as another project ( a 2D project on the web ) in 2006 on the web to provide a platform that was somewhat the same as the current VIRTLANTIS project in Second Life. Kip Yellowjacket joined Second Life on October 29 th, 2006. He saw the potential and operated a 2D project named SLEnglish in the beginning, but soon afterwards he started using the VIRTLANTIS name in Second Life. Unfortunately, the 2D project didn’t go well and thus Kip Yellowjacket decided to focus his project on Second Life.

What is VIRTLANTIS all about and how many people are behind the project ?

VIRTLANTIS main goal in the beginning was to provide language learning in Second Life. But other skills and other cultural oriented activities soon developed afterwards. And art is also part of the project and people can talk about any subject.

In the beginning when Kip Yellowjacket joined Second Life many language teachers also joined the virtual world, and they wondered what Kip Yellowjacket was up to. He explained them what he was creating and they joined up with him to offer language learning activities.

When VIRTLANTIS started in Second Life, he was the only one on the project. But over the years he met people in Second Life and they offered to help him with his project on a volunteer basis. The core project team consists of 10 people that help him with the VIRTLANTIS project. This includes activity organizers and people that help him with VIRTLANTIS in different ways. This number is not consistent, because people can help and then leave for a while and then come back again.

Kip Yellowjacket also helps other language learning communites in Second Life and outside Second Life as well. The main goal is that people can connect with each other.

VIRTLANTIS currently has only one island in Second Life, but they have had two in other virtual worlds. They have the capacity to expand in Second Life as well.

Kip Yellowjacket is going to relaunch an activity, a story telling project, soon again .He created a character called “Wiki Composer,” who was born in Second Life and doesn’t know anything about real life or so-­called first life. He interacts with the participants of the story telling project.

VIRTLANTIS is not the only language learning project in Second Life, but it’s the oldest and the most active one.

Where can you find more information about VIRTLANTIS in and outside Second Life ?

VIRTLANTIS has a Facebook group which is called simply “VIRTLANTIS” of course and also there’s a group in Second Life called “UWA VIRTLANTIS.”  The UWA VIRTLANTIS was created with the help of the University Of Western Australia. The group UWA VIRTLANTIS has (at the moment of writing) 1743 members, although it’s hard to see who’s active and who isn’t.

They have other groups as well in Second Life, as SLenglish, the 2d project he was working on before starting VIRTLANTIS. Their main goal is connecting people together and they help each other with language learning or other subjects that VIRTLANTIS offers.

How does VIRTLANTIS deal with visitors from other time zones ?

VIRTLANTIS has many events taking place at different times.

The visitors come from the U.S. and other parts of the world and also people from Europe.

Even visitors from China and Japan come to visit VIRTLANTIS.

The Facebook group can be found here :

Their website is :

Their main SL group is called : UWA VIRTLANTIS

What are the future visions for VIRTLANTIS ?

Kip Yellowjacket’s dream with VIRTLANTIS is too keep it active in any way possible. He also has a plan B and C that he could implement in the case they need to leave Second Life or go elsewhere. He also plans to explore Project Sansar in the near future as well, although their focus remains on Second Life. They also explore other grids, but Second Life is their main location.

Music Island is the music location of VIRTLANTIS and the music in VIRTLANTIS. It is a part of VIRTLANTIS, it’s owned by another partner of the VIRTLANTIS community. They provide music events and live music events on a regular basis.

Kate Miranda is the organizer of the Music Island. She offers music events in VIRTLANTIS.The music stream, relaxing music in VIRTLANTIS, is provided by a Shoutcast stream.

Virtual World Talks, a future project of VIRTLANTIS

Kip is also working on another project that will launch in the near future called “Virtual Worlds Talks”. It’s kind of a TED Talks in a virtual world, he is going to create in VIRTLANTIS soon. Keep posted about that in the near future. He also makes use of video content in Second Life and outside of Second Life.

Kip Yellowjacket provided me with a notecard with more information about VIRTLANTIS :


Below are just a few talking points on the subject of language learning in Second Life.

Please feel free to suggest other points which might be useful for promoting discussion.

*This list was compiled a few years ago. Feel free to add to it or suggest amendments.


Why is SL an interesting platform to consider for language learning/teaching?

­ multinational/multiethnic/multilingual platform

­ social networking in 3D

­ a sandbox for highly immersive experiential learning (most any conceivable educative scenario

can be simulated/carried out)

­ a multitude of manipulatives

­ English is lingua franca (metalanguage of SL)

­ greater potential for retention due to word (etc.) to image/action/experience association

­ instantaneous virtual travelling (RL locations in SL, etc.)

­ SL is a less intimidating place to seek out casual conversation

­ both native & non­native interaction possible

­ wide range of accents, pronunciation, and language usage

­ identify with avatar, objects and others

­ express and experience personality

­ relate emotionally to peers and mentors

­ easily join and/or form groups to meet likeminded persons

­ potential for community building and SL ­­> RL carryover

­ existence of support groups/mechanisms

­ both formal and informal learning can be experienced

­ educative congregating (e.g. coffee house socializing)

­ drive­thru assistance (MClearning)

­ quests, storytelling, games, roleplaying

­ holodecks (instant simulation, situation­based learning)

­ lectures, presentations, RL­like lessons (mostly stationary)

­ team­teaching & collaborative projects

­ platform difficulty (learning curve) necessitates communication

­ SL + ESL skills training

­ (de)evolution of teacher status (hierarchy has no place, all are learners)

­ (de)evolution of teacher role (more of a facilitator than ever)

­ volunteerism (eagerness to participate)

­ SL supplements (web 2.0...facebook, twitter, etc.)

­ in­world tools & resources (continuous creation and development)

­ in­world blogging/twittering (BlogHUD, SLTweets)

­ LMS integration

­ SL as blended learning component vs total solution

­ free membership (premium/paid account isn't absolutely necessary)

­ can "possess"/participate in things which are not easily affordable in RL

­ private/public text and voice communication

­ offers opportunities for introspection/self­examination and observation of others

­ can log out at any time (controlled experience)

­ a burgeoning community of educators


­ skeptical vs gung­ho adoption

­ platform performance & technical disrupters (lag, etc.)

­ human disrupters (griefing, etc.)

­ multidistraction environment

­ digital native vs digital immigrant

­ SL learning curve (lack of clear objectives, self­determined experiences)

­ sl time sponge vs rl schedules

­ game vs "serious environment"

­ noob phobia

­ know­how hoarders, traders & sharers

­ reliability and other collaboration difficulties

­ time zone confusion

­ free vs paid (non­commercial vs commercial)

­ determining teaching format/ideal group size (1­to­1, small...5­10, large...10 +)

­ low number of pre­defined activities

­ certified vs non­certified teachers (various linguistic backgrounds)

­ student/teacher as research subject

­ lack of good in­world assessment possibilities

­ multiple levels, needs, learning styles, etc.

­ in­world content (copyright vs creative commons, etc.)

­ confidentiality (recording chat, etc.)

­ higher ed concerns

­ text manipulation not SL's forte (absence of dynamic text)

­ dealing with typos and missing punctuation

­ no dominant standard (American, British..., etc...Globlish)

­ active vs passive correction

­ net & sl lingo (abbreviated vs non­abbreviated language)

­ concurrent communication with natives and non­natives (sometimes problematic)

­ pro­text, anti­voice vs pro­voice, anti­text & adopters of both

­ RL escapers vs RL/SL combiners

VIRTLANTIS location in Second Life :

Interview with Kip Yellowjacket :
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(click here if the video fails to play)

Pictures from Virtlantis Facebook page

Wesley Regenbogen