Monday, December 28, 2015

SL Geography

Second Life Grid Map

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, litterally.

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 RL. 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 Real Santa

The Real Santa

We are now in the last week of the year, the week between Christmas and New Years. These end days of the year have come to be known as "The Holidays", but few know that the tradition is even older than Christianity itself. These holidays took root, even before the development of the ancient Roman Empire.  The Etruscans, forerunners of the Romans, had an unusual calendar. Their year was divided into 12 months of 30 days, for a total of 360 days. They knew the real length of the year, so a wise king declared that the extra days were a special time for celebrating and giving gifts. During the year end days, the king would give out small sacks of money and grant pardons to his subjects. Long after his passing, legends of the great king were still being told, at year's end, by countless generations. By Greek and Roman times, the legends of the king had deified him as Cronus (Father Time) and Saturn. Many generations of spreading the name throughout Europe softened it from Saturn-Cronus to Santa Claus. The well known "St. Nickolaus" story was actually fabricated, by early Roman Christians, as a means of turning old "pagan" legends into Christian ones.

Today, with all the commercialization of holidays, the only thing "holy" is your pockets, after buying all the gifts. If you want to have a truly "old fashioned Christmas" and give an inexpensive gift, that will be cherished for a life time, give them your forgiveness. It is the one gift that is as much fun to give AND receive.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


Sunweaver Community

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.

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

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 pleanty 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 helpfull 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.

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 pleanty 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 Nydia Tungsten's daughter. The atmosphere is "Noir" and attracts a different clientelle 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 trolly stop and the Rainbow Club, hidden behind the Fire Station, for those that like Ragae 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, "Yal 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."


Sunday, December 13, 2015

Dark Dharma's Haunted Manor

At  our last Newser staff meeting, I was asked to prepare an article about a sim, designed by a big name SL artist. After visiting the exhibit, I was more than disappointed. I felt insulted, that a so called artist would expect anybody to witness such trash. I told Bixyl Shuftan, the Editor, that my conscience would not allow me to publish the name of the sim or it's creator. 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.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Santa's Workshop

Santa's Workshop

  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 interupted 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 2, 2015

Bot Invaders

   Shortly after joining SL, six years ago, I got my first job as a dancer in an adult club called Escort Oasis. I went to the club to dance and enjoyed the music, friendship and generous tips. Having avoided the "Escort" side of the business, I left with only fond memories of the club. I am still a member and return to my "Alma Mater", for fun, now and then. Recently, while at a party at Club Cutlass, I got a group chat from Escort Oasis. The owner, Jenwen Walpole was explaining the plight that many new, smaller clubs were experiencing. Jen emphasized that her concerns were not for her club, but rather for those trying to start new clubs, as she did eight years ago. Because I share Jen's desire to make SL a fun and profitable experience for every one of it's residents, I quickly volunteered to help get this story to a larger audience, by way of an article in the Newser.

   When my party ended, I flew to Escort Oasis and joined Jen in the overhead control booth. We talked a while and she gave me a notecard, which explained the problem. I have cleaned up the typos, written in haste, while managing a large club, and submit it below, in the hope that bringing it to public attention will aid in solving the problem of robots taking over SL.

Jenwen Walpole explains the bot invasion to Sha

   Recently quite a few clubs and venues have closed in SL. A few old favorites and quite a few newer ones. A few of these clubs and venues were great places. Their only issue is that their traffic never really grew  even though they put great efforts in getting the word out. They ultimately failed due to low revenue streams from advertisers and a general decline in clients throughout SL. 

   During this same time, places with lower real traffic thrived. Why? Those clubs used bots to boost up their traffic numbers. This has two effects. First is obvious, advertisers see the higher traffic numbers and will advertise in those locations, providing them revenue. It also gives an artificial boost to a likely inferior location raising their traffic numbers and having them show higher in search, allowing them to be seen by more potential clients. 

   The negative impact is that first, and newer users to sl, going to these places with fake traffic are greeted by inferior clubs with very few people in them or even worse, a room full of non responsive bots. This ultimately turns them off to adult SL. We loose a lot of newer users this way. Second is that newer clubs with great concepts, and great staff never get a chance to succeed because they are over shadowed by those that cheat the system.

   What is a bot? A bot is just an unattended avatar logged in usually using some kind of text based client. 
A typical location using bots to boost traffic will have 20-40 bots. How much does this increase traffic? 30 bots adds over 43,200 to their traffic score. So, a location that would normaly have 10,000 in traffic, will show as 53,200 and be near the top of the search.

   Is the use of bots against terms of service, yes, and SL is supposed to be policing it, but the reality is they do not. Also, reports of places using these bots seem to be ignored by second life. There are locations that have been using bots for years with no response from sl.

   The reality is that use of bots not only benefits the places using them at the expense of those who do not, but it adds to SL's bottom line for number of concurrent users, increasing the apparent usership of SL. It is generality believed that because of SL's usership decline that there is little incentive for sl to police this.
This practice is killing the adult world in particular. The potential clients that the adult community counts on get fed up with the faked  traffic and poorer quality than the numbers would suggest. This leads to a decline in the persons we need to keep adult SL going and thriving.

   Are there legitimate uses for bots? Sure. and SL actually has a facility to mark an avatar as a "scripted agent" so it dosn't count as traffic. However most do not do this, and would be counter to the whole purpose of using a bot to increase traffic.

   What can be done? Well education is key. 

   Advertisers who patronize those locations using bots should be made aware of the negative impact they have on patronizing places that use bots. 

   Performers should be aware that their support of locations that use bots is hurting adult SL and will ultimately lead to more difficult times in finding clients.

   Clients should be informed that these places are not the norm, and that very good places exists that have real traffic. and be encouraged to explore and question traffic numbers. Removing the incentives of revenue and support for false traffic by the community will deter those who use bots in the adult community.

   We could start a campaign to report such places to SL. However many feel this would fall on already deaf ears. For those wanting to do that, reports should be filed under the help/report abuse, in your client.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Arcadia Asylum

In the article, "Saving Prims", we said, "...Arcadia Asylum, on the Mieville Pond sim.  Be prepared for an adventure there". A conscious effort was made, to keep that sim from taking over the article, because it was worthy of an article of it's own. Returning there, to take notes and pictures, we realized just how understated the line was. It's more than just "an adventure". This sim is a must see, Great Adventure and should be on everybody's to-do list. Aside from the 1,328 free items, there are several fun adventures, to be discovered there.

The landing point, for the sim, is a courtyard, in front of the Cog & Grog Freebie Center. On the other side of the courtyard, we find a teleporter that goes to the various areas on the sim. The areas include; Tropics, Steam Fair, Graveyard, Hobo Town, The Deeps, Space and The Library. Most of the areas can also be reached by walking, flying or just jumping into the water.

The Deep covers as much area as the surface sim and can be reached in three ways. Within the Cog & Grog, there is a stairway that leads under water.

On the dock, next to the Chinese Junk, there is an entrance to Cap'n Nemo's Underwater Observatory, which uses tubes to conect to chambers beneath the surface. You can also just jump off any of the docks, to reach the sea floor.

In the deep, you will find underwater habitats, plants, sea creatures. You can even get your own whale or even a kracken.

One of the most interesting nautical items, the whirlpool, proved to be be a fun ride. I got one to take home, but, unless I terraform, won't get put out from my inventory any time soon. It has a lot of prims, but can be reduced by removing some of the items that circle the top.

Taking the teleport to the Space area, we find spacesuits, spaceships, planets and asteroids. The most interesting "space" item is found at the courtyard of the sim landing. There, we find a giant cannon, which shoots a bullet shaped capsule to the moon.

I had actually been back to this sim several times, before deciding to click on it and see what it does. Next thing you know, the camera switches to an exterior view of the projectile, with your av inside and stars zipping past. We end up on a lunar surface, staring at our crashed ship, with the earth in the distant background. Fortunately, there is a teleport, near by, to take us back down, but, as long as I'm on the moon, I look around for any other interesting things to explore. Sure enough, among the lifeless rocks there is one that has some color to it and there's a large hole at the base, with a churning mist within. Looking in, it seems to go down to a cavern with large gems on the walls. Naturally, Miss been there, done that, had to go into the cavern. All I will say is that, yes, there is an adventure and I went several times, to learn the way out of the conflict with the lunar inhabitants.

Now, safely back home, on my keyboard, I find myself wondering what other hidden adventures are yet to be had at Arcadia Asylum. You can be sure that this writer will return there many times, in the future. 
Hope we see you there,

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Nirvana Island

This writer is well known, to friends, as an old hippy. I have always strived to spread peace and goodwill to all living things. At a recent "Video games" theme party, I came in a Tomb Raider costume. With music from various games and talk of playing at war and shooting other players proceeded, I began to feel agitated. Instead of complaining or preaching, I decided to go find a more rewarding adventure and write about that. I opened the Destination Guide and immediately lit on a place that sounded peaceful and uplifting.

Nervana Island: Spiritually based... diverse traditions and systems are harmoniously connected. Lovely starter homes free in your first 30 days of SL  residence up at Spirit Path, Nirvana Island, New Paris . Notecard please to Sky Wildmist.

This sounded like a couple of other personal favorites, so off I went. Arriving and waiting for everything to rez, the first thing you notice is the peaceful music. As your eyes adjust, you find yourself in a beautiful garden sim. Many tame creatures walk about you, peacefully. Straight ahead, we see the Spirit Park Welcome Center. It contains a large map of the sim and TP buttons to each area. From above, the island looks like an eye. In the center are some large rocks, where you can meditate, surounded by special effects. This is sourounded by a circular pond with a circle path that leads to odd shaped side paths, to other areas. Seen from the air, the paths look like letters in some Eastern alphabet. There could be a message, written in the landscape. See if you agree.

The various areas each have their own flavour and purpose. They even have a nightclub, called The Lunar Lounge. In one building, I found their weekly event schedule. There is something for every day of the week. For those that want to take a piece of the peace home, there is a small shop, for incense burners, chimes and gongs, Buddha statues and wall art. All proceeds go to maintaining the sim. I snapped a few photos of wood carvings and a usefull poster about types of feelings, for my own use.  I also got the URL for their music stream;

Just off the circle path, there's a bech with a memorial poster for Michal deFuego, the island's beloved gardener, who passed into spirit, 11,11,2015.

I found Nirvana Island to be uplifting to the soul and added it to my favorite places. If you feel stress, from SL or RL, that's making your light grow dim, come to Nirvana and let it do it's magic. You'll be walkin' on air in no time.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Saving Prims

In December, 2015, this writer will celebrate six years in Second Life. For much of that time, I have been an active member of the Sunweaver Community. Being an active member entails more than just showing up for all the social events. A good citizen receives much from being a member and, in return, gives back his services to the rest of the community. They do this by helping those in need, showing a positive and joyful attitude and enhancing the local economy, by renting homes and shops on the community's sims.

Aside from location, key factors for renting are how much will it cost and how many prims will be allowed in the rented area. Regardless of how many prims are allowed, by the time your home starts feeling like your personal piece of heaven on earth, you'll be wishing for a few dozen more prims. Over the years, I have found a number of ways to save prims, while still decorating to get my home to be an extension of my personallity. I'd like to share some of what has been learned, in this article.

A good way to personallize your home is to add pictures on the walls. Pictures of your friends, adventures you have been on, things you have built and classic paintings you love can say a lot about the resident, but, at one or two prims each, will quickly eat up your prim allowance. One of the first ways to reduce the number of prims is to make a texture that contains multiple pictures, frames and the transparent space between them included. Doing this, you can cover an entire wall with pictures, using only one prim.

Nice furniture also takes up prims. Fortunately, many shops offer low or one prim furniture, complete with animations. One of my favorite vendors is "Primpossible" and they have a number of great items for furniture and landscaping.

More recently, I have discovered other ways to save prims on displayed pictures. While researching an article, about the Lionheart Community, I walked around all the sims, to take in the atmosphere, chat with the locals and do a bit of shopping. While on the Ahadi sim, I found a shop, called "The Frame House". They have a large assortment of ornate picture frames. Each frame costs L$200 and is only 2 prims. You can edit the contents of the frames to contain dozens of your own pictures and it will then display them, like a slide show. I bought one, then, and have yet to find any limit to the number of pictures that can be added. When I returned to the Frame House, to research this article, I decided they would be a good way to display some of the countless avatars and costumes in my inventory, so I bought another frame. The Frame House also has two photo back drops, for singles or couples. Each has many background photos and poses. I go back often, just to take more pictures.

There is another slide show, that I have, which serves the same purpose while adding a social gathering place. It's called, "Victorian Magic Lantern Show" and is 7 prims. It has a fancy projection screen, 6 benches (seats 12) and a steam powered slide projector. The best part is, this slide show is FREE. You can find it at the Marketplace at the AleyMart merchant. They have 1328 items and they're all FREE. If you want to see their products in world, head on over to  Arcadia Asylum, on the Mieville Pond sim. Be prepared for an adventure there. Everything is unique and interesting. Every time I visit there, I come home with a dozen new toys.



Cog & Grog shopping

Many frames

Thursday, November 12, 2015


America's first hippies, the Pilgrims


Last November, our Editor, Bixyl Shuftan, wrote an article about the Mayflower and Plymouth Colony Exhibit. ( ). Recently, Bixyl told me they had taken the exhibit down after Thanksgiving, but might have restored it, for this season. He suggested that I go and see if I could do an update on the story. When I visited the site, the exhibit was indeed restored and was exactly as his article had described. To add to the story, I would need to write about my own impressions about what it would be like to be one of those early American pioneers. There are numerous signs, around the exhibit, that give information, but, to fuel my imagination, I search the internet for additional details.

  The first thing discovered was how small the Mayflower was. Excluding the bowsprit, the ship was only 80-90 feet long. Today, that might be a good size for a personal yacht, but how many passengers could endure spending months packed together, like sardines in a can. The exact number of pasengers is unknown, but is estimated to be, counting Pilgrims and other adventurers, crew and Captain, 135. Of that number, only about 30% of them were actually pilgrims. 
  The cargo hold offered no additional space for passengers. It was filled with all the things needed to build and feed the new community, at least until their first harvest.
  Due to a late start, bad weather and rough seas, that nearly wrecked the ship, they could not build houses in time for winter. The ship served as a winter home, for everybody, until the following March.

Aft Cabin

  These pilgrims were commited to dropping out of conventional society, to live in a hostile wilderness, to better tune into a higher calling. Tune in, drop out? They remind me of the hippies, living in communes, that we knew so well, in the late 60's. Makes one wonder what else they planted, besides corn, beans and pumpkins. Having lived in hippy communes and spent much time helping develop communities, one gains respect for these pilgim hippies. Crazy as they might seem, they helped improve the goodness of life, for the whole world.

Thanksgiving Feast

  When we visit historic re-enactment sims and imagine being a part of it, we form an eternal link with it. Becoming eternal is a joyful experience. If you want to be a joyful part of history, I invite you to come explore the Plymouth Colony.
  As I sit down to the thanksgiving feast, I imagine myself giving thanks, for finally getting off that crowded boat. Next time, I'll travel by VW bus.


Sunday, November 8, 2015


FWF, Furry Wrestling

At my home, on Sunweaver Bay, I often have house guests and teach them to build things and become good members of the community. Two of these guests were involved in SL wrestling. Back in high school, I was very good in that sport, but don't have much interest now. In thinking of new adventure to experience and write about, I thought wrestling might be interesting, so looked for places to see it. There are many listed, but the one that caught my eye was FWF, the Furry Wrestling Federation. I TP to the sim to have a look around. The first thing I see there is a sign, announcing that matches are held every Friday, at 1pm SLT. I scheduled myself to go see it, in action, the very next Friday. The night before, I went to the sim, to see if I could figure out how they worked things at the arena.  While nosing about, back stage, I noticed an av was approaching, on my radar, so I went to introduce myself and see if he knew anything about FWF. It turns out, his name is Tim Vanes and he is the usual announcer, at the wrestling matches. Learning that I was a Newser Reporter, he was happy to explain it and answer any of my questions.

Tim explained, FWF has been around about three years. The owner and one of the wrestling stars is Rocco Racclown. He also pointed out that the wrestlers each developed as characters, good guys and bad guys, like in TV professional wrestling. The westling moves are done by each having a HUD which has all the animations required. Wrestlers go through a training period, to learn to co-ordinate moves and develop their own characters. Naturally, for any given match, the combatants must work with a script, to make coordinated animations, but I promised Tim I would not reveal if the winner was known in advance.

Rocco Racclown

In addition to furry wrestling, they were also connected to GCW, Global Championship West, which features European style human wrestlers, from different countries. The head of GCW is Josh Poffo-Yoshie55 and we'll get back to him in a bit. GCW will begin a regular schedule of Wednesdays at 3pm SLT, begining November 25th. Both GCW and FWF are always hiring and looking for both men and women wrestlers. They both want more sponsors to get on board.

You can watch FWF matches at the arena and they also can be seen on SL TV. They also do roadshows at other sims. Matches are typically one to one and a half hours and have 3 matches, sometimes as many as 5, with the last match being for the title. I asked Tim if there was special seating for the press and he indicated a place near the TV camera. I thanked him for all his help and promised to see him at the next match.

On Friday, I took my seat, before the show began and looked around to see how many were in the audience. There were only a handfull, so I knew there wouldn't be any lag to deal with. To my delight, I noticed the tag, on the guy sitting behind me, was non other than Josh Poffo, the head of GCW. Learning that I was preparing an article about wrestling, for the Newser and that GCW would also be mentioned, he was happy to answer my questions, between matches.

Josh Poffo and Sha

One of the things I questioned is, if one wanted to hire on, what expense was involved, regarding clothing and HUDs. The cost is very low and for employees, practically nil. Naturally, the next question was, "Do they get paid for each match and how much". turns out, unless they get into "lucky" positions, they aren't paid, though some promoters do pay one or two hundred in "kick-backs". Probably based on how many sponsors the venue has. Josh said, they are not in it for the money, it's a love of being in the show.

At 1pm, the show begins with fireworks on stage and video playing on big screen TVs, around the arena (make sure you have Media and Voice turned on). A man, wearing a referee shirt, gets up from the announcers table and enters the ring, Using Voice, he tells us that the regular announcer was called away on business in RL, so he would be today's announcer and Ref.

The first match was Vidiot vs/ Alleycat. To my surprise, Alleycat was played by Brad, who had been my house guest and he was wearing the trunks that I had custom made for his character. My very first match and I already had somebody to cheer for. The arena gives free gesture collections, so I was able to cheer, when Alleycat won.

The second match was Cam vs/ Fritz. Since I didn't know either of them, my attention turned to their technique. Because they each use a HUD and those are not synchronized and the players are likely a great distance apart in RL, the action had some uncomfortable pauses. Understanding this, the show was still very entertaining.

Last, we have the title match, Rocco Racclown vs/ Crowley the Bat. This is better coordinated, but I notice the Ref stops announcing and his tag says he's AFK. While the Ref is out of action, Rocco leaves Crowley laying on the floor and walks to the ropes. A mangy looking character, called Sandy Bytch, sneaks in, from backstage and throws a pie in Rocco's face. Blinded by pie in the eye, Rocco stumbles around the ring, Crowley gets up and knocks him down, just as the Ref comes back on and does a 3 count. Crowley wins the match.

Pie in the eye

I found this all very entertaining. It matters little if you are into this kind of show. It is always a pleasure to watch a team work together to produce any show in real life and all the better, given the nature of technical limitations, in a virtual world, to see them pull it off in Second Life. I recomend this adventure to my readers and feel it is also a good place for sponsors to get more recognition of their products and services.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015



As I began to plan on which adventure to entice my readers with next, I remembered buying an outfit and making props for my previous article, "Once Upon a Cure". I had intended to show that whether or not a thing is true, it can still lead one to finding truth. I included a picture of a white rabbit, wearing an Alice costume, pondering which way to go, to get to the real Wonderland. Alas, I did not write that into the article.

We all know, from reading Alice in Wonderland, she wakes up from a dream, so no amount of scientific evidence will ever convince us that Wonderland can be located in RL. But, what about in Second Life? Sure enough, using search, inworld, brings up "Dysphoria Wonderland", located in the Oxygen Island sim. It was described as "The Best" version of Wonderland, that SL had to offer. If that's true, I needed to go there and write about it. I changed my av and costume and clicked to TP to Wonderland.

As the scene rezzed, at the landing, we see a large tree, with a white rabbit and a hole at the base. A message, in local chat, tells us to walk to the hole. Doing so, we fall down a deep hole. About half way down, we land on a platform, with objects floating about it. Somehow, the place feels familiar. Have I been here before? I knew I needed to step off the platform and continue falling. At the bottom of the hole, we find ourself in a large round room. On one side, there is a small door. In the center of the room is a large glass top table, with a key. At the base of the table, we see a box, labled "Eat Me" and a bottle, labeled "Drink Me". Flying is not allowed here, so clicking the box puts you on top of the table. I took the short-cut and just panned my cam to the table top, to get the key. Now I know why this place seemed so familiar. To get the key, you have to join a group and it costs L$200. I had been this far before, but, at that time wasn't interested enough to pay the fee.

This time, I had a story to write, so I joined. Any future visits will be free. Key in hand, I click the small door. The door opens to a blank texture which, when clicked, puts you in a crawling animation and switches to a view of crawling out the other side, in Wonderland. A note, in chat, tells you to stay on the path, continue to the end and then stop. In places, the path is a bit hard to see, but as long as you proceed around the sim in a counter-clockwise direction, you will see everything, even if a few water hazzards slow you down. We are reassured of having gone the right direction, as we spot the Cheshire cat, sitting on a tree branch ahead. As we approach, he slowly fades from view, leaving only his familiar grin.

Before we proceed, I should tell you, try clicking on any interesting objects and furniture you spot. Many of them contain gifts or surprises.

Our next landmark is a house, the home of the white rabbit. Be sure to go up to all the floors, to see what little tricks he has placed there, for your entertainment.

Proceeding down the path, we next find it blocked by a large black widow spider and her web. Clicking the web will get you stuck in it, with the spider inching it's way closer. After getting free, try going around and getting back on the path, on the other side.

Next up, we come to a windmill. In the front yard, there are tables and chairs. We, instantly, recognize this as the Mad Hatter's Tea Party. The other guests seem to have left, leaving a mess behind. As we sit, for a bit of tea, we discover one of the guests is still there. A sleepy doormouse sticks his head out of the sugar bowl. You may decide to drink your tea, unsweetened. We get up and go inside the windmill. Click everything, as there are many free prizes to be had here.

Moving along on the path, we notice a forest of giant mushrooms and think we know what will be found here. I start looking for a giant caterpillar. He wasn't there, but a butterfly was flying around a large mushroom and there was smoke coming from the top. Clicking it put me seated on top, next to a hooka. Knowing there was still adventure to be explored, I decided against trying to inhale any smoke, LOL. While there, I took one of the best snapshots ever, as seen at the top of this article.

After panning the camera around, to get the best shot, I found myself lost, when I got down. I could see, on the top of a nearby hill, a castle with red trim. I knew what that was for, but just couldn't find the path to it. Fortunate for me, I spotted a ballon. Guessing that it might be the only way up, I clicked on it and began floating off in the wrong direction. In the chat window, I was instructed to use the left and right arrow keys, for direction and the page up and down, for elevation. I quickly mastered piloting the slow moving balloon and steered my way to the castle's courtyard. Before entering the castle, I walked around it and posed for a picture with a couple of aces, from the queens army. This place is called Dysphoria, for good reasons. I felt an abnormal feeling of anxiety, as I entered the castle. I was glad to see that the Red Queen was not at home. I went right up to the throne and sat on it.

Having satisfied that royal fantasy, I got up to search the rest of the castle. I found a side chamber, where a queen might entertain guests. I sat down, at the pipe organ and played a bit of Bach, before exploring farther. Pulling a curtain open, I found a stone wall, where a window or door should be. I thought it might be a secret passage and clicked to see if it would open. When that didn't work, I looked at the wall on both sides and found the button. The wall slid open, revealing an external stairway. At the top of the stairs, there was no door, but it had the same button, so I clicked it. Now I was in the queen's bedroom. Naturally, I went staight to her bed....and danced on it. From there, I found her private balcony and sat down to enjoy the view and sip some champagne. I had gone as far as one can go here, so I stopped. A word of advice, if you're going and get all the way to the balcony, you'll see a pidgeon that says "Don't click me". DON"T click on the pidgeon.

Overall, Wonderland is a great adventure. The graphics are great and the sounds and scenery did produce some anxiety, like what you feel when getting on a roller coaster. It was worth the L$200 fee.

I took 10 pictures at Wonderland. The full set can be seen at