Sunday, May 22, 2016

"Inch By Inch, Row By Row"

Located in Varney, one of the original sixteen sims of Second Life, Varney Garden is a welcoming oasis in this busy region of Sansara. At the landing point, one can pick up a brochure that describes the garden and some of its history. Pygar Bu, owner of the garden, states that he acquired this parcel in 2007 in a land auction. "At that time, the parcel to the east was a nice garden space, with a pond that bordered on my parcel," Pygar commented. "I decided to build a garden space of my own, to complement the existing one, and to blend in a bit with the surrounding parcels." Upon arrival, you will find yourself surrounded by unusual, prehistoric-looking plants, pictured behind the sign below. These immediately caught my attention, having encountered their unforgettable giant leaves (some spanning almost 6 feet!) in two first life locations last year - Whidbey Island, WA, and Inverness, Scotland. They are Gunnera plants, created in SL by Cube Republic.

Pygar continues by mentioning that "the garden itself uses many different creators' plants and trees. I update the garden plantings once a year, and observe some seasonal changes as well." Rez is on in the garden with a 5-minute auto return, and Pygar simply asks that people be respectful if using that feature. Readers may recognize Pygar as the creative force behind several main stage builds at SLB celebrations, and as the designer of "The Burning Man" for the grid's yearly Burn2 events. Located near the lighthouse in Varney Garden is a Man-like statue holding an arc of shimmering fire and light (pictured below). Crafted by Pygar and simply entitled "Joy", the statue is available to purchase for a very reasonable L$30.

Because of the way the paths meander through the parcel, it seems much larger than it is. There is a stone lighthouse perched on a hill, a 7Seas fishing vendor near an inlet filled with waterlilies, a small hobo camp complete with outhouse, a large tree to climb, and a campfire setting for hanging out with friends in the evening. The neighboring parcel to the east has obviously taken great care to fit in with Pygar's build, and you can find some lovely garden features there as well. About the fishing walkway (pictured below, center, complete with Pygar!), he mentions, "the 'Boardwalk' signage and the wooden slat pattern on the 7Seas vendor were created by Alberto Linden for an early feature in this area. After studying photos from 2003-2004, it is believed that the Boardwalk straddled the region border with Minna to the south." I love when people incorporate the history of the Mainland into current builds.

Pygar refers to this as his "Lil Peaceful Plot", and one could certainly spend many a peaceful afternoon wandering through or hanging out in Varney Garden. Take your time, delight in all of the wonderful details hidden around each bend, and maybe even catch a fish or two! If you enjoy your visit, contributions can be left in the watering can at the landing point.

"Inch by inch, Row by row,
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground."

"Garden Song", by David Mallet (1975), sung by John Denver and The Muppets

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Zany Zen Railway

Just off Route 9A in Somdari, on the continent of Jeogeot, is the rather wonderful Zany Zen Railway. The creation of Zen Swords (ZenriaCo Resident), the railway spans three sims and even crosses a Linden road, as pictured below. Once she found her original parcel, Zen spent a lot of time (and submitted a lot of support tickets) procuring abandoned land in a small strip that transverses the sims Somdari, Ahndang and Seogyeo. "It's only 4098 sqms of tier, so it is cheap to run," stated Zen. When I asked her why she chose to build her own railway rather than use the SLRR tracks, she said, "Well I had never seen narrow gauge in SL — I have seen miniature and I have seen standard but never narrow gauge - so I thought it would be cool to have a narrow gauge railway in SL. These are full sized locos, all under 30 prims, proving that you don't need tons of land to own a railway."

While there are several working trains in the railyard barn at Somdari, the actual railway runs two automatic trains (at the same time!), both of which can take passengers. Zen's trains have both single and couples animations in the seats, a welcome improvement over many of the automated tours in Second Life. So that the two automated trains don't run into each other, there is a loop in Ahndang (see the map pictured below) where the smaller train can pull over and wait for the larger one to pass. "Ooh, I would like to note there's a lot of thanks due to someone called Dizzi Sternberg — she made the rerezzing script and the loop where the trains pass. I couldn't have done half of this without her. She has her own little railway in Lexicolo. Her layout is awesome — I fan-girled her badly when i first saw her railway!"

Zen, pictured below in the Somdari car barn, spoke to me a bit about the various trains she has created for her railway. "Well, they are all based on real life narrow gauge trains. The steam service is based on a mining steam loco from the Isle of Man. The Tram is based on a Devon railway called the Seaton Tramway tram. Then of course there are the odds and ends in the engine shed: a WW1 Simplex Petrol Loco; Jack and The Pink Lady — both locos I have a RL tie to, and Bee is the sister of Ant who is the auto train. There are plans for one day to have them pulling trains as well but for the moment they are stand along trains which I personally run when i can."

At the final station stop in Seogyeo, passengers can hop off to visit a gift shop where they can purchase Zany Zen Railway swag — tee shirts (see center photo, below), conductor hats, whistles, and even coal! Upstairs there is a small museum which gives visitors a history of the railway. The details throughout this build are impressive, so make sure to peek into every building and explore the grounds around each station. Even the LDPW moles added some fun touches to Rte 9A near the station; the blue object pictured at left, below, is a solar-powered video payphone! The railway is a delight to visit, and please make sure you have your sound on when you do! If you enjoy your visit, contributions can be made either by purchasing memorabilia at the gift shop, or through the small model train tip jars (pictured at right, below, beneath the clock) located at each station.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Get Inside The Art

Last weekend in first life I had the opportunity to catch an amazing show in Philadelphia, "La Verita", a Salvador Dali-inspired cirque production. From the Kimmel Center's website, "Inspired by the unbridled imagination of artistic genius, Salvador DalĂ­, La VeritĂ  features a cast of virtuosic performers — juxtaposing circus, dance, music, and vaudeville." If this comes to your town, GO SEE IT. It is by far one of the strangest, loveliest, funniest, and most jaw-dropping displays of talent I've seen in years.

"That's great, Kinn," I can hear you thinking, "but what does that have to do with SL Mainland??" Well, it reminded me of a cool little Mainland parcel I'd visited once, so I went to investigate if it still existed. does!

Located in the sim Da Boom, "The Persistence of Memory" (pictured above) is an av-sized shadowbox setting based on Dali's painting of the same name. You can place yourself into the scene, as I have, and "melt" over the branch. Da Boom was the very first sim on the Grid, so once you are done melting to the ticking sound of the Dali timepieces, take a look around and see where Second Life began. The nearby Linden playground is a great place for some vintage fun.

Then, if you'd like some more immersive art experiences, let's head down to the very southern tip of the Sansara snowlands to Art Box in the sim Klaw. Created by Frankie Rockett and Violet Sweetwater, Art Box is a three-level building containing dozens of famous artworks, recreated with backdrops and poseballs so that you can put yourself into the art. In the photo below, I try out some Warhol-inspired pop art, and in the final photo, I place myself in Rene Magritte's "Son of Man".

Second Life is full of some really wonderful immersive art experiences, but Art Box is the one place where you can become a part of some of your favorite, classic paintings. According to Frankie and Violet, "Art Box is a fully immersive Second Life art installation. It takes the form of a virtual gallery that provides a series of detailed three dimensional sets, each recreating scenes in homage to famous works of art, in a virtual world setting. This enables you to place your avatar into the scene, stage center, and compose your own version of the referenced artwork. You become both the artist, and the art. With this facility it's easy to reinterpret famous art in your own style, and create your own SL photographic art. Using the pictures you can take at Art Box you have perfect material for your profile, for your Flickr account, for Koinup, for your blog, for framing in-world — in fact for any application you can think of. It's fully immersive, highly creative, fun, and totally free." Stop on over and see what YOU can create!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Interview - Patch Linden

Hot off his Yearbook Challenge adventures with Ms. Strawberry Singh, please welcome Patch Linden, here to talk about five of his favorite Mainland destinations! As the Senior Product Manager for Land and Accounts in Second Life, Patch is responsible for the features and daily operations of each. He is also responsible for the Moles/LDPW and SL's new user experiences, such as Learning Island and Social Island. He commented, "The Mainland is my team’s product responsibility and has been for years. You could say for over a decade now considering that Guy Linden has been working on it longer than that and has been on my team for the majority of that time. So if you want history, you’ve got the right person and team who can give it to you. :D"

Patch is shown here in a photo by Frost Mole on the rigging platform at ANWR, which he features in his list of favorites. He states, "I love what I do and I enjoy confidently being able to say I do it with the viewpoint of our Residents in mind, every day. Patch also has a terrific "What Second Life Means To Me" video in which he speaks about his love for the Mainland. Check it out here!

There are some great Mainland destinations featured below, including ANWR (while there, pick up the free sailboats by Michael Linden, and peek underwater to check out the pipe that carries prims from Sansara to Heterocera), and Bay City, just in time for our exciting 8th Anniversary Celebration And now, on to the interview!

Kinn: Patch, thank you so much for agreeing to do this! Please name five of your favorite Mainland destinations, and tell us a bit about them and why you enjoy them.

Patch: I must profess, I found this extremely limiting as I have so many favorite places from which to choose!  

In no particular order, here you go:

1) Meauxle Bureaux (think Mole burrow)

This is the mainland home of the Moles. This very talented group of Resident contributors creates a lot of the fun experiences that the Linden Lab Land Operations team manages under the LDPW (Linden Department of Public Works) moniker. A lot of the infrastructure on the mainland, ranging from roads to fully immersive gaming experiences, is created for all Residents to enjoy. In this region you can get a glimpse into what it’s like to live like a Mole. (Meauxle Bureaux was first featured on this blog here.)

2) The Ivory Tower of Primitives in Natoma

This long time staple and institution of knowledge built by Lumiere Noir is what I usually credit with my fondness for content creation. As a Resident, it was one of the first places I visited and initially fell in love with what Second Life empowers us in as Residents.

3) Luskwood

As one of the founding non-humanoid communities in Second Life, early on I developed a deep appreciation for the diversity that Second Life represents. This is another institution for a long standing community of Residents who have made Second Life a home; is accepting and welcoming to everyone interested in seeking help, meeting new people, socializing and exploring.

4)    The Bay City Amusement Park, Bay City (aka Hairy Hippo Fun Land)

As another LDPW / Mole inspired and managed project, the mainland area known as Bay City offers a uniquely themed region of the mainland that also incorporates a vibrantly run community.  Exploring the entire city and discovering the hidden jewels of content, the airport and associated Info Hubs, as well as riding the rides in the amusement park is fun! (Hairy Hippo Fun Land was first featured on this blog here.)

5)    ANWR

Have you ever wondered where the “prims” come from in Second Life?  Wonder no more.  Those cute little plywood cubes that we affectionately proclaim “It all starts with a cube” are sourced from this very location for the entire Second Life grid.  Come witness the prim drilling rig in its operational glory.

Kinn: And now question number two - Why does Mainland matter to you?

Patch: Overall the Mainland represents the foundation for everything that Second Life evolved into.  It was core to the revolutionary vision of its founder and essential for providing the base that launched the first socialization, communities and areas to congregate in Second Life.  Without it, or even the concept of what we refer to as “Land” in Second Life, you have to ask yourself the following questions: Would you have a place to stand around and chat with your friends?  Dress up and show off your latest avatar?  Play the games or participate in the experiences you do today?  Listen to music, go to events, or live shows?  It all comes down to the core idealism of having a massively explore-able, contiguous space that started it all. All of my respect and fondness for the Mainland comes from that ideology and continues to drive my commitment to Second Life today.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Bay City's 8th Anniversary Celebration

Each year in May, the residents of Bay City celebrate their anniversary. To give you more information about this year's celebration, please welcome guest reporter Marianne McCann!

by Marianne McCann, Ace Reporter for the Bay City Post

In May of 2008, the regions of Bay City were opened to Second Life® residents for the first time. Over the last eight years, the area has grown into one of the most vibrant of mainland communities, boasting a long-time community focus. To honor the anniversary, Bay City Residents will be hosting their annual parade and live music event this May.

Please join us for a parade on Sunday, 15th May, starting from the bandshell in Bay City - Harwich and traveling down Route 66 and Park Place to the Bay City Fairgrounds at North Channel! A live concert will follow the parade, kicking off at 12:30 p.m. SLT at the Fairgrounds with GoSpeed Racer of KONA Stream providing music leading into the event, followed by musicians Zachh Cale, Maximillion Kleen, and Noma Falta.

All Residents of the Second Life grid are welcomed to participate in the parade and the music event — not only Residents of Bay City. Participants in the annual parade are asked to gather at noon SLT on Sunday, the 15th of May, to lineup at the band shell in Bay City - Harwich. We are looking for festive outfits, unique avatars, costumes, floats, Macy's parade-style balloons, marching bands, stilt walkers, dancers, kids on bikes, dancers, drill teams — you name it! Come and represent your own special part of Second Life! For those who don't wish to be a part of the parade, but would rather watch, ample viewing areas are provided, including one in Falconmoon and one in Orleans.

Want to participate but need ideas on how to make a float? Your best bet is to make 'em as a wearable attachment, not a vehicle. Due to some of the difficulties with 'em last year, we would prefer to avoid vehicles as much as possible. Also, they'll make your experience better, too! Celebration goods, including parade float bases and ideas, are available at the Bay City Community Center in the Daley Bay region for those who wish to be a part of the parade. Then, please share your photos of the event to your mySL feed, Snapzilla, or Flickr! We even have Flickr and Snapzilla groups! Come on down and join the fun on the 15th, and help Bay City celebrate!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

"I Live In A Labyrinth Under the Sea"

Today we will head to the Sea of Fables in search of some underwater adventure! Located in the heart of Sansara, this sparkling blue sea contains a great number of islands named after Greek gods and legends. In addition to exploring the small towns and temples on each island, the waters surrounding the islands are perfect for diving adventures; they are filled with ancient ruins, shipwrecks, coral reefs, and even sea monsters! We are going to start by picking up some diving gear on the docks of Poseidon Island, pictured below.

Poseidon Island has a fixed landing point, so when you arrive, face south and make your way down to the docks. There, you will find some free diving gear (although I prefer Arcadia Asylum's suit, which I mentioned in my recent Jules Verne Museum post). Once you have your gear, step off the edge of the docks and continue walking south. Soon you'll spot the remains of a shipwreck on the ocean floor (pictured below) and in front of the wreck, some tumbled columns and an opening with a set of stairs that leads down into the earth. Directly in front of the stairs is a ball of twine — take this and wear it. It is a HUD which will help you on your journey.

The ball of twine might clue you into the fact that you are descending into a labyrinth, like Theseus venturing in to slay the Minotaur. Long, dark passageways spiral in on each other, and you will need your HUD to find your way to the center. Each time you reach a place where several passageways converge, clicking on the ball of twine will illuminate a map (pictured below) to help you choose your direction. There will be a marker on the floor at each crossroads, indicating your position on the map.

If you choose well, you'll eventually find yourself at the center of the labyrinth. Look around for the Minotaur, pick up a copy of Theseus' sword, and maybe even take an impromptu ride on an octopus, as Ziki is doing below. Now you just have to decide how to exit the maze — do you go back out the way you came in, or is there an easier way? Look all around you and see if you can find another exit. The last picture might give you a hint as to where it is.

If you enjoyed this adventure, you might want to set out to discover what else lies hidden on the ocean floor in the Sea of Fables. You could spot the wreck of King Midas, or a Siren's Grotto, where ancient statues of mysterious goddesses lure sailors under the waves. While you are exploring, enjoy this fascinating video set to The Incredible String Band's "The Minotaur Song." Happy diving!

"I live in a labyrinth under the sea
Down in the dark as dark as can be
I like the dark as dark as can be
He likes the dark as dark as can be"