Monday, September 19, 2016

Oh, To Be Young Again!

A couple of weeks ago, I created an alt, mainly in order to grab the name kinnairdfiachra. Through this process, I discovered that the Lab has gone back to non-mesh for starter avatars (although the mesh ones are still in the Library), that the orientation seemed much longer than I remembered, and that lag is so much less of an issue without a huge inventory! Wandering around as the new, lag-free me, I decided to explore a few of the long-established help centers for new residents, and found myself at New Citizens Incorporated (NCI). Located in Kuula on Sansara, in the shadow of Mt. G'al and Mt. Lagmore (pictured below), NCI is a community which offers help, education and support for those new to Second Life.

I reached out to land officer Rowan Carroll, who happened to be on the sim, and she told me, "NCI is in the Destination Guide as a Help area. We teach classes and have events throughout the week. There are always official helpers here and regular residents often help out as well. Every campus has a large board with our class and event schedule." Rowan serves as both Advertising Coordinator and Freebie Coordinator, and she teaches two classes each week: "Freebie Shopping with Rowan" on Tuesdays and "Managing Your Inventory" on Sundays. When I asked Rowan how giving out freebies has changed over the years, she remarked, "Well, when the Lab introduced the mesh starter avatars we made tutorials so that people could change their clothes. Because what is SL but a giant place to play dress up! That change gave us a bit of a start, but we rolled with it, because what's the point of a good looking mesh body if you aren't able to change clothing?" There are male and female changing rooms on sky platforms above the NCI welcome area, complete with pose stands, notecards about editing your appearance, and a huge tutorial sign with the title, "Aaaggghh! I keep wearing boxes!" A dash of help with a good dose of humor added in.

At the NCI Plaza landing area, pictured above, sets of brightly-colored arrows on the ground lead you to different areas of the campus, providing a self-guided tour through tutorials. For those who don't know where to start, or would just prefer a more personal touch, there are always people around who are willing to help out and answer questions. The Plaza is busy with activity at all hours of the day and night. Other areas on the sim include a gatcha store, a large public sandbox, and building platforms like the one pictured below. For a quick overview of the area, grab one of the guided balloon tours near the sign that says "Balloon Rides."

Next to the balloon rides, I found a photo booth, with changeable backdrops, poseballs for a group pose, and instructions on either side of the booth about how to take photographs inworld. There are even instructions about how to change the sun position, something I wish I had learned as a Noob! In addition to the photo booth, you can wander up the road to Ginger Lorakeet's Interactive Art Gallery. Ginger runs NCI's benefit gatcha yardsale, and has created a building tutorial for the community. The new av I've dubbed "Kinn Too" poses below in her starter outfit "Carla", in both the photo booth (left), and in one of Ginger's interactive pieces (right).

"NCI is a family of volunteers who dedicate their Second Lives to helping residents, both old and new," concluded Rowan. "I love NCI! They helped me get started when I began my Second Life over 10 years ago. I learned to build here and used that knowledge to run a successful shoe store for about 6 years. I've talked to people from all walks of life, from all over, and I've made RL friends. It's amazing! I've learned so much about myself just being here." Come wander around and see for yourself how fun it can be to help out those new to Second Life, or just remember what it was like to be young and new yourself!

Friday, September 9, 2016

"Drop the puck, it's time to go"

Today, where I live in first life on the East Coast of the US, the temperature is supposed to reach 97 degrees F, with a heat index of 103. Schools are closing early due to the heat, and people are urged to stay inside as much as possible. A perfect day to visit the Snowlands of Sansara in here! Let's pull on our snow boots and start at the very Western edge of the continent, on a long, elegant bridge in Braggiani. This bridge leads into the Winter sports paradise of Chamonix City. The First Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix, France in 1924 at the base of Mont Blanc. The name Chamonix City is a tribute to that event, and the area was founded in 2009 as part of the Lab's Community Partnership initiative, a program which allows groups of private sims to connect to the Mainland.

The bridge will lead you to the sim Offsides, one of six sims named for hockey terms, the others being Neutral Zone, Crosscheck, Empty Net, Blueliner and Breakaway. As you cross the bridge and walk down into the town, you'll find a row of shops leading to a town square with the Global Online Hockey Association (GOHA) Hall of Fame in the center. According to the GOHA website, "GOHA exists not simply as a sporting event but a full-fledged community, offering many activities for residents to get together and be a part of social events as well as the competitive hockey seasons. GOHA members follow a Code of Conduct which helps to keep the entire community a friendly, fun place to be. Longtime friendships and even real life romances have formed out of the community." 

Within the six sims of Chamonix City, in addition to hockey, you can enjoy all kinds of Winter sports: there is an ice skating pond, a luge, free bobsleds, free snowboarding equipment, skiing and a ski jump. Check out this fun video tutorial for the ski jump, created by the folks over at the Giant Snail Races. And if you are here for the hockey, there is plenty: two large, professional rinks offer hockey 24/7, all year round. With a busy game schedule, you are sure to see some exciting hockey action. Kiosks in each building will give you free hockey equipment and uniforms, and you can contact Kacey Rossini, hockey commissioner, for more information on how to join a team and get involved. 

Above, Elliott Clarity plays for the Dragons


According to Kacey, "this year GOHA will be in its tenth year and playing its 22nd season. We run eight teams, spread out over two divisions, allowing for both North American and European stand-alone leagues with the original two teams the Whales and the Wolves still going. GOHA has an active recruitment program with farm coaches taking players on the ice for the first time, teaching them the game, and then helping with their being placed onto teams. All equipment is free, and all rinks are open to the public - only closed for play during official league matches, but all are free to come and watch. We also have Rookie Farms and fun Scrimmages where you just turn up, pick sides, and have fun! There is even a huge banquet hall for end-of-season awards ceremonies."

One of the two original teams, the Whales, used to be sponsored by Bay City, but according to Kacey, GOHA "lost touch with the Bay years ago." /me looks over at my Bay City community and wonders if there might be any renewed interest there? Meanwhile, enjoy the loud and rowdy Dropkick Murphy's, urging you to get out on the ice and play!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Interview - Xiola Linden

The lovely Xiola Linden (pictured here in a portrait by Strawberry Singh) joins us today as part of the Mainland Matters Interview Series, which previously featured interviews with Torley Linden and Patch Linden. Xiola currently serves as Second Life's Lead Community Manager. She heads up community initiatives at Linden Lab — including this year's Official Second Life 13th Birthday Music Fest, meetups, and SL13B Gift Shop Hop. She also manages social media and juggles whatever else is thrown in her direction! 

Xiola joined Linden Lab in 2011 and has spent most of her life immersed in the things that shape technology. She commented, "I am curious how tech — including VR — can be applied to benefit communities. This interest is in part what led me to become a Second Life Resident in 2006. In addition to spending lots of time in Second Life both personally and professionally, I am nearly as obsessed with tomatoes as Torley is with watermelons! I love to garden, cook, read, play video games, and to decorate my offline home in a strange blend of 50's retro and classic horror movie monsters."

For each of these interviews, I asked the Lindens to name five of their favorite Mainland destinations with a brief description and LM, and then I asked them to tell me why Mainland matters to them. Xiola's replies are below:

"In no particular order - here are 5 of my current fave mainland locations!

The mix of retro Americana and horror films is right up my alley! I am a huge fan of vintage 50s style and spooky things. There is a juxtaposition in that combination that I appreciate and that carries over into my offline life. Olivia's has also been around for awhile and I have some fond memories of the first time I found it and how much it spoke to my personal interests and aesthetics.

Dark Dharma Haunted Manor

For as long as I can remember, I have always loved Halloween, and as a kid I remember the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland leaving a pretty big impression on my young mind. This place reminds me of that same feeling — the mystery and thrill of things just beyond our sight and comprehension. Things that go bump in the night, and walk the halls after midnight! One of my favorite 'ghost pictures' of the Tulip Staircase also reminds me of the apparitions you might encounter in the Dark Dharma Haunted Manor.

Lutra City Mysteries
Mysteries, stories, and point and click fun — what's not to love here? While I love games from board to console and computer, I have always had a soft spot for those older hidden object and point and click style games. Some of my favorite computer games were the Broken Sword series which combined history, story-telling, and adventure that Lutra City Mysteries reminds me of. It's fun to be a part of solving a mystery and unraveling a tale as you go.

Ivory Tower Library of Primitives
Because of its historical significance, I think this is a spot all Second Life Residents should visit once they've been around for a bit. No matter if you are 10 years old or 10 days old, walking around and discovering some of the history here is a real treat that deepens your understanding of Second Life and the journey from then until now.

Weekly Old Time Radio Shows
This is a new spot to me, that I found when roaming around for this interview. I really like the feel and ambiance of the space — even though it's relatively cozy. Old time radio shows are something I enjoy when I get the chance. One of my favorite parts in Fallout 4 is The Silver Shroud quest, where you get to become the hero of a radio series. It's really cool that the folks behind this space bring that radio magic into a social and shared space for Residents to hang out and enjoy. (Pictured above are Sarah Snow and radio host Klopstick Sandlewood.)

Why does mainland matter to me?

When I first came to Second Life in 2006, I had no knowledge of the teleport system, so I spent several days walking or flying around and marveling at the variety and diversity of experiences I encountered. It wasn't until I'd been here for awhile that my friend who invited me to Second Life offered me a teleport. I was really grateful for having had that chance to wander and discover how much Second Life had to offer. Something like mainland, where you can appreciate the wide range of interests, styles, aesthetics and embrace the kind of inspiration that comes when people who may not otherwise find common interests end up being neighbors. I feel that helps promote acceptance and understanding of that which is 'other' or different from ourselves. Mainland is full of surprises and so many stories from all different walks of life, and to me that is one of its most compelling attributes!"

Monday, September 5, 2016

"C'mon Baby, Light My Fire"

A few days ago, I received a message from someone interested in roleplay at the Bay City Firehouse #2. Located in Dennis, conveniently next to the Municipal Swimming Pool, the firehouse is actually on the first parcel of Mainland I ever purchased. It used to be the site of the Stinky Pink, a motel owned by that notorious mischief-maker and firebug, Ever Dreamscape. I told part of Ever's story to Jude, the person who had messaged me, and explained that Bay City locations are more of a background for light RP than for the kind of RP usually expected by first responders across the Grid. Jude then offered, in jest, to do an "exposé" on the shocking state of the non-functional firehouse. In a way, I took him up on that offer, so please enjoy his guest post, below. —Kinn

"BCFD for Ever!" by guest reporter Jude Maxwell Kite

"For those of us SL residents who are persona-donning RPers, the infamous Bay City would seem to be a proverbial playground for such matters. With street after street filled with bustling businesses, and phantom trolley and bus drivers who seem to have no regard for public safety, Bay City has an appeal like no other. I mean, I live in Heterocera and I STILL think i spend most of my time somewhere in that municipality. Which is exactly what brought me to the Bay City Fire Station #2 a few days back.

"Being a family RPer with a 6 year old SL daughter, I found myself wanting to have a profession of sorts, something fun, exciting, and dangerous enough to make my daughter think I'm awesome. Firefighting reeks of such things. After some searching, I arrived at the Bay City fire station and was immediately surprised at the lack of traffic and lack of drivable fire trucks. Something wasn't meshing, but I contacted the owner anyway, and eagerly waited to hear back about my chances of joining what I was sure was an elite group of fine firefighters. What I got instead was a surprise, a respect and a chance. The responder to my IM was none other than Kinn, author of this very publication and the editor of the Bay City Post. She informed a very surprised JMK that this station wasn't really a station; that is, it did not RP. The fire I had seen at the Y-Stay in a previous issue of the Bay City Post was set purposely. I was flabbergasted! I of course asked the rhyme and reason, and the response I got was nothing short of amazing. Dare I say, it was the most heart warming story 'ever'.

"Bay City was once graced by a lady named Ever. From all accounts, she was one of the nicest and loyal pyromaniacs ever to rez! A former Bay City Post editor herself, she was seemingly responsible, or at least had a hand in, some of the most amazing stories to ever unfold in this great city. When Kinn decided to make a fire station for Bay City, Ever said thank you by burning it to the ground!

"Sadly, the fantastic person behind Ever in RL passed away about 2 years ago, a tragedy still felt to this day by the many people who cared about her. There is a memorial for her, pictured above, and the Bay City Municipal pool next to the fire station is named after her, in part. Her brilliantly-lived life started on April Fools Day, so on that day every year here in Bay City you'll see fires and mayhem and all that awesomeness — a tribute to a magnificent life cut too short. And even tho' you can't count on folks at the Bay City Fire Station to rush in and put it out, the station's presence in Bay City is 'For Ever' needed. I may not have found an SL job at a fire station, but I certainly gained a story that makes SL feel more like RL than ever."