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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Are You New to Second Life and Confused About It?

You're not alone.  Second Life has always had something of a steep learning curve.  But just in the last couple of weeks, Linden Lab has (once again) revised the initial "user experience"...and, in my opinion, the new setup will confuse, frustrate, and lose a lot of newcomers.  Here is what to expect:

You have created a Second Life account, and downloaded and installed the viewer software.  You start the viewer program, and enter your avatar name and password on a login screen.  After a few moments, you begin to see...something.  Everything is blurry, and may be gray.  You wait.  After a minute or two, everything comes into focus...except possibly you.  You see a foggy white cloud with your avatar's name above it.

Hopefully, this too will soon pass*, and you will see your avatar standing in a ... a place.  It's a white amphitheater, set in a forest of rather pudgy-looking trees.  Around the edges of this structure are six doorways, each with a label, corresponding to a category of destinations -- Art, Popular, Editor's Picks, and so on.


Use your keyboard's arrow keys to move your avatar around.  When you are ready to leave, walk through one of the doors.

WHOOSH!  You find yourself in another place.  This is chosen randomly for you, from the category of the Destination Guide you selected.

Now, here are some strange things about this experience.  First, the pudgy trees you see at that first island are not anything like the trees and plants you'll find in the rest of Second Life.  SL has, in general, much more realistic landscapes.  Second, the walk-through teleport you experienced is NOT the usual method of teleporting from place to place in Second Life.  (For more on how to teleport, see this earlier blog post.)  Third, although you have been sent to a random destination, you can't go back to where you were.  Once you leave that initial island, you're considered an "experienced resident" and are not permitted to associate with the brand new people coming in.  If you started SL with a friend, they are probably halfway across the grid from you, feeling just as confused.

So, here you are, in a strange place, with no idea of what to do next or even how to do it...no idea of how to find other places to go, or how to go there.  Hi ho, young avatar...welcome to Second Life!

Here are a couple of lifelines for you.  Click one of these links and it will log you in to SL at a place where you can actually find helpful people to talk to, and easy to understand tutorials.

Caledon Oxbridge University

White Tiger Help Island

Besides the doors, you have some slightly less-obvious ways to get off the island.  The Destinations Guide is available, in the World menu.  You can use that to make a more exact selection of your next location. You can type a SLURL in chat and click it to go there.  You can use the Map, or the Search function, to find any destination within Second Life and teleport there.  Good luck!

EDIT:  As of April 7, a seventh door has been added to the exits at Destination Island.  This new door takes you to the "Linden Realms" game.  There you will find more of the pudgy vegetation, but also have a chance to earn some $L by collecting crystals while avoiding rock monsters and other hazards.


*If your avatar continues to look like a cloud, or a featureless white egg, you have a bad connection between your computer and the Second Life servers.  Don't use wireless or satellite internet for SL.  More things you can try that may fix the problem can be found at this link.

Friday, March 23, 2012

New Marketplace Delivery System

Linden Lab has implemented the long-awaited "Direct Delivery" system for Marketplace listings and purchases.  With a few small exceptions on the merchant side of things, it appears to be working well.  I found that there was one thing that wasn't entirely clear...at least, it confused me for quite a while and judging from group chat comments it confused others, too.  Here's the key:

YOU HAVE TO PURCHASE A DIRECT DELIVERY ITEM TO TURN THE FUNCTION ON.  Linden Lab makes this easy with their free special edition "Linden Bear" item prominently featured on the opening page of the Marketplace.

Once you purchase a Direct Delivery item, you will see a new area in your inventory window called Received Items, and Marketplace purchases will go there.  For those using old style viewers, the Received Items will appear as a regular system folder in your inventory.

Merchants:  You have to purchase a DD item as stated above in order to get your "Merchant Outbox" window to accept your items.

Happy buying and selling, everyone!  Hopefully, this new system will prove more reliable than the old Magic Box delivery system!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Homebody

OK, so after promising I'd get out and explore SL for you, I did nothing of the sort this weekend.  Instead, I spent most of the time working on a new build.  I've created a comfy little A-frame chalet, with pleasant touches like a spiral staircase and an upstairs balcony off the bedroom area.  I've worked hard to keep the prim count low...and I'm thinking of trying to lower it even further by re-creating the build as a Mesh object.  But...that would be Work, as I haven't used my modeling program in ages and my skills are beyond rusty, well into "corroded into immobility".

I also hunted Air Kraken in Caledon.  Apparently, these large flying squid come forth in the spring for their mating flights or something.  I found a bazooka to be an adequate weapon -- my trusty .45 auto was completely useless for the job.  The kraken are wily creatures, tending to fly over regions where one cannot rez ammunition.  And if you get too close, they attack your aircraft.  I spent considerable time hosing squid slime from my airship and myself.

Sorry, no pictures!  I was too busy flying and shooting to employ the camera as well.  Next time I'll use an aircraft with weapons built in...it should simplify the job considerably.  Not to mention that a canopy would be a nice accessory for keeping those slimy tentacles away from my person.

Oh, wait!  I DID visit one new place...a new hair store (new to me, anyway) called HairARt.  They have some lovely styles, including some that are like Sirena's animated hair...you can wear them either up or down, and your avatar does a little "fussing with my hair" animation when you switch.

FLASH! Links to two great blog posts

First, the inimitable Miss Glorf Bulmer captures the feel of the Linden Home areas here:
http://glorfblog.blogspot.com/2012/03/home-sweet-linden-home.html

Second, the formidable Miss Inara Pey holds forth on the new-new-new "New User Experience" that Linden Lab has implemented with zero publicity.  (And zero is about what it deserves, IMO).
http://modemworld.wordpress.com/2012/03/18/new-users-the-shared-experience/

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Destination: Unknown

All right, dear readers.  The name of this blog is "Across the Grid with Lindal Kidd", but it has occurred to me that I've done very little exploring of the grid and reporting back to you.  Mostly, we've been covering two areas:  how to use Second Life, and social issues. 

So, I'm going to TRY to get out more, find some interesting places and tell you all about them.  But...where should I go?  What places do you WANT to hear about?  You can tell me in the Comments here, or send me an email...lindalkidd120(at)gmail.com.

Or you can let ME pick.  I'll try to surprise you.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Phishing Comes to Second Life

For a long time, SL has been free of viruses and malware.  It still is...but there are two vicious scams out there on the grid, and both of them are on the rise.

I've mentioned the first scam before: Account Debiting Objects.  It's possible to script an object to take $L from its owner.  If you are given (or buy) such an object, when you rez it in world, it sends you a message:
Some objects, like this rental box, need that permission, in order to give your customers refunds.  But if a strange object sends you this request, don't click Grant!  It can then suck all the money out of your account.  It may not even be a strange object, but something that you purchased.  If you have ANY doubts about why an object is requesting access to your account, deny the request, delete the object or take it back into your inventory, and contact the object's creator to discuss it.

The second scam is fairly new to SL, but it's been around the web for years:  phishing.  Someone can send you a link...in local chat, IM, group chat, on a notecard...and if you click the link, it takes you to what looks to the casual eye like a normal Second Life website sign in page.  But, if you enter your user name and password, the scammer has them, and can then log in as you.  He can pay all your money to another of his accounts, or change your password, or even use your account to commit serious Terms of Service violations.  This type of phishing scam is becoming more common lately, possibly because we don't expect to encounter phishing on the grid.  But you should be careful of ANY link you click on, especially if it's given to you by a stranger.
Check the URL of strange websites.  This is the Genuine Article
There's a third scam that I should mention.  If you browse YouTube for "Second Life Cheat Codes", you'll find a lot of videos that seem to be advertising a program that will let you "create" any amount of $L you want.  Don't fall for this one.  They don't work.  If they did, LL would be all over them with lawsuits, since $L represent, potentially, real money.  At best, they're a simple fraud.  At worst, they'll infect your computer with malware.

Be careful out there, OK?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

FLASH! Debate on Internet Identity

(For those of you who haven't figured it out, any entry labeled FLASH is intended to be a very short note on some item of interest.)

Here's another link to interesting stuff from Botgirl Questi.  This is an ongoing compilation of posts and articles relating to the issue of Internet Identity.  In other words, the intense and impassioned debate on the question, "Should people be required to use their Real Life names on the Web, or should pseudonyms be allowed?"

http://www.scoop.it/t/plusgate

A Rude Visitor

Last night, I was standing on my balcony in Second Life, sorting inventory.  Out of nowhere, an IM pops up, and someone I've never spoken to before begins to chide me for false advertising.  "Your (boat rental) slips are set to 300 prims, not what you said" he accuses me.

I checked my radar, and sure enough, the person is hovering over my sim.  I explained that yes, the slips are set to $L2,495 per month and 300 prims as a default starting point, but that rentals are negotiated with people on an individual basis, as yachts vary so greatly in their prim requirements.  I also pointed out that all our advertising makes this clear.

Now, in fairness, I admit that the rude interruption and the confrontational tone of his opening IM rubbed me the wrong way, and my response was not worded quite as, um...politely...as I've indicated above.  Well, actually, I called him a dumbass, if you must know the truth.  In other words, I continued the conversation in the tone in which it had begun.  Naturally, it continued its downhill slide.  He called me a bitch.  This resulted in the gentleman receiving the Lindal Kidd Mute&Ban Prize for SL Jerks.

There are two lessons to be learned here. 

1.  Don't open your conversations with strangers with a criticism, and it's best not to open one in IM.  It's simple good manners to land, let yourself be seen, and say "hello" in local chat first.  Then, politely mention that you have a problem with the person's (behavior/dress/products/services/insert topic here).  If my visitor had shown me a link to the post he felt was misleading, it could have saved us worlds of acrimony.

2.  When some jerk does sneer at you out of the blue, keep your cool.  I wish I had kept mine better, it might have prevented the addition of another person to my Mute and Ban lists.  Perhaps not, but now I'll never know.

A Thought from Botgirl, and One From Me.

I was browsing the blogs today.  You do this by opening a blog you know about, then clicking an interesting link they've posted to another blog, and so on.  One can wander rather far afield, but one also can find some very worthwhile food for thought.

I don't normally follow Botgirl Questi's blog, although I have certainly seen it mentioned by others, and I know that Botgirl is one of the more prolific commentators on Second Life.  Today I wound up on her pages, and I'd like to share this snippet of her entry for February 7:

"...we often choose careers based on our socio-economic status rather than the urging of our passionate interests. We hurry into marriage and parenthood due to social pressure and our perception of cultural norms. We bite our tongues, hide our freaky sides and generally conform to the acceptable standards of our social circles and professions. And we die with regrets.

"One of the benefits of pseudonymous virtual identity is the safe space it offers to pursue our dreams, not to pretend to be something we're not, but to express aspects of ourselves that have not been fully manifested. For instance, Second Life has been a place where many of us have developed or reclaimed our identities as artists. People who left pencils and paint brushes behind in grade school now routinely create work that's shared with an international audience. Best of all, we don't have to leave our families behind and run off to Paris. We can have our cake and eat it too."


Thank you, Botgirl, that is eloquently put.  This is, indeed, the greatest benefit of virtual worlds.  While I agree with you almost completely, honesty compels me to point out one limiting factor:  time.  The time we spend in our virtual life is time that is not spent on our Real Life.   So there is, as it were, a tradeoff.  While we are eating one piece of cake, another is going untasted.

Enjoy your Second Lives, all of you.  Explore those paths that you turned aside from in Real Life.  But be careful to maintain a balance, OK?