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Friday, March 18, 2016

TANSTAAFL

The title for today's entry isn't some obscure Russian word, or the name of an exotic ethnic food.  It's an acronym coined by Robert A. Heinlein in his book "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" and it stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch."

But some people are always looking for that elusive Free Lunch...and when they do, they are laying themselves open to con artists, thieves, and scammers.

Over and over in Second Life, people ask me, "How do I get free $L?"

The answer is, "You can't."  Oh, you can get $L without paying money for them, sure.  You can win a contest at a club, or get paid for teaching a class.  You can get a job as a stripper or an escort and earn pretty good tips.  You can try the "Fish Hunt" or "Gold Hunt" gaming systems.  You can play Linden Realms and exchange the crystals you collect for $L.

But all of these cost you time, even if they don't cost you money.  Time that you could have spent exploring SL, or learning to create beautiful things to sell, or enjoying the company of your friends.

Some people looking for a Free Lunch don't want to spend either money OR time.  These are the people who become the scammers' victims.  They fall for things like:

"Click this link for Free Stuff!"  They click the link, enter their user name and password, and their account is stolen by a phisher.

"Wear this object and click Allow to win $L10,000!"  They do it, and the object sucks all the money out of their account.

"Sign up to Take Surveys and get paid!"  The survey sites they visit install malware or spyware on their computers.

"Here's $L50,000.  Pay $L45,000 of it to my friend ShadyCharacter and keep the rest as a service fee."  They do that, and find LL has banned them from SL for participating in money laundering.

It's a law of nature.  You don't get something for nothing.  You get something for SOMETHING...your time, your skills, your talent, your investment.  True in Real Life, true in Second Life.

TANSTAAFL!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

A Very Belated Tour of Men's Fashion

Way, way back in April of 2015 I wrote a piece in which I ruminated on the lack of men's fashion in Second Life, and some possible reasons for it.  In the Comments section, a reader asked for advice on where to go to turn his avatar into a studly male fashion plate, and I replied, "See tomorrow's entry"...and then apparently forgot all about my promise.  Oops!  Today's post is a very belated response to that anonymous commenter!

Hunts.
The preeminent annual hunt for men is "MenStuff."  This year's hunt ended Feb. 29, so you have rather a long wait until the next one.  Still, bookmark their page to keep abreast of news.  http://menstuff.stuff-sl.com/

While you are waiting, many hunts with more general themes also have items for men.  Keep up to date on all the major hunts here:  https://slhunts.wordpress.com/

Blogs.
Quite a few of us girls keep up with SL fashion by following a selection of fashion blogs.  You guys can do the same.  A Google search on "SL Men's Fashion" will find many of them, but here is a shortcut.  Visit the SL Male Fashion Feed for a long list of male fashion blogs and related links.  http://malefashionfeed.info/

Fashion Showcases.
There are several places where you can go to see an item or two from each of a large number of participating creators.  The Men's Department, a showcase that is male-oriented, can be found here: http://themensdeptsl.com/

Freebies.
Though they've closed their dedicated in world freebie store, Fabulously Free in SL ("FabFree") remains an incredible source of information about freebies.  Their blog allows you to filter by categories, and the Men's category has over 2,000 entries!  You can join the FabFree group in world too, to get a notice when someone runs across a new freebie.  https://fabfree.wordpress.com/category/mens/

Bargains.
The various bargain hunter programs...Sixty Linden Weekends, Secret Wednesdays, 55L Thursdays, My 60L Secret, and so on...all generally have at least a few men's items.  You can join their groups and get a weekly list of all the offerings.

Mesh Bodies.
Although I own one and sometimes use it, I'm not the greatest fan of mesh bodies.  I think the improvements which they offer over the classic avatar body are incremental at best, and come at the expense of having to deal with a whole new set of configuration controls.  I think it's very easy for a guy to look super hot with a classic avatar body, and it's a lot cheaper too.  Still, if you really want to jump on the Mesh body bandwagon, the best place for mesh body and body part reviews is here: http://meshbodyaddicts.com/mesh-body-reviews/mens-bodies/

Hair.
Most large hair stores in SL have a selection of styles for men.  In addition, many styles can be worn by either men or women, as you will see from some of the advertising pictures in the stores.  Don't be afraid to try on a "woman's" hair style...it might look great on you!  I was in Alli&Ali the other day, and noticed that they have a very large selection of men's hair.  http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Wonderland%20Beach/155/127/24

Shapes.
I've always advocated making your own shape, with the Appearance sliders.  It may take some time and tweaking, but it costs you nothing.  If you go this route, I would make the following suggestions...but feel free to ignore them if you wish, it's YOUR body!
  • Keep your height under 2.5 m. at most.  Unless your girlfriend is super tall, then you may want to go a few cm. over her height.
  • Don't overdo the shoulders and biceps.  Personally, I find a flat tummy and a six pack to be way sexier than apelike arms.
  • To avoid short little T-Rex arms, you'll need to go further to the right with the arm length slider than you might think.  Stand up, let your hands hang at your sides.  Notice how far down they go.
  • Neatly trimmed facial hair is sexy.  Big, bushy lumberjack beards are not.
There are free shapes available that many designers use as their models for making Mesh clothing.  These will tend to fit Mesh quite well.  Get them here: https://marketplace.secondlife.com/p/Standard-Sizing-Package-Updated-Male-Female/2894727

Skin.
You'll probably need some minor tweaks to your shape, especially the facial features, to get the best results from any given skin.  This is one reason why it's important to try the demo version before buying a skin.  Here are some places to check out:
Private Parts.
Again, don't overdo it with the size.  I don't find it very exciting when a fellow's tool goes in my front and pokes out my back.  Ouch.  I also must give Two Thumbs Down to the "On Duty" product...I don't appreciate being "made pregnant" without my approval or consent.

You can find genital attachments in all degrees of realism, all price ranges, and with a wide range of operating features.  If your regular partner(s) use a particular system, such as Xcite, then consider getting a matching product for interoperability.  Otherwise, check out the suggestions below.
Remember:  Don't wear your genitals in public, even with them turned invisible.  A gentleman doesn't attach his bits until the appropriate time and place.

Formal Wear.
Every woman I know is a sucker for a guy in a tux.  Yeah, me too.
So there you have it, gentlemen.  Now go out there and make Second Life a showcase of male Eye Candy for us gals!




Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Good News, Bad News - Changes to $L Payouts

Yesterday, Linden Lab announced changes to their system of buying and selling Linden Dollars ($L).

On the good news side, one of the things I've complained about for a long time is the time it takes for LL to get money from your $USD balance to your PayPal account in a "Process Credit" transaction.  They say "5 business days" but it sometimes takes as long as 10 days.  At the same time, LL insists on INSTANT payment when WE pay THEM.  This has never seemed fair.

In their announcement, LL says that now, most Process Credit transactions should complete in 2 business days, although they do hedge their bets and say that some transactions may continue to take up to 5 business days.

That's the good news.

In the same announcement, LL says that they are raising the fee for purchasing $L from $.30 to $.40 per transaction...a 33% increase.  That seems excessive, although because of the small actual amount of the fee, I suppose most people won't complain much.

The announcement does not speak to the 3.5% transaction fee charged for selling $L and converting them back into $USD, so I'm assuming that remains unchanged.

Then there is the $1.00 processing fee they have been charging for a Process Credit transaction.  That is now changing to a 1.5% fee per transaction, with a minimum charge of $3.00 and a maximum cap of $15.00.  That is a MINIMUM increase of 200%!  Ouch.

To minimize the cashout fee (as a percentage of the transaction) you should plan on transferring at least $200 USD per single transaction, and over $1,000 if you can.  The larger the transaction over $1,000, the lower percentage of it that $15 will represent.  Those of you who have been taking out $20 or $100 per month should re-think your business models.

For the official announcement, see this link: https://community.secondlife.com/t5/Featured-News/Faster-Credit-Processing-amp-Upcoming-Changes-to-Fees/ba-p/3011794

Frankly, Ebbe, I would've preferred to just wait the extra few days for my money.