Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Interview with Scratchmusikatt Fox (aka Scratchmusikatt Sprocket)

By Bixyl Shuftan

Scratchmusikatt Fox is a DJ in real life whom was making a name for himself a few years ago in Second Life as the "Chaos DJ."  Events forced him to take a break from the virtual world for a time. But now he's back, and so is his music, either on his main account or his alt Scratchmusikatt Sprocket. Recently Second Life Newser sat down for an interview with him. 

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did you find out about Second Life?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "A real-life roomate of mine, Stripes Waterkat was part of the beta testing for Second Life. I would occasionally look in on what he was doing because he always had some pretty good music coming out of his speakers, and I knew this wasn't stuff he had himself. So I finally asked him one night 'what is that you're doing?', because at the time he was at Club Fur and I could hear the DJ talking on the air. He explained Second Life to me and how to get into it. But It wasn't until a year or so later that I tried it myself."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your first experiences go?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Second Life was still pretty basic back then. It was out of Beta by the time I joined, but furry avs as we know them were mostly still a new thing. My first 'avs' were of my main fursona, Johnny Vulpine and The fursona I created specifically for my forray into SL, Scratch Musikatt. I joined Second Life for the sole purpose of getting into DJ'ing because it's something I liked doing in real life.  I couldn't even begin to tell ya who made those first two avs. They were little more than a head and tail and a skin, because flexiprims didn't exist at the time."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds pretty basic compared to today."

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Yeah, Second Life has come a long way. but even then there was something that spoke to me beyond the draw of DJ'ing. I found alot of roleplayers and, given the ability to be... pretty much anything you want. SL suddenly had a second draw for me. It was the DJ'ing and the escape from real-life that kept me here through the difficulties of SL's infancy."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did your experiences go from there?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "As Second Life grew and more people I knew got into it, things got more and more fun. I never got to officially DJ at Club Fur, but I found a place called Club Elite. They were open to furs and non-furs alike. They had, in the past been named the Number One club in SL and they were looking for DJ's. I applied, and Mrs. Rainestar (owner of the club's radio station) gave me a wednesday night slot from 7 to 9pm. And it was there that DJ Scratch Musikatt was really born."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How did it go?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "To be perfectly honest, I was nervous as hell. They had shown me how to setup and run SAM broadcaster the week before and I remember thinking to myself now crazy complicated it looked. As I was preparing to actually go on the air the first time, a million ideas were spinning in my head for how to carry myself on the air. I took a breath, and thought of the Radio DJ's I used to listen to as a kid. Wolfman Jack, The Greaseman, and Dr Demento and I just kinda decided to channel them into my performance."

Bixyl Shuftan: "And it went without a hitch?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "To my surprise, Yes, Rainestar had told me a good formula to follow is to do at least 20 minutes of music then either an ad or a voiceover. I found it easier to keep to a 30 minute schedule and by the third set of my first show I felt like I had it down pretty tight. I did have a bad habit at first of forgetting to turn off my mic after a voiceover. So, sometimes the listeners would get treated to my singing along with the music until someone would poke me to turn off the mic."

Bixyl Shuftan: " Heh ... How did things go after that?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Things were great @ Club Elite for a good while. But unfortunately, all good things must eventually come to an end. The club wasn't making enough money to keep running and eventually had to close its doors. As a parting gift, the owner of the club gave me a copy of the club's dancefloor. at the time it was one of the most unique dancefloors I'd ever seen. And to this day, I still use a dance floor based off of it's design whenever I put on shows in my own places or a place that allows the DJ to provide a floor. I made quite a few friends at Club Elite, and was able to get into other clubs thanks to those connections.

"I played for Club Abydos when there were only three Furnation sims. DJ Inferniel ran the place he and I were both alumni of Club Elite, so it was no surprise when I got an invite to play there. Furries were rapidly becoming more and more widespread in Second Life and so I was doing alot of looking around at other furry clubs too. Abydos eventually shut down, for the first time and I moved on to the club which I will always think of as Scratch's first home: Rainbow Tiger."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How would you describe this particular club. What made it stand out among other clubs, furry and otherwise?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Rainbow Tiger? well, it was bigger than anyplace I'd played for before and it's roster of DJs was huge. There was someone live on the air almost 24-7, I'd never seen that before. The atmosphere at Rainbow Tiger was really hoppin' too. there was always people there. Club Elite, Club Fur and Abydos all had times when there was just nothing going on, but not Rainbow Tiger. It was exciting and fun knowing that was part of a club that entertained so many people so much. Of course, that just makes how Rainbow Tiger finally shut down even sadder. I haven't found a club since that had the same feel to it as RT had back then. I'll admit, a few have come close. But I honestly don't think that kind of magic will ever be duplicated. Rainbow Tiger just had the right combination if elements and I'm proud to have been a part of that."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How long did it keep going?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, I know that Rainbow Tiger had been a well established place by the time I started my backup Second Life account in 2006. And I know that somewhere around 2009 or 2010 RT had to shut down. I don't know for sure when because I had fallen on hard times and was not able to get on Second Life for almost a year. Before then, the last time I played at Rainbow Tiger had been in 2008. I was playing for there and another fairly popular club called Fur Dungeon. I was unemployed in real life from 2010 to 2013 and so I wasn't able to do much in Second Life at all unless I was at a location where my aging laptop could get a good enough signal to get into SL. When I finally got back into Second Life effectively, I found out that Rainbow Tiger had closed.

"Then early in 2014, I began to hear rumors that somebody was trying to bring Rainbow Tiger back. I kept tabs on this rumor until finally a notice popped up in the old RT group that stated they were back and looking for DJs. I immediately signed up. ay this time I had begun playing for a licensed furry radio station, 'Raging  Dragon Radio,' owned and operated by the con chair of my local area's first furry convention 'Furthemore.'"

Bixyl Shuftan: "So you never found out why it closed?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "I spoke to Spike about it when I found out that Rainbow Tiger was back, and the way it sounded to me was that the place just wasn't drawing the crowds like it used to. So, I thought this could be a win-win situation if I could get Rainbow Tiger associated with Raging Dragon Radio. That way RDR would finally have an official venue in Second Life (they didn't at the time) and RT would have the support of RDR. Unfortunately, it seemed it was too little too late. The place was almost always empty. And so, Spike finally sent out a notice that Rainbow Tiger was shutting down for good, just a couple months ago. Even the brightest stars eventually burn out."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sorry to hear about that. So for a few years your DJing in SL was a little spotty?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "I Yeah, between 2006 and 2010 I did alot of hopping around to different clubs, I played GYC for about a month ... Don't even get me started on THAT place. Let's just say for the kind of club they were running they hiring DJ's was just kinda a waste of time and they would have served themselves better by just using a radio stream tuner. I played for some of the clubs that my good real-life friend DJ Rory ran; The Coco Beach Club and the Blue Parrot to name a couple. I met one of my best SL friends ever at the CBC, Muertos Ashbourne. I Played for a mostly human club by the name of Club Zapp for a while. But by then it was pretty much the end of 2011 and the beginning of the really hard times when I pretty much had to drop out of Second Life completely.

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, it was during the Spring months, I was doing sidework for a real-life friend's father and staying at his place while I worked. SO I was able to use my laptop to get online there and get back into SL. At first, I didn't do a whole lot. Certainly no DJ'ing, all the clubs I was familiar with were gone. Even, as I found out upon my return, Rainbow Tiger. So, I kinda took a break from the club scene for a bit, my RL schedule didn't really work for club DJ'ing at the time anyways. So I got into new roleplay groups. I had begun getting into 'My Little Pony' by that time and I discovered the Fallout/MLP crossover called 'Fallout: Equestria.' Did alot of RPing there as well as alot of other places Muertos and I found in our travels.

"As I said before I hooked back up with Spike and the Rainbow Tiger crew and did my best to try to help the place thrive, but it turned out to be a lost cause. Early in November (2014), a group notice went out from this place I'd shopped at before called Furry Fashion saying they were looking for DJ's Hosts, and Models. Hell, I never even knew they had a club. Now, I've never been the kind of guy that DJ's for the money. NONE of the clubs I played for before paid the staff. We always worked for tips and that was it so I was used to playin' for peanuts. But hey, like I said, I was never in it for the money. BUT, I will admit, it DID perk my ears when I heard that this place not only paid the staff but you also get tips, it was just like an real-life club.

"So I figured, what the hell and I applied. Well, not to toot my own horn, but it was no surprise when they showed interest in hiring me. There's alot to be said for having a good resume backed by years of experience. I was contacted within the week, played my first show there that Thursday. And I do believe, I made them fall in love with me that very same night."

Bixyl Shuftan: Sounds like you were a real hit (smile).

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, so far, I've heard nothing but praise from the Furry Fashion staff. They're a really fun bunch too. They run a staff chat outside of Second Life in Skype that way we can keep up to date of things going on at the club on or off of SL. We get together and play 'Cards Against Humanity' online sometimes. It's just a very friendly atmosphere and very family-like. I'm enjoying it a lot. I still play for Raging Dragon Radio on Thursdays. Unfortunately tho I don't think I could host RDR at Furry Fashion because there are rules to how I have to play on RDR and there are rules to how I have to play at FF and the combination of the two would make running a show very difficult for me. I'm good, but I'm not that good and trying to follow both sets of rules would totally suck the fun out of the whole show."

Bixyl Shuftan nods, "So aside from these places, what are your plans for the future?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "Well, I'll play for Furry Fashion for as long as they'll have me. Meanwhile, I am looking for a place that can accommodate my schedule and be a good fit for hosting Raging Dragon Radio. Kit, RDR's owner has recently gotten back into Second Life himself and a few weeks ago we went club hopping looking for places to apply to that might be a good fit."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Anything else that you'd like to mention?"

Scratchmusikatt Fox: "*Giggles insanely* "well I could bore ya with my mercifully short forray into trying to run a club of my own. But I don't think you want to write about a train wreck. That's one thing I'll NEVER do again."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Well, if that's all, thank you for your time and good luck with your music making."

Raging Dragon Radio:

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, January 16, 2015

Beckye Burnstein: Second Life's Visible Woman

By Bixyl Shuftan

Have you ever heard of "The Visible Woman?" In the 1960s and 1970s, these model kits were available for either adults or older kids interested in anatomy. When assembled, they represented a body with transparent skin, allowing one to see the bones and organs inside. I was reminded of these models when I ran into a certain resident in Second Life, Beckye Burnstein.

I ran into Beckey at the Paris 1900 sims. We chatted for a bit, then after a comment about the interesting things people can create in Second Life, she asked, "Wanna see something interesting?" She then began removing items of clothing, but instead of bare skin, what was revealed was a combination of bones, muscle tissue, and organs, "I have (a) full skeleton and most organs attached under my skin. I removed (my) mesh shirt so you can see. ... Last part I found was mesh boobs. I applied a flex/muscle texture to it. Thought you might like to see it. I would love the whole world to see it, but it's kinda hidden. *giggle* When people cam in too close and get their cam inside, I always get some IMs. *giggle*"

Beckye went on, "I started collecting organs about two years ago, adding stuff when I find it. The uterus was a great find. I started to add muscles to the bones too.....takes a while to adjust everything perfect." She told me she had gotten her start at a roleplay sim, Nor, "I  was a machina/cyborg, trying to become human. I got a skeleton and a brain, then a heart." She had been inspired by the movie "Bicentenial Man," and much like the movie's robot hero, her character was eventually considered human. She eventually left the roleplay, but kept on collecting organs.

The organs themselves are worn all the time. But the arm bone and muscle visuals are not usually on as the skeletal hands are a bit large. She had yet to adjust their size down to normal, "Since I started Second Life five years ago, I always try to improve my avatar, make it look as realistic as can be, inside and out. As I like to say, "I logged in one day and felt empty inside.' Ha ha ha." When her see-through appearance is fully on, "no skin at all except for my face. If you cam under my hair, you ll see the skull. Camm ll see a brain."

"Building this avatar made me learn some about anatomy. It's really fun to do. She also described some interesting incidents with the avatar, "One time, I was visitng Detroit Sims roleplay, as an observer. I was just walking around, minding my own, being a good observer. And one of the sims admin went totally out of character, stopped the RP and pointed out to everyone that I had organs and skeleton," Becky laughed, "was funny."

"Another time," Beckye described, "I was in a court trial in Nor, as a witness. During my time on the stand, I had to go pee, real bad. I couldn't hold it any longer, and I began to start peeing right there, in the court room. That was the highlight of the evening (laughter). ... Little thing called a 'Tinkler,' makes you need to pee once in a while. Adds to the whole bio thing." I chuckled, "Did it come with a bottle?" She answered, "No, but I can add a script to put inside drinks that would accelerate the pee cycle, and have it rezz a nice pee puddle. Also has some Restrained Life Viewer functions, but I don't use them."

Beckye commented, "I have thought of making a HUD that would include all body functions, with animations, and organs react to all this. Can go from healthy/sick, bone fracture, realistic pregnancy,endless possibilities." She also thought of scripted hair that grew every day, "with a HUD to make a haircut, so you have to wait for long hair, etc. You could have a neglected look. Next think, I'm leading to build hair, and my partner will figure out scripts to make my folly come to life, before 2016 hopefully."

I asked Beckye what did her partner think or her body building. "At first, he didn't get it (laughter). I had to explain it to him, and he told me I was crazy. After explaining it again, he told me, 'there might be a way.' So, he'll have to figure that one out. Hee-hee. I know how scripts work, but I can't write them. Sometimes I find the logic of 'how to,' and he writes the codes. It's a blessing to have a scriptor as a friend. Most builders I know can't write complex scripts. All scriptors I know, they can't build prims (laughter). This is how we met, through building."

Becky says she might pause her building efforts to see what SL 2.0 has in store in regards to avatars with bodily functions, "I hope this is where they are going."

Besides her body building, Beckye is also into Second Life aviation, flying planes such as her personal 737 within Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Interview with Kylie Sabra

By Bixyl Shuftan

If you're familiar with the Content Creator controversy that hit Second Life from 2013 to 2014, you've heard of Kylie Sabra who organized the United Content Creators of Second Life, the group that tried negotiating and talking to Linden Lab. This feat resulted in Second Life Newser choosing her as "Person of the Year: Runner-Up." But that's just one of a list of her accomplishments. From being the manager and set designer of the Rose Theater galleries to a clothing designer, she's made her mark across a number of fields on the Grid. Recently I had a chance to interview her. So we set a time and met at the Theater.

Bixyl Shuftan: "To begin with, how did you find out about Second Life?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): My husband saw me playing "Farmville," and rolled his eyes. "If you're going to'play', 'play' something cool." (laughter) He'd been on a couple of years before, but it did not set with him. That was five years ago this past October."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How were your first experiences here?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "One day a man I met created a bird right before my eyes and it flew away. I was mesmerized and began building immediately. I built my first art gallery within 60 days and filled it with my work and began promoting. So it has always been creative. Don't get me wrong. Like most, I ventured first into the club scene, but it's just not me."

Bixyl Shuftan: *nods* "Your first art gallery? How did that one go?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "It was awesome. It was a stepping stone. I drifted into roleplaying for about a year then. I'm a writer and roleplay was just a natural, but still the creative side won out. I leased a homestead and became enamored with creating incredible landscapes out of a postage stamp of sand. So my then second gallery was quite a undertaking on a quarter sim, and I began having guests artists and developing a reputation."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like you were quite busy. I take it the effort had very good results."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "It did. The gallery was well received. I'd met Kaya in 2010 when I was writing for Radar Magazine. He and the Rose were my first assignment and that was the first page in a long and ongoing saga."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds interesting. How would you describe what happened next, for the readers?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "I remained in roleplaying and worked on my gallery, but over the following year, met with Kaya on and off again. This place haunted me. In February 2011, he was giving me a tour of the then galleries. There were four at the time. He'd had a curator, but had not seen her for several months. Her picture still remained on the wall over her desk. Without even imagining it to be possible. I asked him if I could curate. (laughter) I can rather imagine him shrugging his shoulders as he said simply. 'Sure.' Soon four galleries became ten and with the new build they became and entity unto themselves-no longer an afterthought. He designed the layout that allowed them to flow and be together. I pillage it on occasion--as now with Molly Bloom's exhibition, but the lobby is hands off. (laughter) THAT is pure Kaya."

Bixyl Shuftan: *grins a bit at your chuckle* "Sounds like some interesting times, in a good way, continued to happen."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "They do. *points to the picture over my desk* "He's the perfect big brother. He has my back, looks over my shoulder, but never tries to control or smother. I have a great deal of respect for him."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "Did you want to spend some time talking about what's ahead?"

 Bixyl Shuftan: Sure, "I was going to ask about some of the Rose Theater and Galleries best events and displays, in your opinion."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "As you know. the galleries are my babies, so I can best speak to them. I've had the pleasure of curating and building some incredible shows and not to shun any of our wonderful artists--there have been nearly 500 separate exhibitions over the past 4 years--but there are three that really stick out in my mind. The first one being TheaDee (now simply Thea), the second was 'Ride the Rose' for Gem Priez (sp), and the 3rd and current, is Molly Bloom's transfiguration of 2D art to 3D-characters literally stepping out of the art. All were beautiful, creative or simply fascinating."

Bixyl Shuftan: "500 separate exhibitions, that is a lot."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "It is a lot of exhibitions and there are times I wonder how I will make the next one unique, but then I get the artist's work and it just falls together."

Bixyl Shuftan: "So a natural talent for making it all work out?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra) blushes. "I'm not what it is or where it comes from. I think it's just my passion."

Bixyl Shuftan: And besides the gallery, you're also known for your efforts in regards to the "Terms of Service" controversy that haunted Second Life for a number of months. How did you yourself find out about it, and what gave you the idea for the UCCSL?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "Yes. I am so delighted that Ebbe came on board as CEO. I believe that Second Life will thrive under him. That was a tough and sometimes dark road on my path through Second Life, but I'm glad I traveled it and even more glad that it is over. I am now no longer affiliated in any way with the UCCSL group. I'm not in sync with the new management and felt it best to step down. As to how I found out, it was through Toysoldier Thor and Ernie Farstrider. We coordinated and I emceed (sp) one of the first public meetings and that was the dawn of the UCCSL. Later, the Rose Theatre was host to a folllow up meeting in which we featured a legal panel. The group helped to pull people together and bring focus to the key elements of the issue.

"There were many in SL that worked to bring this issue to life and they did so eloquently, I think UCCSL just quantified the people affected by the issue; it's members including some of the top-earning creators in Second Life."

Bixyl Shuftan: "It seemed that despite your efforts, Linden Lab's responses were few and far between, before Ebbe Linden's coming in as CEO. Did you have any further opinion as to why?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): Honestly? I felt the then CEO simply had no interest for the concerns of Second Life's citizen creators. It seemed he had an agenda and it did not include us. Seemed to me he was cutting off his nose to spite his face, tossing the baby with the bathwater and any number of such colloquialisms. It seemed they were more focused on trying to shut us up--making promises that were never delivered upon--than they were in resolving the problem.

"However, one of the issues I faced with the group was that I never once believed that griefing or gratuitous Linden bashing was the answer to problem and indeed was probably more deterrent and divisive than anything else.

*smiles* "But, that is in the past."

Bixyl Shuftan: "After stepping down from leading the UCCSL, what have you been doing?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra)'s face brightens. "I've taken my creative demon in a new direction. I'm designing fashion under the label 'Sabra Style.' The line pulls its inspiration from the lifestyle we live here at the Rose--one of refined elegance and beauty. I strive to create supremely wearable clothing, whether it be for the office, cocktails at an elegant club, ballgowns for those special events. I don't limit myself to those though. I also seek to create elegant casual clothing--the kind of clothes that set a woman a part. With one look a man knows he has met a woman who is confident in herself and her beauty--that she is intelligent, thoughtful, intriguing. I've always dressed this way in Second Life and one of the comments that I've often received is that, 'Kylie, you are clearly different. You know who you are with nothing to prove. It's refreshing. Or as my daddy would say--less eloquently--'If you give away the milk, who's going to buy the cow.' Sorry I grew up in Texas. (laughter)"

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "No problem, How has the clothing line been doing so far?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "I'm doing very well. This is my first year and I was nominated for three Avi Choice Fashion Awards--Best New Designer, Best Formal Wear and Best Casual Wear. I was blown away."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh yes, I see the awards on the shelf."

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "I have a devoted and growing clientele. I'm a happy lady and look forward to growing more this year.

"I do have a surprise. I'm taking on something new this year, which will keep me far from all things political. (laughter) I'm going to start singing. The only reason I've not done it sooner is that I'm scared to freaking death. (laughter)"

Bixyl Shuftan: "Singing, that should be interesting." *grin*

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "Well I promise I won't hit the stage until I'm ready. My partner in crime, Lisa Valentino, QAs my clothing and me! (laughter) She believes in the adage, 'Friends don't let friends sing badly.'"

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles "So what are your plans for this year, and beyond?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra): "As far as beyond. . . I have the galleries, my clothing line and now singing . . . I can't think beyond all of that, but I'm always open to new adventures."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds like you have quite a bit planned for the future, was there anything else you wanted to add?"

Kylie Sabra Angel (kylie.sabra) sets her tea down on the table, "I do. And I'm so sorry, but I need to rush to a family luncheon. We are hosting a lunch for our residents today. Thank you so very much."
Bixyl Shuftan: "welcome, and good luck."

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, December 22, 2014

Interview with Brace Coral, Founder of NCI

By Wesley Regenbogen

I interviewed Brace Coral a few months ago, but recently she asked me to re-interview her once again. So here is interview.
Wesley Regenbogen: Hello there Brace Coral.
Brace Coral: Hey Wes (smile).
Wesley Regenbogen: You requested a new interview in the Second Life Newser. So, I will ask you a few questions. Here we go. ... 

How is the NCI in general doing at the present?
Brace Coral: We're doing great, I think! There's been a reshuffling of some staff, and we've got a whole new education program being set up. That warms my heart, because getting New Folks learning and having fun is always my main focus.
Wesley Regenbogen: Which new classes will be held at the NCI, or what changes are you referring to?
Brace Coral: Well for one, I'm teaching again! Basic Clothing Creation. Had my first class this past Tuesday and it was a blast (smile). We're getting more Newbie focused classes on board too. Pajobra Zessinthal is our new Education Coordinator and she's doing an excellent job.

The other big change... We've started paying our Instructors and Event Hosts again! 300L/per class/event. That's one of the main things I wanted to see happen when I came back. That was the main reason behind startng my weekly fundraiser event. I'm so excited!

Wesley Regenbogen: Which fundraiser event are you referring to ?
Brace Coral: Every week on Saturday at 5pm SLT I throw a Salsa Dance event. We shake our butts and throw cash into the big Donation sign. It's a lot of fun (smile). People can come donate there, or any of the kiosks at our NCI Campuses. They can also help support the NCI by donating tier and buying stuff from the NCI Store (smile).
Wesley Regenbogen: Cool, a dance event. But how do you raise virtual money for the NCI then. Do people need to pay to participate in the event or which means of entering are available?
Brace Coral: Ginger Lorakeet runs the store, so you can ask her about donating things to be sold there as well. ... Oh the event is FREE like all our classes and events. People can donate lindens during the event if they wish. Most do (smile). But it isn't mandatory. I appreciate people donating themselves, their fun, and time to come make the event special each week.
Wesley Regenbogen: So entering the event is free or donations are required?
Brace Coral: The NCI stays afloat solely from donations from residents. Tier, fees, and rent. So a HUGE thank you to our donors!
Wesley Regenbogen: Are there changes to the NCI places as well?
Brace Coral: Well Wellington Beam who's currently heading things and running the NCI is always on the lookout for how we can make things better. We tweak each campus, clean up scripts and decorate for the holidays (smile). There's always something new, so I hope folks come visit and see what we got going on.

Wesley Regenbogen: Ok, But I didn't mean decorative wise. I meant landscape wise or something?

Brace Coral: Well our main campus at Kuula sim is mainland, so we don't have too much leeway in terms of landscaping. And the basic format that we have now works pretty well. Sandboxes, classrooms etc. The layout works. We just have to get the word out on our other campuses - NCI South and NCI Beach. They're always on my Profile Picks (smile) Happy Visiting!

Wesley Regenbogen: You mentioned changes in the staff. May I ask which changes have been due?

Brace Coral: It's just easier to give a link (giggle). the Personnel by Role list gives you the info on our campus coordinators and other staff positions:

Wesley Regenbogen: Ok, thanks for the list.

Brace Coral: Our main website/blog has the links at the top for how to donate tier and also info about the store as well: You can also follow us on Twitter!

Wesley Regenbogen: Are there new areas of classes that are organized ? I mean : are there new topics that can be learned or does the shedule stay unchanged ?

Brace Coral: The schedule, found here: is updated each week, with the new classes being added as they come online. We're looking for someone to teach Beginning Scripting, so contact Pajobra Zessinthal if you'd like to teach or if you have a referral (smile). Other Newbie Focused classes are welcome as well.

 Wesley Regenbogen: Ah ok. If I find someone with that field of expertise, I will let you know.

Brace Coral: Wonderful (smile).

Wesley Regenbogen: Is there anything new that we haven't mentioned ? Please explain a bit more, if so.

Brace Coral: That's it for the most part. If I've missed anything, we can talk about it the next time we meet for an interview (smile) Also our Twitter feed keeps a pretty up to date rundown of NCI goings on.

Wesley Regenbogen: Ok. I would like to thank you for this short interview and I wish you the best future for the institue NCI (big smile).
Brace Coral: Thanks so much Wes! Love your Afro by the way.

Wesley Regenbogen: (laughter)

Wesley Regenbogen 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Interview With Graine Macbain

By Fritter Enzyme

Graine Macbain is one of the best supporters of live music and the arts in Second life.  For close to five years she has had clubs giving newcomers a chance to get up for open mic night and test the waters.  Bringing live music, poetry readings, live comedy and particle shows to fans in many venues, starting with the Azure.  Now the owner and operator of two venues and galleries:  The Riverside Café and Galleries, and The Avian Retreat.  A third location is often rented just for special events, seasonal music festivals like the Holiday Festival coming on December 12 – 14.  She is definitely in it for the love of doing, as, with most club owners, there is no profits being made. 

Fritter Enzyme: Was the Azure your first club?

Graine Macbain: Yes, it was. I sort of adopted it off the previous owner.  Dem Uriza  I was at a point in SL where I had grown tired of just wandering around and exploring, or hanging out at other people's clubs, so I thought I would try running a club. I couldn't script or build or sing so it seemed the only thing to try.   I also must admit I thought I might make so small profit, but that was a dream,(laughter).

Fritter Enzyme: Hehe, a dream many have had. Many of the same artists that came there come to your two venues.

Graine Macbain: Yes, I have kept in touch with most of my former Azure performers, although some have left SL or otherwise become too big for my small place.

Fritter Enzyme: You have always supported the arts in a big way, do you make art in real life?

Graine Macbain: I went to art school, and I realized there that I was just another mediocre artist, so I never pursued art in real life except for my own amusement. I tried to do it here in SL as well, but no one ever seemed impressed with my work, other than a few SL photos.

Fritter Enzyme: Do you know how many people have you given a SL career start to?

Graine Macbain: Well, that is hard to say, but I only know of one who claims I enabled her to have an SL career, and unfortunately she no longer sings in SL. I think Smilemaker Mathy gave more people a start in SL through the Open MIc Nights she used to host at the Azure every Sunday night.  I still see many of those names in SL playing.  So I provided the space but Smile did the work.

Fritter Enzyme: Most venues are not there because there is money to make this way, what are the other benefits to the time and love you put into a club in SL?

Graine Macbain: Well, I heard a lot of great music I would never have had the opportunity to hear otherwise and made a lot of friends who I wouldn't have had much interaction with had I not hired them. I hope I helped many people have a good time on their computer for a few hours that they might otherwise have spent watching TV or something else totally passive. I learned a lot and I a lot realized that running a club in SL was almost as much work as doing one in real life. Almost...

Fritter Enzyme: You have always brought in the new and unique things, live comedy, poetry readings, and the annual festivals, like this coming Christmas one.  Are there any new plans on the horizon for The Riverside Café?

Graine Macbain: Well, not at this point. After the Holiday Festival we will host another ambient/classical festival after the New Year, and of course, as you know, trivia continues every Thursday night from 5.30-7 PM SLT. I was thinking of having more activity at Avian Retreat again, but right now I am just trying to survive the holiday season in both SL and real-life.

Fritter Enzyme: You have preserved some of the Apollo sim at your sky gallery, and award winning photographs have been taken there.  Are you interested in keeping pieces of SL for a museum with that basis?

Graine Macbain: I have thought of that but it is beyond one person's ability to do that and do the effort justice. It is something the Lindens should have been doing for years now.  There was a fellow who passed away about a year ago, whose name escapes me now. He was mostly a fox furry, one of the first in SL, He used to do a blog dedicated to preserving SL. He would visit the earliest sims and give their histories with data and photos. He should have made a book about the subject, but even he found it too time consuming. He eventually moved to InWorldz, but then came back to SL. He died not long after that.

Fritter Enzyme: I would love to see that blog.  With the festivals and the booking for the club there are many times when things don’t go right, what keeps you going? 

Graine Macbain: Well, I just have a sort of inability to give up. I feel obligated to honor a commitment and not just give up once I start something. Not that I've never cursed myself for being a fool and taking on too much work. And I've known a few moments of panic as well, but ultimately, no one has died yet at one of my events, so I keep my fingers crossed and keep plugging.  If you try to control things too tightly they get even more out of control, oddly. Its best just to relax and let things go their course.

Fritter Enzyme: It is very nice that you have a gallery for Edward Vintner here.

Graine Macbain: Yes, I wanted to ensure that his name was not forgotten, and his art as well.  The nature of SL is ephemeral, so it takes some effort to make sure people don't forget.  And many new people will who never have heard of him.  I couldn't stand the idea that his art would disappear after his death. And I knew that Skye Gravois wanted to preserve his memory. It means so much to her.

Fritter Enzyme: Thank you for the interview, and thanks for the friendship.

Graine Macbain: You are most welcome, and thank you for yours, not to mention the great bartending (smile).

Graine has a blog at

Fritter Enzyme

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

News and Commentary: SL Day of Remembrance and Action Against Violence

By Any1 Gynoid

 Concerned citizens of Second Life built a monument and gave recognition to those who passed on December 6, 1989 at the Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.  One of Canada’s finest engineering colleges became the scene of a violent anti-woman atrocity with 28 casualties all told. I got the call from Scylla Rhiadra (Pictured at the memorial) and it was like a getting an invite from movie director Martin Scorsese, of course you go.

There I met Teachergirl Razor and Carlotta Adagio, but what was very important about this gathering was the fact that 4 years ago, together, we organized 16 Days Against Violence Against Women, a grid-wide Second Life event that focused particularly on the anti-woman drug violence in Juarez Mexico. Then, after men and women in SL walked a mile in high heels (Walk a Mile in Her Shoes), we settled down to hear this amazing eye-witness testimony about the 400+ unsolved murders of women of Juarez.

Are these tragedies connected? Like events at Virginia Tech, UC Santa Barbara, Sandy Hook, Columbine High, and so many others? Indeed. And it would be wrong to blame the victims. The most common question after a reported rape is “What was she wearing?”… indicative of the rape culture which pervades society.

The potential for such events is very high. US states have mostly eliminated budgets for mental health services, neglecting to care for over 1,000,000 diagnosed schizophrenics now in the general population. Is it any surprise that these tragedies occur with regularity?

What can be done? In Second Life, we can take to first step to recognize serious gaps in society and to raise awareness. Our strength is our ability to communicate without threat to our physical safety. We can and do organize around many RL issues such as Violence Against Women and epilepsy Get involved.

-- Any1 Gynoid is a freelance contributor to SL Newser

Friday, November 28, 2014

Commentary: Seven Years of Virtual Journalism

By Bixyl Shuftan

The majority of Second Life residents look back upon their Rezzday to celebrate their virtual experiences. Myself, I tend to look back on what might be called the start of my career here as a journalist.

When I first logged on in Dec 2006, it was just after I'd gotten high speed Internet and Second Life was one of two places my online friends had been urging me to check out, the other being "World of Warcraft." But when the girl who talked me into coming here was distracted by new responsibilities, I ended up spending more time with my other friends whom were free to show me around Azeroth. So my experiences here were few and spotty until Summer 2007 when it was suggested I check out the builds in the Relay, and my interests were kindled once again. I came across Luskwood, began finding other friends here, ditching the starter ringtail for a Luskwood Red Fox avatar, and starting to explore.

Curious to know more, I began looking for blogs and newsletters about Second Life. Among the more interesting ones was "Second Life Newspaper," owned by JamesT Juno and edited by Dana Vanmoer. While perhaps not as flashy as some of the more tabloidish webpages about the Grid, I found it more informative about what one could see and do in Second Life. After some time reading it, there was an announcement for reader submissions, either articles or interesting pictures. so I sent in a few, thinking at least it would get my name noticed. It did as James and Dana soon asked me over for a job interview!

And so ended what I considered my beginning period in Second Life, and the start of my virtual career here as a journalist of the Grid. With my first payment, I got a fedora hat and overcoat for a classic reporter's outfit. That also gave me the nickname "Fox News," which got chuckles from both fans and critics alike of the real life news network. I would go searching across the Grid for news. But would also occasionally report on interesting goings-on among my friends and hangouts, my first of the latter being the STA sim (Student Travel Association).

I wrote about all kinds of things about Second Life, it's People, Places, and events, from popular places and it's noted personalities, to out of the way places and residents whom had made something great and had yet to recieve recognition. I would write about various holidays, and a community or place deciding to celebrate an event or milestone. There was always something to write about. And of course there were the cartoons. I had a knack for finding humor in all kinds of scenes. I was part of an accomplished team of writers that covered the Grid. And eventually, my efforts were recognized by being made "Office Manager," which meant updating the paper when Dana couldn't.

Sadly my first hangout after Luskwood, the STA, would soon fold. And over the next few months many of my first group of friends would loose heart and drop off the Grid as well. Over time, I would be invited to be a part of other places, the Fortunas Club and Fortunas Estates, Woodlin and the Star Tails Club, Foxworth and the Blue Parrot Club. Sadly these would all eventually fade, with nothing left behind but memories and whatever screenshots I took. It wasn't until I became a part of the Sunweavers and Angels that finally something outside the paper I joined up with endured.

But by this time, Second Life Newspaper was in trouble. Real-life events with both James and Dana were demanding their time, and eventually they would no longer be able to run the newsletter. In Spring 2010, the staff was told ahead of time the paper would be shutting down in June. We were shocked. For many of us, the paper had been a part of our SL experience to the point we couldn't imagine it without. But what could be done? What could be done was for me to step forward, and start a new paper for the team.

And so my role changed from being just one of the reporters to the Editor, and Second Life Newser was born with most of the remaining SLN team under it. The Sunweavers/Angels right away offered a place for us, and we soon had an inworld location: the SL Newser Office building. Once again, we were covering the People, Places, and Events across Second Life, but with one whom they once knew as a coworker now calling the shots. I would run the paper with my experience under James and Dana as a guide, notably the paper's style. Probably the biggest difference would be no separate "Adult" section. Such articles could be edited to the point they were workplace safe.

Second Life has changed much in the time I've been around. I came in about the time it was the most popular and it was mentioned in the mainstream media. Within a few years though, it was no longer new, and the public's attention had moved on to things it could easier understand such as "Facebook." Many areas have come and gone. The media has changed as well. used to do live programing across the Grid on SL TV sets. Today, live programing is a rarity, reserved for a few events such as the Relay for Life. Shows like "Tonight Live" and "The 1st Question" that went on for years have also folded as they people there felt it was time to "move on."

But while some things have been lost over time, there have also been gains. New people have come to the Grid, and have made their own contributions. New places and new builds have sprung up, giving existing residents new places to see and explore. There's always something new, one just needs to know where to look.

Then there's "The Lab." When I came on, some of the staff interacted more or less freely with the residents. But over time this changed as Linden Lab became more distant, and seemed to drift from the residents. It didn't help that they invested in projects that just didn't work over time, such as sims separate from the Grid aimed at businessmen to hold virtual meetings when they could just get a couple video cameras for a teleconference. Over time, longtime residents have had a love/hate relationship with the Lab, groaning at it's blunders and policies that made no sense except to the more conspiracy minded, but praising it for fixing the bugs such as the infamous "all attachments up the butt" glitch from when I was new. Since it's current CEO took charge several months ago, things seem to be going better, though old-time residents don't easily forget past mistakes.

For me personally, there also have been losses and gains. Old friends have faded off the Grid when some event in real life demands their full attention or cuts off their ability to come here. This includes the Newser staff, of which we've had to say goodbye to some talented hands. But new ones have come in to bring in their talents. My adopted home of the Sunweaver/Angels has seen some changes, sims coming then going as residents moved in then left due to real life. Clubs have come and gone, some more than once. When Nydia Tungsten was handed the longtime running Club Zero Gravity, she kept it going for four years until finances forced it to close. But Perri Prinz still had her classic rock club, now called "The Vinyl," which the locals have kept going even when it's owner couldn't show up for a few days.

So what's ahead? For Second Life the big question is the upcoming virtual world by Linden Lab, which so far they have yet to name. What will it be like and will longtime residents still be able to enjoy the Grid we've known for so long? The Lab promises "We'll make it so good, you'll want to leave your stuff behind and go there." Longtime residents, with memories of past Linden blunders, are skeptical. While some wonder if the Lab will "turn out the lights" in Second Life to force the residents here, that's unlikely as the Lab would be making a gamble it could easily lose. Others see a tightly controlled place with lots of flashy graphics but limited options for creative building. It may be that the new Grid becomes the place for new residents and those who want a safe predictable world, while Second Life becomes the place for the experienced and creative, the virtual world to go to once those from the new one go through their "newbie phase."

Personally, seven years is a long time. Long enough to see a friend's baby grow to a child in public school. Long enough to see one US President spend the twilight of his term, transition to another, and see him entering the twilight of his years in office. I became a virtual journalist having just recently turned 40, with college and my early adulthood years still fresh in my mind. Now, I'm being reminded by real life friends 50 isn't far away, on my way to becoming an old man.

The kid who grew up playing Atari video games now spends time in middle age behind a computer screen writing stories about places he once could only imagine.

And as long as you keep reading, as long as I have a team by my side, I'll keep writing as long as I can.

Bixyl Shuftan