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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Skye Silverweb Talks About Burn2

By Bixyl Shuftan

While I was at Burn2, I had a talk with one of the communications staff, iSkye Silverweb. She was happy to speak about the festival, and we soon met. "Hello, welcome home, Bixyl!" she greeted me with the expression of welcome the Burners often gave.

"Thank you," I answered with a smile, then began the questions, "So about how long have the preparations for this year's Burn2 been going?

Skye answered, "Oh we started ... hmm, the planning table meet every week all year. We had our last event, Burnal Equinox, and after the wrap of that event we actually started thinking about BURN2's October event. That would be back in... July/August."

I nodded, "How did you come up with the name and theme?"

"We followed the RL Burning Man's theme this year," Skye answered, " which was the same, Caravansary - we saw so many possibilities that could happen in a virtual setting and let me tell you the builders did NOT disappoint!"

"Sounds like visitors can expect some great exhibitions," I commented.

Skye continued, "Caravansary is based on the old Silk Road of yore, the crossroads of trade and civilisations. ... Oh yes! We have had some great musical and dance performances. Yman made a return this year with an eye-popping performance of light and particles. That was with the Changhigh Trinity Sisters"

"Interesting. Where is this exhibition?" I asked.

"This was performed yesterday and Yman's troupe will perform again later in the week," Skye told me, "I can show you the stage if you like."

"Do you have a day and time (for the performance)?" I asked, "And certainly."

"Let me check the calendar for that information, I knew you would ask!" After a moment, she answered, "The Changhigh Trinity Sisters will perform at 2;00pm SLT Sunday the 26th. You can see the complete schedule of events here:"

Skye went on, "One of our traditions is the Lamplighters' processions,  which are held at 11am and 7pm SLT each day, except for the last Saturday and Sunday.Those days are Burn days - we show up and drum a bit, then after the Burns we lead the people into the embers to dance."

"About how many are involved in it?" I asked.

"How many participants or Lamplighters?" Skye replied.

"I meant how many Lamplighters are involved?" I corrected.

Skye answered, "The size of the group varies depending on availability. For planning the processions, we have a Council of Elders, comprised of 4 Elders, and we do the planning for the Lamplighters events including processions. We added the 11AM time this year bcause we wanted to include our European contingent. And as it turns out we have a pretty good turnout at that time, which is pleasing.

"Sounds good," I then asked, "have there been more participants and Burners from that time zone lately?"

"This weekend, yes!" she answered, "and I am hoping that hold true during the week, since that is early to mid- evening for Europe. An easier time of day than our 7pm SLT time which is the wee hours of hte night. I have already received appreciative feedback about that 11am time and that's been exciting for us. I think that's true too of BURN2 in general. We like having more people come so we make performances and exhibits available more hours of the day. We've had a very good time and a lot of fun. (The) people here really do live those 10 Principles of Burning Man we talk about."

"Sounds good. Could you remind the readers of those?" I asked.

"Oh definitely!" Skye told me, "You can find them here: And I have a display of those ten principles of Burning Man over in the Lamplighter Village, would you like to see them? The Village isn't far - we can walk."

"Sure, and no problem," I told her. We then walked to a place with a tall Burning Man symbol in the front. On the sides were two tents making up the length of the place with the side toward the inside open. There were signs hanging halfway down from the top, five on each side for a total of ten.

"This is the Lamplighters' Village," Skye told me, "And the Ten Principles are on the ten posters you see on either side of this courtyard. This is where the processions start and often end too. The processions go to the Temple which is two sims away. And it is always an experience to cross sims on the way but that in no way diminishes the enthusiasm of people who come along."

I nodded, "How long did 'The Man' and the Temple take to build?"

"Both took months to build," she answered."

"Whom was involved in their design?" I requested.

"The Lamplighters oversee the Temple build," Skye told me, "and I was the contact for the Lamplighers with the Temple builder, who is Midori Rotaru. We liked her Temple so much last year, that we asked her to come back and build it again this year. She has an assistant, Chyenne Devin, who works with her. For the Man, Marianne McCann is the build team lead, and Pygar Bu works with her. There is at least one other person but I would encourage you to talk with Marianne and learn more about how that build happened."

"Between this and Bay City, they must be busy," I commented.

"Definitely!," Skye responded enthusiastically, "I think that's true for many of us here at BURN2. This is entirely a volunteer planned and driven event, nearly entirely resident funded,  and all of us are also involved in other projects around SL and in real-life. We do this because we love it, we believe in and practice the Ten Principles as much as we can."

"About how many here have been involved with both the Burning Man festival and Burn2?" I asked.

Skye answered, "I can't tell you a number but I can tell you this, an increasing number of people here will tell you they also were actively involved in Burning Man, every year. It's been exciting to see the number of people coming in and saying 'I'm from the real-life Burning Man,' or 'I went there and this FEELS just like home.' That's gratifying. To get numbers of who is involved in both, I think the best person to ask about that would be EmCee Widget or Ronon Carver. EmCee is the Regional Representative for BURN2 to Burning Man."

"If you would like," she suggested, "I can teleport you to the Temple and to the Man so you can get snapshots of each." I agreed, and she then told me, "Okay let's go to the Temple first, then The Man. I think it's a fitting conclusion to end at The Man because 'he' is why we do this. I will go to the Temple and teleport you there. One moment." She then ported away, and a few moments later I was sent a teleport request. I took it, and in an instant I was before the front of a black structure with a red cloth over the front opening with four tall tourches around me and pictures of previous temples to the sides.

"Let me know when everything is rezzed for you," Skye told me, "On the other side of the road behind you is a sim border, just a for-your-information." After some more moments, I told her most everything was clear and in color. "We can go inside," she then led me inside, showing me around. Inside was four large bases with white light beaming up from each, and in the middle of them a large reddish globe that was hollowed out with an opening on top, from which it glowed white, on a steel base that somewhat resembled a large steel flower, "That is the censer."

Looking back outside, I commented, "I notice there are pictures of earlier temples."

"Yes, Midori did a wonderful thing," Skye told me, "She wanted to show history of the Temple at BURN2. So she asked for some snapshots of past Temples, I thought it was a wonderful gesture." She drew my attention to the structure's appearance, "You might notice there is a lot of black in the colour here. This is a cultural thing. Asians see black as a happy colour, a colour of warmth. In Western cultures we don't see it that way. And so Midori being Japanese, she incorporated that because it fit so well with the Silk Road concept. A lot of Eastern peoples crossed those trades routes with the West.  So again, being in touch with history, We thought it was a marvelous idea."

She drew my attention to the globe in the center, "The censer here was created by Vicarious Lee, and she did this completely independently of Midori's work on the Temple. It turned out to be a perfect match in colours and build style. The censer is the SL equivalent of the RL Burning Man's tradition of people leaving notes at the Temple there. At Burning Man, The Temple is the spiritual center. It is the same here. People wrote little notes and stuck them into the walls of the Temple, and those notes got burned with the Temple

"About how many people here have left messages so far?" I asked.

"Let me check," Skye paused for a moment, then answered, "twenty so far, and the festival opened yesterday. we anticipate that number to go up very quickly over the week. At the Temple Burn next Sunday, the messages in the censer will be read aloud, shouted, so everyone within 100 meters will be able to see them in text. This is something that really is very deeply moving for a lot of people. And then once those messages are read off, the burn commences. Really special experience."

I brought up, "I recall when SL was being developed, some of the Lindens visited the Burning Man festival, and it had quite an impact on them."

Skye brightened, "Yes! so for the first six years of the festival in SL, the Lab actually supported the festival and it was called Burning Life at the time. Then in about 2010, the Lab had to withdraw its support. But then the resident Burners wanted to keep it going, and so it morphed into BURN2. Became a virtual regional of Burning Man in order to continue here."

I commented, "I've heard that lately the company policy of discouraging fraternization has been reversed. Have you seen more interest by the Lindens of the Burn?"

Skye answered that they had, "We actually saw Torley here yesterday during the Lamplighters procession. We were delighted to see that. And I believe other Lindens may have visited while I was not here. I don't know if other Lindens plan to come and visit but we would love to see them here. For all we know, they have been. I'm not here on the playa 24 hours a day so I couldn't tell you but we would welcome them as fellow Burners," she smiled.

Skye continued, "Any other questions here, before we go to the Man? ... There are stages between here and there, with various musical happenings as per the schedule. Feel free to drop by those stages, such as the Temple stage, the Man Stage, and Center Camp. Then Yman's exhibit, Idle Rogue, Organica, all are also musical camp stages among others. Let's go to Center Camp so you can see what that is, that's the social hub of the Playa especially when there is a performance going on that's on the way. You can see it from here if you draw distance is up around 200 meters or more. When you cam from above, it looks almost like a whirling dervish's skirt, thus its nickname 'the dervish tent.' "

"Let's go to Center Camp, best to teleport or we will cross a couple of sim borders." She smiled, ported away, then sent a TP to me as well. After heading over, "This is Center Camp and it's quiet at the moment, here. I do see a good number of avatars around on my radar, but here, yes, at the moment. I call it quiet because it LOOKS quiet - but I'm deaf so I wouldn't hear if there is any music going on nearby *grin*"

I looked over on my own radar, "I see some to the north, at a red tent."

"Probably a performance there. We could stop over there when we finish our little tour, if you like Bixyl," she suggested.

"It's up to you. I was able to cam over to take a picture," I answered.

"Good, ok, then a hop to the Souk and then the Man," Skye told me, "I will meet you there ..."

We both teleported to the location in question. The place looked like a bazzar with booths and tables full of goods, "So what's the purpose of this building?" I asked.

Skye answered, "This is to emulate the souk, a marketplace along the Silk Road. It is the center of trade, but of course here no money changes hands. Things are admired and graciously given. And people meet, perform, play music, or do whatever they wish. One person offered 'free hugs.' "

I chuckled, "Heh, what was the reaction?"

"All sorts of them," SKye answered, "amusement, a little chagrin, shyness but once hugged invariably the huggees felt much better! I think this will be more used during the week. This weekend has been mainly focused on opening acts and getting things underway. The marketplace should come to life starting tomorrow (Sunday), espcially later in the day."

 "Then on to the Man," Skye prepared to port over, "see you there in a moment." "I think it's just over there," I commented, and began walking the distance over instead, about a quarter length of a sim. Getting there, Skye smiled, "Crossed a sim border without incident! Now, about the Man..." She pointed up at the huge wooden human-shaped structure, "In real-life, it was 100 feet tall. That works out to about 32 meters. This Man here, is the equivalent, 32 meters tall. And you'll notice he is standing directly on the Playa. This is a first. Uually he stands on a base. Its' not THE first (time) but it's a first in a long time."

"Why none this time?" I asked.

"They wanted a challenge, I guess!" Skye suggested, "It burned very well, but took a LONG time to burn, in real life. However, Marianne, The Man team lead says it will NOT take two hours. The real-life Man took well over two hours. I encourage you to talk more with Marianne McCann about the work on the Man."

I had the radio in, which wasn't broadcasting music but people speaking about something, "Oh, I noticed the radio chatter. What might this be?"

"I'm the wrong person to ask," Skye told me, "I don't hear it! sorry."

Then the chatter ended and some tunes started, "Oh, well, it ended and replaced with music."

"Probably a stream then," she looked around, "there is a stage right behind us, The Man Stage, across the road there." She changed the subject back to the tunes, "This year they tried not to allow people to have too many music events on at once," she gave two reasons, "a) lag,  b) people want to see them, and if they are on at the same time there is that competition for people's ears. So this way people can enjoy everything if they wish."

"Has that meant fewer musicians this year?" I asked.

"Actually," she answered, "We've been happily enjoying about the same number of performers this year. The performance lead for BURN2 this year is Larree Quixote. He manages all the official stages and the performers on the playa."

"Can you give a few examples of the musicians?" I asked

"Ohh, we've had DJs like Puterdoc Devinat Camp Idle Rogue," Skye answered, "and live performers like ... Guerrilla Burlesque (which) performed here last night. We have trance at one of the camps, psytrance, good old rock'n'roll, jazz, blues, all types live and DJ'd."

"Oh, and DRUM performed here today! One live performer, Bamboof Stillmorning, very popular here. There are others, but as I'm deaf, I'm not the music expert here. .. But I refer you to Larree Quixote, who can tell you a lot more."

"There are some lovely art builds, I hope you explore them. They are like little gems scattered all over the Playa, and every one of them is worth seeing. There's a little petite camp 'refuge for little Burners,' just one example."

"So what are your plans after the Burn?" I asked Skye.

"After the Burn, I myself will be looking ahead to Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education, VWBPE, and also I'm active in Virtual Ability so I will be helping Gentle Heron plan the Mental Health Symposium. Both of these touch very important values for me, education and the disability community. VWBPE will be March 18-21, 2015; the Mental Health Symposium hasn't be set with a date yet."

"Was there anything else that you wanted to mention?" I asked.

"No tha'ts it," she answered, "but I hope you will explore some of these art builds. Such clever and inventive creations here."

It was about then that Skye and I parted ways, leaving me to see the rest of the Burn2 grounds.

Burn2 would continue for another week, culminating in the Burning of the Man, and then the Temple Burn. For those who missed the festival, the Burners hold a few smaller events across the year. And of course Burn2 will be back next year.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 13, 2014

SLife and Times: Fake or Cheating

By Tiddily Winks

    There are many people who come on Second life for many reasons.  Some people think that if a person is having intimate dates on Second Life, then they are cheating on their real life mates.  Other people think that Second Life is just fake. Inquiring minds want to know what you think.  Is SL intimacy outside a marriage fake or cheating? 

    Many people come on Second Life to be intimate with others they have met online.  These people may be in a real life relationship as well.  This is kept secret by some of the people who play intimately on SL but is not kept from the real life mate all the time.  It is something the person needs to choose to do but may hide the fact that what they are doing may be wrong.  This may be done because of a lack of intimacy in his or her real life.  This may be done because of fantasy that a real life relationship does not fill.  Whatever the reason, it is up to the person on Second Life to talk to his or her real-life mate.  It is not something that is necessarily a good thing to hide.   Still some people use SL as stress reliever.  It can be relaxing to come on SL and reduce the stress that real-life causes.  It is also used to live out fantasies that are not possible to live out in real life. 

    Some people do not have contact with others much in the real world due to different reasons.  So the people like this use Second Life to meet people and have a social life.  Because they are not able to for whatever reason they have in real-life, this is a way to meet some great people.  SL is how some people socialize. 

    Some people think that everything on Second Life is fake.  “All of it is if fake and pixels.”  If it is so fake then why do so many people use it for different reasons?  Yes, it is true that most people do not look like that avatars do in real life but SL is a way of getting away for your issues in real-life.  So why would anyone want to look like themselves to come and do someone that is not real?

    No matter what people use Second Life for, there is one important thing to always remember.  No matter what, there is still a real person who is behind the screen that can be hurt by things that are done on SL.  So don’t purposely go around hurting people just because you do not agree with what they do or how they look.  If you are in a real life relationship, do not try to hide Second Life from your significant other.  It may just cause trouble for you later on.

Tiddily Winks

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

A Question of Uniqueness

I recently had a conversation with a close friend in Second Life about what makes one unique in Second Life. This got me wondering. How do others see the issue. So I posed the following question on Facebook: "How important to you is being unique, and what defines it? Your avatar? Your clothing? Your land and builds? Your occupation? Your personality? Some other quality?"

There were a number of responses:

 Muertos Okawa (muertos.ashbourne): I am who I am. It's kinda nice to know that Second Life offers so many choices that I can truly make my avatar unique and can setup my little corner of the SL world the way I want to.

Gina Gracemount: I think its personality too. We are all unique and I think that's important; in real life and Second Life. Being true to yourself and to others no matter what role you choose to play inworld.

Kazumi Hikaru Kohaku (jamestkirk2323) : I am who I am, but it's how I dress and hold myself. My land is just a part of me, and my Second Life family and friends are the big thing that makes me unique.
Willow Leafstorm (zoelass): I think for me it's the whole enchilada. I am Willow Leafstorm and fairly well recognized in Steelhead. Some people have said it just isn't Willow without the wings. There are a lot of components that set me apart such as owning the Green Fairy Cabaret, being part of Steelhead as one of its Council Members and of course being a DJ for Krypton Radio plays a big part. Clothing has very little to do with it since I am always changing out my outfits for different shows and dances.

Charlotte Williams: Everyone is unique in their own way. I think the saying 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' rings so true in Second Life as everyone finds different looks to be attractive to them. I think even if you had an identical avatar to someone else, like others said, it's your personality that sets you apart, as well as your background, nationality etc. The things that make you unique in real life are what makes you unique in SL.

Beryl Strifeclaw: I like playing characters which is what got me into Second Life, but I've found places to just be me too and that was really nice.  So those two polar opposites are why I'm in SL. 

Bain Finch: I'm with Zoe, "the whole enchilada." I would like to add since my avatar skin that was tweaked for me and a shape reflect the real-life me, that SHOULD make me unique. 

Wesley Regenbogen: Well, my avatar is made like the real life me, so ... Also, I like being a virtual journalist for SL Newser and like to write. Since I have a virtual home near the SL Newser building, I feel at home, virtually, of course, there. By the way, my Second Life name is : Wesley Regenbogen and in real life my name is Wesley Rouwoos, so it all is connected to real life, I guess.

So what do you the readers think? What do you think makes one's identity in Second Life?

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview with Winston Ackland

By Fritter Enzyme

I first came across Winston Ackland when someone posted the Post-Fact video on Facebook.  I have gone to many of this performances in Second Life.  He is a real life musician of over 20 years, having his music featured in two movies, “Lithuim” from Marley and Me.  “Psycho Killer" in Oliver Stone’s Savages.  He plays music from “the old days,” as he puts it, with an acoustic guitar. He adds in his own interesting composition to the mix from time to time.  I’m walking home is one of my favorites from him.  I had the pleasure to chat with him the other day about music, art and Second Life itself. 

Fritter Enzyme, "I was going to ask why you always end with the little fishies song, but you kind of got into that today, someone you used to dedicate it to."

Winston Ackland,"Yes, to my partner, Sesi. She and I did a lot together in Second Life in the past. And, it's true, she was swallowed whole by a pack of hungry alts.  Tried ending shows with some other song, but it didn't feel right, so fishies."

Fritter Enzyme, "How old were you when you began preforming in real-life?"

Winston Ackland, "I know that i got interested in it when I saw the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I took piano lessons and my father eventually bought me a guitar. I started playing music for people as soon as I could get through a song."

Fritter Enzyme, "In Post-Fact you mention the north woods, did you grow up in the north?"

Winston Ackland, "Ummm. Relatively north.  That song is actually about Sarah Palin, the American political crackpot."

Fritter Enzyme, "Tell me about the source for 'I'm Walking Home.' ”

Winston Ackland, "Have you heard of the RPM challenge?  Their thing is to write and record an album's worth of songs (at least 10 songs or 35 minutes of material) during the month of February.  It’s like the national novel writing thing.  I’m walking home was from the first of the two of those that I did.  I was working at a place and felt that I was not long for that place, so this song came out.  When I first started playing it inworld, there was someone in the audience who had just lost her job *that very day*.

Fritter Enzyme, "How long have you been making art? I went to the gallery and saw it yesterday."

Winston Ackland, "Thank you for going to see that!  I made those images with blender, which is a very powerful, free 3d modeling program.  I wanted to make sculpties for inworld.  In fact, Sesi and I used to have a store called little boxes.  It took me a very, very long time to just get bad at blender.  At some point, however, I had a eureka moment, and it got easier.  What do they say? It takes 10,000 hours of working with something to really master it."

Fritter Enzyme, "When it becomes like a language I hear anything is liquid in thought."

Winston Ackland, "Liquid in thought, good way to put it.  It’s like singing a song remembering the words rather than reading them off a page.  Two different parts of your brain at work.  You make deeper associations with the words when you sing them from memory."

Fritter Enzyme, "Live music has taken over quite a bit in Second Life."

Winston Ackland, "There is an awful lot of it, isn't there?  I’ve been to a few live mixed DJ sets.  I find those fascinating.  They do it a lot of good, I know there must be other places too."

Fritter Enzyme, "I have always loved animation, hence my love for Second Life."

Winston Ackland, "I love Second Life.  I’ve learned so much being here."

Fritter Enzyme, "Nothing else like it."

Winston Ackland, "I’m going to go have some dinner. Take good care, Fritter (smile)."

Fritter Enzyme

(Click here if the video fails to play)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cyberbullying and Linden Lab

By Tiddily Winks

    Cyberbullying is something that is becoming an increasing problem.  It is happening all over the Social Media.  This has happened to people on Facebook.  Because of the bullying some people on Facebook were experiencing, they committed suicide.  The bully(s) have since been arrested.  It is something that any social network should be aware of and do something about.  So why did it take Linden Labs being threatened with a lawsuit before they would act? 

    A good friend of mine was being bullied on Second Life.  He reported the person to Linden Lab (LL).  All LL would say is it was against their Terms of Service, TOS, and Abuse Policy to do anything.  The person who was bullying my friend was spreading lies about him and telling everyone not to trust him.  The bully would also spread half truths about my friend.  This caused my friend some issues. He once again contacted LL and again they would not do anything about it.

    The bully would insult my friend in different groups for a period of over three weeks.  She would tell any group she was in.  The friend had to defend himself against the bully during this time.  He also posted several complaints about the bully.  He filed over 60 AR’s on the bully and others who had seen her lies also filed AR’s against her.  Linden labs still refused to do anything about this bully.

    My friend soon found out about the cyber harassment and cyber bullying laws for the social media.  Since Second Life is a social media, the friend contacted LL about these laws and that the laws set aside the TOS and Abuse Policies that LL had set.  LL still refused to do anything.  The friend turned to lawyers in California.  He sent out emails to 10 large lawyer firms in California.  He also sent the email to Linden Labs Corp Office and their legal division.  He presented his evidence and the notes about LL refusing to anything about the bullying because of the TOS and abuse policy.  He also cited the legal statutes.  Two days after sending out these emails, my friend received an email that the bully had been suspended for a period of time and was warned that if they did anymore bullying they would be banned from SL permanently.

    It took threatening legal action before LL would do anything.  This sounds like they do not care about their users as long as they can make money off of them.  LL should not see themselves above the Federal Laws just because they do not fit their TOS and Abuse Policy.  This bully has now lost all of her friends because she disgraced herself to everyone.

    My question to you is: Should it have gone this far or should LL just change their TOS and Abuse policy to fit the federal laws?

Tiddily Winks

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Philosophy Class: "Why Science is Right"

By Gemma Cleanslate

Tuesday the 2nd of September the Philosophy Class of Professor Herman Bergson gathered for the first time this semester. However, this is Lecture 534. With all the past themes we have completed over the years, Prof  Herman always comes up with a new one to keep us all from graduating. 

This semester will be devoted to the theme "Why Science is Right." The introduction on Tuesday was enticing and evoked a lively discussion as usual. We looked at the facts of where the Sciences developed through the ages. “This project is meant to investigate, whether these are big words indeed or not. What is really science? How should we look at science? How relates science to reality? Is science describing THE reality? What position does science take in our society?” Herman postulated in his lecture. 

Will we all agree that Science was right or will we come to our own conclusions at the end? I know each session , held every Tuesday and Thursday at 1:00PM SL time will be most interesting. Already our discussion is open and thoughtful among the participants. As usual, most of us veterans believe at the end of the term we will have more questions then we began with, but the journey will be fun. Some of us have been here a long time, some come and go, some are new.

If you would like to see the past topics and discussions you can visit the blog page which goes back to class One. You are invited to visit the class and join the Philosophy Class Group by touching the Thinker statue in the front yard of the building. Visitors and new members are most welcome. This is Professor’s home and classroom.

Gemma Cleanslate

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview with Brace Coral, Founder of New Citizens Incorporated

By Wesley Regenbogen

This summer, Wesley wrote about New Citizens Incorporated. Recently, he had a chance to interview it's founder, Brace Coral.

Wesley Regenbogen: Hi Brace. You are a NCI Helper. What does a Helper do in NCI?
Brace Coral: A Helper at the New Citizens Inc/NCI is usually a staff person. They greet Newbies who come by our main campus. They answer questions and help New Folks with things like avatar appearance, UI basics and so on.

Wesley Regenbogen: oh, you are the Founder. So change of the question: When did you create NCI?

Brace Coral: Well I had some pretty basic ideas when I started NCI. There was a void in the "official" helper situation set up by Linden Lab, and I wanted to make sure that Newbies didn't fall through the crack because of it.

The official start date is somewhere in 2005, but the real skinny is I started in 2004, within my first year of being in Second Life.

Wesley Regenbogen: So you basic task is to help newbies. That's a noble cause. How do you help them?

Brace Coral: That's a big question! There are so many ways you can help a new person. The most important thing is to LISTEN. Most new folks will tell you what they want and need. What they want to do, why they've come into Second Life.

You help them attain their goals, and at the very least, you've given them a detailed crash course in the basics of SL.

Wesley Regenbogen: NCI also has different locations. Does each area have a owner or manager. Or is there only one person that manages all the areas of NCI?

Brace Coral: We have three campuses, each has a Coordinator who oversees things in each area. Makes sure the everything is up to spec, and all the information presented is up to date for example. They also help with making sure the Instructors have what they need at each location, and are there to help out in general.

Wesley Regenbogen: So, you give the newbie all the information he needs to adapt to the Second Life environment?

Brace Coral: Yes! For example. Someone might come in wanting to be a vampire. But they don't know how to make their avatar look like a vampire, or know where the vampires hang out, and all the different kinds from hardcore roleplay to more casual types. And we help them with that. From learning how to walk, sit, fly, manipulate their avatar appearance and clothing. Everything they need to help them achieve their goals.

Wesley Regenbogen: how many NCI Helpers are there?

Brace Coral: a lot :) I'd say 25-50 active helpers, but I don't have exact numbers. Instructors/Event Hosts/Helpers - there is a lot of overlap in the staff personnel. Many people have multiple roles. And they are all volunteers. We all are.

Wesley Regenbogen: So, all volunteers are doing it free without getting virtual payment. How is NCI getting virtual money to stay alive then?

Brace Coral: The NCI, and indeed most Helper organizations and groups, survive on resident donations. There are sponsorships via people buying ads at our campuses, donating lindens, donating land tier, buying items at our newly set up NCI Store and so on. I hold a weekly fundraiser event every Saturday evening 5pm SLT. Its a fun time for people to come meet, mix and mingle and donate & dance! Every little bit helps.

The honest truth is that many have had to also rely on their own real life money to keep things going. We had more support in the past from Linden Lab, but times have changed. So we rely on each other and donations from residents to keep on truckin(smile).

Wesley Regenbogen: Is the NCI places created by residents or is there someone that created all this?

Brace Coral: The NCI used to be just me, my SL family and some friends. We would help out at the main landing area for New Folks, that used to be Ahern. Then I created a group and got more people involved. The core of the NCI is the main New Citizens Inc group. I then rented a small plot of land, that grew into the huge NCI Main Plaza at Kuula sim. With multiple sandboxes and a bigger area for freebies. It was during Carl Metropolitan's tenure running the NCI that it really took off and became something more firmly established. Those who have been at the helm since and now have also contributed to make it what you see today. Amazing!

Those are residents who stepped up and used their skills to make the NCI something beyond my wildest dreams. I just wanted to help folks, but never thought it would become something so huge and varied as it is now.

Wesley Regenbogen: Is following classes with NCI really free and do you need to be part of a group before joining a class?

Brace Coral: All classes and events at NCI are free. You don't need to be in the group to participate. Just come as you are, have fun learning and be sure to ask lots of questions (smile).

Wesley Regenbogen: I'll surely will do. Thank you for this little interview. And I wish you all the luck with future of NCI in general!

Wesley Regenbogen