Friday, July 22, 2016

"What's In A Name?”

By MajikVixen

Your name says who you are, and helps you aspire to who you want to be. 

Prior to 2010, a Second Life person could create their first name, and pick from a list of available last names.  The choice of last names changed regularly.  Before 2006, a last name would be retired after 150 residents selected it.  Then in 2006, when the popularity of Second Life boomed, the names would retire after 1,000 residents chose it.  These are called Heritage names.  In 2010, Linden Labs changed their unique Heritage name option.  Now, everyone who signs up, automatically gets the last name of "Resident."

One cannot snipe old account names, Linden Labs says they do not purge them.  I remember playing Neopets, and the grandfathered pets, as well as the pet names with the least amount of letters are very coveted.  In fact, there's a whole website dedicated to the name purge and the ability to adopt all pets that haven't seen their owner in ages.  Alternatively, however, one can purchase an old Second Life account name, there are a few websites for that, they usually go for about $40 USD.  Although, whether LL actually condones this or not, and whether or not it's worth trusting what you're buying, is rather a good question to pose to oneself before taking any action.

With all the new registrations to Second Life, the automatic last name of "Resident," limits what first names are actually available.  For example, one might need to add numbers to their original idea for a name.  This does call for some creativity.  I personally like opting for a two word conjunction of something nobody else is likely to think of. 

Once that's settled, one also can add symbols to their display name.  This is another name you can have, in addition to your account name.  It's important to note that a display name will not affect one's original account name.  For instance, if someone looks you up, they will find you by your original account name, not your display name.  So do put some thought into it when first signing up with an account.  However, do not fear, as you can only use letters and numbers to sign up with, you can change your display name into a veritable cornucopia of unicode (a string of characters up to 31 characters long).

Unicode is not to be confused with alt characters one can use to make gestures.  Alt characters are made by typing the ALT key and using the number pad to create symbols like this:

You cannot use alt characters in your display name.  Second Life display names only take unicode.  In the Additional Information I have listed at the end of this article, at the first website, you will find a fascinatingly endless bunch of characters you can copy and paste from.  You are sure to find the specific characters that suit you just fine.

Now, I did want to touch a bit on being too fancy.  You want to make your display name readable.  Have mercy on those poor host's souls when you walk into a venue... otherwise you will be greeted by the name you signed up with, if your display name is illegible!  The good news is that you can change it again every 7 days, or you can reset it at any time (which will make it appear as your original account name).  If you make your display name just a fancy version of your original account name, you don't have too much to worry about.  But if you change it completely, the more readable it is, the better. 

For example, this is how my husband, Jon, changed his name:  Not that much different than his original account name, just a bit fancy.  He says he's not too happy with the "s" at the end, he was picturing a fancy lightning bolt, but it came out looking like a "h."  He's also not too happy with the "J" at the beginning, as I see on the Nearby Avatars window, all the letters in his display name become bold but that one.  He'll probably be fiddling with it in the next couple weeks or so, so it does take some practice and patience.

One of my merchant friends, (lossip.delicioso), had this to say about her lovely unicode name, "To be honest I saw other people with a cool name and was like wow!  I want that!  But when I was looking at their names I didn't like different letters.  So I just went down my 900 friends and picked each letter one at a time until I found the unicode that was 'me.'  I've brought friends from other games to SL and they saw the hearts in my name and stole them for other games we play!  I was really upset!  I was like... NOOOOO you can't just thief my Lolly heart.  That's MY heart.  I rarely saw it when I first re-did my name.  So I thieved... and then my friends thieved me....LOL.  I changed my last name because of my husband on SL Vice Fortune.  When we first started about 8 or 9 years ago you had a choice of different last names.  Then they changed it to Resident for all the new people.  I heard it was because different last names like Blackheart were on a server that was overwhelmed.  Where last names that were not as popular like Delicioso were underwhelmed.  So to be able to shuffle people around."

Another one of my long time friends and past manager, (mahtala), had this to say about her name, "I picked out my display name, Gothikrose, when I was 16 years old.  At the time, I was really into Gothic music and the internet was just coming into popularity.  There were a lot of interesting names but I felt like mine represented my personality the most because a rose can be elegant and beautiful, yet hard to hold.  Which is exactly how I still feel.  I've kept my name since like 1996.  For the Unicode, I wanted to do something more with the K in my name, like trying to get it to look like a gothic cross.  But it doesn't display well.  I used a stylish text generator on the web, because the K just looked so strange in gothic letter form.  And I wanted the scale to look a bit smaller and uniform.  But the R looks much more interesting to me, flipped.  I actually like how the text looks for witchhouse music, lots of symbolism but because of font issues I just picked something that was readable.  [It took] Many tries!  Especially since I'm a graphic designer who has taken typography classes, it was a lot of messing with the kerning and structure.  But the generator got it the best."

Conversely, this does give one a chance to express themselves more artistically.  For example, if you're a child avatar, a few scribbling looking unicode characters would be exemplary in a display name.  ...Dragon?  How about a few puffs of cloud looking unicode characters?  The possibilities are virtually endless!  It is YOUR Second Life, embrace it and cultivate it with YOUR proper identity!


Additional Information:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Interview with Mikati Slade

By Bixyl Shuftan

For those going to the Second Life Birthday, one build dominates the grounds of the mega-event, the "Cake Stage" which is so big, it takes four sims to hold it. For three of the past five years, the "Baker" of the stage has been builder and artist Mikiati Slade. Recently, the Newser met up with Mikati, and we sat down for an interview.

"For those newcomers who know you just by this year's Cake," I asked her, "how did you find out about Second Life?"

"I am from Japan," Mikati answered, "and I came to Second Life in 2007. SL was hyped even in Japan at that period. Second Life is everything dynamic and on-time for creating, so I thought I can show people (around the) world my creativity."

"How did your first days here go?" I asked.

"In real life, I learned classical sculpture and then worked for commercial graphics," she explained, "So, the first day of Second Life, I searched art galleries in SL and visited. I enjoyed a lot of artworks. Then I (was) amazed with avatar shape edit and I (was) excited that I can use my sculpture skill for avatar designing. That's my first day of SL." "Sounds like from the beginning, you were doing much building and creating." "Yes. I (was) amazed. Second Life is very wonderful world for creators, more serious than what I was guessing before. So I had ideas to create things."

I then brought up, "What were some of the things you built early on?" Mikati thought for a moment, "Can I rez some things what i built on that period? It's chair and shoes." I told her okay, and after some moments, she made appear some items, "These are first buildings of me, chair and sandals. The chair is something like modern Eames chair." Taking a closer look at the footwear, I commented, "The shoes look a bit detailed for a beginner's work." Mikati told me, "Yes, I worked for commercial graphics with 3D an 2D things. So, I already had some skills about it. And SL is very flexible to making shape from regular prims. So, I really enjoyed to create things, like (a) puzzle."

I then asked her, "What were some of the easiest things to learn, and some of the most difficult?" She answered, "On building in SL, most easy thing is making 'big shape' and 'sketch' in world directly and fast, this is very big advantage. And most difficult thing is, more technical thing specific in SL prim building. It is,  alignment of the parts. It need to use numbers and calculations. This is very important to keep the quality."

My next question was, "About what time was your work starting to get noticed by others?" Mikati told me, "I exhibited first time was, 2008 Burning-Life in SL. I created some pop display together my friend, and Molly Linden gave us a trophy. This was the first time of exhibiting." "I'll bet that got you some attention." "Yes, I thought so, and excited that people saw my works. And that's one of big excitement of SL I realized also showing people around the world in real-time, 3D world."

I brought up, "I recall in 2011, you had an exhibit at the Second Life Birthday that year." She smiled, "Yes exactly! I exhibited at SL8B, 2011, first time as a regular exhibitor. And SL Newser came to interview with me. This was my first time of having connection with SL media. I still remember it was so cool experience." "Oh yes, Grey Lupindo found you and interviewed you." "Yes!"

"And the next year, you ended up being the designer of the cake stage." I asked, "How did that come about?" Mikati answered, "Yes, I got opportunity to build the cake stage of SL9B. A staff, KT Shakumi, IMed me and she told me. She told me that she already visited my another exhibitions, like 'Kuru Kuru World' at MiC: Museums of Rome Capital, and 'PICO PICO LIFE' at LEA: Linden Endowment for the Arts. They liked my work, I guess."

"What was the inspiration for the cake's design?" I asked. Mikati responded, "About the 9B cake, this year one?" "Well, all of them." "Okay, can I tell you about it one by one?" "All right." "I built SLB Cake Stage three times. And each have different inspirations and concepts. About 9B, it was the first time, and I just tried to make it to express celebration mood using my style. " "How would you describe this style?" "My style is using a lot of retro-console game style pixel icons in 3D. I designed the style because such pixel things can be one of primitive symbols of current digital age. And the 'cubic' shape can be done with perfect shape, even in regular SL prim period. Also, it reflects Japan pop-culture, like Nintendo games. So I thought this is rational style for me."

My next question was, "What were some of the reactions to the first cake stage?" She answered, "About the 9B Cake, people had interest about such pixel 3D things in the huge size. And also the mood was very optimistic and pop, which was not so usual in SL before. So, I think people enjoyed it. ... SL12B Cake Stage, I created a lot of icons for this time and tried to create mood of dreamy. SL13B Cake Stage, the SL13B official theme is 'Shared Adventure.'  For the cake, I defined the Cake Stage is the treasure of the birthday party and 'goal of the adventure.' So I combined a lot of coins, treasure boxes, and jewels with the Cake."

I then brought her attention to the badge she was wearing, "I see that your SLB card says 'Baker.' I take it that's one of a kind?" Mikati told me, "Yes, the badge I wear is an official thing of SLB, and it says 'Baker,' SLB Cake Stage builder called like this. One optional thing I can tell, the role name 'Baker' is not just a 'cool name.' On birthday party, person who make the birthday cake have not to open the 'oven' until done to bake, even if people complain to open it!" "So people were asking you where it was when other builds were going up?" I asked. "Sorry my English," Mikati answered, "You mean, if people wonderd when I finish the cake?" "Yes." "Okay, yes, the SLB cake is the biggest opportunity for Second Life builders, I am thinking. And every time I did all of my best to make good thing seriously. So I spent all of time until the final deadline. And I think many people were getting tired to wait for it, heehee. Some people actually asked me about it. ... I also understand their feelings. So I told the people, 'I am sorry.' But I did not open the oven, heehee."

I chuckled a little at the giggles, then brought up, "And after a couple years, you were asked to do the cake again, and then the year after that." "Yes," she answered, "I think this is pretty rare thing of SLB. Because I heard that every year different builders build it. I think cake builder who built three times, I am the first."

Changing the subject slightly, I asked, "Besides the cake stage, what else have you been working on recently?" Mikati responded, "Recently, I joined an art project of a university teacher from Germany, It is purposed to archiving SL artists works for the future. Virtual world is still early period, I think, And in the future, the Second Life culture would be a great material for researching how virtual world started. So I was interested in it and joined."  "That is interesting. How has this art project gone so far?" "It is managed by a person, Art Blue, in SL. The project already exhibited at LEA semi-official SIM, and in near future, the buildings will go to OpenSIM and bring to real life art biennare."

My next question was, "Of the SL13B, what were some of your favorites among the other builds?" She answered, "All of the buildings at SL13B is a part of the celebration, so I love all of the builds! And this time, I love all the performance stages especially. All the stages did really great job!"

I then asked her about her appearance, "I notice you have a few items on you right now, those gloves, the cake hat, the heart-shaped glasses, and the flower." She smiled, "Oh yes, heehee! The heart sunglasses is what I wear since 2011 or more earlier, my trademark I am thinking. It inspired from a move Lolita by Cublic. The hat is gift of the SL13B cake stage. I made this and I think already 2000 - 3000 people got it."

Another question was about her native language being Japanese, "Earlier you brought up language. You don't seem to be having much trouble with English. Has it been a difficult language for you to learn?" Mikati agreed, "English is my big trouble point, yes. Usually, most Japanese people are not good at English, and me also almost zero skill about English when I came to Second Life. But SL gave me amazing big opportunity to learn English while having communication with western people, and my English skill improved very much. Learning language is very big advantage of SL also I think."

"About how many other Second Life users are Japanese?" I asked. She thought for a moment, "I am not sure the exactly numbers of population about it, but I think Japanese Second Life users are many, like, European countries. Japanese SL users are usually enjoy together, but having communication with Western SL users is not so often." "So interactions between most Japanese and most US and European users are uncommon?" I asked. "Yes, I think so," Mikati answered, "This because wall of language." I then questioned, "In what interactions there are, have there been many misconceptions, mistaken ideas, of Japan and it's people among Westerners?" She answered, "Most of Japanese people is respecting western culture very much, and always interest to have communicate with western people even in SL. But also Japanese people think that making mistake on English can be rude with western, I think. So, usually become shy I feel."

I then asked, "Did you have any other future plans besides the art project you mentioned?" Mikati answered, "I developed my style for everyone even out of Second Life. So my future plan is , showing and making enjoy people out of SL. This is my current plan and dream." Wondering about her noted build, "Might we see another Mikati Cake Stage in the future?" She responded, "I am thinking my style is perfect for SLB cake. so i want to make it in the future again of course. But also the cake is good opportunity for another builders. So, It also nice if another builder will make it, I think."

Mikati offered to show me the scale model of the Cake Stage,  "I can guide you, cake mini scale model, if you like." We went over to a skybox in her sim she which used as a building area, "As we see, this is 1/10 scale model of this year cake. I designed and worked in this scale, then stretch to the real scale. 1/10 scale is easy to see and easy to calculate real size." She then asked me to follow her inside, "Okay, please follow me a little. ... This is interior part of the cake. Now we are 10-times giants, heehee!"

She directed my attention to a small stick several inches tall, "Do you see the red small stick here? This is the avatar size in 1/10 scale." I asked, "So if someone is 1.6 meters high, this would be .16 meters?" "Yes, exactly! But many times, SL avatars are near 2 meters. So i made it as 0.2 meters. Heehee!"

I then asked her if she had seen some giant avatars in the official Cake Stages. She answered, "Oh yes! I have seen once such very large avatar at the cake few days ago! It was nice humor for the cake, because the cake is huge. Heehee!" It did cross her mind that it made everyone else look like her scale model, "The viewing looks similar with real size when you hold your camera to the red small stick."

She then brought me to a platform where there was a model of last year's Cake Stage, the one for the SL12B.  "This themed '12,'" she told me, "The twelve candles have twelve icons." At one point, she compared them to the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.

I then brought her attention to two huge pillars on the other side of the sim. She answered they were for the art archiving project she mentioned earlier, "Oh yes. These are the things of the art project that themed archiving SL arts. The tower shape outside is given parts. Artists build things using their typical style inside it." Of her sim, there was no house or relaxation area, "This sim is just for my private work place ..."

It was about time for the interview to come to a close, "Did you have anything else that you wanted to add?" Mikati's answer to that was, "I just want to add a thing (for the residents), I thank you to have opportunity of featuring the cake, and thank you for contributing for SL culture for long time."

It was about then the interview came to a close. Mikati and I would later meet up again at the "Cake Explosion" in which she brought down her build in a spectacular manner as a public event, as well as her making an appearance at the SL Newser beach party. While it's unclear whether she'll be building another Cake Stage soon, no doubt this cheerful designer is far from finished.

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, July 7, 2016

"Your Mother Had Cancer."

By Deaflegacy

"Your mother had cancer."

I just looked at the interpreter before looking away.  Later on, I met with my Mother and my best friend.  My mother had been spending some time in the ER.  It had something to do with her stomach so my best friend spent some time with her.  That day, we found out that the doctor can't do anything for my Mother.  It was too late.  It was then recommended that my mother go to the hospice.  We agreed on that. 

Later on, I saw my mother in the hospice.  It was like a home, but these who were about to say good bye to like.  I remember the day before and my mother was doing just fine.  We talked.  We have had fun.  I will never ever forget that day I said good bye to my mother.  My best friend and I went to see her. 

She was in bed.  One of her eyes was closed, and another was open.  I knew right then that I have to say good bye to her.  The nurse stopped by and encouraged me to talk to my mother.  I did exactly that.  I told my Mother that everything will be okay.  My best friend and I will be all right.  We will do what we can for the family dog.  The family dog's name is Gracey.  I said good-bye and we left. 

When we got home, my best friend received a phone call from the hospice.  Fifteen minutes after we left, my Mother passed away.  While my best friend wept, I was in shock.  I knew that my Mother was going to join my Grandmother in Heaven.  I just wasn't expecting that soon.  It still is very painful for me to think about it, especially when we have to give the family dog up for adoption.  I have no idea where Gracey is right now, but I hope she is doing well. 

So many things have gone by and I still think about my Mother.  To me, she was everything.  It is true that there had been bad times, but there had been good times as well.  She was not just my mother.  She was my best friend.  Cancer took her away from me and I did say good bye to her that day, August 15, almost three years ago.  I'd say that this coming August 15 would be the three year anniversary since my Mother passed away.  Not a day had gone by that I don't think about her.  All I can say is that she is in Heaven with my grandmother and uncle.  I didn't tell her this but I might as well say it out loud.  My Mother was much more than just my mom and best friend.  She was my mentor. 


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spontaneous Gatherings

By Becky "Sha" Shamen

The topic of this report is one that this writer has observed, participated in and encouraged, many times during our years of adventures in Second Life. To the uninitiated and the newbie, SL may seem like  an alternative life, an escape from the real world, just another form of addiction, an interactive boob-tube. As we mature, with age, our attention evolves from self interest to finding useful ways to be of service to all. To be of service to others, we need a connection with groups of others. This "urge to merge" could be called the Gathering Principle and can be seen at all levels of nature, from sub-atomic particles to whole galaxies. After being on SL a number of years, your reasons for staying evolved from "what fun is in it for me" to "How can I make this fun for everybody". What started as an addiction evolved into devotion to an altruistic ideal. Creating gatherings in SL is a means of computer modeling different formulas, used to gather, to find that which best complies with the universal laws of nature,a.k.a., divine will.

Second Life answers nature's call to gather with countless venues for gathering. Most are based on real life examples, like arenas, Dance Clubs and recreational areas. Second Life also seems to be big on little gathering locations and furniture, such as gazebos, campfires and our favorite, cuddle baskets. The larger gatherings require advanced preparations and notices sent out, to get large crowds at their events. The clubs enjoy large groups, because it raises their position in search engines of best places to visit in SL. Gatherings, like all things in the worlds of form, contain a mix of yin/yang (male/female) energies. Because larger gatherings contain elements of pre-planning and competition (best in theme, best avatar mods, best jokes and puns, etc.), the energy leans toward the male, electric, radiant energies, like those of the central sun in a solar system. On the other hand, small gatherings lean more to the female, magnetic, absorbent energies and are like the planets in a solar system. Competition is replaced by a cooperative spirit. Instead of trying to be the best individual of the group, those in small, spontaneous gatherings tend to assist the others to become more group oriented, more skilled at modding and more light-hearted and joyful, all of which makes them better, more useful members of the whole, larger community.

Our interest in small, spontaneous gatherings is not new. We have been planning to write about them for years, in the hope that understanding and using them  would benefit residents in both SL and real life. The impetus to sit down and begin writing about them was sparked by a spontaneous gathering, that took place about a week ago.

Before describing the unplanned gathering, let's rewind a bit and examine the thinking that led up to it. To do this, we will need to break with convention and introduce Sha's real life player, a Moonchild called Rick. As a design engineer, creating 3D parts for machines that test circuit boards, the Moonchild's dream was to develop the ability to use 3D animations that would enlighten the minds of viewers. Sha broke from her usual routine, for 55 days, to create a 35 minute HD video about her favorite community. Pretty awesome build, for a first timer. The Moonchild had dreamed of this for decades.

Getting back to our gathering story, it seemed that the finished video got no views or comments. We begin to feel like a sun with no planets, a lonely falling star. It was hard to begin writing again, not knowing if we had an audience. At this point, Sha logs in, late night, with little question marks buzzing around her head. Who am I, why are we here and should I pay my rent now? Some house cleaning finished, we seek a little company and notice some friends are at Cutlass. Flying up, we talk with Rita about the local "cum see cum saws" [Fr. this and that], and mention some space junk, floating above the castle, that needs removal. Rita and Sha fly up and clear the junk, then hover and continue chatting. We were soon joined by Felina and, around these parts, "three's a party". The party moved to Felina's new back yard deck, with fire pit and surround seating. Within minutes, others arrived, one by one and joined us around the fire, until there were ten gathered, including Bixyl. Because this gathering was late night and on a private sim, there is a feeling of inner circle sanctity. Everybody enjoyed the topics of conversation and Elders Rita and Sha each gave short lectures on handy ways of storing mods and outfits in inventory. The spontaneous gathering lasted to the wee hours of the morning. We left with feelings of being uplifted and connected to a community of caring individuals. For us, it cured our writer's block. We've got a big box of words here. Stay tuned to see which ones we pull out after our next gathering adventure.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Virtual Hippies

By Becky Shamen

Well friends, after 55 days of producing a video about the Sunweaver Community, here I am getting back to writing. Is it any wonder, why my first topic is communities?

I chanced to spot a destination called Free Spirit Farms, Hippy/Boho Community and my eyes lit up. Back in '69, I lived in a real one, called Drop City, Colorado. If anybody were qualified to compare the virtual versus real experience. this reporter could reply to Jimi Hendrix, "Yes, I AM EXPERIENCED". Learning of my latest adventure, Bixyl informed of some individuals that claimed to...err...have access to...had a connection to a virtual pill, said to be like a psychotropic "trip" experience. Since, as Bix said, sex, drugs and rock and roll was before his time, perhaps this old white rabbit could research it deeper, We'll include that experiment, later in the article.

The photo, to the left, is of Drop City, at the time I lived there. As we head to Free Spirit Farms, the kid in the back seat of my mind asks, "what can I expect to find there" to which the driver responds, "expect nothing in advance and you will find everything." We know, in advance, that it will not look the same as places we have seen, but a trained mind can see corresponding similarities and differences. Our inner art critic will study the sim as the collective form of the imaginations of the inhabitants.

The landing point of the sim is a large open building, which also serves for gatherings with DJs. There are signs to click for rules, info and joining the group. Large doors open in every direction. All the views look great, so we head towards the center of the sim, to establish a central landmark, from which other points can be referenced. Oddly enough, not far from the middle of the sims "ground zero", we found a drum circle.

 We know about drum circles and the benefits of using them. When you join one of these circles, even if just to clap hands and tap your toes, you, automatically receive several joyful benefits. The individuals are now members of a greater, synthetic life form, with synergistic energy and power, greater than the sum of their individual powers. Oneness is like having a backstage pass, that shows the doorman, "I'm with the Band". From decades in the music biz, we can guaranty, EVERYBODY likes getting a backstage pass. Next, because we all play to the same beat, our individual bodies begin to synchronize. As the drumbeats impact our solar plexus, we all share the same feelings and emotions. Within minutes, all the heartbeats become synchronized and beat as one. With a little more practice, even the minds begin to link up. A telepathic connection turns the circle into a living being, which has the power to be a conductor of it's individual members, turning a simple beat into a complex, orchestrated song.

OK, enough science, but does this have anything to do with the sim residents being "real hippies?"  Looking back, the vast majority of hippies did not join the movement for their own scientific, mental reasons. They were drawn in by a handful of thinkers, writers, poets and musicians. That small group was like a drum circle, that continues to grow, even into the virtual world. If there's a drum circle, in the middle of the island where you live, yeah, YOU MIGHT BE A HIPPY. Another advantage to sitting at the circle, we could see, on radar, near-by blips approaching. We met and befriended several people, learned about the community and even heard of their experiences in real-life hippy communes.

As a new group member, Sha gets a notice that a DJ is playing and gets there in time to meet some more locals and the DJ, Feather Fride. Feather sent a private IM and at one point, wrote a poem, dedicated to Sha's unique eyes. If you have ever zoomed in on Sha, when in human form, you know she does, in fact, have very unique eyes. We thanked him for the compliment. He asked forgiveness for being so intrusive with his cam, to which we replied, no prob, it shows you have the "seeker" quality.

On this visit, we were also checking out details of a rent house that became available. We found it a bit small and expensive for this old hippy's spare change budget, but members can also set home to the sim and there is a campground. Hippies don't mind if you change clothes outside.

Before becoming a member, there was a corner of the sim, with a barrier. As a member, we were now allowed in. This area is a hill, with a path winding to the top. From the objects (props) around the top, we see this is meant to be a spiritual place.

Near the top, there is a small devotional shrine and cushions. Top center, there is a large bondfire, surrounded by enough cushions for a large group meditation. Near by, up to 10 can practice Tai Chi, in sync. We found several other gathering spots on the sim. The ruins of an old building has a stage and seating, for music and theater performances. At the central pond, there is a dock, with lots of seats, where you can sit on the dock, so they say, watching time slip away.
There is some hierarchy within the membership, with a Ma and Pa at the top. This is a good form of government, for people that call themselves a family. Our visits have been peaceful filled with residents, who like the hippies of yore, doing their job to usher in the Aquarian Age of peace and enlightenment.

A psychotropic "trip" experience
The Editor, Bixyl, gave us two names to search and talk to, regarding a wearable object, called "Nip", which would cause your perceptions to be altered in the way that psychotropic substances effect them.  In our reckless youth, we called this "experimenting". As a veteran Lab Rat, I contacted one, whom I'll call here, Silver. We explained that our interest was not in it's use as an entertaining, fun buzz, but rather, we wanted to see if there was any usable science. In real-life, a chemical can have an effect on your thinking and lifestyle choices. The question is, can virtual world experiences have a lasting effect on your brain, especially since they arrive by the same nerve passages as real-life experiences follow? Picture this; a doctor tests you and, instead of pills, he gives you the URL of a product on the Marketplace. It is a healing ball, that you put in your SL home. Set the ball, using the doctors instructions and spend 15 minutes each day, as it fills your senses in delightful ways.
I asked Silver where a snoopy Newser Reporter could get a "Nip", to test...for science. My luck, he just gave me a free one. Said, if I needed more, he had a "connection".  To give this item a fair trial, it stayed on ice, until an optimum time and place were found. 
In a real life "trip", all of the senses become amplified, including extra-sensory ones you didn't know you had. In the virtual world, we will be using only two of our senses, sight and sound. The experience will vary with users, but two will be felt by all. Everything seen and heard has a pronounced after image or echo. Motions are followed by comet tails and sounds have reverb. Everything seen, regardless of what it's made of, looks fluid and is breathing. Our personal favorite, we notice that pixels are not squares and every texture displays it's own tile geometry.
Now, late at night, on my home turf, we wear the Nip.

The device was kind enough to inform us, in chat, the trip only lasts 28 minutes. As pro lighting techs, we found the light show very enjoyable. An additional effect broke the screen into squares of shifting size. Instead of enhanced visions, Sha was so blind, she fell off the roof and stayed on the front porch for the rest of the trip. We were pleased to see, when the trip was over, all the lights returned to normal and control returned.
Pass or fail? Fails first, squares gotta go, replace with strobe light trails. It only used sight effects. Is there a way to add some echo or reverb to the sound?  On the plus side, I got to have fun and adventure with a toy that very few others will get to play with. I also see it as an art media, with potential developments and possible therapeutic uses. To it's creator, I say, good start. I would be happy to beta test any future upgrades.
Old hippies never die. They just go up in smoke.

Editor's note: the Second Life Newser does not condone or encourage the use of drugs for other than medical reasons.