Thursday, December 30, 2021

Interview With Sunnweaver Leader Rita Mariner

By Penny Shuftan

I was lucky enough to be able to get together with Rita Mariner, the leader of the Sunweaver community.  

My first question was if she owns Sunweaver and other lands. "I own 10 sims, four full, 6 homesteads," said Rita,  "About 10 years, I started out with Sunweaver Isle and expanded from there, as demand grew." According to Rita, the best thing about rental people would be people.

Rita not only has these sims, she also have two clubs; Club Cutlass, and Club Zero Gravity.  "I had them, when we lived in Pockwock," Rita replied, "on the mainland, just moved them, when he had the room here."  I also asked Rita what's the best part about owning the clubs.  She said, "The
people again, I don't run either club for profit. I Just wanted a fun place to hangout with friends."

Rita is also with the Relay For Life in Second Life.  "Yes, I've started with the Passionate Redheads, until they broke up," said Rita, "I then started the Sunbeamers, and been going with them, ever since. I created the team, so I am the boss bunny." The best part of working with the Sunbeamer team would be her team members, and thinking up crazy stuff to do each year with the teams and its members.

One game created for the Sunbeamers' Relay events is the Demolition Derby, which Shockwave created based on her idea.  "It has audience participation, they get to fire cannons at the drivers," said
Rita, after saying that they all have a blast there.

Rita's goal for 2022 is to keep in doing what she has been doing, running the Sunweavers and Sunbeamer team and enjoy the company of her friends while doing so, "It's fun to hangout with my friends, some of them I know in real-life," said Rita, "I used to attend furry conventions as an artist/dealer.  There would be Sunweavers there, we would all get together for dinner one night at the conventions."

Rita's original avatar was a rat, who she named after a female rat in "Flushed Away." She later settled on the Kani Bunny as her main avatar, although she has dozens topick from. 

As we ended the interview, Rita had one more thing to say, "I just follow The Golden Rule, treat others, as you wish to be treated." 

Rita is a hard worker, who cares a lot about the others in many ways.  She is very successful at running the sims, and the clubs.  As we ended the interviews, I did so with a smile because Rita is truly a remarkable person.


Editor's Note: Just after the interview, Rita gave her renters a month's free rent.

Monday, December 27, 2021

Interview With Snowy AngelBun Lefavre (Skylark Lefavre)

By Penny Shuftan

Earlier, I had a chance for an interview with a very successful DJ, and club manager, Snowy AngelBun Lefavre.  My first question was how long she had been Djing.  "Seems like a while, least over five years now," said Snowy.  

My next question would be if Snowy could remember where she was when she first Djing.  "I think it was The Happy Vixen," Snowy replied.  I then asked if she is a manager at any other club, and according to Snowy, she is a manager at Bouncing Bunny Beach Club.  That's where she also DJs. Snowy had been Djing and managing at the BBB Club for close to a year she thinks.

Snowy's favorite thing to do would be DJing. But the thing she enjoys the most is having people to share her passion with and enjoy her music that she plays.

I wanted to know something about Snowy being a very empathic caring furry with a big heart who has a very successful DJing and managing club.  "I would be flattered," said Snowy, "but I am just being how I was raised to be It's all I know how to be." 

I had been wondering about the fact that Snowy is one of the hard-working DJ and manager of the most popular clubs ever. How does she feel about being the most popular (in my opinion), especially with a very successful DJ career. "I never really think about any of that," Snowy said, "I just do it to have fun with friends and fans. I like to party and I like partying with those that enjoy partying."

According to Snowy, she's going to be around as a DJ, and manager for as long as she is wanted and needed. I told Snowy that since she is one of the most popular DJ and manager, I don't think that Snowy will ever stop being wanted or needed.  "I am pleased that I am still wanted and needed," Snowy replied, "I will continue making others happy." 

I pointed out that Snowy also has a kind heart, always helping people with their health problems. I was just curious to see how Snowy feel about people referring to her as someone they could count on when it comes to their health issues. "I help others so they can continue to be around and enjoy life. I don't think much except parental thoughts." said Snowy.

I did bring up something about people coming to Snowy's clubs.  From what I can see from my time at these two very popular clubs, many people are coming to the clubs, even deaf people.  That should tell Snowy about her popularity. "It says a lot," Snowy said, "but I also know DJing is more than just the music. It means interacting with the fans in a way that brings comfort and enjoyment." 

We started talking about goals for 2022. "Yes I plan on rebuilding my life so I can be here much longer as I have my own health issues to overcome. I hope to be around to keep being me," replied Snowy, "It would be hard to be here unless i take care of myself."

The conversation changed to the fact that Snowy had been through surgeries.  "I am thankful I survived my surgeries," she said, "But yes I am more stubborn as I djed while healing after surgeries cause I never wanted to let anyone down."

Snowy is happy DJing and managing at the most popular clubs.  She also try to help any place she works at to become a fun place to be.

Snowy has advice for anyone who wants to become a DJ.  "Everyone starts from the same place, no one is born good. We all work at it and it takes several variables to make a working combination," said Snowy, "but it is possible for anyone that puts their mind to it." 

We started talking about a club that used to be around, Castaway Cove Club.  It was a club built into a shipwreck of an old 18th century club.  "It was small, but we had fun there," said Snowy, who had been a manager until its' closure due to the sim owner, Sunray, giving up his sims.  He died shortly after.

I sent Snowy my condolences, and wanted to know about her role in Castaway Cove Club.  According to her, she was just the manager.  Snowy thanked me for my condolences, saying that Sunray was the sweetest guy she ever knew.  "He is missed," she added.  

As we continued to talk about the Castaway Cove Club, she said that Kitacelia was her only hostess at that time.  Now, right now, Kitacelia works for Snowy at two different clubs.  "I chose her because of Castaway Cove Club." Snowy said.  "Castaway Cove Club was a themed club, but it was fun."

As the interview came to an end, I did have one last question for Snowy.  I was just wondering how Snowy feels about being an inspiration to some people.  "It pleases me I am of such valued use to others in needs," she replied.

Here you have it, an interview with one of the most popular DJ, and club managers, Snowy AngelBun Lefavre.  I will be having a follow-up interview with her in January.  As I have looked forward to this particular interview, I am really looking forward to the follow-up interview.  Of course, I'd have to add that Snowy had inspired me many times, and will come to inspire me for many months and years to come.  After all, she's an inspiration.


Friday, December 17, 2021

Interview With Strawberry Linden

By Bixyl Shuftan

A few days ago, I had a chance to talk to Strawberry Linden. Strawberry is a popular Linden, having gotten her start as a noted fashion blogger. When hired, she became a marketing specialist, eventually moving up to Senior Social Media Manager. She appears in Linden Lab's "Lab Gab" shows, but also communicates to the residents in occasional Linden blog posts, interviews such as the Meet the Lindens events at the Second Life Birthday events, and others. While much is already know about her, here was a chance to learn a little more.

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

Strawberry Linden: An old friend told me about it, so I decided to sign up and check it out. I was confused at first and logged out right away. But then 2 weeks later I logged back in to give it another try and got hooked.

Bixyl Shuftan: How were your first days here after your second try?

Strawberry Linden: It was fun, I made some more friends and we "lucky chair" hopped together, and I won this beautiful red gown and walked around with it for like a month (laughter). Of course I first attached the box to my head, until someone showed me how to rez and open it and then wear it.

Bixyl Shuftan: How long did that take?

Strawberry Linden: Within a few days once I returned. Then I found this club that was all about bollywood music, which I am obsessed with, so I started hanging out there and made a lot of friends and just had so much fun. ... lot of social events.

Bixyl Shuftan: How did the idea of becoming a fashion blogger come about?

Strawberry Linden: One of the friends I made at the club had her own fashion blog, and she kept pestering me to join her, and for two months I kept saying no, and then December of 2007 I finally gave in and did my first post. A lot of people like the way I styled my avatar and gave me positive feedback from my blog posts, so I kept doing it and once she left Second Life a few months later, I created my own personal blog.

Bixyl Shuftan: In your opinion what were your most noteworthy posts?

Strawberry Linden: My tutorials and my meme and blog challenges. They got the most amount of attention early on. Then later when mesh heads and bodies were released and I started showcasing those in detail, those were the most requested.

Bixyl Shuftan: What were some of the challenges in operating the blog? Were any subjects hard to write about? 

Strawberry Linden: Nothing really, my blog was just a fun hobby for when I had time. The only challenging thing that happened was around the end I was just getting burnt out over blogging all the mesh heads and bodies that people kept requesting. So I'm happy I was able to stop doing those. I didn't like that my blog started feeling like something I had to do, instead of the fun and creative outlet it was for me.

Bixyl Shuftan: When did the Lab approach you about joining them? 

Strawberry Linden: They didn't approach me. They put up a position for a Marketing Content Specialist. They wanted someone to take high quality images and videos in Second Life and help them with marketing content. One of my friends told me that a lot of people were talking about the position and saying that it's what Strawberry does. I laughed and then I looked at the description and I thought, hey yeah maybe I can do this. So I applied, and 6 interviews later, i was hired.

Bixyl Shuftan: Nice, in April 2019?

Strawberry Linden: Yes, April 15th.

Bixyl Shuftan: What were some of your biggest surprises after you joined the Lab? 

Strawberry Linden: I was pleasantly surprised to see how passionately the employees are about the platform, majority of them are active Residents as well. It's been so amazing to work with people that absolutely love what they do and actually use and enjoy the product as well, just like myself.

Bixyl Shuftan: Nice, whom did you get along with the best? 

Strawberry Linden: Oh goodness, you're asking me to pick favorites (laughter), gonna get me in trouble. I interact with so many of them, and they are all so friendly and nice. I have to say that my absolute favorite person is Brett Linden, and not just because he's my boss. He's probably the best boss I've ever had and I feel like I can go to him for anything. Ebbe was also one of my favorites.

Bixyl Shuftan: I recall you've been on Lab Gab a number of times, with Xiola Linden.

Strawberry Linden: Yes, Xiola and I started the show together. She is actually the one that named it, Lab Gab. She was so much fun to work with as well. She was one of my first friends in the company and was my buddy that helped me through all the paperwork on the first day of work (laughter).

Bixyl Shuftan: Will Lab Gab continue to air on occasion?

Strawberry Linden: Yes definitely. I did try to do it every week or every other week, but it's just a lot of work to do it regularly like that, especially with all the other projects on my plate. But yes, it will continue in the new year and in fact I will be having some Linden employees on to talk about updates and other news, etc, in the new year.

Bixyl Shuftan: Was there anything you wanted to mention about the upcoming year?

Strawberry Linden: A lot of good news hopefully. I am excited for it and to see the platform grow even more. As for specifics, I can't say much aside from upcoming community events like Shop & Hop for Valentine's Day is already schedule and of course our 19th birthday this year in June will hopefully be even bigger.

Bixyl Shuftan: Should be fun. Was there anything else you wanted to mention?

Strawberry Linden: I wanted to wish everyone in the community and really happy holiday season with their virtual family and friends. I hope everyone stays safe!

Bixyl Shuftan: Thank you Strawberry, and Merry Christmas to you as well.

That concluded the interview with Strawberry, though we talked for a few more minutes. She also wanted to take a few pictures. 

So no doubt Strawberry will be continuing to do what she does. 

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, November 29, 2021

Commentary: Fourteen Years of Writing About Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

In real life, I take pride in a number of things. One is keeping up with current events. I recall as a child, hearing a foreign country had up and stormed our embassy, taking our people there hostage. So I kept up with the story by watching the news. Eventually, the hostage crisis was resolved, but I continued watching, learning about daily events in the wilder world around me beyond that of school and the video arcade. Another thing was writing, a lifelong hobby of mine. I enjoyed writing stories in school, and would sometimes write for fun, occasionally sharing them with friends. This included a few that were background stories for roleplaying game characters. While my studies in community college were for a degree in natural sciences, there were a couple creative writing classes. When I finally got access to the World Wide Web, eventually I would start my own website, one with some science-fiction stories of mine (and updated most every weekday with a new joke).

While I first came to Second Life in December 2006, shortly after I got high speed Internet, it wouldn't be for a number of months that my story here truly began when I started logging on here on a regular basis. By this time, the FTP for my website updating had broken, and I decided to take a short break from writing. Instead, I went about exploring Second Life, and coming across some fascinating places and things, as well as events. Wanting to learn more, I started looking up blogs to read about the virtual world, and came across magazines and newsletters too. One such newsletter was the Second Life Newspaper, founded by JamesT Juno, and managed by Dana Vanmoer. It would have stories about the people, places, and events around Second Life, and regularly checked up on it.

One day, I noticed a request for reader submissions, either articles or pictures. So I sent in a story of a couple personal accounts and a few pictures. It seems I did something right, because I was invited to the office to talk to the editor and owner about a job. The meeting was in voice, but fairly short. I was given an office, and was now a reporter. And after turning in my next story, I used the payment to get a fedora and overcoat, which along with the fox avatar became my trademark look.

It did take me a little while to get the hang of things. But before too long, I was coming out with stories of all kinds. I would write about various people, places, events and things across the grid. Sometimes these were big events like the Second Life Birthday and Relay for Life and better know sims. Other times these were smaller events and out of the way places. Two of my high points were the second anniversary party, which was also the high point of the newspaper. The second was when I was made the office manager, which was updating the paper when Dana couldn't. But not all of the stories were happy ones. Sadly some were reports of the troubles and closings of hangouts and communities I was a part of.

In 2010, my time as a journalist here would change. Due to events in real life, James and Dana made the decision to close down the Second Life Newspaper and leave Second Life. So I, Gemma Cleanslate, Shellie Sands, and Grey Lupindo would form a new paper with me as the editor: the Second Life Newser. We hit the ground running as our first big story was a week after our start, Linden Lab laying off a third of it's staff. I was still reporting about the people, places, and events across Second Life. But it would be as the leader of a team.

Fourteen years later, I've written plenty about what I've come across and seen. Some of it is about the community I've become a part of, the Sunweavers. There's also yearly events such as Burn 2 and the Relay that provide plenty of story material. But I still come across new people, places, and events that are noteworthy. The Newser continues to be in solid shape, with sponsors providing ad revenue. .

Second Life itself has seen many changes. I came on during it's Golden Age when it seemed to some this was the future of the Internet and some big companies such as Circuit City and IBM were putting big money here. But many were confused by the lack of clear goals, "how do you win?", dissappointed by the quirks, crashes, and the ever-present lag, had bad first impressions such as running into griefers. So it stopped growing, and the Lab was trying to figure out how to continue the growth, then trying to figure out how to stay profitable. The Lab has gone through a few CEOs over time, and being acquired by an investment team. There have also been efforts to technically improve it from Mesh to moving the data to cloud servers. A number of Lindens have also left, including some popular ones such as Torley, Xiola, and April.

While some of my competition in the past liked to focus on drama, such as the Herald, for the most part I've avoided that. It's better to focus on what and who makes Second Life a fun place. And then there is showing the good this virtual world can do good. The Relay for Life is one prime example, raising thousands every year for the American Cancer Society. Then there are the veterans benefits. There are the science and health discussions. There's the mental health group therapy. There are the writers' groups for aspiring writers.

Sometimes real life gets reflected onto Second Life. In 2007 and 2008, one could keep a political discussion civil between opposing sides and there were a number of groups around the US Presidential Election. But things would soon sour, and became full of drama. More recently, the Coronavirus Panemic has had an impact on Second Life through increasing it's numbers, at least temporarily, as more were looking for things to do online.

Sadly, with change comes loss. I've had to write about the closing of some good places. And unfortunately about the deaths of some people, including a few friends. While sometimes what they made could be continued to be enjoyed, there would be nothing new. While I consider it an honor to help make a record of them, obituary articles are sad ones to write.

So what does the future hold? There's been no shortage of "the end is near" proclamations for Second Life since I was new. And while the new owners of the Lab haven't been perfect, it would appear they would prefer to keep the virtual world running and make money over the long term. So it's a safe bet that there's at least a few more years of Second Life news for me to write about.

But that isn't all that I've been writing about. I have a blog "Food on the Table," in which I write about something other than Second Life every few months or so. There's the occasional short story. And I've been writing a science-fiction novel on the side: "The Corsean Encounter." This tale is about First Contact between a couple humans in the 1920s who come across a portal and find a planet of beings Medieval to Colonial Age in technology. In order to get a chance at returning home, they'll need the help of friends and allies, as well as having to deal with those who see them as monsters to keep in a cage, or worse. It ultimately will be a series of novels as the first is finished and I've been going between editing the first (someone I was going to ask has been busy lately) and writing on the second. Hopefully I'll soon be done with the editing.

That's all for now. See you in the virtual world.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Sci-fi Actor Yee Jee Tso Interview At Spooky Strides

By Bixyl Shuftan

The "Spooky Strides" Halloween event for "Making Strides Against Breast Cancer" had a large number of music events. But that was not all. At one point, they had a TV and movie actor to talk to: Yee Jee Tso. It took place at 4PM SL time at October 24.

NOW @ Spooky Strides: Actor Yee Jee Tso  4pm-5pm
you've seen them in Snowpiercer, Psych, Battlestar Gaalctica, Dr Who, and MANY more things.  LIVE LIVE Halloween Question & Answer event.

The event took place in front of an audience. Tso appeared in the avatar "yjtso Resident." He sat in front of a chair, next to a real-life picture of him.  Also nearby was a Relay kiosk for donations. Various people from the crowd would ask questions. Occasionally someone would be thanked after a donation.

Jenny Anatine (Jenny Shackle), "You have been in a ton of films!"

Tso, "Yea there's been a few lucky moments over the years, haha."

VєηυŞ (Venus Amore), "So Yee, I know you have done a lot of things in your career over time. Do you still enjoy it now as much as you did in your earlier years?"

Tso, "Yea being on set is fun. Haven't been doing it lately as I took a hiatus. (The) last show was Snowpiercer. Great crew."

Jenny Anatine (Jenny Shackle)  "Well, let's go, top three? I wont judge the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie!"

Tso, "Oh I'm not totally sure about Mary Kate. If I recall correctly it was an animated thing. Top three: Doctor Who. Maybe Snowpiercer is in top 3? I dunno, that's hard to say, 50/50 maybe. Oh 'Honey I Shrunk The Kids' was an interesting time. Unfortunately Peter and i did not spend too much time together."

Jenny Anatine (Jenny Shackle), "The Muppets Christmas Movie!! So fun."

Tso, "MUPPETS! That is top three for sure. Small part, but very fun and amazing to work with the muppets. Good cast too. Although I saw some of the muppets being 'transported,' and it was a bit freaky,.cause they just sit there. I was expecting them to start talking to me. They had crazy CNC machines to make all the detailed set stuff. Yes when you go up close they still look real. Well, they were real, I guess, in a way (laughter). The CNC machine means they could make it look almost exactly like they designed it."

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "Which character that you have played would you say is most like yourself?"

Tso, "Oooo, good question. Um. well I'm pretty nerdy in real life. I work in software engineering, so that could be a few roles. Actually Teddy Chin in 'Antitrust,' he was an open source software developer."

When Nance Clowes thanked someone for donating to the kiosk, Tso asked, "So Nance, when I click on that kiso, I go to a web page. Do I just click a donate button and do a web chcekout?"

Nance answered, "The kiosk lets people donate to it in 'Second Life' Linden money."

Tso responded, "Oh I'd love to do that but not sure how." Nance informed, "You CAN donate by Paypal, directly to American Cancer Society, which is also us, at ."

Tso then noticed something, "Ooooo, nice cover of radio head." VєηυŞ (Venus Amore) told him, "This is 'Post Modern Jukebox.'"

Jenny Anatine (Jenny Shackle), "So (about the) hiatus? Will you be returning to this life? Or are you enjoying hiatus?"

Tso, "Hiatus, yea I'm enjoying trying out other things, like I've been producing music or learning to. But I'll get back into acting at some point."

Liz Wilner, "Of all the roles you've had, which was your all time fav?"

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "The characters you play seem to be more on the positive side, do you ever think to play more dark characters?"

Tso, "Dark characters, yea. On 'Witches of East End,' I played this guy that was possessed by demons and went insane. Also when I was young they used to cast me in Chinese gang member roles (laughter)."

Liz Wilner, "Is there any current show or project out there that you would love to be cast in?"

Tso, "Brandon Sanderson's stuff, because I read them all with my kids, so they'd be super-stoked. Or maybe the new 'Wheel of Time' series?"

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "Which character that you have played would you actually like to be friends with in real life?"

Tso, "Oooo, good question. Okay, there was one on Smallville where my character could make electric energy bolts and stuff. So, that could come in handy I think, if we were good friends. Maybe he could like power my house or something."

(a few chuckles in response)

"Also (the) Snowpiercer guy was one of the richest people in the world. Not that in real life, I'm looking to have rich friends. But since we're fantasizing about fictional friends, might as well be one who can buy me a jet. Haha!"

Liz Wilner: "Can you name a show you like right now, that you watch?"

Tso, "Show right now,that I watch. To be honest, I don't watch much of anything anymore. My kids and I were watching 'Mandalorian' together a while ago."

The donating came up again when Nance spoke up, "You guys have helped us raise nearly 1/4 Million
lindens this expo so far." Tso replied, "Nice! So I made a Paypal thing, but I'd love to try it with the Second Life coins or whatever, how do you make that work?" VєηυŞ told him, "I can help you in IM." Tso spoke, "Sorry I'm pretty bad at operating this thing."

Nance Clowes, "How was working on 'Psych?'"

Tso: "Oh those guys are hilarious! It's constant improv. Very funny, naturally funny people. And (it) gives you the freedom to just do whatever when you're acting with them."

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "As an Asian, do you think it was easy or hard to get into movies/shows when you started your career?"

Tso, "Oh another good question. Yeah, it was more difficult. The thing is, there are less roles available. It's better now, but back then for every audition I got, my white male friends would get five or ten. Now, they would bring up the point that more of them would go to the audition making it more competitive. But they limit the number of people they see for each. And they can only hire one per part. So the competition thing only goes so far. You need the sheer number of opportunities."

Rayvynex Resident, "Do you have any tips for anyone hoping to get a start ?"

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "What acting advice would you give to your younger self just starting off in acting?"

Tso, "Yes keep doing it. It's all about perseverance. And advice to my younger self - Focus. Stop messing about (chuckle). In between gigs find something useful to do with yourself instead of f*rting around."

(a few chuckles from the audience)

VєηυŞ (Venus Amore), "Ok everyone we have time for maybe one more question he has to go to another engagement."

RezzDammit Resident: (Bixyl Shuftan) "Are you going to be coming back to Second Life, either for events like this, for personal fun, or both?  (and pardon about my using an alt, Second Life is one place you can be two places at once)."

Tso, "Yep, next week Venus has another one setup."

Nance Clowes, "Guys, Yee Jee Tso will be back for a Part 2, on Satuday the 30th at 1pm."

Tso, "Cool, it was really nice to meet you all (smile)."

Jaqueline Malus (Etoile Galicia), "Thank you so much for answering our questions."

Rayvynex Resident, "We will look for you on the Big Screen!"

The interview then ended, and Tso left the stage for the musician that came next.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, October 25, 2021

Survivors of Suicide Closes, Impact Mental Health Opens

 By Bixyl Shuftan

On Saturday October 23, the Survivors of Suicide, probably the best known depression support group in Second Life, had it's last meeting. It was a week before in which it's leader and owner of it's sim, Sebastien Bouevier, announced that the group would soon be closing. Sebastien cited a need to focus more on real-life and no one else stepping forward whom could run the group for long.

The meeting started at 3 SL time. The various people there thanked the others for helping them through difficult times, some telling detailed stories. There were also a few lines in group chat. Among them, "... we are just starting a new chapter, not closing the book."

Sebastien himself would only speak near the end:

"Hearing all your stories tonight has been very touching, and has really hit home just how much of a difference SOS has made to so many lives over the past 13 years. I hope you will continue to be there for each other and keep the spirit of SOS going for years to come. It has been the privilege of a lifetime to be a part of this. I love you all."

The meeting ended at 4PM, and people began to slowly leave, some TPing out, others getting one last look at the island. Shortly after came the dreading DING! and screen shaking signaling a sim restart countdown. But logging back on, I was in a different sim, and was unable to teleport back to the Survivors of Suicide sim. It was closed. I was also no longer able to check the group for any chat messages. 

While the Survivors of Suicide group may be gone, another was started to take it's place: Impact Mental Health by Kitten Stratten-Jaks (Kitten Meridoc). 

We know this is a sad time for many of you, but we'd like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all of our new members.

This week, the focus is on SOS and saying goodbye and so Impact may be quieter than we expect it to become. We're also working on populating the group, so please have a little patience.

In the mean time, keep an eye out for notices about our opening day! We're really excited to show you what we're putting together for you guys.

Welcome to Impact our new warriors.

The group soon had a location, on Urban Dream, and an opening event was planned for Sunday October 24.

Join us for the Grand Opening of Impact Mental Health; a Peer Support group right here in Second Life. Offering Information, Mentoring, Group Chat and Support Meetings throughout the week. Come visit our brand new location. The Impact Community are here and we're listening.

The event, hosted by Sherridon Mercury,  was scheduled to start at Noon SL time. But people were arriving early. Dropping by, I was complemented about my appearance. She confirmed about the group being created in response to the closing of the SoS, "we wanted to give the people some support and some familiarity after that news." 

We were next to the main building. Besides Kitten and Sherridon, there were six mentors as group staff. Sherridon was greeting people, "Hello and welcome to all those just joining us, we will be kicking off our celebrations with a liver performance from Ugly Bill at the top of the hour! In the meantime, feel free to get acquainted with our new land and new organization!."

Eventually, Noon approached, and people were invited to head to the dance area in a nearby part of the sim. "Ugly Bill" soon got on stage and started performing while the audience danced away.  "We're so thrilled to have you here at the grand opening of Impact Mental Health!" people were told as they arrived.

Besides that many were at the party, the Impact group chat also saw a lot of chatter that day. Some would talk about their real-life issues. Others would say they were happy and relieved there was still a mental health support group for them.

There are also other mental health support groups around in Second Life. And someone messaged me in IM that she was starting still another. So for those who know where to look, mental health support groups are still around.

It's been spoken before that the only thing that's constant is that there is change. And in a virtual world, even more so. A valued mental health support group has closed after thirteen years. But in it's place, a new one has arisen, one that has had a good start.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, October 22, 2021

A Look At The Sci-Fi Expo

By Bixyl Shuftan

From Friday October 8 to Sunday October 17, 2021, the Sci-Fi Expo took place in Second Life. Subtitled "A Journey to New Eden," it was a celebration of science-fiction (and to some extent fantasy), it also had the purpose of raising money for Making Strides for Breast Cancer. 

The event took place in six temporary sims near the permanent American Cancer Society and American Cancer Society 2 sims. They were Aperture, New Eden, Arecibo II, The Remnant, Genisis Spire, and The Old Dam. For those not familiar with the "Portal" game, "Aperture" was the name of the corporation. The "IPink ICan" sim was host to the "I Pink I Can" event that took place at the same time. 

One minor complaint I've heard from a few Relayers is that some of the Sci-Fi Cons and Expos seemed a little plain in how they were made, compared to events like the Relay Weekend. 

This wasn't so much the case this time. The sims appeared to me to be much better done.

Lately, my schedule can be occasionally unpredictable. While I wasn't at the opening day of the Expo, I was able to be at several events the following day on Saturday the 9th. From 10 AM to Noon SL time at the main stage in Aperture, "DJ Kayla and the Roos," members of the Roos team of the Relay for Life, were playing onstage to a crowd.


 "Who you gonna call?" The Roos in this case.

From 1 to 4PM, there were the "Combat Bumper Boats ... Grab your friends and your water wings for some fun on the high seas!  Rez a bumper boat and challenge your friends to see who will remain dry, and who will be all wet behind the ears.  This is definitely a fun time you don't want to miss!"

The rules were fairly straightforward. Click on the boat rezzer, sit on the boat, select a color, then go at it in a free-for-all with no score. 

The boats when rezzed all started with 100 points of health. When they hit the shore, they lost a little health. When hitting another boat, they would lose more health. If there was a method to make another boat lose more health than you, I never did find it. Occasionally, there was a cartoon "smash," "zoing," "boing," or some other animated effect floating in the air.

There was also a water gun one could squirt at other players. I wasn't sure if it did a tiny amount of damage, or none at all. But we were using them anyway.

From 6 to 9PM that night was the superhero-themed "Bat Dance." As the narrator put it, "Don your super suit and enter the depths of the Batcave for a party that will even put a smile on the face of the Dark Knight!  It's a super night of dancing that will be absolutely heroic!" 

We ended up having a, super, time.

 On Tuesday at 8PM, it was DJ Mattie's turn on stage.

 "It's time for another event at the Sci-Fi Expo Main Stage. Performing at 8PM is the talented DJ Mattie. 'Shi was raised on country music, blues, bluegrass and classic rock. Shi still has a great passion for these genres, country being hir favorite. Music has always gotten hir though some of the worst times in hir life, and now shi love to share some of these wonderful tunes with folks here on SL' Come on over as we kick cancer's behind and have a fun time doing it."

 Someone passed around a few hula hoops. 

And there was quite a diverse audience.

I also decided to give the Sci-fi Expo quest a try. 

The plot of the quest involves Earth trying to broker a peace between the various factions of the colony world of New Eden. But the global communication network is down, and one of the research assistants from Earth has gone missing with a data crystal with information the delegation needs to get things going.

But as anyone whom has done these kinds of quests before, it wasn't that easy. Even when you find the research assistant, your quest has only just begun. She plugged an ancient computer into the communication network. 

In trying to find out what's going on, you discover a powerful artificial intelligence in the alien computer, which doesn't necessarily put Humanity's interests as priority.

You also run into the Greslok, the planet's native race.

 Much of their home area is littered with starship debris, which the human government has promise to clean up, eventually.

As it turns out, the Greslok live simply now, but long ago were more advanced and created a powerful artificial intelligence they ended up going to war with one another resulting in the destruction of technology, including the AI.

With the AI now seemingly reactivated, you go to turn off the main source of it's power.

You don't succeed in turning off the power. But you do get the artificial superinteligence to think about it's situation. In the end, a truce is agreed to, and it agrees to share some teraforming technology.

That's pretty much what I saw at the Sci-fi Expo. I did hear on Discord that on the day before it's close, it had raised more than 1,750,000 Lindens, or $7000 US dollars.

 There was more of course. Wildstar Beaumont would take a number of pictures and post them on his Flickr. And one can check out more on the blog (here). 

Bixyl Shuftan

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Interview With Sudane Erato of The CDS And New England

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Confederation of Democratic Simulators has a number of noted residents. But among those from it's early days the person active the most would be Sudane Erato. Recently I met up with her to talk about her time here. We met at a rustic building in Neufreistadt, resembling a house built inside what was left of an ancient stone structure. "I've taken a liking to homes in ruins," Sudane explained, "This area of NFS, I took a liking to before we even had parcels, in Anzere, and I've been here ever since."

Of how she came to the CDS, "I arrived in Second Life in November 2004. By early December, I had attended an orientation session here, and had met Gwyneth. And (I) regularly attended discussions that she held in the Church, the Kirke, that was here then. So, essentially from the beginning, since the CDS was formed in Sept of that year." Of what attracted here, "I think it was less the visual environment, which was very primitive then. But rather, this really interesting sense of experimental community, around what really felt like a REAL place. Gwyn's discussions were extraordinary. And the social experiement, that was really interesting. So I got involved. The building (I did) came much later. Ulrika and kendra did all the building (then)."

Of how things went ad a community at the CDS in the early days, "It was intense. By that February, everyone had left except me, Gwyn and Ulrika. And Linden Lab kicked us out of Anzere. Fortunately, they cloned the sim for us, including everything on it. And it was a private island then." When asked why the Lab kicked them out, "They became disillusioned about the goals of the program which had gotten it to us in the first place. But the Lindens decided the goals were not achieved. So they ended it, and set us on this island, that of course we had to pay for." She mentioned that today, Anzere is a snow sim on the mainland, "So, that was the beginning of the normal estate, with parcels and people paying. The population built back (up). So we supported ourselves. But, it became very intense, huge political fights."

Sudane asked me what my impression of early political CDS controversy was. When I answered some were saying only one leader seemed to be controversial to them, she responded that her perspective that the most controversial of all was "Ulrika. ... quite honestly, Urika was truly a genius, the person who conceived of this experiment. But, she was an evil genius, perhaps the most evil person I've ever met. And I've met a lot of people in my 73 years." She would say, "Kendra sided strongly with Ulrika, and almost everyone else sided against them. I wanted some sanity and fairness. We finally pushed her out. So, the controversial people who came later, they were a pale shade of the problems that Ulrika caused."

After Ulrika was gone, "We got the concept of democratic government back on track. That was the major thing. The structure evolved from what she had devised. And, it's easy to point out many remaining flaws. But still, its our best efforts to create something that is really a democracy, where the residents set their own policies. It's a bit of an anomaly, a poor fit in Second Life, since someone has to "own" the estate. But we aim to strike as close to a democracy as we can."

And what did Sudane think were some of the more interesting details of the CDS's system? She thought about it, "Well, the core I think is the Representative Assembly. It's the democracy. And it struggles along, at least everyone understands that concept. Then there's the Scientific Council, which everyone thinks of as the Supreme Court. But it isn't really. So that's a bit harder to understand. It was one of Ulrika's brainstorms. I don't fully understand it. But that's no problem. They wouldn't want me on it anyway (smile). Then there's the Chancellor, which is our own invention. Ulrika never conceived of an Executive. Rather, she had the Guild performing all the administrative functions. But that proved, in my opinion, very impractical. And we devised the Chancellor. But that role is still a work in progress I think. It's VERY hard for the person who holds the role. But, all that said, interesting."

"Probably the most interesting to me," she commented, "Is my own role, and trying to devise ways to hand it off, since my alt is the estate owner and I'm the Treasurer. Both of those functions require a real neutrality, which is often hard to achieve. Treasurer (is) easier probably, since in real-life I'm a bookkeeper. But estate owner, jeez! How many times have I been accused of manipulating affairs in the CDS, just becasue my alt is the EO??!!? So, that's 'interesting.'"

"Oh. Also, I've grown to LOVE building and landscaping. So I could do that eternally (smile)." When asked how many buildings she did, her answer was, "Oh my God, a LOT! Perhaps almost half of the buildings in the CDS. Well, maybe not half, but a LOT! Rosie and I did the Schloss together. She did the Kirche. I did the new Monastery. My current project is 'densifying'  the city, rebuilding the houses within the walls so that they fill the entire space, and you get a better sense of narrow twisty streets. I've done maybe eight or ten of those buildings so far." And how long would this project take? "No set date. I've been doing it simultaneously with other projects. The first houses were on Ulrikastrasse on, and on the Platz, Lil's pub, that was the first. Then one on Catfahrt, and two on Gwynethstrasse. I have in my target three more on Gwynethstrasse, plus a couple on Sudanestrasse. Oh, there were two on Kendrastrasse and on on talenstrasse. Jeez ... Heehee, I really do like building. 

"My Father was a real-life architect who built the hoses he designed. I probably got it from him (smile). Easier building in Second Life. But go visit Amiais. Moon Adamant and I are building dozens of houses there!" But of her buildings, "He wouldn't like them. He was an avid devotee of Frank Lloyd Wright while I like ancient places."

Sudane did mention, "I am in a new, unrelated project now for real-life, a contract for a Portuguese University to create a replica rural village for an anthropology study, called Amiais, on sims by that name. Visit that any time, a work in progress." She also has some land in the New England area, "Do visit New England to, if you have time. It's a beautiful place in the Blake Sea area."

(Click here if the video does not play)

Sudane is staying busy with her many projects, and is happy doing so.

Bixyl Shuftan