Monday, October 3, 2022

Interview with Fop (KingForri), Giant of Natoma

By Bixyl Shuftan
Being tall in Second Life is quite common. It was probably moreso in the past when people joked about the stereotypical seven foot blonde.  It doesn't take too long to find avatars that are eight or nine feet high. Truly giant avatars are less common. At the Fantasy Faire, you may see a fifty foot woman on occasion. But not long ago at the Ivory Tower in Natoma, I saw an avatar that was *truly* massive, hundreds of feet high. His name was Fop (KingForri). Eventually, I managed to contact him, and a meeting for an interview was arranged.

"It sounded like you wanted to message me before I took off!" He greeted, then mused, "Perhaps a thought on the line of 'get out of the bloody way you're blocking the sun!;" After some chuckles, I asked him where he got the idea for such a large avatar. "That's kind of a long story. When I joined Second Life, I had envisioned what I wanted an avatar to look like, but on a much larger scale. My goal was to make a  game character that I wouldn't ever have played. Prior to Second Life, I preferred small characters. My avatar started off as a bit of a joke, but as time went on he kinda evolved into something I got attached to, and I saw some of the large avatars other people made and it inspired me. I realized pretty quickly how difficult the whole thing was, and I'm the kind of guy who absolutely loves challenges, so I kept trying to push it further and further to see how far I could go. Every step of the way I'd have to make new scripts or think of some workaround to get around the limitations of SL, with the mentality that 'it has to be fully usable, and it has to be fun for everyone else.'

"So I developed some techniques to be able to do common stuff regular avatars can do, such as using RLV to switch between skeletons to reposition myself whether I was sitting or standing, or even sitting at a table. At one point I even figured out a goofy fake way to have a friend ride my nose using animesh and some clever tag positioning. One of the big walls was being able to upload a skeleton beyond 3m in the mesh uploader. Most people would just move the pelvis bone down which would cause their avatars to sway all over if they fidgetted in one place, or sat down or whatever. From what I can tell, I might be one of the first to figure out how to break that limit and upload models at a higher offset than three."

I asked how long it took to make his avatar, and asked about earlier avatars. He responded, "It's been an ongoing thing since I started, like, gosh, eight years ago. Of course I'm not constantly working on it, but every once in a while I'll think 'hmm, I wonder if I could push this even further?' and my mind will start going again. 
"There are some other really big avatars too. Some absolutely enormous, and far bigger than the Fop you saw the other day. However, they tend to have the problems I discussed earlier: they sway around, or an even worse problem: hard coded draw distance for mesh models. I suppose to save on processing time, the client creators have a hard draw distance limit for mesh avatars, so if you ever see any other mesh giants at for example, the Fantasy Faire, you'll notice if you zoom out too far their entire bodies just pop out of existence even if your draw distance is set to 1024m, leaving just their hair and some attachments visible. Being not so artistically and unable to really do 3D meshing work was kind of a blessing in disguise as ironically, it allows Fop to be seen the entire 1024 max distance. It's mostly the draw distance that limits most people.

"The one you saw was, I think around 300 meters (984 feet)? I've larger versions but I try to be considerate of others." After I asked how tall the biggest ones were, "Gosh, do you really wanna know? Let's just say you can't see the entire avatar with the draw distance maxed out. I've figured out how to walk around the outside of sims. It's, really difficult to use at that point. Haha! Over 2km, for sure. I measured with some blocks. A single foot covers around 6 to 8 sims. It's a fun novelty but at that point it's nothing more than a party trick! ... I know you did mention something in your article about how giant avatars aren't really practical, and you'd be absolutely right. However, through the challenges, I discovered something I would have never thought I'd enjoy, and at the end of the day, I'm having fun with my avatar. Second Life is a social game, and it's not like my avatar is any better or worse than any of the other ones. I'm still just some guy behind a screen having fun with friends, even if maybe I take up a bit more screen estate. (grin) 

"And maybe I'd like to just say for anyone else, try something out of your comfort zone. You might surprise yourself!"

I then asked if there were smaller versions of the avatar. "Of course," he answered, "I started off with a much smaller version. Began around the 12 feet mark, worked up to 60 feet. Used that regularly for years, it's still kind of what I default back to. I haven't really worked on any other avatars. If I do it tends to be a joke. Though unlike Fop, none of those jokes jumped out at me in the same way."

And what have been peoples' reactions? Fop responded, "It really depends on the crowd. In the general places, initially I'd get the usual "WHOAH THATS A BIG AVATAR!" But then I'll change the topic and it becomes whatever. In places made for giants, I'll get "YOU'RE TOO BIG FOR THIS SIM" and get shoo'd away. Kinda backwards eh?

"Of course any place that has a size limit will have the boot ready for me unless I change quickly. Sometimes people are hostile, but I find as a whole people tend to be a lot more accepting than I anticipated. ^^. That, or they're just being polite. You can never be sure!

"I think the initial shock factor is kind of predictable though. Everyone once in a while, the more critical will tell me my avatar is jank looking. Sorry, I did my best!

And what does Fop do when not going about "Living large?" He answered, "Well, I don't really stop to be honest, but as far as other things I like to do on here, I enjoy writing scripts for friends. I also really enjoy teaching people how to make stuff. I've left a lot of comments in the stuff I wrote for my pals who knew nothing about scripting, and they later thanked me as it laid the foundation for them to learn how to do it themselves, which was a really good feeling to be honest. I've considered applying to teach at the Builder's Brewery, or start my own classes. I think SL needs more people trying to create things. It's really the perfect platform for expression and sharing ideas.

"Obviously I'm reaching the limits of what I can do with my one gimmick, but I've also always wanted to make games, inside and outside of Second Life. I started on a couple projects years ago, but it's something I've been wanting to revisit. That, and making cool vehicles.

"Oh, and I like to terrorize, er, hang out with my friends at Natoma. I'm planning on taking some mainland-wide tours to meet (and maybe surprise) some people while handing out pizzas. Who wants some? (I don't knock on properties with security orbs tho. You're missin' out on free pizza!)"

Fop went on, "Years ago I got encouraged when I read an interview with Ceri Quixote on their giant avatar, and if I could inspire even one person to just try to do a thing and discover something new, I think that would be pretty nifty! Also shoutouts to Samantha Shadowcry. They're also a pretty big friend, and we bounce off each other with ideas and encouragement. I just wanna say I'm not alone in this journey! It's been a lot more fun with someone to actually share knowledge with and grow. Figuratively and literally (smile). ... Big avatars don't have to be statues. I wanna show that they can be fun too!"
And where did the name "Fop" come from? He answered, "I originally picked Jake. It was a generic name, but then one of my friends commented on my attire by saying I looked foppish. It stuck. That was within' the first year of being on SL.Really the avatar was more-or-less a big accident. It was formed by the time I spent on here and the people I met, ultimately. ... I don't bite and people are more than welcomed to ask me questions!"

"OOOH! I remembered a big point! Unfortunately my progress almost came to a screeching halt a few years ago, when I started to encounter people who just could not see my avatar. Like, at all. It really puzzled me as to why, but in about 2019ish (I forget exactly what year) Firestorm implemented a hardcoded derenderer that used your avatar's Texture Area. Even though Fop is made of the same primitives used to build in world, Firestorm would see the avatar and immediately derender Fop for being over 1000m² in texture area. When you consider that most people around that time used Firestorm, it meant unless people cranked their settings to automatically render avatars regardless of complexity, or Fop was forced to be rendered, I was invisible to most people I'd encounter. I'd then have to manually instruct everyone on how to see me, and of course a lot of people wouldn't bother. It was incredibly discouraging after working on my avatar after five years, finally getting it to a point I was satisfied with only to have all my work completely for nothing. I almost left SL for good right then and there. Even in my own "About Me" section of my profile are instructions on how to make me appear and it's sad I even have to include that. No other main client has implemented that feature by default.

"The problem still exists but with other viewers slowly taking the popularity vote, it's given me a sigh of relief."

And what was the model of Fop's avatar? "It's a modified example skeleton I found off some wiki, with the bones moved around. The head was from a freebie wolf avatar made in the early days of SL (I added eyebrows, hair, new ears, nose, and a fabulous tooth), the hair is just system hair with a front piece from some freebie pony avatar, the arms, legs, main body and tail were all created by myself, and the hands from some cat avatar in the library that comes with every account. The feet were heavily modified from that same wolf avatar I mentioned earlier. I haven't spent a single cent of my own real world money on this game, using only the Lindens I got from scripting for people for skeleton and texture uploads. All the scripts except for my AO I wrote myself, and even the AO I modified to match the walking speed increase of the longer legs.  I don't think you'll find another avatar on SL like mine!

"You really don't need to spend money to make something you can be happy with though. It takes a lot of work but it's a lot more satisfying in the end. It feels more like it's your own."

Fop would do a dance for a few pictures, and send me one of his: "Heroic dog saves cows from thug chicken." But he would later message me again, "Unfortunately, it seems as though the fun might eventually come to an end. Due to recent changes in certain viewers, things have been looking grim for giant avatars in general. In the pursuit of performance, certain viewers have implemented a feature that introduces a hard limit on texture area that an avatar can have before being derendered, even if their parts are flat shaded. Should an avatar's texture area exceed 1000m², the avatar is derendered regardless of what the complexity setting is set in the preferences (unless set to 'No Limit'), or unless you force render the avatar manually.

"Firestorm and LL viewer are the two I know of that have implemented this, which are unfortunately the two most popular viewers. So even if Fop's complexity while super-mega-large is lower than a lot of normal sized avatars due to his simplicity, he just pops out of existance for the majority of SL users who are using default settings. (For reference, a 1km tall Fop only hits 202k complexity. He also doesn't impact the framerate as much as one might expect) I've encountered a handful of people who even experienced the same problem with their giant mesh avatars. I've had to explain to people so many times now on how to render me that I ended up just putting instructions in my profile. It's gotten pretty annoying to be honest and completely sours the experience. My dreams of just surprising people and handing out pizzas while touring the mainlands are kind of dead as a result. The kicker is that Fop, being mostly prim and sculpties, can be rezzed in world and the viewers won't care and will render all the parts anyway. But worn? That's taboo. Doesn't really make sense in my opinion.

"Sadly it discouraged me greatly, and I've even considered leaving SL altogether. The change, as a knee-jerk reaction to griefers, ended up stiffling the creativity of legitimate users. I even created a couple prim avatars for a couple friends, but they can't enjoy them for the same reasons. I hope one day they'll reverse the implementation, or at least add a non-default option in the preferences to set the texture area limit. I'm sure if a griefer really wanted to cause trouble they'll exploit some other oversight, and then another thing will get nerfed, and then another, and then another, and eventually we'll downspiral to a point where nobody will be able to be creative anymore. If anyone in charge is reading this, please reconsider!"

Since this interview though, I would see Fop one more time at Natoma. For now, Fop is still presumably going about as usual, making big impressions with his big avatar.

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, September 23, 2022

Echovets: Band of Brothers

 By Bixyl Shuftan

There's a new sim and group in Second Life for veterans: EchoVets - Band of Brothers

A place for Veterans by Veterans.  Newcomer friendly, VA Information, PTSD, Suicide Awareness, education, dance, free, gardens, fountain, games. Camaraderie with those that speak your language.  ALL are welcome, Brothers and Sisters.

I was told a little beforehand about the lady who ran it, Stacy Maracas. She has been in Second Life since Oct 2004, almost 18 years, and in real life works at a veterans center, her profile stating "ANYTHING a Veteran may have a question about, I am your resource, and if I do not know the answer, I assure you I will get it."

I contacted Stacy, and a meeting was soon arranged, "Been working my butt off," she commented when we met up, "I love busy.  If I didn't I'd be screwed, I wear too many hats to not like it." I mentioned that she had been a longtime resident, and asked how she got here. "I was apart of Second Life through friends in 2003," she told me, "I borrowed a friend's alternate, and came here as a lady named Kiwi." She chuckled, "I fell in love with it here, so first of October 2004 I created me. I like my name better. So next month, 18 years," she smiled, "I'm almost officially an adult in Second Life!

"There was no islands or anything then, only mainland, very small very cool. Also no skin, prim hair, and really bad clothing. But we ll thought we were the hottest things ever. HAH!"

I asked her how things went after her entrance. She answered, "It was well, a learning curve.  I was a Mafia Godmother here, roleplay etc.  It was a lot of fun to be honest, but the longer I was here I could see potential in just being myself here. I have always been myself, but I mean no roleplaying etc, just good 'ol Stacy which is my real-life name as well. I have been much happier since making the decision, have met some amazing friends here, and many that I came here with 18 yrs ago. I am still very close too and stay in touch here and in real-life. That is what kept me coming back, now that. And this sim is what will keep me here for a long time to come."

I then asked her what gave her the idea for the Band of Brothers sim. Stacy told me, "In my real world job, I work for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, at a place called The Vet Center in Lake Havasu, Arizona.  My proper job title is Veteran's Outreach Program Specialist or VOPS.  MY job everyday is to help Veterans.  I am a female combat Veteran myself (Desert Storm), so this is my passion and who I am.  I had reached out to the Lindens to ask them to put me on the destination guide and the itty-bitty land I had.

"Madori Linden reached out to me and asked me to have a meeting with her, and she is very passionate about Veterans, and suggested this sim, as a non--profit.  The non-profit I am President of in real-life is Band of Brothers.  I got our EIN (the letter of proof from the IRS that the organization is a legitimate and registered Non-profit 501 3C) from our President to show off to Linden Labs of our legitimacy as a non-profit, the President wrote them a letter approving me to work on behalf of our group, I was given the price for a non-profit sim, and here we are.  Idea in full and now a reality. so to speak. Ha!"

Stacy went on, "There is a kiosk near the gigantic photo album that tells you about our real-life organization.  Also behind me is the kiosk of my military story, I remain transparent for trust purposes, as many Veterans in SL (including myself) have had their trust broken by others, and I refuse to be that person to them as I am here to help everyone. ... With Veterans, we have trust issues to begin with especially after combat or MST, so Second Life can be a very rough place at time when not everyone is honest.  However its also very healing on the other end of the spectrum as for many of our Veterans this is the only socialization they get."

Of the sim, getting a wide-shot of the whole place took a little time so things could rezz, but it was soon done. She stated she "wanted it to be a nice place, not only for education but to hang out as well." She did note one corner didn't have much on it for the time being, "and as you can see, one small area I'm waiting for items for to finish."

I pointed out the large building near us, which was close to the landmark location I was given. Stacy smiled, "This is the grand hall. Inside we will hold classes, Q & A's, Suicidal Awareness training for Veterans and people who work with Vets, PTSD classes, and a plethora of other things to aide in helping our Veterans AND their families and friends. (We will) have guest speakers, some from the VA, the President of the organiztion will come, and other guest speakers."

She pointed out the kiosks around the area, "Each of these kiosks out here have notecard information in them, we will actually have classes on each of them as well, with room for Q & A, etc."

At one point, Stacy had to take a break in the interview to take a phone call. She came back, and I brought up other places on the sim. "A club too, some small homes," she told me, "all of it to make it feel comfortable and a fun place to hang out/ We will do some club type events etc as well, but definitely not our focus. Our focus is socialization, education and helping one another."

I noticed a Vet Center. "Yes it is the main center," she told me, "set up as a familiar place to Veterans, and for future of what is to come, possible one on one counseling from our employees and simply being available in either world." She pointed out other places, "There is also a very large soldiers memorial fountain. I tried to have nice spots throughout to see and check out." Of the one corner that didn't have so much, "The last open spot net to the fountain will have some military vehicles displayed ... prior to the grand opening, just waiting for delivery."

I asked if anything inspired the particular designs of some of the places on the sim. Stacy answered, "When I found the hall it reminded me of the large place we would have our military training in, in Europe. So I had to have it and decided that would be used for the classes.  I wanted the Vet Center building to be professional yet welcoming as the Vet Center is in real-life and found that building it was perfect, the rest honestly no. I wanted memorial to my fallen brothers and sisters, hence the fountains. 
"Small items will be added here and there, but for the most part, the rest of the design was just what was in my head and what I know Veterans will want as a place to come and hang out. ... that is all that matters, and of course, breaking down some walls and making my brothers and sisters get off their butts and come socialize, and come seek help even if they don't know they need it."

Near the end, Stacy would say, "We all have two most important days of our lives.  One is the day we are born, and second is the day we figure out why. This is my why. I had REASONS to not take my own life, my children needed me, etc, but I had never found my WHY. Band of Brothers is my why, having the 'six' of my brothers and sisters and helping them thru their journeys so no Veteran ever has to be in a dark place again." She thanked me for taking the time to ask about the sim and reporting on it.

On a final note, while Stacy and I were talking, one of the Vet Centers counselors came by and noticed the computer screen. Seeing what was going on, she asked if "Fox News' had arrived.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Interview with Goddess (ShandyLand Resident)

By Bixyl Shuftan
Goddess (ShandyLand Resident) is a builder whom has made both locations and numerous items for sale, and the owner of Goddess Creations. She's also the owner of Familiar Felines, and the new Club Go. I recently met up with her for an interview.

I dropped by just outside her club in her Lover's Beach sim. After some friendly greetings, I asked, "How did you find out about Second Life?" Goddess answered, "I was a home health aide in realife, my client's daughter (hee-hee). She showed me the place and I was mesmerized (smile). This was seven years ago. I found out few years after my health was bad, (and) took me from real-life work, and I was always a hard worker. So Second Life was my way to work and be creative, and escape real-life pain (smile)."

I then asked, "How did your first days go, and how did Second Life become your way to be creative?"
She answered, "(My) first days were easy for me really as I had help (smile). Someone could show me stuff (in) real life. I felt welcomed though for sure.  I realized after (my) health problems and not working (in) real life I could not afford to pay for things I wanted here anymore (laughter). So I started creating gachas and stuff to pay for all the fun shopping I love to do here hahaha (big grin). I am an artist (in real life, so was also a way to get away from the bad stuffs the real-life pain and things were bringing (smile), an outlet. I met great friends here too that have helped me through a lot (smile)."
I then asked about her more successful gachas, "And interesting about being an artist, what do you create in real life?" Goddess answered, "Oh my High Times and Pot Spot by far hahaha pot heads unite!" She chuckled, "I draw, paint, sculpt among others things I like to dabble in anything creative really (smile). Creating places here too is one of my fave things here to do (smile)." 

I then asked, "Nice, I take it this club is among your creations?" She smiled, "Yes. I put this whole sim together. I did not create all (of) the stuff, just put together (smile)."

My next question was related to her being a club owner, "So how did you get into music?" Goddess answered, "I have always been a lover of music (smile). I grew up (in) real life around rock, Dad was a biker Mom was a Hippie (smile), hehehe. So (I) grew up around great rock and disco music, fell in love as well with oldies (smile). Music is a life form and very essential to my being (smile). I love a lot of types of music, (and) open to a lot of new stuff too and always willing to hear something out (smile).  I wanted clubs here in Second Life as I seen how fun (it) was to bring friends together and share that passion of music (smile). Music is always fun to bond over (big grin)."

I then asked, "Which DJs do you get along with best?" She answered, "Well my best friend is a DJ here, so that's a given (laughter), Dj Nafrini. She also DJs for Deathlands (smile)." I asked, "Did you ever give DJing a try yourself?" She gave a big grin, "I am in the process of getting ready to do so. I am excited about it (smile)." So I asked, "When might your first events be?" Goddess answered, "Not too sure on that yet have lots going on," she laughed, "but I am really hoping to be up and running before Halloween (smile)."

"Before I go further," I then brought up, "what inspired your current look?" She answered, "I seen this outfit on Marketplace (smile). That's it (laughter). I said 'that's cute' and thought (I) need pigtails (smile),  sneakers and done (big grin)." I then mentioned her rings and jewelry, such as her necklace with "Bestie" on it. Goddess answered, "I love jewelry (smile), and yep it my half of me and Nafrinis 'Best Friends Forever' necklaces (big grin), We are real deal besties (laughter)."

I then brought up the Deathlands and Rebel Wolf. Goddess smiled, "I love him and Deathlands (big grin) heehee. Truly though, Rebel Wolf is a true friend and genuine guy.  Deathlands is amazing and the work done there is truly impressive.  I work with Rebel to help bring people there too as I myself am a Deathlander (smile). We are family."
She went on, "I am working on a Deathlands-inspired gacha that will even have the SL Newser be present." I asked about it, and she offered so show me. We walked a short distance to an open area. Then she rezzed a section of old brick wall with the "rad" symbol seen often at the Deadlands painted on. There was also grafitti painted on it, such as "Baron Wolf was here - Aroooooooo!" And on one side, Goddess had put "Bixyl was here." She grinned, "Look Bixyl, you were here." There was also some newspaper on the ground, one piece with a very familiar title. She told me it wasn't finished, "(It) will have animations, (and) other items like this to complete a gacha set. (It) will be an an event on opening. Very excited to do it. Half (of) all sales go to Wolf too. Family sticks together (smile). It will be a fun gacha." Although called a gacha, her items are sold in a way to get around the "Gacha Ban" by Linden Lab a year ago.

She then offered to show me around, "Of course this is club GO (smile). We have skate rink and game room here, 80's inspired." We went through some underground rooms with a Fantasy-themed look to them with the carved stone, and then into an underground club, also Fantasy themed, "This is GO Enchanted, (smile) club for more meditative and odd music (laughter). Over there is Nuvo's cave (smile). He is a real-life musician from Australia, play's here (smile)."

Goddess called GO Enchanted, "Our cave tavern (smile)." I asked what that meant, and she smiled, "We will have open mic nights and live poetry reads. Hahaha yes!"

She then took me through a shopping area, with numerous small stores. "Goddess Gacha Garden," she told me it was called, "has been resell place (for) over three years (smile). Many looks and locations through (the) years (laughter), always small."

I asked her how the Gacha Ban by the Lab a year ago affected her sales. "Very bad," Goddess told me, "My sales are half what they were."
Going to one of the larger stores, we were greeted by a message, "Welcome to Familiar Felines, a magical place to buy and sell KittyCatS Breedables." She told me, "You can get to my store through the teleport over there and will be others as well coming soon (smile)."
We moved on, and eventually into an opening in the ground, going down some stairs, "Down here is Squirrel's Cave," she smiled, "will be belly dance events here." She then pointed to a fountain and smiled, "This fountain I made, one of (my) new items." We walked over an area using a bridge, which had two of what looked like magic portals, "Ports down there will work soon," she smiled then gave a big grin, "I am working on a VIP bunker."

She then showed me another large store, which was where she sold her own items, "Gachas," she smiled, "I have one not out yet (laughter), will show you one think you might like for x-mas (laughter), is fox set (big grin)." I asked about it, and she TPed me to a secret spot on her sim whose location will not be revealed. There was a Christmas tree, and a full set of fox items, from a fox painting to a fox carpet, a plush fox doll, a fox lying on a cushion, and more. 

"That's all my stuffs for now," Goddess smiled, "(I) will have my dragon store and vip coming soon." I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to mention. She told me, "We have really one mission here and that is to spread love and kindness (smile). All are welcome here, no dress code no judgment (smile). Only children are not aloud in clubs; all else welcome with open arms (smile)."
After a little more chat, we had to go our separate ways. 

Goddess' Club GO is at Lovers Beach (6/40/2004). Goddess Creations is at Lovers Beach (152/187/21). The Gacha Garden is at Lovers Beach (163/131/2002).

Bixyl Shuftan

Friday, August 26, 2022

It Came From Bellisseria Chat: UFO Sighting

By Bixyl Shuftan

Chats in the Bellisseria group are often interesting. You might hear a joke from a Linden or Mole. You might hear some useful information, especially if you're after a Linden home. Often, there's a lot of joking around. Like on the afternoon of Thursday August 25 when one resident reported a spacecraft sighting, with photo evidence. 
[17:55] Teresa Firelight: I was standing on the deck of my stilt home when this thing suddenly appeared 10 M above me... not sure... think this is a bit too invasive into my space?  (image above)
[17:55] Marius Darkheart: aliens are here
[17:55] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): shoot it down
[17:55] AlexBrandon Resident: if its above your parcel ...yes
[17:56] AlexBrandon Resident: unless someone is building and had to move something
It had been hanging around for a few minutes

[17:56] Teresa Firelight: yea.. still there several minutes later.. here is view form another angle:? 
[17:56] Trish Philbin: YIKES !
[17:56] Marius Darkheart: Definitely aliens
[17:56] Teresa Firelight: there is a rez zone  next to my place.. pretty sure it is there cuz of rez zone, but would be nice if they moved on
[17:57] AlexBrandon Resident: definatly against the rules if it stays there
[17:57] Snowlord Resident: for sure it's pretty big. maybe they are trying to fly
[17:57] Trish Philbin: can you click on it and see if it has an owner name on it?
[17:57] Teresa Firelight: now it has lowered to my deck level and is smashing through my house.. maybe they are having trouble steering it?
[17:57] Marius Darkheart: Set phasers to stun.
Talk soon turned to just what this thing was.

[17:57] Snowlord Resident: it looks like a void ship, and if so, it's massive and meant more for a region. is someone there?
[17:57] AlexBrandon Resident: that's circa 2004 ...
[17:58] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): yes sometimes vehicles are bigger than the rezzone, but that thing is huge ... He ll most likely loose it on some full parcel on his trip
[17:58] AlexBrandon Resident: Just yell about how bad the build is
[17:58] Snowlord Resident: oh yes, could have lost part for sure
[17:58]   ͞C:ノフCtrlFaultyDelete ͞   (TonyBowlin Resident): Sadly switches phaser back from kill...
[17:58] Marius Darkheart: 2004 called and they want their UFO back
[17:58] Snowlord Resident: it's an amazing build if it's what I think it is. But yes its a bit much there
[17:58] AlexBrandon Resident: Just make sure its not Torley Linden driving it
[17:59] AlexBrandon Resident: Opppsss did I say that ?
[17:59] Marius Darkheart: lol
[17:59] Trish Philbin: lol
[17:59] Mel (MelpomeneThalia Atheria): It looks like a giant bot fly to me
[17:59] Snowlord Resident: i'd say IM the owner and see if they lost part of it

And then, just as soon as it appeared, it vanished.
[17:59] Teresa Firelight: wow that was a close encounter of the undesirable dimensio,. finally gone ... but pilot fying back to rez zone
[18:00] AlexBrandon Resident: lol
[18:00]   ͞C:ノフCtrlFaultyDelete ͞   (TonyBowlin Resident): Its just a d*ldo from one of those kinky vore sims.
[18:00] Snowlord Resident: is it by void Teresa? just curious
[18:00] AlexBrandon Resident: lol
[18:01] Atheas Zenovka: I think it's the Vogons mapping out the new expressway
[18:01] Teresa Firelight: Yes snow it is
[18:01]   ͞C:ノフCtrlFaultyDelete ͞   (TonyBowlin Resident): Run
[18:02] Teresa Firelight: There is a rez zone on the side of my house then a void
[18:02] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): towels...I sell need a towel
[18:02] Teresa Firelight: lol
[18:03] Snowlord Resident: ah okay. yes that ship is massive!!
[18:03] Teresa Firelight: looks like they finally decided to try and rez it somewhere else
[18:03] Snowlord Resident:
[18:04] Snowlord Resident: it's literally meant for a full region lol
[18:04] Teresa Firelight: yea it looked some thing like that
[18:04] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): more of a art thing also
[18:05] Teresa Firelight: I think they were intending to fly it over the ocean regions
[18:05] Snowlord Resident: it's too big to be a daily traveler for sure. but i love voids creations. they are amazing!!
[18:05] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): looks smaller than Spykers ships tough
[18:05] Snowlord Resident: just unboxing one of their items is an experience in itself
[18:07] POMF (Denise Foxtrot):
[18:07] Snowlord Resident: omg I tried to cam out on the youtube
[18:08] Snowlord Resident: that looks pretty nifty so far!!
[18:09] Marius Darkheart: Yeah.. wow.
[18:09] POMF (Denise Foxtrot): that one I linked is pre mesh and simsized ...but can flay and cross sims lol

Chat soon changed to other subjects. But no doubt this close encounter will be remembered for a while.

And if anyone asks, no, there was no sighting of Elvis (or Ray Stevens) in the area.

Image from Teresa Firelight

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, August 15, 2022

Miss Suzanne Super Sweet Speaks About Burn2

 By Bixyl Shuftan

Burn 2 is Second Life's longest lasting and largest annual art and music festival. Based on the real-life Burning Man festival that also tales place every year and attracts tens of thousands, it has attracted many fans and a number of spinoff events. It has been a party to look forward to every year. 
Unfortunately, this year there has been trouble behind the scenes. A number of the Burners have resigned, and there have been accusations from some of them against the group's leadership. The Newser contacted one of the Burn2 Rangers, Miss Suzanne Super Sweet (SuperSuz Resident), and asked for an explanation of what's going on.

*  *  *  *

Question: Who is the owner of the sim and what part does that person play in oversight?


Answer: The Burn2 sim is owned by Michael Mikel (M2 Burner) and is funded by the Burning Man Project, a 501c3 non-profit organization. The Burning Man Project produces the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, and provides year-round support, connection, education, and grants to Burning Man communities in more than 40 US States and 35 countries under its Regionals Program. M2 sponsors the Burn2 sim under the Burning Man Regionals Program  and is ultimately responsible for Burning Man intellectual property used on the Burn2 sim.

The Burn2 Burning Man Regional Contacts are 3V and myself, Miss Suzanne Super Sweet.  M2 Burner is not involved in any planning of events, building or attending planning meetings.  He does, however, remain a part of the committee that is consulted for restrictions such as banning or even removing someone from leadership.  M2 has faith in the current Burn2 Leadership and expects us to deal with our problems internally whenever possible.  For more information about the early history of BURN2, we have that on our website here. 

Question: Why was Deep Hole access restricted for two months?


Answer: We stated the reasoning for the closure of Deep Hole, here:   

I feel a need to clarify some things. At the time, it seemed the appropriate step to take, to pause and cool things down, and let the Burn2 leadership, in conjunction with Burning Man Network leadership, work on the issues that had arisen. For the Burn2 leadership, this was just as unexpected as it was for the community. I explained that Deep Hole was closed as an intervention to calm down the conflict which had escalated between some individuals.  The plan was to provide a cooling off period and also work with our leadership, where much of the escalation was occurring.  This cooling off time for leadership and  intervention included blocking access to Deep Hole and canceling the next event for the purpose of providing more time to look closely at our processes and policies. 

During the cooling down period and going forward, the leads worked together on specific goals.  We still have a lot of work to do and we will be asking others to help us move forward.  Eventually, we will be looking at our structure, improving Burn2’s culture, and strengthening the teams that help to organize events. Volunteers will have opportunities to join the teams that match their interests. 

Deep Hole was reopened on the 31st of July.  On reopening day, there were several people there who had resigned from their volunteer roles in protest.   I issued an apology for the decision to shut down Deep Hole  and how that negatively affected the community.   I explained the reasons for the cooling off period and attendees shared their frustrations.  The main reason given was that during the months leading up to the cooldown period, there were particular incidents that happened between individuals that continued to escalate due to offensive behaviors between those individuals.  This led to many people reporting high physical and mental stress.

Question: Why were some people dismissed and/or banned?


Answer: The reasons for dismissals and bans are kept confidential, out of consideration and respect for the privacy and dignity of the individuals involved. Decisions about dismissals or bans are not taken lightly and are, for the most part, made by a committee of experienced people who have been deemed by Burning Man management as capable and with the qualities needed to make the least restrictive and most inclusive choices possible and reasonable. The committee takes care in reviewing the cases. They try to understand and deliberate before making these decisions.  I am a member of this committee.

Burn2 is guided by a liberal ethos along with the 10 Principles of Burning Man.  Determining the line of inclusion is a constant challenge. We strive to be inclusive and supportive of volunteers in Burn2. We also hold those in leadership to higher expectations as custodians of responsibility in Burn2. 

I will refer you to this page, which talks about the rights and responsibilities of volunteers. 

Question: What happens now?


Answer: I have been working with leadership during the cooling down and know that there have been many hours committed to improving policies.  This includes policies governing the leadership.  Several policies were developed or are being developed, such as, the Code of Conduct Policy for Leadership.  We created additional policies for the Burn2 community: the Burn2 Code of Ethics, meetings policy and groups/chat policies. These are designed to foster a more positive and communal spirit in our interactions with each other. We seek constructive feedback focused on creating procedures, policies and decisions with the aim of improving the regional culture. We want to end the practice of public finger-pointing, personal accusations and allegations targeted at individuals, by defining a private complaint process.  Planning for this year’s Octoburn event is getting underway, at the weekly planning meetings on Sundays at 9am SLT and Thursdays at 9pm SLT.  In addition, there is going to be separate meeting time that leadership is setting up with the Burn2 community to give even more opportunity to talk about the shutdown and the work that was done with the leads in conjunction with Burning Man management during that period. I hope that we continue to take the feedback and make changes.  Not all will be implemented but all will be considered.  I know that not everyone is going to be content with this.. I am staying open to ideas on what to do about our problems by focusing on the suggestions, ideas and solutions that are about policy and processes that leadership and others use to operate. I look forward to that because we can always get better and improve on what we have collectively created and what we have been given to creatively express art together.  This is my personal goal.      

*  *  *  *  *

The upcoming Burn2 event or "Octoburn" will take place from Friday October 7 to Sunday October 16. Of the Burners who left the group, some have been active in the Burn ONe area and having events of their own. What happens as time goes on remains to be seen.
Correction: The header that lead to the article stated that Burn2 had been going on since the start of Second Life. We were counting the time period of Burning Life, which was the virtual version of Burning Man until Linden Lab ceased it's sponsorship after several years. After that, there were a number of changes, including the name which was changed to Burn2.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Wesley Regenbogen And Cobras MC

By Penny Shuftan

Recently, Wesley Regenbogen became a five year member of the Cobras MC, the motorcycle club on Second Life that he joined five years ago.  I asked him how he found out about Cobras MC.  "Well, I was contacting a real life organization called 'Be The Match' at that time and I was looking to see if someone already did a fundraiser for that organization here in Second Life." said Wesley, "I ended up talking to MIghtbe Shelter here in Second Life and she invited me over to see the Cobras MC here in Second Life.  She showed me around and we talked a bit about what I wanted to do here in Second Life as a fundraiser and how I wanted to do it.  She told me that they did do a fundrasier here in Second Life for Be The Match here in SL.  But after a while, she told me that the organization didn't want to do anything anymore in Second Life  So, I kept on searching on the web and for the other real life organizations."

According to Wesley, there are a few steps to joining the Cobras MC.  The first step would be that the new person would become a "hangaround" which means that you join the rides for a while, and get to know the Cobras MC members a bit more.

The second step is that after "hanging around" with the Cobras MC, you are asked if you wanted to become a prospect.  If you accept, then your prospect period begins. Depending on how well you do it can take up to about a month or something like that.

The third step is that after your prospect period, they will vote for you at Church (weekly meeting at the Cobras MC).  If you get enough votes.  you are "patched in," which means you become a full member and get a vest for your avatar.  

After becoming a full member, every ride you do counts to reach rides patch.  You will get them on your vest when you reach them.  Also you reach "year patches," so every year you are a member, you will get a new year patch on your vest.  Wesley had reached his five years patch recently, and also got his "1K" rides patch, that is 1000 rides.

I was wondering if Wesley is planning on staying with Cobras MC for a long time.  "Yes, of course," he answered, "I will stay a Cobras MC member for as long as possible.  That is my plan."

My next question is if Cobras MC has any fundraisers.  "No." Wesley told me, "But they sometimes participate in fundraisers and do rides and stuff for them.  after a few years I finally found an organization called EURORDIS that helps people with rare diseases and I hoped that they wanted to support me on this in Second Life, fundraising, I mean, but sadly that didn't turn out that well.  But I'm in contact with an organization called " Rare Diseases International" and I will have a video call with them in August. We will see how that goes."

I was just wondering if Cobras MC has any events planned, and Wesley answered that he doesn't know yet. But he's going to first try to convince a new organization to join him in Second Life and try to build something up in terms of fundraising for them here in Second Life.  He wants to have a real life organization backing him up on fundraising here in Second Life, like the Relay for Life does here in Second Life.  

As for plans, Wesley doesn't know what Cobras MC's plans are.  As for himself, "I guess keeping on riding on the tracks on Second Life," he told me with a grin.

That was it for the interview as I thanked Wesley for the interview.  This had been a fantastic interview.  There's always something to learn when it comes to Second Life, that's for sure.

Penny Shuftan

Monday, May 23, 2022

Looking Back: Shellie Sands and Grey Lupindo

By Bixyl Shuftan

When Second Life Newspaper closed down in early June 2010, four writers would go on to found and write for it's successor, the Second Life Newser: Gemma Cleanslate, Grey Lupindo, Shellie Sands, and myself, Bixyl Shuftan. Gemma and I have continued writing to this day. Sadly, Shellie and Grey have stopped writing. So who were they and what did they write about?

Shellie Sands joined up with the Second Life Newspaper sometime in 2009. Besides her articles, she also did poetry inspired by what she saw in this virtual world. In 2010 came a new subject: Ozimal bunnies, which she loved and would write about. She would also write about musicians and art. She would later get some Amaratto horses and write about those as well, one picture which Hamlet Au would cartoon in January 2010 following the results of the lawsuit between the two breedable pets makers.

Shellie would take a couple breaks in 2011, but came back, her last article in August and last poem in September. She would attend at least one more meeting, but sadly the Newser's poet would send no more.

Grey Lupindo was different from other reporters at the Second Life Newspaper in that I first met her before she joined. I ran into her at the Second Life Sixth Birthday grounds sometime in June 2009. When I mentioned I was covering the event for the paper, she told me she had yet to hear about any newsletter covering Second Life and had a few questions. A few months later, I would see her at the office getting a job interview by Dana, hired, and given an office. Like me, Grey was quickly distinguishable from the others with her furry appearance: the starter furry avatar with the stiff tail replaced by a flexible one, which she called her foxette.

Grey would write the first of the Newser's articles after it's introduction, and would go on to report about a variety of subjects. She would write about the Fantasy Faire. She would interview fellow reporter Grease Coakes about his just published book. She would write about the Meeroos, the fashionable breedable pet of 2011. But what I most remember her for are her articles about various locations across the virtual world. She would also write about her home community of Syzygy. One community event she reported took place outside their estate when several of the folk went down the mainland highways in tanks.

Grey would take a break in 2014 in order to deal with matters in real life. She would return in April 2016 when things on her side of the computer became less hectic. She would do a few more articles, such as an interview with SLB Cake builder Mikati Slade. But then the articles would stop. It would seem real life had taken over once more.

Over time, the Newser has had a number of reporters. A few sent in one or two articles after they were officially in, then having to leave. Others would write for years. But twelve years later, I still remember fondly these two whom helped found Second Life's best newsletter.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Memorial for Teal Freenote

By Bixyl Shuftan

On April 9, it was announced that Teal Freenote had passed away. On Sunday April 24 at 11 AM, a memorial service was held for her at Remembrance Park in Raglan. A large number of people attended, at times about eighty in the sim, "This is the first time in 18 years I have seen 76 tinies sit still for longer than 15 minutes." Most were local tinies, but there were some human and furry avatars.

Zayn Till would give a speech that would be shown on Youtube, "Teal has been such an integral part of Raglan Shire since the begining. After the first Medieval Fest, we had our first Winter Fest, which was held in the entirety of the sillycube. And she was there. And she was helpful, and she was helping, and she was having a grand time like everyone seemed to be having a great time. And many pictures were taken. And I mean, it was magic, it really was magic. Wolfy is the real life husband of Teal. Theirs is a love story. They met in Second Life years ago. They finally decided to meet up in real life. And then they decided to marry. It's truly a touching, heartwarming, amazing story, a real love story, which is rare.

"Teal ran the Art Walk for five years. It was fabulous. She was so excited to do it. It was so nice to know. Just like karma does now. To know that someone really really cared and wanted to make it the best possible, and connected with the others, because there's other art groups in Second Life, and she had connected with all these other artists that weren't , it wasn't just Ragna Shire. The first year it was because that's all I knew. You know, I'm in my box. But Teal went outside the box and contacted all these groups that were art groups all over Second LIfe, and all these other artists. And all of a sudden ...

"Wolfe, my heart goes out to you. And there's no words, you know. I mean, the reality of everything, there's no words. But, you know I value what you've offered to our community, what you've offered as a friend. I was estatic that the two of you had a chance to meet and interact and then meet in real life and realize that love was real and then marry. And I know the loss is huge. I've talked about loss and the vacuum it creates. But as I understand it, you know she passed, and you were in the same room holding her hand ... you can't ask for anything else at the end.

"This is what's important, but they're not what's important. What's important is our actions and how they affect others, and how we impact others, and how others remember us. Because ultimately, we are all a story. And all we can do is tell each other the stories of the folks that have passed on, and remember them. And as long as you can do that, the vacuum aside, they're still always going to be with you. And you can cry, and you can be sad, but you could also remember why they made you laugh. Or that time they did something that made you smile. Or that time they did something that meant so much to you that you weren't aware that they were doing it. Teal was one of those people. And she would do things for others without people knowing until she would present them with that thing that she did. And we're grateful to have people like that.

"You know, Wolf told me that towards the end, I think she had made peace with everything and when I talked to her, she was already dying. And I know she was scared when I talked to her. But at the same time, she just sounded so at peace. And she knew it was happening, and she was just preparing. And you know, Wolf told me before this, that he feels that right now that she is at peace with everything, and ... it breaks my heart.

"I was floored when I heard that all of you congregated in the sillycube. I mean, you can see it. You know, for weeks, and rezzed all the stuff, and talked about her, and because everyone's mourning, everyone wants to comfort each other, and that's another aspect of this particular community being so unique and important. And again, Teal is such a big part of it. There's not really much I an say. I think I've said everything that I've wanted to say. But I mean Raglan Shire has been fifteen years of a community by and for so many that has given so much joy. Teal was such a big part of that. We're going to more than just commemorate her with a little talk. We're going to breathe something out as we want to so because as long as Raglan Shire is around, she's one of those foundations. So before I continue, let me just queue up something that Clover Hear and the Fantasy Faire folks ..."

(voice change) "On April 9 of this year, the Fairelands, the tinies of Raglan Shire, the wider community of Second Life, and indeed the world said goodbye to a dear friend, a sweet little white tiger who touched countless lives. Teal Freenote was everything a Fairelander is supposed to be: generous and kind, funny and courageous. She faced the Unweaver, she faced cancer with all the heart that is embodied in the form she chose as her virtual self. The following message is from the Raglan Shire community, a group of souls without whom the Fairelands would be a sadder, darker place. They write, 'We are heartbroken at the passing of our beloved Teal Freenote, and send all our love to Wolfie Hartnell, her husband, who held her hand throughout her jounrey. Teal fought hard, and we honor her and celebrate her. From all of us, we miss you, and we love you Teal. And we are here for you Wolfie.' And it's signed by the tinies of Raglan Shire.

"2022 marks the 14th age of the Faire. And if there is one lesson we can glean from all those years, it's simply the reminder of how fortunate we are to have this time and space to connect with one another. A wise soul with vision once asked 'What is grief, if not love persevering?' That enduring love is as bright as any star, bright as any sun. teal Freenote, and all those to whom we've said goodbye, are legends, now and forever, teaching us to reach for goodness sake. Now, and forever, loved by the sun."

(Click here if the video does not play)

While Zahn talked, there were some in the crowd who made some wisecracks, "If I ever go, can you guys put a can of Spam on a pedestal oik Morton's over there? People who know would know." "Too bad this ain't the Time or place.....But with all the T.A.G.s here it would of been a good time to give them their annual flea bath." And there were some funny gestures: *** Fish Hats! Fish Hats!  Rolypoly Fish Hats!  Eat them up. Nahm!***

But there was also some talk of Teal, "The ironic thing is she was very shy and here we all are watching her." "I haz prolly seen Teal art.  But it's like my SL inventory--- have no idea where it's filed away." "Teal was always pleasant. i never saw tiger side of her. she never clawed my face off, not even when i'd peed on my artwalk hedge near my store." "Teal never took time for granted," Teal's partner Wolfie (Wolf Hartnell) spoke. "Miss Teal entrusted me with artwalk," Karma Da Squabbit (karmagirl Avro) told, "I try to make it great because of her."

"She's still here supporting me in my heart," Wolfie would say of Teal, "I was there, I held her hand all the way." "Thta's precious, Wolfie," someone commented. "And you are still holding hands Wolfie," spoke another. Wolfie would say, "Zayn, my friend, without you creating Raglan, Teal and I wouldn't have met, so thank you! ... She was scared but ready, she just needed me to be there, and I was." Someone would respond, "I'm so glad your love from the start has been documented so well, Wolfie." Wolfie managed a smile, "I always knew I would have to share Teal." Someone else commented, "She will never be truly gone. Teal will live in our hearts forever." "Pretty much always crying these days," Wolfie would say, "but smiling too." "Those are good tears." "Crying is good, Wolfie." Wolfie would add, "Teal and I never took any of our time for granted - I worked out that we spent 30,000 hours actively together, online and in RL, and we never took any for granted. We felt rich, blessed and grateful. Live and love entirely!"

Someone would comment, "We relay for Teal too this year." Oldesoul Eldemar, whom was there as a tiny, would comment, "Yeesh - we take up more than a region in Fantasy Faire." Clover Denzo would say, "She will be also on the Love wall at Fantasy Faire." "I know loss from here.  And you've all helped amazing." "(I'm) not crying but feeling her spirit happy she's free from her illness  and strong in all of us." "She definitely left her pawprint." "Is good to get to know other tinies / dinkies / wees.  Make new friends.  Cos above all else, we're a friendly batch." "Yeah, makes me sad that one day, none of us will be here. The thought of losing all my TIny friends scares me." "So go out of our way to make new tiny friends." "I made some new friends here today!" "I got 3 friend requests just today." "More than 80 of us here." "And these people, from around the globe."

Songbird Sorbet would say, "Teal was Raglan's Music Director.  Teal helped me discover my talent and led me to my first concert in Raglan Shire.  She was there among many of you." Another would say, "It means a lot to those whom congregate to share happy memories!"

At the end of Zayn's speech, there were gestures and Riverdances. Wolfe was also invited to say something. Someone commented, "I can sum up what zayn said: Teal Freenote was lovely and creative tiny. she was helpful around here a long time, including artwalk. Her love story with Wolfie was epic. She will be missed.  That the TLDR or more like too long to log in cause SL version." Zayn would remind everyone, "(The) Artwalk is coming, this year we're going to be dedicating it to Teal. If you have any Teal specific art thats rare or similar, be sure and let Karma know so that she can plan where to place it." Wolfie would say, "Thank you all so much for being here." "Bawling, so hard to type. so good to see you and others who havent been on in so long."

People then started to leave, "... a gentle hug for Wolfie. Teal will be remembered." "Teal we will never forget you or this day of your memorial." "Great to see so many fiends here.  Teal was loved by so many." "Teal, you were so loved little friend ..."

And so, Raglan bade farewell to one of it's own, one whose name was also known outside the Shire.

On a final note, just as I was finishing this article, RacerX Gullwing posted this video of Teal and Wolfe's wedding celebration. So this article ends with a showing of happier times in Second Life.

Bixyl Shuftan