The Weekly Peek

The Weekly Peek, SL12B Edition: Welcome to the Land of Awes

Posted on Updated on

Cheers to another beautiful week in the SLUniverse! Rather than looking back, this week I’m peeking forward into the singularly spectacular event that’s exploding onto the grid today in a feast of color, sights and sounds. You may land there in curiosity, unsure of what you’ll find, but “what dreams may come” will leave you feeling spellbound. This is the SL12B Community Celebration, honoring the 12th birthday of the Second Life virtual world.

SL12B New England
SL New England (please click for full size)

For those who may be unfamiliar with the annual celebration, this passage from the the official SL12B press release sums up the event beautifully:

Spanning 15 regions with over 200 exhibits and more than 600 performers, disk jockeys and speakers, SL12B is a showcase for the accomplishments and content of all SL residents, celebrating the anniversary of Second Life© leaving its initial beta in 2003.

SL’s official “birthday” is June 23rd, but this entire week is dedicated to celebrations and festivities, including interactive and highly photographic art exhibits; a diverse and dynamic series of talks and presentations; an astonishing array of musical performances, comedy shows, and performing arts concerts spread across 5 (five!) unique venues; the “Big Hunt” with a huge variety of free prizes to be found; and so much more.

I was graciously given early access to the celebration regions, along with a coterie of amazing bloggers and writers, and I was dazzled by what I saw. The best way I can describe SL12B is a World’s Fair meets Disney’s EPCOT, with a bit of eclectic art gallery and local carnival eccentricities thrown in for good measure. It overwhelms the senses and is impossible to take in superficially. When you visit these sims, you become Dorothy in her whirling, twirling farmhouse abode, spinning off into a dreamland of immersive sights, adventures and experiences. Welcome to SL12B, the Land of Awes.

SL12B Welcome Area Train
SL12B Welcome Area Train Station (please click for full size)

SL12B’s Welcome Area coaxes you gently into the experience, leading you down a staircase to a deliciously moody atmosphere, a station with a magical and ominous train whose cars traipse a skyward path, off to destinations unknown. It’s the perfect place to get your bearings, as a Welcome Board (and some wonderfully friendly resident volunteers) will greet you with quick teleports, landmarks, and notecards with performance schedules and other helpful information.

Not far from the Welcome Area is a Pod Tour station, and if you’d like a narrated tour of some of the exhibits, it’s a wonderful place to start. I took the first part of the tour, then jumped off to explore on my own. I used the landmarks to visit the various performance stages, and was delighted by their unique designs. SL12B is not a place that seeks conformity; while their universal theme this year is “What Dreams May Come”, it’s been interpreted in wildly unique and diverse ways by its many designers and artists, leading to some truly unique and extraordinary builds.

SL12B Astonish DJ Stage
Top-down view of the Astonish DJ Stage (please click for full size)
SL12B Cake Stage
The visually dazzling Cake Stage (please click for full size)

In addition to the performance venues, SL12B is a sumptuous buffet of artistic expression. The exhibits range from serenely beautiful to chaotic and hypnotizing. The official website provides SLURLs to both the hub regions, as well as direct teleports to the individual exhibitor parcels.

SL12B M&M Creations
M&M Creations by Marcthur Goosson (please click for full size)
SLB12 We Are the Music Makers and We Are the Dreamers of Dreams
We Are The Music Makers and We Are The Dreamers of Dreams by Krystali Rabeni (please click for full size)

As a child, I had the wonderful fortune of enjoying an educational entertainment center for children that was modeled on the short-lived but well-loved Discovery Zone. It was held at a children’s museum and featured interactive science exhibits, creative art stations, puzzles and play structures, and much more. So when I saw that many of SL12B’s installations were interactive, my inner child was excited and delighted! These are just two of my favorites:

SL12B The Rooms of My Heart
The Rooms of My Heart – by Wendz Tempest (please click for full size)
SL12B Where Fairy Tales Come to Life
Where Fairy Tales Come to Life by xxstevonxx resident (please click for full size)

SL12B kicks off today at Noon (12 PM) SLT, and the festivities run through next Sunday, June 28th. The sims will remain open until July 4th for viewing before they go offline until next year. It’s truly a multi-day, once in year experience not to be missed!

Below, please find links to the SL12B performance schedule, which is offered as an overview as well as broken down by the individual venue. There’s a helpful page of SLURLs on the SL12B website, but I would highly recommend starting from the Welcome Area. I’m also including a round-up of some of the wonderful articles that have been written about this unique event. If I’ve missed anyone, please don’t hesitate to leave me a link in the comments! <3

SL12B Welcome Area
SL12B Performance Schedules
Official SL12B Community Celebration Flickr Photostream
SL12Big Hunt (details from the official site) | Happy Hunting TV (interview & preview)
SL12B Articles at Living in a Modem World by Inara Pey
Celebrating Dreams at SL’s 12th Anniversary by Ricco Saenz
Second Life is Turning 12! Join the Celebration! by Raznay Decosta
Second Life Turns 12! by Shug Maitland
SL12B: Five Must See Exhibits by Uccie Galway
SL12B, Happy Birthday Second Life Open June 21-28 by Kara Trapdoor
SL12B Opens Today at 12pm SLT by Daniel Voyager
Stuff to do in SL: What You Need to Know for SL12B by Tymmerie Thorne
What Dreams May Come ~ SLB12, June 21st-28th by Wendz Tempest
What Dreams May Come SL12B Celebrations by Anna Rain

The Weekly Peek: Double Birthday Edition!

Posted on Updated on

Welcome to another week in the SL Universe, lovelies! And while perhaps not quite as exciting as the legendary “double rainbow“, I do indeed have a double birthday to celebrate today! Ever the avie has turned the tender age of one month old, and her RL counterpart is turning 30 years old! (Which may or may not be the first time that’s happened, but y’know, time is relative and such! Ahem.)

Birthday Wishes
Closing my eyes and making a wish! Please click for a full-size image and credits.

And in their most gracious honor of my dual celebratory occasions (me = humblest Ever ever!), Linden Lab really pulled out all the stops and bestowed a lovely gift upon their members that’s been the big buzz in the community over the last few days:

🔹 Residents can now have membership in up to 60 Second Life groups! Ahhh, but if that seems too good to be true – especially given how rare this kind of change is – there is indeed a catch: the change is presently only in effect for Premium members. Boo, hiss! Read more at the Official SL Blog. But actually, it was a genius move on the part of LL, as additional group slots was probably going to be the only perk alluring enough to bring me back into the subscriber fold. I’m so torn! How about you, friends and readers: will this change be enough to sway you into paying for Premium; or if you’re already a paying member, something worth renewing for? Would love to hear your thoughts! Also reported by: Ciaran Laval, Daniel Voyager (who offers an interesting look back at the last times the group limit was raised), and Inara Pey.

🔹 Popular streaming content provider Twitch, in all its lack-of-wisdom, has decided to ban Second Life from being broadcast by its members, owing to its designation as an Adult-Oriented Game. Once again, SL is being viewed through a narrow-minded and wholly inaccurate lens, and this change will now prevent content creators from live-streaming their creation workflow (a concept that had gained popularity of late), as well as those who offered a variety of streaming content from the grid that stayed firmly within a General or Moderate rating. Ciaran Laval wrote about the Rules of Conduct Update and later followed up with a response to an article on NWN about the subject. Jo Yardley also shared her thoughts about the ban.

🔹 At last Tuesday’s Server-Scripting group meeting in world, Simon Linden provided a notecard with some useful Debug settings that could be employed to help improve viewer performance, particularly at events with a large number of attendees. Nalates Urriah detailed these settings in her blog post and gave excellent summaries of what the various tweaks entail. She also outlined some really helpful rendering shortcuts that may be especially useful for optimizing performance during events, such as the SL12 Community Celebration that’s coming up in only a few shorts weeks!

1920s Berlin Project

🔹 Speaking of annual celebrations, Jo Yardley’s 1920s Berlin Project celebrated its 6th anniversary this past weekend, with events ongoing through Wednesday, June 3rd. A hearty congratulations to Miss Yardley for the longevity and accomplishment of her project, and here’s to many more!

🔹 And last but not least, fans of the Avie Choice Awards may now vote for their favorite brands, creators, bloggers and more in the SLife category, which covers topics like Favorite Furniture Designer, Favorite Sim to Explore Through, Best Annual Event, and many others. Voting closes on June 15th!

The Weekly Peek: May 25th Edition

Posted on Updated on

Welcome to the start of a shiny new week in the SL Blogphere! Let’s take a peek back and see what the happs were last week:

🔹 First, somber news that two of Second Life’s well-loved residents have passed away. Tutti Anatine shared a thoughtful tribute to Thorn (Thorny904) and Amy (ScarletCSkylaC), whom many knew from their shares on Plurk. My thoughts and condolences go out to the friends and family of these two individuals; I’m sorry I did not have the chance to know them personally, but it’s very clear that they touched the hearts of many.

Project Sansar
Project Sansar Promotional Image from SVVR

🔹 Inara Pey, Jo Yardley and Daniel Voyager reported on the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality (SVVR) Conference, which featured a presentation by the CEO of Linden Lab, Ebbe Altberg. Inara provides a detailed summarization of the talk, which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube. Most notably, the presentation featured an intriguing promotional image of Project Sansar, LL’s next generation virtual world platform, and revealed that they will be running a closed alpha beginning in Summer 2015.

Second Life - Learning Island 2
Second Life’s Learning Island Portal. (Please click for a full-size image.)

🔹 One of the interesting options I found in TweetDeck (a wonderful desktop app that helps to aggregate and organize your Twitter feed), was the ability to follow hashtag mentions, as well as tweets that specific accounts receive. With that in mind, I set up columns following the #SecondLife tag, as well as the @SecondLife account, and that’s how I found out about author and gaming journalist Beau Hindman and his foray into the life of a Second Life newbie! Like myself, Beau is long-time SL member but was curious about the new resident experience, so he decided to live stream it for his followers and fans to enjoy. You can catch Beau’s replay of his first hour in SL on YouTube, and Inara Pey also referenced the video in her post on Experience Keys for new avatars.

A mesh head named “Ever”? I can hardly resist! (Photo Credit: Strawberry Singh)

🔹 Canary Beck’s blog post, 5 Misconceptions About Mesh Heads in Second Life, generated a lot of thought-provoking opinions and commentary. I added my voice to the fray in my comment, but being personally limited of Linden funds, exploring the world of mesh heads, bodies and parts remains (for now) something to look forward to in the future. These SL bloggers, all of whom have either tried, periodically worn, or are exclusively wearing mesh heads, shared some diverse and equally interesting perspectives: Auryn Beorn, Kat Feldragonne, Harlow Heslop, Shae Marquis, Strawberry Singh.

🔹 Sasy Scarborough shared a brilliant video on her site where she demonstrated how she makes use of a macro keyboard to help simplify her blogging and other Second Life related tasks. It was a great eye-opener for me! As I mentioned in my comment on her post, I use the program AHK (AutoHotkey) for work purposes, and I had never thought to apply its macro-building and hotkey-mapping abilities to SL and my blog. AHK has a bit of a steep learning curve, but it can be an invaluable program for streamlining repetitive tasks. For those who blog or just spend lots of time in SL, give Sasy’s video a look and see if working with macros might improve your efficiency.

🔹 K.T. Burnett from Smart SL shared about an upcoming lecture being given in Second Life by Pamala Clift of As K.T. writes, the State of Being lecture “is aimed to educate Second Life residents about the social environment of virtual worlds, about various types of people we meet there, to answer different questions about the nature of virtual communications, especially in the interactive environment, and a lot more.” I think it sounds like a fascinating subject! The lecture is being given on June 4th at 6PM SLT, and you can learn more and grab the SLURL at the link above.

🔹 To wrap up, some wonderful news for SL bloggers: the Blogging Second Life site is back and better than ever! I know I’m going to be referencing their excellent directory listings frequently for upcoming posts, as the site curates both the SL community’s bloggers and creators, making it a really excellent resource. And speaking of lists and the blogs that inhabit them, I’ll be updating my Second Life Blogs page again soon, so be sure to leave a comment, send me a note through my contact form, or ping me on Twitter if you’d like to exchange links. Always happy to share the love! 💗

The Weekly Peek: May 18th Edition

Posted on Updated on

Welcome to a new week, everyone! This is a long round-up, so I’mma get right to it. One thing first though: I’m massively enjoying the fun and engaging conversations that have been sparked on Twitter in the last week or two, and I’d love for you to join in! If you have an account, please feel free to add me @EverAfterrSL and I’ll be more than happy to follow back. 💗

🔹 By far and away, the most notable buzz around the Second Life blogsphere this week was concerning a post that appeared on New World Notes regarding the recent article about SL in Atlas Obscura, which was thoughtfully reported by Eric Grundhauser and guided by the singular Ziki Questi. While most residents who shared their commentary on the Atlas Obscura article were enthused by its positivity and appreciative that it focused on the artistry and exploration of Second Life, NWN administrator Wagner James Au had a different perception of the piece:

Reporter Who Only Gets Expert Tour of Second Life Only Gets Part of Second Life’s Story Right

The post spurred lively comments and conversations about how Second Life is perceived in the media and by non-members, as well as the troublingly inaccurate tendency for some people to mistakenly believe that Adult regions as play host solely to highly sexualized content. The latter misconception was deftly dismantled by these fine writers:

A Pornographic Tour – Ricco Saenz
Living in a Second Life Bowl Full of Perverted Monkey Sex – Honour McMillan
So… How Sex Crazed is Second Life? – Nalates Urriah

Fair warning: you will be disappointed if you are indeed looking for “perverted monkey sex”. Dang clickbait, it gets me every time! ;)

Other residents took umbrage with Au’s persistence that SL reporting is flawed if it does not thoroughly examine all sides of the grid, including what he perceives to be a prevalence of “pornographic” content. As a result, Au was invited to engage in a conversation on the subject on the excellent Drax Files Radio Hour with Jo Yardley, and he later wrote a follow-up piece reiterating his stance.

Second Life bloggers offered their own perspectives of Au’s seeming dismissal of the Atlas Obscura piece, ranging from bemused to frustrated. While the posts themselves (the ones I’m personally aware of) were respectfully critical and analytical, Becky noted that some of the discussions on social media and in comments were devolving into ad hominem attacks and asked that people rally together to focus on engaging in debate and discourse. All of these posts make for very interesting and thought-provoking reads:

A Skewed Perspective on Second Life – Inara Pey
Please Stop the Social Shaming of Hamlet Au – Canary Beck
Role Play Journalism – Uccie Galway
The Positive SL Article, Wagner Au’s Story, and the Public Response – Jo Yardley
What You See Is What You Get – Lindal Kidd

Crowd04 by Apollo Scribe, on Flickr
Basilique Town Square (Photo Credit: Apollo Scribe)

🔹 The Linden Lab in-world meeting was held at the Basilique sim, home of prolific writer and SL Blogger Support maven, Canary Beck. On Twitter and in blogs, several residents wrote about the “surreal” experience of attending the meet-up, where the population swelled to over 100 visitors (massive attendance for an SL event) and Local Chat flew by so fast, it was impossible to keep up. It sounds like many enjoyed the experience, though there’s room for improvement to the format for future get-togethers. Here are some of the attendees’ fascinating first-hand accounts: Canary Beck, Inara Pey, Huckleberry Hax.

🔹 The iconic SS Galaxy, a full featured cruise ship in Second Life known as being one of the virtual world’s most iconic landmarks, recently retired from the grid … or so we thought! As reported by Daniel Voyager and Inara Pey, the former managing director of the SS Galaxy, DBDigital Epsilon, published a blog post detailing that the ship was acquired by Linden Labs and would be accessible to the public once more in more of a “museum” or monument capacity. It’s lovely to hear that the Labs stepped in and saved the ship from retirement, although its preview crews and residents will not be involved with the retooled launch. Will be interesting to see what the future holds for the Galaxy!

🔹 Kat Feldragonne raised some interesting questions at her blog about Second Life networking – particularly the nuances of using various social media sites to foster connections with other SL residents. I’m personally really enjoying chatting with SL members on Twitter, as well as at the excellent Second Life subreddit and the SLUniverse Forums. But if anyone would like to share their personal tips, recommendations, and observations on the vast world of social networks out there, we’d both be grateful to learn more!

The Weekly Peek: May 11th Edition

Posted on Updated on

Whoops! I meant to get this post published on Sunday, but time got away from me. So Happy Belated Mothers Day to all the mums and moms out there in the real and virtual worlds! 💗

It’s been a fantastic first week back in Second Life. To be true, I’ve spent far more time outside SL than in, but I hope to have more free time to explore the grid this coming week. I’m starting to work on some fun projects including detailed round-ups of freebie hairs and skins (to be updated on a consistent basis, time-willing) as well as a curated calendar for interesting, newbie-friendly gatherings and events to check out in-world. I’m excited to dive in!

First things first though: thank you SO much to everyone who has visited, followed, and/or commented on my blog over these last 10 days. (It feels like time just flew by, wow!) It means the world to me that people are enjoying my concept and content, and I look forward to engaging with you all more and more as time goes on. To that end, I’ve got some social media accounts up and running which I’d love for you to check out – and of course, I’m happy to follow back:

EverAfterr on Flicker
@EverAfterrSL on Twitter

Thinking of setting up a Google+ account next, and I’m still contemplating Plurk and Facebook, although I’m irritated by the latter’s insistence that people only use “real names” on their profiles, and that avatar-based accounts may be deleted without notice. There looks to be a vibrant Facebook community for SL residents though, so it may be worth a look anyway. It just seems silly that our viewers have a built-in “send snapshot to Facebook” capability, and yet the FB overlords don’t seem keen on having us amongst their ranks. Boo to that!

In blog news, I finally wrote a proper bio page – About EverAfterr – and I massively expanded my blogroll and renamed it to Second Life Blogs & Resources, as there are just so many excellent sites to cite, I had to get all organized and fancy with it. That was a hella fun project! My RSS feed reader (the fantastic Feedly, which I adore with a burning and slightly inappropriate passion) is now subscribed to something like 112 different SL-related blogs, although a good number of them haven’t been updated for quite a while and may sadly have become defunct. But I’m always on the lookout for more (I would gladly and happily read blogs for a living if someone would kindly pay me for the privilege), so please never hesitate to leave a comment or similar with your blog link!

Nuff about me; what’s new in the Second Life community?

🔹 Xiola Linden posted in the official Second Life blog that the Lab is soliciting suggestions for the next in-world meetup, which takes place this Thursday (May 14th). I had no idea the Linden crew arranged meetups with members – what a cool idea! Here’s Xiola’s post, and she asks that destination recommendations be shared in this forum thread.

🔹 Linden Labs confirmed that the new platform’s working name is Project Sansar, and several of Second Life’s noteworthy bloggers have shared their thoughts on the name and its potential to shape and define the next generation virtual world. My decidedly banal observation was that the name reminds me of Sansa from Game of Thrones, because I’m a giant geek. Thankfully our community has wonderful writers like these who have offered their more candid and captivating thoughts: Canary Beck, Ella, Hamlet Au, Huckleberry Hax, Inara Pey, and Serendipidy Haven.

🔹 Ziki Questi toured SL with Eric Grundhauser from Atlas Obscura, a website that describes itself as “the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places”. That they graciously have included Second Life in their wanderings is awesome to see! Ziki’s destination picks and photos are a perfect showcase for this unique virtual world of ours. Check out the Atlas Obscura article here.

🔹 Ella at The SL Naturist wrote a fantastic three part series on the new resident experience with a special emphasis on creating a great look for your avie on the cheap and her recommendations for newbie-friendly introductions to the SL Naturist community. A great read for both newbies and nudies alike!

🔹 Kara Trapdoor wrote an interesting and provocative commentary on role play prejudice in SL, which was inspired by a post in the Second Life Friends group on Facebook. It prompted discussion at both NWN and r/SecondLife on Reddit and is well worth a look.

🔹 And finally, the luminous Strawberry Singh just celebrated her 8th rezday in Second Life. Here’s to many more, Miss Berry! :)