L$2 Legit 2 Quit

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Ever’s Age: 6 Days
L$ Balance: L$615

Every noteworthy era has to meet its end, and after schooling a newbie on metaverse sextiquette, I decided I’d had my fill of the Tutorial Land That LL Forgot. After poofing through the portal, I landed at Social Island, and a quick peek at the world map revealed that there are six Learning Islands and three Social Islands total, which new members are presumably rezzed on at random when they sign in for the first time. Oddly, Learning Island D looks nothing at all like Learning Islands 1 – 5 (at least from the overhead view on the map), so I’m wondering if there are special circumstances that result in someone rolling the D experience. But as suspected, I could no longer access the Learning Island sims, while all three Social Islands are ripe for the teleporting.

Ahhh, Social Island(s) – an oxymoronic name if there ever was one. Let me put it this way: I immediately encountered a gentleman whose profile mentioned his love of perving and fapping, and while his forthright honesty was commendable, I wasn’t particularly keen on being molested. I happened to land at Island #1, and after camming around a bit, I checked the other two and found them to be identical in build and in visitors. Which is to say, an even mix of 0 day newbies standing around seemingly confused and lost, and primarily silent veteran residents, many of whom had completely blank profiles despite hundreds, if not thousands, of days in their respective account ages. It reminded me of a shopping mall I worked at as a teenager, where all of the smaller boutique shops had closed and only the larger department stores remained. The facades were there, sometimes even the lights were even on, but no one was home.

Out of curiosity, I ticked the box to allow Voice, as I wasn’t sure if spoken word chatting was more common in these areas. Social Island 2 and 3 both have voice chat turned off at the main hub, but Social Island 1 allows it, and even the two or three people whom my radar indicated were voice-enabled were keeping quiet. However, I did run into one newbie who spoke to me in an distinctly young-sounding voice, which prompted me to quickly teleport away. I know that children do sign up for Second Life against the TOS, but hearing one speak was nonetheless alarming. I’m not even sure if you can send in an Abuse Report for that kind of thing, since voice doesn’t have the same ability to be captured as proof of abuse in the same way that local chat or instant messages would. Regardless, I’d had my fill of Voice for the night. Which means – drumroll, please – it was time for Operation Ever-Lution: The Marketplace Edition!

Ever Afterr - Day 6
How YOU doin’?

Skin: Insol Body Skin Scarlett – Ivory (L$0)
Eyeshadow: XCW Freebie Eyeshadow – Pink/Orange (L$0)
Lip Gloss: Alaskametro Light Lipgloss Tester – Golden (L$0)
Eyes: TSYI Light Me Eyes – Light Blue (L$0)
Hair: Alice Project – Summertime Sadness (L$0)
Hairbase: Delizio Hairbase Tattoo – Chocolate (L$0)
Dress: Corvus 13 Dress (L$0)
Jeans: LARRY Jeans Dollarbie Pack (L$1)
Shoes: MYLU Cora Boots (L$1)
Pose: DESIRE Free Model Pose F08 (L$0)
Wall Texture:  Dy’s Yardsale & Texture Shop Grunge Shaded Texture (L$0)
Floor Texture: DT.com Parquet Wood Floor Textures (L$0)
_____________________________________________________________
Total Spent: L$2

2 Legit 2 Quit
L$2 dolla bills, y’all!

Pretty cute, hey? I probably could have gotten away without spending those Lindens, but I have both the Larry Jeans dollarbie pack (comes with 3 pairs of jeans) and the MYLU boots on my main account, and I’ve gotten lots of use out of them. Speaking of footwear though, one thing is becoming troubling clear: it’s going to be problematic finding shoes for system feet, particularly ones that aren’t boots or sneakers. Thankfully I have a penchant for both, so I won’t necessarily mind wandering around the grid in a summer dress and close-toed stompers. But Slink mesh feet are becoming so ubiquitous, it’s genuinely difficult to find footwear options (mesh in particular) that don’t require them. Here’s hoping that the system avies in the upcoming Project: Sansar platform aren’t saddled with the same clubbed tootsies that SL ones are!

So I’ve officially “arrived” in Second Life! While I’ve made stops in newbie-friendly spots like Caledon Oxbridge (where I enjoyed a quick chat with Miss Lindal Kidd), New Citizens Incorporated and The Shelter, it was primarily to snag landmarks for my “helpful tips” notecard, so my visits were brief. But with the weekend finally here, and my inventory stocked with a modest cache of freebies, I feel like I’m ready to become a true resident of the grid at long last. Excelsior!

Shipped Shapes

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Can we talk?

I have a confession to make. Now I know we haven’t been together long; it’s early in our relationship, and we’re still getting to know eachother’s boundaries and innermost desires. I really respect you, and I don’t want to lead you on, so I’ve just gotta (wo)man up and be real witchu. *deep breath* So here goes:

I’ve … cheated.

Wait! Don’t walk away mad – we can work this out! It was a purely physical thing, baby. I can explain!

*****

So back on Ever’s rez day, I thought it would be interesting to put a few parameters on my 2nd Second Life. I know there are brave souls who roll alts with the intention of never spending a dime on them, and I’m awed by their commitment to scouring the grid for freebies. Others opt to trick out their alts in style, creating what we’d call “twinks” in MMO speak: low level characters with the best armor and weapons that money can buy and/or skilled artisans can craft. I have respect for both of those approaches, but I wanted something in-between: a low enough balance that I needed to spend my Linden dollars wisely, but enough to allow me to buy into groups with a low joining fee and also source some inexpensive goods that are not so common on the freebie scene.

After poking around on the Second Life website and finding that the very lowest amount a member can spend when purchasing Lindens is $2.50 USD, I decided to pick that number – L$617 at the current exchange rate – as my starting balance. Since I had Lindens on my main account, I figured I’d just transfer them over rather than purchasing them directly. So I logged into my main, made the transfer quickly, and was about to log out when I gazed at my inventory panel: that unassuming virtual closet where thousands upon thousands of virtual wares lay lovingly nestled in folders and boxes, just urging me to take them out for a last go-round. I started thinking of unused gachas and anything I may have purchased as transferable, and I had just rezzed a box to start gleefully stuffing things into when I stopped short.

Wait, I said to myself. If I fill up Ever’s closet with pretties and sundries, I’ll end up in a skybox somewhere organizing my inventory for hours like I’ve always done, and I’ll miss out on all the seeing, doing, and exploring that I’ve been longing for. So pack up and shack up, lady. We’re doin’ this thang commando-style!

An aside: for the longest time, I thought that “going commando” simply meant that you were taking an organized, military precision-style approach to a task. A friend finally informed me that I had, in fact, been telling people for years that I like to approach a myriad of projects and life events without any panties on. Which may or may not be true in any case, but I digress. ;)

However, there’s one sticking point in my Second Life style that I’m finicky and persnickety about to the point of obsession, and that’s my avie’s shape. Truly the only thing that I ever managed to create with any finesse in SL, I think a good shape is like marble to a sculptor or clay to a potter. It can change the look of a skin significantly, affects the way your clothes fit (especially where mesh is concerned), and is ultimately the building block of an avatar’s signature style. I know I won’t be able to afford mesh bits and bobs, let alone an entire mesh body, so having a quality shape is essential – and I happened to have a few unused, self-made shapes in reserve.

Therefore, I decided that since I’d made the shape myself, it was only slightly cheaty. Right? I mean, we’re not getting into third base territory here. There are no “just the tip, just to see how it feels” shenanigans afoot.

And so that’s the story of how Ever got her custom shape. Whew! Glad that’s off my chest. And honestly, how can you stay mad at these L$0 pouty lips and freebie “come hither” eyes?

Ever Afterr
Presenting, Miss EverAfterr Resident

I had intended to include more photos with style credits and MP links, but this post is already a mile long and Mama always said to leave ’em wanting more. So all the deets will be coming up next, promise. Stay tuned! ♥

Achievement Unlocked!

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Ever’s Age: 4 days
Balance: $L617

So there I was last night at the portal: just chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’ all cool. In the other window, I had my browser trained to the MP site, and I was using the tricks from my Second Life Marketplace Tips post to find some freebies. I figured it would be nice to have a small cache of avatar goodies on hand when I hit the mainland, so I could immediately find a sandbox and get out of my itchy default mesh skin. (Seriously, they’re the worst!)

I was also enjoying chatting with new members, helping one who somehow got herself stranded under water, and another who desperately wanted to jump around – in the manner of House of Pain, one hopes! – only to discover that the “jump” hotkey is inexplicably disabled on Learning Island. Then Bee sent me an IM asking if I knew of places to find group gifts, which inspired me to whip up a quick notecard with SLURLs, group recommendations, and blog links that would be helpful to new residents. (If anyone reading this would like a copy, please feel free to message EverAfterr Resident in-world and I’ll be happy to send it to you!)

And that’s when it happened.

Remember back when I was a wee 1 day old and I photographed myself at the portal with the cheeky declaration that I’d made it all the way there without being propositioned for pixel sex? Ahhh, those days of innocence. And so it was there, standing stoically on Learning Island and realizing that I was quickly out-aging everyone else in my vicinity, that I chuckled to myself and thought that maybe I’d just stay put until I got some e-peen after all. Not 15 minutes later:

Him: You have a good butt.
Me: Hehe, thanks. Is there anything you need help with?
Him: I like your tits.
Me: =P
Him: Can we have sex on this thing?
Me: Um, not *here* but once you go through the portal you can use the Places search and find tons of sexytime spots.
Him: Thanks. I go now.
Poofs immediately through the portal.
Me: … Stay classy!

Dammit. Now I really DO have to leave this Island. ;)

Second Life Marketplace Search Tricks, Pt. I

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While Ever the Avie toils at the Learning Island portal, I thought I’d hop right in with some tips I’ve picked up over the years through my own trial-and-error and a considerable amount of Googling my way through SL forums and blogs. I love knowing how to Do Stuff Better, and with a venue as massive in scope as Second Life, there’s always a lot to learn and discover. While first and foremost on a new member’s to-do list should be learning to use their SL viewer of choice and the in-world controls, I’d say that mastering the Second Life Marketplace would be a helpful next step. With only a dozen or so default avatars to choose from when one starts a brand new account, it’s all too easy to run into someone (or several someones) struttin’ around with your exact likeness. What’s the fun in that?

Kat wrote an interesting post the other day about her experience with helping a friend start a new Second Life account, and remarked about how frustrating the endeavor can be. She asked if anyone knew of some Second Life Marketplace search tips that could help her narrow down inexpensive options to help outfit a new account, and the question was right up my alley. Ever since I discovered the MP, I’ve been looking for ways to hack the search results to be more specific and targeted, and while its interface and capabilities leave a lot to be desired, there are a few ways to make Marketplace searches more fruitful:

NOT / AND Search Parameters

One of the biggest frustrations in searching for Second Life Marketplace freebies and cheapies is that you’ll virtually always end up with search results peppered with demos. And this is understandable, since the majority of SL merchants offer demo versions of their products free of charge (asking even L$1 for a demo grinds my gears, but that’s a topic for another day!) Still, it’s commonplace for sellers to occasionally offer gifts, brand promos, and incentives on the MP for little-to-no cost, so what’s the best way to find these gems and keep the demo listings from cluttering your results?

Use “NOT demo” in your searches! Here’s an example: let’s say you’re looking for completely free, non-demo hairstyles. You would visit https://marketplace.secondlife.com and do the following:

1. Type hair NOT demo into the search box. The word “NOT” needs to be capitalized for the search limiter to work properly. Then click Search.

2. Because “hair” is a pretty broad search term, we want to narrow down the field a bit. The MP categorizes hair under Avatar Accessories / Hair so that’s the category we want to refine our search to.

3. Now we’re seeing lots of non-demo hair, but the prices are all over the place. So to only view truly free hairstyles, enter two zeros into the empty boxes under Price in the left column, and click Refine Search.

4. From 98,000+ results to just over 300, hell yeah! If all went properly, here’s what the end result will look like. I’ve gone the extra step to set the Items Per Page count to 96 (the highest value), and the Sort By field to Best Selling. Other good options are Age: Newest and Rating: High to Low.

Second Life Marketplace Search
Second Life Marketplace Search. (Please click for a full-size image.)

If you’re willing to spend a certain number of Lindens on the items you’re searching, you can always expand the Price limiter by typing different values in the boxes, or by using one of the preset ranges like L$0 – L$10. However I do want to point out that unfortunately you cannot run a “NOT demo” search without an initial keyword. Meaning, it’s presently not possible to navigate to the Hair section and just search “NOT demo” and find all of the non-demo hairs; the Marketplace will instead return “No matching items found”. A bummer, I know! I’ve tried different wildcards in the search string, but thus far I’ve only found that the MP will recognize limited boolean operators. (Kindly excuse the geek-speak.) If anyone has been able to get a wildcard-based search to work, I would love to know about it!

One more thing to note: some savvy (read: shady) Marketplace merchants have figured a way around the “NOT demo” search parameter by putting varietals like D*E*M*O in their listing titles. It’s obnoxious, but thankfully somewhat rare. Until/if Linden Labs lets us completely bypass listings marked as demos, it’s an annoyance we have to deal with. Just do those folks a favor and don’t buy their products. That will send the message loud and clear!

The “AND” expression is another way to curate specific results. Let’s say you’re looking for a pair of jeans, but you only want to see mesh options – no system layers, no appliers. You can search for “jeans AND mesh” and the Marketplace will narrow the search to only show you listings with both of those words in the title. You can combine this trick with quotes as well; “leather pants” AND mesh will return only products with the phrase “leather pants” and the word “mesh” in the listings.

Sometimes you’ll get outliers in your search results with these tricks, and I believe it may have to do with the search function using the listing’s description in addition to the title to parse results. But ultimately you’ll still get more targeted results with NOT or AND than you would without them.

I hope this is helpful! I’ll post more fancy tricks soon; for now I’ve got a shopping cart full of freebies and a newbie in desperate need of a makeover. Stay tuned to see if I ever get off this dang island! :)

Day 1 – Welcome to 2nd Second Life

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Ever’s Age: 1 day
L$ Balance: L$617

Note: I likely won’t continue with the trend of Day X titles, as I know I won’t be able to be in-world frequently enough for perfectly chronological posts, and there will likely be some off-topic (but still SL-centric) themes I’d like to explore. So I’m dabbling with adding my avatar age and Linden balance to the top of these “day in the life” style posts instead. If you have any preferences or suggestions, please let me know in the comments!

My first day reemerging into Second Life was fascinating. I promptly fell out of the sky onto another resident’s head, watched myself slowly morph from a reddish cloud into a generic mesh avatar (I passionately dislike these things already), and stood quietly as I observed a slow stream of newbies flying into cliffs and falling into the water as they awkwardly learned how to get around. (So many feels!) Within the first minute or so of rezzing, a pop-up asked if a script could animate my avatar, direct me around, and so on. When I allowed it, a small white box attached in the manner of a HUD – and then promptly disappeared. It faded in and out of view a few times as I maneuvered around the island, but it was always blank and never provided any kind of guidance. The lack of signage (understandable, given the many and varied languages SL residents speak), and the seemingly useless HUD meant that the cliff-hugging arrow markers were the only means of communication to be found.

Second Life - Learning Island 2
Backside view (aww, yeah) of Learning Island 2 in Second Life. (Please click for a full-size image.)

“So I guess we just follow the arrows?” a new resident asked in Local Chat. I had just finished writing a quick intro with my website link in my profile, and I responded to him in the affirmative. A few minutes later, he sent me an IM.

“I like your blog!” he wrote. And I like you already, I thought with a smile.

Second Life - Learning Island 2
Kickin’ it default avie style. (Please click for a full-size image.)

We had a friendly chat as I awkwardly posed myself on the picturesque but non-functional sailboat that greets residents as they wind their way around the island. He too was a returning resident, having spent a month or so in Second Life years back and finding it tricky to find people to connect with.

“I’ve made a better start this time,” he confided. “I’m a lot more confident about chatting to people now.”

I was amazed at the parallels in our respective journeys back to the metaverse, but then I realized that we probably weren’t so unique after all. I’ve read comments on forums and blogs from people who needed a few restarts before they truly clicked with Second Life, and I’ve understood their struggles all too well. I sent my partner-in-newbie-crime a virtual high five, and asked if I could add him to my contacts list. Thank you kindly to Bee for being my first reader and my first new friend in SL!

Second Life - Learning Island 2
Learning Island 2, in all its “party like it’s 2011” glory. (Please click for a full-size image.)

For all its quirks, Learning Island 2 (is there a Learning Island 1, I wonder?) is quite small. It was immediately obvious which new residents were alts, as they took to the skies like a bolt and zoomed off to the portal area without a backwards glance. I ambled along the pathway and arrived at the apex hastily, but I paused at the portal and considered that I’d never be able to get back to this place (on this account, at least). And to be honest, the whole thing was rather disappointing. I haven’t had the new resident experience for nearly 10 years, but with the active member numbers steadily dwindling and Linden Labs trying to reignite interest in their platform by launching their next-gen Second Life project, I had hoped there would be more in this initial rez zone to help new residents feel welcomed. Maybe something in the style of those Smart Bots that some SL business owners place at their sims to answer basic questions and offer general information. Ahhh, well. Missed opportunity, LL!

I suspect that beyond the portal lies one of the infamous “Help Island” style infohubs where griefers congregate with the common goal of scaring off or scandalizing new members – but that remains to be seen. When I’d reached my final Learning Island destination, I was mostly saddened by the sheer emptiness of it all. New residents shuffled by once in a while at random intervals, but I imagined a time when the initial new members area would have been a flurry of activity, lag-induced stutter, and anxious curiosity. Such nostalgia, much memory-making.

Second Life - Learning Island 2
Made it all the way to the portal without being propositioned once for pixel sex. Job well done!

We’ll see what lies on the road ahead. :)