Lab Gab – Grumpity & Patch

Strawberry Linden sits in the center in a large, modern chair wearing an animal print hoodie. To her right sits Patch Linden in a similar chair in a flannel shirt and jeans. To the other side stands Grumpity in her stick figure avatar leaning against a high chair and wearing a black and white diamond print dress. The Lab Gab logo sits behind them while a coffee table is in front.

This morning/afternoon, Strawberry Linden hosted VP of Product, Grumpity Linden and VP of Product Operations Patch Linden at Lab Gab for a discussion of upcoming plans. Some of the key topics included: mainland tier pricing, more Premium Plus benefits, the Tilia announcement, CasperTech acquisition, search, marketplace improvements, puppetry, physically based rendering, Linden Home. There’s a huge amount of content for a fairly brief Lab Gab.

[As usual, I have attempted to capture the substance of what Strawberry and her guests said. Unless I employ quotation marks, and I don’t think you’ll find any in this post, then what you read here does not represent direct quotes.]

Following some quick introductions, Strawberry dived right into questions.

SL: What are upcoming plans for land economy and pricing?
GL: We’ve been thinking about what’s going on in the world and how we can support our residents. Things are tough. SL has been a place of support for many people. How can we do more of that?
PL: What can we affect that a lot of folks see, use, and interact with in their second lives?
Premium subscription models: Linden Lab are working on a lower tier premium subscription model. It will allow access to mainland ownership.
Changes to tier pricing: They are also looking at lower pricing for upper tiers of land pricing. Jumps between tiers will not be as big.
New for Premium Plus subscribers: Next month, Premium Plus residents will be allowed to own a single homestead region without the requirement of already owning a full region.
GL: It’s been tight for a lot of our European customers. About the same time as the new premium tiers More features, more opportunities, lower prices.

SL: What’s the ETA on these changes?
PL: Homestead, November 1st ish.
GL: The rest, end of November.

SL: Regarding the recent announcement about Tilia (see post Tilia Secures Strategic Investment from J.P. Morgan), how will that impact SL residents and will their data be safe?
PL: Relationship between SL & Tilia will remain largely unchanged. The investment will allow Tilia to grow and expqand their offerings. In the future, this may allow Tilia to bring additional capabilities to SL residents. It’s all good news.
GL: Change is always a little bit scary. In this case, we are truly excited about the changes that are coming. It is good for Linden. It is good for Tilia. It is good for SL. Win, win, win all around.
[The issue of data security got glossed over in the excitement of getting on to the CasperTech topic. SL brought back up a few minutes later.]
SL: Will resident data be available to new investors in Tilia?
GL: The data is [are!] secure. There are no magical pathways that allow a 3rd party to access to user data. Your data is secure. It’s not being sold to a 3rd party, ever.

SL: How does the acquisition of Caspertech impact residents? (See post Linden Lab acquires CasperTech in Second Life)
PL: After explaining what CasperTech is and does, Patch goes on to note that LL wanted to bring it onboard so that we could help it grow and such.
GL: Because Casper has become so well loved in the community, we wanted to make sure that the service continues pretty much forever. Sort of an insurance policy.

SL: Mobile? There’s a new mobile option for Premium Plus members.
GL: SpeedLight, a wonderful 3rd party viewer service. They allow mobile access, web-based access to SL. LL have been in touch with them. Recently, they decided to partner with SpeedLight to allow Premium Plus members unlimited online time. (See post Premium Plus subscribers now get extra benefits in the SpeedLight viewer!)
LL do have their own mobile plans. They are working on a high-fidelity mobile viewer. It’s a little early, so not much can be said. Look for in-progress results early in 2023.
Where can you learn about premium plans? https://secondlife.com/premium

SL: SL puppetry? How is that progressing? How can users get involved?
(What’s puppetry? See post Introducing Second Life Puppetry)
GL: The response around the topic has been exciting. There has been a misunderstanding from the early on, people were thinking the hints meant it was ready. Not yet.
There is a lot of interest. Twice monthly user groups. Open-source groups have been sharing a great deal of knowledge. If you are a content creator, and have an interest in the topic, information on the user group can be found here.

SL: Can you tell us more about your plans for improving the new user experience?
GL: My favorite subject! Lots of background work and research is going on. There’s been a recent new user survey. “What was the thing that was the hardest? What was the one thing that made you consider walking away?” Performance issues were a common theme. Hence the improved performance viewer, a dramatic improvement.
After that, avatar customization, finding things to do, finding ways to meet people were common threads.
Improvements to the first-time avatar customization experience are underway. SL avatars are gorgeous, highly customizable, but can be a little difficult.

SL: NUX (New User eXperience) bodies? Any news on these? Maybe a recurring shopping event for them?
PL: They might be released in the next couple months. There are many moving parts. An entire suite of related products, clothes etc. to go with the bodies is also in the works. Maybe incorporate content into shop n’ hop. We’ll see.

SL: Physically based Rendering? When can we expect this? When can I have a mirror?
GL: Work is underway. General reflection probes could be going into alpha in a week or two. (These are not dressing room mirrors yet.) Maybe mirrors for Christmas? New Year’s? You can go into the new year with mirrors on the ceiling. I’ll just leave it at that 😛
The feature is going to spend some time in alpha. (She’s sure it will break breedables… somehow.) [Yes, I’m sure she’s kidding. But the remark gives an interesting glimpse at how sensitive breedables are to changes in the service, and possibly at how many times in the past LL have inadvertently broken them.] Then to beta. Finally, project viewer around the holidays.

SL: What can you tell us about LSL Linkset data?
[If you are a scripter, and this topic is new to you, see the wiki page.]
GL: Might be in RC in a week or two.

SL: What changes can we expect in SL search?

[Search broke YouTube! Tiny glitch here. Main feed dropped and closed out the YouTube video. I rejoined the restarted feed on… another platform.]

GL: There are several different searches. Web search (you see this in the SL viewer when you click the search icon). There was a big update to web search not long ago. The search engine was updated. Relevance rankings were reexamined. The algorithm should continue to improve. All the normal search operators should be available. Frequency of indexing is currently twice a day. Increasing frequency is a thought. That’s all the major, recent changes to web search.
People search, happens in the viewer. Uses a different back-end.
Marketplace search. More about this in a moment.

SL: Any changes coming to MP?
GL: Marketplace search! [See, told you there would be more about this in a moment.] Lots of work to improve this feature. Changes are currently in QA. Plan is to roll out those changes before thanksgiving. MP search affects a lot of people’s livelihoods, so changes are made with caution.
Many possible changes in MP are being considered, but there is nothing specific that can be revealed now.

SL: When can we upload 30 second sound clips?
GL: This is a bug. It’s in the queue. It will be fixed.

SL: Linden Home floorplan/theme updates? Premium Plus homes?
PL: Yes! Lots! Soon!
We’re still on track to get some more floor plans out for previous themes. Ranches are coming along nicely for Premium Plus members. End of the year? Lots of good stuff coming in the pretty near future. Something for Premium Plus in the new year? Soon™.

SL: Are there any plans for improvements for mainland roads? Inspection for landowner builds to join roads?
PL: There’s always work going on quietly in the background. There is a large backlog of things to work on, so priority questions always come into play.
As for a permitting process. It has been a thought. It’s a really cool idea. This would naturally take up resources. At the moment, there is no process in place to go out and specifically inspect things. That said, the land ops team in support does handle LLRR turnout and switch installation working with landowners. Roadways? A little more challenging because there is a lot more of that. Maybe in the future, after some other work has been buttoned up?

SL: What do the borders around unreleased regions mean?
PL: The colour lets you know what stage the region is in. In build. Built but waiting for QA. Ready for release. The key to the colours and their meanings is not public.

SL: Clarification on Premium Plus and homestead regions?
PL: The costs for a homestead region will be the same for Premium Plus residents, but they will not need to first own a full region before being permitted to set up a homestead region.

SL: High Fidelity investment in LL. Will HF be integrated into SL?
GL: Maybe? It’s been examined. There’s a lot of lift/change that would have to happen in world to bring HF into SL.

SL: Are there any plans for official VR capabilities?
GL: Can’t give specifics. Performance is a big issue. You need frame rates high enough to make VR non-pukey (is this a technical term?). VR is relevant to a smaller subset of the user community. Mobile obviously to many more. So, VR is in mind, but not an active project.

SL: Just one question left. What are some of the features that coming to SL that you are most looking forward to?
PL: Already covered most of them. Yes, there will be more themes. Premium and mainland tier.
GL: The big, exciting news was up front. I’m excited by our approach; trying to do right by our residents. Trying to grow the pie. Looking for ways to make SL inclusive. All this is done with an open heart. It may sound cheesy, but it’s true.
SL: People often ask about being an employee having been a resident. LL employees love SL.

And what a great place to end on and head into the weekend. Enjoy your second lives everybody!

2022 SciFi Expo is Underway

The author sits in a modernist chair at the Javik Station exhibit. She is gazing curiously into the middle distance and wears a shiny black tank top with a stylized numeral 3 prominent on the front.

This year’s SciFi Expo in Second Life kicked off on the 14th and will run through the 24th (which is break-down day). I’m writing from the Javik Station exhibit where I’m rocking my new Roller Ball tank top from here. More about that later.

A woman with long white hair in a futuristic, turquoise jacket looks out over the core of a space ship. She can see various travel lanes filled with people and machines.

Where last year’s Expo was built around several regions, each depicting one aspect of a newly colonized exoplanet, this year’s theme is “Voyage Through the Stars.” The whole four region construction makes up one giant ship, perhaps moving through hyperspace. It’s a build with scale and lots of views through the central area. So up your draw distance. I found 256m to be the minimum and 384m for photos.

A pair of people look around at the information displays in a wide futuristic lobby. There are nested, rotating rings above them and a glowing flier dodges amongst them.

The main entry area is in a region sponsored by Brougham & Darkstone. Here you’ll find displays providing lots of information about the event, what’s going on when, and the cause, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. The SciFi Expo group is active with updates about what’s going on with around the event.

A woman in a short, turquoise tunic and matching over the knee boots looks through a visor while pondering a collection of large crystals in bowls. Most of the crystals are a dark gray colour but some glow green, yellow, or blue.

The walkway forms a ring around the central core of the ship. Shops are aligned along the outer wall keeping the view into the ship clear. There appear to be no vacancies this year. Each region has a sponsor and their, naturally larger, shops are at the midpoint in each region. Across from each sponsor shop is a key location; main landing area, event stage, silent auction venue, and the Memory Garden. That’s what’s across from me as I write.

The memory garden is a wonderful idea! You can donate through a crystal and attune a dedication. The amount donated determines the colour the attuned crystal will glow. There are plenty left so if you want to light a high-tech candle to a loved one, here’s your opportunity!

A quarter of the way around the station from here is the event stage. It’s roomy and has a built-in light show. It was quiet while I was there, but even so there were a few beings dancing.

There are lots of shops to browse. Lots of event exclusives. Yeah, I went over budget. My downfall was the afore mentioned Roller Ball tank top from here at the Javik Station area. However, all proceeds to the cause, and I’m very happy with it.

Hmm… looks around to see if James Caan is about.

Second Life University: Episode 15 – Governance Tips

A platinum blond woman with long pigtails gazes out at the street from inside a spacious coffee shop.

This evening I’m writing from Coffee Island Inc. I have the place to myself, which is odd, because it looks like a great café. There’s seating inside and on the rooftop. The evening sun is bathing the shop with a warm glow from the south-west. The coffee’s a bit pricey. (Apparently you must pay the cashier’s mat L$50 to get anything.) So that may have something to do with it.

Back in August [‘back in August’?! the summer is gone already! That happened quick 😕] Second Life University hosted a Live stream with Keira & Tommy Linden on the topic of governance issues.

Strawberry, Keira, and Tommy Linden sit in comfortable, floral printed chairs as several cats frolic.

In episode 15, over the course of sixteen minutes, Keira & Tommy fielded questions from Strawberry, questions that she’s often heard from residents over time. As usual, there is an excellent table of contents with timestamped links in description.

Also as usual, Strawberry Linden hosted. Keira Linden, Support Operations Manager, and Tommy Linden, Support Operations Supervisor, were on hand to answer her queries. Following introductions, Strawberry got right down to business.

[Note, except where explicit quotation marks are used, the below is not intended to be a literal transcript of the conversation. I’ve tried to capture/summarize the substance of the questions and answers.]

SL: What is the best/fastest way to get answers/assistance?

KL: The support portal is the best way to find information. It has a robust knowledge base. Depending on your account level, you may have access to live chat and the ticketing system. Also depending on account level, phone support is available in hours.

N.b., governance questions are not addressed over chat or phone. Governance issues are best done via a support ticket.

SL: (Notes that links in to support portal and ticket system are in the description. And also, you can get to support through the viewer help menu.)

SL: Abuse Reports (ARs), what’s the best way?

TL: Do it from the viewer. Right-click on the name and report. If they’re gone, go to help menu and “Report abuse”. The pop-up will take a screen shot and present a few fields to fill in.

SL: Can the user paste into the report from the chat log?

TL: No, anything that might have been edited, they cannot accept. If you need to include conversation, have it in the screen shot.

SL: Then what happens?

TL: You’ll get an e-mail confirming that the report has been received. However, privacy issues preclude them informing you about any actions taken because of the report.

SL: What is done with the report?

TL: The AR is a starting point. Decisions are never made based just on the report. “There’s always three sides to every story.” Having multiple reports doesn’t necessarily change anything.

The report is investigated using tools available to the support team and action is taken as deemed appropriate.

SL: What can you do if an AR is filed against you, action is taken, and you don’t agree with it?

TL: Appeal is available. Submit a ticket under account issue, abuse appeal. Appeals are never reviewed by the same agent that took the original action against the account.

SL: What if my account was suspended or put on hold? How do I file an appeal?

TL: Submit a guest ticket.

SL: How can residents keep their account safe?

TL: MFA (multi-factor authentication) is available. It is the single best thing residents can do to protect their accounts. The main way accounts get stolen is through phishing link. Double-check links sent to you. [Personally, I treat any emailed or posted link as toxic waste and always navigate to the desired location through the SL main website or links in the viewer itself, such as those in the help menu. -AT]

Never share account information. (SL: Notes that besides being a way to have your account stolen, sharing account is against terms of service.)

SL: Second Life Community Forums, recent changes and why?

KL: Topics have been re-organized. Types of topics that can be discussed have been limited, keeping the focus on SL & LL. Part of the goal is to attempt to reduce flame war discussions. Discussions must relate to SL. (Bun fights are still permitted inworld 😏)

SL: When a content creators intellectual property is stolen, what’s the best way to report?

KL: This is not a support issue ?. It is a legal mater. File an intellectual property complaint form. (See links in description for video on how to file and IP policy.)

SL: Anything else to share?

KL: If you’re unsure about anything, support can help with that. Don’t forget the knowledge base.

Once again, even though I’ve been at this for… quite a long time, I learned things from watching this.

A Few New Cafés to Visit

A dark-haired woman in a white top looks pensively out at the viewer. In the background, lamps hang from a tree while a squirrel stands by a noticeboard

Several cafés have appeared in the destination guide and editor’s picks lately. I collect cafés, as anybody who pays attention to the banner images of my posts has probably worked out. So, following a busy month or two (or three) in RL, I decided to limit my work to lounging around the new spots to try them out.

Toe Beans Cat Café & Rescue

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Muslin/75/66/125

A view of a sales counter at a cafe. In the foreground, a cat makes off with a pastry.

The first new, or at least new to me – I think all three of the locations I’m writing about today are newish – location I visited is Toe Beans Cat Café & Rescue. Located on a cozy little parcel (1,328 m2) in the northern section of Heterocera, this lavishly decorated spot should make a great hangout. It’s set up with nice, warm lighting environment settings and is already dressed in full fall colours for the changeover to autumn (here in the northern hemisphere at least).

There are plenty of places to sit. There’s seating in the café itself as well as in the adjoining sunroom. There are also tables outside.

Two side-by-side images of seating at the cafe; one inside the sunroom, the other outside under an umbrella.

The cats have definitely taken over. However, they are mostly well behaved. They did not bother my coffee. (I did not get a pastry.) Group members may share photos of their RL cats on the notice board inside and there’s another board of cats to “rescue”. (The one I checked was L$25. I’m not sure if these are breedables, animated, or static props.)

A woman in a black skirt and white top stands in the doorway to the cafe. Cats lounge on a bench to the left while other cats play around a pumpkin and fallen leaves. A cat off to the right sleeps on the porch. More cats can be glimpsed inside.

Toe Beans Café sits across the street from another very well decorated lot, adding to the atmosphere. I found it well attended. There are three others here as I’m taking notes, though I’m afraid I’m being all task focused and not very social.

Jitters Waterfront Pier

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Valeyard/52/157/29

Next up is another mainland build, Jitters Waterfront Pier. It’s both a café and a pier. In fact, the parcel spreads out halfway across the lake and includes a set of waterfront buildings on the far side. This is a big parcel near the southern tip of Satori, at the end of Route8C.

A woman looks through a telescope. In the distance, a lighthouse stands on a rocky outcrop in a lake.

Inside there’s a great selection, but you sit and chat outside. A couple of groups of chairs, one by a fire. A pair of tables with umbrellas, and some lounge chairs by the telescope, positioned to look out over the lake. All of this set in nicely done autumnal decoration.

A customer ponders her choices at the cafe counter. An espresso machine is on the right, with a freshly drawn cup ready. Center and far left are cabinets containing pastries.

Lots of animal life. There are foxes, birds, a squirrel, cat, owl, ghost dog… Also a cat that’s been a little too curious about a coffee cup. It makes sense that the site is affiliated with The Nature Collective [https://www.naturecollectivesl.com] Jitters is taking part in their fall hunt.

Woman sitting on a sofa by a brick outdoor fireplace. A small fire is burning. Across from the woman, a fox is curled on the floor.

Though it was empty while I was taking notes and pictures, I have seen plenty of people here every other time I’ve visited.

There’s a guest book you can sign, which I did not. (I am the wind. I leave no trace. I either vanish into the night or disappear in the fog.)

Pumpkin Spice Cafe & Cinnamon Park

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Madhupak/117/90/62

A view of a modern structure with a number of standing height tables with tall chairs outside.

And we wrap up with one more mainland café. Mainland is popular this week! This one is on Route 9 in Jeogeot. Sitting on a mid-sized parcel at 3072 m2, it’s certainly the boldest architectural statement of today’s three cafés. The Furnishings inside match the expectations set by the outside, mostly very modern with strong echoes of mid-century.

You’re never alone here as there is a host of static prop customers around the entrance and sales counter. There’s no wildlife, but plenty of seating, both on the patio out front and upstairs, which is where all the really comfortable chairs are to be found.

A large upstairs room with several sofas and numerous well upholstered chairs.

This spot does not appear to be receive heavy traffic. I’ve run into a few people here before, but nobody came while I was working here today.

If you get bored sitting around drinking coffee (this can happen?) Cinnamon Park is right next door where you can wander a short loop through trees and shrubs.

That’s all the time I have for café lurking right now. It’s time I got started on decorating my ground level for Halloween. I failed to pack last year’s spooky forest into a rezzer, but it’s time I did something different anyway.

Second Life University: Episodes 13 & 14 – Lelutka Mesh Heads

A platinum blond in a silver bikini gazes past palm trees toward a tropical sunset

Tonight I’m writing from Salt Water Beach. It’s a nice looking beach region with an amazing sky. I’ll have to explore more of it later.

A couple of weeks ago, Boston Blaisdale dropped a pair of how-to videos covering the Lelutka mesh head; one for men and one for women. Both videos cover much the same material, so I’ll go over them as one, pointing out the few obvious differences.

As usual for Second Life University entries, each video has and detailed table of contents with timestamped links in the description.

The first video is for the guys. Doesn’t that make a nice change? It’s on the long side for “bite sized” at a bit under 18 minutes. The women’s version is nearly 15 minutes long. However, I’ll forgive them their lack of brevity because mesh heads are complicated creatures. There’s a lot of stuff to cover in that time.

Once again, Boston is assuming nothing. These videos are ready for the newest newbie to start out with. He begins with searching for the shop, navigating to it, and finding the vendor in the shop. Purchasing, finding the package in inventory, unpacking, and finding all the pieces of the new mesh head, all covered for the complete beginner.

Next, he goes over all the preparation to try on and start working with the new mesh head. All the stuff you should remove from your avatar before you get started (he goes all the way down to the things that can’t be removed). Finally, which alpha to wear and why. Then it’s on to the head itself.

After that, he shows how to wear the head itself. Notes that you’ll want to add eyes, teeth, the HUD. He also stresses that you need to start with the shape included with the head, and that the starter shape varies with each model as well. No short cuts here. Wear the head’s shape and start tweaking it to look more like you. (He once again goes over how to do that with the shape editor’s sliders.)

The complex topic of skins comes next. He shows how to apply one of the included skins but notes that most will want to buy a 3rd party made skin. Eyebrow layers, ear textures, are quickly discussed. Also presented is the specific to Lelutka EVO vs. EVO X issue. It feels like skin application for mesh heads could be a video all by itself.

Hair bases are next, covered in admirable detail. Lelutka hair bases look much more varied and extensive than those for my LaQ head.

In the guys’ video, facial hair is covered next. Two methods are covered: BoM and HD appliers. The relative merits of both are quickly discussed and some examples shown. This whole topic gets completely skipped in the women’s video. Unfair! 😜

Next come all the details about eyes. Again, he shows us two methods for dealing with them. Applier eyes, using the HUD, and BoM eyes. The mechanics of both are gone over. BoM is recommended.

Eyebrows get a similar treatment. Once again, two methods. You can have eyebrows on the skin or wear an eyebrowless skin and use HD eyebrows. Boston notes that there’s more flexibility in the latter approach as they can be tinted, resized, repositioned.

Boston shows us a few more basic appearance features. Face shine and HD eyelids are covered as is the need to look for mesh hair to add more texture and life to the mesh head.

A bit more HUD magic is illustrated as he shows how to use static poses and dynamic animations built into the HUD. Using the static poses for photos and the animations to make your mesh head ‘speak’ and cycle through animations to give it more life are shown.

The videos both wind up with a list of all the ways to get help, from the FAQ on the Lelutka website to their Discord server.

In short, a whole bunch of stuff about how to acquire, set up, and use a new mesh head from Lelutka. A mesh head is one of the most complicated things you can add your avatar. There’s a big learning curve to getting one to look and work right. These videos should significantly flatten that curve. Well done again!

(I’m starting to sound like a Second Life University cheerleader. Say! Do they have cheerleaders?! Maybe I can go out for the squad!)

Time to Get Ready for Fall!

It’s nearly August (!) and the quiet time after SLB is coming to an end, or at least it will by late September. Given the speed at which this summer is going, that’s probably in what? Another week or two?

Ad for the 3rd annual SL Renaissance Festival. The background shows an unpaved path between groves of evergreens leading toward a large wooden building. Snowcapped mountains rise in the distance.

The 2022 Second Life Renaissance Festival benefitting Strides Against Breast Cancer will run from September 23rd through October 2nd. Merchant registration is open.

Sci-Fi Expo ad with the event title and dates superimposed over a close up of an astronomical image.

October 14th will see the return of Sci-Fi Expo, also benefiting Strides Against Breast Cancer. The Expo will run through October 23rd. The theme is “Voyage Through the Stars.” Registration for exhibitors, performers, and bloggers is open at https://scifiexpo.org/exhibit-info/.

I’ve made it to the Expo for several years running now and have always enjoyed it. Last year’s builds were really amazing. Hope to see more wonderful regions with awesome exhibitors this year too.

A future technology re-imagining of the Arecebo radio telescope fills a rocky valley under a vast sky dome on some distant planet.
Arecebo II – From Sci-Fi Expo 2021

Second Life University 12 – Bug Reports & Jira Tips with Kyle Linden

Strawberry and Kyle Linden seated in armless lounge chairs in a cottage style sitting room. Numerous cats surround them.

Another installment of Second Life University and this one, the twelfth, is another visit from a Linden to talk about some of the details of SL. This time, how to use the Jira to submit feature requests and bug reports.

After about 2:40 of introduction where we learn about Kyle and how he got started as a Linden, we get right down to it.

The Second Life Jira (http://jira.secondlife.com/) is used for bug reports and feature requests. The video takes you through creating a new feature request (and later the difference between submitting a feature request and a bug report).

Kyle notes that while the voting feature of Jira that many may be familiar with is not really used for Second Life, communication is two way. The team will frequently ask questions and go back and forth with the reporter to make sure they fully understand the request or issue.

He goes over what it means to be a watcher of a report and how to become one. How frequently feature requests are reviewed and a few details on how. (Spoiler, a lot of people are involved in reviewing feature requests.)

The big tips are:

  • The more details the better
  • For bugs, step-by-step to reproduce is ideal if possible and make the steps as simple to follow as you can
  • Screenshots
  • Videos
  • Second Life log files are all helpful

Another tip is to remember to use the Jira for bug reports and feature requests. Filing a support ticket is not the right path, although the option is very nearby on the menu. The Jira is the best and fastest route to get a bug report or feature request before the correct audience.

Kyle also noted that the Jira isn’t just for viewer/grid issues. All of the Second Life web properties are covered by the Jira as well.

Second Life University – Episodes 7 through 11

Woman in silver string bikini seen from behind looking out over the river toward the central port of Zindra

I’m covering the most recent five episodes in a lump A) because I’m way behind and B) because they are all covering related topics. Boston Blaisdale has been very busy. From June 9th to July 14th he’s put up five more tutorial videos in the Second Life University series.

As with the other Second Life University videos, highly details tables of contents can be found in the descriptions, including timestamped links into the videos.

7 – How to Modify Your Avatar’s Skin

A male figure in a button-down shirt, opened to the 2nd button, suspenders and slacks stands in a courtyard garden. Foreground text reads Skins & Tattoos.

If it were me, I’d title this How to Modify Your Skin. Could I be overidentifying with myself… I mean my avatar? In this 11 ½ minute video, Boston presents the details about changing skins.

Focusing on avatars with mesh heads and bodies, he goes through:

  • New purchase to apply skins and tattoos
  • How to blend skin tones
  • FAQ: Layering, compatibility
  • BoM vs. appliers
  • Tips: Low-cost alternatives

Shops

Some of the key tips you’ll find in this tutorial include:

  • Shop for face/head skin first
  • Be sure to match compatibility for the head you are wearing
  • Use demos!
  • Compare tones
  • Use personal lighting to see the demo in various lighting conditions
  • Next the associated body skin
  • Match the body tone to the face/head tone you selected
  • Match body type you are wearing to the skin you purchase
  • Try any neck blend/fade layers included
  • Edit appearance and use Edit Outfit Parts to reorder BoM layers if things aren’t looking right
  • Check layer types included when shopping for skins: BoM, appliers for body types, special requirements such as EVO X

Boston also goes over some of the trickier details of working with mesh heads/bodies and skins.

He makes quick mention of having to have a system skin on, what alpha to use if you are using a mesh body, head, and eyes. The concept of stacking layers on top of the skin, such as makeup, tattoos, and other add-ons is then presented.

Use of tattoo layers as skin and the various options vendors use for skins: tattoo layers vs. system skin layers for head and body are gone over along with some of the advantages of each.

With several examples, the options that might be contained within a skin pack are discussed. Brow and browless as common options. Separate layers for ears. Levels of “fitness” in skin styles, i.e., how the shadows and highlights reveal or deemphasize musculature, cleavage.

A quick note about add-ons to be aware of: body hair variations, vein detail. Tattoos sometimes come in various intensity (darkness) levels.

Economy

Some skins are included in the package when you buy a mesh body or head. This can be a good option when you’re just starting out.

Weekend sales. They’re common in SL and a number of skin vendors offer steep discounts over weekends. (Use the demos!)

8 – How to Update your Avatar’s Body with Signature Gianni Mesh Body

A male figure in trunks stands before a concrete wall. Foreground text reads Signature Gianni Body.

In episode 8 of the Second Life University series of videos, Boston Blaisdale gets right down to the business of wearing and managing a mesh body, specifically, the Signature Gianni model. (This is ideal for you guys out there! Finally something that’s not all about us 😉)

I’m so glad to see this series of tutorials coming out. A mesh body, and increasingly a mesh head, is becoming essential for a normal Second Life. I’ve talked a number of people through getting started with them and it’s uphill work, particularly if they are using a different brand of body. Now I can point them to these videos and they’ll quickly find most of what they need to know.

Shop: Signature

In a little over eight minutes, Boston goes over:

  • Having your alpha layers set up right
  • Wearing the body (and all of its pieces)
  • The basic skins included
  • Customizing your shape using the shape editor
  • Creating and saving shapes
  • Using the Gianni body HUD
    • Shine & Colours: gloss, tinting, BoM settings
    • Hands & Feet: poses and animations for hands
    • Alpha & Layers: alpha adjustments and save slots
    • Settings: resetting scripts, redelivery, updates, link to manual

Bits of advice: Use the demos! (he really can’t stress that enough) and look for clothes compatible with the body brand and type.

9 – How to Update your Avatar’s Body with Maitreya Lara Mesh Body

A woman stands on a beach before some rocks and bushes. Foreground text reads Maitreya Lara Body

Episode 9 is your just shy of nine-minute introduction to all things Maitreya. The Maitreya Lara body is certainly one of the most popular, so I’m glad to see the next tutorial focusing on it.

Shop: Maitreya Mainstore

This tutorial really starts with the basics, illustrating how to search for the store, locate the correct result and teleport there. Once there, how to find the vendor for the demo and full versions of the Lara body. How to unpack the purchase and how to first wear your new mesh body and how to activate BoM.

From there he moves into changing the skin and editing the shape as from earlier tutorials. In fact, a clip from the Gianni tutorial is repurposed for this one.

The difference between applier and BoM skins is discussed as is the need to change up alphas when you change to non-BoM skins.

Next comes a quick dash through the HUD interface.

  • Selecting skin tones, tinting, adjusting materials for ALM effects (see the wet look effect!)
  • The alpha page in the HUD is presented for hiding bits sticking through clothes
  • Hands/Feet for nails, foot shape, etc.
  • Misc section for resetting scripts and redelivery

Have to say, these videos are short but packed! This one has everything a new resident needs to know to get started with her new Lara body. In each of the last three videos I’ve learned something and I’ve been using a mesh body for years!

10 – Legacy Male Mesh Body

A high-angle view of a male figure in trunks standing in a stone stairway. Foreground text reads Legacy Male Body.

Episode 10 is another one for the guys out in Second Life. This tutorial is all about the male mesh body from Legacy. Again, this is ideal for new residents. It starts off with the fundamentals including how to find and navigate to the shop using search.

Shop: Legacy

Once at the shop we see:

  • The big choice! Regular vs. athletic body
    (Boston’s recommendation is for the regular body because of greater clothing compatibility)
  • Use the demos!
    (I’m detecting a theme here, and it’s a good one)
  • Wearing the new body and HUD
  • Different ways to setup the body: BoM vs. appliers
    (BoM is the more popular)
  • Applying skins, other BoM layers
  • Outfits included with the body
  • Editing the shape using the sliders
  • How to use the separate materials editor
  • Setting up for appliers instead of BoM
  • How to activate hand animations and static poses
  • Using the alpha control
  • Nail decoration

11 – Legacy Female Mesh Body

A female figure in a clingy dress stands in profile in a garden courtyard. Arches and columns can be seen through the greenery. Foreground text reads Legacy Female Body.

Two in one day! Episode 11 is the female side of the last one, going over how to use the Legacy female body. A little over nine minutes long, this tutorial starts off at the same place as the others, searching for and navigating to the Legacy main store.

Shop: Legacy

Things start in earnest once we get to the shop. Topics covered include:

  • Three choices this time: feminine, perky, and a body designed for pregnancy
  • Use the demos!
  • How to wear your new mesh body
  • Bakes on Mesh (BoM) vs. Appliers
  • Things to know about combining mesh heads and bodies
  • Using the HUD
  • Activate BoM
  • Adding skins and layers
  • Using the sliders to edit shape
  • Using the advanced material editor
  • Changing between BoM and applier setup
  • Controlling the body alpha
  • Nail decoration
  • Hand animation and poses
  • Foot shape for flats to stilettoes

Getting Down to Brass Tacks

The question I nearly always get from new residents when the topic of upgrading their bodies comes up is, how much does all this cost? Embarrassingly, I’ve often had to answer “um, I don’t remember.” Which is unhelpful and sounds idiotic. So today I made the rounds of the shops for the bodies covered and a couple of mesh head vendors and collected a few prices.

As of even date, here’s what you can expect to part with for an upgraded mesh body and head.

Signature

  • Gianni Body: L$3,900
  • Alice Body: L$3,490

Maitreya

  • Lara Body: L$2,750

Legacy

  • Male: L$5,000
  • Female: L$5,000

Mesh Heads

  • LAQ (women), HUD plus 1st head: L$3,000 (additional heads L$1,500)
  • LeLutka (men and women): L$3,990
  • Catwa (men and women): L$5,000
  • Signature (men): L$3,490

By way of example, I’m almost always going about in a Maitreya Lara body with a LAQ head. So, to make a new me would start out costing L$2,750 (body) + L$1,500 (HUD) + L$1,500 (head) for a total of L$5,750. Clearly, you can spend more if you like. The pricier options above would set you back L$10,000 for a mesh head and body.

Is it worth it? Not to be annoying but, it depends. If while in Second Life your avatar is you, then it is absolutely worth it. Mesh bodies and heads provide a much more realistic human image projected into the virtual world of SL. If, on the other hand, your avatar is just a vehicle for your point of view as you explore the grid, then an all-mesh avatar may not offer you much return for your L$.

Keep in mind that, with patience, you can spend a lot less. From time to time, vendors have sales with steep discounts. In particular, I’ve seen LAQ and LeLutka have very attractive discounts.

Second Life University 6: Linden Exchange Tips with Spots Linden

I’m way behind on writing up the Second Life University videos. Boston, in particular has been very busy. A batch of several tutorials came out just as SL19B was getting going. What can I say? I got distracted.

Tempting as it is to cover the backlog in a single post, the 6th installment here is significantly different from the rest and deserves its own space. This episode is a step aside from the basics like how to manage your inventory and customize your avatar. I think the audience for the this video is much broader than just new Second Life residents.

In this video, Strawberry chats with Spots Linden who heads up the billing support team. The topic is the Linden Dollar Exchange, what it is and how it works. I dare say most of us residents have only interacted with the Exchange through the “Buy L$” button in the viewer or on the web dashboard. Many get by without even doing that. But there’s a lot more to it than that. I’m hardly a newbie and I learned plenty.

As usual with SLU videos, there is a highly detailed table of contents in the description with timestamped links into the video for particular topics. Which include:

What the Linden Dollar Exchange or LindEx is:

  • An open market game token exchange
  • Rates and transactions are resident driven
  • Sources L$ from residents

Ways to purchase L$

  • “Instant” or market buys. This is the “Buy L$” button in the viewer or dashboard, i.e., the way most of us get spending money in Second Life.
    • Limit buy/best rate buy
    • Linden Dollar Exchange settings must be set to Advanced
    • Limit buys allow you set the quantity of L$ to buy and minimum exchange rate you’re willing to accept
    • Buy and sell orders are matched by the Exchange as they come in
    • Can take an arbitrary length of time before a matching order is found (it may never if the price is unrealistic)
    • Open orders may be reviewed to give an idea of the spot price
    • There are other trading data on the dashboard once advanced menu options have been enabled: daily highs, lows, best buy and sell rates etc.
  • This is all getting to be too much like work! (If you’re day job is day trading, this may be for you.)

The flipside, selling L$

  • There are Market and Limit sales options for L$ just as there are for buys
  • As with buys, there are Limit sales
    • Set a minimum exchange rate
    • Specify number of L$
    • The Exchange matches the sell to a buy order as soon as it can

How can I withdraw RL currency from my account?

  • The tool for this is the process credit request (PCR)
  • Prerequisites
    • KYC (Know Your Customer), managed by Tilia, laws & regulations
    • A receiving account
    • Established billing relationship
    • Submit a PCR
  • Transferring to real money requires compliance with laws & regs. That’s where Tilia comes in. You must provide Tilia with the relevant information required for compliance.
  • Receiving account: PayPal or Skrill. Must be added to your billing information settings. (PayPal accounts must be verified.)
  • Established billing relationship
    (If you’ve bought L$ before, you’re already set)
  • There are reasons for all these hurdles. Dealing transferring real life money runs into all kinds of laws and regulations. They must make sure all of them are complied with.

How do you issue a PCR?

  • All the hard work is in getting set up. This part is easy
  • Back to the dashboard
  • Account/Process Credit
  • Select a receiving account! Make sure it looks right!
  • It can take up to five business days to complete

Need support?

  • File the ticket under Billing
  • The more details the better
  • The fastest way is to go to support.secondlife.com or Help/Support History

Any other tips?

  • If something goes wrong, you ordered way more L$ than you intended for example. Touch nothing! Contact support immediately.
  • As in The IT Crowd: “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?” That is to say, simple things like logging out and back in, removing a payment method and adding back can fix a surprising number of problems.

Only one question from the YouTube audience: What’s the turn-around time for support?

  • While not giving a precise promise, Spots mentioned that as of even date, his team is managing to respond pretty quickly to most requests.

That was a very busy 23 minutes! As I mentioned at the outset, a lot of this is way beyond newbie stuff. I’m not sure that I’ll use all of this new knowledge, but I’m glad I know.

SL19B Part 6: The Day After the Fair

Woman in a steampunk airship princess dress standing before the entrance to a vast round building. The path she's standing on leads to a huge round doorway.

Almost literally as I’m posting this on the last day I know the SL19B regions to be open. By the time this finally makes it up to the blog, the Moles will probably be feeding the SLB regions to the shredder ☹ If it wasn’t just a temporary thing, it wouldn’t be so precious.

Tapestry of Time

I don’t think of myself as a nostalgic type, but I’m probably wrong about that. Why? Because I probably spend more time at The Tapestry of Time building every SLB than I do at any other location!

I just love going through the amazing history of this world. I go through every year’s panels in detail, even the ones I’ve seen repeatedly every year. There are 20 of them, so this takes a while. (20?! I thought this was SL19B! Yes, but remember we discovered the zero a long time ago. 2003 is year 0.)

A fuller view of the picture above. Woman in a steampunk airship princess dress standing before the entrance to a vast round building. The path she's standing on leads to a huge round doorway.

So, what are we remembering about 2022?

  • The Linden Home Fantasy theme
  • The Zenoscope regions in partnership with Zenoscope Entertainment
  • FilmThreat screenings
  • Sakura Linden Home theme
  • Newbrooke Linden Home theme
  • And Abnor’s used leg shop gets a look in during the photo montage. (See the April 1st video.)
A view of the dark interior of the tapestry of time building showing the gift area in the center and ten panels for ten of Second Life's 19 years.

The Vernian Rotunda

Eight more regions to explore but really, just two more event stages. The four-region corner stage layout has proved very effective for several SLBs now. This year there are three enormous stages. One, The Arboretum, I already looked at earlier as it’s in the far north-east corner of SL19B.

Exterior view of the Vernian Rotunda, a massive round building with tall windows on every face, each with many lights. Great Romanesque arches lead inside while the whole is covered with a weathered copper roof.

The Vernian Rotunda, named after Jules Verne of course, is the simplest, cleanest design of the three. But that does it make it any the lesser of them. The details are amazing. From the golden vines climbing the pillars inside to the texturing of the weathered copper roof, the whole construction is just beautiful.

Interior view of the Vernian Rotunda showing the great ceiling and massive columns. Golden vines climb the columns and the central stage is surmounted by a golden cage.

The Steamworks

The last stage is by far the most thematic of them. The steampunk, big industry vibe is everywhere, both inside and outside this stage.

A distant view of The Steamworks stage building. A large brick factory building with gabled roofs is supported on four titanic jointed iron legs which are splayed out around it. Half a dozen stacks emit smoke.

The space is huge! With two complete stages, a well-stocked bar, gigantic machinery, and an almost endless dancefloor.

Interior view of The Steamworks Stage. Huge electro-mechanical installations surround a wide open dance floor. On the left, one of the stages is setup for a DJ.

Yavapod Tour

And that’s nearly all for SL19B! After exploring every little corner of every region, the only thing left on my list was to take the Yavapod tour, which I really should have done first thing but couldn’t bring myself to set aside the time for.

The author seated in a classic Yavapod with SL19B livery setting out on her last SL19B journey.

For general information, the pod/balloon tour takes a little over an hour. Useless, information as they’ve no doubt been cleaned up by now.

Still it was fun to have one last quick look at everything and make sure there was nothing I missed.

The pod has dropped me back at the terminal. That puts the punctuation mark at the end of SL19B for me. It’s been a really good birthday celebration. From the new live acts I’ve learned about, to the great architecture, interesting presentations, and groups I’d never heard of before… it was a wonderful couple of weeks.

Can’t wait until SL20B. It’s gonna be simply mahvelous.