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Moving Day

Until a couple of years ago, my home in Second Life was with one close friend, and it was a fairly large home, a two-story beach house with an indoor spa, a patio dance area, and a lavish skyhouse of floating disks with a cascading waterfall and flowers everywhere.

But when we sold our land to a friend, I had to seek out my own home in Second Life, at a time when I wasn't really doing very much. I tried at first to have no home, but I found that vagrancy didn't suit me very well, even though I wasn't around much. I finally settled for renting a beach house from my friends Jen and Seven Shikami, the inventors of Seven Seas Fishing, who have a beautiful sim called Flotsam Beach.

I spent about two years there, but was in-world so little that I never finished furnishing my house or taking advantage of the generous prim allowance. Eventually, I began to see other homes disappeared as renters at Flotsam Beach moved on or left Second Life. Where one there were dozens of homes, at least to the best of my recollection, there came to be fewer and fewer. As of today, there are only two: mine and another one across the way. The island's commercial area still seems to be going strong, but the residential area has shrunk to almost nothing. Here's the island today, with some lovely tourist attractions, a big commercial area on the left, and the two houses: mine (the green one), and one you can only see if you look closely, hidden among trees on the right at the end of my street.

Honestly, I'd reached the conclusion that I might be more of a burden than a welcome client for my friends. If they weren't maintaining a residential area any more except for me and one other person, it wasn't likely to be something they wanted to keep doing.

And as for me, I needed a change of scene, for two reasons. First, I had never really finished making my new home my own. My old home, the beach house with the magic elevator and the sky waterfalls, felt like home. This one I never got far enough to make feel like that. What's more, I didn't want the responsibility. I wanted to move somewhere with more residents, somewhere new, and somewhere predecorated. So I packed up my belongings and let my rent expire.

It didn't take me long to pack everything up. It's funny how in Second Life you can just pack everything into your inventory, you don't have to change out of your go-out-dancing dress and heels, and the place is already broom clean without you having to do any work.

The spot I found is in a sim called Ohana, where they have a variety of different pre-fabricated, pre-furnished, pre-decorated homes. There's a tropical island retreat, some modern-looking houses, and so on. I opted for the city loft. It felt a little exciting, even though it's mostly pretend, to feel like I was moving from my quiet home by the sea into an apartment in the big city.

The apartment exceeded all my expectations, actually. It's very private, not actually in the middle of a bunch of residents at all, but there are resident-only areas in the sim, so I'll be able to go to the beach and the nightclub and maybe meet some of my neighbors. It came furnished not only with a complete living room, bathroom, and kitchen, but also with a punching bag (complete with animations), a guitar, an easel for painting, a dance pole, and a sex bed. Only in Second Life does real estate come with compromising positions already built in!

It doesn't feel like "me." It's certainly not an expression of who I am. At the same time, it's fun, and it's simple, and I could just vanish from that apartment for any length of time just to come back months later and rent one just like it (as long as the good people at Ohana stick around). I don't need complexity in my Second Life, because the rare times I actually take part in it, I want to spend time with friends or going fun places, not figuring out furnishings or security systems.

I'm still very close to vanished from Second Life. Most of my friends are gone (though I've seen a couple I hadn't seen for a long time just in the past couple of days), and I'm so inattentive to my Second Life that I missed both my fifth rezday and the Hair Fair this year, but as long as I'm maintaining a tenuous hold on that life, I might as well have a little adventure with it.
Well, I know I haven't posted in a long time, and honestly there's so much going on in my life that I'm a little shocked I'm posting now, but here you have it.

I stopped into Second Life for a short time today looking for a sundress, because the weather is just turning beautiful in my part of the world and my whim is turned strongly toward looking summery. In looking for good places to shop for sundresses on the Second Life Marketplace, I quickly came across tulip. (small t, period at the end), formerly "The Kiwi Project," a store for designer Minami Susanowa. And does she have the skills! Here's the sundress I bought:

Tea & Crumpets dress in Petal

Well, the "Right Kind of Thing" about this isn't just about having found nice clothes, though. The build she had created was just gorgeous, if you ask me-and really, I usually am not very excited about the "make it look like really things hanging up" kind of store, since it's easier to imagine what something might look like on me when I see a picture of it on someone else. Honestly, I don't know why Minami's build is flooded, but it has a beautiful field that's mocked up to look like it's in the middle of a huge, blue-sky plain with nothing around but flowers, which if you pull back away from the store turns out to be not at all the case. The feeling of being in a warm, pretty, quiet, sunny, inviting place is strong, and if I wondered a little about why I was walking planks over water, well, perhaps it's sort of a sympathy-with-the-Midwest kind of thing. Anyway, it's a beautiful spot.

Party Dress in Purple
And while I was there, I came across Minami talking with a friend, and just hearing the playful way they were talking cheered me up. It's been a very long time since I've been in Second Life regularly, and just being reminded that there are good friendships that are a joy to both parties makes me happy.

Denim Set in Dark Blue

All right, but enough about virtual world experiences: what about the sale? Well, Minami has put all kinds of things up for sale for ridiculous prices--I mean, when's the last time you bought a really nice outfit for L$30, for instance?

So that's all I have for you just now, just some random musing and a very good link to a sale--oh, you'll want the link! It's here. Buy lots of things if they suit you as happily as they do me (though boys: sorry, I don't think there's anything for you here). :) Have fun!
^^^\ Kate /^^^


It was four years ago tonight that I first came out blinking into the virtual light of a Second Life day. I used a tree branch in the newbie rezzing area as my changing room and spent hours and hours trying to learn my way around and especially to find something to do and someone to do it with.

Photo taken at Sinful Temptations Boutique (it"s a cake you can pop out of)
Photo taken on a cake you can pop out of at Sinful Temptations Boutique

I'm in a very different place in my life now than I was then. I'm always busy, but these days I have some very specific priorities that demand more attention than the things I was playing around with in 2006. Together with my family, there's also my First Life partner, who makes me profoundly interested in spending more time in what my friend Soph used to call the "atomic world" (which is to say, the one made up of actual matter).

I think this was on my very first day, or close to it. No wings yet, even! That's Chastity Sin hovering over the water.

It surprised me recently, when I looked at some posts from the very beginning of this blog (started less than two weeks after I joined Second Life) to realize that my theory of what Second Life was good for then was pretty much exactly what it still is today: I think Second Life mainly serves us by filling in the things we're not getting from our First Lives. Freedom to do as we please, wealth, youth, beauty, even friends are easier to come by in Second Life than they are in First. Relationships are much simpler (but perhaps no less likely to blow up! Even though none of my own ever did), escapes are much cleaner, and everything is much closer in Second Life. Even now, I'm drawn back to Second Life from time to time just because it's so much easier to find a place to have fun and talk to interesting people. True, it's much harder than it *needs* to be to do that, and sometimes you can go all evening without finding a single interesting person to talk to, but in First Life interesting people can't be teleported to, and you can't skip from one event to another and browse people's profiles just by clicking on them. I wish you could!

My first "home," a tree branch in a public area. When I changed here, *usually* I didn't get anyone popping in unexpectedly.

And yet I'm clearly on a general trend of drifting away from Second Life. Who knows if I'll even be around for my fifth rez day? Most of the people I knew from long ago when I started are gone now. It's fairly common for me to be in a room full of people and find that I'm the "oldest" one there. While Second Life is still so difficult and limited--more of a world-sized chat room you can build in than a different way of doing practical things like First Life shopping or having business meetings--maybe it's doomed to be nothing more than a chapter, or a few chapters, in each of our lives.

But I'm not gone yet, so who knows? I've thought of myself as being on the way out the door for quite a while already. Maybe I'll even be successful in getting Finch in, although why we would spend much time in Second Life when we can be together in First I don't know.

Who else is here of old timers? How are you feeling about your Second Life? And in case I missed yours ... Happy Rez Day!

^^^\ Kate /^^^


So, I've been to the Hair Fair this year. Three times! Each time hoping that things would be different, and each time ... not so much. :(

Before I went, I read and resolved to follow most of my friend Harper's tips for the Hair Fair (except of course for the one about waiting until it was less crazy!) at http://slfashionpassion.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/hair-in-my-soup/ . Especially, I put on an outfit that used very few prims, relying mostly on system clothing, and no scripts. I went barefoot and without a facelight or AO, and my wings were a simple 2-prim set with no scripting.

Voila! The result: a great butch avatar to take to Greek lesbian club--which is to say, not exactly my style. While I'm happy to be obviously and publicly bisexual (in Second Life, anyway ... in First Life almost everyone seems to assume I'm straight, what with the boyfriend and all), I do like to have *hair*, at least!

Actually, I wouldn't have minded a bandana, but I'll tell you a secret about my shape: in order to get my face exactly the way I wanted it (I made my shape myself long ago when I first joined Second Life), I had to sacrifice a gracefully-proportioned skull--which normally doesn't matter, because I always have hair! Unfortunately, my short, flat skull (which I hope to someday fix if and when Linden Labs introduces additional avatar design tools) looks completely grotesque to me, so I can't get away with the cropped-to-the-skull look or the just-a-bandana look. I need a hairstyle to make my head the right shape!

But please don't bring my weird head shape up - not unless you want to see me use a crying animation, and I assure you those, like my skull shape, aren't pretty!

Anyway, Greek Butch didn't quite suit me (although there are butch lesbians and Greek people whom I admire, and it's no offense meant to either), so I tried again, giving up the hat and instead searching out the lowest-prim hairstyle in my entire inventory. It turned out to be my snood hair, which normally goes with a net and bow (which make it look much nicer), but which without weighed in at only 22 prims. This, I decided, was as low as I could go and still feel like me. I was also happier with the more casual shorts and top, because they matched the bare feet better, and I had a wider choice of skins because I didn't have to find one with a hair base. Needless to say, my wings had to be selected to suit the new outfit. Here's how I came out.

But enough about my attempts to dress semi-presentably at low bandwidth! How was the hair fair itself?

Unfortunately, I can't say I was inspired. The dun-colored canvas tents were anything but festive, and the lag, of course, was absolutely terrible. I tried flying, running, and walking (running seemed to work the best for me), and soon stopped caring about doors and instead just walking directly through walls, which doesn't help the feeling of browsing happily through vendors.

Each vendor had only a few hairstyles on view, which I hadn't remembered from past Hair Fairs. To my great disappointment, I found very little that I really wanted to buy! I think the real problem is that I already have many, many hairstyles, and finding one that I really like that isn't a whole lot like some other hairstyle I already have is a bit of a fool's errand!

I wished that they used different colors for different tents or even for different vendor sections within each tent. That way it would have been much easier to see where I was going and where I was coming from!

But even more, I want Linden Labs to come up with a solution for the lag problem for large events. I know, it's a terribly difficult technical problem, but surely it's not insurmountable! Right now it's excruciating to ever do anything with large numbers of people. There must be a better way, right? For instance, what if there were a way to lock a sim as "no changes" after everything was set, which would mean that while already-rezzed objects could be manipulated, the only way new objects could be rezzed would be for someone to teleport away, change their attachments, and then come back--through some specific portal or something. This would allow preloading of all prims and textures, with only a trickle of new information at once--you would wait patiently while the sim loaded and then enter.

Oh, I know, that probably wouldn't work--I can think of half a dozen problems with it now, and there are probably dozens more, but my point is, Second Life isn't a viable place for people to gather until we can do it without ridiculous lag...so some solution - Faerie magic, perhaps? Anything will do, so long as it works! - is desperately needed. Gathering lag is stunting the growth of Second Life along with some of the other big villains, like the learning curve and the inability to find an interesting group of people to spend time with on demand despite there being tens of thousands of people online!

I think I'm beginning to sound a little hysterical, though, so I'll stop right there. In the end, I think what I learned from the Hair Fair is that for me, it's not worth going to mobbed sims, and that I don't need any more hair. Now, if we have a *shoe* fair, my attitude may have to change...do we have one of those?

^^^\ Kate /^^^

Why I Use Viewer 2: Outfits!

Now, I'm no expert on viewers. I use Snowglobe when I'm on an underpowered laptop I have, and I used to use Emerald, but mainly I use Linden Labs' own Viewer 2, and I haven't been looking around for another one. Why? Because I *love* the outfits feature. Do you know about this? It's not how it used to work on the old viewer.

On the original Second Life Viewer, you probably know that you could assemble outfits, and all of the objects in that outfit that were copied would be copied to that folder, and all of the objects that were transfer would be moved to that folder to make it impossible to find them anywhere else. Since I hate for my inventory to be muddled, I basically never used the old outfits feature.

But the new one! So simple, and yet so good! With the new feature I can right click my avi, select Edit Outfits, and use the Save As option from the little menu at the bottom where it says Save. Everything stays in its original folder, but now you can click the outfits icon to see all of your outfits. It takes three clicks to change completely into a new outfit, including AO, skin, hair, clothing, attachments, and (in my case, of course) wings.

I admit, I spend a lot of time getting dressed. It's not unusual for me to spend half an hour rummaging through my inventory to find exactly the right way to coordinate, say, my shoes and my earrings and my wings. And I like to combine things from different sets I've purchased without moving them around. For me, it's wonderful to be able to feel as though I can save all those efforts and go back to that outfit whenever I like--even though I'm much more likely to put together a new outfit instead!

Unfortunately, one thing that can't be preserved is settings for a particular item, for instance if I color a pair of wings to match a dress, or have my AO off because of dancing but want it to start out on. Still, I'm in love with this feature. :)

Well, First Life just keeps getting to be more and more of an attention hog, so in an unexpected and frankly uncharacteristic spate of sanity, I'm going to be selling my store and land (which by the way are very pretty, cheap, and situated on a Linden Road with nearby land available for expansion).

My store is called Kate Tease. (Get it? ;) )

My store hasn't really been my focus for quite some time, so this is maybe even a bit overdue. :) Anyway, in celebration (or something) of selling the store, I've made everything in it free. This includes women's smart remark tops, like "In RL, I'm kissing your girlfriend right now" and "What part of YES don't you understand?"...

Color change fairie glow, wing mask, color change anti-halo, animated Black Angel bullwhip...

And so on. Come help yourself. If you have a store or a venue where you'd like to offer these as freebies, let me know (I may go with just one seller, though, so there is a chance I'll have to say no).

^^^\ Kate /^^^

My secret plan to wear everything

In First Life, I'm a pretty sensible and restrained buyer of clothes. In Second Life...well, not so much. My wardrobe ranges from the conservative (which by Second Life standards means that you can't see the nipples), to the pugnacious, to the downright meretricious, and if you don't know what that means, you're in exactly the same boat I was in before a certain friend of mine drove me to the dictionary.

I don't get to spend nearly as much time as I'd like to in Second Life these days, but when the moist air of this overheated summer...

No, I can't do it. You see, there was a kind of challenge between my friend Lanna and me to use a given list of words in our next posts. I gave her words like "panacea", "absenteeism", and "marshmallow", and she gave me "meretricious" (which is a hilarious word), "pus", "moist", "pugnacious", and "flaccid". Now, I do have meretricious and pugnacious outfits, so I was fine at first, but the rest of the words were bringing the post somewhere that, to be honest, I just didn't want to go, so I'm not going to...oh, wait! I think I did just use them. Mission accomplished! And back to what's really important, which is to say...my wardrobe.

This Hunt Club outfit from Last Call had been quietly hiding in my inventory for a year or two. I got to wear it at a wonderful new live music venue last night, Ka-Leo-Lani, where I mostly listened to Maximillion Kleene, who was terrific.

I really don't know how many outfits I have in my Second Life wardrobe, but my guess is about 300. I know that's not going to break any records, but honestly: that's a lot of outfits! And I bought virtually every one of those outfits specifically because I thought I would enjoy wearing it from time to time, and despite the level of organization I bring to my inventory from my professional life and natural inclination (see my post Who's in charge: you or your inventory?), there are some I've completely forgotten I had, and others I think I know about but don't remember how really elegant or sweet or sassy or interesting they are. So I hit on a plan to, over time, wear everything in my inventory, or close to it. It's a very simple plan, so I thought I'd share it with you. After going on and on for this whole post so far, it's just a single sentence: I created a "Worn recently" folder and move each outfit I wear into it as soon as I change into something else. (Actually, I have a "worn recently" folder in each of two clothing folders, but the idea is the same.) Then, when choosing something to wear, I almost always pick something that's not in the "worn recently" folder, which causes me to wander through my inventory and see what I have, making some wonderful discoveries on the way.

That's it! Clearly posting less often hasn't made the posts I write any deeper or more fascinating, but I hope this strategy will be useful to a few resis out there! :)

^^^\ Kate /^^^

Seeing hidden things in Second Life

Someone posted a question in a comment on my post from long ago about how to have sex in Second Life (http://kateamdahl.livejournal.com/927.html), and I thought the answer might be handy for some people who read this blog, although others will know all about this!

The question was how to show hidden pose balls in public areas. So: the exact command depends on the particular pose balls, but it's usually something like /1 show . /1 means that you're sending a command on "channel 1", because scripts in Second Life use channels, which can be practically any number, though 1 is very common.

If you want to find out whether there are any hidden pose balls around or not, you can press ctrl-alt-T on a Windows computer or choose Highlight Transparency from the View menu on any computer to see hidden items, which show up in a kind of ghostly red. :) Do the same thing to turn the feature back off...what with particles and hidden attachments and transparent textures and everything, there can be a lot of red on the screen even when there are no secrets!

^^^\ Kate /^^^

If you're an old-timer like me, you might remember The Diversionarium, a venue Eris Fallon and I created oh, about two years ago. It was a different kind of venue, built around games, especially social games. I created five games for it that I've never put up for sale. At a certain point we didn't have the time to keep the Div going, so we had to give it up, and the heirs to it unfortunately had some struggles of their own. That means that the games are only available in one or two places in Second Life (like Grizzy's Cafe). If there are venue owners out there who might like me to give them a game or two to use, please IM me! Here's what they are:

Mystery Build is similar to some building games that resis play at events in Second Life. One player is the builder and the rest are guessers. The builder chooses how hard a challenge they want, and the game gives them something that they have to build. The guessers have a time limit in which to guess what the build is. Then the build is cleared away and a new round can start.

Avisleuth asks a group of avatars a personal question that they can answer creatively. Everyone puts in their answer, and then players try to guess which answer goes with which person. The winner is the one with the most right guesses.

Quoste is a game for everyone to play together as a team. The game gives a clue, and everyone tries to guess what word the clue is refers to. Once the word is guessed, there's another clue and another, all adding up to a quote. The team gets a higher score by guessing the clues quickly and by guessing the quote before it's done.

Limeruckus generates a random first line of a limerick, and then players take turns adding lines until the limerick is done.

The Improvistation offers a bunch of options for different scenes players can act out: it's basically a tool for amateur theater improvisation, and works best if someone's organizing it.

^^^\ Kate Amdahl /^^^

Is Second Life revolutionary?

On Charlanna's blog (whoops! forgot to link this when I first posted it!), she talked recently about how her expectations for Second Life had kind of dropped a little over time. It's still amazing, I think many of us agree, but it doesn't seem to be turning out to be revolutionary, changing society around us.

So is it revolutionary? Yes! Is it revolutionary right *now*? Probably not.

A lot of us have had very high expectations for virtual worlds, but I think we're expecting them to meet those expectations in just a few years. Honestly, except for better reliability and refinements in building and aesthetics, Second Life as a technology doesn't seem to have changed much in the six years since it started. (That's not to say I don't appreciate all the amazing improvements that have been made within those boundaries!)

I don't think virtual worlds will really start changing society until they're much more advanced. For instance, imagine you could put on a headset and push a button and find yourself in a virtual world with a very realistic and accurate representation of you as an avatar. Then imagine that you could step into an enormous virtual clothing store, narrow down the racks around you by searching terms, and try on any number of things to see how well they really fit you and what they look like. If it were really that easy, that accurate, and that useful, you could get a realistic idea of products anywhere in the world: clothing, houses for sale ... visit locations with a realistic view of what they look like ... visit with a friend who lives a thousand miles away in a projection of her actual living room, seeing each other's actual facial expressions ...

The three real limitations I can think of right now to virtual worlds are realism, ease of use and ease of finding the things you really want. Right now Second Life is hard to get used to, and I think it scares off anyone who isn't good with technology, really committed, or both. When you do get to Second Life, while there are some amazing tools for building and creating, it really isn't like the real world in a lot of ways--think about opening a door, for instance, or dancing, or books. Also, it's very difficult sometimes to find what you want unless all you want is to spend time with friends who happen to be online. Many tools--Web sites, groups, the search feature--help you find things, but if I want to find a pencil skirt or a house with two bedrooms, I might have to search for a long time. That's to say nothing of what happens if I want to find a place where people who like literature are hanging out (unless there happens to be a successful event of that kind right then, and even then I might just want a hangout, not an event), or someone who can teach me how to make virtual clothing.

So I think the success of virtual worlds won't be something we can really measure until these three things--realism, ease of use, and very good searching and filtering of the world itself, including the objects in it--have all the kinks worked out! And the timeline for that, it seems to me these days, will probably be measured in decades.

^^^\ Kate /^^^


Kate Amdahl

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