Sunday, March 22, 2009

A brief essay on proposed changes to classify SL Sims

Linden Labs has unveiled a new classification system for sims that seems destined to change life for SL netizens. In short, the change requires sexually oriented sims be designated adult content, forced to relocate to a red light district of the mainland, and access will be denied to unverified SL accounts.

The reason LL puts forth for this change seems a bit spurious. They make it sound as though there have been complaints from some residents that it is too easy to be exposed to sexually related material while casually exploring SL. LL's loose standards used to verify resident age seems partly to blame. Relocation of adult sites to the mainland following the restructuring of land pricing also appears to be a contributing factor, because adult sites were interspersed with others.

Now it has never been denied that much SL content is sexually oriented. There are many who would even argue that sex built SL. While the BDSM newsletter has not conducted any formal, scientific polls, sex appears to be on the mind of most of the residents this reporter has encountered, at least, both in and outside of the BDSM Life sim. This policy change ultimately seem bad for business; any reduction in the number of residents granted access to adult sims seems likely to result in a similar loss of revenue, not only to sim owners, but to LL as well.

This apparent contradiction to common business sense has many speculating about a hidden agenda. Could a possible merger of the Teen Grid with SL be driving the need to ensure children are not exposed to what has, until now, been assumed to be a purely adult environment? Or is SL being cleaned up so it can be sold? Whatever the case, LL is making it apparent that our shared virtual reality is ultimately a business venture and not the social experiment we have been led to believe was intended.

Details are sketchy at the moment, in part because LL is waiting 6 weeks before implementing changes so that residents can ostenisbly weigh in. There seems little confidence any change can be affected however residents respond - LL is not known for considering residents' opinions even now.

Monday, January 19, 2009

You Know You are a Second Life Addict when...

...you check your email for IMs while off-line and get excited by a SPAM message from one of the many groups you belong to.

...you experience severe withdrawal symptoms after more than 30 minutes off-line.

...your Second Life friends comment on how you're always on when they log in.

...you have developed calluses on your middle index finger.

...you respond to business emails with "LOL!"

Freebies

You really do not need to buy anything to play Second life. But you will be assumed to be a newbie if you still look like your starting avatar months after you were born, and this will effect how others relate to you. So, at the very least you want to upgrade your appearance.

You can find all sorts of clothes for free, although there appears to be 100 times more clothes for ladies than men. Search the Map window for "Freebies" to find several sites that purport to give away all sorts of goodies. Here are some slurls to places I found very useful my first couple of months on-line:

Nishi's House of Leather

Noob Island

Obtaining Free Lindens in Second Life

I'm going to start discussing Freebies with Free Lindens. As I mention in another post, it is generally not worth your time to try to earn Lindens in Second Life. So when I talk about free Lindens, I do not mean earning them, but rather being given them.

You can beg others for Lindens. This does not generally succeed, in part because many folks do not have any Lindens to begin with. But to be realistic, even if they do have Lindens, folks are no more willing to part with themn in SL than real money in RL. Begging will not usually win you friends! So, please do not IM me asking for Lindens.

Try to find a Money Tree. This is a charitable mechanism for philanthropists (or should that be philavipists?) can donate Lindens to the less well-endowed. These are a great way to pick up a few Lindens to get started. However, Money Trees typically check the avatar's birth date and usually only grant Lindens to newbies. I applaud the maker of Money Tree for their effort to spread the wealth around to encourage folks to stick with SL!

Raffle balls also hand out free money, typically to a randomly selected avatar within their vicinity. Like camping spots, raffle balls are designed to encourage players to hang out in a particular location awaiting selection. While there, they hopefully spend a few Lindens on products they see, and at the very least, lure others to the same location. Finding a raffle ball is something of a challenge these days, and you sometimes are required to wear a group labl to win. I obtained my first few Lindens from a raffle ball that used to exist at BDSM-Life's island. They stopped doing that when rent went up and they moved to the mainland. But I'm sure there are several raffle balls still around somewhere.

A few locations have games that hand our free Lindens. It is necessary to play the game to win, and not every player is a winner, of course. This again encourages people to stay in the location playing the game, making the place appear more crowded on the TP map. As with camping spots, games that hand out money are highly coveted and usually fully occupied.

Voting booths sometimes hand out money to the first 1000 or so people who vote. The objective is to place the location higher in a list of popular SL sites. These will not reward the voter for more than one vote, and so are of limited use obtaining Lindens.

That's all I have to say about the possibility of getting Lindens for free in SL. Honestly, I think the best way to obtain Lindens is to buy them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Instant Messaging

IM (instant Messaging) comes automatically with SL. You can IM any avatar you can see. by simply right clicking them and selecting Instant Message. You can also find somebody (like me, for instance), using the SEARCH option at the bottom of your screen and selecting PEOPLE from the tabs.


HOWEVER, it is generally not considered good netiquette to IM somebody you have not talked with publicly first!

Obtaining Lindens

I do not advocate attempting to earn Lindens. They are very inexpensive, as are most items in SL, and it’s easier to simply buy them. I set up a Pay Pal account using my credit card and buy Lindens as I need them. $10 US buys about $2,500 Lindens, which is more than you will probably ever need unless you're a shopaholic. In fact, I usually use my Lindens to reward site owners and rarely buy anything. I spent no Lindens at all the first month I was on-line, and now have over 10K items in my inventory. So, you really do not need Lindens to find all sorts of cool stuff and have a really fun time! Check out my page on Freebies for more on that subject!

But if you still believe you need Lindens and would rather earn them than buy them, there are a number of options available:

First, you may be able to find “camping” sites where you are paid to sit on a bench or occupy a pose ball for a period of time. These usually pay very low amounts for long periods of time – a typical site may offer $2 Lindens for every 15 minutes you camp. If your time is worth less than having Lindens in your wallet, these may work for you. Otherwise why waste your time when you could be having FUN? Camping spots are also typically crowded by others with the same idea. Although it should be against the rules, there are those who abandon their avatars for hours at these places, using anti-idling software to trick the SL viewer into thinking the avatar is active. In this way they can rack up Lindens without actually occupying their time doing nothing. So you may end up waiting a while for a camping spot to free up!

There are also modeling jobs available from some of the clothing vendors. I once earned a whopping 20 Lindens modeling for 40 minutes. That's not quite as lucrative as modeling in RL, even after taking the exchange differences between currencies into account. Furthermore, I have some suspicions about how those pictures were used, and fully expect to someday see my head superimposed on sleazy porn shots on some avatar sex web site. LOL!

You could try opening your own store. Rent isn't cheap, but I'm not going to go into that here. The real challenge is making something that isn't already being sold or given away. As I understand it, SL has been around since 2003, and the most popular SL merchandise was created long ago. Novel ideas spring up all the time, of course, but anything one designer can do, another can re-do. Reverse engineering occurs a whole lot more quickly in SL than in RL because the basic elements are freely available and more easily manipulated. Any marketing advantage of a new product rapidly dwindles in SL.

Thus, it frankly appears to me that few SL vendors are making any real money, given that most SL objects are selling for a few hundred Lindens (less than $1 US). I would love to be proven wrong about that, but I just do not see crowds of avatars anywhere except around freebie exhibits, so I do not think I'm too far off in that observation. But if any company can prove to me that it's actually making any real money in SL, I'll eat my words!

Changing Your Avatar's Appearance

You will probably want to customize your Avatar as soon as possible. After all, we are all offered the same few starting Avatars. Changing your appearance will help you establish your uniqueness amongst a sea of similar looking Avatars. There are two ways to customize your Avatar.



First, you can change your initial appearance in variety of ways by simply right clicking your Avatar and selecting the Appearance pie slice. This will open the edit window where you can change everything from your skin and hair color to your gender, if you wish. It’s easier for you to play with the options available than for me to explain what they all do, and most are self-explanatory anyway.



The second way to alter your Avatar’s appearance is to wear items. Some items are obvious, like clothing. Others aren’t so obvious at first, like shapes, skins, tattoos, and makeup. You received default skins, shapes, and clothing when you selected your starting Avatar.

IM me in world to receive a welcome package that contains a number of clothing items, skins, shapes, etc.

Silks of Second Life Blog

In addition to my own blog, I am a sometime contributor to Roewan Kline's Silks of second life blog. Please visit her web site to see all of the wonderful Silk outfits available in Second Life.