Wednesday, April 18, 2018
By MajikVixen (bluevioletvixen.lorefield)
“The Faery Crossing Kool-Aid Tasted Much Better Than The Red Pill”- MajikVixen Reporting
This is my first and only ban. I am one of two people banned from The FC main group, and I was banned from the 10 "newcomer friendly" fantasy sims, on the Winter Solstice day of December 21rst, 2016. Aside from being motivationally thwarted with my Second Life, another reason why I took so long to write this, was because I wanted to make sure I would present facts, and not raw emotions. I had even considered dumping the article completely, as "even bad press is good publicity." However, in the end, I decided to go ahead with this so I could educate, advocate change for the better, express to everyone that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned, and to finally get some closure to move on.
To start at the beginning, my Second Life journey did originate in 2008. However, I did not find what I was looking for, and left for five years. When I returned, I searched desperately to figure things out, and ended up finding what I thought was this unseelie fairy's niche at FC. I wanted to learn, I loved the fantasy aspect of being accepted as a fairy, I felt a kin to the druid rituals, plus I yearned to be a part of something wonderful and give back. I spent three years living in the Wildefleur sim while working my way up the FaeWay Academy of Education from the role of Grasshopper (someone who explores and understands the lands), Brownie (cleaning up and logging prim litter), Merry Meeter (joining others to the main group), Events Committee member (I had a writing class, "Conjuring Voice Carvers"), to Gateway Guide (helping newcomers), and was one day looking forward to perhaps becoming a Protector (a team of sim managers that guard against drama) and a part of the High Faery Court (a team of leaders for FC). Nevertheless, it was never meant to be.
What started the issue was an arch decoration in my backyard which led to the neighboring parcel that had gone up for sale. I hadn't changed my decor in three years, and my home was featured in the "Faery Crossing Grand Tour" in June of 2015 (where Faery Crossing celebrated some remarkable places via descriptions, landmarks, and even a HUD). My backyard had significance, as a secret pathway led to a special artistic skybox build. I thought I was being neighborly with this arch that I had displayed so proudly from one of the renaissance hunts. The Faery Crossing covenant also references that each parcel should be accessible via gates or openings in walls or hedges. However, in the event of the neighboring parcel sale, Silver (silver.evensong), the High Faery Court Decorator who has since left, placed a wall along the border of that parcel (so that when someone walked through my arch, they would walk right into her wall).
I asked Silver about her wall possibly being modified or moved, and she passed the buck by telling me it was up to the parcel owner. At the time, that coming from a HFC member, meant to me that the parcel hadn't gone up for sale yet. Additionally, the parcel description still had someone's name in there as per owning it. However, contacting that person and inquiring about the wall was in vain, because they explained that the parcel was already out of their hands. I was even more confused when Qim Toxx, the Head of the Protectors, quickly contacted me and informed me that, "it is not the responsibility of a steward to make sure your flow is not disrupted from one parcel to the next." That was just the beginning of my troubles with Qim.
In my efforts to rearrange my backyard and keep the arch decoration, Qim did call my new castle wall prim ugly, and said that she suspected no one would want to visit my place because of it. That conversation ended badly when I explained I could always make the wall a notecard giver revealing why I had to build it to begin with. She insisted all would be fine as long as I didn't break the covenant. I didn't realize it then, but that is when Qim zeroed in on every move I made.
As an early real life birthday present to myself, I bought the neighboring parcel with intentions to sell it, and returned the wall to Silver. I then stayed up all night building a cute oversized night stand house as an example of what could be done with the parcel. I didn't even get any time to breathe before Qim insisted I was breaking the covenant with this build. The covenant states this for the theme, "Wildefleur is an abandoned English countryside garden taken over by the Faeries. Attracted by the foxglove, fairy primroses and briar rose, they have taken up residence in old clay flowerpots, empty birdhouses, and a hollowed out gourds or beehives. Garden-related structures are encouraged." My old real-life roommate used to grow flowers and vines out of things like barbeques and dressers. Qim then insisted it was too big, when it was actually smaller than my pumpkin house, and it fit the specifications of the covenant, "Please keep the size of your build in relationship to your surrounds, with room for landscaping appropriate to a country or small village feel. Homes should be no higher than 20M." The night stand house got to stay.
The next thing Qim picked on were my "for sale" signs and plushie bat greeters on top of them that periodically said informative things into nearby chat about the sale of the parcel. Julius Forwzy, Qim's partner and the Ambassador of Faery Crossing, asked me to revise the signs for a more medieval theme, and I of course obliged. Thinking that Julius had seen all this, I thought I was now up to code. However, Qim didn't waste any time in then returning my plushie bat greeters, as the 20 page covenant somewhere references, "Objects that give out inventory or messages automatically (i.e. by proximity) are not allowed." I was also confused because my friend who used to live in FC had a talking parrot for the longest time in Wildewood. I can only imagine how a newcomer would have felt in this situation. However, I apologized, and Bugs Larnia, the Head of the Merry Meeters and Scripter, did help me make the greeters have pretty and unobtrusive floating text instead.
A few months later, I bought my Zamargad sim. I proposed to the HFC that my dark fae themed place be added to FC's 10 sims. There were a few concerns as to if I were to ever sell the sim and the next owner not following the covenant, but I made additional offers to pay the fee to have the sim moved again upfront, and to enter a legal binding contract to never sell it (as this was an artistic investment for me, my "baby," so to speak, no sweat!). While waiting for the discussion of my additional offers to take place at the next HFC meeting, Qim even made her Milis Muirnin sim available for lease to me. I thanked her of course, but I had already bought Zamargad, and that was just not in my budget. Things seemed to be going well, I had high hopes, but my proposals would never come to fruition as shortly after this, I got banned.
The final straw was when I moved my pumpkin house to Zamargad. I set FC's 1181 Cheshire Smile parcel for sale and placed a "We've Relocated" object on the ground. When touched, it offered a landmark (Zamargad was not open to the public yet, but this was for everyone's records) and a NC. The NC basically stated why Jon and I were moving to a sim, that everyone was welcome, and that we hoped to one day join our sim to FC. I was so proud, our dreams were coming true. In my exuberance, I had listed our ^v^/<|;) (Bats Out Of Hats) store's links to our Marketplace and to our Avatar Social Network (now ASNers) page in the NC, under my name in the signature. It was meant as a professional title. The intentions were something along the lines of, "look how successful we are, you can do it too, we started off in FC."
Next thing I know, Qim said, "For a Meeter, you sure are having trouble following the covenant," and with that, she returned my object and banned me. I asked her why, and she made gruff reference to the skyboxes clause in the covenant. The covenant stated this:
" 2.3.4 Skyboxes
"Above ground objects or builds must adhere to the above zoning regulations unless they are above 512 metres. Discreet private business transactions can be conducted in skyboxes above 512 metres, but no exterior signs or landmarks advertising the skybox are allowed on the parcel. The following activities are not allowed: clubs, casinos, malls, bars, and other mainland style businesses or rentals. Contact the High Faery Court before you make your purchase or begin your lease to ascertain that your transactions are of an acceptable scope."
I still did not understand, but she ended the conversation. In the FC market, on the FC sim, are shops that have LM givers (and they pay way less in tier for their space). I sent Bugs a copy of the object, and she clarified that it might have been seen as advertising, which was obviously not my objective.
I was devastated (especially financially, as the tier paid, as well as the sale of the FC Terra Firma and 1181 Cheshire Smile parcels were irrecoverable, per the covenant. And I lost out socially, too). I was beyond heartbroken. In trying to help me communicate with the HFC and friends, my worried husband was stripped of his Brownie role for "causing drama." He helped me turn in my first ban appeal (which one is only allowed to send to Qim or Julius), but come the next HFC meeting, Julius "had not received anything to discuss," despite the transaction history records. We resent it, and after the following HFC meeting, all I got in response was a NC from Qim explaining, "The appeal to your ban was received by the Faery Crossing High Faery Court. Your appeal has been denied and you are permanently banned from the lands of Faery Crossing. FC Protectors. FC High Faery Court. January 8, 2017"
In my search for relations other than FC, I reconnected with a friend, who wants to be referenced in this article as "Deep Throat." Deep Throat had tragically been banned from FC several times, all in their similar hopes to simply just be a part of the magical dream. One of their alternate accounts was most likely being groomed for Protector, as they had the ins and outs explained to them in great detail. There are several security leaks, but one in particular was inside the FC Castle (at ground level, available for anyone to see). It was a set of Protector Logs (book objects), sitting on shelves, textured by year, built by Qim. If you edit-linked those books, you could see in their contents, NCs titled by names of avatars and acronym codes. The codes specified avatars as to having specific minor infractions, warnings, or banishments. From only the years of 2014 - 2016 of FC's much longer history, there are about 160 names. This piques curiosity as to why a place that so strictly enforces rules and scrutiny, would expose defaming information, to the public of SL. Likewise, why is FC so strict, when they pride themselves as a newcomer friendly community? One would tend to think a place of this nature would be a little more forgiving.
When asked about their experience, one of these 160 avatars that were promised anonymity for this article explained, "Honestly I visited there a while back and I had just got a new magic HUD. I was still kinda new and tested it in the wrong area. Sorry for any inconvenience. I would love to be entrusted to revisit those beautiful lands again, sincerely."
Another, older avatar, who owns and manages a huge role-play sim, and is a part of Linden support for new players, says they got a warning and kicked out when one of their friends teleported them during a sim restart. In their friend's efforts to show them something interesting, they started sword fighting and were booted.
A FC member, revealed this, "Well... after much hesitation, I decide to speak out, even though I risk being permanently banned from that place, but... I had a few incidents where a few individuals accused me of entering their house illegally, which never happened, but I felt I was badly mistreated by a Protector at the time and I even had my staff tag revoked for a while. I had to fight like hell to prove my innocence and I eventually got my staff tag restored, but the damage was already done and after that point, I completely lost interest in The Faery Crossing and I hardly ever go back there, except to satisfy my vampiric urges for faery blood and visit a few friends, that's about it." In response to how they were discriminated against, they also added, "Well... in short, they treat their staff members like they are second class citizens, as if they are expendable. People, like me, who have contributed an enormous amount of their time, effort, and dedication to that place don't get any proper treatment at all. Instead, they just throw us under the bus so to speak." "Basically, any staff member who isn't part of the High Faery Court is considered second class."
One fairy followed the love of their life into FC and tried to follow in their love's footsteps to support them in their roles. They ended up getting a warning and suspension for being in a text only viewer and accidentally being naked in their own house at ground level, because "someone could look into the windows and see them," even though privacy is something all stewards have, per the FC Guidelines embedded into the covenant. In another instance, this same fairy, excitedly teleported to their friend in FC, to show them a typing AO they had been very proud of acquiring, and then fell asleep at their keyboard while accidentally still wearing their BDSM tag from the previous location. When they woke up the next day (the day before Thanksgiving), they were banned. Aside from some other heartbreaking consequences that were stricken for purposes of anonymity, they added, "The other thing... that does really still piss me off... is that yes, they did have me on some things. But others made up events... I didn't even question them because they were thrown in... i.e.... on a neighbor's house, I was accused of camming in while the other avatar was in there. And I swear, I never did that. I think the avatar that said that, did that to promote their rise to being a Protector in training ...which they are in now."
Another avatar simply stated, "I was banned and for having fun. Which is why many people won't visit the fairy land. Because it's boring."
This was said, when another avatar was asked why they had been banned and what happened, "Putting it mildly the Faery Crossing members do enjoy their little semblance of power. I was banned for not complying with some mod's request. Funny enough I was in an M rated area using the sandbox to try testing a mesh clothing item I just uploaded, on my male avatar. Apparently that was too offensive and I quote, 'not in the spirit of a sim.' Funny enough that's what got me banned, not for harassing like would be trolls. Plenty of sandboxes around, and a few of them are not even administrated by self-righteous a******s."
Not all responses were negative, here's one that ended on a much happier note, " I really don't know my actual status in Faerie Crossing and honestly I could care less. I think it might be important, though, so I'll take some time to explain. They (I'm assuming is a group of people) had a justified reason to act in the way they did. I was very noob when that happened. The thing was that someone gave me a scripted object in a beginner friendly area and I stupidly accepted. It was a box that exploded and I teleported to Faerie Crossing thinking that teleporting to wherever I could, would shut off the thing when changing areas. I learned the hard way that's not true. I was banned from the place and later I explained this to, I don't remember who, a woman, if I'm not mistaken. And honestly, she was ok, she understood. I think she saw my profile and my lifespan and it was obvious that what I did was not on purpose. I was allowed to enter again with some warnings and that's it."
"What is the purpose of Faery Crossing? What is Faery Crossing's main goal?
"Do High Faery Court members and Protectors treat newcomers fairly? Do they treat long time residents fairly?
"How do High Faery Court members and Protectors tell the difference between someone getting their bearings in SL, someone with a disability, or someone that is a griefer?
"What are the offenses that are cause for a ban?
"Was the Covenant written extensively simply to accommodate loop holes for Protectors or High Faery Court members to ban avatars for any reason?
"If an avatar is banned, are they ever able to come back? Is the banned person treated fairly? Has anyone ever been successful in coming back to Faery Crossing after being banned?
"How do the Protectors or High Faery Court members determine if an avatar is an alt of a banned avatar? Is this scrutiny fair?
"Can anyone become a High Faery Court member or Protector? What does it take to become either one of those roles? When did the last advancement to High Faery Court member or Protector take place?
"Do members of the High Faery Court and Protectors discourage or encourage others from advancing to Protector or High Faery Court member? How?
"Is Faery Crossing a cult or clique? Why or why not?
"What is the lasting impression you want to leave with others about Faery Crossing?"
During the investigation, a FC member did reveal pertaining group notices. At first, the notices were requests for FC members to ignore the inquiries. Qim insisted that this was "an attempt to undermine the covenant and the Protectors who try to keep the lands drama free." She threatened that the request for opinions were not authorized by the HFC, and claimed that no Protector Logs were ever shared. She furthermore stated that there was strong evidence that a banned ex-member of FC was behind all this, to attempt to harass the folks of FC. Then another notice was sent to encourage members to talk to the Protectors in handling any troublesome folks, and to direct all questions to them, to further understand the situation. Yet another notice was an apology from Qim, ironically maintaining that she was only trying to do her best to keep the lands drama free.
The last notice regarding this Streisand effect was from Sempervirens Oddfellow, a now previous member of the HFC, written in a confirmative matter that may remind one of novels about government conspiracy, with an attached statement from the HFC. The statement reinforced what Qim was trying to assert, in a more professionally written matter. It also accused the questions asked to the 160 avatars as being "leading questions," that "presupposed an abusive relationship between the various managing bodies of the FC and its folk" (when in reality, they were simply open questions, inviting avatars to speak out about their experience, freely). The statement was also trying to convince members that the procurement of these 160 names was an act of theft, but that the security vulnerabilities that FC had would be addressed.
Since then, the edit-linked Protector Logs in the FC castle thankfully no longer exist. However, with everything that has transpired, this tends to leave more questions than answers. For instance, what good is a Protector if you need protection from them? What exactly is it that the HFC is trying to hide by omission after they baited the public? Why would they have anything to hide if they played fair? Why do they assume avatars cannot think for themselves in their natural progression (and why are visitors and members not encouraged to do so properly)? Is FC newcomer friendly, simply to mold avatars into what the HFC needs, to fit some seedy desires and issues about control and power? ...One thing is for certain, though, "Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts, absolutely."
I notice that every time I tried to contacted the HFC, the items in my MP store got flagged for something. I suspect this will happen with the publication of this article too, but my Abuse Reports are at the ready. I was also not allowed at the FC memorial for my dearly departed friend, Bakki Beeswing (however, there is a memorial site on Zamargad for her). Recently I turned in my 3rd and final ban appeal, which several friends and other avatars did help me write. On April 13 of this year, Qim responded, "Your appeal was considered by the FC High Faery Court and Protectors, and denied. The decision is final and any further appeals will be ignored." In that very conversation, I still tried once more to resolve any issues Qim and I had, as I sincerely wanted peace and understanding between us spiritually before we departed this life. But of the few words she spoke, she contended that in banishment of my avatar, "the issue had been resolved," and that I "was just not accepting that." The history of my ban appeals and experience with FC is available for anyone to see, at the FC bridge, on Zamargad.
Meanwhile there have been several other things in Second Life that have kept me sane. If I were to leave you with a lasting message, it would be that there is such a thing as a (Second) life after being banned from your community. In this case, and many others, a ban like this is like a badge of honor, please wear it with pride. You don't need to waste time and millions of L$ on alts. Just pick yourself up and start over with a place that is worth your time. You are NOT alone. Second Life is HUGE, and there's bound to be other, better opportunities out there! Just don't put all your eggs into one basket. The only constant is change itself, as this is the natural evolution of things. And eventually Linden Lab will do something about repeated ARs from enough avatars.
My activities outside of FC started with breedables. There are several communities of them that are quite vibrant. From my experience, I can recommend KittyCatS!, Amaretto, and especially EVO. I've found them all to be quite caring, honest, and passionate people.
The thing that helped me the most was acquiring a family. I owe lots of my ambition to my mother, Pixiedust Darling - Napier (pixiedust.xia), who Skypes with me all the time about RL, SL, and other platforms and games. She also inspired me to get a cat in real-life as a pet. She even sent me the most delicious homemade cookies all the way from across the country! Our family is a very decent size. I have grandparents, an aunt, sisters, nieces, a nephew, and even a son! From my involvement, I can recommend adoption places like Heritage and Next Gen Inc.
I have also started helping newcomers at a more reputable and professional place. Treacle Darlandes, of New Resident Island, has been very good to me, and there are several helpers there that are quite wonderful! NRS has 0 banned avatars in their group, has expanded to the "You Matter" group, and features a "You Matter" spot. It makes me feel very fulfilled and proud to be a part of a team of leaders who genuinely care about the residents of Second Life.
Lastly, my friends of the Treasure Quest SL game, who just recently celebrated their two year anniversary, came through on something especially fun. A new "Off With Their Heads Mega Coin," worth L$500, has been designed from inspiration of my, and at least the 160 avatars', memoirs regarding FC. I guess you could say it started with StormyDaze15, Chris (chrs1969), and Jenni Witherspoon's banishment from the Linden Gold Hunt SL games, and their "Ugly Terry Mega Coin" response.
"Give me your world weary, your idealists, your winged dreamers yearning to be fae.
"Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
"I lift my lamp beside the golden veil."
Gateway to the Faery Crossing
The Faery Crossing
FaeWay Academy of Education
Faery Crossing Events Committee
The Faery Crossing Events
Druids of the Second Realm
Faery Crossing Merry Meeters
The High Faery Court
The Faery Crossing Protectors
The Faery Crossing Seelies
The headlining title of this article references the poisonous Kool-Aid the Jim Jones cult from Jonestown drank, and the red pill from the 1999 science fiction action blockbuster, "The Matrix," "After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth."
Preferred Contacts (starting at 2016):
High Faery Court:
Gypsy Tripsa - Faery Crossing Queen - presides over the High Faery Court
Julius Forwzy - FC Ambassador and in charge of agenda and minutes, real estate and market manager, steward representative for The Faery Crossing and Wildefleur (interim)
Bugs Larnia - Head of the FC Merry Meeters, steward representative for Faery Mere
Meadow Copperfield - Gateway Coordinator, steward representative for Madrigal
Qim Toxx - FaeWay Academy Administrative Dean, steward representative for Aetheria, interim head of Protectors
Caryn Eleonara - FC events coordinator
Bear Hird - Head of Protectors (on temporary leave of absence)
Sempervirens Oddfellow - Steward representative for Wildewood
Sunday, April 1, 2018
May your April Fools Day be filled with joy, merriment, and general foolery.
For previous April Fool jokes, check out 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011.
Monday, February 26, 2018
By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)
All across the web, these days, you don't have to go very far in, to find anything about depression, suicide, or mental health. I for one suffer from it as well. However, what most people don't realize, is that a good, and free, way to help them out, even slightly, is staring them in the face.
Nearly 350 million people suffer from depression all across the world. Depression can be anywhere from minor, to severe. The textbook definition of depression is, feelings of severe despondency and dejection. However, the condition can be far worse than just some definition, bed-ridding some of its sufferers. However, this reporter is one of many, who have found ways to combat it. Some of these ways include hanging out with friends, others include traveling. But what if you don't really have friends in the real world? What if you don't have enough money to travel? What happens then? Do you just sit and despair? Well worry not, for Second Life could be your treatment.
Second life has nearly 37 million players. There are nearly 25000 sims all around the grid. These sims range from arts to music, to roleplay, to shopping. Second Life has been described as the largest online virtual world. Being that, it can easily be seen how there is literally anything for anyone, and everyone. A lot of people have used this to their advantage, and have even made progress, in combating their own mental disorders. And even if you're just looking for support, you can find that nearly everywhere you go. There are even hundreds of groups, simply designed, for the sole purpose of giving people support for anything they have.
Editor's Note: Besides the Survivors of Suicide, which the Newser wrote about a few months ago, there are other places which say they offer mental health services. The only 0ther one I've talked to is Tranquility Health Care in Sorens (87/120/21), which has only recently come about.
Friday, February 2, 2018
By Bixyl Shuftan
After the apology came in, I thought that would be the last time I would write about the topic. But more people had something to say.
The issue started on December 31 When Team Diabetes posted on their blog that someone spammed their group chat saying his breedable group was doing an auction in which the proceeds would go to Team Diabetes. The Second Life charity was doing a fundraising event at the time with another breedables company at the time, so this may have caused a little confusion to the donors. While the man stated he had raised over 100,000 Lindens, about $400 USD, going to charity, Team Diabetes never got any of it, and asked people to start making inquires where the money went. The Newser talked to Vee Tammas Shocker (Veruca Tammas) of Team Diabetes, and was told Oenneo Resident was the one whom had spammed their group chat. I messaged him about the issue, but didn't get a response so went ahead and published the story on January 8.
The response was messages from Oenneo's partner at the time, LoriLynnGrimes Resident, some an outpouring of anger, and the more cordial one saying we should have contacted her and that the money had gone directly to the American Diabetes Association without going through Team Diabetes. I would also get two angry messages from supporters from her. As they were just minutes apart, I wondered if they were alts. Then later on Lori would send a note of apology to Team Diabetes, saying Oenneo confessed that the money never went to charity but to pay for a building, adding the breedables company she and "Neo" were in was dissolved along with their partnership and she planned to somehow make amends. But when the Newser wrote about her statement, she angrily responded that the message was intended to be private.
Some days later, I would get messaged by two people about the issue. One was a supporter of Lori, but in contrast to the earlier people whom were hostile, she made an effort to be friendly, though did ask to remain anonymous. She claimed Lori was no swindler but had been swindled herself by Neo and his supporters. She told me Lori was starting to pay the money to the American Diabetes Association over time in segments, though didn't have any proof as it would mean revealing her real-life identity.
I wasn't sure if this by itself warranted an update, telling her I probably wouldn't do one yet. Then later that evening I was contacted by Lady Digs Jewel (1x1x141 Digfoot). Digs told me she was the builder of the building mentioned in Lori's statement of apology, "The Ark." Lady Digs felt she was "dragged through the mud" by the insinuations she was involved in a charity fraud by association, "I did not receive embezzled funds, because it was paid for well before the event." She sent me a picture of a page of Oenneo's transaction history, which was dated several days before the incident with Team Diabetes and labeled "Final Payment for Ark."
She then told me Oenneo was there with her on the Ark, still under construction, and offered to TP me over. And so I was face to face with the man whom had caused Team Diabetes so much concern. Neo would only converse with me in voice, so the only records I had were the notes I managed to type. The bare-chested man claimed he never got my messages, saying his messages were likely capped, "I have only this to say, I never touched any of the funds. ... The Ark was paid for my money and my money alone."
Later on, Digs would contact me again. We chatted for a while, and she stated she wasn't trying to imply that she thought I was unfair to her, only that the statement I published could be seen by some as implicating her. This wasn't my intention, and the evidence I've been shown points out she was paid before the incident in question.
I emailed Vee Tammas about the two contacts. She responded that even though the builder had evidence she was not involved in the incident, she felt there were no reasons to take either Oenneo or Lori at their word, "Neo" having been caught in a lie and Lori having a history of responding angrily when confronted and having no evidence of her wanting to make amends. While Neo might not have paid for the building with the money in question, he still collected it from Team Diabetes supporters.
The Newser has written about controversial topics before, such as Monkey Wonder and Voodoo's threats to the Greenzone group. But seldom has information kept coming in about one like this. So what happens next? Time will tell.
Friday, December 22, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
When Christmas comes to Second Life, many decorate their areas with snow and a Christmas tree, or other simple decorations such as wreaths and candy canes. And then there's Nydia Tungsten, the owner of the "Happy Vixen," the beach club of the Sunweaver/Angels community. While gift-giving is fun, the crass commercialism and stress can take the happiness out of the holiday. So she tries to have a little fun with her "Twisted Christmas" music set every season, filled with parody songs from mild to wild as an answer to "Fa-la-la-la" played 24/7 in every other shopping center.
But this year, she did a little more. She decorated the beach club with some off-kilter Christmas decorations that were definitely not for child avatars. There was "Santa and the drunken reindeer," which had the not so jolly old elf and his sleigh having wiped out, and the reindeer were all splat on the ground or on the fence, except one that was taking a piddle on Kris Kringle. There were a couple reindeer on the rooftop "romantically engaged." There was one outhouse labeled "Santa's Office: Knock First" where Santa was having to answer a call of nature, "Ho ho ho! Could I have a little privacy?" About the only thing that looked G-rated at first glance was one snowman on the side of the dance floor. But before long, you'd hear cheesy pick-up lines from him. This was "Frisky the Snowman."
Connor had boasted Frisky had "Over 100 come ons." And he never seemed to run out as at events, he relentlessly spouted one after another, "Do you have a quarter? Mom asked me to call her if I ever fell in love." "Look at you, with all those curves, and me with no brakes." "Is God missing an angel? You look like you fell from Heaven." Some could be a little creepy, "If a fat man puts you in a bad tonight, don't worry. I told Santa I wanted you for Christmas." "You can take me home, or I can follow you home, your choice."
So what did I think? As a guy, he reminded me of the examples I had while growing up of how *not* to ask women out. But as the years went on, and I remained single, guys (in real life) kept telling me I needed to be more pushy, "You need to start reaching out and grabbing some ***s." I sometimes wonder if they were seeing if I'd had a mental lapse and actually do it. Then again, they had reproduced (or rather a number of them had), I hadn't. So maybe there was *something* to the strategy of one lame pickup line after another. And then there was the story I read years ago about a woman whom claimed the ghost of a guy was not only haunting her house, but going after her. The exorcist she called to get rid of him told her he was a lonely soul who never had luck with women and in death was continuing what he was trying in life.
The following day, the decorations Nydia had put up for "Twisted Christmas" were all gone. This included Frisky. A few girls acted happy that the snowman was gone. When I asked Nydia what happened to him, she answered, "I melted him, with a flamethrower." So what cheesy pickup line drove her over the edge? She wouldn't say.
The snowman is gone, but no doubt he'll be remembered.
Frisky the Snowman,
Was a perverted skirt-chasing soul,
With a candy-striped cane, and a stovepipe hat,
He cat-called with a leer made out of coal.
Oh how the women,
Hated each cheesy pick-up line.
They talked about how to melt him down.
To him, he was a load of slime.
As for yours truly,
I too felt he was a butt.
But you have to admit, he wouldn't quit,
For his passion, he never gave up.
Then one morning,
Frisky the Snowman had gone away.
The women cheered, but I was a little sad,
Deep down, I'd hoped he'd get one chance to play.
Image Credit: Connor07
Friday, December 15, 2017
By Wesley Regenbogen,
Dear readers and SL Newser staff,
I joined Second Life Newser in July 2014 after searching for a virtual newspaper to write for in Second Life.
My virtual journalism career started around the year 2000, when I was member of a virtual world called Cybertown.com ( it doesn’t exist anymore nowadays ). At the time I saw an ad where they were looking for writers at CVN ( Cybertown Virtual News ). I decided to send in an article that I wrote and I thought by myself “here goes nothing.” But after a while, the editor emailed me back that the article was good enough for publication. I must admit that I was a bit blown away by the fact that my article was accepted anyhow.
But in the year 2003, the Cybertown.com virtual world had new owners and they decided to make it a subscription based website. I decided to leave CVN and thus the virtual world of Cybertown.com. After that I wandered around the web in search of other virtual worlds like Cybertown.com, but I found none that gave me the same “feeling.” Until in November 2006, I saw a video about Second Life and decided to join in and created my account.
After a few years of learning the basics of Second Life, I found out that SL Newspaper, owned by James T. Juno, was looking for writers. I then made the decision to join his team and write articles for them. But I lost interest in Second Life a while after that and decided to leave Second Life for a while. I briefly came back in 2012, but I didn’t find any virtual newspaper again and I learned that SL Newspaper was no longer existing.
In July 2014, I found out that SL Newser, owned by Bixyl Shuftan, was writing about Second Life. I decided to join them and I have been writing for them ever since, until now.
Today ( December 13 th, 2017 ) I wrote my goodbye article and I will move on. I hope this career switch will be a good one, we will see what happens.
I would like to thank the crew of SL Newser, and especially Bixyl Shuftan, for letting me part of their team and write with them. I sincerely greet you, the readers, for reading my articles and enjoying the things I have written about.
So, I say farewell to SL Newser and I hope that the virtual newspaper SL Newser will continue to grow and will expand in the near future.
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
By Alura Messing
Death. We can't escape it in our first lives or our second. If you have been in any type of gaming community, you know how close an emotional bond you can build with people. You talk to them almost everyday. You hear about their families, their problems, and their successes. You often know them better than most of their families do. But once in awhile, you log in to get the news that something terrible has happened. One of your friends has passed away.
In my years of gaming it has happened more than once. One was very ill and just never came back. I can only assume that they passed on and their family didn't know how, or felt no need to tell their gaming friends. One was very young and died suddenly in a house fire with his mother. I was lucky a real life friend was able to pass on the sad news. Which brings me to my current gaming experience in Second Life.
I am part of a family here. We all live on the same land and see each-other daily. We go shopping together, attend special events the someone is in, and just talk about life. I logged in the other day, to find out that one of my family had passed away. Even as I write, we are still waiting to learn the cause. He was young and no one saw this coming. We were all devastated and needed to find a way to mourn.
I believe many people in Second Life are faced with this. They don't know what to do, or how to honor the memory of someone they cared for. For many years, the Lindens themselves hosted a memorial garden that you could go to and have the name of a resident who passed away added to. Sadly in July of 2011 they stopped accepting names to add to the memorial, though you can still visit and see existing memorials.
Residents now have to devise their own ways to memorialize their friends. We can't rely on the Lindens to have a common in world place as a memorial. Over the years I have see many ways that people have attempted to find their peace and remember the light and life of a lost soul. In my early days I happened on a small shrine on the main grid. It gave me a texture when I clicked it and lit a candle for a time. On that texture, was the following poem.
An Uncertain Memorial
By: Calliandris Pendragon
Beyond time and space
I met a fellow traveller
And we journeyed for awhile.
Then, I lost sight of them.
I cannot tell where they have gone,
Wether they vanished back
Into the throng of life,
Or slipped across the threshold
Into another world,
Turning from time, to eternity.
All I can say with certainty
Is that there is a place in my heart
Into which that other fits
Which is empty now.
A beautiful expression of coming to terms with the loss of someone close.
We don't always know how to express what is inside and some people simply place a picture in their profile with a few words about the person. Others, like Noel (Ixinoel) have building skills and build something in world to spread the memory of their lost friend. Noel owner of Dust Bunny, built a Memorial Garden with her friend Amy's (Scarlet Chandrayaan) favorite things. She gives it out for free to anyone who comes to her store. In doing that, her memory is shared by many who display the item in their personal space.
But if you and others would like to gather someplace and take time to remember them in a more "Earthly" way, there is Living Memories Memorial Garden. There you can dedicate a tree to your missing loved ones. There is no cost to do so, but donations are welcomed to help cover the cost of the land. It is a beautiful location that you can visit and and hold a memorial service on your own or with others.
We may not be able to just ignore the grief of losing someone in Second Life, but as you can see there are many ways to honor a memory. Be sure to take a moment to visit the memorials to remember someone you might have lost here or to pay respects to the others who have come and gone that you may not know. We each contribute to this wonderful verse and when even one of us passes away it is a loss to the community. Safe and healthy paths to each of you.
Shrine of Remembrance, Linden Memorial Park (146, 88, 7)
Living Memories Memorial Garden, The Sardar (6, 101, 21)Dust Bunny New Mainstore!, Dust Bunny (118, 200, 16)
Wednesday, November 22, 2017
By Gemma Cleanslate
Thought provoking is what I would call the exhibit in Lea23. Ilyra Chardin (Ilyra Chardin) in collaboration, with friends has created a project named “Faces.” It involves you, and me.
The entrance room has pictures and poems and comments about people and life , in real life and in Second Life , from people we know or have read about. We are all people behind an avatar. Some we come to know well because they want to let the two worlds meld, others do not so we know them as Second Life residents only. The portraits reflect the varied choices we make as a persona in the virtual world. The words on the wall remind us of the connection between our persona and the real person behind the face. Read it all well. The information in the slide show of a survey from 2015 is part of the basis for what is going on here I would suggest.
Every visitor is invited to join in a writing contest . Look on the posts for information and rules. After checking out everything out in the anteroom walk through a door of your choice and begin your journey in creating your story . The information pack in the anteroom that you pick up will help you . Choose the scenario you like best as a basis for your story and begin to create. A map in each folder will guide you to the sites that offer options for thought.
Or, just go visit and explore the venues that are out there. I took a tour of all the venues and your choices are many. You might approach the venue from one angle or another and come up with a completely different thought about what you wish to do. In one of the folders there is an interesting insight into Trolls. I found it really so interesting just looking at all the various sites that Ilyra has created.
I loved all the sites and saw so many options. It will be so interesting to see the stories that develop. There is much to think about in this installation. Just visiting each site caused me to come up with several possible stories of characters I know here or in real life.
As an example of this is from the folder at the hospital, “Did you know that 81% of those surveyed reported that someone close to them was in the hospital in real life during their time on Second Life? Fifty-one percent reported that they were in the hospital at least once during their time on Second Life. Eleven percent reported that they had a child during their time on Second Life. 84% reported a death of someone close to them during their time on Second Life.” I have had both experiences.
I am not sure if I will have time to write for the contest but am thinking about it. I have to get going on Christmas and winter places for you to explore! Visit and explore the region and the many environments created for you.
Monday, November 20, 2017
By Tantari Kim
The first place to go is How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way. I have written this extensive guide on how to DJ from home using nothing free software. While it specifically addresses the challenges and opportunities of doing so in Second Life, these techniques can be adapted to many online games and services.
In my guide, How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way, I cover how to broadcast from the free and open source DJ software MIXXX to SHOUTcast. But what if you want to use a different piece of DJ software? Or you want to broadcast to something other than SHOUTcast? Read on!
While MIXXX is great and runs on almost everything, I’ve personally moved on to Virtual DJ 8. This is very powerful but expensive software ($300 for a full license or $19 a month). There is a great alternative. Virtual DJ offers a Home Free version. It allows you to do everything, including recording your own mixes, but has two big limitations. First, you can’t use any controllers with it, which is not a big deal for starting DJs. Controllers are expensive and you probably don’t have one. Secondly, and most importantly, you can’t broadcast to SHOUTcast. The same is true from the other two big commercial DJ software packages, Traktor and Serato. Don’t worry. We can fix this!
In this guide, we’ll cover how to broadcast from almost anything, specifically from Virtual DJ Home Free, to SHOUTcast. You can even record audio from programs that don't allow you to record. And we'll do it all with free software, so you don't have to pay anything.
What You'll Need
This guide is written with Windows in mind. Specifically, I use Windows 10, so this guide addresses that operating system. With some research, you can use this for other operating systems like older versions of Windows, MacOS, and Linux. The specifics of your particular operating system are up to you.
You'll also need:
- •DJ software - There are many choices available for this. If you're using MIXXX or something that supports SHOUTcast streaming directly, you don't need this guide. This is meant for software that doesn't stream like Traktor, Serato, etc. In particular, I am going to be using the Home Free version of Virtual DJ which is available here: https://www.virtualdj.com/download/
- •Virtual cable software - I use the VB-Audio Virtual Cable at https://www.vb-audio.com/Cable/ because it works for me and it is free to use (donationware). It should work for all modern versions of Windows. If you use a different operating system, you will have to find something that works for you.
- •BUTT - Broadcast Using This Tool. This software is free, open source, and works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You can get it at https://danielnoethen.de/ .
- •SHOUTcast server – You'll need a SHOUTcast server of some kind. If you already rent one online or you have permission to use one at a club, that will work. If you want to set one up on your personal computer for testing, directions are in How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way.
- •(Optional) Audacity - In this context, we will use it to record your live mix if your DJ software refuses to do it for you. You can also use it to trim your mix, encode it, and a million other things. It is free, open source, and works on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. If you don't already have it, you should get it here: http://www.audacityteam.org/ . More information about how to use it is in How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way.
How It Works
SHOUTcast consists of three main components, a Source (like MIXXX, Virtual DJ, etc), a Server (the SHOUTcast DNAS), and your Listeners. If you want more information, check out the main article, How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way.
All of the components we'll be looking at in this article take place inside the Source, which is your DJing computer. Your DJ software expects to connect to a sound card. When you open the configuration panel, it looks through the Windows sound driver list and finds all the sound output devices.
The virtual cable software installs two device drivers, one for a Windows sound card speaker output and one for a Windows sound card microphone input. Whatever is sent to the speaker output is copied byte for byte to the microphone. While you can only have one program sending data to the speaker output at a time, any number of programs can be listening to the microphone input simultaneously.
The software in your DJing computer will be configured like this:
In your DJing software (like Virtual DJ), you will need to set the output to be that virtual audio cable's speaker output. Then in the broadcast software and (optional) recording software, you set their input to the virtual audio cable's microphone input. The broadcast software will send the audio to the Server (SHOUTcast DNAS) while the recording software (Audacity) will dump your mix to a file.
Installation and Configuration
Install the virtual cable software using the instructions provided with it. If you are using VB-Audio Virtual Cable software, you can check to make sure it is installed by opening the Device Manager and expanding the “Audio inputs and outputs” section. You should see something like this. You are looking for the “Cable Input (VB-Audio Virtual Cable” and “Cable Output (VB-Audio Virtual Cable)” lines. If you see those, then you're ready to go!
Install BUTT following instructions on the website. Click the Settings button to open the settings.
In the Server Settings, click Add. Enter a name, then choose ShoutCast. Enter the data for your SHOUTcast server. When you're done, click Add. In the future, you'll be able to select this Server from the pulldown menu and click Edit. You can have as many as you want!
In the Stream Infos section, click Add. Enter a name, a description, and a genre. You can fill out the other fields if you want. When you're done, click Add. In the future, you'll be able to select this stream from the pulldown menu and click Edit. You can have as many as you want!
At the top of the box, click the Audio tab. Here you will select your Audio Device to get the audio data from, as well as the sample rate and coding. Fill it out similarly to what I show below. You can also use BUTT to record your audio mix. I won't get into that here. I prefer to use a separate program to record because I generally like to record a much smaller amount of time than the entire broadcast session.
To start the stream, hit the Connect to Server button. It looks like a Play icon. To stop, hit the Disconnect from Server button. It looks like a little Stop icon. Hit the Play icon right now. When you're playing, you'll see the little UV meters moving show the volume of sound being pushed into it and the timer will count. It should look something like this below. For now, you won't see any lights because you aren't putting any sound into the cable just yet, but you will see the timer counting up.
Finally, open your DJ software. Every one will look a little different. Consult your manual for details. In Virtual DJ, click the Options button (it is on the top of your screen and looks like a little gear), then click Audio on the left side. Configure it so the Headphones output goes to your regular speakers and your Master goes to the VB-Audio Virtual Cable. It should look something like this. Then hit Apply to save it.
Now load a track in your DJ software and start playing it. If everything is configured properly, you should see the UV meters in BUTT moving along with the music. Connect to the SHOUTcast server with listening software like VLC. You should hear your music, but delayed because of the streaming process. Congratulations! You're streaming!
Optionally, if you want to record your mix and your DJ software doesn't allow you, install Audacity. Use the pulldown next to the microphone to select Cable Output (VB-Audio Virtual Cable). Then you can click the Record button at any time to record your mix. You'll need to trim and export the audio after you're done. Consult How to DJ the DJ Tantari Way and the Audacity documentation ( http://www.audacityteam.org/help/documentation/ ) for more details.
Now you can broadcast from virtually any DJ or music program directly to SHOUTcast and record it. As long as you can configure the program to use the virtual audio cable device, you're good to go.
While I recommend starting with MIXXX for beginners, if you have outgrown it and want to move on to another piece of software, this is an excellent way to go. While I personally use Virtual DJ 8 and love it, Traktor and Serato are also excellent programs. I recommend you download the free trials of all of them and play with them to see which suits your personal style best before laying down your hard-earned cash.
If you use the free version of Virtual DJ for Home Users, this is a great way to get started with some great software. If you want to add a single controller, an excellent option for beginners is the Numark Mixtrack 3 for about $130, though I've seen it on sale for as low as $99. As of right now, if you hook it up, the Virtual DJ for Home Users will give you a free 30 day license to use your new controller. After that, the license for this controller is $100. If you get serious about DJing and want to make money at it, you should really buy the Pro Infinity for $300. It includes streaming, so you can finally get rid of your virtual audio cable and BUTT for good. I discourage you from using the Pro Monthly license for $19/month. Those add up quickly and before you know it, you already paid the $300 with nothing to show for it!
As of now, Traktor and Serato don't support SHOUTcast streaming at all, so using a virtual audio cable and BUTT is pretty much your only option.
I've had a lot of fun as a DJ and hope you do too. I look forward to hearing what you make! I’m a very busy person, but if you do start DJing and post a recording, I’d love to check it out! Find me on Second Life as Tantari Kim, Mixcloud at https://www.mixcloud.com/DJTantari or email me at tantari.kim (at) gmail.com. If this guide helps you become a DJ, I'd be thrilled to hear about it. Please let me know!
A great DJ plays the music you never knew you always loved.
Monday, November 13, 2017
By Bixyl Shuftan
For most in Second Life, their big day is their rezzday. For me, I've had other milestones. There was when I first began logging onto the Grid on a regular basis, when I got my fox avatar, and most importantly, when I first became a journalist here, in November 2007.
My journey to Second Life actually started almost a year earlier. Although I'd been told about Second Life before, notably by an online friend who went by Kamilah Hauptman here, telling me how great the place was, that unlike an MMO one could build their own place and look how they wanted. But as I only had dial-up Internet at the time, I didn't think I could access the place. Finally in Dec 2006 I got high speed Internet and came here. Unfortunetly, Kamilah was suddenly unavailable due to new responsibilities. Going around, I found mostly just homes and ban lines, with no idea where the events were or how to find interesting places. There was no Destination Guide back then to look for them. So my visits became few and far between, spending more time in "World of Warcraft" with friends whom were available.
Not everything went well. Sadly one of the first things I would write about in 2008 was the closing of my first hangout after Luskwood, the STA, and over the next few months many of my friends at the time would drop out of the Grid. Over time, I would be invited to be a part of other places and groups in Second Life, the Fortunas Club and Fortunas Estates, the Woodlin community (not to be confused with Woodland which had a different atmosphere) and the Star Tails club, the Foxworth community and the Blue Parrot Club (later known as the Bahama Beach Club or BBC). But all of these locations would eventually close and fade, with nothing left but screenshots and memories, and the treehouse I would take with me from Woodlin. It wasn't until Spring 2010 that I finally found a place that lasted, and became a part of the Sunweaver and Angels community, where I remain to this day.
By this time, my role in virtual journalism was about to change. In Fall 2009, JamesT Juno had to depart Second Life, and Dana Vanmoer wasn't able to give the time to the paper she once could. So she reluctantly made the decistion to close Second Life Newspaper. I along with the rest of the team was shocked and saddened. The newspaper had been such a big part of our experience in the virtual world, we couldn't imagine life here without it. So I talked with the others, and three others, Gemma, Grey, and Shelie, agreed to join me in the founding of a new paper that would take over from where James and Dana left off: The Second Life Newser. With the new paper starting up in June 2010, my role changed from being just one of the reporters to the editor and head of the publication. The Sunweaver/Angels offered us a place for the office at the start, and we soon had an inworld office. Under a new banner, we kept on covering the people, places, and events across the virtual world.
Over the past ten years, much has changed in Second Life. I came on when it was the darling of the tech media, considered "Internet 2.0," and mentioned in big media, including newspapers and TV news, even prime time TV shows. By the time the Newser took over from the old SLN, it was already fading from public view and the public was changing it's attention to other computer applications it could easier understand, such as Facebook. Many places here have come and gone. A few such as The Lost Gardens of Apollo have been lucky enough to be brought back by Linden Lab. Second Life's media has changed as well. Treet TV used to do live programing across the Grid, viewable on inworld TV sets. Today, live programing is a rarity, reserved for a few special events. Shows like "Tonight Life" and "The 1st Question" that went on for a number of years are gone.
But while some things have been lost as time has gone on, there have also been some additions. Over time, new people have come to Second Life and made their own marks on the Grid. New places and builds have been constructed, giving those here new areas to explore. There's always something new here. One just needs to know where to find it.
Of "The Lab," as the residents call Linden Lab, the owners of Second Life, the love/hate relationship the residents have with them is still there. When I first came on there was some interaction with the residents. But after Linden Lab's founder Philip Rosedale/Philip Linden stepped down, they seemed to become more distant. Then with the appearance of the current CEO Ebbe Altberg/Ebbe Linden, there was more interaction again. But while the increased interaction helps, the view the residents have of The Lab is still mixed. They appreciate it's founders inventing Second Life, and the present company maintaining it. But at the same time they groan, sometimes curse at it for it's blunders. It seems the Lab puts developing new bells and whistles to getting rid of bugs and glitches. When it comes to banning people, there's a general feeling that the Lab has a way of being unable to stop a location from being repeatedly griefed by day-old alts made by the same owner, yet accounts that have lasted for years end up banned for trivial infractions. And then there is Sansar. While a few people here see promise in the "next generation virtual world" as it was originally called, at least some years from now, most residents see it as a waste of Linden Lab's time and their money, feeling all Sansar does for them is delay the amount of time bugs and glitches get fixed and raise their fees.
Bereznyak. My home of the Sunweaver and Angels Estates has seen some changes, sims vanishing and appearing, clubs closing and opening, and people leaving and coming in. Club Zero Gravity for instance had to close it's doors for a time when finances forced it to, but recently reopened back and as good as ever. I myself have been helping Nydia Tungsten and Skylark Lefavre manage the community's beach club the Happy Vixen.
So what's ahead? Ten years ago, I had no real idea what my future was here beyond the next year or two. I never saw myself two and a half years later heading the publication that would replace the one my old employers had then. Despite Linden Lab's heavy handedness at times, it's a safe bet the Grid will still be around for a few more years, probably several more years, unless there's a major catastrophe such as a devastating earthquake in California that takes out the Lab and it's servers. I have expanded my writing beyond the virtual world, doing a blog about matters outside of Second LIfe, which I named "Food on the Table" on hopes it will eventually lead me to a writing job I can make a full time living on. I've also been writing a science-fiction novel on the side, the working title being "The Corsean Encounter." In the story, two humans end up on a pre-Industrial alien world, followed later by others with hostile intentions. If it does modestly well, I'll write more.
But I have no plans on stopping my reporting on Second Life, and the good this virtual world can do for people. As long as you keep reading, as long as I have a team by my side and as long as I'm able to, I'll keep on writing about the news here..