Thursday, May 30, 2013

Rock N Rustic Ranch

by Theonlyjohnny Resident

    The ranch is a great place to hang out, because there's great music, a polite and respectful staff, and a great design to the sim.

    This is a place for those of you that love hospitality as much as you love country music (assuming you absolutely love country music). My first time there, I had just teleported in, when everyone greeted me, as if I was already their best friend. Even though I was a furry, which they didn't mind even in the slightest, I felt at home.

    However, after being there, many times, I have begun to notice something that I don't see in other clubs, something that I can honestly say, sets this club apart from other clubs. No one comes here for lindens. The staff don't come to earn lindens either. No, people visit this club to make friends, have fun, and to listen to great music.

    The staff are some of the best that you will ever hope to find. They not only wish to have fun. They wish to bring joy to others. They make it possible for others to have a fun experience as well. The staff also play their part in the genre, perfectly. The DJ's all play country music. The hosts use only country style gestures. Honestly, you come here, and you will feel as though you were on a real ranch.

    Of course, this club isn't for everyone. Those of you who only visit clubs to get lindens, will not find this club very nice, due to the fact that there are no "sploders," no money givers, no coins, no cones, no lucky eggs, and of course no contest boards. The absent of these truly make this club better than most, since you know people are only there to have fun.

    The open design of this club really make it a welcoming place. The lack of walls really say, "We welcome all." Which is true, seeing as this club welcomes furries, and not many clubs will allow furries. So I applaud this club's kindness in allowing us furries.

I would say this club is a great place to be,

Originality: 3 of 5
Design and Look: 5 of 5
Music: 5 of 5
Staff: 5 of 5
Owner involvement: 4 of 5

In total 22 of 25

Theonlyjohnny Resident

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Renaissance Island

 By Grey Lupindo
    Renaissance Island is a Tudor settlement where SL residents can learn about English life during the 16th century and have fun, too.  The wharf and dock area is a great place to begin, located at Ren Isla, Renaissance Island (204, 213, 26).  You can either start a walking tour here or take a carriage.    The Village is huge, however, and to see it all may take more than one visit.

        Renaissance Island was created in 2007 by historians who wanted to recreate life during the Tudor ear.  They took on roles of people who would have lived during that time and established a place where others could join in the fun as they learned.  The Alliance Library System, a private benefactor, and later the South Central Regional Library Council in New York provided funding and support.  However, the Village is now sustained by its residents, educators, librarians, and visitors. 
         SL Resident Diamond Coronet is the Project Director.  In her profile, she notes, “The Renaissance means Rebirth.  What better way to enjoy this era than re-birthed virtually.”  On her profile you can find information about educational and support opportunities in the village.  
        Although it isn’t required, a great way to visit this site is in proper attire.  If you don’t have Tudor clothing, you can pick up free outfits at Vandeberre’s Emporium & Armory, located at Renaissance Island (196, 126, 26).  The merchants in the village will also sell you some very nice clothing, too.  At various places you can buy armor, swords, and other necessities.    
        I started my exploration near the Globe Theater, at Renaissance Island (174, 25, 26).  In the Globe you can get a free audiobook of “Romeo and Juliet” from Librovox.  There are notecards with information about Shakespeare and many of his other works are on display. 
        While I was exploring near here I ran into one of the villagers, Ashton Akiri.   He has been a resident since February, 2010, and is currently working on a project there.  He was very helpful in giving me links to their website, which has pictures, videos and other information about the site.   It can be found at  Akiri has a very large home in the Village, which he has open to the public.  There are other residents who also allow visitors to come inside. Some of the homes have handcrafted tables and other artisan wares for sale, too.   I saw a beautiful inlaid table for $50L and a hand-woven rug for $20L. 
     Outside the Globe Theater is one of the many teleporter maps that are a great way to orient you as well as move quickly throughout the site.  If you have the time, however, it’s fun to stroll down the streets and alleys. There are too many places to discuss individually:  a school, a small fort called the Reading Primley Bulwark, a stable, a community garden, and many others. There are many free items to be found at each location or some free activity you can do, as well as informational notecards.  I milked a cow at one spot and borrowed a free AKK horse at the stables.
        In the Tilt Garden, located at Renaissance Island (32, 69, 26), you can take fencing lessons or participate in jousts. According to a calendar of events, weekly joust tournaments are held on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. SLT.  For a $1L donation you can purchase a pendant or a flag and cheer on your favorite.
      My favorite building is Lagswell Manor, which is based on a composite of several RL castles and halls.   The Manor is a grand mixture of educational, cultural, and fun activities.   
      In December a Masquerade Ball was held, and titles were bestowed on people who supported King Henry and his village. The Ball and titles seem like a fun and festive way to raise support for the Island.  Wealthy supporters could become a Marquisate or an Earl, at least for a little while, by paying $10,000L or $5000L respectively.  The social climbing poorer gentleman could become a knight for $750L.  Each title came with a different amount of privileges, except for the poor knight who doesn’t seem to gain anything except the privilege to be called Sir for a little while.   
        I saw that a few titles of Baron were available for $2500L, including ones for Grey of Codnor, Greystock, Grey of Groby and Grey de Ruthyn.  I’ll have to check to see if I have any relatives on the Island.   In the meantime I’ll suggest to Diamond Coronet that Baroness Grey de Lupindo has an elegant, regal sound to it, and they may want to include it next year.           
        Inside Lagswell Manor is a Music Room and information about Thom Dowd, whose RL counterpart was a professor of music at the Conservatory of Fribourg in Switzerland.   He performs Renaissance and Baroque music on a recorder and has brought his talent into SL.   
      The library that is located here is fantastic.  There is a wealth of information about Tudor England and the literature of that era.  If you take the stairs up to the second floor, you will find a game room and the hall of Queens.  Portraits of the wives of Henry VIII are here, including an informational notecard about each one.      
      The Manor also includes a Tudor kitchen and information about the meals that would have been served during that time.  I picked up a free barrel of spiced Mead, which should be a hit at the next SL Newser party.   
      No village would be complete with a church, a doctor, and a tavern. Renaissance Village has St. Minutia’s Church, both a physician’s residence/office and a healer’s hut, and the Boar’s Head Inn.   It has many other builds and activities, too, for both serious students of the era as well as SL residents who want to travel to a different time and place.        

Grey Lupindo

Monday, May 27, 2013

The First Sims: Minna

by DrFran Babcock

I couldn’t wait to visit Minna, because if you look at it on the map, it is the most colorful of the original sims. I was not disappointed. Minna is one of the first sims that has an active population, and lots to see and enjoy.

History of Minna

Minna began as a mostly commercial sim back in 2002. It was dominated by Divivity, a store that sold gifts, food, and nursery items. Divivity still has a presence on the sim, but it is dotted throughout the sim. What I loved about Minna is that is seems to be populated by old members and new members who have a love for and appreciation of the rich history of Second Life™.

Who Lives Here?

Paula Dix owns the land that has all the colorful trees on it. I knew immediately that they were the work of Second Life™ artist and queen of wild trees: soror Nishi. Paula’s land—she calls her parcel Paula’s Ploting (sic) Plan—is covered with the trees and particles, and is just a delight to visit. From Paula’s profile comes this statement with which I have always agreed: “There is no Second Life as opposed to First Life. SL is as real as FL We may be just pixels, but we  are  as real as anything. So live fully and be sure to assure that all can also live.” Nice.

Kennylex Luckless is someone I know, because he seems to be always around the Ivory Tower of Primitives on Natoma, building and giving away freebies, or at Linden Office Hours. He has a darling castle on Minna, that he told me he wanted to remove, but ANSI Soderstrom told him he could not. I was able to ask him a very, very few questions before his Natoma fan club distracted him:

SL Newser: Kenny, how did you find out about Second Life™?

KennyLex: Oh, newspaper, it was a article about Second House of Sweden. (Kenny is from Sweden) The sim closed because there were complaints. 

When I did log in, I found Natoma and the Ivory tower, and fell in love with building things. So, I stayed. I am mostly here (Ivory Tower), Luskwood, Bay City and at Torley’s Place. Although, Torley’s old place here was much funnier.

Kennylex gave me a vehicle made out of old barrels that he made, we rode around Natoma for a while. I returned to my explorations.

ANSI Soderstrom has a lot of land on Minna, and a sense of humor. Her cel-shaded ANSI-wood build, a play on the Hollywood Hills, is like an anime hobbit village. However, she is also the creator of Port Ansi, a complex-looking brick building that holds tons of freebies built by Kennylex Luckless. Kennylex’s freebies are fun, and often he includes the textures he used in them so that you can mod what you take.

Blogging acquaintance and SL Universe forum member Elysium Hynes owns 736 square meters of land, and purple trunked trees. It hugs a water edge, and is filled with pretty chairs and tables for hanging out. I wonder if she ever spends time there?

These three residents hail from 2007 or later, but there are also members who are much older with parcels on Minna. Dave Zeeman has a not very pretty build, of which he seems very proud:  “This is Dave Zeeman's original home!  He's had it ever since Beta v0.3.2!  Check out the classic "Matrix Box" and world renowned Plinko game!  Also the site of any "Match Game SL" shows!” So, Dave is one of the original members, but from the look of his parcel he has not been around for some time.

Emmaly Baxton (2008) has the Minna Sky Complex, a poured concrete series of elevated lookouts that provide a place to view the original sims. Her land seems to be part of Dave Zeeman’s, and is a somewhat modern and grungy structure. Although I didn’t speak with her, I did see her on the sim during one of my research visits.

Another oldbie is Div Epoch, a Charter Member, who will become 10 years old around the time that Second Life™ does. Has an old-school house, very minimally furnished on northwest corner of Minna.

And, then there’s Vivianne OFlynn, who is almost ten years old, and owns Divivity’s food and celebrations supplies. I suppose she is still around, because there were prims from 2013 with Mother’s day items. According to the Second Life™ Wiki, Divivity was most of the sim of Minna at one time. Now, there was only the celebration shop, and another parcel with garden items.

Of interest to me, from a historical standpoint was the Sacred Ground Druid Circle that Simon Metalhead, a Beta Member established in  September 2003 I imagine it was meant to hold larger crowds as it spans the corners of Minna, Ritch, Zoe, and Natoma. Again, I have to wonder if people still use it. I hope it remains, because it is from the earliest days of Second Life™.

A very new addition to the sim is from four year old Carol Pixelmaid. Virtually Gorgeous is a tiny shop with some pretty old-school lingerie and dresses for ladies. It has a nice grass covered lookout on the property with free binoculars and pose balls for viewing the beauty of Minna.

For Sale
Would you like to live on Minna? There is one tiny landlocked plot, L-shaped and narrow that is for sale for 35,998 Lindens. Sounds a bit steep for me, but you may be a lover of history.

Visit Minna:

DrFran Babcock

Monday, May 20, 2013

Tales From the Ghost Forest – LEA14

By DrFran Babcock

I had seen the Linden Endowment for the Art’s Tales From the Ghost Forest mentioned on the log in screen several times. Usually, that means it’s a build about which I won’t write, because I figure that promoted sims get a lot of coverage. I decided to visit anyway, with a friend, and decided to tell you about it.

First, after a few visits, and some photography, I am not really sure I understand Uan Ceriaptrix’s build. However, the mood he creates, and the post-apocalyptic feel made me feel immersed in another dimension. I believe that’s what art is supposed to do.

The build is composed of four different parts. You are greeted by a giant spider when you teleport into the sim. Be careful or you may end up in her web. Instead, follow the colored balls over the long bridge, up a ladder, and enter Junk City, which is just what it sounds like. According to Ceriaptrix, this area, which is a barren path studded with garbage and pollution is the point at which things started to transform through a change and restructuring of technology. Humans have been transformed into avatars and holograms, and homo sapiens are extinct.

Leaving Junk City, you enter the Ghost Forest, which the artist labels as Mother Earth. This region is filled with science, technology, and devices that have been left to the trees and fishes, to provide them with energy. In place of the machines, odd vegetation sprouts along the canyon path. Twisted, odd vegetation, that is tended by alien creatures. Boggy greens submerge your feet in tiny plants as you walk along and tiny bubbles float up through the ooze, hinting at the possibility of new life.

When you leave Mother Earth you will find yourself in Election (or die trying), which is the hope for the regeneration of the world. The luminous beings have kept collections of biology so that the ecosystem can be regenerated.  UFOs, chairs with teeth in their seats, aliens, and giant insects hold court, bringing the damaged land back to life.

At the end of the path the land ends, and the water beckons. Under the water in the unconscious that contains a carousel, a sand castle, a display of Uan Ceriaptrix’s, and other items.

I loved the build for it’s look and the builds that were on it. The terraforming created a land that was at once familiar and alien. Uan is a skilled creator, and his palette of sandy-colored ground, and green toxic or leavy touches. The windlight setting creates a smoggy sky that reminds one that this is a dying land, trying to regenerate.

I have always believed that despite what the artist or the art is trying to say, once the public views it, what is perceived becomes their truth. As I said, I don’t think I understood what was intended, but I liked it, and it made me feel strong emotions of loss.

You can come and visit The Tales From the Ghost Forest at LEA14: and decide for yourself.

DrFran Babcock

Friday, May 17, 2013

The First Sims: Freelon

By DrFran Babcock

I keep continuing to explore the original Second Life™ sims, because I love history, and I love this virtual world. So often we forget to preserve the past, and then it’s lost before we realize what value it had. Freelon is the sixth sim to come on line in Second Life™. It is another sim that I have spent little time exploring until now.

History of Freelon

Freelon is believed to be one of the first mature sims on the grid. In its early days it hosted The Black Sun, a 2003 night club based on the Snow Crash book venue. Those who remember will recognize that this book is believed to be what inspired Philip Rosedale to create SL. Sadly; it is no longer on the grid. Another lost parcel is the Amazon Nations, the land of which seems to have been bought by Erwin Solo, who leveled the Freelon volcano in the process of creating his builds.

Who Lives Here?

The largest landholders on Freelon are Erwin Solo and Del Lykin, both relatively new to the sim.  However, there is someone on Freelon who was there from the very beginning, and this is Chip Midnight, owner of CMFF–Chip Midnight’s Fine Fashions. Chip and I have the same rez day, but he’s three years older than me, and a beta member of SL. He says on his profile that he dates from “when dinosaurs roamed the grid.”

When I was a noobie, I used to visit his shop, and drool over the items there. Back then, I had no conception of the worth of Lindens, and my ability to make them and buy things with them. Chip’s most durable contribution to Second Life™ is the templates for the system clothing that were used by almost every content creator until the advent of mesh, and even now. Freelon is worth the trip just to pay homage to this great resident, and his multi-leveled, Danish modern shop.

Del Lykin’s land is a sprawling marina, country club-like building and mansion. It is a pleasant build, but very old-school looking with nary a sculpt or mesh object, even though the inspected prims date from March of 2013. It seems I just missed the Amazon World’s disappearance. The late, and dearly missed Lalo Telling chronicled some of these older places on his blog, and I urge you historians to take a look: .

Most of the rest of Freelon is owned by Erwin Solo, who seems to be a self-appointed historian/archivist of Second Life™. His land contains two statues of The Man statue, created by Oldjohn Linden in July of 2002! One of them holds Philip’s old beachball, which is a bit older.

The big surprise here is the “oldest prim in SL” which sits at the base of one of the man statues. Accordning to Erwin Solo:

Oldest Object in SL. 25-Jan-2002.   Creator Unknown.  Software apparently didn’t store creator name back then. From the pre-SL alpha period.  A gift from an Oldbie, who wishes to remain anonymous.  It is just a cube, but it is copy/mod so I can make things with it. I gave a copy to the Ivory Tower of Prims for museum use.

I IMed Erwin to ask him how he came into possession of this prim, but I didn’t hear from him. Erwin has also a Mayan Temple, and a small collection of Linden Bears. For newer readers, Linden Bears were once created by and carried by all Lindens. If you ran into a Linden on the grid, you could ask for one, and would be rewarded with an object that represented that particular Linden Lab employee. Believe it or not, but Lindens used to be quite evident at events and even held some for our benefit. I have a huge collection of bears that would require a sim’s worth of Land Impact to display.

Erwin’s bears border a really nice dance floor and outdoor sitting place. It’s a shame that these places are never occupied when I come to visit. The dance floor is the nicest part of his parcel.

Tiny Properties and Premiums Only

There are a few small plots dotting Freelon. Thunder Electric’s build dates from 2003, and is still on the sim, although mostly empty. Its purple and black gothic look are worth a visit for their historical value. Just by accident, I came upon a “secret grotto,” under Thunder’s dome, that housed some interesting items, among them a prim model of oldbie Torrid Midnight. I was unable to get into the grotto, the door was locked, but I could see inside. I wonder if this spot is still in use?

 Aminom’s ultra-small Pad (“who needs more than 29 prims?”) is filled with two very bizarre billboards, one of which is depicted here.

The strangest thing I found, and only because I rezzed an alt to do some exploring, is that a small piece of the sim is off-limits to non-premium members. When DrFran returned to visit, there was no apparent reason for the banlines. The parcel contains an odd, imaginary machine, and nothing else.

The last bit of strangeness is that there is a parcel in the Northeast corner of the sim that is empty, but is named Luskwood Freelon! This 5056 square meter parcel was claimed in 2012 by the Luskwood Residents group. If anyone has any ideas what this is about, please let me know. I love these mysteries.
Second Life™ sims are a palimpsest. This ancient word relates to the old practice of scraping a parchment clean of its writings so it could be reused. Parchment was expensive back then. Thus, any old manuscript may contain layers and layers of documents, just as the sims of this beloved virtual world contain layers and layers of builds and memories.
Visit Freelon:

DrFran Babcock

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The First Sims: Federal

By DrFran Babcock

Federal is the fifth sim to come on line in Second Life™. It is another sim that I have ignored largely during my many explorations of the mainland. As usual, the history and details of a sim can be uncovered to some extent by exploring and inspecting. Join me as I reveal what I found out about this largely forgotten territory.

History of Federal

Same as for Stanford, the week before, Federal was one of the weapons sims, or the Outlands as they were called. Aside from this bit of information, all the material on the Second Life Wikia is incorrect now. Federal used to be the home of the Second Life Botanical Gardens, which are now housed on their own sim, and the Club Elite, which is not in existence any longer. I had hoped to find the Federal drawbridge still around, but I couldn’t locate it. The bridge was built by longtime resident, and creator of the SL Universe Forums and Snapzilla picture sites, Cristiano Midnight.

For Rent

It seems that about half of Federal is for rent. There is a huge, flat portion of the sim that is empty of everything, except a map of old Second Life™.  The landlord for this piece of property is the same person who owns the parklands on Federal: Deltango Vale, who is not nearly seven years old—a veritable newbie in this territory of a world that began in 2002. The land title says that Cinnamon Beach is for rent, but right clicking the land gives you the information that the land is for sale for one million Lindens. Any takers? I am sure Podex will do the Linden transaction for you.

Who Lives Here?

The aforementioned Deltango Vale has created a minimalist parkland on much of the sim. The trees are all autumnal, have falling leaves, and are nicely complemented by the elfy lanterns dotted here and there. I believe that this is another attempt to preserve open space on the mainland and prevent the uglification of Second Life™, and I applaud this endeavor.

There are two oldbies who still have land on Federal. Sturm Valen, over ten years old, has a piece of land, and there is a house up in the air a few meters. There are a few untextured, plywood prims in the build, so I assumed that he was busy still building. However, an inspection of the prims revealed that they were created  in March of 2003, making them some of the oldest prims in Second Life™!

When I do these reports, I always send an IM to the inhabitants who are old-times, asking them for input. I have been unsuccessful in getting a response so far.

Simon Metalhead is the owner of MetalHead Stables and the supposedly very old Über Mall on Federal. The stables are a newer addition to the sim, as they are meant to house Amaretto Horses. Sadly, the two horses I found in the stables had turned green and were sick without food and water.

The Über Mall is a bunch of blocky cubes that rise out of a small hill that is surrounded by the Federal Park. Robert Jung, SL historian, has described it as one of the oldest malls in Second Life™
( ), but unless it has been rebuilt, most of the prims date from 2007. There is very little in the mall. Basically two stores: Bowulf and Altered Visions make up the inhabitants of the mall. Altered Visions has two signs and no stock at all. Bowulf, which is the work of Simon Metalhead, has only a series of goggles, a kitchen set, and a fireplace for sale. This is one gigantic mall with only a few items for sale. This is one of the drawbacks of having Lifetime Members. They let their horses die, along with their malls.

The only item of interest that I found, by perving into the basement of the mall, was a sign for the FICs. FICs are the Feted Inner Core—a conspiracy theory that certain avatars had an advantage with the Linden Lab employees that favored them in business and other product placements. It became somewhat of a joke over time, so the sign was a fun find for me.
Second Life Art Gallery
For the most part, the mall is not worth a visit. There are other things to see on the sim. The Second Life Art Gallery being one of them. You will not see a single picture from the works in the gallery here in this article, because they are all erotic in nature, and many of them extreme in nature. Of course, you may go and see for yourself. The gallery is owned by Tony Tigereye, and many of his works are there. Each display in the four stories of the gallery has a notecard to tell you about the artist. Tony’s is worth repeating:
Tony uses Yahoo! Doodle to create his colorful works of art.  A lot of his inspiration is drawn from his good friend, Porscha, and many of the works are a collaborative effort.  Many people notice the stunning over-use of male genitalia in Tony's works, perhaps leading them to believe he has a fixation on the black male penis.  Later works suggest, however, that Tony is simply out of his mind crazy and has no rhyme or reason to anything he does.

Tony’s art work is, um, infantile, to say the least. I guess he’s just having fun. Isn’t that what Second Life™ is about? Well, it is for me. Come visit Federal. Maybe you want to rent the beach.

Visit Federal:

DrFran Bakcock