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Sunday, Aug. 31, 2014

My Second Life

Posted Thursday, March 27, 2008, at 10:14 AM

This particular blog posting has been in the works for over 3 weeks. Way before the Eagle story came to be, which was more of a place holder than an actual blog post, as I realized I had not got around to putting a blog together. It was not for a lack of trying. You see, the Gazette's website has a way to type in your title, content, add pictures, and then preview your post. I wrote my first 'second life' blog and previewed it. I hadn't finished the ending since I realized I needed to do a bit more research, so I left it as it was and came back in a couple days to finish up the post. It had disappeared. I was distraught and started working on the whole thing again. I got sidetracked on other projects that popped up and demanded immediate attention and when I was almost done, the website had automatically logged me out, thus losing my entire blog post again. I was just plain angry, so I quit. I find the best way to deal with a problem like this is to just stop for awhile. After a week past, I came back to the issue at hand vowing to not have this problem. Instead of writing it on the website, I opened up a word processor and started to type it there. At this point, I hadn't been involved with my second life for a couple weeks and so I realized I had forgotten a good amount of the useless information that I had about second life. So I returned to Second Life one last time. Needless to say, I didn't save my document before starting the Second Life application and it happened to crash my computer resulting in losing my blog post for the last time. I say last time as I am typing this, hoping I don't have to add another sentence in before this actually makes it way online.

So, without further nonsense, I present my new blog post, 'My Second Life.'

A week(3 weeks) ago, Brian Hoag of The City Slickers blog fame, sent me an email suggesting I check out Second Life since my last two blog posts were on free online games. Second Life fit into that category and was an excellent suggestion. I had heard of it before but never really checked it out. The only thing I can really remember about Second Life was an episode of The Office where Dwight is playing as himself in Second Life. Thus, I went to the website (www.secondlife.com) and began to read all about the program.

Second Life is basically a computer program that allows you to connect to a virtual world that is inhabited by other people controlling avatars that are virtual representatives of yourself. The world is set up and maintained just like the real world in that you can go anywhere you want and do whatever you want. You can go to shops and buy things, you can walk around and talk to whoever you wish, you can buy some land and build a house, you can find an arcade and play games all day, you can head to the disco and dance all night long, you can get a job, and the list goes on. There is no real 'game' play aspect as there is nothing to do or gain in the world other than lindens which is the virtual money. You can then purchase all kinds of goods for your avatar such as clothing, haircuts, plastic surgery, and more. The game doesn't keep track of who has the most stuff or who has the most money so getting a lot of either has no rewards or status and there is really no way to be able to get all the 'stuff' in the world as each shop is owned and maintained by its individual owner, which can make as many virtual items and sell as many as they like. This is the most intriguing aspect of second life to me. Each person, that knows how to do it, can MAKE there own 'stuff.' This basically means a limitless amount of content flooding the virtual world.

Let's get back up a bit and just get you acquainted with what happens when you first log in. Obviously, the first thing you do is register and pick a name. From there, you download the software to your computer and install it. After that, you launch the Second Life program and log in with your name and password. The game teleports you to a training program that lets you experiment with your in-game controls as well as give you specific tasks to do. This is a great little introduction to how to use the controls. Once you are done, the game will teleport you to training island which has no training programs on it, but the island lets you run around and do things at your own leisure without a computer player telling you what to do. Basically, this is like your test run in the 'real' second life world after learning the basics. I took my time here and tested out a lot of controls and just explored the island. From there, I teleported out and the game warned me that I could never come back to training island. I said my goodbyes and was on my way.

Once you are dropped into the actual Second Life world, there is no one around for a few minutes. Then, people start showing up. Most are new people but there are a some that are just hanging around. I sat down and tried to have a conversation with someone. It worked and I was soon chatting to three people about what I should do now that I just joined Second Life. I got lots of suggestions and then a message popped up saying that one of the people I was talking to was giving me a folder called 'newbies.' I asked what it was, and they replied it was a bunch of things that would help me out since I was just getting started. I accepted and looked through my inventory screen for the folder and opened it up to find new outfits, accessories, places to teleport to, and animations. Animations are basically little programs that make your avatar do things such as dance. I later found out that accepting gifts like that from people you don't know is somewhat dangerous as they can use it to spread viruses. I didn't get infected and I moved on.

There is a search button that allows you to search out places to go or friends that you know on the second life world. I searched for most popular places and found a list of many places to visit. The first I tried was Freebie Island. This place is great. Just walls and walls of crap to buy for FREE! I was able to all new clothes, some sunglasses, some really cool dance moves, and new shoes. I thought about getting a new hairstyle, but decided against it. I also noticed that you can make money on this island by sitting on a bench or standing in a spot for 20 minutes. I don't know why, but if you are there for 20 minutes, they give you $2 in lindens. You can also click on any of the ATM machines and it takes you to a website that has you fill out an online survey and then you get somewhere between $10 and $50 worth of lindens in the game. After leaving Freebie Island and going to a place like Frank's place, you realize how much you actually need lindens as everywhere else you go, it costs to buy things. And these things are better quality and just plain cooler. Which means, I gotta have the cool sunglasses and the tux that is available to buy at Frank's place. So, I was going to go back to Freebie Island and sit for awhile to make money but I asked a person that was walking by how to get lindens and she said it was easy enough to get a job at one of the places. So, I started exploring Frank's place more to possibly find a job. I ended up finding a large staircase that lead to a huge ballroom dance floor with lots of people dancing to Frank Sinatra tunes. Ah-hah! That's why it's called Frank's Place! So I walked through the ballroom floor and realized there are little tiny balls everywhere. If you click on one, you can choose to animate yourself. Basically, these things are called posing balls and you can click on one and wait for a partner to click on the one next to you. Then, the program makes you dance. From there, you can obviously engage in conversation with the person who decided to dance with you. I had a lovely chat with another person, and was given another folder that had a few more places to go including this particular person's virtual house.

Getting back to the mission at hand, I jumped from place to place trying to find a job. Each place I went to, had me fill out a virtual application and that they would get back to me. This was just as tedious a process as putting in applications in the real world. Eventually I got a message about having an interview. So I show up at the place and talk to this guy and he offers me a position being a bouncer at the club on his island. My job would be to kick people out that were causing problems and thats it. I would have taken it, but he wanted me to be there specific hours each week, which I could not do. I do have a first life. Thus, the job thing didn't work out. So, I went and sat down on a bench at Freebie Island and eventually made enough money to buy what I wanted. It wasn't worth it.

I started exploring random places and found that there are houses throughout the worlds. If you don't have an invite for that house, you can go into it or if you do, you get booted back to the starting place. I found this out by flying. Yes, you can fly at anytime in Second Life and is most useful for moving as you can move lots faster flying than walking. Anyways, I fly over a house which has like 3 people in it. I get a warning message to get out of the airspace of the house so I do. Then I thought, I want to go talk to these people. So, I fly back in and land right beside them, the message pops up. I start to type something to these people, but am kicked out to the start screen before I can even finish 'What's going on?'

Second Life has a bit of a dark side as well. There is an option in the search bar to turn on MATURE. From here, you can find a million islands dedicated to sex. As for me, I turned it back off. The real world is scary enough, I can't even imagine what type of weird things could be found in the second life mature zones. Parents be warned, as far as I can tell, there is no way to restrict access to kids. However, I think I had to enter a birthdate when registering, but this doesn't mean a child won't put a bogus date in.

Anyways, Second Life is a huge program filled with millions of people wandering around and pretending to have a second life. It is very interesting and I meet some interesting people and had some good conversations. I find it very interesting that anybody can buy land from the company that owns Second Life and build whatever they want. Some huge companies buy there own land and have a place for their employees to meet and even conduct meetings through Second Life if all the employees are located all over the world. There are limitless possibilities as to what you can buy and then do. Anybody can open there own shop and sell programs/clothes that they have designed. I still don't completely understand it, but there is a way to sell real goods over Second Life as well. One example that I saw was Dell. You can go to a Dell store in Second Life and order a computer. It will ask you for a credit card number so you can finish the purchase. The entire thing is extremely interesting and a great way to waste some time. I doubt I will ever buy land and build a virtual home as I have no desire to waste real world money on a virtual world, but exploring what other people have done is quite exciting.

So give it a try, its completely FREE and my amazing pick of the week!


Extra thanks go out to Brian Hoag for giving me the idea to check this out completely. If you have a suggestion like Brian did, please feel free to email me at mccookgazette@gmail.com and be sure to include your name so I can give you credit.

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Second Life? Oh-my, Oh-my, your article makes me feel great about being over sixty (plus). I had, and have, enough trouble living in the First Life. You know, the one where you have to live with all mistakes, and enjoy real successes. I'm not putting you down, as Second Life may well be a way of learning, without responsibility. But, then, with no responsibility, what can be learned from decisions made?

Okay, enough of this, my blog of your blog. Good luck to you, and anyone desirous of this type of lifestyle.

The one I like is: Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once (Now that is a 'Secondlife' I will play forever). Shalom in Christ, Arley Steinhour

-- Posted by Navyblue on Fri, Mar 28, 2008, at 11:00 PM

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