What oh what to do when reviewing an outfit that consists of 3 separate items? Do I take a full-length portrait, which of necessity will sacrifice detail, or do I highlight each item with its own picture?
When you created your Second Life account, you were prompted to download the SL Viewer. And I’m sure most of you did—which is perfectly fine. That’s what I used myself for a long time before I discovered there are alternatives. Many people have opted to use one of more of these alternative.
Most, if not all, tutorials, help files, and FAQs in SL are designed for the official viewer. They assume that’s what you’re using, since it is the de facto viewer. Rather than having to have separate version of their information for every possible viewer—pretty much an impossibility—they have designed everything around that standard. Less confusion, greater efficiency.
And that’s all right: Linden Labs (the brilliant minds behind SL) knows their product better than anyone else, and are therefor the best people to design and maintain their viewer. And most people are perfectly happy with that.
But just as not every user of Microsoft Windows uses MS Word as their word processor, and as not every iPhone owner uses Pages, so too do SL users sometimes use an alternative viewer.
There are many reasons for this, but I’m going to cover the most popular alternative SL viewer.
Firestorm is a creation of The Phoenix Project. The sole purpose of the project is, in its own words,
The Phoenix Firestorm Project Inc. is a non-profit, incorporated organization whose mandate is to improve the user experience in Second Life and other virtual worlds by providing an advanced open source viewer with greater features, options and interface flexibility than the standard offering by Linden Lab.
It’s the viewer that I have been using almost exclusively since I discovered it, and I’ve been in SL in various guises for over 13 years.
Why Do I Use It?
Simply put, I find it easier and more efficient. Inventory maintenance is a breeze, as is avatar design and customization. And on my laptop, it loads faster.
Worried about support? There are over 40 support groups for Firestorm in SL, including many run by the Phoenix Project. And at last count, there were 15 official Firestorm locations, including the main social gathering area right here.
So yes, use the official viewer when you first start making your way around SL.
But once you’re comfortable using it, and are looking for another experience, give Firestorm a try.
(NOTE: Second Life, Linden Labs, Firestorm, The Phoenix Project, Microsoft, Windows, MS Word, Apple, iPhone, and Pages are
trademarks or copyrights of their respective owners.)
There may come a time in SL when you’ve become tired of exploring, dancing, partying, meeting new people, etc.
Maybe you’re bored with the same old same old (which is actually a corruption of same-o same-o, a Japanese term I came across in the mid 1950’s. Yes, I’m really that old!) and you want to try something new, different, and exciting.
You’ve been searching all over for a particular item you want, and it just doesn’t seem to exist. It’s time to build something!
Where to Learn How to Build in Second Life
There are many resources to help you learn to build in SL. I’ve chosen a few of my favorites to share with you. Some are classes taught by experts, while others are self-guided courses. All of them will give you the skills you need to begin your career as a builder in SL.
Ivory Tower Library of Primitives: A Self-Guided, Self-Paced, Comprehensive Building Tutorial. Ask for help by clicking on signs placed around sandbox. Learn how to build, with educational tutorials & lessons.
BUILDERS BREWERY – School, Help Group and Building Supplies. A Creative Community, School & Help Group. Providing Free Classes, Educational Events, Building Products, Textures, Scripting, Mesh, Animations, Tutorials, Templates, Blender, Gimp, Photoshop.
Hippo Resource and Learning Center: A building school with a friendly atmosphere that focuses on skill development for SL users. Check out our new mall, its like a general store!! builder’s aids, freebies, boxed classes, t-shirts, landscaping, help, Gemmy, Greedy, surfing, rollercoaster
Caledon Oxbridge Gateway – New Resident Help: Help. Lessons. Tutorials. Assistance. Helpers. New. Support. People Helping People. Free Clothes. Building Area. Mentors. Guide. Guides. New Residents. Learning. Learn. Fun. Activities. The Independent State of Caledon Community Gateway.
NCI Kuula: New Citizens Incorporated. Help/Classes/Freebies. New Player, New Resident, Newbie, Noob, Beginner, Help, Basics, Information, Info, Questions, Freebies, Free Stuff, Clothing, Sandbox, Hangout, Newsstand, Ginny Gremlin Park, Mall, Events, Tutorials, Classes, Class, Education, Learn.
Building in SL can be as simple as creating a box, or as complex as making a box that opens and folds out into a completely furnished house.
As with everything else in SL, you’re only limited by your imagination.
Almost everything you buy in SL comes in boxes. One of the best tutorials I’ve found on unpacking them is on Shynee Jewell’s blog. When you’ve read that, come back here for an explanation of why you have to BUY things that are FREE.
Why Do I Have to Buy Free Stuff?
It’s quite simple, really: unless someone gives you something in SL, the only other way to obtain it is to buy it. But here’s the deal: if the vendor or seller has set the price at $L0 (zero Lindens), you won’t be charged anything when you “buy” it.
A few older vendors will charge you $L1, but will immediately refund it to you. And no, I have no idea why they do it that way. There are some things that man (or woman) was not destined to know.
And that, dear reader, is that. Opening boxes isn’t all that hard. Just remember that you have to be in an area where building is allowed, and to clean up after yourself. Some items will be copied to your inventory, in which case you can pick up the box and keep it in your inventory. Others will be transferred, leaving an empty box. In this case, you should delete the box.
Why Boxes, Anyway?
Think of boxes as SL’s version of ZIP, TAR, or similar compressed files. It’s an excellent way to keep files together.
Here’s an example:
It’s a box of clothing I purchased. In my inventory, it’s displayed as a simple box icon. But when I drag it to the ground, it becomes the cute truck the designer created for it. This is where I would right-click on it, wait for the menu to fill with the contents, and select “Copy to Inventory.” In this case, it’s a Copy rather than a Move, so I will then return the item to my inventory. If it had Moved the contents, I would then delete the empty box.
And here are the results of unpacking the box:
This particular item comes in 7 versions, each one suited to a particular avatar style. It also contains a link to the vendor’s store, in case I want to shop there again.
And that, dear friends, is pretty much all you need to know about boxes. Now go out and shop!
You know what really sucks? Meeting someone in SL and finding a kindred soul, only to discover that they’re in Australia while you’re on the East Coast of the United States. Not that there’s anything wrong with Aussies—it’s just that it’s awfully hard to maintain a friendship, much less a relationship, because of the time difference.
I had something similar happen to me recently. I made several new friends, but I haven’t seen any of them since then. And that, my friends, is why I urge you to put a note in your profile. In my 1st Life tab, it simply says EST (SLT +3). EST is Eastern Standard Time, and SLT +3 means that I’m 3 hours ahead of Second Life Time (which is either Pacific Standard or Pacific Daylight Time, depending on the time of year). As Linden Labs are located in California, that’s the default time for the entire SL world.
Some Notes On Your Profile
Your profile is there for a reason. It lets people know a little bit about you. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but at least put something in there! I generally make it a practice to ignore people with empty profiles—especially when they’ve been in SL longer than 6 months.
I’ve even seen empty profiles for people who have been in SL for 7 or 8 years! What that tells me is you’re boring or perhaps too secretive for me to waste any time on you.
As an example, here’s my profile:
It’s pronounced “ash-LEEN.” Yes, it’s Irish. Yes I am…if you go back 4 or 5 generations. And before that, we wuz Scouses.
Harbour Grace, Newfoundland is the ancestral home. See my Picks for more about me.
I am ceann cine (clan chief) of Clan Aisling O’Connor. It’s pronounced “kian kineh.”
And under my Picks:
I’m kinda shy around new people, but I’m happy to join any conversation to which I’m invited. I always answer IMs…so long as they’re not of the “Hi, baby! Wanna fuck?” variety. R and U are letters, not words.
I appreciate people who can form complete sentences and who use proper grammar. What can I say? I’m an English professor in real life.
Those words are accompanied by this picture:
And that’s me in a nutshell. But my profile is a living document: I keep it updated to reflect where I am in SL, in relation to friendships, servitude, relationships, and the like.
Don’t be boring! And if you’re too shy to put anything in your profile, you might want to ask yourself just what the hell you’re in SL for in the first place.