Second Life is Alive and Well!

I know I have been doing a lot of reposting of articles lately but there are a lot of good ones out there.

Second Life’s Facebook page posted a link to an excellent article recently posted in an e-Zine called “Good,” about the life cycle of Second Life, and that despite it’s detractors, Second Life is alive and well and thriving! It’s really nice to read some positive things about Second Life, instead of the usual articles decrying that SL is nothing but a den of iniquity and ruiner of RL marriages and relationships.

It also has some interesting information about SL. For instance, did you know that SL was inspired by the Metaverse in Neil Stephenson’s 1992 seminal sci-fi hit Snow Crash?

The article talks about SL’s rapid rise to fame: “From 2006 to 2009, optimism about this new space reached a fever pitch, with dedicated reporters, travel guides, and hundreds of businesses clamoring to get in on the excitement of a whole new universe within our own. Researchers flooded into this alternate world as well, examining all the ways one could use Second Life to, say, help Asperger’s patients develop their social skills in a specially tailored, therapeutic safe space.”

The article also refers to the notion that SL became a dystopian, dirty, and absurd world in a post-2009 crash as humans fled back to the predictable dynamism of the real world.

But then the article takes a hopeful turn. It states:

“Though that’s not quite the whole story. In truth, Second Life remains quite alive, clocking a million active users per month as of 2013 and up to 13,000 new users ever day. The site may actually have a larger, more stable population as of today than it did at its 2006-to-2008 peak of popularity and respectability. Yet we don’t hear about this continued vibrancy in Second Life, mainly because it’s no longer thought of as a space for general populations to enhance their lives. Instead it has generated a second life of its own as a uniquely attractive hub for globally dispersed subcultures to join together. These groups can create whole worlds that unite them, transcending role-playing and turning their ideologies into a comprehensive society.”

You can find the article in it’s entirety by clicking on this link: Second Life is Staying Alive.

And try getting that song out of your head after reading the title of the article. Excuse me for now; I’m going to dust off my Bee Gees album!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Improving Viewer Performance

The Second Life Wiki has a wealth of information for Second life residents — from answering frequently asked questions, to how to manage private regions, to improving viewer performance.

For those of you using the SL viewer, I thought I would share some good information that can be found in the Wiki regarding how to get the most out of your SL experience by a few tweaks of the viewer. The full article can be found by clicking here: How To Improve Viewer Performance.

Linden Lab suggests always maintaining your computer to run at it’s optimal performance. This can be achieved by following these simple steps:

• Routinely removing unwanted files and programs from the system.
• Defragmenting your disk drive regularly.
• Using anti-Malware software to remove spyware, virues, and other malware.

Follow the recommendations here to improve overall performance of Second Life and to address many common problems.

• Make sure your computer meets the minimum system requirements. (Click here: SL’s Minimum System Requirements). It’s best to exceed them to prevent bottlenecks, since they are the bare minimum required to run Second Life. A slower processor, older video card, or low memory can contribute to slow framerates.

• Make sure you have working drivers for your video card. Search the SL Forum for posts on your video card. The latest driver is not always the best. (See my previous post on AMD Driver Updates Wrecking Havoc with Mesh).

• Make sure your firewalls are properly configured. Click on the following link for firewall information: Using Second Life with a firewall.

• Check to see if your hard drive light is showing a lot of activity. If it is, your system may be running low on memory and using hard drive swap space instead, which is significantly slower.

Based on statistics collected by Linden Lab:
• If you are using Windows 8, make sure you have upgraded to Windows 8.1. Our statistics show that Second Life crashes half as often on Windows 8.1 compared to Windows 8.0.

• If you are using Mac OSX, upgrade to 10.9.3. Our statistics show that 10.9.3 crashes one third less than 10.7.5.

• Use a 64-bit version of Windows if you can. Even though Linden Lab doesn’t offer a fully 64-bit viewer for Second Life as of July 2014, statistics show that Second Life running on 64-bit operating systems crashes half as often as on 32-bit systems.

Important: Second Life allows but does not support wireless connections. Always use a hardwired connection if possible.

Optimize your preferences to help Second Life run more efficiently. Try the following:
• Choose Me > Preferences
• Click on the Graphics tab.
• Move the Quality and speed slider to Low.
• Click the Advanced button
• Move the settings on the Mesh detail sliders to “Mid” or “Low.”

Autoplaying music and media can be very demanding on some PC equipment. Use manual play instead:
• Choose Me > Preferences > Sound & Media
• Deselect Allow Media to auto-play.

Review the rest of your preference settings disable any unused features:
• Choose Me > Preferences or press Ctrl-P).
• Try disabling settings such as Play typing animation, Name tags, and Arrow keys always move me.
• Even minor items can add up to significant improvements in performance.

For more information, click here: Setting your preferences.

Make sure your Viewer is not displaying unnecessary information that may reduce performance:
• Choose World > Show> Advanced Menu.
• Choose Advanced > Highlighting and Visibility.
• Select Hide Particles.

Also to improve performance by eliminating gratuitous visual noise:
• Choose World > Show
• Disable Property Lines and Land Owners.

To prevent false cache virus alerts and improve texture cache performance, turn off virus scanning for the following directories and add them to the list of ignored (trusted) directories for Norton AntiVirus:
• The Second Life skins directory, C:\Program Files\SecondLife\skins.
• The Second Life cache directory. To determine this directory:
1. Choose Me > Preferences.
2. Choose the Advanced tab.
3. Look for the Cache location setting.

Click here for Technical overview of Second Life security.

If you followed the advice above and are still experiencing performance problems, try the following.
• Exit and restart Second Life. This often is enough to fix the problem.
• Clear the cache. The cache is where the Second Life Viewer stores data on your hard drive for later retrieval.
To clear the cache:
1) Choose Me > Preferences.
2) Click the Advanced tab.
3) Click Clear Cache.
4) After you’re prompted, restart the Viewer.


Check the Lag Meter:
• Choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Lag Meter. The lag meter breaks lag down into Client, Network, and Server lag, with corresponding indicators for each lag type.
• Click >> to reveal descriptions and advice for solving any lag problems you are having.
• Try teleporting to a quieter area or one with fewer objects, to see if the situation improves.
• Disable antialising.

Check your Ping Sim and Packet Loss values:
• Choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Statistics Bar to open the STATISTICS window.
The ping values are the time (in milliseconds) it takes to reach the server from your computer. If this number is high, it could indicate a problem with your network or internet connection. If Packet Loss is a nonzero number, your network or ISP may be having issues. See Using the statistics bar for more information.

• Check to see if there is anything blocking your computer’s ventilation ports, and make sure all the fans are working properly. Laptops in particular can get quite hot when placed on a flat surface, so you may want to try propping yours on a stand to increase airflow, or consider buying a cooling device like a “chill mat”.

• Finally, if you’ve overclocked or made other modifications to your computer, disable them until you can attain stability. You can use tools like Prime95 to stress-test your computer independently of Second Life.

The statistics bar presents a detailed list of information about the performance of your computer and Second Life. While the sheer amount of information can be confusing, knowing what to look for can tell you a lot about what’s going on in Second Life.

To view the Statistics Bar, choose Advanced > Performance Tools > Statistics Bar.

Please keep in mind that some of these tweaks may improve performance (i.e. reduce crashing, reduce lag, etc.) but they also may affect the visual look of Second Life. By lowering graphics settings, turning off antialiasing, etc. it will affect the quality. You will trade performance for sharp visual quality. Play with the settings until you can get a balance of performance and visual appeal.

FIRESTORM VIEWER USERS: I strongly recommend joining the in-world Firestorm Users Group. There, you can get instant online help from FS staff as well as users. Also they frequently hold in-world classes on the viewer. I highly recommend these classes. They are extremely helpful.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZoHa Islands Social Media

Firestorm Viewer Contact Sets

Did you know you can sort, list, categorize, organize and colorize your friend list, and even non-friend lists? This is especially helpful for business and region owners, group moderators, people with big friend lists, or just folks with lots of friends! The folks at Firestorm posted this video for their Tool Tip Tuesday this week. The video covers the basics but if you would like to learn more, Firestorm offers a contact sets class! Click on this link for more information on their in-world classes: Firestorm Viewer Classes

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Snowball Warzone Showdown 2015!

Snowball Warzone Showdown THe 2015 Snowball Warzone Showdown is happening this Friday, February 6th from 10:00 a.m. SLT to Noon SLT.

I just heard about this today and thought it would be worth posting, in case some of you can make it, despite the late notice. Unfortunately, I cannot attend because I am at RL work at that time. Should be a blast! Click on this link for the Facebook Page: Snowball Warzone Showdown.

“Come pelt some Lindens and fellow Residents with snowballs in a frozen field free-for-all at Winter Wonderland. That’s right – between 10 AM SLT and noon SLT on Friday, February 6th, we’re holding a meetup inworld at the Snowball Warzone. Get your free snow launching weapon, gather your posse, and prepare to say hello to some Linden friends for a full on flurry of snow-slinging fun.”

Click here for the SLURL: Winter Wonderland, home of Snowball Warzone Showdown!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Update: AMD/ATI Graphics Card Fix for Firestorm Users

A quick update for Firestorm Users. Firestorm’s staff have posted in their Wiki their recommendation on how to fix the various issues caused by driver updates for those graphics cards. If you have an AMD/ATI graphics card then you may need to do these steps (ATI drivers don’t seem to support OpenGL graphics very well, and SL viewers use OpenGL, as opposed to DirectX). Residents are reporting issues such as rigged mesh not showing up, the world is pink, everything goes black, repeated crashing, etc.

If you are a Firestorm viewer user and are experiencing these issues, please take a look at the following article (this is a clickable link to the Firestorm Wiki): AMD/ATI Worn Rigged Mesh Goes Invisible.

I hope you are finding these tips helpful!

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media

Valhalla Outlaws MC’s Enchanting Winter Wonderland

“Truly, I am so very grateful to the people and sponsors who help us make this event possible. I’ve been asked many times why I focus on doing charity in SL, when I could just drop some cash off or send some. And the reason I bust my butt in here is simple. Or to me it’s because not everyone can just drop $50 in a donation jar. But most people can drop $50L in one.” ~ Jayda Ronin

VOMC T4T 2014 Invite PosterRecently, I was contacted by Jayda Ronin (jayda lycheborne), because her motorcycle club was looking for a full prim sim to hold their annual Toys For Tots charity event. ZoHa Boa, the owner of ZoHa Islands, graciously agreed to rent the land to her at a reduced price as a contribution to their charitable event. I put her in touch with a salesperson at ZoHa Islands and she got Jayda all set up with her land. To visit the sim, click on the SLURL here.

Jayda’s elves worked long, hard hours and transformed this sim into an amazing, wonderous Winter Wonderland in only four days!

This sim isn’t open to the general public until Friday, Dec. 5th at Noon SLT. I was fortunate enough to be invited early and was given a tour and a sneak peek of this amazing sim. When I first landed, I was enchanted! This wonderful, magical place truly embodies the spirit of the Christmas season. The sim is positively gorgeous. The windlight setting, the snow, the builds, the snow (I liked the snow; can you tell??) — it was breathtaking. I shivered in RL because it was so realistic.

Jayda Ronin

Jayda Ronin

Jayda is very passionate about her charitable work. As founder and president of the Valhalla Outlaws Motorcycle Club (VOMC), she is the heart of this organization. She is tough on the outside, but inside she has a heart of gold. She will tell you herself, “I’m an asshole… but I’m the nicest asshole you’ll ever meet… and I feel very strongly about helping the underdog.”

This humble woman brushes off any attempt to give her credit for the charitable work that the VOMC does. “My crew will tell you it’s mostly me, but I say it’s a group effort. Because I wouldn’t be able to do what I do, without them.”

Jayda formed the VOMC in 2011. Jayda states: “I formed the VOMC with my former partner and still one of my best friends . . . and our goal when we made the MC was for the purpose of giving back. We started as a group of about 12 DJ’s and a few creators who wanted to give back, so that collectively we did something in SL that wasn’t all about us.”

The VOMC holds rallies for charities all year long. “We do Toys for Tots every year at this time, and we do annually as well, which is the National Alliance for Mental Illness. Then we participate in RFL, and we’ve done, the BCA Rockfest for Breast Cancer etc. Basically when we aren’t doing our own big ones, we support the others. Several of us help out Soco with her Autism one.” Jayda says.

Jayda credits Nan Ember of Nanscapes as the genius behind the creation. Nan’s profile states simply: “I do sim landscaping. If you are interested please contact me for pictures of my work.” Having seen the transformation of this sim in only four days, I would highly recommend her work. But don’t take my word for it; come see the Winter Wonderland for yourself! (this SLURL won’t be valid until Noon on Friday, Dec. 5th, don’t forget!).

The Winter Wonderland will be open December 5th through December 14th. All sorts of events are planned (see schedule later in this post) but if you want to visit the sim between events, the public is warmly welcome. Highlights of things to do include:

• Carriage rides
• Flying reindeer that are ride-able (and steer-able!)
• A platform in the sky for bowl sleds to ride and shoot across the ice
• A huge frozen pond for skating, hot chocolate, and of course snowball throwing

There are so many spots to stop and enjoy a little peace and tranquility. This sim has an amazing feel of winter, with ice and swirling, falling snow! There is a photo contest that is going to be held for the duration of the Rally. There will also be three big production concerts, as well:

• In This Moment
• Celebrity Christmas
• Disney on Ice.

There is also some fun-filled Gachas, and all proceeds go to Toys for Tots. And of course there are Toys For Tots donation kiosks scattered throughout the sim.

The Photo Contest Boards are at the landing point of the sim. There is a cost of L$10 to enter, and L$10 to vote. Vote as often as you’d like, but you can’t vote for yourself. There will be a minimum of L$1,000 given for first place. Make sure you thoroughly explore the sim, as there are LOTS of places to take pictures. This contest is open to ALL ages. Please remember this is a General Sim and open to ALL. (in other words, keep your bits covered).

Please follow these simple rules:

• Photos must be taken on the VOMC Winter Wonderland sim, and it CANNOT BE PHOTOSHOPPED. You may use windlight settings.
• Only 1 entry per person

During the live Dj events, gift cards and prizes from the event’s sponsors will be handed out to those who have dressed in the theme of the event. There are no contest boards. Everyone gets a treat! ‘Tis the Season!

All times are SLT

Friday, Dec 5th
4-6pm – DJ Reb Redgrave – Come as you are
6pm – In This Moment Concert
7:30pm – Seven Ronin

Saturday, Dec 6th
4-6pm – DJ Canuck – Best in Silver & Gold
6-8pm – DJ Nan Ember – Best in White

Sunday, Dec 7th
4-6pm – DJ Skokamo Auer – Best in Christmas Elves
6-8pm – DJ Silky Lioncourt – Best in Winter Wear

Monday, Dec 8th
4-6pm – DJ Beauwolf Wilder – Best in Nutcracker
6-8pm – DJ Carina Darkfury – Best in Blue & Silver

Tuesday, Dec 9th
4-6pm – DJ Beauwolf Wilder – Best in Santa’s Workshop
6-8pm – DJ Mukren Kush – Best in Ugly Sweater

Wednesday, Dec 10th
4-6pm – DJ Jimmmy Sharktooth – Best Wrapped
6-8pm – DJ Shealynn Cardone – Best in Peppermint

Thursday, Dec 11th
4-6pm – DJ Shibari Metall – BEST IN 80’s Christmas ( attire )
6-8pm – DJ Shealynn Cardone – Best in Holiday Hats

Friday, Dec 12th
4-6pm – DJ Mukren Kush – Best in Red and Gold
6pm — Celebrity Christmas Concert Tribute

Saturday, Dec 13th
4-6pm – DJ Trouble ( Axl Berkmans ) – Best in Merry Mint ( green & white )
6pm – Disney On Ice Tribute

Sunday, Dec 14th – LAST RALLY DAY!
4-6pm DJ Khor – BAD SANTA Event
6-8pm – Winter Formal and Closing Party – DJ Carina Darkfury.

Below are some pictures that I took while on the sim. But truly you must visit this amazing place in person. And drop some Lindens in the donation kiosks while you’re there.

For more information or inquiries, please contact Jayda Ronin in-world.

I remain respectfully yours,
~ Suzanne Piers, ZI Social Media Manager.