Saturday, March 21, 2015

Helping Others in Second Life III


The Future Is Now!

Relay for Life

 

          Spring has finally arrived!

          (Despite winter’s last gasp with a final snowstorm here in the Northeast.)

          This is also the time that Relay for Life (RFL) begins its annual drive in Second Life
(SL) on behalf of the American Cancer Society. 

          I made an appeal last year for residents to come out and help as best they can and I’m doing it again this year.

          I don’t do this because I neither have anything else to blog about nor just want to feel like a nice guy for doing something decent (although I do hope it’s viewed that way.)

          I do this because cancer is a horrible disease which robs our friends and families of their lives and their happiness.

          I do this because there is a need and any effort no matter how seemingly small or insignificant contributes to the total battle against cancer.

          I do this in memory of all our loved ones whom we’ve lost and who serve as constant reminders as to why we who still live in Real Life (RL) must continue the fight.

          Some may find this preachy and offputting. (Significant Other doesn’t think so.  We’ve both lost loved ones to cancer.)

          Fine, they’re right!  (Hey, it’s my blog after all!)

          Once in a while, I use my soapbox to make my readers uncomfortable and make them think about the world around us.  The real world not the virtual one we sometimes visit.

          Unlike SL, RL can’t always be rosy and cheerful. 

          Damaged RL lives can’t be fixed with a new makeover or another alt.

          In the nearly five years that I’ve been wandering around SL, I’ve learned a lot about its communities and the people who comprise them.

          Yes, many come together inworld to enjoy themselves and have a good time.

          But, many, I do mean many, also take time away from the fun ‘n frolic and help others such


as by contributing to RFL in one form or another.

          That’s why I’m here today.

          To ask you to help in any way that you can.

          This can be financial.

          This can be time spent helping the teams that are organizing events inworld.

          This can be coming out and participating in events to show your support and to encourage others.

          This can be spreading the message to your friends and groups so that as many residents as possible are of RFL.

          Last year, almost 3,000 residents raised $415,000 US for cancer research.

          Will you help us break that goal?

          The official RFL season begins with kickoff events in March and runs until August.  Other special events occur throughout the year.

          An events calendar and a special events listing are available on the Relay for Life of Second Life website.

           The website also contains information on how to participate, press releases, and progress reports.  It’s a great resource for people interested in helping out and for locating events to attend.

          In SL, the American Cancer Society sim can be found here along with information
about current events inworld.

          I hope I’ve convinced some of you to contribute and/or participate!

          This is when communities come together and really show what they can do!

          Hope to see you during RFL! 

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.
          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Are Lindens Really Worth Anything in Second Life?


 All money is a matter of belief.

Adam Smith

  

          For the purposes of this story. I’m talking about the Linden currency in Second Life (SL) and not the Linden Lab (LL) Real Life (RL) staff who purportedly have “Linden” as their avatar’s surname.  (I say purportedly because I’ve never met one Linden in all my years inworld.  But, that’s another story for another time!)

          Today, I want to talk about Lindens as a currency, a store of value, in SL and if they’re really worth anything.

          Lindens are a centralized, virtual currency.

          In other words, LL holds all the cards.

          Unlike some virtual currencies, such as World of Warcraft, LL does permit Lindens to be exchanged for RL currency. 

          Now, LL doesn’t like that classification because of the US Treasury Department’s interpretive guidance on virtual currencies released in March 2013 by its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).   (I’ll bet you don’t read too many articles about SL that reference US government websites, huh? Significant Other sighs nearby.)

          These regulations deem that LL is now a Money Services Business (MSB) just like Citigroup and Deutsche Bank.  Who knew?

          LL now terms Lindens as “transferable licenses” under its current Terms of Service (ToS).  I suspect they’re trying to avoid the onerous reporting and compliance rules that accompany being an MSB.       

          Apparently, FinCEN trumps LL and they make the call.  (Somebody wins one with LL!  I’m impressed that it took the full weight and majesty of the Feds to do this.)

          So, going back to my original question, “What are Lindens really worth anything in SL?”

         
For the ordinary resident, Lindens are a way to make small purchases (OK, maybe some aren’t so small, I’m trying to make a point here.) and to be able to walk around with some money in one’s pocket Lindens are useful and are as valuable as the individual holding them thinks they are.

          For the financial speculator with dreams of grandeur inworld that leech over into RL, I’d really keep my expectations in check.

          Remember, Lindens are centralized, (Don’t believe me?  Remember that LL has had a fixed exchange rate for like forever!)  anytime things get out of whack with the SL economy and money supply (And they do, even in RL, just ask Alan Greenspan.) LL will do whatever it wants with the supply of Lindens and the holders have no recourse.  (Sure, there’s probably some schnook in RL who’ll spend real money to get his virtual money back.  All I have to say to him is good luck!)

          Virtual currencies like Lindens are really only intended for gameplay.  Given the recent interest in them by various Treasury authorities around the world, I suspect that game developers will become more restrictive on how they’re used and can interface with RL. 

          Now, I do believe that sooner or later, a viable virtual economy will arise somewhere in the Metaverse. 

          The rise of true digital currencies like Bitcoin will see to that.  Lindens and their ilk will be fondly remembered for what they are, “play money.”

          Interestingly, while researching this story, I went back to the Bitcoin exchanges I’d visited in my earlier Bitcoin story only to find them all closed.  Further, any other references to Bitcoins that I could find just led to dead ends.  Currency exchanges only traded in Lindens for RL currencies. 
          Where are the bitcoins?


          Maybe there’s another story here! 

          Enough of the dismal science for now, although, I’ll return to this topic from time to time as RL events dictate.  (Significant Other wonders why I couldn’t just stay with the nudist resport.)

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

                                             

 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

STEAM X in Second Life


 There was something delightfully intimate about the relationship between predator and prey.

Nenia Campbell

  

          As I sit down to write this story about Second Life (SL), another 8 inches of show is falling outside of my home in Real Life (RL).

          Yet, hope springs eternal because The Weather Channel promises that spring is also around the corner.

          I yearn for warmer weather and no ice and snow outside my door. (Significant Other now complains about cabin fever on a regular basis.)

          As I always look for things to keep my mind off of the weather at this time of the year (And to stay out of Significant Other’s way.) I’m rewarded by knowing that it’s time for the annual Mieville steampunk hunt, STEAM X, inworld.

          For those to whom this may be a new phenomenon in SL, STEAM X is the tenth (Hence the “X” for those who failed Roman numerals in second grade arithmetic.) celebration of all this is steampunk inworld. 

          STEAM X is, as always, hosted by the Mayor of Mieville and impresario extraordinaire, Perryn Peterson. 

         
The Hunt is a Grid wide event with dozens of merchants, all personally and carefully selected by Perryn himself, offering as gifts to intrepid hunters the very best of their wares.  Several merchants run their own mini-Hunts which adds to the fun. 

          Hunters look for clues and try to find the gifts which are free.  Some hunters gather into hunt parties and go out together.

          Let’s take a closer look at STEAM X.

          STEAM is an acronym which stands for “Steampunk Travelers’ Event, Adventure & Megahunt.”  (Rather to the point if I do say so myself!)  STEAM was once a semi-annual event but the effort behind an event of this scale as well as all the other social activities on Mieville’s calendar have necessitated going to an annual schedule.

          I began covering these events with STEAM VII not long after I’d begun blogging. 

          The theme for this year’s Hunt is Steam: The Dream and this is the idea behind all the Hunt’s gifts. 

          This year’s poster has been done once again by the talented Tattoo Lane.

          XMarieX Fairport’s gift’s (The Steam Dream Cog Chair) picture is included as a sample of the marvelous and creative gifts
prepared by the merchants for the Hunt.

          The Hunt begins at Laughing Gryphon House in the Mieville Doyle Victorian Steampunk sim .

          From here, hunters launch out across the Grid in pursuit of their treasures.

          STEAM X runs from March 1st to 31st so don’t miss out!

          Historical Hunts, Ltd., the sponsoring Mieville organization maintains a blog with Hunt details as well as pictures of gifts.  This blog is also a great resource for future Mieville activities.  Be sure to check it out!

          STEAM X is a wonderful and fun filled community event in SL. 

          It’s an opportunity to sample the wares of the creative merchants inworld and to meet and hang out with other residents. 

          I strongly encourage all to participate and, if possible, to purchase some of the other merchandise offered by merchants in their shops.  After all, a strong SL economy is good for everyone. 

          I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the Great Challenge of every Hunt!

          Namely to complete the Hunt in its entirety, including mini-Hunts, in record time!

          Who’s up for it?

          See you at STEAM X!

          I’d like to thank Perryn for his time and assistance in helping me prepare for this story.   Perryn has become one of my closest friends inworld and I’m grateful for the time he takes from his busy schedule to help me.

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

                                             

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Sex and the Single Avatar in Second Life XIII – I Interview an Adventurous Journalist


 Hey, we are journalists that makes us the most curious people on the Grid!

Caroline Resident

 
          Recently, after having retweeted my first story about sex in Second Life (SL) I was contacted by Caroline’s Travels (AKA Caroline Resident) who asked me how could I write about sex inworld without mentioning her own blog, Second Life Adventures which is about sex and fun in SL. 

          Well, I’ve never professed to know it all. (Significant Other’s eyebrow arches again.) So, after checking Caroline’s blog out and realizing that no study of sex in SL would ever be complete without either mentioning it or speaking with Caroline, I asked for an interview. 

          Caroline readily agreed and we arranged to meet to discuss who she is and her views on sex in SL.

          Caroline is a self-described “Single bi-woman who explores the grid, writes about it and makes some money with it.” 


          Which seems very ordinary until one sits down and starts to talk with Caroline about who she really is and what she does. 

          We meet in a club where Caroline sometimes works as an escort after she has just completed an appointment with a client. 

          I begin by asking her what brought her to SL in the first place. 

          Laughter erupts from Caroline as she explains how it was such a long time ago that she’d really would have to think about that one. She thinks it was during the big hype in 2007. Caroline believes that she must have read something in a paper about it and just was curious about it. She then got stuck here.  (I think many of us had a similar experience.) 

          When we had met previously to discuss arranging the interview, Caroline had said she’d been attracted to the “naughty bits” inworld because that’s what people were attracted to when she wrote in her blog.   I ask her if she had any reservations about that initially.  (Caroline certainly doesn’t have any now!) 

          Her reply is no, not at all.  Caroline is a very liberal person anyway. She admits to having hardly any inhibitions about sex at all. Her original SL avatar was also quite active sexually, but her current avatar (To whom I’m speaking.) gave her the opportunity to go beyond that. Her original avatar was too well known in other parts of SL and other environments which would have been limiting so she became Caroline’s Travels. In another words, she has been clear from the beginning that she would discover the naughty side of SL, hence no reservations at all. 

          Caroline had no trepidations about being nude the first time, having sex, or coming out as an escort.  She adds that there are actually still things she has not explored yet. Next, Caroline will be dating couples with a friend of hers. 

          The swinger lifestyle inworld is something that Caroline is very curious about. How it feels how it is and if it actually exists. She’s not talking about the usual sex regions were everbody has sex with everybody else. Caroline’s talking about liberal couples who are into that sort of lifestyle. 

          I ask her when she says liberal when describing herself does she mean SL or Real Life (RL). 

          Caroline laughs again as she replies that she knew I’d be asking this question.  (Am I that predictable now?)  She answers affirmatively that she is very liberal in RL too. Caroline has had certain experiences with the swinger lifestyle in RL, however she would never be an escort in RL. That’s were she draws the line!

         
Our interview turns to Caroline’s business venture in SL, Siemens Media.         

The business is about creating advertising media Caroline explains. The main one is Second Life Adventures for now. The idea is to create compelling and entertaining content, and sell advertising space to inworld companies. So far her revenues come from an affiliate program from Linden Lab.

Does she make a living?

 Well not enough for a RL living Caroline admits but enough to finance her second life, her hobby actually. So for a SL resident she’s quite well off, but not enough to support her real life.

          Caroline doesn’t consider herself a full time SL resident.  She has a RL family and a RL job.

I ask Caroline what are her impressions of sex inworld.

Caroline’s reply is that well, just like in RL, there is a lot of diversity. From really bad and boring pixel porn to really great emotional and passionate experiences and everything in between. Most of the noobs (Sorry she loves that expression!) look for the lower end of pixel porn, because they haven’t realized yet that SL’s not a game and that there are real people behind those funny little avatars. As soon as they start getting deeper into it as a world and not as a game the attitude changes

Does the emotion and passion occur in RL for Caroline as well is my next question.

Caroline answers that she’s had girl friends in the past in SL. And, yes, the emotion is real when such relationships are established in SL. In casual encounters it’s different, she continues, there she would call it arousal not passion. Caroline concludes saying yes, she’s not made of stone so it does carry over. Sometimes there is physical release and pleasure for her in RL too. 

When the emotion and passion don't occur, is it just because something didn't click with someone I ask.

Her reply is that no, it’s the other way around.  When it does occur it’s because it was
special and very arousing. There always need to be some sort of "click with someone", that a minimum requirement for sex in any world Caroline concludes.

          In one of Caroline’s recent blog posts, she described herself as a “kept woman” in her relationship with a new friend, Kris Summer.  I refer to this story when I ask about her limits and inhibitions and that she seems to be continually challenging these for herself.

How far will Caroline go is my question.

Caroline replies that to be honest, she doesn’t know.  But there are some red lines she won’t cross. 

There is also one topic Caroline has never touched on. That is BDSM, and not that it would be beyond her limits.  But, first, she simply doesn’t understand it and second, it doesn’t make her curious.  Caroline’s just not interested in it.

When she writes about something and the topic is "not her thing" then it’s not authentic anymore, it’s writing just to write. Her readers expect authentic stuff, adventures she’s lived, not stuff she wrote about because it’s popular.  (I applaud Caroline’s authenticity and sincerity here.)

My last question is about what Caroline thinks the future of SL is given how SL 2.0 might affect things.

Caroline replies that it is a good question and she doesn’t have the answer. She feels that at present they’re develop a new platform, and if it is as good as they say it is, SL will slowly but surely die.

She continues saying to compare it to RL cultures. The real world develops the same way.  Five minutes ago (in historical terms) Greece was the thing, then Rome, today we have to rescue what is left of both.  Virtual worlds move much faster than real ones.

Caroline just hopes that she can get her inventory transferred over, all of her planes and shoes. 

          Our interview comes to an end and mindful of Caroline’s time, I thank her and take my leave.

          I come away impressed with this woman.

         
Caroline is clearly an adventurous SL journalist who enjoys exploring inworld and having her adventures while being a successful businesswoman.  She is very comfortable with her own sexuality. 

          There is a business part to what Caroline does but that and being an escort are secondary to her original purpose of bringing her stories back to her readers. 

I can relate to that!

          Caroline has further adventures planned inworld.

          She is presently undertaking a voyage to the continents of SL.  She feels the trip helps her love the freedom, space and the infinite possibilities of the mainland without having to teleport. Now private estates seem so small to her. 

          We will hear more about her relationship with Kris and possibly her forays in Gor and with furries. 

          Caroline’s further adventures can be found on her blog which I strongly recommend to all!  I know that I’ll keep reading!

          Her blog also has guides on noobs, sex, and Gor for the interested!

           Her Twitter handle is @Carol_Resident .

          She can be found on Google+ at Caroline’s Travels in Second Life. 

          I’d like to thank Caroline for her time, candor, and hospitality in meeting with me for this interview.  

          Who knows?

          You might see a story from me about accompanying Caroline on her voyage across the Grid!

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

                                             

 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Becoming a Scribe-in-Residence in Second Life


You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.

Ray Bradbury

 

          As many of my regular readers know (My thanks to both of you!) I’ve always been looking for a position in Second Life (SL).

          However, I gave up looking for a paid position inworld a long time ago.  They’re even harder to find than one in Real Life (RL) these days.  

          And, like many a RL blogger, I once had visions of quitting my day job and becoming a fulltime blogger.  (Significant Other turns suddenly and looks sharply at me.)

          But, I’ve always been a pragmatist and risk adverse to a certain extent, so I won’t be giving up my day job until I know I make a go of this.  (Significant Other looks relieved and stands down from an attack stance.)

          Yet, I still have the aspiration to become a fulltime blogger.

          To that end, I’ve been looking for work, even non-paying, in SL.

          I feel that as a writer I will benefit from the experiences, obtain new material, and develop new perspectives. (One would be amazed at how running around nude can change how you look at life.  Not to mention how life looks back at you!)

          You’d be surprised how difficult it is to obtain even non-paying work inworld.  (We’ll ignore Significant Other’s comment about talent being a qualification regardless of the pay rate.)

          Until recently when I was offered the role of scribe-in-residence at a sim I’d recently blogged about.

          I’ll be able to integrate this role into my regular blogging activities and hopefully be able to expand my readership. (How difficult can it be to get past two?)

          Oh, you’d like to know where?

          Fair point.

          I’m now the scribe-in-residence at Devilhand, the recently established BDSM community in SL. 


          Devilhand seeks to be a safe refuge for practitioners of the BDSM lifestyle inworld.  They also plan to offer training and to match dominants with submissives.

          The grounds consist of a large castle in the classic B-movie style (I happen to love B-movies!) surrounded by a small village with woods and a small mountain with caves.  My office (Yes, I have an office.  How else am I going to reside?) is located in a garret (De riguer for a starving artiste.)  It’s bare save for two desks.  (I plan to be very busy.)

          Facilities at Devilhand include a dungeon, conservatory, ball room, and assorted private rooms with varying themes.  All these are intended for visitors to enjoy themselves as they see fit.

          All of this resides on a full sim. 

          The Devilhand team consists of Steve, the owner, Ama, his submissive, who co-manage the facility; kennaKat, the social manager; and Dariana, the marketing manager. 

          They’re all engaged now in preparing Devilhand to become the premier BDSM community inworld straddling (No pun intended.) both SL and RL.

          My responsibilities will be to blog about the Devilhand community and its activities along with however else my scribbling can help.  I even have a scribe outfit which is left over from my visits to Gor.

          I’ll incorporate these duties into my regular blogging.  So have no fear of that stopping anytime soon.

          Pushing the edges of the envelope has always been a hallmark of how I write so expect that to continue. 

          I also plan an ongoing series about RL BDSM players in SL and Devilhand will serve as my base of operations for that.  Stay tuned for more details!

          I’d like to thank Steve and his team for this great opportunity and I look forward to working with them!

          I also hope that my current and future readers will enjoy my stories!         


As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!