Shortly after the Ratburger.org site was created on 2017-12-09, we signed up for and implemented a text chat system called CometChat on 2017-12-12. This was nothing but bother, with update after update failing to install and the last straw being when, at the end of the first year’s trial period, they wanted us to pay US$ 50/month for a shoddy service which we’d never actually used. I deleted the hunk of junk on 2018-09-30.
Still, it would be nice to be able to host real-time events, perhaps with more interaction than is possible on our existing Audio Meet-Ups. For this, I have been exploring using a platform many consider passé, but technologically perfectly positioned to burgeon in the Roaring Twenties, Second Life.
Second Life is a virtual world which, as of the end of 2017, had between 800,000 and 900,000 active users. When you visit it, you’ll typically find on the order of 40,000 people logged on. In Second Life you can visit a multitude of interesting destinations built by denizens, buy or rent land, build your own Bond villain redoubt, and create new objects which you can sell to others within the virtual world.
My ambition for Second Life and Ratburger is very modest at present: I’m thinking about using it as a chat room and place for meet-ups which don’t run up phone charges for participants. Assuming you’ve set up your computer properly, you can chat in text or converse in voice after meeting at a location in Second Life.
Some time in the next month, I’d like to schedule an experimental Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU) at some time chosen to accommodate the crazy quilt of time zones of our members (probably the same time as the Tuesday RAMU, but on another day). If you’d like to participate, here’s what you’ll have to do.
Create a new account on Second Life. Click the “Join Free” button and fill out the form. Note that your Username cannot be changed after you join, so in the interest of privacy, do not chose a Username which discloses personal information. Choose an avatar of your preference; you can be anybody you like—use your imagination!
Download and install a viewer on your computer. I prefer the Firestorm Viewer, which is available for Linux, Macintosh, and legacy Windows systems. You will need a relatively recent computer with lots of RAM and a graphical processing unit (GPU) to run this software. The official Second Life Viewer is an alternative, but is generally behind Firestorm in features and device compatibility.
Log in to Second Life from your viewer application. You will generally be taken to a starting point for new users such as London City, which will let you explore things you can do in the virtual world. It will take some time to become familiar with moving around, interacting with objects, etc. From there, you can go to myriad other places.
If you want to use voice communication, visit the Voice Echo Canyon:
(This is a Second Life URL which will not work in your browser, but works in the Second Life destination bar.) Try speaking (use the middle mouse button to toggle speaking off and on, or the microphone button at the bottom in Firestorm) and see if you can hear the echo. If you don’t see a white dot above your head, audio is not enabled on your computer. If this happens and you’re on a Linux system, let me know in the comments and I’ll send you a fix which worked for me.
Visit some interesting places, such as the amazing International Spaceflight Museum:
and see what people have built in this virtual world.
My user name is “Fourmilab” and my humble abode (and SLAMU clubhouse until we build something more imposing) is at:
This year in cyberspace!