Experiment: Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU)

Second Life Artificial Meet-UpShortly 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:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Voice%20Echo%20Canyon/128/130/23

(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:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Spaceport%20Alpha/48/78/23

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:

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Cowell%20Farm/216/12/42

This year in cyberspace!

SLAMU: Ratburger clubhouse

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Author: John Walker

Founder of Ratburger.org, Autodesk, Inc., and Marinchip Systems. Author of The Hacker's Diet. Creator of www.fourmilab.ch.

21 thoughts on “Experiment: Second Life Artificial Meet-Up (SLAMU)”

  1. If and when you sign up, please post your user names here so we can follow one another and create a Ratburger group for notifications of meet-ups in Second Life.

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  2. I joined up and am using Firestorm. Voice works OK. Since I rushed past the welcome page to the Echo Canyon, I don’t know how to get back to the tutorial. Is there a place to get a basic intro to the features and commands?

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  3. 10 Cents:
    I am Real on Second Life. I sent Fourmi a message.

    Got your message and replied, but you were not on-line.  Yes, they’re ants.  It’s Fourmilab!

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  4. drlorentz:
    I joined up and am using Firestorm. Voice works OK. Since I rushed past the welcome page to the Echo Canyon, I don’t know how to get back to the tutorial. Is there a place to get a basic intro to the features and commands?

    There is a Wiki with information on the basic commands.  Often, if you simply type “Second life (question)” into a browser search box, you’ll be taken to an answer.  If you have a home, you can get back to these with Ctrl+Shift+H, but I don’t know if that works if you are a free user without a home.

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  5. drlorentz:
    I joined up and am using Firestorm. Voice works OK. Since I rushed past the welcome page to the Echo Canyon, I don’t know how to get back to the tutorial. Is there a place to get a basic intro to the features and commands?

    Well, there goes the neighborhood!!

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  6. drlorentz:
    Since I rushed past the welcome page to the Echo Canyon, I don’t know how to get back to the tutorial. Is there a place to get a basic intro to the features and commands?

    This is really screwy and annoying.  The tutorial starts at:

    “LONDON CITY – Official Community Gateway, London City Gateway (125, 125, 22) – General”,

    SLurl http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/London%20City%20Gateway/126/125/23

    but if you try to teleport there you get a pop-up which says:

    Teleport failed.
    You cannot teleport back to Welcome Island.
    Go to ‘Welcome Island Public’ to repeat the tutorial.

    I have no idea what that last line means.  If you search for “Welcome Island Public” you find all kinds of stuff but not the tutorial.

    The best solution I’ve found is to teleport to London City right at the end of the tutorial, which is:

    http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/London%20City/85/223/24

    Turn around until you see the open gateway to the tutorial area.  Then you can walk through the gateway into the tutorial in reverse order or, better still, fly along the a path indicated by the yellow arrows in reverse until you arrive at the circular plaza with the big London City Gateway sign on the wall.  Land there and you’re at the beginning of the tutorial.

    I have no idea what they’re trying to accomplish making it difficult to enter the doggone tutorial!  Perhaps they hired a user experience designer from WordPress.

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  7. 10 Cents:
    Here is a YouTube Tutorial. Around the 7:30 mark the control of the character is explained.

    Thanks for the video link, I really enjoyed it.

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  8. John, I found your virtual abode, and went inside, despite my myrmecophobia.  You really should lock your doors against the riff raff!

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  9. Cyrano:
    John, I found your virtual abode, and went inside, despite my myrmecophobia.  You really should lock your doors against the riff raff!

    Welcome!

    Please send your Second Life user name as a friend request to mine (Fourmilab), and I will friend you and send an invitation to the Ratburger group.  Eventually, access to the Ratburger clubhouse will be restricted to members of the group but right now it’s wide open so people can explore as soon as they arrive in Second Life.

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  10. John Walker:

    Cyrano:
    John, I found your virtual abode, and went inside, despite my myrmecophobia.  You really should lock your doors against the riff raff!

    Welcome!

    Please send your Second Life user name as a friend request to mine (Fourmilab), and I will friend you and send an invitation to the Ratburger group.  Eventually, access to the Ratburger clubhouse will be restricted to members of the group but right now it’s wide open so people can explore as soon as they arrive in Second Life.

    Not Cyrano too. Soon I am going to have to go to Third Life. 🙂

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  11. I figured out a work-around (at least for me) for some objects (for example, the fireplace in the Ratburger clubhouse) not rendering (being displayed) in the Firestorm viewer.  Go to Avatar/Preferences/Graphics/General and check “Advanced Lighting Model”.  This enables programmable OpenGL shaders which, if your graphics card supports it (most modern ones do, but some older machines may not), which seems to fix the problem.  On my laptop, which has lots of RAM but no fancy gamers’ graphics: just the default Dell graphics processor, it doesn’t seem to slow down the frame rate.

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  12. Here’s a screen shot from today’s impromptu SLAMU at the Ratburger clubhouse in Second Life.

    SLAMU: 2019-02-09 at the Ratburger clubhouse

    From left to right, haakondahl, 10Cents, Chef.  Audio and text chat worked fine after we puzzled out some of the details.

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