Second Life: 14 Years Later

It’s hard to comprehend where I was when I joined Second Life on April 6th, 2007. I vaguely remember seeing a report on CNBC that featured Philip Rosedale and the virtual world he’d created. I was fascinated by the idea of a virtual city and made my decision to join this new world. Before I knew it I swept into the scene with all it’s drama. In hindsight, it felt like I was in high school again with a new body, new clothes, and a tendency to do the crazy things that only make sense to teenagers. Yeah, I was nuts. Heh. It was so much fun though.

It all came together for me at a tiny club named “PIER”, but unfortunately I didn’t know how to use the camera at the time and don’t have any pics of those early days. I used to go to PIER late at night, hop on a Salsa dance ball, and dance to the tunes of the many DJs that got started there. A few years later the PIER closed but in 2010 I rediscovered PIER had reopened. Below is a pic from that era. I guess the owner decided it was too much effort to keep it going, but she left it roughly where it had been in the beginning. It’s still there.

PIER didn’t change much between when I attended regularly and the reopened club.

Anyway, I expanded out from PIER and raced all over the grid for the next five or six years. I found a real home at Junkyard Blues, but enjoyed several other clubs. I built numerous Zen gardens and expanded my Harvest Moon Café every time I found a newer and bigger plot of land. I remained active in SL until about 2013 when I moved on to other things, but there’s something about Second Life that always drew me back. And so it was about a week ago; I just wanted to see what was going on, who was still inworld, and what kind of changes have been made.

About a month ago, a viscous hack of Microsoft servers caused them to make some changes to mitigate the damages. I’d been playing on Xbox and a lot of things when wrong, so I’ve been reluctant to reengage. That’s partly why I’ve reengaged in SL during the past week, and I’ve felt the draw of Second Life again. There are so many things to do in SL that I’ve been scampering around, checking things out.

I even looked into buying an SR-71 Blackbird. Okay, some explanation: I once visited the flight museum near Boeing Field where they have one of the retired SR-71s. And let me say simply, if you’ve never seen an actual Blackbird, you have yet to see the most amazing aircraft of the past century. I was in awe of the enormous aircraft, but also about the story of when and how it was built in the early 1960s; built with slide rules, flying at speeds in excess of Mach 3, and altitudes above 80,000 feet! The SR-71 set a record: New York to Los Angeles in two hours. Below is an advertisement for a Second Life plane I’m still thinking about buying.

Check SL Marketplace for the LuciForge ad. I’m just worried that I’ll crash this beautiful airplane.

I did a lot of other things during the past week. I spent time on the Blake Sea where I sped across the open water sims with relative ease; most of the serious problems related to sim crossings seem to be resolved. And it is a thrill to go fast on open waters, it just is! Here’s a shot of me at rest; I forgot how to snap a shot while speeding around. I know.

That’s me in my trusty Street Dancer speedboat.

I also spent some time over at the massive Bay City sim complex. It is a huge city right in the heart of Second Life, but I’m sorry to say that there weren’t many people there enjoying the many facilities that include an insane asylum, amusement park, stores, houses, hotels and so much more. The lack of activity is sad.

In Fallout 76, a multiplayer game, there are vast landscapes and post-apocalyptical cities and they are full of life in a sense because they have many Non-Player Characters (NPCs) and monsters. Of course, the monsters are ready do attack you, so you often have to fight for your life, but hey (*smiles*). That artificial activity gives FO76 a sense of life that is missing in SL, except at the SL clubs and a few sites. Perhaps, a city like Bay City would be far more enjoyable if there were some NPCs doing menial tasks, maybe even talking about their personal stories. It’s just an idea and would probably create a great deal of stress on SL’s underlying game architecture, but I saw signs that work is being done on something akin to NPCs. Just saying. OTOH, communicating with friend in FO76 is really difficult unless everyone has a headset and I rarely run into peeps wearing headsets.

One thing that caused me some consternation, a lot of my old shoes were broken. I thought I’d fixed this problem ages ago, but maybe a new problem has been introduced. When I left SL I had over 200 outfits organized in “My Outfits” and now I’m having trouble figuring out how to get a single outfit organized; this is on me, I just need to figure things out. Also, my Intan dance ball didn’t work. So, I’ve had some frustrations. I did some fun shopping though, kind of just weird spontaneous buying: Some military pants and some short-sleeved mohair sweaters. Here’s a new outfit.

I know this outfit is incongruous, but FO76 has given me a taste for the military-ish look.

To make a long story short: I’m kind of at a “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Night” (Robert Frost) moment.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,

I’ve been so tempted to plunge back into SL with both hands and feet. I’ll keep my premium membership for at least one more year and all that. I’ll be around from time to time. But I still have promises to keep “and [hopefully] miles to go before I sleep.”

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Second Life: Return to Calas Galadhon

I keep dropping into SL and poking around, but today I teleported into the giant Calas Galadhon park, run by Truck Meredith and Tymus Tenk. I’d been there many times in the past and it was great to get back to the familiar vast forests and seas. I was delighted to find that the Mirrormere and Misty Mountains sims were very much the way I remember them.

Near the entrance to Mirrormere
That’s me (didn’t change clothes yet) at the lake within the Misty Mountains
Inside one of the cozy cabins in Mirrormere.
I even made my way over to Armenelos.

There’s so much to do in Second Life that I’m feeling the draw. I’m also feeling the dread that I might loose sight of some of my important projects. As Lele would say: Time will tell.

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Second Life: Phil Kearny’s Ambrosia

I spent several more hours in SL yesterday, trying to find stuff in my inventory and learning about stuff that no longer works, like my Intan Couples Dance ball. I was a bit overcome by a sense that a lot of things might not work anymore, but as I was about to sign-off I got an IM from Phil Kearny to tp into his Ambrosia nightclub. I was a bit surprised that Phil even remembered me, but I took the tp and landed in front of the DJ stand where Phil was spinning tunes (below).

That’s Phil and his ever luvin’ tiger waiting to descend on griefers. Heh.

I made my way to the dance floor and used the dances in my HUD to get into the scene. I was amazed at what good dances I had and they worked. I had been worried that I’d have to buy a whole new inventory of dance anims. And that’s me below, dancin’ and prancin’ as I used to, back in the day.

Maybe you can see my cool hat. I think I got it at Maitreya’s.
It was a Tuesday evening, so kind of slow for Ambrosia but Phil was giving out all kind of personal advice, including advice on getting the COVID vaccine. He also said you’re kind of a dumbass if you don’t. That’s the Phil Kearny I remember and why people keep coming back to Ambrosia.

After hanging out at the club I felt a whole lot better but I still have so much to relearn about SL. It’s been eight years since I was doing stuff like building Zen gardens and cafes. I don’t know if I’ll ever get back to doing that stuff, but I do plan to spend some time at one of the sandboxes, dusting off all my building and scripting stuff. More soon.

BTW, Ambrosia and Junkyard Blues are two of the oldest and best clubs in Second Life. If you are new to SL, they are a must visit.

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Second Life: What a Wonderful Evening

It’s been almost six months since I visited Second Life. I’d been thinking about returning for a while but last night I teleported inworld to catch DJ Frog’s show at Junkyard Blues. Right away I couldn’t get sound working, so I tp’d to Ambrosia Club but still no luck, then I discovered I the problem and returned to the Junkyard.

Yordie Sands is the author of The Temporal Expeditions

That’s me in the red sweater. I didn’t take a pic of my former partner.

Low and behold, right where I tp’d in I saw my first SL partner (I won’t mention his name). He had a great new look and I didn’t know what to say other than “LTNS”. A couple moments later we began talking. It was wonderful, just like old times; some people are like that, you can just talk as if a decade hadn’t just passed.

I also chatted with other old friends: Lele, Dina, Vanessa, and Frog. It was a wonderful evening, experiencing the magic of seeing old friends. Dina and I had fun talking about  The Dreamgirl Pajama Party back in 2009. After the Junkyard and visiting Lele’s island, I was a bit overwhelmed. So, I went back to my Linden Home this morning and shot a few pics for the record.

Yordie Sands is a blogger, writer, and gamer.

That’s my upstairs bedroom. I’ve had it for years.

Yordie Sands is an author.

I played around with some hairstyles in my adventure planning room.

Last night was a wonderful experience but I’m pretty sure I don’t have the energy for making it a regular part of my day again. Back when I was gallivanting around with half a dozen different partners or girlfriends, I became addicted, so I just had to walk away. I do hope to go back more often though because catching good tunes and dancing is a unique, soothing virtual experience.

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Follow-on: The Microsoft Hack 2021

It’s a complex puzzle, but major media sources including the New York Times are saying that Microsoft suffered a major hack between February 26 and March 2. I can attest to the fact that the hack was real because on I was playing Fallout 4 on Xbox One X during the night of February 26th.

Yordie Sands is the author of The Temporal Expeditions

It was like this! And the game I began in 2019 was wiped out.

Suddenly, I lost my connection to Microsoft connection. I did routine reset procedures but Xbox didn’t come back for hours. In the interim, I checked Xbox Status and saw that four major services were down. The one service that troubled me was “Accounts”. There was only token information available, but my thoughts immediately turned to The SolarWinds Hack that impacted a massive number of U.S. businesses and government agencies.

Well, almost two weeks have passed since the attack and I believe I’m still experiencing negative effects of the attack. I lost the iteration of Fallout 4 I was playing; I had begun that game in 2019 and it ended February 26, 2021. I didn’t play that iteration non-stop but I had fully developed over a dozen settlements. Fortunately, I was thinking of setting it aside for a while, so the lost was hard but I was on the downside of playing.

I use many Microsoft products and services (Windows, Office, Xbox, others), and I’ve worked with Microsoft indirectly for decades. So, I trust Microsoft and their software engineers and have confidence that they will get a handle on both the SolarWinds and Microsoft hacks. After all, this company has been the most attacked company since the launch of the Internet and it has prevailed.

I’ve seen a wide range of weirdness, mainly on Xbox, but have also seen important emails from trusted vendors disappear. BTW, I’ve also noticed that large amounts of junk mail have disappeared also. I believe that wonkiness will persist for some time to come, but I’m hoping Microsoft will introduce stricter management of Internet traffic. During the SolarWinds hack, one Microsoft official said that a line in the sand had been crossed and I’m hoping that our government will have enough sense to help Microsoft in this battle.

We are so reliant on the Internet. It’s almost impossible to imagine life without it.

Just sayin’

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Fallout 4 Disaster

Last week I reached Fallout 4 Level 122 and was looking into adding one or more of the DLC-type mods. I was also getting a bit tired with the game; after all, I’d gained an additional 60 levels since resuming the game back in October. I had also began dabbling in Fallout 76 again, even bought a subscription to Fallout 1st. So, I backed up Fallout 4 to a Seagate Xbox external hard drive. Then disaster struck.

Yordie Sands is the author of The Temporal Expeditions

It was like this! And the game I began in 2019 was wiped out.

Microsoft Outage

Last week, Microsoft shutdown several services while I was on Xbox. The outage lasted into the night and when I it came back I noticed that all of my mods were showing in my mod list, but weren’t active. I also noticed that all of my Creative Club purchases showed, but like the mods, they weren’t active. Something must have gone very wrong at Microsoft. One commenter on Reddit suggested that there may have been some kind of security issues related to mod files, but there’s no way to know what happened. After a lot of scrambling to restore the mods and CC content, it became clear to me that this iteration of the game was lost.

Bethesda Reinstall

I decided to uninstall my existing version of Fallout 4 then reinstall. I don’t recall the version I had been using but it became clear to me that the newly installed version was a bit strange. For example, the Brahmin no longer showed up while I was recruiting for my new settlement. There were also graphics glitches. I’ve looked at available version information, but I don’t determine if the version I’m playing is is current or an older version.

SolarWinds Hack Mitigation?

I’ve wondered if the events I’ve described are somehow related to mitigation procedures to restore security following the massive SolarWinds hack. Another idea has occurred to me, maybe Microsoft and Bethesda had to modify some code bases for an upcoming offering.  I don’t know. I don’t even know where to begin finding answers to these questions. I’m very frustrated, but if my disaster is the result of efforts to deal with SolarWinds debacle, then I can’t blame them.

 

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Fallout 4: Featuring The Castle

[Level 118, Very Hard] I’m winding down in Fallout 4 for now, but I’m still adding details to my settlements. Without attempting to show The Castle itself as many have done, I’m focusing attention of several areas inside the castle walls where stores have been setup. But I’m starting the show with one of my fav Minutemen, well, Minutewomen. She’s a Minuteman Ranger and has been with the garrison since the battle to retake it from the Mieurlurks. Checkout her lethal Service Rifle (a very cool mod)!

Yordie Sands is the General of the Minutemen

She doesn’t have a name but she is one badass Minuteman soldier.

Yordie Sands is a blogger, writer and photographer

This is the garrison bar and grill, and there’s a small Slocum’s Joe with great donuts. This is where everyone hangs out when they are off duty.

Yordie Sands is the dreamer of dreams.

The Castle has the best medical facility of all my settlements. That’s why Doc Andersen is the doctor.

Yordie Sands plays Fallout 4 and Fallout 76

All of my large settlements have clothing stores and this is fully stocked and kinda cute in a post-apocalyptic way.

Yordie Sands is a former software engineer.

Naturally, every settlement needs a general store.

Yordie Sands is a writer and blogger.

Here’s a peek inside the main compound of The Castle. There are guards at both the main entrance and a rear exit.

By the way, I’ve been adding “clutter” (DYI Clutter mod) to all the shelves in all the settlements. I’m still thinking of building two more settlements but I also have my eye on returning to Fallout 76. In fact, yesterday I bought a Fallout 1st subscription. More to come…

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