Thursday afternoon, June 26
When all else fails, close the program and reopen. Once my initial anguish subsided, that’s what I did. Closed the window, then reopened SL. And got a message that my previous session seemed to have frozen or crashed, did I wish to send an error report? No, no error report. Good to know that it froze, nothing permanent. Let’s keep going. Hey! There I am on Orientation Island. And I seem to be dressed, oh thank goodness. So let’s try to move about. Okay, this is just not happening. There is a big lag between my pressing the key and the avatar moving. I adjust for that. But whenever I try to go forward or back, it’s as if I’m wearing 10-league boots from Fairy Tales (you know – the hero puts on the boots and each step carries him ten leagues along). I jump forward and then move back, in a very jerky motion. As if I move 3 steps forward 2 back. Except all the steps are larger than that. I keep over-shooting my target. But I am getting better at it. Somewhat. I move about. I see others. I cant seem to pick up anything. I’m not really getting anywhere I’m trying to go. I’m not sure this is really working or worth the effort. And then my machine freezes again.
A HAH! THIS must be the issue. It’s the computer’s fault, NOT mine!!! I need a better computer. I shoot off an email to my husband. I NEED a gaming computer. There. He writes back and suggests that I use his computer, or our son’s computer. Hmmm. Okay. I can try that. So I go upstairs to his computer. I download the software. As it downloads my son and I discuss which computer in the house is the best. We agree it’s my personal laptop, a Dell Inspiron. It’s basically the same age as my husband’s but mine was the better machine at the time. For a variety of reasons, I’ve not been using it much, mostly because I use my work laptop all the time. So I get out my Dell and I had back downstairs. I set up the Dell next to the thinkpad. Turn it on, let it boot. Hmm. Hope this will work. One of the reasons I’ve not been using it is that somehow IE got corrupted. And I think some other things. But I don’t really remember any more. In the meantime I’m IM’ing with a friend. So I have 2 computers downloading the SL software, and my thinkpad standing by for communication. Still no word from L or D. But that’s not surprising about L – she’s in another time zone completely. She should be home eating dinner.
Okay, let’s get going with this installation. Wait – what’s happening? Oh no. All the automatic updates that haven’t been done since April are being downloaded to the Dell. Okay, a little more patience. Oh here we go. These updates require an automatic restart. Fine, do what you have to. Fifteen minutes later my computer is still shutting down, but never quite getting there. Enough!!! I’ll go use my husband’s machine. But first I hold the power button down on the Dell to force it to shut down. Then hit the button to power it up. Back upstairs, lugging the Thinkpad with me. Okay. Time to go with SL on that machine. It’s going, going. Message: fix the resolution. SL requires 32 bit color. Uh oh. I really don’t like to mess with my husband’s machine – he uses it for his work. I say to my son (who’s in the office on his computer) I may need you to tell me what the message says. I mean that I’m going to go back to my Dell and see if it works and if I need the resolution changed. But he’s not really listening to me – he replies, uh huh.
Down the stairs, lugging the thinkpad with me. Logon to the Dell. Uh oh. I think I know why it took so long to shut down. Oops. I think it was installing all those many updates it downloaded. Why do I think this? Because it’s displaying a message to that effect. Oops. Do you think that forcing a shut-down while it’s installing is a bad move? Too late now. Oh look – it’s DONE!! Let’s give it a try. But first I’m getting an IM from upstairs – my son has changed the resolution on my husband’s computer. Oops. Okay, we’ll ignore that for the time being.
Let’s give SL a try here on the Dell. Okay, let’s go. So far so good. There I am, back on Orientation Island. But wait. Everything is blurry. I can see my avatar. I get the message that I should wait while the clothing downloads. I can see the map. But everything else is smeared and blurry. So I change the resolution and apply. No difference. Oh this is ridiculous!!!! There must be something wrong with this machine! Back upstairs to my husband’s machine. Start up SL again. There, we’re entering, it’s loading, loading. Stops. Either something is wrong with my network or with SL servers. Okay. We’ll try again. Exit, restart. Loading, loading, loading, getting farther on the meter bar. Stop. Again the message: Either something is wrong with my network or with SL servers. Why do I not think it’s their servers?? Exit, restart. Nope, still not working. Easy, they said. It’s easy. Right.
Back downstairs. I am logging miles up and down the stairs, carrying the other laptop. Who needs a gym?
The Dell is GOING TO WORK. Here we go again. It all looks fine and good, so I know my monitor isn’t broken, login, onto Orientation Island. Blurry. But look!!! There’s a message from D!!!! Oh. He sent it over an hour ago. Probably while I was running up or down the stairs. But I’ll give it a try. I click in the box and write back. Nothing. So I switch to the Thinkpad and send him an email. But there he is – IM’ing me in SL. I can see his words fine. But everything else is one big blur. But now I have a life line. I explain to D about the blurred scene. He tells me how to check my video properties. I do that, and they claim to be okay. He offers to teleport to me to help me. I wonder if I have any clothes on. I mean, I think I do. But is it really appropriate to meet a coworker when you are a naked avatar? Somehow that simply doesn’t seem professional. D explains to me how to get to a menu to teleport him to me. Not allowed. You aren’t allowed to teleport TO orientation island. So he offers to teleport me off. Would I mind missing more time on orientation island? Mind? I can’t see anything, I can’t do anything. What’s the downside of leaving? This sure isn’t fun. I say please – take me away from all this. And he does.
There I am in a, in a, in a place. Ah, it’s a house. And nothing is blurry. I can see. And oh thank goodness, I am dressed. And I must say, I look good. Mattel really knew what it was doing with that Barbie figure. But how to move, where to go. I see D, then I don’t see him. Thank goodness we have the chat box open. Without his instructions I’d have no idea where to begin. So I begin to move about the house. This is a true comedy. There still appears to be something wrong with how I move. We compare notes. When D moves, it appears relatively fluid. He agrees that there is something very jerky and non-smooth about my movements. He thinks perhaps it’s the internet connection. I have no idea what to think. I practice moving. I try to sit on the couch. My avatar reclines on the couch, curling up in what seems a very posed but langorous way next to D’s avatar. I’m really quite surprised at her. After all, we’ve all just met D. Who knew she’d be so forward?? D shows me his cat. I make a promise to myself to get myself back to that couch and the pillow so I can pet the cat too.
I get up, walk about some more. I manage to sit in a chair. Sit. This avatar has no shame whatsoever. She’s not sitting. There she goes again, posing in the chair. Look at me! Honestly. Who does she think she is? We can’t walk across the room and she’s draping herself on the furniture. D and I spend a few more minutes chatting and trying to figure out what’s happening w/ my resolution – is it my graphics card or the connection or something else. But then D has to go to a meeting. He’s been so kind and helpful. I’m so grateful. He tells me to feel free to hang out at his place, figure out how to use the maps, and things like that. I thank him and point out that as I have no idea how to leave or where to go, I truly appreciate his kindness in letting me stay.
So D goes and there I am. Alone. Clueless. I walk about. I see a bookcase. Maybe there’s something to read. I try to get a book. The bookcase gives me a folder, according to a message. But I can’t open it or do anything with it. I continue walking about. That sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Mostly I press the forward key, watch my avatar shoot forward out of the room, then come zooming back, then she moves a little forward. Good thing she has a strong stomach. I move about, trying to touch things, or move things. Not much luck at all. I see a wine glass. Oh frustration deluxe. I get sooooo close to that wine glass. SO close. I click on it, I click around it. I learn who made it. But can I pick it up? NO. I have no idea how to pick up anything!!!! And half the time when I move toward the glass I overshoot it and find myself outside the room. If I had any idea how to do it, I’d have kicked the thing. Finally I move to the couch and sit. Obviously my avatar knows we’re alone – she sits this time. No provocative reclining. We touch the white pillow and we have a black kitten in our lap. And so we sit for awhile, the kitten and I, relaxing.
But I think that maybe I should find some place else to be when D returns. What if he wants his couch or his kitten? So I get up (YES! I can do THAT) and move outside. I see a hammock. I am able to make my way to the hammock and stretch out in it. I’m watching the water and looking at the neighboring locale. It’s very peaceful, and I think this is a good place to bide my time. And so I exit SL and return to my RL, four hours of real time elapse.
Now it’s time to catch up with administrative matters. I follow the instructions on the VUC forum and add my SL name to my company yellow pages. I joined the company VUC. I get a welcoming email that tells me the next time I login to SL I will be invited to join company group. I am feeling quite triumphant. I BELONG.