Saturday, June 28
My sister and I go off for some RL fun. I tell her I got an email from D who has explained to me that I can’t pick up anything I don’t own. So maybe I’m not as totally awkward as I fear. My sister tells me that she tried to join SL in order to see if she would have the same difficulties I’ve had. She couldn’t even get the software loaded on her machine – too old and slow a processor. She describes how she logged on, and her password was emailed to her, and she went to something called Blue Azure. Huh?? This is NOTHING like how I joined. I clicked on the big “Join Here” button at the top of the page. She scrolled to the bottom of the page where she had a choice of worlds. She had more last names from which to choose. I got to pick a starting avatar. We go back to my house and logon to her avatar, Melissa. It’s Melissa’s first time, so she starts on Welcome Island (I started on Orientation Island). At first we try to be on two machines at once. I have my work computer up and running and I’m hoping to give clothing to Melissa, much the way L helped me. But we soon realize that this will never work. There is nowhere near enough bandwidth for 2 SL sessions. Both SL sessions crash. We shut down the work computer and stay on the Dell. We logon as Melissa.
Melissa is MUCH braver than I – she’s an alumna of chat rooms from way back in the day. I know how to bring up menus and move the avatar, she understands the stream of conversation that we see. Together we are almost competent. I bring up the Search menu. She types in clothing (Melissa is wearing jeans and a shirt, nothing exciting). She then clicks on a dropdown menu for category. She finds a category “Newcomer Friendly”. She clicks, a list of places is displayed. We teleport to the first one, NCIKuula. We wander a little. We see a group of ‘people’ (some are definitely NOT humanoid). We stand and watch awhile. Melissa teaches me how to understand the chatter. We both watch characters wink in and out, come and go, explode into flames, bubbles, and other interesting occurrences. Melissa is brave, she tries to fly to get closer (we are still having major problems trying to move about). We manage to get closer. We greet the group. They start discussing free money for Newbies. YES!! We could use that too! Apparently for the first 45 days, Newbies can get a L$10 stipend daily (L$ are Linden Lab dollars, the currency in SecondLife). This is very welcome news. They tell the other newcomer to go over the bridge. We don’t see a bridge, we don’t move well. We ask for the directions again. They tell us it’s north of us. North? We’re supposed to understand directions like north? Finally an avatar named Latha asks if we want to follow her, she will leave a stream of bubbles for us. Latha will be turn out to be our SL Angel for the next few hours. Yes, that’s right, hours.
We manage to follow Latha to the money machine. Could never have done it without that stream of sparks she’s putting down for us. Latha explains that we need to touch the blue globe to get the stipend. Success. Then she asks if we would like to sit down for a chat and learn things that might be useful. Since I have control of the avatar at this point, I say yes. (My sister prefers to stumble about, trying things, listening in. I prefer getting explanations.) So we sit down to chat with Latha. I want to confess that there are 2 of us there. My sister goes nuts and won’t let me. She says we will simply confuse Latha. I don’t see why that should be, but I agree and stop my typing. Latha proceeds to give us a box full of goodies. She teaches us how to open a box, move the items into inventory, take them out again. She tells us to reduce our resolution in order to make the graphics display more quickly (if not as detailed). That does seem to make a difference. She introduces us to her dog. She shows us her cars. She teaches us to fly and points out that it is very useful for seeing the landscape and getting a sense of where we are. She teaches us to drive the cars. This is hilarious. My sister and I are laughing so hard we are crying. You can actually watch the avatar fold and shrink herself into the car. We don’t drive any better than we fly. Worse, actually. Finally Latha says she needs to leave. We thank her profusely. She’s gone. We wander about some more, getting oriented to NCIKuula. We find Latha back on the lawn where we started originally. We find our way from there to the money machine and landmark it. We are quite triumphant. My sister says she needs to go home. We’ve been doing this for 5 hours. She’ll go home and logon a different machine and maybe we can both be on together.
I logon as Ahuva. My RL phone rings. Melissa is online. We spend another 5 hours online together. My ear and arm are so sore from holding the phone that I switch to my cellphone with its speakerphone option. We figure out how to extend friendship to one another. I manage to teleport to Melissa. I get MY free stipend. She shares the box of goodies with me. We teleport back to Vienna (L took me there originally) where I’m able to buy shoes. FINALLY. And then, as has happened perhaps 10 or more times already that day, my SL session crashes. Since it’s already 11:30pm, I say goodnight and go to bed