Temper Tantrum

I HATE my computer!!!! HATE IT HATE IT HATE IT!!!!  It’s stupid, it’s old, it’s slow, and it DOESNT WORK!!!!  It keeps crashing!!!!  Melissa called me and she’s on.  She has a great box of goodies to share and wants to take me to a neat place!!!  I’m invited to a Wimbledon Party and I have nothing to wear and even if I had something to wear I CANT GET THERE!!!!  It’s not fair!!!!  MAD MAD MAD MAD!!!!!  I have HOURS ahead of me to play and my stupid stupid stupid computer is not cooperating!!!!!!!  WHAT AM I GOING TO DO????  This is all someone’s fault.  NOT MINE!!!  I dont do hardware.  (actually, i dont really do software either, but that’s a subject for when I am NOT throwing a major temper tantrum).  I WANT MY SL!!!!  I want to find white stiletto heels and a cute skirt and a nice top to wear to the party tomorrow and i want to go meet melissa and i want to PLAY!!!!!

This is totally NOT fair and I am filing a complaint with the authorities and the powers-that-be and everyone and anyone else. NOT FAIR!!!!!!

I WANT MY SL!!!!    MAKE IT WORK!!!!!!!!!

Scratching the Virtual Itch

I need to keep this shark moving forward, even if RL is getting in my way.

I work with software developers. We had a meeting this morning to discuss progress since the last checkpoint. We agreed that our “clone” button (don’t ask) could be removed. I asked if we could move it to real life – I NEED a clone. My clone could do all my RL obligations and I could go back to SL. The irony is that I really really LIKE my RL. I like my job, gardening, seeing friends, spending time with family, my pets. But right now they are all simply impediments to what I want to be doing – living my life as Ahuva, in red stilettos with bling. (And that is a direct challenge to my friend Dale’s tirade against bling on Dale’s blog –DaleInnis’s Blog

I need to satisfy my SL addiction. So since I can’t be in SL, I talk about SL. All the time. To everyone. I’ve noticed my coworkers turning quickly and sidling down the hall. My neighbors flee to their porches. My husband has begun working late. My dog no longer greets me at the door. So now I tell everyone else.

I walked into my chiropractic appointment yesterday and the poor man never got to say a word after he said “hello”. When I finally stopped to take a breath he asked me if I thought I had an obsessive personality. I said I prefer to think of myself as an enthusiastic person. Really, people can be SO judgemental. 🙂 He did seem a bit curious, more, i think, because I was so energized than because he thought there was anything in it for him. And that leads me to something else I have been learning/realizing.

Most people seem to have an automatic reflex to disparage something about which they know nothing or which they have never tried (go to my first blog entry and notice that I am firmly in that group). Why do we do that? Do we think it’s a reflection on ourselves somehow? If I’m not doing something but someone else is, do I have to knock it in order to prove to myself I’m not missing out on something? that i’m not wrong? So few people have responded to me and said “Oh wow – that sounds great!”. LOL – that’s another thing I’m realizing – I say “wow” WAY too often!!!! My vocabulary is fairly decent, but I need some new exclamatory remarks. If I ever do another (briefly worded) “Lessons I have learned from SL”, remind me to add that to the list.

I did hear the best excuse for why a friend is NOT going to try SL. And this friend is extremely computer-literate, runs a software company, has the time and money to spend on indulging himself. And yet – NO WAY is he going to try SL. Why? you ask. Because his computer equipment is so old that he doesn’t have an adequate graphics card or processor to run it. And as a matter of principle he will NOT buy a new machine because MS makes it so darn inconvenient to upgrade from one machine to another. LOL. It’s not that he can’t do it. He is protesting on behalf of all the rest of us technologically-impaired users. I suppose he feels if he bought a new one just for gaming he might ultimately be tempted to use it for other things and then – GASP – he might find himself migrating.

Here’s today’s list of questions: How do people have more than one avatar? Do they have to keep rejoining? Do most people retain their original gender? Why do people chose a non-human avatar? Can I garden in SL? How do I get an SL pet? Do people REALLY pay Linden Labs REAL money so that their avatars can become partners? WHY? Are there any unattractive avatars? I’ve only seen beautiful avatars. And don’t tell me beauty is in the eye of the beholder – you KNOW what I mean. Are there deer in SL? groundhogs? If I plant a garden will they eat my flowers? (I was NOT happy in RL this morning.) On a darker note – can/do people hunt in SL? (Do NOT start inundating me about cruelty to animals – I love animals. I just don’t love that they eat my plants. And NO, I do NOT shoot them, trap them or poison them. I just don’t like them very much when they’ve eaten my flowers and herbs.)

The other thing I’m trying to learn is the proper use of tagging. Again, a tip of my hat to Dale. Thank goodness you tagged your blog as “satire” because I was getting very worried. So I need instruction in how to tag. suggestions gratefully appreciated!

(only 4 hours til I can be home and logged on)

WHY I need an Editor

Wow.  I must have been VERY tired last night.  I forgot the 2 lessons I REALLY wanted to mention.  An editor would have reminded me.

(1) If your screen is all blurry or smeared, if your screen goes dark, if your screen goes light, MOVE your avatar!!!  All my frantic emails my first day when the screen was blurred – Ahuva was standing in the bushes.  She was simply way too close to some leaves so her eyes were a little unfocused.  When D teleported her away, of course the screen became clear – she wasn’t in the bushes anymore.  Ahuva now has a lot of experience walking into walls, objects, bushes.  If you are walking into a wall – you stop moving.  Try turning sideways and then move.  This is where it is very much like real-life!!!

(2) When someone gives you something or sends you an invitation to teleport, you get a little blue box on the screen with the appropriate message.  L kept sending Ahuva invitations to teleport to her, but Ahuva never saw them.  Why?  Because Ahuva had not cleared a previous blue box – she wanted to think about the mesage in it and deal with it later.  All of L’s messages were BEHIND that original blue box.  You CAN flip through those messages.  If you have more than one blue box, there will be a chevron-arrow in the corner of the visible one, and clicking on it will “shufle” the top blue box to the bottom of the stack, and you’ll be able to see the second one.  And so on.  As my friend D says:  Extremely non-obvious!

Knowing those 2 things would have saved me a lot of frustration.  The people who were helping me were so experienced that it never would have occurred to them that my problems were as simple as not moving or not clicking.  Live and Learn!

And I succumbed to the lure last night.  I DID logon to check my new group association.  Ahuva’s instincts seem to be okay – this group looks like a group of people who like to hang out together and party.  No fee, nothing odd showing up in the description.  I didn’t become a vampire!  And I managed to logon and logoff in less than 5 minutes!  Could I be bringing this obsession under control???  nah……

Pontificating from my New-found Expertise

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I haven’t logged on to SL today. Yet. I’m trying to determine how addicted I’ve become. I may not be logged ON, but I’m certainly tuned IN. Been talking about it and thinking about it all day. It’s curious. I’m not sure what is more exhilarating – playing in SL or blogging about it. A mere 3 weeks ago both ideas would have seemed completely out of character. I’m laughing about that last sentence. I’ve tried to finish it 3 different ways, and each one seems like a pun or a joke. “would have seemed unrealistic” was the first attempt. That’s what SL is – unrealistic, out of character, far-fetched. That’s probably why it’s all such fun.

So what have I learned about SL that I think everyone else should know?

(1) It seems to make a difference how you logon and start the whole process. Melissa and I came into the world very differently. I think hers was better.  I liked my hair better but she had better clothes and seemed more able to modify herself.

(2) Setup an email account that you can use for SL business that is separate from your RL emails. I like to compartmentalize. My RL emails give away too much information.

(3) Do it with a friend if possible. It was much more fun to be stumbling about with Melissa on Saturday than it was trying to do things on my own.

(4) Use the best equipment you can. Although I’m getting the impression it’s never good enough. Talking with others about my rez problems, I heard from everyone that whatever they had, they wanted better.

(5) Make a copy of your hair, body, clothes, whatever before you try to change it. I didn’t know you could do that. I learned after a few days that if you are modifying your appearance, you can do a “save as” and keep many different versions.

(6) Although it’s tempting to accept everything that is offered when you are new, do take a moment to think about it and ask. Someone offered Melissa a kiss that would leave bite marks. She turned that down and then discovered in later conversation that there are vampires. That kiss would have made her “eligible” to become a vampire. That’s okay if you want it, but uncomfortable if you like daylight. Can vampires go to the beach and get tan? For sure that would cramp my style if I couldn’t!

I’m sure there are more things to say, but those are the first ones that popped into my head when I thought about it. Those were all SL lessons. But I’ve been learning a lot about RL/SL interactions and about myself as well. Melissa and I explore SL in completely different ways. We interact with others in different ways. Watching us at one remove, so to speak, I am learning a lot about who we are in RL. Our choices in appearance also have made me more aware of our personalities and foibles. Now when I look at the other avatars I find myself wondering WHY they made the choices they made. This may be fantasy, but I think a lot of it is very real indeed.

Okay, I’ll stop now.  My manager M gave me a quote today.  I don’t know where he found it and I’m going to mangle it I’m sure, so my apologies to whoever said it first.  A blog is like a shark – it needs fresh water, needs to move forward.  This kind of rumination fascinates the writer but tends to be completely boring for anyone else.  I don’t really think it can be considered “moving forward”.   But that’s the beauty of blogging – I have no editor!!!

Can This be Love?

Monday Evening, June 30

I manage to avoid SL until after dinner. Dishes are done, paperwork is semi-ordered, pets are taken care of, husband watching a ball game. Maybe now would be a good time to finish ordering my folders. I really do NOT like how unorganized my inventory has become. I logon. No Melissa. That’s good. I jump to the money machine but it’s empty. I try searching for other money trees but don’t seem to find anything useful. I teleport back to “my” beach chair in Fishermen’s cove.

I start cleaning up the folders – grouping items, moving things. Lingerie in a folder under clothing, Tuxedos and evening gowns in the formal wear folder, poses and gestures in the “Suggestive” folder. Oh yes – I finally am investigating that magic box of goodies. I have all sorts of gestures and poses. The names alone alarm me. Now let me be clear – I am not really a prude. At least I don’t think I am. I can be fairly risqué and daring. Adventuresome. But I’m not ready to turn this all into a sexual experience. After all – I’m still having trouble walking across the virtual room!!! Can you imagine what a lack of control could do for more intimate situations? If I’m going to have SL sex, I’m going to have to be much better at moving my avatar, and I’d better find some genitalia. Until then all those poses, gestures and objects (like the love bed, the love chair, the pose ball) are going into the Suggestive folder.

I have finished tidying up my folders when Melissa logs in. There she is – in ‘her’ beach chair. How companionable! She tells me she has SL questions she needs answered so we head up the boardwalk. We met a nice Land Officer there the other day and I’m hoping she will be there again. Indeed, we soon encounter a group of people sitting on the benches on the boardwalk. Ahuva starts to chat with them all. Melissa as usual is way too impatient to talk. She keeps moving in and out, checking out the various signs and objects in the vicinity. Ahuva tells the group that she has questions and they encourage her to ask. The conversation is good-humored and light-hearted and yet they are giving her the information she needs. Melissa decides to go shopping with Nia. Various others start moving off to things. An attractive young man invites Ahuva to come see his house. Heh, heh, heh. Ahuva may LOOK like a Barbie-doll but she does know a thing or two.

I ask what my mother would think if I teleport off with him. He claims that the 3rd person with us will vouch for him. Actually, that person DOESN’T vouch for him, but it’s a tease. I have been assured that no one can do anything to my avatar. I’m not too worried about bopping around the world with a stranger – he can’t actually hurt me. I know enough not to touch things or take things that could animate my avatar in a way I might not want. (Perhaps I should have named myself Alice, not Ahuva, considering all the “Drink Me” and “Eat me” signs I see.) Just as we are about to leave, a beautiful white wolf (I think it’s a wolf) joins us. We teleport to A’s house. It is absolutely stunning. I look about, A’s pointing out objects. It’s on the beach. With sand, and a dance floor and a bar and chairs and plants and water. The wolf, S, is with us. A suggests a walk. I look about and he’s gone. So is S. I am confused. This is like being a teenager again. I THOUGHT he was going to hit on me. I thought that would be pretty cool. I figured I could maybe handle a pass. So where the heck did he go???

Aha – I finally see him in what appears to be another beach pavilion. I run over there and join him. But he’s still not talking. He disappears but a teleport box opens up. I teleport to him and S. Still not saying anything. I’m talking, but he’s not answering. I am completely confused. Am I doing something wrong? Is he weird? Is my machine broken? S seems to hear me. When A disappears yet again without talking I tell S that maybe I’ll join Melissa, who has been IM’ing about the incredible warehouse of freebies she is visiting. Then suddenly I realize that my IM box has TWO tabs with A’s name. I click on the second tab and PRESTO! THERE he is, chatting away. I apologize, explain what’s been happening to me. A and S are very understanding, claim it still happens to them as well.

A’s home is fantastic. If I could have this in RL I’d want for no other material possessions. Ocean, beach, trees, streams, pool, tree house, beach pavilion, dance pavilion with bar, crow’s nest. S says that he (she? I have no idea.) is tired and heading back to the boardwalk to nap. I’ve already told A and S that I need to go soon, as it is a work night. But I tell A I want to see the pool first. It’s a natural pool (isn’t that a funny thing to write – I’m calling it natural and it’s virtual), with a waterfall and a stream. We stretch out side-by-side on beach blankets. This is absolute heaven. I tell A how wonderful it is. Then A says something that freezes my RL blood. He mentions a RL location that he loves. It happens to be a place that I know well and visit whenever I can. I am freaking out inside. Does he know who I really am????? I answer back guardedly and we exchange a few more sentences on a related topic. A says that I am freaking him out with my replies and I tell him that he is creeping me out completely, that I think we need to drop this subject. He agrees and we talk about something else. If this were a story, it would turn out that A was really my husband, who unbeknownst to me was upstairs living his own life in SL. The whole world of people to meet and I meet someone who knows a RL place that I go? That is unsettling.

I really need to shut down and go to sleep but I follow A to the dance pavilion. Friends of his are arriving and the music goes on and the dancing starts. I keep trying to touch the dance ball and animate Ahuva to dance, but nothing is happening. Everyone else is chatting and dancing and I am clicking away getting nothing. I say goodnight and get ready to leave when a song comes on that I really like. Can’t leave with THAT playing I tell them. FINALLY Ahuva starts dancing. This is such fun!! While I’m dancing, A sends me an invitation to join his group. I’ve been warned not to accept any group invitations without researching the group, but I throw caution to the wind and accept. (SEE – I SAID that I could be adventuresome at times.) The song ends, it’s 11pm real time, and I teleport back to “my” beach chair, stretch out, and shut down. I figure I’ll research the group the next day. I’m sure that everything is just fine.

Sex and the Office

Monday morning, June 30

Back to work after a week’s vacation. I can’t wait to tell my coworkers about how much fun SL is. I walk down the hall to get my coffee. W sticks his head out of his office and calls “Naked and alone on Orientation Island with my son!” Uh oh. B looks up. “Hey, good to see you’re dressed! “ The summer intern looks up at me with a somewhat stunned expression. Maybe I shouldn’t have emailed my manager M last week when I was trying to get SL underway. I should have realized that there are no secrets in our office. Apparently M announced at the lunch table that I had sent him an email stating that I was alone and naked on Orientation Island with my son. It’s true. I did. The fact that I really WASN’T naked is never going to have any credibility, I can see that now. Oh well, this is one of those times you simply grin and make the best of it. Since we are all good friends, that is easier than it could be in other circumstances.

I tell M and W that I have written a blog. They ask for the location. Well, maybe blog is the wrong word. How about “I’ve been keeping a diary”. They scoff. “THAT’S not a blog” they say. So tell me where I should put my diary so it IS a blog. I work with software developers, all male. Asking such a question is akin to asking women about best places for shopping (I apologize if that’s too sexist for anyone – I confess that I am somewhat stumped for a good analogy here). Everyone else around joins in and I hear a dozen possible blog spots. Stop, stop, STOP!!! PICK ONE! A consensus is reached. Now I have to turn my diary into a blog. Maybe I need a new blog – Ahuva’s adventures in Blogdom? With any luck, I’ll do better at plunging into a blog than I feel I’ve done plunging into SL. And that seems to be the case. It only takes me about 2 hours to turn my diary into this blog.

I try to reach SL from my desk. I want to show everyone how it looks (no one has done this yet but me). I want to tour our company’s land in SL. But I can’t get there. We are behind a firewall that prohibits access. We have some connections in our kitchen that are not behind the firewall. We have them for guests that may need to access other websites. At lunch I take my laptop to the kitchen to show everyone SL. I remember that I went to sleep at Fishermen’s Cove wearing a little slinky top. NOT proper office attire. Ahuva throws on a shirt before I call everyone over to meet her. After all the “that’s YOU??” remarks (hey, I told you Ahuva was hot), I teleport to the corporate visitor center. It’s just my manager and I now. We start up the tour. M is really paying attention. I’m pointing out how this is used for real business needs. But then he is called away for important business – the lunchtime card game. Hey – we have our priorities in this office. The men all play cards at lunch and the admin and I walk. So instead of walking, she and I check out Ahuva. Ahuva takes off the sweater to show her slinky top. I demonstrate how to change shoes, change hair. Uh oh. I did it again. I lost the hair I had and can’t get it back. But in my magic goody box there are 5 hair styles each in a wide range of colors. We pick one we like. As we are doing this, the men are wandering in and out of the kitchen, peering over our shoulders at Ahuva. Of course there are remarks about the slinky top, the shoes, the jeans. Most embarrassing of all is “The Encounter”.

I’d heard there was a lot of sex on SL. Let’s be real – there’s a lot of sex on the internet. Oh heck – there’s a lot of sex EVERYWHERE. Sex is fine, I have no problem with that. But I’d really prefer not to be involved in that in the office kitchen. There is a time and a season to every purpose, and sex in the office kitchen is not, in my opinion, a great idea. I’d been on SL for 5 days – Thursday through Monday. NO SEX. Nothing. All very innocent (well, mostly). So there I am, showing people how Ahuva moves, how to change clothes, her appearance and what happens? A woman walks up to Ahuva and IM’s her. She says “Sit on me and you can use me”. This is NOT the kind of invitation I typically receive. I look at the faces that are there and think “this may be worse than ‘naked and alone’”. I IM back “not interested, sorry” and close the IM box. The woman winks out and Ahuva is alone once more. I teleport back to my beach chair, stretch out, relax and shut down.

The Siren Call

Sunday evening, June 29

Ahuva! Aaaaah – huuuuuu- vaaaaaaah! It’s calling to me. Unlike Odysseus, I am not lashed to the mast. I can see the laptop on the table. It wants me. I want it. But RL is insistent as well. There are bills to pay. Dinner to cook. My husband and I are alone for 6 weeks, with our son away at camp. But we’re not alone. There are three of us. Him, me and SL. Today I suspect my husband is not as amused by my infatuation as he was the day before. So I ignore the siren call and do every day RL things. Then finally, the lure is too great. I’ll log on for just a moment.

The moment I am logged on, Melissa IM’s me. “Hey! Where are you?” She asks. “Wait til you see all the cool stuff I’ve found.” She’s already been on for 4 hours. I meet her at the money tree so we can compare notes. WOW! She looks great! She’s changed her clothes and she’s got WINGS!!! Not to mention a really great necklace. We teleport to a Ladies Changing Room. By now we know that it is incredibly uncouth to change cloths and appearance right out in public. So we are in the changing room and Melissa starts showing me all the freebies she’s picked up during the day. Ahuva is playing with her hair and her skin, trying to recreate her original look. Melissa is showing off all her different outfits, including different sets of wings. Wings for every outfit. My husband comes by to check out the lingerie. I have to warn Melissa to turn around. It really wouldn’t be appropriate for him to see Melissa without her clothes. (I get the feeling that we may be losing the line between reality and pretend. These are digital representations that do not look a thing like our actual selves. They don’t have any genitalia or body hair. My original Barbie and Ken dolls were more detailed than our avatars. And yet none of us think it is strange that Melissa shouldn’t be seen by my husband. Do you hear the Outer Limits music playing?)

At some point in this process, Ahuva’s skin turns black. I don’t mean she becomes African-American, or very tan, or any other recognizable entity. I mean black, from the tips of her fingers up to a line at the base of her neck. It might be attractive if it was all her skin, but the fact that it stops and her neck, face and feet are still, – oh gee, I guess this would be Caucasian – beige, makes her look odd. If I wanted to look odd, I wouldn’t have picked a humanoid avatar!!!! I now begin trying to adjust the skin tone. No luck. Sometimes I make the black go away, but then everywhere else turns gray. I can’t tell if something is wrong or if I’m being impatient and it hasn’t stopped rezzing (that’s SL slang for having the picture resolution finalize), or if somehow this is my new “look”.

In the midst of this, 2 other characters teleport into the dressing room. This would be alright, except that they both appear to be male. Well, one of them appears to be male. The other appears to be a bunch of boxes stuck together. An interesting “look”. At least he is color-coordinated, so who am I to criticize? The ensuing conversation verifies that they are both male. We tell them they have to leave – this is the LADIES dressing room. We’re in luck – they do indeed leave after a little more chit-chat. At a point when Ahuva is gray and beige, we also leave the dressing room. We find a land officer and I explain my problem. She tells me that the gray has to do with resolution (I have GOT to get a new machine!!!). She says the way to fix it is to put on a new skin. Oh great. That sounds totally creepy. I can deal with changing my hair, changing my breasts, changing my body shape (hey – I’m a woman – I do that every darn day of my life!!!) but changing my skin? Other than tanning at the beach and trying to avoid pimples, I don’t do much with my RL skin except moisturize it. But it’s change my skin or stay gray and beige. That’s not even good for school colors.

So I look into my magic box in my inventory and sure enough there are some skins. “Lightly Tanned Skin”. Okay, beats “Sunburned Skin”. No – that wasn’t an option. At least not in MY box. Maybe someone else actually has that option. So I send a brief plea to the internet cloud and click on “Lightly Tanned Skin” – wear. Alright!!! I’m all one color. I think that it’s at least a medium tan, not light, but that’s even better from my point of view. And there’s no bathing suit line! I must be going to the nudist beaches in SL. My hair is still nothing like my original hair (it was soooo cute!!), but it’s acceptable. Melissa starts teleporting me to find the same freebies she got – the necklace and the wings. I’m getting better at moving about. I’m not as good as Melissa, but I can follow her for the most part. And when I get confused or when my keyboard seems to lock, there is always the “teleport” option. Melissa has that down cold, she has to rescue me so often. (Have I mentioned that I need a new machine?) It’s getting late, my husband has already disappeared upstairs to sleep, and I tell Melissa that we need to call it quits. I’ve been on for 3 hours and she’s up to 7 hours. So she takes me to Fishermen’s Cove, where there are beach chairs, a water slide, a hammock, dolphins splashing in the water, soothing music and a lovely view. We each stretch out in a chair, kick off our shoes, and say “goodnight”.

Lost my connection to the REAL World

Sunday afternoon, June 29, 2008

Oh my heavens. This has spiraled completely out of control. It’s not even 72 hours and it has taken over my life. I was supposed to meet a friend for brunch at 11. I’m talking a RL friend. It takes a minimum of 45 minutes to get there. I logon to SL at 9am, no problem, I have an hour, I figure I can clean up my folders, maybe go get my free daily stipend. My husband cruises by at some point and asks about brunch. Yeah, yeah, I say abstractedly, I don’t have to leave til 10. Hey!  The money machine won’t give me money. It says I already got money today. Hmmmm. I wander about, find an NCI Land Officer, Phoenix. I ask for help and begin chatting with her. I’m telling her about the money, and asking other questions.

My husband comes by again. Aren’t you going to brunch? Yes, I say. I continue chatting online. He persists (how annoying!!!!). Was your brunch cancelled? I finally look at him. What are you TALKING about??? He says, weren’t you meeting C at 11? I say yes, I don’t have to leave til 10. And I look at the clock and yell – oh no!!!! It’s 10:45!!!!! NO WAY am I going to make it on time. I interrupt my chat and say YIKES I’m missing a RL date. Phoenix laughs and wishes me luck.

I try to shut down the computer while I dial C’s number frantically. I think I reach her but hear nothing. I try her home number, I try to leave a message. I’m going crazy, I’m moving in the Real world thinking about the SL world.  I’m running about my house grabbing my shoes, my jacket, my bag, my keys, WHERE are my KEYS???? Finally I reach C. I can’t really hear her but I’m yelling – I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m on my way!!!!! I’m leaving now!!!! I run out the door yelling goodbye to my husband, jump in the car, plug in the cell phone and head out to the highway. I call my sister and say “Run away while you still can!!! Don’t log back in!!! Forget you ever did this!!!!!” She is laughing. She says “I TOLD you SO”. She hangs up, laughing. Sisters.

I’m only 30 minutes late and C forgives me. We catch up on our news. I can’t seem to stop talking about SL. Her eyes grow wide when I say that my sister and I spent 10 hours online doing this. Now she’s laughing too. I’m glad that I can amuse people and bring joy to their lives. When we go back and hang out with her husband H, I tell him all about it as well. Our conversation gets more technical as we discuss my connection issues, routers, WiFi. I tell both of them about the threads on the forums discussing prototyping RL items in SL – what about patent protection? I think H may be getting intrigued. He has his own favorite chat boards. And when it’s time for C to go to work and me to go home, she laughs and says “Are you heading straight back to the computer?” And although I’m embarrassed I confess that yes, I probably am. This has overtaken my life. Am I the same person who ten days ago IM’d that I couldn’t see why anyone would want SL?

My Sister is Hooked!

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

Fun and Frustrating Friday

Friday, June 27, 2008

I wake up thinking SL thoughts. I want to run to the computer and login. But I control myself and take care of some RL business. But finally, it’s time. I login to my Thinkpad to see if anyone has contacted me, the Dell sitting quietly beside. YES!!! L wrote to me!!! She has some suggestions for fixing the resolution. And ideas for where to find more interesting clothing. And names of other contacts. I email back, thanking her. And she starts sending me emails of inventory. A true friend – we’re going to handle my wardrobe first!! (I LOVE shoes, I hope there are cool shoes in SL).

Friday night, June 27

This is frustration Friday. I have changed my clothes (thanks L!!). I found the free shoe store. But I can’t buy anything!!! I click, the box comes up, but BUY is never enabled. I do this over and over and over, proving  Einstein’s dictum of insanity. And I certainly feel crazed. I don’t know where to go, what to do, how to do anything. I’m sure my graphics card is bad, my connection is bad. Why would anyone want to do this SL stuff anyway? And L and D are crazy too – this is NOT easy.