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The Long Balloon Trip

June 12th, 2011 by Marianne McCann

So I took a long, long balloon ride.

The Long Balloon Tour

I actually did it over a couple different days – May 30th and June 12th – and in four “sections” so that I would not really “over do.” It was a total of 126 regions crossings. I had to rerez my balloon twice (not counting at the planned breaks), and recovered it from near-calamity two other times. Overall, not that bad.

My vehicle of choice was the Terra Cirrus hot air balloon. it is a slow but stable flyer, and easy to manage. I roughly plotted a course that would take move over protected land for the majority of the trip, only deviating at Abbotts and Cowell. I could likely have stuck to protected land there, but Cowell is such a beautiful spot to fly over.

The slower you hit a sim crossing the better – usually – so the balloon was perfect for this sort of trek. If I was in a speedboat or something, my results would be a lot different. My graphic settings were on high, with a 128m draw distance (I did increase it sometimes for photos, and decreased it in a spot in South Channel that tends to be rough for me)

I started off from Promissa, in the upper waterway on the Heterocera Atoll continent. In retrospect, I wish I’d started from a more northerly location, but I’m not sure I could have stayed to a “protected land” route if I’d done so. Anyway, I found one person’s dock ’round there, rezzed out and move into the waterway to start my journey.

Start Off

The waterways through this first section of the Northern Continent were pleasant, without having to do a lot of wiggling about. There were even some nice open waterways where I could fiddle around with IMs or check my map while in flight. This was fine until I hit Cepphis. My balloon decided to ail on without me there, and I had to do some backtracking to find a spot to re-rez and continue. A lot of the old protected regions – and some of the new ones – seem to lack rez zones, so this was tricky.

I then flew over the walkways of Iris, and then into the lower end of the atoll. This spot remains one of the more picturesque you’ll find on the mainland. The temple is always so pretty.

Passing Iris

The waterways there are a bit trickier and tighter. I did make one wrong turn around Tuliptree, and had to briefly back up and get back on track, but it was no more than a 20m deviation.  I also picked up a passenger briefly here, dropping him off at my first scheduled stop in ANWR.

The prim derrick does not have good facilities for lunch, but thankfully I brought a sandwich and a couple cookies with me, and enjoyed a little break there. The derrick is always fun to explore, especially if you ever wondered where all those plywood cubes come from.

I picked up my journey after locating a rez zone nearby and heading on. The next part of the trip started through the new northern passage which has been the bane of more than a few intrepid explorers. The crossing from Hildegardre to Lothair can be especially rough. but it was fairly smooth sailing as I headed into Theodrada, even shouting an “Ahoy” at a sailor below.

Theodrata

And then both he and I failed at that crossing. Thankfully, I was able to recover and even grab my balloon and continue on. A trick: sometimes when you get stuck at the crossings, you can sit on the ground to recover. Also, for some reason, a “stop all animations” can help you get unstuck.

I continued into familiar territory, passing by the Suburbs (I coulda almost seen my house if I’d dared turn my draw up that high!), Nova Albion, and Bay City, then into the new Southern Passage. I welcomed no more mishaps on the way to Abbotts, and met my brother on the tarmac. Well, him and also some role players shooting up some zombies on the runway.

Taking off from Abbotts

My next leg of the trip took me off from Abbotts and east into the interior of Sansara. There were some areas there that I’d not travelled in a long time. Indeed, some Im not sure I’d ever visited. As much as people mock Mainland, there are some lovely spots. Cowell Village, A little village in Myrtle. The East River Community, the Riverwalk, the canals of Lakeville — each examples of what dedicated Residents can do when given a chance. All very beautiful.

I did run into trouble in Atlas. It looks like one big lake, but there’s a patchwork of Resident parcels in there, making the route treacherous. I ended up against the 1-2 punch of no object entry on one parcel, and ban lines on another. So I again had to find a spot to rez, and continued on my way around.

There are plenty of Linden and Mole made things to see along the route, too. I already mentioned Iris and ANWR, but this route also took me over the asylum, near the vehicle regions, through Ice Bay and the Sea of Fables, over the dam in Ganymede and the Mimas Bridge. All worth seeing.

Over Ice Bay

Speaking of the Ice Bay, brr.  I wish I’d thought to not wear shorts back in Abbotts. Thankfully, much of my trip skirted the colder parts of the snowlands. Only Ice Bay proved daunting. I welcomed the warmth of Lakeville, and the Sea of Fables.

There were many spots where I came across automated tours along my path, By the way. Of course the “scourgemobiles” were about, me even almost doing a “touch and go” off one of the buses near Clarksburg. There’s the planes in Abbotts, the “pods,” and even Qu Qi’s old ferry boat in the ANWR passage. But I had no idea that the old Lost Lakes Balloon was still in service ’til I passed it in Hudson.  It made me smile to see it still offering tours all these years gone. I IMed the creator – who was on – and took a moment to thank him for still running it after all this time.

Passing the Lost Lakes balloon tour

At one time, the Lost Lakes balloon was pretty much the typical “style” of balloon in Second Life, featuring a large, glass bottom gondola and seats around the perimeter for looking down on the land beneath. One of my earlier memories of exploring the mainland came when a friend of mine took me out in a similar balloon and showed me the area around Dowden. Somehow it just seemed to remind me a lot of those times, seeing the old balloon tour while only a few sims west of the Dowden area.

It was time for my next stop, and I landed in the big inlet to Poseidon’s Island, in Bohol. Again, dining options were pretty slim, but the scenery made up for the lack of a warm meal.

Posiden's Island

After another break (and some time spent helping get a stuck region of a friends to be a lot less stuck), I headed off again, heading north. This would take me through Linden Village, which feels a lot less busy than it once was. particularly in Ambleside. The big “temple” like structure is still in Kirkby though, and Waterhead is still, well, Waterhead. old physical cubes littered the waterway, but did not hamper my trip.

I mentioned the beauty of some parts of the mainland, but it can still be hazardous out there. The aforementioned crossing in Atlas was difficult, and I had to clam on the proverbial breaks in somewhere around Cook, saving myself from ban lines as the very last moment.

I would prove to not be as lucky when I made my way through Derwent, and accidently went up the wrong waterway. While trying to correct course, I ended up crossing a private parcel — and their security orb. 6.0000000 seconds later, I was at home, and offered a notecard to get my own little orb of joy. I declined and teleported back, rescuing my balloon from the otherwise empty parcel, and continued on my way.

it wasn’t long after until I entered the last of my waterways, and into the protected land of Bevel. I actually backtracked a bit from there before finishing, making a safe landing in Langdale — but not before one last picture.

End of the Run

It was a fun float, and I had a blast doing it. I hope that, maybe, this will inspire you do to the same. Maybe you’ll take a boat, or a train, or a car, or maybe you too will balloon or otherwise take to the air. either way, explore our world. There’s a lot to see out there, and no time like the present to go and see it.

Oh, to see all of my pictures from the trip, visit Snapzilla. Enjoy!

Pyri Funfair!

October 22nd, 2010 by Marianne McCann

The LDPW moles did it again. They’ve opened the Pyri Funfair.

Pyri Funfair

It’s a multilevel experience that reminded me of old text-based games and D&D. Totally did not disappoint me. I don’t want to give too much away — but expect to see some creepy (but not especially gory) stuff, plan for a couple hours of time to explore, and know that you may die there. Maybe even multiple times.

To get there, I recommend starting from Pyri, and clicking there for your “trip.” On the SL Blog, the moles provided a windlight setting, but if you don’t have it, try just using “Ghost.” It’ll add to the feel of it all.

It’s a big addition on the part of the moles, seems a bit of a stretch from projects they’ve done before in a lot of ways, but was WELL worth the time. As a resident, I love seeing an experience like this.

Oh, and totally get a ticket for the tunnel of love. :-)

On the hunt

September 6th, 2010 by Marianne McCann

Hunting for clues

I’m hunting for some old Second Life history, and am hoping you can lend a hand. I am interested in hearing any stories, seeing old snapshots, and even gaining an artifact or two. If you know anything about the below locations in Second Life from around 2003 and can help, please drop me a line.

1. My SL brother owns a small section of Varney, and this appears to be around were the Varney Boardwalk once was. As such, I am looking for anything on this location. All I have found are two photos in the Governor’s Mansion, a photo from an older version of secondlife.com, and some video footage from YouTube. I’ve also had the good fortune of securing some content from the boardwalk. I would love any more that could be out there, particularly good images of the entrance arch and the overall area. Any relics would be appreciated, as well.

2. Photographs or materials from the Sami Infohub would be greatly appreciated. This infohub was my SL “home” in early 2006, but was decommissioned sometime later that year. I would like any photos or information about this site.

3. Early maps show a location called “Mysterious Ruins” on the border between Lusk and Perry (Roughly Perry 10, 30, 24). There was also a Lindenball Court around Perry 100, 30, 24. I would love any information and photos of these: was Lindenball the same as Jetball (in Rizal), or something different. What were the mysterious ruins?

4. I’ve seen a great many photographs of the outside of Shangri-La, aka Yamato Town or Orientation Station at the Castle. Are there any photos that focus on the interior? Also, many items were presumably lost from this location. Can anyone provide some of what was lost? I’d like to pass these to the LDPW and see if the site cannot be more fully restored.

5. What did Native American Village look like, either in Zoe or Oak Grove?

6. Does anyone have materials from LindenWorld the amusement park? Good photos, signage, the shirt, notecards, or anything?

Any help on these locations or any bits of old Second Life history would be appreciated.

A proposal: the Emergency Grid Broadcast System

July 3rd, 2010 by Marianne McCann

Earlier today was yet another incidence of login and asset issues. When I’m inworld, a box in my workshop will alert me to any posts on http://status.secondlifegrid.net/ , which gives me a heads up. Unfortunately, not everyone has such a device or a place to put it.

But it led me to think: if this device could parse a simple RSS feed of the grid status, surely the viewer with all its “web link” features, http-in, and so on could handle this?

This led me to make my second ever feature suggestion (my first, on parcel-level build rights, sits mostly forgotten): the Emergency Grid Broadcast System.

Essentially a glorified RSS feed reader built into the browser, this would prove a method to get people inworld to see when when big issues are at hand.

Anyway, my write up about it all is available on the JIRA at https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/VWR-20081. I think I have all my bases covered, all my “T”s dotted an “I”s crossed, but would love feedback. Please read, vote, and/or comment, and also please feel free to tell others who might be interested.

Hooray for Moles!

May 27th, 2010 by Marianne McCann

Two years ago, Linden Lab started the Linden Department of Public Works. While not as flashy as big technological breakthroughs or whatever, the LDPW and their “Moles” have been a huge betterment to the Second Life Grid.

Moose Beach

For one, the department helps fix things. Two years ago, I started to look at how much was of Linden Lab’s inworld structures were busted up. I found places where road, bridgeworks, even whole buildings were destroyed and unusable. The vehicle regions were not very usable. Famed Mt. G’al was unable to take any noob sacrifices. So much just felt neglected and uncared for.

Today, the vehicle sims are in fine form, many of the worst damaged places are fixed or are being fixed, and things don’t feel as run down as they did. Oh, and falling into Mt. G’al’s lava will kill ya once more.

Mt. G'al's Caldera

But they do more than just fix broken stuff. Aside from their work on big projects like Zindra, Nascera, the Blake Sea, Nautilus City, and Bay City, they also build our roads, have been fixing our rails, decorating other waterways, providing little builds here and there along the way.

The benefit of these should be obvious. Because of their work, you can spend an hour riding a ferry boat along the Blake Sea waterways. You can take out a car and race at Talpidega Speedway in Georgean. You can fly a plane out of the Bay City Municipal Airport and fly round the Gulf of Lauren. You can grab a juice drink in Brownlee. You can find the merman bunker in the seas west of Degrand. You can stay over at the truck stop in Ribeata. You can explore dozens of places all over the Second Life mainland.

Talpidega Speedway

What’s more, all of these places are open to us all. There is no one to tell you that your not welcome, which can be of great benefit to those who play child avatars. We’re all equally welcome at these places, and can all enjoy them. It’s like land we get to play on as an extra value to our membership in Second Life.

They’ve been doing a lot of roadwork, paving paths all over. Some have been making new switches and crossings for the SLRR. A great many have been decorating waterways around Baffin, Kara, and Thurston. They’re fixing up the old sports area in Rizal and Wild West Town in Oak Grove.

Coral Reef

For those who do the sort of role play I do, or just anyone curious, check out the LDPW Parks and Recreation Directory, and go see some of these places. It’s worth your time!

It’s Burny Life time again!

October 19th, 2009 by Marianne McCann

For those of you who don’t know what a “Burning Life” is, it’s a festival event focused on art, community, and fire, and designed more or less loosely on the Burning Man festival held in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, U.S.A.

Burning Life is not a “role play” area, though it tends to fall into a certain level of role play naturally. It is set in a desert environment, and people are encouraged to treat the location as if it was the First Life Burning Man’s location of Black Rock City, NV. As such, when you enter the event, you are greeted by folks at an entrance much like the one you’d be greeted at in Burning Man, etc.

Sometimes this can lead to almost Dada-esque porpostions, such as a 20+ member queue for a porta potty at this year’s event. Note to those who are unfamiiar with Second Life: porta potties are for show, and no one need use the. This isn’t The Sims. So essentially we all stood in line complaining about the people taking too long “for the show.” We also laughed. A lot.

I’m very excited to note that there’s at least eight plots being worked on by kids, each of which is unique and wonderful. In looking at all the things being built, this will be a great year overall for kids to come out to the virtual playa and enjoy the goings on.

My own entry (created with the advice and prims of Pygar Bu, Robin Howe, Valla Griffin, and Johnathon Spad) is Inner Child Camp 2009. It takes a lot of designs and ideas from the “KidsVille” camp at the first life Burning Man. There’s a lot of stuff there, including a small shaded area for stories, chilling or whatever and a stage area for shows an stuff. You’ll find it in Burning Life-Granite.

For those who want to see Burning Man, I recommend this:

Begin at “What Is Burning Life,” especially if you have not been to Burning Life before. There’s a lot to read there so feel free to skip some of the walls of text if you want. This will, however, give you an idea of where Burning Life “comes from,” and the culture of the event. This leads you through to the entrance (and its greeters). Consider at this point that you are entering a different Second Life. Dress for the environment, and think of this is more “real life” terms than you might otherwise. Be there in spirit.

Note that there’s a small tent near here with a handful of freebies. The majority of those are from 2008: there are fresher items (and a huge stack of em!) up the road at the Art Department, in a big green tent. The Department of Mutant Vehicles has its main build near there too. The daring can grab an art car at this site. This is also close to Ranger HQ and the Lamplighter’s camp.

If you turn to the West at the lamplighter’s camp, you’ll head down a row including Windyy Lan’e beautiful camp, the Wind Camp of Tijn Erde, the ‘Splo’s contribution, Aloah Oh’s wild work, and yes, my own camp.

Just beyond Ranger HQ to the north, however, some amazing artworks can be found. Be sure to see Ub Yifu’s gulliver, Bryn Oh’s Vassel’s Dream (plan some time for this, and brush up on your camming skills), and Lorin Tone/Madcow Cosmos/Judi Newell’s Sekmet temple. The road between all these leads straight up to Center Camp. You’ll always find something going on there.

Beyond Center Camp (also along the main road) is more amazing art, and The Man. Near him is the fire stage. There’s some beautiful sculpty artworks there. Some of the most amazing work you’ll see in SL.

From the Man: There’s three main roads leading off from there. To the left (West) is Toyko stage. This is a live music venue. To the right (East) is Berlin stage. That is DJed music. Both stages are, themselves, amazing builds.

North of The Man on the main road is the Temple of Forgiveness. This is a beautiful, beautiful build. Visit it and leave your thoughts.

This is also where the nightly lamplighter’s procession ends and the fire dancing begins. That is a must visit. Look for the lamplighters to finish their procession up the main road around 7:30 or so, then dance and drum the night away. This is totally worth your time.

Other things to see: Miso Susanowa’s The Roof Is Gone is cool, as is LisaKathleen Kaligawa’s The Savants. Loki Eliot’s Waiting For Pippin is wonderful, if a bit melancholy in a Puff The Magic Dragon sense. I also got a kick out of a full scale Mouse Trap game.

There are a TON of other builds to see, each of which are unique and wonderful, and worth your time to check out. Plan on spending some time exploring — and if you need to stay overnight, feel free to hang at Inner Child camp.

The Long Haul

July 17th, 2009 by Marianne McCann

Home in Hundertwasser

After three years and about four months of living in a nice home in Hundertwasser, I had to clear and prep for sale my home location since almost the beginning of my Second Life. Was an economic decision, but not an easy one. I can relate a lot of great things that happened there, though the last several months have been very quiet and melancholy at that house.

Some months ago I managed to score a plot or two in Shermerville NW, which makes for a nice — though small — home for me an my siblings. Anyway, we (my, by brother, and one aunt as time allowed) drove a “U Haul” as close to cross country as we could. Had to make allowances for both the area of the old house (all canals, no roads), and the lack of roadway from Noyo to Dore.

I really recommend this kinda drive. It’s an interesting way to see our world. Things start to “connect” rather than being a random set of teleport coordinates. While there still is a fair amount of blight and ugliness out there — though not like it was before the ad farm ban — there’s also a lot of beauty to be had. Just be prepared to use a lot of time, be ready for crashes and hard sim crossings, etc. You’ll also have to learn to be creative with finding good rez areas, especially with the Sansara continent.

This trip, for the record, was roughly 60 sims, I made one wrong turn, crached three times, had to wait twice for the next sim to restart, and one time had to contact Live Chat to get my avatar released after the first bad crash.

Bay City’s First Anniversary Celebration!

May 7th, 2009 by Marianne McCann

Dateline: Bay City! In May of 2008, a new land appeared on the grid: Bay City! In that time, Bay City has grown and become its own very unique place. The plucky residents of the city by the bay have prospered — and in celebration, join them on Sunday, May 17th for a parade and party!

Bay City's First Anniversary Celebration

Bay City's First Anniversary Celebration

Be part of a parade on Sunday, May 17th, starting from the airship mooring in Bay City – Docklands and travelling down Route 66 to the park at Bay City – Handa! Once in Bay City – Handa, join us for a party in the park featuring Edward Kyomoon, DJ Doubledown Tandino, and Yaro Pinion!

zOMG! A handy Map!

Bay City Anniversary Map

Bay City Anniversary Map

Parade preperation time (if needed)
Saturday, May 16th at 3:00 p.m. SLT
At the airship mooring in Bay City – Docklands

Parade staging
Sunday, May 17th at 12:00 p.m. SLT
Meet at the airship mooring, with additional room in Hau Koda, next door.

Parade viewing:
Don’t feel quite like the march, but still want to take part? We have parade viewing areas!
Bay City – Imaginario
Bay City – Falconmoon
Bay City – Rollers

Parade end:
Parade will conclude in the park at Bay City – Handa — but hang around for fun and festivities in the park!
Edward Kyomoon at 2:00 p.m. SLT
DJ Doubledown Tandino at 3:00 p.m. SLT
Yaro Pinion at 4:00 p.m. SLT

All events hosted by the Bay City Alliance.

We’re Number 108!

April 3rd, 2009 by Marianne McCann

Well, I am sorta the new kid on the block…

Active Second Life Blogs, 2009

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