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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Back to Normal: A Look Back At The "Bid Me Human" and "Platinum Challenge"


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Monday June 19 started a period of a little more than two weeks when I wasn't quite myself. For the latest round of "Bid Me" events of my community's Relay for Life team, the Sunbeamers, I had volunteered for a "Bid Me Human." Although I had changed briefly to a human avatar for short periods of time over the years, I hadn't volunteered to be one for a "Bid Me" event since the days of the Passionate Redheads in May 2011. The result of that was me being stuck in the look for a month. This time, the Sunbeamer chief ruled it was for two weeks, although it would turn out to be nine days, with a catch.

Besides the shorter time involved, it didn't affect me so much this time as the slightly awkward feeling I had at the clubs at the start of last time. I was still being asked to dance. I was still able to dress in theme much of the time, such for the "Video Game" party in which I went as a "Rust" player (picture to the left). And the reaction I got from others, furry and human alike, was mostly positive. There were a couple exceptions. One was one girl who felt, "That avatar is not you." The other was an incident when a friend invited me over to a country music club whose attendance was all human except possibly a couple neko avatars. Someone there, seeing my avatar's black appearance, made some remark about an "interracial sim."

Considering in real life, my appearance is white, I once had a black boss, and one church in the area has it's sign in both English and Korean, if that was some kind of joke, I missed the point entirely. I only spent a short time in the place before events called me elsewhere, so I didn't see any immediate response. I was later told by the person who invited me that the guy who made the remark had been told by the club owner not to do that again if he wanted to be able to keep coming over.

Then on Sunday June 25 came another development, the Sunbeamers reaching Platinum Rank in their fundraiseing total. Earlier, the team's chances of hitting the next level after Gold were iffy, so I had told team leader Rita Mariner, and others, that if the team made Platinum, I'd go female for a week. That got a chuckle of of Rita, and made it part of her next announcement to the group.

Males going about as girls in Second Life can be a touchy subject, especially with occasional stories of "catfishing." So I almost never changed to one, or rather deliberately as the jokes about glitches and "ruthing" go, and never went about in public as one, doing so only rarely  to show a girl in private what a certain avatar would look like, or a couple certain pictures for articles. I even wrote about the subject once in response to Becky Shamen's article , saying the "dos" and "don'ts" about it could be a little complicated with gray areas that appear different hues to different people. But an enormous amount of money going to charity from it, to me that seemed like a good enough reason.

I had thought the Sunnies had a fair chance of reaching the goal, so an idea came to me: go as Rita's double. I saw this as a playful poke in the ribs, though as some who prefer furry avatars take their unique appearance seriously and react badly to perceived "copying," I talked to a few people first to make sure Rita wouldn't freak. It turned out planning ahead was a good idea as Cynthia Farshore and Shockwave Yareach's steampunk land and air racing event was the most successful event the Sunbeamers ever had. So yours truly had to own up, Rita saying she was expecting to see my new look at the Cutlass party Wednesday June 28. So I got a white kani female, found a white hairpiece for it (ironically the style was also called a "Rita"), found a couple smaller bunny feet that resembled the catlike ones Rita had, though mine had bigger claws. As for the dress, fortunately finding that wasn't hard as Rita had once told me and others during a party what brand it was. One friend helped by giving me a title in her group, "Bunny Chieftess." So on Wednesday night, I dropped in and while everyone else was still rezzing, and presumably I was to them, I walked right up to Rita. After the usual "Hey Bixyl," there was silence followed by "whoah" and laughter. Rita was among those laughing, telling me I did a great job, "Good going Bixyl, you got me," and we both posed for a picture for a group announcement for the community.

So after that, the reaction was almost entirely positive. One friend pretended to be upset I wasn't trying to do a tribute to her appearance. As she was busty, I joked that I'd get a backache just looking at my avatar (contrary to the opinion of some, not all males go ga-ga at the sight of large breasts, and some can find sympathy for the back pain and other challenges of well-endowed women). But another reason was I wasn't as good a designer and fashionista as she was. Someone thought I could have done a slightly more realistic job on the feet, but considering I was trying to get as close to Rita's look as possible it was pretty good. To those who don't know Rita, she has something of an act of being an aggressive alpha doe bunny with an attraction for other girls' "booty," though she's always careful only to tease those she knows. I'd occasionally imitate her in chat as a joke, which got a few chuckles. Going about at events outside the Sunweaver and Angel areas, there were a few "Ms. Shuftan" comments, but no one gave me a hard time. At the Second Life Birthday, almost no one spoke a word about it.

Someone did joke that I'd be enjoying the "look from behind." In short, I didn't get the same feeling from looking at the avie as other female avatars, maybe because it was supposed to be "me." I had wondered a little if some guys would make a pass at me, but that never happened. What did happen was there were several girls who suggested I could stay in that form, probably as a joke ... probably. I did still end up getting dances from a few girls. I guess they knew this was all in the name of fun. And I was openly saying this was no big deal, "I can go without peeing standing up for a week." For the Independence Day party at the Happy Vixen, I even got her a dress from a Relay shopping event for a one time use. The following day would be the last for the "Rita clone," at least for a long, long time.

So now, back to my normal foxy self. Though I would still occasionally change looks, such as the skunkboy for the "Black and White" event at Cutlass a couple days later, I was sticking with being furry and male. But already, I have people asking what will I do for next Relay season when the Sunnies hit Platinum again. In short, I don't know yet. But there's a year to think about it. And in any event, it was, different, going about in the other form. But I won't be doing it again, at least not without another enormous amount of money going to charity.

Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, July 10, 2017

Interview With Wesley Regenbogen


By Deaflegacy

Wesley Regenbogen is one of the four reporters currently writing for the Second Life Newser. I got a chance to ask Wesley to tell me all about his writing career. He and I met at the Cobras Motorcycle Club's area. "I started my virtual journalism career in a virtual world called 'Cybertown'," said Wesley.  "I saw that they were looking for writers, so I applied for a job as a virtual journalist at the CVN ( Cybertown Virtual News ). The editor asked me to send in a sample article and first I thought 'here goes nothing.'  But eventually the editor replied back to me that the article was good enough for publication, so he asked me if I was interested in joining his team of writers for CVN.  I agreed to join them, and then I wrote more and more articles about what was happening in Cybertown. My articles became better and better and the editor promoted me to CVN Deputy and assigned me with other tasks within CVN."

But then the ownership of Cybertown went to new owners and they decided to become a paid membership site only, so Wesley decided to leave the virtual world of Cybertown and also the virtual newspaper Wesley was writing for.  Wesley wandered around the web and found a few other virtual worlds that were somewhat similar, but they didn't have the same "feeling" as Wesley had in Cybertown.com.

Finally, Wesley's luck changed, "In November 2006, I joined Second Life after I saw a video about it on the web. I decided to join in and after looking around for virtual newspapers around Second Life, I came across SL Newspaper and contacted the owner ( James T Juno ). He asked me to come for an interview and he decided that I could write for them and so I did for a while."

But Wesley would soon take a break, "I took a hiatus from Second Life, because I lost interest in Second Life at the time.  A few years later, I returned, but found out that SL Newspaper didn't exist anymore, so I tried to find similar virtual newspapers in Second Life, but I found none at the time."

Wesley would look again later, "In July 2014 I came back to Second Life and found out about SL Newser and I send in a sample article and to my surprise it was accepted and I could join in the team of writers. Ever since, I'm writing for SL Newser and hope I can write for them as long as I can."

And what was Wesley doing in a motorcycle club?  He explained, "Well, let me start at the beginning. I wanted to start a awareness campaign for 'Be The Match' and I was contacted by Mightbe Shelter here in Second Life and we talked about 'Be The Match' and stuff. Then she told me about the Cobras MC and that they have done the campaign for Be The Match in the past. So, she was very helpful in trying to explain it and gave me advice and stuff that they made before." said Wesley. "Then she told me about Cobras MC and that they wanted to help me and support me for Be The Match.  So that's how I got to know about Cobras MC."

Wesley went on to say that he just joined the rides and their events, "Yes, it's a friendly bunch of people and I like the rides and events they are holding here." After a while, he started as a  Prospect with them.  After a month, Wesley was "patched in" on Sunday, June 4, 2017.

I asked him if he would continue his work with Be The Match while being with Cobras.  "Yes, I hope to start the Be The Match campaign soon, just need to figure out how to do it and stuff. I hope to launch the campaign soon. I have been trying to get someone from the organization into Second Life, but it seems not to be easy." said Wesley.

I asked Wesley if he is planning on staying in the club for a long time.  "Yes, I'm planning on staying forever, I guess," said Wesley. He went on to say that people can join them at the rides if they want as well as to participate in the events of Cobras MC.

I asked Wesley if he consider his decision to join Cobras MC to be the best move.  Wesley  said, "Of course, as I mentioned earlier, they are a friendly bunch of people and I haven't regretted joining the Cobras MC."

Indeed, I hope that Wesley Regenbogen would write for the SL Newser as long as he can.  Wesley is a remarkable reporter. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

How To Get From Zero to Hero (aka Patched) in the Combras Motorcycle Club


By Wesley Regenbogen

Introduction to Cobras MC

Cobras MC is a Second Life motorcycle club ( MC ) which I wrote about last month (link to article). They have a club and track on the sims of Rock Valley and Appletor. After some time with them, I was invited to join. In this article I will explain which steps you need to take if you are interested in joining the Cobras MC.
 
First I just “hung around” and later I prospected with them for about a month or so.
On the 4 th of June 2017 I was “patched in”. “Patched in” means you are a full member of the Cobras MC.
In this article I will explain which steps you need to take if you are interested in joining the Cobras MC. Cobras MC is a voice active MC in Second Life, so you will need to have a microphone or a headset ( with a microphone ) to communicate with them. But also typing is allowed, of course.

Step 1 : Become a “hang around”

When people first visit Cobras MC and hang around with the people that are there, they are often referred to as “hang arounds.” Basically, the people need to get to know you and you need to get to know the people. You are encouraged to use voice in Second Life, so people can talk to you, rather then just typing. If people can’t voice, they can type, of course.

Hang around as much as you can and join the rides and events when you are able to. This gives you an opportunity to get to know people and see if you like it or not. You can get a “Venom” title after they send you an invite. A “Venom” is like a supporter title, this means you are a supporter of the Cobras MC.

Step 2 : Become a “Cobras Venom”

Once you “hang around” more frequently, you will be invited to become a “Cobras Venom”.
This is a title given to you when you join in at rides and are present at the events most of the times. Officers can give these titles to people whom want to keep being informed of what the Cobra MC is doing.

To become a prospect you first become a Cobras Venom. If you want to prospect, the main requirement is you must voice.

Step 3: Applying to become a Prospect

When you are ready to start your Prospect career at Cobras MC, you need to contact a recruiter and speak ( by voice ) to them and let them know you are ready to start prospecting. They will ask you to meet up with them and ask you some questions. They also ask that you can do voice. When one of the officers asks you to voice, you need to be able to.

If they think you are suitable, you get a prospect vest and you need to wear it at all times and also your prospect tag when you are at the Cobras MC. Depending on the Prospect it can take a few weeks to about a month to prospect. This is a fun time, enjoy it. They get to know you and you get to know them, remember that.

Occasionally, you will get hazed to see if you fit the MC. Don’t worry, it’s all in the name of fun. Ride with them at the noon rides and participate in the events and you’ll get to know people better and they surely will get to know you better in the process as well.

One piece of advice : be nice and follow the instructions of the officers and you’ll do great, trust me.

Step 4 : Getting “patched in” into Cobras MC

Once your prospect period has almost come to an end, you will be asked for a second interview ( by voice ). This is a normal interview without questions. After this meeting up with the officers or the execs, they will vote for you the next Sunday meeting.

When you get enough votes, will be “patched in” and you are a full member of the Cobras MC. Only full patched members can vote to get prospects “patched in”. So, once you are “patched in” you can vote for prospects as well.

Congrats to those that got “patched in” !!!

Wesley Regenbogen

Monday, July 3, 2017

Interview with Faust Steamer (Walton F. Wainwright), Builder of The SL14B Stage Left


 By Bixyl Shuftan

The Second Life Fourteenth Birthday was known for a number of great builds. Among them was "Stage Left" or "The Guardian," a huge three-headed Chinese-style lion that straddled two sims, carrying the stage where parties were held on it's back. It's size, detail, and moving heads caused numerous onlookers to go "Wow!" and marvel. It's creator was Faust Steamer, also known by his display name of Walton F. Wainwright. Recently, I had a chance to interview him, at the feet of his creation, "so the beast can have a listen in on it too, ha ha!"

"To begin with, how did you first hear about Second Life?" I asked, noting his entry was in February 2009.

Faust thought for a moment, "My memory may be a bit foggy, but I think I found Second Life through an ad online while browsing for comics to read. I saw it once, twice, maybe three times before I gave in to give it a shot. I thought it was some kind of customizable 'freeware' sims game of some sort, but it turned out to be far more complicated than I expected."

"What were you expecting?" I asked.

The builder answered, "I actually just expected some kind of online version of the sims to be honest, and I really wanted to play it, but at the time I couldn't really afford it."

I responded, "So you had no idea every avatar would have a person behind it at first?"
He answered, "At the time, I didn't really think about that. I just thought maybe it was a community game where you build houses with a set of assets, decorate it and show it off to people or something for the sort. I wasn't sure what the system would be like or how it'll happen, but my expectations thought it was a small game, not a creative platform with a vast learning curve."

My next question was, "And how did your view change over the first few days?"

Faust stated, "Yes, quite a bit. I started in Caledon Oxbridge and read over the tutorials and instructions there about how to work the viewer and understand the concept of an open virtual world. The learning curve was intense,and since I had no friends in game  to guide me coupled with a healthy dash of shyness, I isolated myself and eventually understood the idea of 'creating' on Second Life by pulling apart freebies and reading the boards at the place I first rezzed in. Eventually, I just got to building for fun - kind of like being given legos and seeing what I can do with it. I lived in a sandbox with a low return rate and stayed there with little idea on what the community was like."

I then asked, "How long did that last and what got you to change?"

He answered, "A year and a half. It wasn't until late 2010 did I start inviting friends from outside of Second Life to join me in appreciating the very idea that we could put together our roleplay characters and watch them come to life in 3D. One of them was far better at socializing than I will ever be, and discovered that there is a whole wide community out there dedicated to roleplay. My friends dragged me out of the sandbox, kicking and screaming. But we eventually settled in a 'Silent Hill" inspired roleplay sim. From there, I started learning about stores, Second Life shopping, and found a place camping for L$2 an hour so I could buy some neat things. Earning things that aren't freebies, I discovered 'sculpties' and saw how they could be used and looked into how those worked through a store's really detailed tutorial which expanded my interests in content creation. I mainly focused on creating things for my roleplay characters."

"What things did you create for them?" I asked

He told me, "Textured shirts, capes, hats, masks, claws, gloves, armor pieces...accessories, really. I really like plague doctors and at the time, those masks aren't made often so I tried to make my own, for example. When avatars could have alpha layers, I decided to find a way to create big, sharp gnarly teeth that would stretch across the face to work for a character of mine, and it worked out great."

"Plague doctor?" I asked in response, "Isn't that what's on your profile picture?  Or is is something similar?"

" Oh yes," he answered, "that's one of many I've made for myself, though, that one's made in ... 2014? 2015?. I've made sculpted plague doctor masks, beaked bird masks, even prim masks way before that. In general, I just really enjoy making masks and cover my face with them."

"Like the one you're wearing now?" I spoke, referring to his avatar's appearance.

"Yes!" he responded enthusiastically, "This one I made back in ... 2015 for an event, but it's inspired by similar cultures as our dear stage here, so I wore it for the occasion."

"We'll get back to that in a bit," I went on, "When did you start building other things beside masks and other things for you and your roleplay group?"

Faust answered, "I think when I started opening my store in 2011. It took a year's worth of encouragement, but once I got it going I needed to build myself a store building and other assets that would give my shop a certain look and theme I wanted at the time. I liked to make small things for a while, and I dabbled in larger builds, but often canceled or deleted them because they weren't good enough. I played around with furniture and decorations like interactive automatons and music boxes after seeing how far LSL (Linden script language) can get from a few amazing and intuitive stores I admire."

"Sounds interesting," I told him, "What kinds of larger builds were you making?"

The masked man answered, "I tried to find ways to make airships, better store builds, buildings. Especially after mesh came out,however, I couldn't quite wrap my head around the land impact puzzle so I tend to trash them all. When SL12B came around, I think that was when I started to make use of the 'freedom' I was given: to make an art piece within the theme and make it functional for what it needs to do for visitors. With a whole sim, I was able to experiment more. I learned a lot since then, though I still dislike building large things."

I then asked, "What happened between the SL12B and SL13B that got you noticed by the Birthday organizers?"

His answer was, "For Sl12B, I was invited to do the welcome area by someone in the works who was a collector of my musical machines. Between SL12B and SL13B...I have no idea. One day I was invited and was recommended to do stage left, so I took it up and just went to work."

I brought up, "As I understand, that got quite a bit of attention."

"Surprisingly so," Faust responded, "and I'm quite happy that it did. It was the largest piece I've built at the time. I think when I was brainstorming on it, I was just thinking, 'I want to build a really big music box'. I was also testing some new techniques with it as well."

"Yes," I told him, "I kept hearing "Oh my gosh, it moves!" from the people there."

"Ah yes," Faust seemed to smile underneath his mask, "our brand's specialty apart from the accessories are its interactive, moving machines, so we had to at least make the Storyteller stage move as well. Experimental, but turned out quite interesting."

I then asked him, "I take it you had your share of complements during and after the SL13B?"

"I suppose so," the builder answered, "I learned a lot while building the stage during SL13B, and there are a good number of mistakes from that too, which I've considered and brought over for SL14B.

Going back to subject of his current build, "When were you asked to be a part of the SL14B, and what gave you the idea for the Chinese lion?"

He answered, "I was asked to be part of SL14B late January or February -- somewhere around there, I don't remember exactly. I was very interested in southeast Asian culture and Indonesian styled beasts with their wild faces and did a series of illustrations based that for finals in college. I thought back on my research about it when the theme of SL14B was released, and wanted to do something inspired by the style of it. Originally the stage's name was 'Dance of the Demon', but I really didn't think the beast was all that much of a demon itself, so I called it the 'Guardian'."

I brought up the highlighted title over his avatar, "I take it that's what your title 'Guardian's Keeper' refers to?"

"Yes," Faust answered, "the sim's name is called 'The Guardian', and the title is just a cute little theme thing I wanted to keep up. I kind of like making characters or avatars that relate to the setting."

"So this is the Guardian of the SL14B?" I asked.

The builder responded, "I'd say he's the Guardian of the forest who came out from where he came to see the festivities and celebrate SL14B, yes. He's a bit scary, but he's a gentle creature, I assure you!"

I gave a short chuckle, then brought up, "I notice in one hand of his there's a flower, and then there's that the stage itself is on his back."

"Indeed," Faust described, "he's a gentle creature that only wishes to tend to the forest and let flourish. He can be quite frightening when his domain is under fire though, but that is not what he emerged out into SL14B for!"

My next question was, "Does 'The Guardian' have a future of any kind after the SL14B?"

The builder told me, "I've been told numerous times to make a miniature version of The Guardian. Other than that, I don't know if he will be rezzed out in full ever again after SL14B, since he would need two sims to be rezzed down. He will likely be put in a little folder within the depths of my inventory along side with The Station and The Storyteller."

I then asked, "Did you have any plans if you get asked to take part in another SLB?"

Faust answer was, "I won't know until the next theme's released, unfortunately. Whatever theme and what area I handle greatly affects what I end up wanting to do for the event. So that's a bit of a mystery for now, even on my part!"

"Did you have any other plans for the future?" I asked him.

"None that I know of," he answered, "I've been focusing a lot on my real life work as of late. I do wish to expand my store a bit and rework all of its contents, however. Other than that, if time permits perhaps I can try building sims and apply for the LEA."

"Oh?" I asked, "Have an art exhibit idea in mind for there?"

The builder pondered, "If I were to do an art exhibit I'd like to do something spooky, maybe involving the occult, or sim telling a story through visual clues littered throughout the place. I don't stick to plans until I end up needing to sit down and think about it proper when everything's ready to go. I do think it should relate to story telling, as you can tell, I'm quite a fan of that."

We were near the end, and to my last question, "Was there anything else you wanted to mention?"

Faust answered, "I'd like to thank everyone for supporting me throughout my journey as an artist in Second Life and all those who have supported my work and store all these years. I really appreciate all of you for keeping my hobby alive and encouraging me to keep it up. Never forget Second Life's supposed to be fun, because that is what we're all here for."

It was then that the builder of The Guardian and I parted ways.

There's little doubt Faust's creation will be a noted part of the Second Life Birthday history as the years go on, and one wonders what the man will build next.

Faust also has his own Flickr page at https://www.flickr.com/people/waltonwainwright/ .

Bixyl Shuftan