Author Archives: Inara Pey

About Inara Pey

Eclectic virtual world blogger with a focus on Second Life. My blog can be found below and I'm semi-active on Twitter and Plurk.

SS Galaxy lowers her gangways to visitors once more

 SS Galaxy - getting ready to make steam, and once again open to visits

SS Galaxy – getting ready to make steam, and once again open to visits, a tour balloon floating over her

Frost Mole dropped me a line on Friday, August 28th to let me know The SS Galaxy, the 3-region-long cruise ship that has so long been a part of Second Life, and threatened with the breaker’s yard earlier in the year, is once again open to the public.

“It’s still very much a work in progress, I’ll be decorating the staterooms and adding details to the ship over the next few months. But there’s a lot to see and do right now,” Frost told me, prompting me to hop over and take a look.

The revised upper deck pool, with new slide and the new dance floor beyond

The revised upper deck pool, with new slide and the new dance floor beyond

In April 2015, I wrote about what at that time appeared to be the final cruise for the SS Galaxy, a series of events causing her owners to decide to call time and close her down. A stunning pirm build, she had been venue, events location, destination and – for those renting her many cabins and staterooms – a home. Given her unique looks and status, her loss would have been a blow to Second Life.

Fortunately, and subsequent to that report, I received the news that an agreement had been reached which would see the Lab take over the running and care of the ship, allowing her to remain a part of Second Life. Under this arrangement, the ship would no longer offer rental accommodation, but would be refitted and equipped ready to once again become a destination and a venue for special events.

The wedding chapel has been revised somewhat, but remains in place

The wedding chapel has been revised somewhat, but remains in place

Since then, work has been progressing gradually – a ship of this size represents a lot of space that needs to be looked at and decisions made on how to use the various facilities and rooms, etc. Frost has been busy with the ship (and doubtless projects like the Lab’s PaleoQuest as well), working through getting the ship ready for her new role – although as noted, there is still a way to go yet; so if you do hop over, don’t be surprised it looks as if parts have yet to be finished.

“I tried to add lots of interactive things to do – hot air balloon tour, swan boats, tables and food in the dining areas,” Frost told me as I arrived aboard. “Pretty things in the wedding chapel, a working cinema with public domain movies I’ll swap out once a month or so, kids areas, a water slide…”

New art in the gallery

New art in the gallery

“And 10-pin bowling?” I asked, spotting the alley,

“Ha-ha yes!” Frost replied. “Although that area needs lots of work. I’d like to add a food court with booths, more games, and giving the bowling alley a better home!”

Elsewhere, the ship retains her upper deck swimming pool, albeit it slightly reduced in size and with a new dance floor installed close by; ice-skating rink and familiar doomed ballroom, after of which sits the balloon tour launch point, occupying two of the old helipads, Similarly, the forward helipads are now the launch-point for hang gliders, offering visitors another way to see the ship from the air.

The forward spa also remains, for those seeking a little pampering!

The forward spa also remains, for those seeking a little pampering!

Curiously, the world map currently shows two SS Galaxys – one occupying her “old” position kitty-corner to Temasek, and the “new” Galaxy, sitting just off the Honah Lee estate (and connected to it by a OpenSpace water sim). I assume the former, which appears to sit on unnamed regions, will be vanishing soon (or already has, as is some kind of map ghost).

Again, just as a final reminder, if you do visit at the moment, keep in mind the ship is still a work-in-progress, so some things will still look a little empty right now – but that will be changing. As it is, it is really great to see her back with us.

I wonder if there will be an official event when she’s finished and ready for a re-launch?

Firework displays take place every hour, on the hour

Firework displays take place every hour, on the hour

SLurl Details

More ruins on the the rock

 

The new island layout. Like the previous island layout, only different :)

The new island layout. Like the previous island layout, but different :)

Back in May I wrote about the (then) latest changes on my little island home. At the time, I indicated that I was satisfied with the overall results, but couldn’t entirely rule out changing things again.

Well, guess what?

As a result of a recent project, I’ve ended up with an Inventory containing quite a few things I never expected to own, and which  – truth be told – are unlikely to see much use in the future. However, it seemed a shame that all of them should end up boxed away once more, consigned to the darkness of an inventory folder; and one in particular, the Fanatik Rocky Island, has been  nagging me.

The house sits rather nicely atop the Fanatik rock island, and the footpatth and other flat areas on the plateau mean I have room for garden paces and a nice walk either down to the moorings or to the ruins

The house sits rather nicely atop the Fanatik Rocky Island, and the footpath and other flat areas on the plateau mean I have room for garden spaces and a nice walk either down to the moorings or to the ruins

At 64×61 (ish) metres and 39.5 metes in overall height, this is a piece widely used around Second Life, both for shoreline scenes and inshore, which can blend easily with a landscape to present a dramatic plateau or rocky outcrop, complete with a path winding up one side. If I’m honest, the textures do suffer from being a tad blurry / stretched, but not enough to prevent its use. Fortuitously for me, width and length wise, it fitted into the north end of my parcel with only a little bit of resizing (although I admittedly also reduced the height so as not to completely terrify the neighbours into thinking I was building some Sekrit Island Lair :) ).

The ruins are still there, complete with my pavilion and piano, all now on a slightly lower plateau. The ruins retain Kriss Lehmann’s Forest Tower, still one of my all-time favourite pieces of atmospheric architecture, as the main feature, the archway providing access down to the main quay, as before. I’ve also used Alex Bader’s excellent waterfall kit, to add,well, a waterfall, as hopefully a nice finish.

Couldn't resist adding a waterfall

Couldn’t resist adding a waterfall

I’ve fiddled a bit with the moorings as well, making them smaller, and reducing the number of things moored / parked there, so hopefully the neighbours now feel less like they’re living next door to some kind of air taxi service. There’s a second dock at the foot of the house plateau, but already that spot is nagging me to turn it into a beach; time will tell on that.

But sand and waves aside, am I happy now? Yup. Absolutely. That’s it. Done. Finished. time to relax and enjoy.

Well, for now :) .

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Santaurio’s summer draws to a close in Second Life

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

It was only supposed to be a summer 2014 setting, but Santaurio, Jac and Romy Mornington’s idyllic and mysterious island (originally sub-titled “The Lost Island”, in a nod to a certain television series), has endured for well over a year.

However, Jac and Romy have now announced that the region will finally be closing in a week or so, as they feel it is time move on to a new project. So, if you haven’t visited Santaurio so far, or haven’t been back in a while, now is the time to don your hiking boots, grab a hip flask of water and set out to do so, as the region is gain open to all for a land visit – no group membership required.

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

There have been a few changes since my first visit, back in April 2014; some subtle, and a nod to the passing of time, others a little more obvious and which present new little scenes that add more to any back story one cares to create for the island.

So it is, for example, that while the island’s signature crashed jet remains offshore, so the bodies within it have now gone (as has the scattered luggage on the beach), and over the passing of time seaweed has gathered around the wreck, no doubt sheltered by the ebb and flow of the tide by the ‘plane’s bulk. So to, interestingly, have some rocks grown up alongside the wreckage, providing a nice little sandy area on which the ever-patent stewardess now stands, ready to offer her greetings to visitors – well, it has to be better than a wet, slippery wing! :) .

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

Just back from the beach facing the ‘plane, there had once been some strange ruins. These have since gone, replaced by a small encampment which indicates the downed jet isn’t the only aircraft to have wound up here: the wing of a light aircraft serves as a table, a propeller, presumably from the same ‘plane, propped alongside it. A radio set on another makeshift table suggests attempts to call for assistance…

Elsewhere, much that was familiar in the summer of 2014 remains: the beach club further along the coast from the crashed jet; the river winding inland to the secret little pools and hidden places, the numerous camps and places to sit and enjoy the scenery. Watch out or the entrances to what seems to be an old pirates’ hideaway; I don’t actually remember that from earlier visits – but it is entirely possible I missed it.

Santaurio, Cala del Barronal; Inara Pey, August 2015, on FlickrSantaurio, Cala del Barronal August 2015 (Flickr)

Santuario is another example of why I’ve always loved Jac and Romy’s builds; there is a wonderful attention to detail, with everything always finely tuned to flow together perfectly. Hence why they’ve tended to be covered a lot in these pages over the years – although admittedly, I’m so far behind in my travelogue visits at the moment that I have yet to make it to Bella Place – so expect to see that in these pages soon!

In the meantime, Santaurio still calls should you wish to visit – just don’t leave it much beyond the next week or so. And while it may well be going, I’m already anticipating whatever Jac and Romy have planned to replace it.

SLurl Details

Lab ends VAT charges on Premium subscriptions

secondlifeIn a further more to sweeten Premium memberships, Linden Lab has announced that with immediate effect, those Premium members who have traditionally have had to pay VAT on their membership subscriptions will no longer have to do so.

The announcement is coupled with a reduction in the Monthly billing plan for Premium from US $9.95 a month to US $9.50, and reads in full:

Being Premium comes with many perks, including a weekly L$ stipend, more privacy with a Linden Home, exclusive gifts and experiences, and now, live chat with the Concierge Support team at Linden Lab.

If you missed your chance to take advantage of our recent 50% off monthly Premium Membership offer – there’s no reason to worry! Now, we’re reducing the standard cost of a monthly Premium subscription to just $9.50 a month. Enjoy all the benefits of Premium Membership for less!

We will also no longer charge VAT for Premium subscriptions. If you live in a region where VAT applies, this means an effective savings in some countries of more than 20% below what you would have previously paid!

VAT payment were introduced by the Lab in 2007. At the time, there was a widespread  – and mistaken – belief that the Lab were having to pay VAT as a result of holding offices and European (notably Brighton, UK). Further misconceptions were voiced (and sometimes still are) about the Lab charging VAT “unnecessarily” on the grounds that they no longer have offices within Europe.

However, as Forbes noted in 2014 when changes were being made to the basic requirements, the EU has, since 2003, always levied VAT against the delivery of electronic services (which Second Life is) from non-EU countries, including the USA. The difference was that prior to 2007, the Lab opted to absorb the VAT charges rather than passing them on to their European customers – at last until things reached a point where it was no longer economically viable for them to do so.

With immediate effect, those Premium members previously liable for VAT on their subscriptions will not longer have the charge passed on to them by the Lab. In addition, the monthly billing plan for Premium is reduced to US $9.50 a month

With immediate effect, those Premium members previously liable for VAT on their subscriptions will not longer have the charge passed on to them by the Lab. In addition, the monthly billing plan for Premium is reduced to US $9.50 a month

With the announcement, it would appear that  – in part – the Lab is once again willing to absorb VAT charges, and in doing so, offer a very credible benefit for EU members who may have been put off upgrading to Premium as a result of the VAT surcharge.

Speaking as an EU resident, I’m more than happy to see my annual subscription reduced from US $84.00 to the standard US $72.00. Together with the perks and bonuses recently introduced – such as the move of Premium live chat support to the Concierge team, this is precisely the kind of creative thinking by the Lab which could go some way to making Premium membership more popular among some sections of the existing user base.