2014 Xmas Expo and Winter Breedables Fair preview

2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair
2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair

The 2014 SL Christmas Expo & Winter Breedables Fair opens on Thursday, December 4th, 2014 and will run through until Monday, December 15th, 2014. As usual, this annual event offers something for everyone, including the opportunity to help raise funds for Relay For Life of Second Life, an official charity of the American Cancer Society.

Taking place across eight regions, including the entertainment and winter auction regions, the Christmas Expo is supported by many top designers from across SL, and offers visitors a great seasonal shopping experience coupled with a range of entertainments taking place throughout the Expo, together with a some very special events, including:

  • Best of Second Life (BOSL) Magazine Cover Live Auction, Saturday, December 6th, 13:00 SLT: bid to have yourself or your brand featured on the cover of the March 2015 Best of Second Life magazine. 100% of all proceeds from bids go to Relay For Life of Second Life
  • 2014 Holiday of Hope Ball, Saturday, December 13th, 16:00-20:00 SLT:  this special ball will take place at the Nutcracker’s Palace above the Expo. Two special raffle baskets will be on offer to all Expo and Ball attendees, with 100% of all proceeds from purchases going to Relay For Life of Second Life.
  • Best of Second Life (BOSL) Miss Virtual World Gowns Raffles – these special raffles will feature the one of a kind gowns, which are worn by the current Miss Virtual World contestants. Raffle winners will be announced on Monday, December 15th, 2014
  • Hunt for the Bells – participants will be able to hunt for special bells scattered across the Expo. The bells contain a variety of items from SL creators and designers, with each item purchasable for just L$10, and 100% of the proceeds will go to Relay For Life of Second Life.
  • Silent Auctions & Raffles – many items and even special Christmas ornaments are up for auction and raffle in these events! 100% of the proceeds will go to Relay For Life of Second Life.
  • One Of a Kind (OOAK)Breedables Auction – Bid on one of a kind breedables from some of SL’s favourite breedable brands. 100% proceeds of this auction goes to relay For Life of Second Life.
  • Naughty Or Nice – teleport to the participating shops and find the green Christmas present  Naughty or Nice Giver. Touch the box and receive either a nice gift or a naughty gift! You can check back to see if you have been naughty or nice and to get a free gift. All gifts in the Naughty or Nice boxes are 100% FREE!
2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair: the Nutcracker Palace
2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair: the Nutcracker Palace, venue for the Holiday of Hope Ball

For the full lit of events and entertainments, please refer to the Expo’s Event Schedule page. You can also find a full list of participating stores and exhibitors, and maps of the event are also available.

The four regions of the Xmas Expo and two Winter Breedables Fair regions are laid out in the traditional grid pattern, roads and footpaths swept clear of snow and ice so as not to present a hazard to visitors. Stores in the Expo area are neatly arranged in warehouse-style units, while the Breedables regions, as one might expect, are more open in nature. Flanking either side of these regions are the entertainment and auction regions.

For those who don’t fancy walking from one end of the Expo / Fair to the other, there is a tram service running back and forth through the middle of both,  with a terminus in both the entertainment region and the auction region.

Holiday CD

A regular feature of the Xmas Expo is the Christmas Holiday CD, all proceeds from the sale of which go directly to RFL of SL. This year, in a change to previous years, the CD will feature classical versions of favourite holiday songs. The CD will be available at all Information & Welcome Areas across the eight regions of the Xmas Expo and Winter Breedables Fair, at just L$100 per copy – just look for the special vendors.

2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair
2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair tram

About Relay For Life of Second Life

Relay For Life of Second Life is an annual activity that takes place in Second Life in July each year. Volunteers form or join teams to have fun while fundraising and raising awareness from mid-March through mid-July. In July teams build campsites and walk a track, just like a Real World Relay. Since 2005, Relay For Life of Second Life has raised over $2.25 million USD for the American Cancer Society. In 2013, Relay For Life of Second Life has raised over $390,000 for the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life has become an international movement in RL and SL. In 2011 participants from over 80 countries took part in Relay For Life of Second Life.

About the American Cancer Society

For more than 100 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked relentlessly to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Together with millions of our supporters worldwide, we help people stay well, help people get well, find cures, and fight back against cancer.

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Let it snow!

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

I was drawn to Let It Snow! after Xiola Linden tweeted about it and I the region’s description in the Destination guide Entry:

The fire is slowly dying, and my dear, we’re still goodbye-ing. But as long as you love me so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! At Let It Snow, enjoy dancing, romancing, exploring, meeting, ice-skating, snow and winter cheer. Merry Christmas.

As any music lover will know, the first line of this description is from Sammy Cahn and Julie Styne’s seasonal classic, Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! For me, as someone who enjoys the Great American Songbook, it’s an added reason for going exploring. And I have to say, Let it Snow! is more than worth a visit.

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

Owned and designed by well-known SL artist, Milly Sharple, the region is a seasonal delight, offering precisely what the description on the label promises: dancing, romancing, exploring, meeting, ice-skating and winter cheer.  Intan dance systems are available right from the landing point, an open-air dance floor complete with a musical sextet,  and across the region, indoors and out.

Given the region’s name, the fact that snaow is falling across most of it should come as no surprise; everything is covered in a deep, white  blanket. A handful of cottages are scattered across the land, the largest of which offers cosy hideaway with Christmas tree and roaring fire to toast toes. Other cosy spots can be found around the island for those looking for snuggles, and skating can be enjoyed in a couple of places.

Let it snow! Isles of Lyonesse; Inara Pey, December 2014, on FlickrLet it Snow! Isles of Lyonesse (Flickr)

There are some lovely little touches that should bring a smile to every face – particularly the snow children playing outside one of the cottages, having a snowball fight, floating on a balloon or getting quite caught-up in making a snowman of their own.

I could wax lyrical about Let it Snow, but given the name is taken from a set of lyrics, I thought why not simply let the region tell its own story? So here are some of the pictures I took while visiting (some of which have been post-processed to (hopefully) give a painted “Christmas card” look), set to the one and only Dean Martin singing the song. Enjoy!

(As I’ve been a tad naughty and used copyrighted material in the video, it may be blocked in some countries. If so, I offer my Flickr album for the region for those interested!)

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Black Dragon 2.4.1 – steaming ahead

Update, Thursday, December 4th: Black Dragon 2.4.1.4 bug fix update released on Wednesday, December 3rd.

It’s been a busy week for Niran V Dean and his Black Dragon viewer, with no fewer than four updates between Thursday, November 27th and Tuesday, December 2nd.

The first of these updates – which lifted the viewer from version 2.4.0.4  to 2.4.1 came on Thursday, November 27th, and was quickly followed by two bug fix updates, 2.4.1.1 on the 27th and 2.4.1.2 on Friday November 28th. Then version 2.4.1.3, also a bug fix update, appeared on Tuesday, December 2nd.

The major part of these updates, appearing in version 2.4.1, is a complete overhaul of the UI. Gone is the ability to place toolbar button up in the top left of the menu bar area, the ink blots surrounding floaters and panels, etc. Instead, the UI presents a look heavily influenced by Valve’s Steam client.  The result is a striking, charcoal grey finish to floater and panels, on which the white text shows up somewhat better than it did with the previous UI, together with bold white lines denoting fields, input boxes, etc., and individual headings to sections within a floater or tab highlighted in blue, all in a manner that works quite well.

Black dragon's 2.4.1 UI design
Black dragon’s 2.4.1 UI design

There are a few immediately noticeable “Niran-isms” on display: the Favourites bar, for example, is now above the Navigation bar, rather than under it, as with most viewers. There’s also a nice incorporation of the notifications icon into the navigation bar area as well, over to the right of the screen. And, of course, the Dragon menu single point-of-access to the viewer’s menu tree is retained.

Given this release was an extensive overhaul of the UI, 2.4.1 and its subsequent releases didn’t bring too much in the way of new features to viewer, which is unsurprising – there’s work enough involved in getting the UI sorted for a release.  There were a few issues following the initial 2.4.1 update – hence the release of 2.4.1.1 through 2.4.1.3, but looking at the release notes, most of these seem to have been nips and tucks rather than major “oopsie” fixes.

The updated preferences panel showing the crisper layout of the new UI
The updated preferences panel showing the crisper layout of the new UI

In terms of LL code updates, Black Dragon 2.4.1 through 2.4.1.3 see the viewer again reach parity with the Lab’s viewer, including implementing the benchmark viewer code and HTTP pipelining (I believe).

As always, for a full breakdown of updates, please refer to the Black Dragon change log, which lists changes from the most release release (in this case, 2.4.1.1) on down.

I did encounter a couple of minor problems with the viewer – although these may well be operator induced. Setting neither the “Show Network Stats” and “Show L$ Balance in Statusbar” options in Preferences > Interface seemed to do anything for me. I was particularly keen to try the latter, as I personally find having my account balance displayed in the Inventory floater nothing short of the PITA. But, other than these, the  – admittedly brief – drive I did take with the viewer revealed nothing exasperatingly unpleasant or unexpected.

Overall, and interesting and clean UI update; one which I personally prefer to the last outing.

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