Paying It Forward: Fortuna Hills Gallery in Second Life

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

We received an invitation from Chic Aeon to visit her new Fortuna Hills Art Gallery, which is not your usual gallery, offering as a does an interesting take on the concept of supporting others.

Currently featuring some 42 pieces of art – Second Life landscapes, close-up studies, pieces processed to present faux art finishes, etc., – the gallery’s display is a rich selection of art by Chic hat she is offering free to anyone who would like to add to their collections  / have some at for their SL home.

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

As a long-time Second Life resident and creator (as well as being active on platforms such as OpenSim and Sansar, Chic explains making the art free as follows:

I have just opened a gallery of free art. There are currently forty works of various styles … hopefully, a range of 2D items with something for everyone.

I plan to add to the gallery regularly and soon have over a hundred works for people to choose from. This is part of a “Pay It Forward” movement that I started years ago in Opensim. I am revisiting the theme and hope others do as well.

– Chic Aeon of the Fortuna Art Gallery

Fortuna Hills Art Gallery

All of the pieces are provided with a resizer script, and the mix of art presented is rich, although I found myself particularly drawn to the SL landscape photographs and her monochrome close-up shots of items, which make for a particularly eye-catching collection of pieces.

I did drop a line to Chic concerning her “Pay It Forward Movement” but failed to receive a response by the time this article was ready for publishing. So, those interested in finding out more and might be interested in participating should contact her directly.

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Grauland’s touch of Japanese Zen in Second Life

Grauland, January 2020 – click any image for full size

Grauland has been a place we’ve regularly returned to since first discovering it in March 2019 (see Art as a landscape in Second Life). A Homestead region held by JimGarand and home (in the sky) to his M-1 Art Poses, the region has in the past been the home to builds that offer something of a blending of landscape and art to offer very individual statements (see also A return to Grauland in Second Life).

For the start of 2020, the region appears to break with this tradition when first seen, appearing to lean towards a more “traditional” landscape design with less of an emphasis on art than has previously been the case. However, first looks can be deceptive.

Grauland, January 2020

The region sits as a group of four islands, split west and east and north and south. The south-eastern, and smallest, island looks as if it had once been a headland extending away from the largest island in the group, but which has become isolated as a result of time and tide wearing at its rocky finger, eventually bringing a part of it down. What is left is a dramatic promontory that forms a stunning piece of Nature’s own art.

Facing it from the west across a shallow channel is the second of the region’s two large islands, home to the default landing point (although this is not enforced). It sits with a grove of palm trees that climbs a gentle slope to the south, to another subtle statement of art; one with a hint of the orient: a zen garden. Sitting on a circular table of rock itself ringed by sand and manicured grass, it offers a place of peace and contemplation that blends nature and design to make an artistic statement of its own.

Grauland, January 2020

North of this sits a piece of landscaping that has been something of a constant with each Grauland design: Cube Republic’s marvellous Basalt columns. They sit on the coast of two of the islands, with a narrow channel between whilst extending out to sea like Ireland’s Giant’s Causeway. A bridge sits just behind them spanning the channel to link the south and north islands, with the latter also connected to the largest of the islands in the group via a rope bridge.

The region hosts two structures within it. One offers a hint of Japanese design as it forms a bathhouse / massage hut. The second is a more traditional style of a walled Japanese house, complete with a bamboo grove within the gardens and a small summer house. The bamboo continues beyond the wall of the garden, marching alongside a path that leads away from the house to run to where the former headland points the way south over the sea.

Grauland, January 2020

Throughout the region are multiple places to sit – on the beaches, in and around the buildings, in the gardens, offering plenty of opportunities to appreciate the landscape. there’s also a gentle sound scape to accompany the design that adds to its depth. However, the most intriguing element present in the region is to be found on the eastern beach just down from the landing point.

It is here that a group of four jet skis can be found. Open to anyone to use, these promise the opportunity to ride them beyond the boundaries of a standalone region up to a distance of 700m. This appears to be a viewer-side effect with scripted intervention on the server to present the visual appearance of travelling beyond the region boundaries to the rider and other avatars in the region whilst the rider remains anchored at the point they “crossed” the boundary. However, I’ll leave it to better minds than mine to comment on the technical aspects of such a system and its ins and outs.

Grauland, January 2020

As picturesque as previous iterations of the region, this build – subtitled Okinawa Islands –  offers a soothing landscape worthy of exploration, and as ever, makes the region worthy of a visit, whether for the first time or as a returning visitor.

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Linden Homes: recent expansions future thoughts

Welcome to Bellisseria

Since their introduction in April 2019, Linden Lab have released more than 10,000 new Linden Homes across Bellisseria, including the southern extension to the continent and southwards towards the Mainland continent of Jeogeot. They represent an extensive mix of themes: “traditional” homes, houseboats, campers & trailers and Victorian, all of which have proven very popular – as evidenced by the speed with which releases have tended to be snapped up.

The more recent updates have seen the southern section of Bellisseria that arrived with the release of the Victorian type of home directly connected with the northern, and additional off-shore expansions that place Linden Homes in the waters off the north-west coast of Jeogeot. The latter do so by offering what might be seen as the first “cookie cutter” element of the new Linden Homes, duplicating as it does the original houseboat expansion, together with a couple of the sand bar layouts from elsewhere around the continent.

Victorian Houses and the railway in the southern extension to Bellisseria

These extensions fulfil Patch’s promise that the new continent for Linden Homes would directly connect Jeogeot with Sansara to the north, providing water access (including the coastal waters of Bellisseria) between the two, and which goes well beyond the narrow corridor of water originally linking Jeogeot to Bellisseria.

In addition, the extensions close to Jeogeot also encompass one of the earliest Mole builds – Pyri Peaks. It was designed to offer anearly attempt at an interactive adventure involving a storyline, a fun fair and a network of underground tunnels and chambers. It is a setting I wrote about in 2013  with Pyri Peaks: the mystery of the lost Moles (2013), and whilst it is perhaps a little long in the tooth by today’s building / design standards, it is good to see it folded-in to the new Linden Homes in a move that might encourage interest in this part of SL history.

Pyri Peaks: home of the Pyri Fun Fair and now within sight / reach of Linden Homes

Whilst there are still houses within Bellisseria yet to be released, just where any future new locations for the homes might go raises an interesting point to ponder. One doesn’t have to look too far west of Bellisseria to note the number of private regions lying in that direction, together with the likes of the recently-arrived SS Galaxy, the QA versions of the Shop’n’Hop regions as well as the actual shopping event regions.

While these latter regions might be relocated to provide a little more western room to expansion, it would seem the the eastern side offers a far better opportunity, although this runs the risk of sliding into the open space to the east of Jeogeot, which might eventually lead to that continent looking crowded-in and limit expansion somewhat. So, might the Linden seek to offer a new continent elsewhere at some point in 2020? If so, will it see further home types?

Campers and Trailers in the Linden Homes regions extension just off the coast of Jeogeot

Offering new styles of Linden Home certainly helps maintain interest – but it comes with a potential risk: new houses could encourage those with Linden Homes to vacate and rotate from type to type, making it difficult  / frustrating for others who have yet to claim a home and who want to get one of the newer styles (something that has already been the case).

That said, were I to be asked, and given the potential for a more “offshore” style development alongside Bellisseria, I’d love to see something along the lines of houses built along a network of canals, with each house having a modest boat house or mooring space within the parcel and suitable for a small boat or two. Admittedly, it would require careful design to provide a mix of houses, waterways and footpaths (rather than roads) to connect everything together (and likely require a fair number of bridges), but such a design could generate interest and provide something more unique in terms of layout and options.

There are still regions in Bellisseria awaiting release to user, such as this area of Traditional Homes, sitting in the hills overlooking the southern extension to the continent

I’m pretty sure others have ideas for what they’d like to see, if there are to be further Linden Home types – feel free to comment with ideas! I’m also sure the Lab has plans of their own in terms of house types, if more are to be offered. In the meantime, as noted, there are still numerous regions in Bellisseria and the southern extension still to be finished, and the LDPW are once again back at work to get them finished and available as part of the weekly release cycles.

The sensual lens of Velvetsdream in Second Life

Velvetsdreams, January 2020

Currently open on the adult (and BDSM-oriented) region of El Desvan, is an exhibition of photography by Velvetsdreams. I’ll say up front that the subject matter might be considered NSFW by some, but it is nevertheless enticing. I’d also note that for those who may be a little put-off by the idea of visiting a BDSM region, the exhibition space sits on its own, surrounded on three sides by raised terrain and / or curtain walls of rocks, so there is little risk of seeing anything untoward beyond the gallery area.

Open through until February 14th, the exhibition is also BDSM-oriented, although all of the images – whilst some do include nudity – are not overly explicit. Rather, many offer moments in time that emphasis the more sensual element of D/s, while even those that do stray more to the B/D aspect of things are rendered in a manner that leans far more towards sensuality rather than the more physical aspects of this form of activity.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

In this respect, it is the strength of storytelling that makes these images pieces that push aside possible thoughts of voyeurism in looking at them, leading one to consider each piece in terms of the tale into which it provides a glimpse. At the same time, many of the pieces offer a peek into the many themes that can cross through many of the subjects people often associate with the BDSM / D/s lifestyle, including latex, bondage, worship, and pony play.

Throughout all 20 pieces, there is a richness of style from framing through lighting to cropping, that adds a depth of life to them, presenting them less as posed pieces, but as instants in the lifestyles of those depicted within each photograph.

Velvetsdream, January 2020

Provocative, erotic, sensuous and captivating, this is an unmistakably eye-catching and engaging exhibition.

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SS Galaxy drops anchor at Bellisseria

The SS Galaxy anchored off of Bellisseria

In a surprise move over the last couple of day, The SS Galaxy, the iconic 3-region long static cruise ship, quietly weighed anchor and gently made revolutions to slip away from her long-term home adjacent to the United Sailing Sims, south of Blake Sea and then steam across the open seas to arrive off the west coast of Bellisseria, where she has apparently lowered her anchors once more, within (very long, admittedly!) eyesight of the houseboat neighbourhood I treat as my second SL home.

Dubbed The Queen of the Saggitartian Sea, the SS Galaxy was laid down in 2007, and has remained throughout the intervening years a stunning example of what can be achieves with the humble 10x10x10 prim when suitably sized and cut. Billed as “the largest build in Second Life”, the ship is split across three regions – Galaxy FORE, Galaxy MID and Galaxy AFT, and for the first part of her life served as a floating home for those seeking a more unusual place to live, (with furnished rentals running from cabins offered at L$35 with no prim allowance, to single and double suites (L$550/week with 200 LI and L$1,000/week with 300 LI) all the way up to the likes of the VIP suites and Captain’s suites (L$1,500/with with 500 LI and L$5,500/week with 1500 LI), with numerous public facilities and event spaces (swimming pools, club, restaurant, ballroom, chapel for weddings, skydiving, mini golf, etc.), as well as an on-board shopping mall.

SS Galaxy: the art gallery created by Frost Mole

In 2015 it appeared as if the Galaxy’s “cruising” days had come to an end. As I reported in SS Galaxy: a last cruise into the sunset (April 2015), it was announced that for various reasons (none connected with issues of tier), the ship would be closing and removed from the gird.

However, the announcement raised a lot of concern over the potential loss of such an iconic vessel and historic build, that the owners and Linden Lab got together to discuss the Lab to take over running the Galaxy as something of a museum piece, with the removal of all commercial operations (rentals and stores). I was able to break the news in SS Galaxy refits for a new role after the ship’s long-term owner, DBDigital Epsilon, sent me a note (also released on the official SS Galaxy website) that the agreement had been reached.

SS Galaxy

By August 2015, with the ship relocated slighted from her original position, the work in refurbishing the ship had reached a point where public access was once again permitted, and I was given something of a heads-up on the news and a tour by Frost Mole, who had been leading the work on the refitting (see SS Galaxy lowers her gangways to visitors once more).

At that time, much of the work had been completed, although Frost noted she was hoping to do more. In particular, a balloon tour had been added to the stern helipads and a hang glider to one of the forward helipads, while some of the private areas of the ship had converted into public spaces – such as an art gallery -, and some of the lower decks received things like a new bowling alley, with the mooring stations saw the addition of 7-Seas fishing and swan boat rezzers. Sadly, the skydiving system vanished at the same time – something I personally miss, as over the years, I’d used it to introduce a few people to the sport via the Galaxy; but that’s the way things go; but the top-of-the-hour firework displays are still active.

SS Galaxy: looking over the ship at Bellisseria

When the Lab took on the Galaxy, Keira Linden noted that the ship would be made available for public events, and while some were held there (such as a couple of impromptu Lab / Mole / resident get-togethers), nothing was ever really formally put in place to make it obvious residents might use the ship for events. Whether this will not change with her move to Bellisseria remains to be seen – but given the amount of social activity within the Bellisseria community, the liner could become a popular venue, and encourage a wider audience.

The news of the move has been spreading outwards for the 24-ish hours since the Galaxy arrived off of Bellisseria. Initially inaccessible immediately after the move, she is now once again open to public access. Thus fair the responses within various forum threads (see here and here as examples) has been positive, and there has been a fair amount of traffic onto and off of the ship.

SS Galaxy: one of the upper deck pools

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Names Changes: rounding-up what’s known ahead of any launch

Name Changes – the ability for Premium subscribers to be able to choose their own first and last names – is due to be deployed in 2020, possibly as soon as February. I’ve provided two prior summary updates on what has been released about the capability already.

However, while much of what is already known is unlikely yo e news to many, I thought that now we’re almost on the cusp of the capability being made available, I’d pull all of what is known from those updates and via more recent Lab-led meetings to offer what is (I hope) a reasonably complete, one-stop summary of what is known, and what might be surmised fee-wise.

The Basics

  • Name Changes will be a Premium-only benefit.
  • Qualifying users will be able to change their first and / or last name as often as they like.
  • First names will be entirely free-form.
  • Last names will be selectable from a list (see below for more).
  • Both first and last names can be up to 31 characters each.
  • Combinations of first name + last name must be unique, and can never be used by any other user.
  • Subject to final confirmation, it may be possible for a user to change back to a first name / last name they have previously used.
  • There will be a USD fee payable for each name change (see below for more).
  • The ability for Premium members to change their first / last names will be via an option on their secondlife.com dashboard, not an in-viewer option.
  • Names Changes will not be replacing Display Names, which will remain available for any user wishing to use it.

Last Names

  • The list of last names will likely be around 20-30 names, and subject to periodic update.
  • Previously used last names will not be made available for re-use.
  • Suggestions from users for possible last names may be taken by Linden Lab.
    • A Name Changes competition that saw the submission of 6,000 names closed on January 6th.
  • Two possible means for rotating names in the list that the Lab are considering are:
    • Replacing popular names from the list as they reach a certain number of people selecting them.
    • Replacing “unpopular” names if they fail to achieve a certain threshold of use over a period of time.

Fees

  • While it has yet to be officially confirmed, the fee for using Name Changes will likely be US $39.99 (based on Section 5 of the rules for the recent Last Names competition).
  • The fee will be charged whether changing only a first or last name, or both the first and last name.
  • When launched (at a date still to be determined) the new Premium Plus subscription will offer Name Changes at a lower fee (still TBA) than Premium membership.
  • The fee is being levied primarily to discourage users from making frequent changes to their user name, due to the potential impact on SL services (as everywhere a user name appears must be updated when a change is made).

Availability

  • It is hoped that Name Changes will be available in February 2020.
  • However, at the January 8th, 2020 Web User Group meeting, it was indicated that final deployment is dependent on the Lab finishing all remaining work on the capability and then testing it.

General Points

  • Name changes will be reflected across all of Second Life. This includes things like:
    • Other people’s Friends lists.
    • The Creator and Owner fields of the Edit / Build floater.
    • Group member lists.
    • Marketplace listings.
    • Chat and IM.
    • Plus anywhere else a “live” record of a user name is held.
  • Previous names should be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that name and get their current name.
  • At the time of writing, it was still not clear whether a change of name will trigger a notification to those on a user’s Friends list or not.
  • It has taken a long time to implement because Second Life was never designed to support users changing their account name, and as the account name touches every aspects of the platform, the Lab had to go through all the places the user name touches and make sure that any updates correctly reach them without being missed / causing an adverse impact.
  • Incoming users will not be able to pick a last name when signing-up.
    • They will receive the default last name of “Resident”.
    • It they upgrade to Premium as part of the sing-up process, they will be able to change their name via their secondlife.com dashboard, just like other Premium subscribers.
    • Last name choice is not included in the sign-up process because a) it is a Premium benefit; b) it has been found to be a major blocker to users completing the sign-up process (which was a major reason last names were originally abandoned).
  • When using scripts to handle account / avatar-specific information, creators and scripts are strongly advised to use the Agent Key (avatar UUID) as their reference point, not the account name.

References