The beauty of a snowflake in Second Life

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug – click any image for full size

“Snefnug is Danish for ‘snowflake’. Welcome to our home in the Arctic circle.” So reads the description for the midwinter landscape of Snefnug, a Homestead region designed by Stella Pelous (Stella Mahogany).

Danish it might be, but with the high peaks of snowy mountains surrounding it, Snefnug is – as the description suggests – perhaps representative of a landscape somewhat further to the north in Scandinavia. Covered in a heavy blanket of snow, the region offers a relatively flat landscape within the bowl formed by the surrounding mountains, from which it is separated by water. This water also cuts into the land to form a deep inlet running from the west, which faces a channel reaching to the open sea beyond the mountains.

The landing point is at the eastern extreme of this inlet, looking out over the water and snow falls from a hazy sky. To the north and south, fingers of land point outwards, linked by a wooden bridge spanning a narrow sliver of water which extends a little further inland from the bay, its passage eventually stopped by the trunk of a mighty oak tree.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

The bridge is guarded at either end by wooden gatehouses, strong A-frames supporting steeply sloping roofs. But the gates are thrown wide, allowing free passage across the water, rather than forcing visitors to trudge through the snow and around the great oak. Whether you head south across the bridge or turn north and west along the northern side of bay is entirely up to you.

Should you head north, the way will take you past a track leading the way to a barn where fir-trees are being sold for Christmas, while a barn heated by a stove and cosy gazebo lit by a warm fire body offer very different places to sit and pass the time. Through a woodland of denuded birch trees, fir-trees and oaks, sits a studio cabin of modern design, warmly furnished – but with doors locked.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Across the bay, on the southern shore, sits a boathouse and quays, the rooms above the boathouse unfurnished, but the building itself offering an imposing shoreline presence. Behind it, a track runs by a snowed-in carousel to a little café with a fireside terrace – the perfect place to enjoy a hot drink while exploring.

The land around and to the north of the café is a mix of open, snow-covered ground, woods, and a tree-lined avenue, inviting exploration. Deer roam the land here, and all routes eventually bring you to another house, roofs laden with thickly laying snow, but doors unlocked and inviting people inside. A short distance to the east, a set of stone stairs wind up one of the region’s two highland areas – a flat-topped plateau of rock on which sits a chapel. A second plateau sits close by, but doesn’t offer a way up its vertical sides.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

Those who enjoy walking in winter wonderlands will doubtless enjoy a visit to Snefnug, it is a delightful, open place with plenty of opportunities for photography, exploring and sitting – whether on your own or with a friend or close one. Do keep an eye out for all the little touches with the wildlife around the place from the bird-riding mouse and his (her?) companion to the raccoon family enjoying an outing in the snow.

Another picturesque winter seasonal regions well worth a visit.

Snefnug; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrSnefnug

SLurl Details

  • Snefnug (Callisto Bay, rated: Moderate)
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Holiday Trace in Second Life

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace – click any image for full size

Update: Holiday trace is now closed, and Secret Charm is under now ownership.

Over the years, a visit to The Trace family of regions – The Trace, The Trace Too, Summer Trace, Fall Trace, Winter Trace – has always been a pleasure. I’ve written about these regions, which were started by Kylie (Kylie Jaxxon), then became a partnership between her and  Elvira Kytori, on numerous occasions in this blog. So, it was with delight that I received news from Shakespeare that there is another in the series – Holiday Trace – now open for visits, and made a point to hop over and explore with Caitlyn as soon as we could.

Given the time of year in the northern hemisphere, Holiday Trace is a wintry setting. Snow lies heavy on the ground and falls gently from a windless sky. Exposed water here is heavy with ice thick enough to skate on, and the sounds of the countryside are subdued.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

In the south-east corner of the region sits a little country train station, sitting quietly with a tavern, each waiting passengers or customers. The great black bulk of a DRD Arctic Express steam train stands at rest before the station, having emerged from a dark tunnel, the great lamp on the front of its huge boiler still lit.

Across the region to the west and over the snow blanketing the land, sit the house and barns of Christmas Tree Farm, which may beckon visitors to set out across country to visit them. Northwards from the station however, along a brickwork footpath one might find the way to the local chapel. The path may have been salted at some point, as the snow is having a hard time settling on it. Also, it doesn’t offer a direct route to the chapel.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

Instead, the path splits a short walk from the station and tavern, branching east and west to encircle a frozen pond where children skate. Nor does the path resume on the far side of the pond; visitors must walk through the snow and over an icy path (or is it another frozen body of water on which the snow has settled?

This route runs alongside a walled and fenced garden in which a fountain – drained, one might guess, for winter – before visitors arrive at the little chapel. Tall beech trees, barks frosted, branches bare, stand around the chapel as if protecting it. Between their stout trunks a rutted track winds westwards to where a covered bridge spans a narrow stream which feeds into a larger finger of water cutting into the land. A rowing boat is trapped in the frozen stream and a horse and sleigh might shortly vie for use of the track with a red pick-up truck that is coming up behind them.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

Laden with a fir-tree, the truck might be making its way to the chapel from Christmas Tree Farm, sitting a short distance from the western end of the track, where a Surrey-style carriage sits in the snow, also bearing a fir-tree and watched over by a fox and reindeer as Canada geese fly risk an low pass through a gab in the trees overhead.

With trees a-plenty, rocky cairns and step-like slabs covered in snow, whilst offering a home to foxes, deer, reindeer, dogs, and birds, Holiday Trace is a delightful winter setting. It’s a place where wanderers can wander, couples can cuddle (try the sleighs and the old cable car!), individuals can sit and ponder, and photographers capture the scenery and memories.

Holiday Trace; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrHoliday Trace

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Second Life October & November web deploys

On Wednesday, December 7th, 2017, and to coincide with the bi-weekly Web User Group meetings (held every other Friday) as well as to provide an update on the Second Life web properties, Alexa Linden provided a blog post to provide an overview of the last two months of web-related updates.

In summary these updates comprise:

  • Second Life Place Pages have received a range of fixes, including errors being generated by some pages, images with transparent attributes overlapping, Markdown feature issues, etc.
    • Work is in progress to add 360-degree images from the 360 snapshot viewer (see my last review of this here) to Place Pages
  • The flow for adding and using existing Payment information for new users has been streamlined and made more intuitive.
  • Assorted updates to secondlife.com.
  • Introduction of the new viewer splash / log-in screen
  • Corrected an issue with the Terms of Service panel in the viewer.
The updated official viewer splash screen for general users (i.e. not first-time log-in), introduced in October / November, and referred to in the Lab’s blog post on web property updates

New DMCA Process

The blog post also references changes the lab is making to the DMCA filing process encapsulated in the Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy.

These changes are not yet live, but primarily comprise a new on-line form users and complete in order to file a notification with Linden Lab, rather than having to provide information via post or fax, as is currently the case.

When this change goes live, there will hopefully be a formal blog post on the subject, and I certainly hope to be able to blog about it in these pages.

The Mill at Christmas in Second Life

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill – click any image for full size

It’s always a pleasure to visit The Mill, the homestead region designed by Shakespeare (SkinnyNilla) and Max (Maxie Daviau). It’s a place we’ve paid numerous visits to, on account that it receives a seasonal rebuild, so when Shakespeare dropped an invitation for Caitlyn and I to drop in and see the Winter 2017 build.

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill – click any image for full size

As is the tradition with The Mill, a visit commences at the titular location for the region:  the great stone mill, currently located in the south-east corner of the region. From here, track runs through the snow, circling a little café serving welcome hot drinks. From here, steps lead up and to the west, where a snowy little cabin sits, overlooking the region’s frozen river. An old pick-up truck is struggling to the cabin, trying to deliver a Christmas tree, having driven past a little row of houses beyond a rocky arch.

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill – click any image for full size

Alternatively, a decorative bridge reached a short walk from the landing point offers a way across the river to where a church keeps watch on a deck built out over the ice, and a little carousel. Here the route divides once more, one track leading up a hill and under the boughs of a giant Virginia Oak to a house atop the hill, the other running around the base of the hill. This lower road follows the high bank of the river to where a set of stone steps leads up to the lower end of a sleigh run – the upper end not far from the hilltop house.   

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill – click any image for full size

With riverside camps, hillside look-out points, horse, deer and sheep wandering throughout, The Mill presents a perfect rural winter scene, with plenty of places for people to enjoy taking photos or enjoy the setting. Accompanying the region is a superb audio stream in the form of Martini in the Morning – one on my personal favourites, and with which I share some history, having helped introduce Brad “Martini” Chambers to the world of Second Life.

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill – click any image for full size

For those who prefer not to explore with the audio stream active (as we generally do), there’s a gentle ambient sound scape for the region, complete with some seasonal touches with the help of Nat “King” Cole, Dean Martin and  – I believe – Matt Munroe at the carousel.

As always, The Mill is a joy and a pleasure to visit – make sure you do, and don’t forget to offer a token of appreciation via the little bear by the landing point to help Shakespeare and Max continue to offer the region for visitors to enjoy.

SLurl Detail

  • The Mill (Pale Moonlight, rated:  Moderate)

Home For Christmas at Calas, 2017

Home for Christmas

Open now and through until the end of 2017, is the Calas Galadhon winter regions offering visitors a traditional Christmas experience called – appropriately enough – Home for Christmas.

Spread across two regions, Home For Christmas has all the familiar touches from Ty Tenk and Truck Meredith those familiar with their Christmas arranges know and enjoy: the Christmas Pavilion, entertainment, sleigh rides, skating, balloon and reindeer tours. In addition, this year offers visitors the chance to ride Bento reindeer around the regions.

Home for Christmas

A visit starts on the southern side of the build. From here it’s a short walk to the teleport to go directly to the Christmas Pavilion; however, taking it means missing out on much of the scenery. Instead, we recommend a short walk along the path leading east from the teleport board to where the sleigh rides await.

As with previous years, there is a choice of sleighs, one for couples and the other for up to four people to share. Simply sit in a waiting sleigh, and when set, touch the back of the sleigh to start the ride. You’ll be taken around and through the regions, along the trails to eventually arrive at the Pavilion, where you’ll be dropped off. If you prefer, the balloon tour is also available short walk from the landing point, and four couples in particular be a romantic way to see the regions as you drift through the air above them.

Home for Christmas

Reindeer and horse rides can be found at barns in the regions, and I recommend that rather than relying purely on the tours and rides, people explore by taking a reindeer for a ride, or walking the numerous trails and paths between the trees and rocks – sign boards will ensure you don’t get lost. This is because there is much to see and  even if you take a tour there are places you’re going to want to stop and look around  / enjoy. There’s the snowy house, for example, offering snuggles for couples or the warmth of a fire as a break from the cold. Then there is also the old stone temple, where cuddles and dances can be enjoyed.

The core of the regions remain, of course, the Calas Christmas Pavilion, with the great tree before it in the middle of the skating lake, camp fires and seats, and Santa’s Schooner sitting just off-shore. Keep an eye out, as well, for the look-out points and the various critters around the landscape, and which bring in to life.

Home for Christmas

“Things have been crazy for us lately,” Ty informed me as we discussed the build. “It looks like, for the first time in nine years, we wont be able to turn the Calas sims to a winter theme as well. But there is plenty of snow and skating at home for Christmas, and we hope people will enjoy themselves there.”

We’ve little doubt people will enjoy a visit – and quite possibly more than one, because Home for Christmas is a fabulous place to enter into the Christmas spirit and ready yourself for the holiday season in a most traditional way.

Home for Christmas

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Winter at Cherishville in Second Life

Cherishville; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrCherishville – click any image for full size

Cherishville, designed by Lam Erin, currently sporting a winter setting, has been openedfor around two weeks for visitors to enjoy and photograph.  Sharing a Homestead region with a private residence, Cherishville forms an L-shaped parcel running along the north and east sides of the region, which is surrounded by tall, snow-covered mountains but separated from them by frozen water.

There is no enforced landing point – although one has been set; as this delivers visitors on a snow-clad hill, I’ve offered an alternative land mark which – unless the landing point is enforced – will deliver you to the little parade of establishments on the east side of the region. It’s a charming, almost period setting, vehicles from the 1930s sitting on a snow-covered road, a steam train rolling slowly towards the local station.

Cherishville; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrCherishville

Looking at this little parade, with its cafés and shops, I couldn’t help but be put in mind of Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life  – particularly when seeing the setting in black-and-white – to the point where I wouldn’t have been surprised to see James Stewart as George Bailey running along the little street shouting, “Mary! Mary!” In colour, the setting is cleverly themed, with red,  white and green window frames, gables and roof-tops matching the colours of the season.

Follow the road northwards and the buildings give way to a country road, bordered by fences on either side. Here the land is blanketed in deeper snow, trees frosted and white, dog roses offering clouds of red colour between tree trunks. A pick-up truck – of a later period than the vehicles at the village – sits on the road, which leads the way to a frozen pond. Here, skates can be obtained from a sign board. But when skating, do mind the lantern posts set out across the ice! Steps on the far side of the pond offer a way up to a band stands converted into an open-sided snug, comfortable armchairs ranged before a roaring fire.

Cherishville; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrCherishville

The land above and behind the little row of shops – reached via a set of snowy steps rising from a pair of gabled gates or via snow-covered slopes – presents a broad open area, again deep in snow, with just a sprinkling of silver birch trees and pale bushes. A delightful little bar sits to one side, offering mulled wine and other hot drinks.

Further steps climb up to a further small plateau, where sits a house with – rather surprisingly – the entrance and exit to / from a subway station. The house is perhaps a little rough around the edges, however, it is furnished in something of a shabby-chic manner, a look which fits well with the aged look of the interior décor. Open to the public, one half of the house offers a small photo studio awaiting use – and it’s not the only place suited to photography. The little hamlet, the bandstand, the train – all offer backdrops for photographers to take avatar-centric shots, while the landscape itself invites photography. Those who do take pictures are asked to consider submitting to the Cherishville Flickr group.

Cherishville; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrCherishville

Word is already spreading about Cherishville – and I’d like to thank both Shakespeare and Stavros Gracemount for alerting me to it being open so Caitlyn and I could visit – as such, it is proving popular with visitors. However, given it is only open to the public for a brief period, a visit sooner rather than later is recommended.

Just as a final point, a line of hills towards the middle of the region, running west to east and north to south to form another L, separate Cherishville from the private parcel on the region. This is protected by a security orb to maintain the owner’s privacy, so should you opt to visit, it would perhaps be best to treat the hills as the boundary without climbing them, and help the neighbours keep their privacy.

Cherishville; Inara Pey, November 2017, on FlickrCherishville

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