Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013: The Year We Find Magellan Linden

It's the end of the year and so many Second Life residents, prominent or not, are making predictions about what will happen next year. No one, however, has said that 2013 will be "The Year We Find Magellan Linden" but me.

Let's stick with so-called reality for a moment ... Magellan is a fictional character that Linden Lab used to a few years ago to promote the release of new sims.

Image hijacked from HeadBurro's Website here.
For those that believe (i.e., those that can suspend disbelief or who spend too much time with a bottle of Old Warthog), Magellan is probably one of the great explorers of our time. This is the man sent "where no man has gone before" or at least where no Linden has gone before, through rugged landscapes, untamed forests, hazardous seas, and many (many) a filthy pub. Contact suddenly broke off at one point and sightings have been intermittent at best – often limited to the odd beer can or empty bottles with his fingerprints – since then. The best of us – HeadBurro Antfarm, Valdora Grayson, Marianne McCann, Kennylex Luckless (among others), and even the least of us (me) – have searched long and hard, bearing up under many hazards and still more filthy pubs. One has even paid the ultimate price of the explorer ... Salazar Jack is now missing, too.

Over the years I've taken a casual interest. I mean, you know me. My attention span is about ... ooh, string! erm ... But I've taken up the cause in ernest now, especially since I've been involved with the search for Salazar. Today I buckled down and did quite a bit of research ... at least a half-pound of Jelly Belly® jelly beans-worth, actually ... making landmarks for places that I knew were related to his explorations and subsequent investigations. Here are a few:

Several sites in the (premium access) Wilderness regions show that Magellan was there, like this raft moored at a bar (naturally) in Piranah (SLurl). Note the LDPW logo. The moles know things and aren't talking. Michael Linden? You reading this?

  • Magellan left a tunnel boring machine in Mysehi (SLurl).
  • Many vehicles were crashed in his travels. In Squall (SLurl) he setup a camp site after falling out of the sky.
  • The broken portal in Elderglen (SLurl) may have something to do with Salazar's disappearance, too.
  • The Pouloco gas Station in Bay City (SLurl) has a milk carton with search info inside it.

Then I Binged my butt off and Googled my goggles around compiling a list of Websites dedicated to the search:

  • Start here, on Blog de la Burro with "The Magellan Files"
  • The Second Life Wikia is handy, too.
  • HeadBurro's Flicker page is useful.
  • Follow key searchers MySL pages, like Kennylex and this entry, or Marianne's pages (like this one).
  • And don't forget about Magellan's own blog here.
Contact me in-world or by posting a comment here with your SL Resident name and I can drop my landmark collection on your profile.

So, the upshot ... Magellan Linden will turn up in 2013. The Grid needs a kick in the pants and he's just the man to do it. Think of the marketing opportuniites! Think of the morale boost amongst old-timers and really old-timers! Think of what Residents will think of when they see that The Lab plays in Our World, too, like in the old days. Oh! The Community of it all!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Christmas!

Whether you say Merry or Happy or Christmas or Holidays, Angela and I wish you the best for this time of year and all of next. Come by CC's Pouloco Station in Bay City - Dennis (SLurl) to take a copy of the Christmas card near the gas pumps. Inside you'll find some special seasonal bunny slippers. And look for CC Columbo, the station manager. He's a festive polar bear cub.

CC says "Free Popcorn and Hot Dogs through the holidays at Pouloco!"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Zyx Checks In

Fresh from her well-recieved piece about the Sandy Beach Trail on this blog (here), Zyx Flux has been exploring more of the mainland and submitting her ideas for future posts. She's found some very snow regions and sent a few pictures with brief commentary just this morning (they can also be seen on her snapshot feed here).

Investigating an un-named road in Hyland for a future blog post on The Poultry Report, but snow drifts are blocking my progress (SLurl). Thank goodness Michael Linden loaned this plow to me.
Looks like I have my work cut out for me and some anxious people waiting.
I'm also working on a story about the Alpine Byway (SLurl).
Last on my list is a Rez Zone in Voss. Get some free hot food here and check out the views (SLurl). Can't beat free spuds, right? Gotta love Second Life.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Compare & Contrast

My school teacher brother had a favorite comprehension question: "Compare and contrast ..." Whether it was the tactics used by the North and the South in the US Civil War, the aims of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the formation of the early American government, or any other topic, he loved to ask that kind of question. Since he was one of my teachers from sixth grade onward, the frequency of that task makes me automatically think that way about many things.

Napping at the Cool Beans Coffee Shop in Effington Wood (SLurl).
Like Second Life and Real Life.

Not long ago I was stuck in a Real Life (RL) wheelchair for several weeks. I could walk, but the doctor preferred I didn't (long story). It would strike me as I arrived at several different stores in Second Life (SL) that I'd pause before entering. After a while, it occurred to me that I was subliminally thinking "I can't get up those steps in a wheel chair ... there's no ramp." Conversely, I often think "How many prims would that be?" when I look at a nice building in RL.

Probably the biggest comparison and contrast I can make is about speaking. Just last night I was spending quality time at a nice beach with my wife and in the course of our conversation I "whispered" something to her – an emote as much as a decrease in the chat distance – and I had to stop. As you may know, I'm a mute in RL. The sounds I can make are far from whispers let alone any form of regular speech. I was struck by the dynamics. A romantic moment of holding hands in RL would leave me almost completely incommunicado as I'd have to rely on head movements or (if someone was in a position to see them) facial expressions instead of Sign Language.

Imagine if you had to remove a ping pong ball from your mouth every time you wanted to speak and had to put it back when were finished. Sign Language and hand-holding are about the same. Or mittens. Earlier in the evening my avatar was wearing mittens and I removed them to "talk" in main chat without thinking just like I did so often today when I was out with Mom for some appointments.

From cartoonist and advocate for the deaf Matt Daigle (Web).
And there I am napping at Cool Beans in the picture at top. In SL I'll drink coffee and visit coffee shops. Not in Real Life. In Second Life I'll tromp about in the snow and even dance. Not in RL. There are so many ways to compare and contrast Real Life and Second Life. What counts, though, is that one can express the full range of self in both worlds, just in different ways. And that brings up "Similarities Within Differences," another favorite of my brother's educational techniques, but that's another blog post.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Hyper Mole's Garden

Just a quick post while I fight with my ISP about an inconsistently available connection to the modern world ...

Hyper Mole's memorial garden is now open in Rookwood (SLurl). Please drop by and spend some time celebrating the life of this extraordinary individual, a friend to all Second Life residents in or out of her role as a Linden Department of Public Works contributor. I'll take better pictures when I can get back in-world (fighting a slow public WiFi connection on my iPad at the moment). Also, check out this picture from Shigeko Tachikawa and check out her other snaps from the park here (you may need to scroll through the history to see them).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Sandy Beach Trail

Yesterday I discovered a relatively new road in Second Life, the Sandy Beach Trail, and a wonderful little port in Lastness as one of the trail's terminuses so I sent Zyx Flux, my pixy friend and mainland explorer, for a visit. Here is the her report. – Uccello

The Sandy Trail covers a number of regions from Lastness to Kamalakara and true to its name, it is rather sandy. To begin my road trip, I visited the Lastness Marina (SLurl). This is a quiet, small port that boat owners and non-boat owners alike can use because it offers rezzing rights and a Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) sailboat that anyone can borrow. There is also a full lighthouse building – the light and living quarters for the keeper.

Leaving Lastness to hit the trail head (SLurl), I met up with Dapples, my UniPwny, and set out to the northeast along a narrow isthmus past a very attractive set of very empty shops with a cafe. Being empty, we didn't stop but since I'm sure that I'll be back to the marina often I'll check on the developer's progress.

Upon hitting the mainland, we noticed that most Residents keep very tidy properties and stick to the area's tropical theme. The big building pictured below sells photo studio equipment and digital photo accessories. We also found the first of several little little parks with benches. Many of them were official Rezz Zones from the LDPW.

The road is narrow – really too narrow for cars despite all the Rezz Zones – but that doesn't stop all the automated killer cars that roam the trail and try to kill pedestrians. And it is fun to watch them navigate all the decorative, intricate twists and turns the Moles have built into the trail.

Like the better bits of Mainland, some residents stretch their imaginations with creative homes and businesses. I have no idea what this person was thinking with two boats in a swimming pool and stacked shipping containers for a home, but I like it. Nice repurposing of materials and sense of design (SLurl).

The trail breaks in Elten (SLurl) and becomes a canal until you reach Tressnetor (SLurl). At this point you can use an LDPW tooby and paddle across or rez a small boat (if you have one) but be careful navigating the waters. Many Residents have set up Ban Lines so you can easily become stuck and have to bail out. Dapples being very light, I simply flew her the short distance and then we rested for a bit before continuing.

After a while, Dapples and I stopped in Cheetoh (SLurl) to mail some letters. It's nice to see that despite Instant Messaging and other modern communications being popular people can still use the UPS in-world. Mostly, my friends and I rely on dragonfly couriers for letters and dragons for packages, but "biggies" generally don't use those services so they count on UPS and GridEx.

From Cheetoh until the end of the trail in Kamalakara (Slurl), we just traveled along enjoying the road and looking at typical Mainlaind sights – privacy screens, gambling machines, skyboxes, empty land. No roadside builds were remarkable so pardon me if I don't remark upon them. But Dapples found plenty of grazing at the frequent roadside rests and it was a pleasant experience overall.

Dapples wandered off into the brambles and a near by deciduous forest to romp so I visited the LDPW's beachside recreation area to relax after the trip. In the picture above you can see some of the amenities such as a BBQ grill outside a basic hut, plenty of towels and beach chairs, and the Gilpatric Pier with a Rezz Zone at the end. You can borrow the sail boat or a kayak or drop your own watercraft to explore the Coastal Waterway (learn more here). Another form of recreation is to watch the "demon cars" leave the trail, circle around the pier, and head back onto the trail, much like they do at the marina in Lastness.

The cars weren't too annoying on this trip and the road is so nice that I can recommend a journey on it to anyone. It is short enough you can walk but a bicycle would be great, or a UniPwny if you can find one.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Route 14 Road Trip

Zyx Flux, intrepid gardener and explorer, has filed another report from the field, a road trip along Route 14 on the Mainland. It is a relatively short trip, but it has some interesting elements. Here are her pictures and her commentary.

Shelly (my pack snail) and I were dropped off at one end of Route 14 in Mirandirge (SLurl) by a friend's cargo dragon and we immediately acquainted ourselves with a handy map and read the informational sign. Not many roads in Second Life have such a spot and we were so so excited that Shelly and I had to take a quick nap to calm down before proceeding.

The beach right across the way from the information spot. Meh. I wasn't impressed and Shelly can't do salt water anyway, but I suppose it was a little pretty. The airplane was the first indication of an airport that a friend told us was in the area.

Right away Shelly and I climbed the stairs of an elegant ladies handbags shop so we could get some elevation for this view of the area around our start point. Mainland is such a diverse place with sections that mimic real life and others that defy all sense.

Tsurinton Airport in Slapdoogie (SLurl) is Rez-enabled so anyone can use the facilities. I was told that the airport was not on the ground, but here it is ... on the ground. My sources are sometimes questionable, but at least there was an airport. And the view from the control tower is spectacular! Looking back toward the northwest you'll see an enormous cube with some sort of small in-land sea inside it and what looks like a very low-altitude space station above it. Shelly and I wanted to get on with the road trip but we made note of the location for later exploration.

Just over the Borgbeef line, one can see some wonderful architecture on the rolling landscape contrasted with half- and fully-finished skyboxes and the enormous cube again. Mainland is so incredibly diverse, but skyboxes sometimes bother me. At least one or two of these make some attempt (though likely not intentionally) to make the exteriors of the boxes attractive to those with very high draw distances (512m in this instance).

I left Shelly on the berm in a Rez zone (SLurl) to snack and nap so I could fly over the complex with the nice greenhouse-like building we saw. It is an area called Lost Angels Office (SLurl) and appears to be mostly empty buildings and a very hi-tech disco with lasers and other gadgetry. Some of it has ban lines and some doesn't, but if you like modern architecture, this is a nice place to visit.

It wasn't long before we slid up to the Seven Chickens Bridge in Gormthoog (SLurl). There is a tragic and touching story of some apparently very depressed poultry behind the bridge's name and the info sign tells it in grisley detail (really, I think the author enjoyed the bloodshed). Just as I finished reading the sign, though, one of those autonomous and laggy AnnMarie Otoole vehicles that roam the highways unfettered attacked Shelly and drove us off the platform and back down the road whence we came. It took all my strength to fly the both of us out of harm's way and onto a grassy hill where we collapsed and fell asleep.

About an hour later, Shelly slimed my face to wake me and slid into her pack, waiting for me to secure it. She smelled a near by orchard and I smelled it, too, so we hurried down the road to load up on natural sugars and some fresh nature surroundings. Next door is a very vintage clothing store (SLurl) in a very Victorian building.

Dead Mole Curve. It a sharp 90-degree curve on a steep hill. It would be hard to negotiate in a high speed vehicle, especially with those Anne Otoole vehicles aiming straight at the route map and info sign in an attempt to kill anyone who has stopped to use the adjacent rez zone or to read the signs. After taking this picture I hid behind the sign and magicked up a view so I could read it safely. Prim slides, speeding motorists, and other mishaps led to the death of 118 moles, according to the sign, in the construction of this portion of Route 14 in Gonkbrunk (SLurl).

Hunkering down in an effort to handle the steep grades from the Curve onward, Shelly and I did little sightseeing. Don't get me wrong, though. The next stretch had some pleasant views but it wasn't very remarkable other than being fairly well-developed for Mainland. Actually, along the whole route we saw almost no abandoned or underdeveloped land. There were many empty buildings for rent either singly or in small shopping centers, but all-in-all, the regions are well populated (even if we didn't see very many people. What surpised us, though, was the lack of of large, purple crystals on the roadside. These are common on other roads across the mainland, sometimes even spotting two or more per region.

Eventually, though, we reached the official end of Route 14 in Wunb (SLurl) and another map/info sign structure at the End of Line Inn. Past this, the road continues but on private land. Perhaps Shelly and I can travel that stretch for another blog post. For now, we are going to hop one of the frequent Yavapod tour cars and let it guide us around tourist-style.

My appreciation to Zyx for another fine post about Mainland sights. Several people have indicated that they'd like to see more of Zyx's writings here and so I've given her a company credit card so she can expense her trips for future reports. Search this blog for Road Trip or use the tag link below to find her earlier work. She has a list of places to visit and should be filing another report soon. -- Uccello