monorail 5_001.png2ND LOCATION


I was also introduced to this place (another thank you to Kiwi) and just love it.  I find it fascinating.  I love the different selection of rides (havent managed to try them all yet). They all appear to be really straight forward and easy to use via wee pop up indicators.


On arrival into Magicland.


Magicland is a family/childrens sim (a spin off from disneyland, I wonder), full of a selection of rides. The rides range from a horse/elephant/rocket/ merry-go-rounds, teacup ride, horse and cart ride, boat ride, bobsled, monorail, train ride and more.

The functionality of the sim is it is very simple and straight forward, rides that you sit back and enjoy the virtual experience of. All you are doing is walking up to a ride and clicking on the pop up that comes up.  There is the option to meet and chat with other avatars that visit this sim.  Some rides you can do as a group.


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Teacup ride at Magicland.


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rocket ride in magicland



Train in Magicland.


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On a cruise in Magicland

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Elephant Merry-go-round.


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Horse Merry-go-round.

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Relaxing in spa while waiting for monorail to come back and get me.


The one thing I have noticed with the rides is some of them automatically zoom you in on the ride.  (you can escape out of the zoom by clicking escape but you don’t get so much of an interactive experience but is also the only way you can take screen shots).


I would suspect that the script in this sim may be a little less than in garden of games as I wonder if this is just a case of repeating scripts in some places.  The scene changes on some of the rides are so impressive and do wonder how much work was involved in them on the building process.  Its quite cool how they have added extra script to some of the rides so you can interact while on the ride as such eg: on the rocket ride you can push the up and down arrows to make the rocket your in, raise or lower.  I think the building process of the rides would have been quite some work.


Well I have not come across other sims like this one but I have had the pleasure of doing a couple of other rides in other sims.  They all have that strong interactive experience and some of the scenery is so impressive eg: I’ve seen flowing lava in one sim.  As a general comparison to other sims in general, I would say this is a great sim as its quite interactive and is rather unique in the experience.


Another sim that fascinates me.  I really enjoyed coming here and having the experience of the rides.  I think its a lovely place that a person/people have built and is awesome that they are allowing other people to enjoy that experience.  Again I see it as a wonderful sim for children.  Another great starting point for getting the feel of the second life experience.






I was introduced to the garden of games via someone (thank you so much Kiwi). I go here regularly and just love the different selection of games (still haven’t managed to try them all yet). We even have a group of us that go in there.


So the garden of games is a sim just solely based around games. There are a mix of games ranging from ten pin bowling, simopolis (minopoly), skippo (skipbo),  chessy – the best, though we all hate the computers (trouble),  una (uno), hangman and many more.  With majority of the games you have to attach a HUD first.  Not all of the games come with clear instructions (we have found) and some are pretty straight forward.  The interactivity here is mind blowing.  Once you attach the HUD’s and the game commences, you can actually feel like you are in the game as part of the game at times.  Here are some example pics from some of the games:


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My favourite (Ten Pin Bowling)



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My equal favourite (Cheesy).


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Simopolis (Minopoly).


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Skippo (Skipbo).


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And then there is the game Bullshit.


The games themselves actually function really well.   As I’m not really well skilled on the scripting thing, Im not entirely sure how much exactly but will try and take a shot. So thinking lets take above pic/game Bullshit.  You  attach a HUD to enter the game. Now this game is actually one of the games we havent been able to work out how to play.  So the scripting for the chairs are the basic seat placement (ie: position seat where you want and open them to sit action in the general menu).  Im a little unsure how much script would go into having a table that activates when you click on things but im suspecting a reasonable amount and also allowing for the movements that are made through out the games. I feel some of the games have been seriously really well built.  The ten pin bowling looks pretty much close to what we have in a bowling alley and they would have taken some really clever building skill I would think.


I honestly cannot compare this to any other sims as I have not seen anything else like this.  I have played games in secret builders (another virtual world – see Secret Builders blog) and the game experience there is nothing compared to the game experience in second life. As a group we are able to sit and chat while we play the games too which is an added bonus to the experience.


In a nut shell:  I just really love the place.  Its a really great social environment.  I even would go as far as to say that it would be a good place to take newbies to give them a good idea of what its like in a virtual environment.  I would recommend it for anyone who likes to play the odd game or even wants to re-live some of our older games we don’t see so much now.






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Second Life Viewer Log In Screen.

The second life viewer is the default viewer for second life and was specifically designed for second life by Linden Lab and is an open source viewer. I am struggling to find information on when it was first created but at a guess I do wonder if its the original viewer they started with, using within second life (possibly worth a mention that second life run through servers and don’t store data),  in order to access second life, a viewer is required.

What functionality it provides:

So I used second life viewer a little last year in MUV (used singularity a little too).  After not being on there for some time and being actively using firestorm, I see quite a difference between the both.

The functionality of the second life viewer is a very basic user interface compared to the likes of firestorm.  It has two toolbars, one on left and one at bottom.

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Bottom Toolbar in Second Life Viewer


second life viewer toolbar 2.PNG

The above pic is the left side toolbar.  The bottom toolbar functions are pretty much the universal ones with viewers though I note less buttons here than in firestorm viewer.  The universal functions being:

Chat, speak, friends/people and camera controls.

The left side toolbar also has some universal functions as well being:

appearance, inventory, search, places/destinations, mini map, snapshot and posting to facebook.

Will note a couple of obvious differences. In the left side toolbar there is avatar – choose complete avatar.  The other noticeable difference I see is the profile button. I actually really like how it comes up showing your activities that you have been doing on second life and though i’m sure is accessible in other viewers, its just cool to have that pop up just by going to your profile.


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My profile screen in Second Life Viewer

How easy is it to use:

I think second life viewer is a perfect entry level viewer for newbies to enter second life with.  It is basic and pretty straight forward and the fact that it downloads to you from second life website when you join, is a good thing too, and a great way to get people started.  It also has a great how to button that once you click gives you a selection of drop down items to select from plus scrolling across covers another selection, so there is good support in world and out as well, as, second life have blogs, forums and a strong support network to help anyone with questions/problems too.

How it compares to others:

I have stated comparisons both in my firestorm blog and at times here with similarities or differences that I have noticed between them but the noticeable things for me, in second life viewer is, the toolbar setup and I also notice that the drop down menus at the top left of the viewer also have less of a selection in them compared to firestorm.


Had to take photo as snipping tool and drop down menu don’t work well together.

Of course have to mention the fact that you cannot customize the toolbar layout as you can in firestorm.

I do have to mention that after having a considerable time off the second life viewer and now being somewhat skilled on using firestorm, I have found coming back to second life viewer quite a difference and just cant see past it being so basic in its layout. Also just worth another mention, I suspect the second life viewer uses less computer resources.  The reason i say this is firestorm really can heat up a lappy and make it very hot (suggest cooling pads with using firestorm on a laptop) but find the second life viewer does not heat laptop anywhere near what firestorm does.

What your impressions of it are:

I personally think that the second life viewer is a really good starting point for entering second life and getting a feel for the place.  I think if your more of an advanced user, I would recommend the likes of firestorm.  Second life viewer is a good basic viewer and is pretty straight forward to use.  I like the second life viewer but it is not my viewer of choice to use in second life.

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Full screen view in second life viewer.









Firestorm is a 3rd party viewer used in Second Life and also on Open Sim platforms. Firestorm was built and created by a team called The Phoenix Firestorm Project Team. Firestorm is a Series 2 viewer based on the newer Second Life Viewer 2 code.  The viewer has many features not found in the Linden Lab viewers. (

So from what I can see, Firestorm was actually created for second life initially. (The viewer is primarily for use on the Second Life grid. Its support of OpenSim grids is shaky and a secondary priority.  I have found it hard getting information on its origins but from what I can see it was made live somewhere around end of 2010-early to mid 2011 (  The Firestorm Viewer was bought in to replace the now discontinued Phoenix Viewer.  Firestorm appears to be one of the more popular viewers for second life and from what I can see is the most flexible of them as well.


Firestorm is a beta version and operates on three main operating systems, Windows, Linux and Mac OS X operating systems in both 32bit or 64bit versions. (worth noting that alot of the second life viewers come in only a 32bit version while firestorm also does the 64bit).

Home screen for firestorm.PNG

Firestorm Home Screen

I love the fact that you can have more than one avatar stored in the log in feature and is a handy aspect for those with more than one avatar. Which also means, less typing of your log in details when you log in.

Once logged in, you will get your avatar rezzing in front of you and a rather great display of a toolbar with buttons on the screen (one firestorm perk that you can customize your toolbar layout to your needs).  The main features of Firestorm are as follows:


You can IM (message) someone to talk to them but you can also chat through a group chat for that sim.  There is also a voice chat option but that function can vary depending on the lag you could be experiencing.

Audio/Volume Controls:

Volume controls for calls and people near you in world.

Facebook option:

An option to post status, photo or check in

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Menu screen for posting to facebook.


Either options is available to you.  Being able to run is a handy aspect as can be quite time consuming walking up a number of levels in a building.

Camera Controls:

Used to change the viewing directions but also able to use to look at front and rear views of your avatar.


Friends, groups and nearby people.


Customize your avatars appearance ranging from body aspect (hair, eyes, nose, body parts in general through to what your wearing and how your wearing it).


Firestorm search function. For searching anything from a place to an item you need.

World Map:

Puts a larger map in front of you and you can click on the map to go anywhere you want to.

Mini Map:

A smaller version of the World map.


Used for taking snap shots along the way.  Linden Lab stores all images/textures in JPEG2000 format. The format offers the advantage of faster and smaller downloads and larger and slower downloads by having different resolution images efficiently stored in one image file.


Storage area for all your items.

Animation Overrider:

A handy feature to have.  Animation Override or Animation Overrider. Generally, a scripted attachment worn as an HUD, containing animations and notecards which, along with the scripts, animate the avatars while it is in certain states, such as standing, walking, flying, etc. Absent an AO, the avatar will use basic default Linden-defined animations. The Firestorm client AO replaces the usual scripted AO by duplicating its functions, without the script overhead.  (

Quick Preferences:

Quick preferences is great for changing commonly used settings in firestorm with a click of a button as such.

quick preferences in firestorm.PNG


Firestorm is renting two servers for hosting there website. (They also use Kakadu, or called, KDU Software – which helps improve rendering performance and reliability and FModEx is the library that the viewers use to play sounds). Most of the libraries that are required by a Viewer are pulled in automatically by autobuild.  I initially was a little lost when using firestorm for the first time but found it easy enough to grasp the use of quite quickly. I like how you can hover your mouse over buttons in the toolbar and it tells you very briefly what they are and what they do.  I also love the fact that the phoenix firestorm project team keep quite active on there blog ( and appear to regularly be putting information up on it. There are also videos on youtube done by the firestorm project team as well (  From what I can see, there is basically a blog/video for lots of things you can do in second life via firestorm. A couple of handy links here ( and           They even hold firestorm classes which are basically done in voice or text unless otherwise indicated (  So a little watching and learning can go a long way with knowing and the use of the firestorm viewer.

How it compares to others:

As you can see, there are a number of third party viewers to compare with but also a lot of viewers in general ( but firestorm appears to be the most flexible and most appealing to a lot of parties. So firstly, different viewers use different amounts of resources, for example, Singularity uses less resources on a laptop. (High in features and low on lag).  Where as firestorm can be great on a desktop  or laptop (Using firestorm on my laptop and have found it working fine).  Firestorm appears to have the most features out of all viewers but yet has the same building, scripting texturing features that second life viewer has.

What your impressions of it are:

I personally love the firestorm viewer and though was a little nervous using it at first (have tried singularity and second life viewers in past), I have found it easy enough to adapt to with a little help and guidance from various parties at times.  I love that you can customize the toolbar layout and is great that you can have it set to only the buttons you use and also positioning of the buttons on the screen for easy access that suits you.  I plan to continue using firestorm now within second life as it suits me really well with my plans of what I’m wanting to do in second life and my experience in second life too.

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Original layout of toolbar in Firestorm















I have recently been introduced to Secret Builders by my teenage daughter. (heard her talk about it from time to time) and decided to look into this one a little further.

So Secret Builders is a virtual world that was created by a former teacher and a group of parents of young children.  It was started in 2007.  Umair Kahn (the developer) previously worked for Intel and helped design microprocessors and this was a dream he brought to life.  (

Secret Builders is unique among free online games because it is a fully moderated virtual world. You can create your own avatar, explore lands, participate in quests, and play a large number of games. Not only is it all fun, but also educating. You will learn so much through your adventure in Secret Builders as you run into famous people, live through popular stories, and play educational games. Playing more will get you more rewards! Build your very own tree house and decorate it with posters, furniture, and electronics. You can even adopt a cute, flying pet as a companion. Secret Builders exposes you new friends in a safe and friendly community, making it more appropriate than other free online games and appealing to parents and teachers. (

Secret Builders is where children come to play games, interact with famous characters of cultural and historical significance, and go on Quests that span the world.


Home Page for Secret Builders


I would say that this game runs along similar lines of second life but on a child’s level.  So this environment is based around your avatar going different places, doing quests and building and decorating your tree house/home. The quests involve problem solving, collecting important items, playing games and also helping other people.



You can change the features of the avatar ranging from eyes, hair, clothing, accessories,  etc. The avatar does not have any of the aspects of feeding, bathing, toileting, etc.  You get to meet and interact with other avatars via clicking like, to like another avatar or also sending messages through the message system.


There is an option for building but you must be a super builder.  Though I have not become a super builder to access that function, the menu looks a fairly basic build menu customized for children to use.

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Build Menu for building furniture

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Build Menu for building furniture in Secret Builders


There are gold and silver coins.  Gold can be bought via paypal.  You can win coins for games that you play and then use the coins for items that you buy.  In super builder status you are able to convert your silver coins into gold.

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How rich I am


There are games and quests that you can do. There are a selection of games to choose from.

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Games Menu for the different types of games available

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Once selected from above menu, then you have a game selection to choose from


Another big aspect of Secret Builders.  Your avatar is spending a lot of time decorating the house.  So your buying and selling or even building the furniture along with being able to paint the house to a color design of your choosing.

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The decorating menu and decorated my house.

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My lounge in my house (house only has lounge and bedroom).

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My bedroom.



The program itself runs pretty smoothly.  Its easy to pick up and rather straight forward.  It took me a little to grasp at the beginning as was not sure what I needed to be actually doing and found google does not really have a lot explaining to what you actually need to do in the game (has stuff regarding just general game description but not the actual object of the game as such, but best I could find was this, ).  I can see in the game that there is a lot of computer generated aspects to the games.  I’m guessing when there are not a lot of people online playing, the computer generates players to keep it functioning (you can tell a computer player in the game by the gold coin down on lower left of there avatar).



Secret Builders players can furnish their in-game homes, play dress-up, invite friends to parties, look after pets, create clubs, contribute art and writing in the magazine, ‘The Crooked Pencil’, learn about managing money, enter contests and contribute their own ideas to improve the Secret Builders world even more!

Secret Builders School also offers players the ability to earn virtual currency through attendance. There they learn in a more traditional manner, with subjects including Art, Language, Geography, History, Math, Science and Computers, with Brain Games to help keep their logical reasoning in tip-top shape.  (

I have a house and can decorate it.


My house before decorating took place


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Decorating my wee house


So firstly I needed to go to Fashion Show to partake in fashion shows to win prizes and get money.

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Waiting for the fashion show to begin


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Fashion Show in action on Secret Builders


Gold and Silver Coins are the currency used on there but the gold coins are the ones that you want and use more.  You can buy gold coins using paypal ( Once you have money, you can buy things you need). You can go to shops or even a flea market.  So the aim is to become a super builder. As a super builder you can do a lot more but there is a cost to be one.  $7 per month and you get super builder status along with the extra perks. (you get a monthly allowance in gold coins plus gifts). As a super builder you can build furniture for your house.  You can however, buy/swap/sell in order to decorate your house whether your a super builder or not.


I can only really compare this to Second Life and I do see small similarities.  I see it having the basic features (very basic) similar in the fact of the avatar and being able to alter its features also along with the networking (meeting people and communicating in the environment). Being able to buy the currency online and needing money to function in the environment.  Both also have a building aspect and you can decorate homes though second life’s building aspect is a lot broader than secret builders.


As I’ve stated earlier, I see this as a very very basic child’s play version of second life that I feel has been rather well done. There are pop ups through out it suggesting upgrading to super builder status which annoy the heck out of me. Clothing does appear to have its limitations.  You can only buy so much and certain types so always going to be wearing something that someone else may have but just could be a difference in color. Over all I think its a great children’s game that also has options for parents to play and interact there as well. This game could be a great starting point for children to guide them over to the world of second life as they progress in age and understanding I feel.







Second Life evolved as an idea by founder and former Linden Lab CEO, Philip Rosedale (aka Philip Linden).

While he dreamed of virtual worlds since his childhood, in 1994, Rosedale first thought of connecting computers via the Internet and creating a virtual world. In 1999, he founded Linden Lab (LL).

The Linden Lab employees — commonly known as “Lindens” — needed a virtual world to go with their hardware, so in 2001 they started building “LindenWorld”       (

Linden Lab released Second Life in June 2003


So i see functionality as in the features of second life.  There is a vast amount of functionality in second life and here are some of the features that it offers:

Other Avatars – You get to meet and interact with other avatars from other places. Interaction can vary from IM (messaging) to scripts, voice, notecards etc. You can also customize your avatar to what ever you like (that you have in your inventory).


My Avatar (Aurora Storm)


Building:  This is a huge aspect of second life. Starting with creating objects, to then editing the objects to get the desired result your after (in the editing phase, your sizing, shaping, adding textures, linking pieces together etc).

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(An example of some of the building process involved and the above is once you have created the initial boxes – prims, to start with)

I have learnt something important too in the fact that, the texture can play quite a key role in the shaping of the object correctly. The application of it is key.

Scripts:  Scripts are also another important aspect of second life.  Scripts can be the fire on some firewood or it can be the opening of a door.  The scripts come in various ways from being a noise to an item, a dance move, an item animating (eg: water flowing), speaking or even just altering/enhancing an item that you have already built (eg adding lock script to a door you built).

Linden Dollars – L$:  Linden dollars is the currency of second life.  You can buy Linden dollars with our own currency online (using a credit card) but there are also various ways you can earn Linden dollars in second life as well.  I consider Linden dollars to be a functional aspect of Second Life in the fact that you do need to and will spend Linden dollars at some point of your time spent on Second Life. You can set yourself up pretty much using alot of the free stuff that you gather through the free shopping areas but you also need land at some point (unless you have access to land through someone else).  Though the land is not cheap, I believe the initial outlay of purchasing the land is where the main cost lies and then its just a yearly/monthly fee to maintain it.

Other important aspects of Second Life are that you can have your avatar travel in various ways ranging from walking, running, flying, teleporting, using a vehicle, or just copying and pasting URL’s.


Second Life will run to the ability of your PC that you are using and the network that you are running on.  Laptops struggle to run second life successfully as second life uses alot of resources to run and though the laptops my have the bulk of the hardware specs to run it, there can be issues of overheating laptops as there cooling systems are generally not big enough to cope.  A desktop computer is a better preference (they have better cooling systems and can run Second Life better). Worth pointing out that both desktop and laptops have operating systems that are current and spec requirements being suitable in the first place before entering second life.

Network wise, there can be issues ranging from body parts/clothing not rezzing properly to just very slow delays on changes that happen within the environment (Lag).  Even an inventory can affect your connection depending on its size as well as even the settings in your preferences eg: graphics settings. Lag is a pain but can be avoided with a good network connection and watching for things that generate the lag.

Just a note to add that I have come across from ( that I thought was rather interesting is:  A study showed that one of the biggest barriers to making Second Life accessible to visually impaired users is its apparent lack of metadata, such as names and descriptions, for virtual world objects. This is a similar problem for the accessibility of the web, where images may lack alternative tags. The study found that 32% of the objects in Second Life are simply named “object”, and up to 40% lack accurate names.  So there are limitations to it not only within the environment at times but also for the user.


Second Life is used in various ways.  There is a strong educational factor to it but there are people there for hobbies, fetishes, learning, just plain enjoyment etc.  The reasons are endless but personally my reason is I like the social aspect to it but its what I can do there too.  I have built a house, played games, gone to an interactive theatre, ventured a little into other sims in other places, shopped till I could’ve dropped, went to a place like disneyland and got to go on rides.  The use of it is endless.  These days even more companies are starting to use it to hold business meetings in. They are saving the costs of flying the staff/managers, accommodation costs, travel expenses etc by them being able to stay where they are, but just do the meetings online in the virtual environment.


There are a vast number of virtual world platforms that can be compared to each other in one way or another but the common comparison between a lot of them is the sleeping, eating, shower and toilet etc aspect of the avatars online (living a normal day to day existence somewhat).  Alot of the environments have there platforms similar to our actual  living environment (maybe not all). Even as i type this, I have my daughter sitting in front of me playing Sims 3 and though it is not an online experience, again, she has her player and is in a world of sleeping, eating, and living day to day. (its interesting whether online or off, its an experience that people young or old like to participate in).  All of them have a social aspect to them where you can meet and interact with other people online.


Ok so firstly worth pointing out that I had not ever even considered virtual worlds until Avatar was released and I saw it.  Oh my gosh, I loved that movie and it opened my eyes to virtual environments.  Clare had me from get go when she did her class in ITC on virtual environments/worlds.  I found it super interesting and always planned to do MUV from then on.  Second Life is amazing.  I love the fact that you can basically live whatever life you choose.  You are constantly learning on there from learning about whatever you choose to learn (accessing resources in learning/study based aspect or your choice) or whether your learning about the different types of people that your socializing/interacting with on there or even just learning about second life itself (its functions/your abilities and its many different aspects, eg: places/sims).  I enjoy spending my time on there lately (maybe a bit too much) and have particularly enjoyed the games that a group of us have been doing in the Garden of Games.  (Love the tenpin bowling and cheesy in particular). I really have enjoyed the social aspect and plan to continue my life in Second Life with even the possibility of a few of us looking at prospect of buying some land.



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In the interactive theatre when myself, Kiwi and Cayla were shot at the end.




So this is an added blog post that I will continue to update as I go.  I find every-time I enter the world of second life, I come across the saying, You learn something new everyday.  Its so true. There is so much to learn and remember.  So here are some things that I have learnt so far:

So first thing I learnt was its handy to know some free shops to get stuff to help with your creation of your virtual life.  Here are some links I either was given or found for some free stuff.

Here is also a link to a blog site I found with links to sites.  Bear in mind this blog was done quite some time ago and some of the links are dead.

I have also learnt to bear in mind that all/most items come in folders and then are all kept in your inventory.  Your inventory is an important feature and alot of folders can come needing unpacking.  Sorting the inventory can be quite a pain staking process and is worth bearing in mind when you collect your items etc or before you know it, you have a 32k inventory that you are delaying the process of sorting through that you know you have to do.

On the flipside, there are inventory sorters ranging from something like this

or even something like this

which is a handy thing to have considering there is alot of textures for just about everything.

you can also use something like this to guide you as to what to keep and get rid off

there is also this which is a wonderful help

and this can help too

I will continue to add notes of interest to this blog post bearing in mind I learn something new just about everyday in secondlife.