Thursday, May 27, 2010

Artistic Fimicoloud Memorial Dance


It has been two years since Second Life resident Artistic Fimicoloud, Fimi as she became affectionately known, passed away from cancer. In real life, she was Stephanie Koslow, an artist whom did a number of pictures whose work can be seen in the Metaverse to this day, in both an art gallery and private homes. Battling the illness for years, the woman behind the pink fox avatar kept up to the end. She was 49. A member of the Sunweavers and Passionate Redheads, she remains fondly remembered by both.

A year ago, the anniversary of her passing was marked with a candlelight service. Recently, a number of people in both the Sunweavers and Passionate Redheads have had family members pass away. So instead of a solemn service, it was decided to hold a memorial dance in her honor. The event was held in the Southern Colorado sim near what is now known as Fimi Falls, land owner and Passionate Redhead organizer Daaneth Kivioq explained, I only met Fimi a few times, but I was abel to show her this place, and she fell in love with it - so I dedicated the falls to her memory.

Come join us on Wednesday, May 26th at 6PM for a wonderful live music event
Celebrating the Life & Art of Artistic Fimicoloud. The event will be held by Fimi Falls
in the beautiful Southern Colorado Sim. There will be Music, Dancing and Fireworks!


At the beginning of the event, there was a snag when the musician for the first hour was unable to show op. So Shockwave Yarearch took over, offering a mix of songs, including Smurfer Girl and a few other parodies, Fimi loved my little silly songs. No formal wear was required. Come as you are, Daaneth told people, normal human and furred, dropping in, Im wearing T-shirt and jeans. One lady dropping in had been absent from Second Life for months, her computer busted and then busy with college.

Relay for Life in Second Life
Celebrate
Remember
Fight Back!
GO RELAY

Throughout the event, people talked about Fimi, her art, and her life. A Relay for Life kiosk collected donations as they came in. At 7 PM, Shockwave stepped down and Vaughan Michalak stepped in with live music. At one point, Daaneth handed the crowd a challenge, Fimi spent many years fighting cancer before she lost her battle - as a result, she often hid pink cancer awareness ribbons in her paintings - now a few of you know where it is already - but there is one hidden near here too - can you find it? Several people spotted the hidden ribbon.

At 8 PM SL time, DJ Nydia Tungsten began spinning her mix of tunes. During this time, there was a fireworks show, the sparkle of lights exploding all around. One sparkle of lights didnt fade, but kept going, changing color, occasionally appearing as pink as Fimi. Eventually, the end of the event approached, and Nydia put on her last song, I Run For Life.

As the event closed, Daaneth thanked Nydia and everyone who came, You are all my heroes! thank you for being here tonight! ... FOR FIMI!! Thank you Nydia! And thank all of you for your support and generosity!

Over 34,000 Lindens had been raised during the event for Relay for Life.


I run for hope, I run to feel,
I run for the truth for all that is real.
I run for your mother, your sister, your wife.
I run for you and me my friend, I run for life.


Bixyl Shuftan

Monday, March 22, 2010

Svarga Back in Second Life


By Bixyl Shuftan

On Sunday afternoon, March 21, just after logging on I heard some great news. The Svarga sim was back! I looked it up on the map, and there it was, so I ported over. And there was a sight I hadn’t seen in many months. What some people called one of the Seven Wonders of Second Life was back.

Svarga was started early, around 2004. By 2006, it was complete and further construction ceased. It’s creator, Laukosargas Svarog, created a grand island of waterfalls, mountains, rivers, stone temples, and the artificial life experiments, the “Eco System” project, gave the sim it’s own cycle of life, with clouds raining on the plants, bees pollinating, and occasionally eaten by a flytrap lily, and other aspects. It was considered one of the most ingeniously built places in the Metaverse. More can be read in our April 2007 article .

In December 2008, Laukosargas made her decision to look for a buyer for Svarga. Running the sim was just too expensive for her, she felt, and Second Life seemed no better to her than when she first went about on it.

Some months later, the sim vanished from the map. It seemed that this wonder of the Metaverse had vanished into the virtual nether forever, much to the sadness of many who had seen the area and marveled at it’s details. Until now, that is.

Checking Laukosargas’s profile, she says the sim has a new owner, even though Svarga still lists her as in charge. She also asked not to be contacted, saying she plans to return to Second Life only sparingly, once in a few months.

As time goes on, someone will figure out exactly what happened and what we can expect. But for now, we can take heart that once again, this gem of a sim is once again open for visits, and not just a memory.

The entry point for Svarga is at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Svarga/5/124/22 .

By Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Virtual World There.com to Close


In an announcement on March 2, 2010, There.com’s CEO Mike Wilson announced the virtual world would be shutting down on March 9. Wilson cited the troubled real-life economy as the reason for the decision.

 “There.com's customers were hardest hit by the recession, and, so was There. While our membership numbers and the number of people in the world have continued to grow, there has been a marked decrease in revenue ...  at the end of the day, we can't cure the recession, and at some point we have to stop writing checks to keep the world open. There's nothing more we would like to avoid this, but There is a business, and a business that can't support itself doesn't work. Before the recession hit, we were incredibly confident and all indicators were "directionally correct" and we had every reason to believe growth would continue. But, as many of you know personally, the downturn has been prolonged and severe, and ultimately pervasive.”

There was launched in October 2003, not l ong after Second Life. It was founded by Will Harvey, whom was noted for writing the first commercial sheet music processor for home computers “Music Construction Set,” and work on several computer games. The Instant Messenger IMVU was also founded by Harvey. Jeffrey Ventrella was There’s co-founder, noted for his programs on artificial life, whom later worked as a developer at Linden Lab.

In it’s early days, There did well, possibly because of the prestige of it’s founder and starting out with more funding than Second Life. But it soon ran low on finances, and Second Life gained the media spotlight. It ran into trouble starting in 2004, and in 2005 the company split in two, Makena Technologies which continued to operate the virtual world, and Forterra Systems, which concentrated on “private and secure” virtual worlds for government and corporate clients.

There distinguished itself from Second Life as a more family-friendly place with “controls on adult content and griefers,” which attracted some users too edgy of it’s more noted competitor. It also aimed at teenagers, whom were too young for Second Life’s main grid. The language on it’s info page included, “Feeling awesome today? You can look awesome. Feeling like you want to make some heads snap around? You can look knock-down gorgeous and totally buff.”

There also advertised itself as more corporate friendly, having places such as Club Scion and Coca-Cola Skate Park. In 2006, There partnered with MTV. Other brands with a presence in There include Cosmogirl, The Humane Society, Paramount Studios, and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Like Second Life, residents of there moved about in avatars, and could communicate in text and private Instant Messaging, or voice for those with Premium accounts. Unlike Second Life, avatars could only be modified from a basic human form: hair, skin, and eye colors, head and body shapes, etc. Avatar graphics were a little simpler than those on Second Life as well. People could get around on foot, or on vehicles such as buggys , and hoverboards. There was an emphasis on sports, such as the paintball games in the video on There’s introduction page on it’s website. There were also virtual pets, although limited to two breeds of dogs.

There also had it’s own virtual economy, with it’s currency called “Therebucks,” which could be bought and sold from and to the company, with one US dollar equal to 1,800 T. There were also virtual banks, which unlike Second Life remained legal on There. People with Premium memberships could build and sell items, such as buildings and vehicles, as well as being able to own and rent homes. There had it’s own newsletter at http://www.therefuntimes.com/

Unlike Second Life, There was never available to Mac users.

In Second Life, Torley Linden named his personal sim “Here” as a tribute to There. The surname “Thereian” is also available to Second Life residents.

In the statement, Wilson stated there would  be refunds on “All purchases of Therebucks and member program updates” between February 1 and the moment the closing was announced, “We will attempt to continue a Therebucks buyback for developers.” There also appeared to be a subtle jab at Second Life, “many things ... made There special, accessible, and attractive to people from all over the United States and the world -- not just the privileged with high-end machines and broadband connections.”

There have been a number of comments by former users. One “on again off again” user felt there were several reasons for it’s decline, including that suggestions for new activities were often ignored, and the corporate endorsements to make up for a stagnant membership might have brought in cash but also ruined the “ambience” of There, and some changes “helped kill off some of it’s most popular activities and communities ... One of the last lingering, saddest memories I had before quitting There was to see the once thriving hoverboard park a ghost town.” More common were expressions of sadness over the loss of the virtual world.

Of final thoughts, those from CNet writer Daniel Terdiman are as good as any, “For me, though I hadn't gone into There for quite some time, I always enjoyed the idea that I could go back in, jump in my wonderful hoverboat and go for a nice long ride. I recall the early days of There when there were regular hoverboat flotillas and when you could easily find people riding around on flying dragons. To all the fans of There who will now be without a digital home, there is perhaps only one suitable salutation: 'wave. “

Bixyl Shuftan

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Joy of SL Belly Dancing


By Any1 Gynoid, reporting for SL-Newspaper

Get wild, get nakies, and party your tushies off, usually means a trip to SL naughty land, SLs adults only regions. But there is an alternative: belly dancing. In mature sims round SL's main grid, amateur belly dancers are fun party goers who bare it all, or at least most of it, in a brave new form of personal freedom and self expression. Why is it brave? Because I can't even coax most my bff macho party buds to check it out. And they call us "chicks"! Who's chicken now? Ha! Hey, SL belly dancing is guys and ladies and a whole lot of tushie shakin' goin down. Too much fun! This is why God invented the perv cam! lol

When you think about the Middle East, do you ever think FUN? But our mission in SL is fun, and yes we do bring out the fun in every RL culture to SL. Belly dancing has ancient Babylonian origins, but in modern times was revealed to the West at the 1893 World's Fair. The golden age of belly dancing was in the 1960s and 1970s, promoted in part by an Egyptian film renaissance. Which is quite interesting, Islamic cultures were very much more liberal than they are today; even in Afghanistan, women openly wore miniskirts in public in the 1970s. How far we have regressed RL, backwards in cultural values and human progress.

The personal is the political, and you can participate in cultural revolution right here in SL, by shaking your tushie to Middle Eastern beats. Belly dancing in SL is amazingly liberating and extremely fun. In fact, I can only think of one thing more fun in SL, and I shall cover that soon for SL Newspaper. It's NOT sex silly! Shame on your dirty mind! Terrible thang to waste! Tee Hee Hee!


From left to right in picture 1 is Guy Vollmer (a supercool party dude), Garret Mehrens (an impossibly hot dish of male beefcake), me (wearing my naughtiest outfit), and my beautiful friend Acceber Smythe. Picture 2 shows Garret's flip side. LOL Making it painfully obvious why we love belly dancing in SL!  Am I objectifying men? You betcha! And high time for that! Yuppie Buns! Slurp! lol


Anyways, I hope you get a chance to try SL belly dancing soon. Most Mondays at 4pm and Thursdays at 8pm, you will find me slinking round the club Parvana Ayre in Angel Shark Shallows sim, wearing practically nothing and "working it"! You know what I mean! IM me if you dare! Only the brave and truly fun loving need apply. Peace!

There are lots of free silks in SL, and I would be happy to share. In fact I only wear freebie silks when I belly dance. I've tried most of them all and can tell you about the best ones. I fancy my blue & white silks (shown in pictures), my chrome, and my tie dye colors. By losing the top bits, these free silks can work for guys too, just put on a thong, and attach silks to arms and legs. Well at least 1 brave bff was able to do that! There is hope!

Friday, July 24, 2009

RFL Walk: The Really Wild West Exhibit


By Bixyl Shuftan

With so many exhibits on the Relay for Life walk, there just isn’t the time and space to write in detail on each of them. But I did get a sneak peak at one, the “Really Wild West” by the Passionate Redheads.

The exhibit was set in the Old West themed area of the Relay for Life Walk in the southwest corner of the RFL Endure sim (the other west sim was RFL Courage just to the east), the road just on the edge of the RFL Advocacy sim to the south. The place looked like it was set in some mountainous desert, with Native American music in the background. Just behind and to the right of the sign over the entrance was the main building, a two-story adobe structure that served partially as a store, offering a number of items for sale for charity. But the place also had some messages of inspiration. Nearby next to the road were some whimsical “Armadillo Crossing” signs, with armadillo nearby.

Paths and bridges helped one up the mountains. One could walk around to the various sights, but there were also teleports to the more notable ones. There was a mine in which one could hop on a cart and ride down the tracks. There was a river rafting ride, in which one could make their way down the twisting mountain waters. There was an Indian Circle, in which one could sit on a blanket, get a drum and a stick, and beat in rhythm.

The completion of the exhibit was announced in a few group chats a couple nights before the Relay for Life Walk officially started. People headed over, gathering at the adobe building, and having a party around the hot tub. When this reporter checked a few days after the Linden lease ended on Tuesday, it was still up.

Most of the work on the exhibit was done by Lomgren Smalls. Of the theme of the exhibit, “We found out we were on the ‘western’ themed sim already,” he explained, “I thought blending in with what was already there was a good idea.” Others had told me Lomgren had spent so much time on the place, he got only a few nights sleep in the days just before it was finished, “If you count actual hours ... I put in around a day, to a day and a half of work. Others did more as well, with the river, the detailing, the plants, etc. If you count real-life time... it was done in... 4-5 days.” Of the various attractions, “We all contributed toward the ideas. Daaneth loved the mine idea. We were all just spouting out ideas quickly.” Lomgren had no idea how many stepped off the track to look around, but he had a good idea what they felt, “Everyone's loved it.” Although pleased to hear it was still up, he felt it wouldn’t me much longer before it would vanish into the blue, “Anything after (Tuesday) is a bonus.” Despite the temporary results, Lomgren was still happy to have built the place, “That Relay is awesome, and more people should try to get involved. And that building it was fun, if exhausting.”

For his work, the Passionate Readheads awarded him, along with Dusk Griswold, the first Annual Fimi Awards, named after the late Artistic Fimicloud.

On July 21, Daaneth Kivioq announced the Passionate Redheads had raised 2,425,968 L, or over $9,300.

Bixyl Shuftan

Addition: This would be the first Relay track camp of the Passionate Redheads team I would see. It was part of a great introduction for me to the Redheads. The team would do other exhibits in the future, but this was among the most detailed and interactive by it. Despite all of Lomgen's work, and that of those helping him such as Alleara Snoodle, he never did win an official Relay award for the build. Sadly, the team would fold in 2013, but many of the members would come together again under a new team: the Sunbeamers.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Remembering Three Residents Who Passed Away


By Bixyl Shuftan

Death is the last thing on the minds of most people when they log onto Second Life. Unfortunately, people behind the avatars can expire, and the previous week brought three reminders that our virtual friends can one day be beyond our mortal reach.

Last week, Julie Apocalypse passed away after a long struggle with cancer. She was best known in Second Life for becoming the Queen of Bohemia in Tiny Empires. Besides a memorial being built for her, a service was held in her honor by dozens of her friends. Mojo Fiddlesticks and Raymond Goalpost headed the service. Mojo told those planning to attend Julies real-life funeral that it was requested purple be worn, I am attending for each and every one of you.

Raymond gave the following speech, Thanks for everyones patience with the move. We have all gathered here today to remember Julie Apocalypse. She passed away on May 17th, 2009, leaving behind family, friends, and her legacy which has touched many of us here in SL. I know that people are perceived in many different ways, depending on circumstances, and I wish to share with you my thoughts about Julie and then allow others to speak as well.

I have only known Julie though the game we played called Tiny Empires. From what I know of Julie, it was one of her passions. Julie was always eager to teach, to coach, and to help players, no matter what kingdom they were from. She was competitive, but fair. She relished running Bohemia and being online at all hours to not miss the next Trader or Festival. She was dedicated to leading and guiding all of us Bohemians, which in a way she saw as her children. She was witty and had a great sense of humor. And she was a stickler for proper spelling and use of language.

Many of us didn't really know how sick Julie was till we heard of her passing. Unfortunately, I knew along with several others which she had sworn to secrecy. And sometimes it was a burden to bear, but something you do for a friend. After Julie moved in with her daughter to become closer to her family, she was online much less often. She would still visit from time to time, but her visits would be short due to the amount of pain she was in. She was always trying to protect her Bohemian children from the truth and she put up one hell of a strong fight.

It was during one of these last visits to Second Life when I spoke to her. It really summed up for me what she felt about the spirit of Bohemia. Julie had come online to give us our tax amnesties, etc., and she TPed me to the castle so that I could liege her in preparation for my ascension to lead Bohemia. So I TPed, and in one of those great SL quirks my avatar appeared naked to me! Too embarrassed to ask Julie if I was naked, I acted normal chatting with her as I checked my clothes in my inventory and saw that yes, I was fully clothed, so not to worry. So we carried on, discussing her health and small talk, then lieged, and she told me she must go, due to her back being so sore.

I bid her goodbye and TPed to my home and was almost instantly asked, WHY ARE YOU NAKED? Naturally I turned a deep shade of red and meekly IMed Julie, Um ... Julie? ... was I naked when I was with you? And she just said to me, Why yes you were. I thought about saying something but ... what the heck ... this is BOHEMIA. We had a good laugh about that, and I know that as she logged out of SL she had a smile on her face. ... And that is whats important. Making special memories, laughing each day, and having experiences we can smile about.

I know that only scratches the surface of Julies personality, but she will be forever remembered by me for who she was and what she stood for.

I also have a message from Steelcobra Calamari who could not be here today, and asked me to speak for them:

Hello all, friends, friends and family of Julie, Bohemia. Sorry I could not be there as at this time I am just getting off work (wishes he could fire his RL boss). Well, just want to say ... Julie was one who inspired, motivated, and was always determined. She was a guiding soul to those that knew her. Willingly and selflessly helped those in need. She also had much humor as well. She always insisted that I should be a misfortune teller and open up my own psychic office. She will be missed on the physical. But know that she will continue to love us and smile on us in Spirit.

Raymond concluded, and Mojo spoke next, I used to take pleasure in talking in innuendoes ... that were sometimes so near to the bone. And Julie never told me off. (laughter) Her only exception was that she thought the word arse should be permitted. ... lag sorry. When she became ill, she refused to let me tell anyone anything. She refused to believe what the nurses told her in January this year. ... She spoke to me on the phone, and her main worry was that we were missing tax amnesties.

Mojo paused for a while, then resumed speaking, Sorry about that. SL always picks its moments. Even right at the beginning, on Boxing Day evening when she collapsed, her first words were, I need to get to the computer so I can give the permissions. She made her daughter ring me. The last time I spoke to Julie ... she admitted that it was terminal and she was not having treatment. She told me she had 6 to 12 months to live. What she forgot to say was that three months had already passed. She forgot on purpose, to protect me.

When I started Tiny Empires, there were no kingdoms. Someone bought me a TE HUD. I loved the game and moved the first time someone bribed me. I had no idea what I was doing. (laughter) Then Julie lieged me. I moved about 3 or 4 times ... daily ... and she said Hi ... within minutes she had given me more advice and help than the last 4 lieges had in total. And she explained to me that she lived about 1 real-life mile away from my house. That was our bond. She taught me everything as well.

People think that I knew Julie more than them. Okay, she sometimes confided in me about Bohemia, and I was her right hand man. But she didnt know me more than you ... nor did I know her more than you do. She loved each and every one of us, individually, for our minds, our souls, she loved all good people and stood for everything good. She never complained. She was an inspiration. She told me on the phone Bohemians were her children. Everyone she encountered on SL were close to her heart. But she was an intelligent woman, and she kept me at arms length because we met online. She was private, but loved wholeheartedly. Yes, her family knows how much we all meant to her. And that is why they have invited me to attend next week.

She cried, and said she didnt want to abdicate, but that she needed to for the good of the kingdom. Raymond was chosen by me because he believes in the Bohemia as created by Julie. And Julie never questioned my decision. She trusted my choice because she knew I didnt wasn't to ascend as I am not online as often as I would need to be.

She nearly died at Christmas when she first collapsed. And a few weeks later, she got an infection which sent her delirious and put her in the hospital. The nurses were going to let her go. Her daughter begged for antibiotics. She came home two days later, and came straight online as she had not been so for a whole week. She told the room, I have a trapped a nerve in my arm and cant type. Then she IMed me, and said, I nearly died. They brought me back from the brink of death. !! I said, and you told the room you have a sore arm!! Are you insane?! Please tell them. It sounds like you are being blasé. She said, no, I dont want to worry them. And I dont want sympathy.

Because she lobed us, and did not want us to feel pain. Also, she would not want any of us to sit online 24/7 and become ill. She wants people to see their real-life families, etc., and stop and smell the roses, and she wants us to remember her for what she stood for.

With the end of her speech, her fellow mourners spoke one after another, God bless Queen Julie.

Special thanks to Lomgren Smalls for providing the transcript and picture.

* * * * *
On May 26, 2009 a service was held for Artistic FimiColoud, whom had passed away from cancer one year before. She was Stephanie Koslow in real life and was 49. At her memorial at Park Galleries, people gathered passing one another memorial candles as soft music played in the background. A few people wore I Relay for Fimi tags.
Artistics friends talked about their late friend, her life online, her art, about how the little pink fox refused to admit defeat.

Artistics memorial at Park Galleries remains, at Park (234, 41, 78). Her work can continue to be viewed there. There is also a landmark to her treehouse home in Second Life, Sunweaver Air (42,116, 21), which continues to be maintained and has a number of pictures of her around the place. Most are various screenshots of her life online, but one there was one picture of Artistics avatar lying curled on the ground while an angellike being with a face much like her real-life one rose into the air. She also has a place in Second Life named after her, Fimi Falls, in Hope Gardens in the Colorado sim at (189, 44, 25).

Peaceful journey, little warrior.

* * * * *

Lohti Aeon's profile description didn't have much. A few groups, a picture of his virtual self, a single location. A man of few words, his 1st life tab simply stated, I'm a 19-year-old soldier who spends his spare time on his computer, after balancing out school, family crises, work, and other mumbo-jumbo.

In real life, he was Specialist Jacob D. Borton of the US Army. Described as a shy video gamer in his high school years, he joined the Army and was sent to Iraq. He was described as reserved, but not afraid to come to the aid of someone he felt was being pushed around, He wouldnt say much unless there was some injustice being done, and then he would speak up.

Borton met his end not at the hands of Islamofacist terrorists or their booby traps, but by one of his own comrades. He was one of the five soldiers killed at the combat stress clinic at Camp Liberty on May 11, 2009 by a sergeant sent there whom left the building and returned with a gun. Borton is described as putting himself between the shooter and another man, trying to talk the assailant into putting his gun down. He was 20 years old.

It was this week in which news of Borton's death finally reached his friends in Second Life. In response, space has been purchased at the War Memorial Annex in Ileina Cova for a memorial plaque in honor of the fallen soldier whom like the rest of us had a virtual presence here.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Primmiest House in Second Life?


By Bixyl Shuftan

I’ve seen a number of homes in Second Life, both apartments and small home rentals, and larger homes on one’s own virtual land. But Felina Fermi owns a place, along with her partner Rhypanthian Abilene, that has quite a large number of items. One visitor supposedly called it “the primmiest house in SL.”

Felina herself doubts she truly holds the record, but feels her home is certainly among the top for the most prims per square foot in a residential home, “I have seen people with *bigger* homes but they don't decorate it to the fullest with every room and every spot filled.” And indeed, just about every spot has been filled. Even a wastebasket had some paper wads next to it. The kitchen counter has often had numerous food trays with goodies on t √hem. A working home-entertainment system allows her and  her guests to watch one of a broad selection of movies. A number of pet cats walk about the living room, meowing and purring.

Unlike some homeowners in Second Life who strived to take full advantage to make what otherwise would be difficult to impossible, what Rezzable termed “Not Possible In Real Life,” Felina was determined to make a home representative of the North American middle-class dream, filling the house with what she would get in reality if she had the cash, “I wish I could afford all this in real-life.”

Is Felina’s home really “the primmiest house in Second Life?” Do any of you, the readers, know of anything with more?

Bixyl Shuftan

***

Felina told me of their prim space they were using 2830 out of a capacity of 3017. It held a lot, with lots of food on the dinner table, food and cooking gear in the kitchen, a fire extinguisher near the stove, sliding curtains in the shower, a working pool table, computer with wallpaper and icons, lots of pictures on the wall and potted plants around, "people don't ... often ... use a lot of pictures and plants," a working home theater system where she Rhypanthian frequently watched movies, and and a lot more. Among the virtual homeowners I knew, Felina was one of a kind, and as the years went by would continue to be so.