RFL: The Paint it Purple wrap and the Kick-off weekend

2015-RFL-Kick-OffSaturday March 7th and Sunday March 8th will see both a wind-down of the 2015 RFL of SL Paint it Purple campaign and the launch of the official 2015 RFL of SL fund raising season as he kick-off weekend arrives.

Paint it Purple, the annual event designed to raise awareness and excitement about the current year’s RFL of sL season, started on February 21st and concludes on Saturday February 7th (so you still have time to join in, if you haven’t already done so!). It does so by encouraging everyone to paint the grid purple, the official colour of RFL of SL, and you can do so by painting your house, your land, even yourself purple for all or part of the time.

To mark the end of this year’s campaign, there will be a special Paint Second Life Purple wrap up party on Saturday, March 7th, starting at 17:00 SLT and running through until 20:00  SLT. Hosted by T1 Radio, the party is also an opportunity for  teams to set-up for the Main Event on Sunday, March 8th. So why not get the purple togs out one last time and join the fun!

The RFL of SL 2015 kick-off event takes place on Sunday, March 8th

The RFL of SL 2015 kick-off event takes place on Sunday, March 8th

Sunday, March 8th marks the official RFL of SL kick-off event, with activities occurring throughout the day (all times SLT):

  • 09:00 – 10:00 – T1 Radio Pre-Kick Off Show
  • 10:00 – 11:00 – Kick Off Opening Ceremony & Speeches
  • 11:00 – 17:00 – Live performers, djs, and team campsites are open
  • 17:00 – 19:00 – Fireworks & Closing Party with T1 Radio’s Trader1 Whiplash

The kick-off events will take place across two regions adjacent to the American Cancer Society island (offical SLurls will be available via the RFL of SL website nearer the weekend). In keeping with the Back to the Future inspired theme for this year’s season, they have been designed to recreate the feel of the very first virtual relay, which took place in 2005, complete with team camp sites ready and waiting for set-up to commence.

So the only question now is: are you ready to relay?

The kick-off event regions recreate the feel of the first ever virtual Relay event of 2005

The kick-off event regions recreate the feel of the first ever virtual Relay event of 2005

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FreeWee’s Lab: the magic of sound, light, physics and colour

The power of projected lights at FreeWee's Laboratory v.8.0: Music, Myth, Magic, Light, Shadows, Physics, LEA27

The power of projected lights – neither of these figures is textured; the colours and clothing on them is created purely be projected lights. FreeWee’s Laboratory v.8.0: Music, Myth, Magic, Light, Shadows, Physics, LEA27

FreeWee Ling is perhaps best known for her tireless work on behalf of the University of Western Australia (UWA), and co-organiser and curator of the UWA’s art-related projects, activities and galleries within Second Life. She recently – and rightly – gained recognition from the Australian Department of Education for this work when she was awarded her an Endeavour Fellowship at the end of 2014. This has allowed her to travel from her home in the eastern United States to spend four months at the UWA in Perth, Australia, where she is based with the UWA’s Department of Physics.

In conjunction with her time at the UWA in the physical world, FreeWee has been granted the use of a LEA Artist in Residence region, where she has established FreeWee’s Laboratory v.8.0: Music, Myth, Magic, Light, Shadows, Physics, a unique combination of workshop, study space, laboratory and gallery focused on helping her demonstrate the potential of virtual worlds to students at the UWA.

When you arrive in the region, it may look somewhat chaotic and perhaps even feel half-finished. Don’t let this put you off; this is a workshop / lab, and what is on offer more than makes up for chaotic the appearance. Keep in mind as well, that elements within the installation may change over time in order to meet FreeWee’s evolving needs as a part of her work at the UWA.

As FreeWee is working with the Department of Physics at the UWA, many of the items within the region explore the nature of physics in Second Life, be it through movement, light or colour.  Just up the ramp from the landing point, for example, is her award winning nanoprim physics lab from 2010, together with a rocket that will take you up to her Solar Observatory, which I’ll have more to say about anon.

FreeWee is a musicologist by education, with a specialist interest in the history, use and physics of music. Together with fellow musicologist Oriscus Zauberflote, she formed the Kithara Associates, which is focused on the creation of musical instruments in SL that are reasonably authentic in appearance, in order to enhance the immersive experience of the platform for the purpose of learning and research, and this work is also present within the installation, in the form of the Theatrum Instrumentorum.

This is, in essence, a museum of musical instruments featuring photographs and information boards of the instruments in the physical world, and samples of instruments built in-world, some of which extend to the creation of hybrid / fictional instruments depicted in works of art. Several of the pieces are playable, and I particularly enjoyed using the carillon to play a melody I’d had to learn many, many moons ago when starting to learn to play the piano. Also on offer within the Theatrum is a teleport up to Swingtones, a demonstration of the effectiveness of sound in helping to create an ambient, immersive environment.

The Solar Observatory mentioned earlier, and which can be reached by rocket, is spread over two levels. The lower level presents visitors with both an introduction to elements of solar and stellar astronomy and also provides insight into the peculiarities of the SL “solar system” and day / night cycle, with interactive demonstrations throughout, as well as well-written information cards and links to external sources.

The upper level, reached by elevator, offers the chance to study the Sun first hand, complete with coronal mass ejections (CMEs), sun spots and the flow of the solar wind. The elevator is guarded with a firm caution about the risks of blindness and exposure to gamma radiation should you opt to take the elevator, but both both sun screen (SPF 1000) and sunglasses are thoughtfully provided to mitigate the effects of both :) . At the top of the elevator is a platform allowing you to view the Sun Sunshine-like, or if you’re feeling particularly daring, you can rez a chameleon flyer and fly yourself around the Sun. However, if you opt to do the latter, do try to keep in mind the story of Icarus, and what happened when he flew a tad too close to the Sun …

Elsewhere in the region you can find a novel “get away from it all” rezzer system, interactive art pieces, a gallery of FreeWee’s own art and, in what is another superb demonstration of SL’s capabilities in the Projection Room (a large white building on the east side of the region.

The power of projected lights - the image on the left shows an untextured figure; on the right, the same figure, lit entirely by projected lights. FreeWee's Laboratory v.8.0: Music, Myth, Magic, Light, Shadows, Physics, LEA27

The power of projected lights – the image on the left shows an untextured figure; on the right, the same figure, lit entirely by projected lights. FreeWee’s Laboratory v.8.0: Music, Myth, Magic, Light, Shadows, Physics, LEA27

This focuses on the use of projected lights in Second Life. As such, you will need to have the Advanced Lighting Model graphics option enabled on your viewer (you do not need to enable shadows, so any performance hit you may experience shouldn’t bee too great), and keep in mind that none of the figures in the room are actually textured. What you see as you move around and active the lighting sources is purely the result of using projected light sources and textures.

All told, the Laboratory makes for a fascinating installation, one in which it is easy to become absorbed in the individual elements on offer, allow of which are provided with informative note cards which not only provide insight into what they are and how they work, but often explore the creative processes involved in creating them, and provide a glimpse into FreeWee’s mind and thought processes, further enhancing the time one takes in exploring the installation.

Highly recommended.

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Fantasy Faire 2015 opens the doors for creator registrations

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015 saw the opening of Creator Registrations for the 2015 Fantasy Faire.

Fantasy Faire, which will take place between April 23rd and May 3rd 2015 (inclusive), is the largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life. It brings together fantasy enthusiasts, creators, performers and designers for ten days of commerce, special events, live music concerts across 12 themed regions, and with special emphasis on fund raising for Relay for Life of Second Life.

Fantasy Faire 2014; Inara Pey, April 2014, on Flickr Fantasy Faire 2014 (Flickr)

This year marks the 7th annual Fantasy faire, and the organisers are projecting a very high turn-out for both creators and visitors, and there are a number of ways for creators to be involved:

  • Themed Store with 300 prims allocation: L$2500
  • Featured Creator Store with 700 prims allocation: L$ 8,000 – these store are located near the region sponsor and landing point
  • Featured Creator Store + Event Sponsor: L$33000
  • Event/Hunt Sponsor: L$30,000 – this option does NOT include a store, but can be combined with a Themed or Featured Creator Store if required. Advertising at all Events including the Hunt, on the FF blog, on Fantasy Faire radio & in any promotional materials is included.

All applicants for store space are asked to have at least two (2) NEW items for sale, and preferably four (4), that benefit Relay for Life. Vendors for these items will be supplied by the organisers prior to the set-up dates.

Fantasy Faire 2014: The Faery Court, Inara Pey on FlickrFaery Court: Fantasy Faire 2014 (Flickr)

How To Apply

To apply, please complete the Fantasy Faire Store Registration form no later than Tuesday, March 31st, 2015.

Remember that Fantasy Faire is a popular event, and than in 2014 store opportunities were quickly booked out. Therefore, earlier registrations are recommended, as spaces will be granted in the order of application / receipt of donation.

All successful applicants will receive an invitation to join the * * FFC Fantasy Faire – Backstage * * group, together with an information pack once applications have been processed and donations received. Request for donation payments will be sent to all successful applicant by FANTASYFAIRE RESIDENT as their applications are processed. All payment is going to a dedicated official Faire treasury account avatar for onward donation to RFL, and payments should not be made to anyone else. All transaction histories are available for examination on request and will be sent to RFL.

Further Information and Related Links

Re-visiting the Queen of the Sagittarian Sea

While introducing Maya to sailing in Second Life recently, I took us out on Exotix 2, heading south across Blake Sea with no particular destination in mind. As we headed down the coastal regions towards Honah Lee (see my write-up here),  I found myself asking, “ever seen the SS Galaxy?”

“No,” Maya replied. “What is that?” And with that, our course was set.

I mention this by way of introduction, because I frequently meet people unaware of the Queen of the Sagittarian Sea, more properly known as the SS Galaxy, which tend to surprise me, as she is quite unique and one of the sights of the platform. At almost three full regions in length and about 1/4 of of a region wide, she is quite probably probably the largest vessel afloat in any gird-based virtual world. “Launched” in mid-2007, she is a hugely impressive sight (and build), with an unladen primmage in excess of 32,000.

SS Galaxy

SS Galaxy – 3/4 view off the bow

Obviously, at that size, the Galaxy isn’t a mobile vessel, but that doesn’t matter, because what it has always offered Second Life residents is a destination with broad range of activities and a calendar of events in a very unique setting.  It also offers over 100 suites, cabins and mall spots to rent by those looking for a place to live or in which to establish a shop front.

I first visited the Galaxy in 2008, and became a semi-regular visitor over the years, first blogging about it in 2011.  I’ve continued to pay the occasional visit since then in as much as since taking up flying, I’ve often used the Galaxy as a way point for my solo flights when I’ve no particular destination in mind, and have very occasionally sailed around her. However, it’s actually been a few years since I last explored her decks and facilities, so the sailing trip with Maya turned into an unexpected opportunity to re-familiarise myself with this massive ship.

SS Galaxy - the spa pool

SS Galaxy – the spa pool

If you are going to explore the liner, the best place to start is the aft embarkation landing. From here you can peruse the ship’s deck plan and determine points of interest you might like to visit. The list of these includes the Zodiac Ballroom, Constellation Lounge, shopping mall, art galleries, swimming pools (indoor and out), ice skating rink, health spa, restaurants, nightclub, conference facilities, and more. Decks can largely be wandered at will, with both staircases and elevators linking them, making getting around easy.

The upper deck offers the greatest concentration of attractions. It is here you’ll find the Zodiac Ballroom, sitting under a huge glass dome, the main dining room and bar, the ice skating rink, coral lagoon pool and the wedding chapel and reception area. A couple of public helipads offer those flying in a place to land, but be aware that auto-return in set to 15 minutes, and rezzing is disabled.

The upper deck also offers a couple of attractions I used to enjoy years ago with friends, but again haven’t played in a long time: the miniature putting green and the skeet / clay pigeon shoot. These are located at the aft end of the deck, close to the dome of the Zodiac Ballroom,  along with the skydiving launcher and landing point, where I was able to introduce Strawberry Singh to the joys of skydiving in 2014.

SS Galaxy - wedding reception area

SS Galaxy – wedding reception area

As one would expect aboard a cruise ship, live events and music are a regular part of the Galaxy’s calendar, and details of music / dancing events can be found on the ship’s events calendar, also reproduced on the on the Galaxy’s blog which also includes general news and information about the ship.

The Galaxy may be an all prim build and perhaps lack more recent innovations introduced to SL such as the use of materials as a part of interior texturing, but it would be a mistake to dismiss her as “old school” because of this. What she may lack in terms of modern day build options she more than makes up for in terms of facilities and things to do; as such she still stands as a worthwhile destination for those who like exploring Second Life. What’s more, as she approaches her eighth anniversary, the SS Galaxy stands as a part of the history of Second Life, and her presence in-world is testament of how the platform has always been a springboard to our imaginations and creativity.

Sailing around the SS Galaxy in 2014

Sailing around the SS Galaxy in 2014

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