Saturday, May 28, 2011

Home Sweet Linden Home Part 1: Weeks 1 to 8

I was three weeks into my Second Life and running to public dressing rooms every time I needed to change clothes was getting old. Then the day came when I teleported to NCI, Kuula to change and was promptly IM’d by one of the elders that there was no nudity allowed. Oops. Ever have that dream where you are standing naked in front of a crowd of people?  It was time to find a home to call my own.

Should I rent or should I own?  Most of the rentals I had seen were 200 Linden Dollars per week, for one hundred prims (not that I knew what prims were at the time).  One of my new friends recommended getting a Linden home. They are free with a premium account which also doles out a weekly stipend of 300L. By this time it was clear to me I liked Second Life and would continue playing, so it seemed fair to become a member and support SLs’ continuation.  I did the math and it turned out that stipend made it less expensive to be a premium member (paid quarterly) and own a Linden home than to rent. 
Less 300L Weekly Stipend
Per Week USD 
Per Month USD
Per Annum USD
($1USD = 250LD)

Per Week  Linden
Per Month Linden
Per Annum Linden

It is the best minimum parcel land deal for a residence on the grid since the house comes with menu driven curtains, shutters and security system that also does not count against your prim allotment. You get the full 117 prims/512m to decorate your home. You can see the info on the Linden homes here

Linden Homes are strictly residential and not for everybody – they have restrictions - among other things they cannot be used for business and you can’t build on them. Build? At the time I was a newbie still having trouble rezzing boxes let alone making one, so a planned community sounded fine to me.   I just wanted a landmark called home and a place to change cloths in private. I went for the Meadowbrook and choose the Overlook model that had an indoor pool.

It was my next big learning experience. The first thing I learned was how to move objects around using the edit arrows as I turned the pool into an indoor meditation garden. 

The second thing I learned was how to use Alt+Cntl+T and “Place Profile” (on the location bar) to find and retrieve the lotus I had sunk below the pool and half way back to China.

Once that was up I started rezzing free furniture like crazy and very soon I came up against that 117 prim limit (see 5).  Most of the free furniture was ugly and high prim. Prims (primitives), I soon learned were the building blocks of all objects in Second Life: a table would typically be 5 prims, 4 legs and a top ( The well detailed furniture I liked was high prim and expensive so I backed off on decorating for a while. I was satisfied with having a place to call home and to change. Apparently most of my neighbors feel the same way - the surrounding houses are, by in large, uninhabited, empty or sparsely furnished. 

Then one day I was introduced to someone with a fully furnished Linden home. It was a cozy model consisting of a living room and bedroom, but Royal had done a good job of coordinating the furniture with art and rugs.  

My place was a vast empty void in comparison. It gave me the decorating bug.

I was off to Xstreet for a couch, tables and chairs. Of all the free furniture I had acquired in my first few weeks in SL, the only ones that worked for me were a rug and wardrobe from Yak and Yeti (one of the most beloved and blogged about freebie spots on the grid and very much worth the trip .  

I had this big blank wall that was perfect for a kitchen. I know it’s crazy but I wanted to be able to offer people a cup of coffee when they stopped by.   I found the “Blanche” by searching for “Linden Home” and then choosing “furniture” on the Marketplace (Xstreet). It took up 18 prims.

I soon discovered Xstreet listings often had links so my avatar could check out items in world.  Other furniture and furniture stores can be found by searching “Low Prim” on Xstreet and in-world.  Lok’s is probably the biggest of the low prim furniture dealers, but the least expensive is “Pop Art Furniture” where most of the items are just 1L and fairly low prim.  .
Seeing furniture in world is the best way to make sure the piece fits your prim budget. Right click the item and choose edit. The prim count is on the right.

Next I learned to make my own one prim pictures out of flattened  boxes and uploaded my favorite paintings by Mongolian artist, Soyolma Davaakhu (yes, I have permission ).

 That small black box you see embedded into the wall below the picture is a music stream controller from the freebie vendor at the NCI.  Controlling your own music is a land-owning plus renters don’t always get.

Call me Goldilocks – in one day I acquired three beds.  One was too small, one was a prim hog and unfortunately the one that was just right – only 18 prims, good style with full menu, for only 100L, is no longer available on Xstreet or I would give you the link.
A few 1 prim cabinets and tables and there I was knocking against the 117 prim limit again so that sometimes I couldn't rez boxes. The house was still sparsely furnished in my eyes. It lacked all the small personal things that make a house a home.  I could easily use 50-100 more prims. I had done my best, learned a lot while doing it, and now it was time to let go of the idea that I could ever make a Linden home look like a real life home and move onto some other creative project.

But there was one thing more I wanted for my home.  Second Life is for doing all the things you can only dream of doing in real life. I have always wanted to play the piano.  I think I would have emptied the house to have a piano. But I didn’t have to.  Finding THE piano was one of the most fun hunts I have undertaken since landing on the grid, and doing so spurred round three of my personal Linden home decorating challenge.

For a preview of the star of that story go to

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Getting started in Second Life and Looking Good

Leaving my Facebook game family was hard but it was time to move on. I miss them all terribly. I am writing this blog for them, so they can get off to a good start if they get the urge to explore Second Life.

The first place to go is the NCI.  They are New Citizens Incorporated, a welcoming center. They have freebies and classes. Check them out here:  They were/are the single biggest source of help for me. There are always elders gathered on Kuula who willing to answer newbie questions (sometimes the same questions for the 1,000 time, bless them).

Until you have a home of your own you can use the NCI’s free changing rooms. The ones in Kuula tend to be popular (someone once pushed me off a posing stand), but I have found the changing rooms at Dreamseeker are hardly used at all 

See that sign behind me that says “Looking Good”.

Touch it then look for the notecard in your inventory. It will tell you all sorts of useful things like how to rez boxed items from your inventory onto the ground, open them, transfer the contents to inventory, and THEN put them on -- without ending up with a box on your head. Never-the-less, it is inevitable that you will rez a box on your head (midsection or arm) – when you do just click it and detach.

The best place for freebies is the Rock.

You will be tempted to load up and take everything. Don’t. You can always go back.  A lot of the stuff here are early designs so, while free and serviceable, they don’t look that great; and until you have some sensibilities as to what is well constructed and what is not, why bother? This is the best place for newbies to go on their first day to get their starter skins and shapes, hair and clothes. Think packing for a vacation. Get stuff you will need like bathing suit, formal/tux, suit, jeans, pants, shirts, minis, shoes, boots, and if you are into role play, weapons, etc.

 When it comes to skins you want something that looks real. For ladies check out the back of the avatar skin – if you can see well defined shoulder blades and spine, chances are the designer detailed the rest of the skin well, too. For men look for well defined six pack and guns.

You don’t have to spend a dime to play Second Life, but I have found there while there are a lot of super freebies, there are four things you have to spend Lindens (L$) on to look really good: Skin & Shape (best bought together), hair, jewelry and shoes.  To look really good on SL it will cost you about $5 – 20 USD. Start by getting yourself $1,000 Lindens, about $5 USD, and you are on your way. The first thing you need is a good skin and shape.

After a week of trying on every free lady skin available and pretty much fiddling with my face and shape till I ruined it, I went whole hog and spent about $8 USD on my avatar and got it from e-styles Paris. I look great and consider it the best money I ever spent on SL, but I didn’t have to spend that much to look good. Right now there is a new designer, Noya, selling women’s skin and shape combos for L$200 (less than $1USD). 

Go to X-street, buy one, and it will save you a lot of time trouble fooling around with your shape trying to look more like a human and less like a toon.

I haven’t demo’d them for myself, but Secret Passions is doing some promos on men’s complete avatars, shapes and skins combined for L299.

You can also find lots of other freebies and promos on Xstreet – one stop shopping.  It is a good place to find shoes, jewelry and hair.  Avoid jewelry that has “Bling” as this shouts “NOOB!”

I think I must have bought all the cheap promo hairstyles for redheads on Xstreet. Some were good, some were not so good.  I never wear any of them anymore, and now buy the hair styles that really suits me in my shade of red. The hair I like the best is by DrLife. It is “flexie-hair” hair that moves and looks real. DrLife skins and hair is very popular on the Asian sims, but the hair looks just as great on occidental avatars. It is great hair for newbies in that it comes with an 11 shade touch-to-change menu, so if later you decide you don’t want your avatar to be blond anymore, you can switch to brunette and keep the hair style. So while it will cost you L$350, with 11 shades to choose from that’s only about L$32/per look.  It is money well spent, as it will serve you no matter how many times you change your avatar’s looks. 

I liked it so much a bought a franchise.
This is me in my shop, Belle Coiffure. Setting it up is a whole ‘nother blog.  Stop by and say Hi!

One night my dance partner got tired of looking at himself in his free Harry Potter hair and poof he went bald. Not a good look for him. After an hour of dancing with Daddy Warbucks I decided to take him hair shopping. There are not as many choices for men so I previewed likely shops on XStreet. We began at Exile

And ended up there after trying on every do at a half dozen other shops. He ended up with a rug named Owen.  No more Harry Potter, no more Daddy Warbucks, and for a mere L250 the dude is looking mighty cute these days.

There are groups that sponsor sales where all sorts of current designer items can be picked up for free or next to nothing. My favorite is which sponsors a L$55 Thursday. I have always found a few steals here every Thursday. One jewelry designer, Milli usually offers matching necklaces and earrings for L$55.

Speaking of steals - Right now Phoenix Rising is having a going out of business sale.  Well-made, designer outfits for L$1 or L$25.  Everything on the wall behind me including the cute little number I am wearing (the best detailed jeans I own) are only L$1.
They also have some men’s clothes. I highly recommend spending the lindens here. Every outfit I am wearing in this blog came from Phoenix Rising. Ladies, Be sure to pick up a dress called “Whisper.” For L$25 you will get a bathing suit, mini dress and formal gown.  You can get it in different colors by clicking the boxes below the picture of the yellow dress.

Ladies if you don’t want to walk like a duck you will need a sexy walk animation override.  I tried the freebies I found for newbies and the conclusion it is best to get one at Vista Animations. If you join their group you can get the basic model for free. There are also more expensive ones with more poses if you want to spend the money.

So to get started in Second Life, and looking good on $5 USD your budget looks like this:
Shape and Skin                                 L$200 to 300
Hair                                                  L$250 to 350
Designer Outfits from
Phoenix               Rising                   L$200
Shoes from Xtreet
Or 55L Thursday                             L$125
Jewelry from Xsteet
Or 55L Thursday                            L$125