Australia revamped

australia build cellar Back in May 2007 we covered the launch of a sim in Second Life called Australia. Up until a month or so ago, things hadn’t altered much until the sim’s change of ownership when it’s previous owner sold due to real-world time contraints. Now run by Australian Second Life developers Top Dingo, there’s been a significant remodification.

Top Dingo partners Noel Jacobson (SL: Pants Lilliehook) and Amanda Hassett (Mahala Peccable) spent just under a month creating some impressive experiences, from red-dirt outback to a South Australian winery and Opera House. Some are indeed enhancements of builds already in existence but the overall effort is so much more than that. It all just seems to fit together a lot more effectively and there’s some real visual delights spread throughout. A highlight for me was the Centrepoint Sydney Tower with its 36-degree Sydney panorama.

Aesthetics have always been a matter of individual taste, but for me, the work done by the Top Dingo team has placed the Australia sim in the same league as the BigPond and ABC presences as far as their visual appeal and focus on building a community rather than a ‘brochure sim’.

A few pictures from the Australia sim:




Check it out in-world

Zindra: Second Life’s adult continent

As announced on the Linden Lab blog, Second Life residents now have access to the new adult-only continent called Zindra, for the next two weeks. There’s already a bunch of Linden-created content up and running, although not surprisingly there are dozens of empty buildings this early on in the piece. I’m a sucker for pretty and Zindra is indeed pretty in places. The real fun begins as the adult-content is migrated from the current mainland. The process for doing that will likely be fraught with challenges but now’s your chance to look at where you may like to be relocated to.

To view Zindra you’ll need to download the 1.23 Second Life Viewer update and have age-verified your Second Life account.

Below are some pics I took while exploring Zindra, enjoy:


Plenty of open space at present


No shortage of green space


One of three hydro-electric dams


Waiting to access Kama City


Land anyone?

The first landmark in Second Life

In Second Life, I’m a bit of a landmark hoarder, and I noticed that I had kept the very first landmark I saved when I became a Second Life resident in 2006. As was common for new residents, I’d saved the location of the casino whose chairs I used to sit in to gain Linden dollars. Those were the days. So, I then decided to visit the landmark itself and found that the University of North Carolina at Pembroke has replaced the casino of my Second Life youth:

It’s hard to avoid the juxtaposition of Second Life’s evolution since 2006 and my landmark experience: gambling, along with unregulated banking and activities like ageplay are no longer, with educators a stalwart community. There’s both upsides and downsides to those changes, but what hasn’t changed is the uncertainty over where Second Life will go next.

So now it’s over to you: do you remember your first saved landmark, and if so, what was it and does it still exist? Or has something else taken its place?

A Second Life success story: NCI

It has been in Second Life for four years (having just celebrated its fourth anniversary), has over 150 staff, costs about US$13,000 each year to operate, holds 46,592 square metres of Second Life land (and rents quite a bit more), and is among the virtual environment’s most well-trafficked organizations.

It isn’t one of those corporate sites you read about, though. It’s a non-profit group, with little existence outside of Second Life. It’s NCI, a volunteer organisation that ranks among the most successful groups in Linden Lab’s virtual world.


NCI’s basic mission is to assist and support newcomers to Second Life. Originally founded by Brace Coral in April 2005, Coral named the organisation New Citizens Incorporated (though the ‘incorporated’ part was merely in jest), and founded it on the principle that everyone in Second Life was able to contribute to the orientation and support of new users. Even those with only a few days of experience would have answers and information that newer users lacked.

Originally a self-help facility with social events and a building sandbox, the scope of NCI was already expanding by the time Carl Metropolitan took over as executive director in a popular vote in September 2005, when Brace Coral scaled back her Second Life activities.

With Metropolitan at the helm of the organization, NCI expanded significantly both in land and personnel, offering large numbers of classes and events, funded by advertising and donations, and standalone ‘aid stations’ called Infonodes scattered all over Second Life near areas where new users are likely to be found. NCI’s financial picture isn’t always a rosy one, however.

Advertising and donations don’t quite meet the operational bills each year, usually falling about US$1,500 short, which necessitates periodic fundraising activities to make up the shortfall, often in the form of charity auctions. NCI’s charity fundraisers are supported by quite a number of Second Life creators, as well as some corporations, such as Microsoft who donated software to the last big fundraising auction.

In an environment where users only have a limited number of group memberships available, NCI’s free-to-join group sports nearly 9000 members at present, and provides round-the-clock live-help for new users with questions and queries.

The NCI’s watch-words are civility, respect and courtesy, but maintaining a safe space for new users, protected from those who would exploit them or intentionally disrupt or harass them isn’t easy. NCI maintains strict rules of conduct, and enforces them swiftly when staff feel that new users may become upset or disturbed by the actions of a disruptive or abusive visitor. Indeed, one of the main pillars of NCI’s popularity is swift and strong enforcement of local conduct rules.

Keeping an organization like NCI running isn’t an easy job either. While class instructors and event hosts recieve payments from the organisation for their duties, nobody is getting a wage from the process. Senior staff can be under tremendous amounts of pressure. In the wake of NCI’s 4th anniversary celebration on 18 April, executive director, Carl Metropolitan decided that he needed a sabbatical, partly from the daily pressure of work, and partly due to unavoidable circumstances related to the USA’s economic downturn.

Presently, a new interim management team are settling in, with Afon Shepherd and Gramma Fiddlesticks cooperatively managing the organisation until Metropolitan’s return to duty. That NCI works at all is something of a surprise, being an expensive operation, with so many people from all walks of life, from most of the countries in the world, bonded primarily only by the willingness to help others and to donate their spare time.

NCI does work, however, and it works well. If you’re new to Second Life, it’s one of those must-visit places.


NCI Major Locations

Oscar Niemeyer and Second Life

Oscar Niemeyer’s work has gained many plaudits over the years and his architecture is now gaining some attention in Second Life, thanks to Hidenori Watanave and a student team from Tokyo Metropolitan University (Kanako Hayashi, Kaname Shimizu, Makiko Suzuki, Ryuta Kawahara and Yohei Nakano).

A 3D image database of Brazilian Niemeyer’s work is being developed and the team will spend a week in Brazil in early August. It’s all part of the 100th anniversary of the exchange relationship between Japan and Brazil. The current build is quite striking so I’m looking forward to seeing the final product.

Check it out in-world.

Wow factor: Google Maps in Second Life

UK virtual world consultants, Daden Limited have created an amazing build in Second Life that directly leverages Google Maps content. The visuals say it all:

The NPIRL and Digital Urban blogs have more info as well.

With multiple mirror worlds in development and work like this being done, can you imagine how interesting booking a holiday is going to be in coming years?

Check it out in-world and thanks to Meta Linden for the heads-up.

2008 Australian Open Tennis in Second Life

Following on from last year’s foray into Second Life, IBM and the tournament organisers have again teamed up to replicate the real world action in Second Life. Australian IBM staff are central to the whole thing and are hoping for a response at least equal to last year’s.


Features of the build include the replica Rod Laver and Margaret Court arenas, an integrated scoreboard, virtual gameplay (you can be one of the players on the court – racket supplied) and you can even open the Rod Laver arena’s roof by shouting ‘open sesame’. As matches are occurring in real life the Second Life court avatars move in the same locations as their real-life counterparts. It’s one of those experiences that really demonstrates the growing evolution of what virtual worlds can do. And of course you can even buy a t-shirt.


Something a little different from last year is the ‘Couture on the Court’ competition. You have until the 21st January to enter your tennis outfit design. From the 22nd January Second Life residents can vote on the submitted designs with the top 10 receiving a prize. First prize is a quarter of a million Linden dollars so if fashion design’s your thing this may be worth spending some time on.


Check it out in-world

Contraception talk in Second Life

The University of Plymouth have an excellent presence in Second Life devoted to sexual health. AIDS / HIV awareness, sexually transmitted diseases and other sexual health topics are the focus. Their blog lists a lot of their activity. One upcoming event that may interest you:

“Barbara Hastings-Asatourian, Managing Director of Contraception Education and Senior Lecturer in the School of Nursing at the University of Salford, is our guest speaker for the second seminar in our bimonthly sexual health seminar series.

Her seminar will be about Contraception, and will take place on 13 December 2007 at 8:00 PM (UK/GMT time = 12:00 PM/noon SLT) at the University of Plymouth Sexual Health SIM.

We are writing to invite you to attend this event. Please also forward to colleagues and friends who might be interested in attending. We will also have Christmas celebrations, a huge Christmas tree and much more at our SIM on the seminar day!”

Check it out in-world.

Freedom Expressed

Freedom Xpress is one of the more recent memorials to appear in Second Life. Its subject is freedom of expression and the journalists who have been killed for doing their job.


The organisers of the memorial, Dakila Lacava and Galilla Sinatra, describe their motivations:

“Freedom Xpress is a place of tribute to those who have fallen in the name of freedom of expression and the press. We are also a group dedicated to promoting these freedoms as indispensable to genuine human development and understanding.

Today, people continue to be persecuted, even killed as governments and groups with dire agendas seek to suppress the truth and those who bear witness to it. Freedom XPress is our small contribution to the effort to stave off the darkness from descending on us.

At the moment, we have erected two monuments, one to Philippine journalists murdered since 2001, and another to slain Russian journalists.

We would like to invite journalists from as many countries as possible to join us, to build their own tributes to the heroes of press freedom and free expression in their lands. We also welcome those who, journalists and non-journalists alike, wish to join us spread awareness through SL about how freedom of the press and of expression continue to be threatened and attacked all over the world.

If you want to know more abut Freedom XPress or get involved with us, please feel free to IM Dakila Lacava or Galilla Sinatra. We would be honored to have you on board.”

Check it out in-world

Virtual Melbourne has arrived

Melbourne Laneways is a new build featured on ABC Island. It was created by Gary Hazlitt and Ben Zabelin from The Project Factory on behalf of the ABC and Multimedia Victoria, who have produced an associated publication titled ‘Would Your Business Benefit from a Second Life’ (download here).

The public launch was held this evening (Thursday night) at 7pm AEST with a good roll up of aussie residents:


The creators describe the build as such: “The project uses real-life images of graffiti, architecture and objects found in Melbourne’s iconic city streets, and recreates these to produce a completely interactive world where people can explore mysterious laneways, clubs, puzzles and cafes.  
Head of Virtual World Development at The Project Factory, Gary Hayes, says: ‘We wanted to catch the vibrancy of the Melbourne Laneways and the architecture of Federation Square.  Second Life gave us the ability to animate these buildings and give them the movement that we feel they want.’ ”

There’s a lot to explore in a fairly modest area. Without giving too much away, here’s some glimpses of what to expect:



And there’s even a cafe you can drop by with a well-known face behind the counter:


It’s great to see an iconic part of Melbourne in Second Life. Now, where’s Hobart?

Check it out in-world

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