Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: eBENTO Event Third Anniversary Gifts

One of Ryan’s tips for freebie shopping in Second Life is to always hit the major shopping events on their anniversaries, when almost all of the vendors participating put out a free gift for shoppers as a thank you.

Well, the eBENTO event is now on in SL, and they are celebrating their third anniversary with an abundance of gifts! You do have to join the eBENTO group to pick up all the gifts (the group is free to join).

Here are just five of the many gifts available. First up is this Cute notebook from MOVEMENT, which comes with the hold pose shown that overrides your regular animation override. The Cute glasses are a separate attachment. I quite like this!

Look at this gorgeous turquoise blue gown! It is called Oceanic Aquatica, and it is the gift from the RAPTURE booth.

This sexy little red Beatrix dress is the gift from Eternus:

Mesh body maker Tonic has a free gift of these black snubby platform pumps, a wardrobe essential! They come in sizes to fit Slink-compatible feet and, of course, Tonic mesh body feet.

The gift from SlackGirl are these lovely Carezza Bento mesh nails, which come in eight sizes for just about every possible version of mesh hands out there, plus a texture HUD with eight different shades, including black. Best of all, the Altamura version of these nails works well with all the freebie versions of Altamura bodies, so if you picked up one of those at some time in the past, you’ll definitely want to get this gift!

There are so many more gifts to be snapped up, everything from skins and makeup to poses and animations. Here’s your taxi to drop you off right at the centre square of the eBENTO event! Happy freebie shopping!

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UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: the Free Ruthie Bento Bakes on Mesh Body from Tiny Things

I have a horrible confession to make: a guilty, shameful, secret pleasure.

Every couple of days, I must pop into the r/Botchedsurgeries subReddit community on Reddit, just to see what horrible plastic surgery that men and women (who often suffer from a mental health condition called Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD) undergo in order to make themselves look more “handsome” or “beautiful”.

It’s a never-ending hot mess, a combination train wreck-dumpster fire that appalls me, yet I cannot look away. I routinely click through to see the pictures of botched plastic surgery results—butt implants that stick out like shelves, facial filler that gives unnaturally sharp cheekbones and chins, eyebrow lifts that make people look like they should speak Vulcan, breast implants that look like overinflated balloons that are about to pop at any second.

And I was reminded of my guilty, shameful secret today when I reviewed a new, free mesh body, a recent addition to The Stay at Home Club freebies website. It is called the Ruthie female mesh body by a store called Tiny Things.

CAUTION: The Tiny Things store is located on an Adult-rated sim, which is run by somebody who. ummm… (how can I put this delicately?) caters to certain fetishes. The main sim is pretty safe, but if you decide to take one of the teleports to some of the other platforms on the sim, you might see something you’d rather wish you hadn’t. CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED.

Just teleport here, walk into the absurdly tiny store, and click on the panel to get your free Ruthie body:

This body is Bento, and works with Bakes on Mesh skins (you can also buy an Omega system kit to apply Omega skins to Tiny Things mesh bodies). I decided to pair this Stay at Home Club gift with another Stay at Home freebie, the Ciara Bento Bakes on Mesh head from Dream (which I blogged about previously here). For the skin, I used one of the Elvira Bakes-on-Mesh skins I picked up from the Advent/Christmas tree at 7 Deadly Skins last December (this skin tone is called Maple).

Here is what she looks like, wearing the dress that comes in the package, plus the free Sonnet pumps from Hilly Haalan (the feet appear to be Slink-compatible, although the included foot height for the Sonnet pumps made the base of the feet turn white, so I had to set it aside and then just adjust the shoes by hand to fit). Oh, and you only get the high-heeled foot option, there are zero settings to adjust the feet for medium-height shoes or flats. UPDATE May 17th, 2020: I have tested rigged Slink-compatible shoes on these feet and they do not work, so your shoe options are going to severely restricted for this particular mesh body.

This is an avatar with an ample bosom! This is pretty much the SMALLEST that I could make her breasts using the body sliders (I think they are set at 25 in this picture). If I turned the sliders any lower, the breasts would collapse into horrible shapes, and they would begin to poke through this dress, which is supposed to be designed to fit this body perfectly!

And you should see what they look like if you crank the sliders up to 100! (I think the store name “Tiny Things” is meant to be ironic.) I would post a picture, but it would shock the children 😉 ….

I have included the HUD in the picture above to show you the alpha sections available. Like the freebie versions of the eBody Classic and Curvy female mesh avatar bodies, there are only “thick” alpha sections on the HUD, so you will have to be somewhat careful what you wear with this free body. This body simply won’t work with a lot of the skin-baring clothing that it was intended to wear…unless of course it’s Bakes-on-Mesh layers or older, system avatar clothing with flexiprims.

One thing that I do like about the Ruthie body is you can tint the fingernails any colour you desire using the Color tab on the HUD (you can also tint the skin and the nipples separately). You wanna be a green alien? Go for it!

However, because it is a custom mesh body, and not one of the “Big Four” (Maitreya, Belleza, Slink or Meshbody Legacy), you are likely going to have some serious trouble finding clothing to fit this avatar properly.

I tried out several items of clothing from the Baby Monkey capsule wardrobe available as a freebie at the Free*Style store (more information here), and there were a few problem areas. Here is the much more modest Clover dress, where I had to alpha out the breasts, torso and pelvic area to make it fit (and I still had problem areas at the neckline, that are hard to see in this picture):

And here is the Merino turtleneck sweater and Thalia jeans from the same capsule wardrobe. This outfit works better, since you basically have alpha’ed out your entire body…but then, really, what’s the point of this avatar? She was obviously designed to show some skin, and perhaps not to wear any clothing at all! (Ruthie will no doubt prove popular on a few of Second Life’s stripper/escort/fetish sims, where there are, amazingly, some avatars still rocking non-mesh, older system avatars…those people have zero excuse not to upgrade to all-mesh now.)

And if you are only going to be able to wear modest clothing such as this, you’re probably better off with a free or inexpensive female mesh bodies that have many, many more features, including a finer set of alpha selections. The Ruthie mesh body was obviously intended for people who want very large-breasted avatars (Hellooo, r/Botchedsurgeries!), and frankly, it doesn’t make any sense to use this body if you wanted a non-botched-surgery figure to start with.

But if you are looking for an avatar with enormous breasts, boy did you come to the right place! Otherwise, you’d be better off with another freebie body (like the recently reviewed, and much more adjustable, Viva Bento mesh body, which offers a lot more bells and whistles than this package).

Hmmm, this blogpost came out a lot crankier than I had intended! Sorry! All I am saying is, drop by and pick the Ruthie body up for yourself if you’re curious, and play with the sliders to see if it works for you. Some people will like it, and some won’t. And, for free, you have nothing to lose! Thank you to Tiny Things for making this free gift available to Second Life users.

UPDATE May 13th, 2020: O.K. I did a little experiment last night. I took my alt, wearing her new Ruthie mesh body and Ciara mesh head, over to Escort Oasis, plunked her down on one of the animated burlesque dancer chairs, signed into the tip jar, and let her dance among all the other working girls:

Ruthie struts her stuff at Escort Oasis

This is one of those free-lance dancer/stripper/escort places where, as I previously mentioned, some of the avatars trying to make a buck are still using classic system (non-mesh) avatars. (For God’s sake, the woman next to me was wearing truly ancient, 2003-era shoes with invisiprims and bling!) THESE are the people who need the Ruthie body, the target market that Tiny Things is probably aiming for.

Well. I am pleased to announce that just by dancing over the course of yesterday evening (no escorting—after all, a girl has rules 😉 ), I actually earned a L$25 tip, and I won another L$9 from the sploder! Grand total in earnings for the evening: L$34.

So, ironically, it means that this alt, which I created from scratch from head to toe without spending a single Linden dollar, has actually earned me more money than I spent on her! Yes, I have made a net profit on this one! It surprised me, too.

By the way, if you ever do have an avatar short of Linden dollars, this is one of the better spots in Second Life to park yourself on an animated chair, platform, or dance pole, dance your little heart out for a few hours or a half day or so, and take a chance on winning a small mount of Linden dollars (L$2 to L$9) if you are randomly selected when the sploder gives away cash every fifteen minutes.

Of course, it’s an inducement to increase traffic to the Escort Oasis sim, but it is very effective. As long as you don’t have any moral qualms about hanging out in an Adult-rated sim which is meant to be a place where virtual johns meet virtual hookers, why not dress up, go dancing, and maybe earn a few Linden dollars to spend on more fabulous dollarbies and other bargains and deals in SL?

Oh, and I also fiddled with the body sliders a bit more, to make the Ruthie body look a little better in this last picture I took at the Escort Oasis. I made her taller and adjusted a few of her curves to balance out that ample bosom (a little trick I picked up from watching the drag queens on RuPaul’s Drag Race!).

I also retextured the included dress in the Ruthie package to a floral pattern I had in my inventory which I liked better than the design that the dress came with. The group gift Sonnet pumps from Hilly Haalan have a HUD with many colour options to match any outfit, so I picked a tan colour for the shoes to match the dress.

So, my overall opinion of the Ruthie mesh body has gone up a little bit after my burlesque dancing adventures of yesterday evening… I mean, what’s not to love about a free body that actually earns you some coin? 😉

UPDATE May 15th, 2020: O.K., I am now taking back ANYTHING NEGATIVE I HAVE EVER SAID ABOUT THE RUTHIE BODY.

This evening, wearing this body, I earned L$500 dancing for tips at the Escort Oasis (yes, I am truly shameless). In total, this freebie body has earned me L$534! 😉

Also, I have been experimenting with older, system avatar clothing and, of course, with Bakes on Mesh, they have a new life on Bakes-on-Mesh compatible mesh bodies like Ruthie! Here’s an example, a black outfit I picked up for free from the Wise Heron Newbie Mall:

Now, there’s a hint of camel toe going on with this skintight outfit, but if you can live with that, you will find that there are countless, older freebie stores absolutely stuffed to the brim with older system-layer-and-flexiprim clothing that nobody really wants. You are pretty much guaranteed to find something that you like and can repurpose, like this sexy outfit!

Happy freebie shopping!

Herding Cats, Part III: Taking a Third Step Towards Developing a Taxonomy of Metaverse Products by Categorizing Social VR Platforms by Architecture, Game Engine, and Scripting Language

H’yaaah, little kitties! H’yaaahh!!

OK, I have shared a first draft of the following infographic to as many social VR Discords as I could find, and I got a fair bit of feedback, so I’m reasonably certain that this will stay Version 1.0 for a little while longer than my thrice-updated Venn diagram of social VR platforms by purpose (here, and the original blopost is here).

As with the previous infographic, I have set this one to CC BY 2.0 CA. Feel free to reuse and remix this, just give me credit, please.

The following diagram is available to view and download in various sizes from Flickr, up to a whopping 800 by 2000 pixels.

Please note that this is an updated and expanded version of the information from the last three columns of this table (my original blogpost). I really need to update that table too, especially since things are evolving so quickly in the social virtual reality marketplace.

As always, comments and corrections are welcomed. Thanks!

I created this infographic using Canva.com, which happens to be a great tool for this sort of thing.

Meditation and Mindfulness in Social VR and Virtual Worlds

Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash

We live in a crazy world—which the coronavirus pandemic has made even crazier. People who are struggling with self-isolation, lockdowns and quarantines are seeking some peace, and some are turning to social VR platforms and virtual worlds as places to practice meditation and mindfulness, and to connect with like-minded souls, at a time when social distancing makes group practices in the real world difficult.

Please note that I will not be covering solo, standalone VR meditation apps like Guided Meditation VR and Nature Treks VR, since that is a separate category from the more open-ended social VR platforms and virtual worlds I write about on this blog. (By the way, I use and recommend both programs highly for meditation.)

AltspaceVR and EvolVR

EvolVR was founded by Rev. Jeremy Nickel, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister, and calls itself “the world’s first VR Spiritual Community”. According to the FAQ on their website:

Why Meditate in Virtual Reality?

Meditation can be beneficial alone or with others.  VR is a convenient way to meditate with others. Social Meditation has a long history and is part of the foundation of the monastic experience.  Meditation can be practiced by individuals at any time.  In fact, we are ultimately meant to be living each moment mindfully, which means meditatively.  Meditating with other people can act as an amplifier that can help strengthen our own practice.

How Can I Meditate with a Brick on My Head?

We often use the breath as an object of meditation.  The VR headset is just another distraction.There is always something that’s not supposed to be going on when we meditate, like a bad back or a bad day or a bad relationship. The practice of meditation teaches us to manage our attention, to help us put it where we want it to be.  So a VR headset is just another itch to be noticed.

It is a program which I believe had its start in Sansar, based on the following short promotional video, but it has since moved over to AltspaceVR:

EvolVR hosts one or two guided meditations every day, as well as daily group discussion circles on various topics (here is their calendar of upcoming events). They also have a Discord server you can join, with a little over a hundred members.

ENGAGE and MindWise VR

The ENGAGE educational social VR platform has been home to mindfulness workshops hosted by Caitlin Krause, which I have heard good reports about:

This has evolved into MindWise VR, which appears to be hosting regularly scheduled workshops, including an event on May 16th, 2020 (more info from her website):

Sansar

There is certainly no shortage of worlds in which to practice meditation and mindfulness in Sansar, just do a search on “meditation” in the Sansar Atlas (you can also try searching the Sansar Atlas using the term “mindfulness”, for even more suggestions of places):

Meditation Spaces in Sansar

In this case, especially if you prefer solo to group meditation, the fact that Sansar is not as popular as other social VR platforms, such as VRChat and AltspaceVR, means you can probably snag a semiprivate space to practice meditation and mindfulness on your own without too much trouble. Also, Sansar’s frankly gorgeous graphics and advanced lighting model mean that some truly beautiful, evocative, and mood-enhancing virtual environments are available for you to use for your practice.

Sansar Studios’ Zen Garden

Of particular note is the Meditation Station, created by DisneyHuntress, which offers links to five different meditation spaces, including a yoga studio, a forest, a labyrinth, a group meditation room, and even an ecstatic dance space to give your full-body tracking a workout!

Second Life

We end with the venerable, long-running virtual world of Second Life, which is home to so many virtual spaces devoted to meditation and mindfulness, some of which have been in operation for many years. So I trotted out my shaman avatar (because, OF COURSE, I have a role-playing alt who is a shaman!), and I set out to visit a few of them on a field trip.

My shaman avatar at Commune Utopia
(shaman robe from Spyralle)

Divine Mother has been around just about forever (since 2007), and the four-sim region features a healing pyramid, chakra meditation pillows, belly dancing, a pagoda for tai chi, an inspiration garden (with guided light meditation in English, French, Italian, Dutch and German), a dance floor featuring Bollywood music, a multi-story shopping mall with Indian fashions, a glass labyrinth, a marina, and even an international airport (?!). Handy teleporter panels whisk you away to dozens of meditation spots scattered all around the landscape.

The Buddhist Centre at Divine Mother

Free Spirit Farms is the hippie/bohemian commune you never knew you needed! If you join their free group, the owners even let you set your home location to this sim (which comes in handy sometimes). On the grounds is a campground, cottages to rent, a large rustic lodge, and game tables, all located in a beautifully landscaped, park-like environment and set to a groovy Sixties soundtrack. Free Spirit Farms offers a couple of live performers every Monday evening at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. SLT.

Gather ’round the campfire at Free Spirit Farms

You are spoiled for choice at Shambhala Sanctuary! Teleporters at the spawn point take you to (among many other places):

  • a chakra pavilion
  • an underwater sanctuary
  • a healing pool
  • a poetry barge
  • a spot where you can play the game Go
  • DreamLand, where you travel down the wishing well to a charming seaside community and boardwalk
DreamLand at Shambhala Sanctuary

The sanctuary building itself helpfully offers a wall with information (and SLURLs) about many other meditation and mindfulness sims and communities in Second Life:

Among these places are:

So, as you can see, there is lots to see, do, explore, and experience in SL! Peace out, man. Om shanti shanti shanti…

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash