UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Free Store Credit at Both Blueberry and Scandalize!

Hello, all you freebie fashionistas of Second Life!

I have news of not one, but two different free store credit offers at two of the most popular womenswear stores on the grid: Scandalize and Blueberry.

Scandalize

The Scandalize group is once again free to join for a limited period of time (only four days!), so I would definitely urge you to take advantage of it! The regular group join fee is L$100, and Scandalize offers, without a doubt, the most generous group gift wall of any store on the grid.

Once you arrive at the Scandalize store, there will be a panel you have to click on to obtain L$300 in free store credit, which you can spend on anything in the store! Here’s what the sign looks like (don’t forget to activate your Scandalize group before clicking!):

Here are the locations of the two panels in the Scandalize store:

Just click on one, and you will get a blue pop-up window to accept your reward. That’s it! Then you can go shop (but it be more polite for you to leave the sim in order to give other people a chance to get in and obtain their reward, too).

I regret that I do not know how long this offer lasts, or if the free store credits expire or not.

Blueberry

The owner of Blueberry is once again celebrating her birthday in a blow-out fashion with a 48-hour 50% Off Sale!

She writes in the Blueberry group notices (I believe the Blueberry group costs L$20 to join):

There is nothing I would rather do than celebrate it with my Second family – all of you. I am giving away L$100,000 — we will pick 20 berries to give L$5,000 gift cards to! 20 chances to win! Simply love & share on Facebook: https://bit.ly/3mPjJBY

Even if you don’t win, EVERYBODY in Blueberry groups are getting L$500 credit!

To get your credit, look for a notice in the Blueberry group called Blueberry Birthday Event!!! and click on the attachment to get a HUD:

Look for the HUD in your inventory and wear/attach it. It will appear on screen. Just click it, and the L$500 credit will automatically be added to your account! (This credit will expire after two weeks.)

While Blueberry is primarily a womenswear brand, you should know that you can pick up some beautiful Bento angel wings in various colours with your free store credit, which of course work just as well on male avatars as on female ones.

Well, as you can probably imagine, the sims where the Blueberry and Scandalize stores are located are absolutely jam-packed with avatars. Even the adjacent sims (from which you could cam shop) are heaving with camshoppers, too! (If you are not familiar with cam shopping, here is an introduction I wrote, with step-by-step instructions on how to do it.) So please, do everybody a favour: once you get in, pick up what you want, and then GET OUT so that others can get a chance to get into the stores. Thank you!

UPDATE Sept. 25th, 2020: Blueberry has posted an update to her group. The 50% Off Sale has been extended for another 48 hours!

If you haven’t been able to get in the sims, don’t worry! We are extending the sale by 48 hours!


Oops! My Bad…

Last night, I paid a long-overdue visit to Sinespace, and I honestly don’t know how I did it, but somehow I had landed up using a version of the Sinespace client with an older user interface, which I mistook for being a brand new one, which of course I blogged about! Adam Frisby quickly contacted me via Discord to point out my mistake, and I landed up deleting that blogpost within twenty minutes of publishing it.

So yeah, that was my Wednesday night. No, you weren’t seeing things; there was (briefly) a new blogpost which got quickly taken down. (Those of you who subscribe to my blog via email will have received a record of my folly, which you might want to frame and hang as a permanent memento of my misdeed.)

Sorry, Sinespace! Sorry, guys! Sometimes, you just royally screw things up. I have no idea what happened to my Sinespace setup to resurrect the old UI, but I will be doing a fresh install of the client, from scratch, in order to get things back to normal.

You can expect that I will resume my sponsored blogposts about Sinespace. Adam Frisby and his team have been hard at work on a new release, with lots of new features (and he kindly shared this public list with me). And Breakroom (Sinespace’s platform for educational, corporate, and conference use) has been busy too; yesterday was the final day of the virtual Guanajuato International Film Festival, which was held on the platform.

Stay tuned! More Sinespace (and Breakroom) news to come soon.

Taking a Look at the All-in-One Bakes on Mesh Eden Body by Rebirth: The Second Life Mesh Body that Takes You from Child to Teenager to Adult, and from Male to Female to Transgender

The advent of Bakes on Mesh has led to some interesting developments in the mesh body market in Second Life. I have written about a few of them before, such as the highly-recommended Anya and Alexa mesh bodies by Kalhene, which are fully compatible with apparel and footwear designed for Maitreya Lara:

The Genus Project Strong Face mesh head paired with the Kalhene Ariadna mesh body (the free predecessor of the current Kalhene Anya mesh body, for sale for L$1,695 here)

Bakes on Mesh allows mesh body makers to focus on the actual mesh of their products, without having to worry about providing support for skin appliers, or even a HUD with alpha sections (although the Kalhene Anya body does include such a HUD). After all, BoM bodies can use the clothing alphas that often come with clothing. If you should need a set of alphas to use with clothing that does not come with them, you can pick up a free set from Little Black Dress at this SLURL (just click on the bag on the floor).

Very early this morning, unable to sleep, I dragged my weary ass out of bed and paid a visit to the Freebie Megastore on the London City sim, just to see what was new. While there, I noticed an advertisement for a new, Bakes on Mesh, Bento mesh body called Eden, by a company called Rebirth, which I had never heard of before.

So, I popped into the brand-new Rebirth store (here’s the SLURL) to check it out.

The Rebirth store
Two examples of the Eden avatar: as you can see, you can get some very different looks!
Four examples of the Eden avatar: as you can see, you can get many different looks!

The Eden body is a unique proposition in the Second Life mesh body market: one body that can take you from child to teenager to adult, and from male to female to transgender! There are three options for sale at the Rebirth store:

  • a male version of the Eden body, which includes starter shapes for child, teenage, and adult male avatars, in ten skin tones, for L$2,790 (head not included);
  • a female version of the Eden body, which includes starter shapes for child, teenage, and adult female avatars, in ten skin tones, for L$2,790 (head not included); and
  • a transgender version which includes both male and female starter shapes and skins for L$4,890 (the base mesh body is the same regardless).

Now, I have seen a lot of mesh bodies in SL, but never before have I seen a single mesh body that offers you such a wide range of ages and genders! So, curious, I paid my Linden dollar to obtain the demo version of the transgender package, and I put it through the paces.

Now, remember that this is a Bakes on Mesh body, which does include ten different body skin tones as tattoo layers, plus matching neck fades to work with your own mesh head. Of course, you will probably opt for a Bakes on Mesh skin which works on both the head and body, and for the following pictures I used as my base skin one of the lovely skins which came with the Limited Akeruka head (a recent group gift).

The starter shapes are just that: starting points, and I suspect you will have to do a lot of tweaking to get something that you will be happy with (my personal pet peeve is avatars with arms that are way too short!). Here is the default adult woman shape with the Akeruka Limited BoM skin (the underwear shown in these pictures is included for all possible shapes and breast sizes):

Here’s the default little girl shape, which I used with one of the included flat body skin tattoos (because the Akeruka Limited skin is intended for an adult woman, and frankly looks really disturbing on a child avatar!).

Here’s the default male teenager body shape with the included male body tattoo (again, the underwear is included):

And finally, here is the default adult male shape, again with the included male body skin tattoo:

After futzing around with the body sliders, here’s what the adult female shape looks like, paired with the Kalhene Bakes on Mesh Bento head and a skin from 7 Deadly S[k]ins called Elvira, in the maple skin tone (an Advent calendar gift from 2019):

All in all, not a bad result (although I’m not a big fan of the shape of the hands):

Here’s a look at the HUD for the Eden body, which does not include alpha sections for the body. You do get settings for four feet heights, four different breast sizes (flat, small, normal, and male), and the ability to tint your toenails and fingernails.

So, what’s my overall verdict on the Eden body?

This is definitely a very malleable body, where you can adjust it using the body sliders (and the included HUD to adjust the breasts and feet) to allow you to express virtually any gender you wish—male, female, or anything in between—and any age. A sign in the Rebirth store (see image below) says you can take this body from age 8 to age 25, and my experiments with the demo version confirm that.

However, this very malleability also makes it hard to recommend the Eden body if you are only interested in one of the many possible looks: male, female, child, teenager, or adult. For example, if you’re only going to present as a female avatar, you are much better off with one of the many female mesh bodies on the marketplace (and I would therefore recommend the Kalhene Anya mesh body as a reasonably-priced alternative which even includes a Bento head, given that everybody and their dog makes clothing to fit Maitreya Lara mesh bodies). If you want to be a child avatar, and only that, then I would probably recommend one of the child mesh heads and bodies such as the ToddleeDoo, which will have much better designer support.

Which brings me to another problem: there’s a lack of clothing for the Eden bodies. Although there is a clothing store off to the side of the Rebirth store, containing a small but serviceable selection of different outfits for male, female, and intersex avatars, I don’t think there’s a lot of other designers making clothing for this body yet (and there’s a rather large sign in the store next to the entrance, pleading with apparel designers to pick up a devkit for this body and make some clothing for it).

This is, sadly, a problem with all new mesh bodies; designers tend to focus on the best-selling models of male and female mesh bodies, which means it can be next to impossible to find apparel specifically designed for them.

But, if you are a true chameleon, who likes to change their age and/or gender on a whim, the Eden mesh body might be absolutely perfect for you (provided you also get an appropriate Bakes on Mesh skin and Bento mesh head to match whatever look you’re going for).

However, the extreme malleability of this mesh body—its major selling point—also means that purchasers have a duty and a responsibility to NOT create offensive results. For example, if you mix and match an adult skin, an adult head, and a child’s shape, you could well land up in Frankenstein territory (and reap a swift and permanent ban for breaking Second Life’s ironclad rules against ageplay).

While I was in the store, I saw an avatar shopping in the clothing section, wearing what appeared to be a combination of an adult, system head and an Eden body in a child’s shape, and it just creeped me out completely. I wonder if the creators of the Eden mesh body realize that they may have opened up a Pandora’s box here.

Therefore, I am somewhat concerned at the potential for abuse of this product (but I also realize that some people are going to go right ahead and push the boundaries of decency and good taste in Second Life anyway, just like they always do… helloooo, Tiny Things! That last link is completely safe for work, by the way…).

O.K., it’s 5:30 a.m. and I am going to go back to bed and try to get some sleep before my workday starts…

Pandemic Diary: September 21st, 2020

Despair
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I don’t know about you, but I woke up this Monday morning feeling exhausted.

Between the pandemic, Trump, and the Facebookening of Oculus, I am feeling angry, depressed, tired, and frankly despairing of our collective future as a society and our ability to handle the many problems and challenges facing us. I keep telling myself that everything that is happening (particularly with the pandemic) is NOT NORMAL and that it is okay to feel overwhelmed. But it’s still been hard. I’m sure you can relate.

And, predictably, my vow to avoid social media and the news media has already been broken. Last night before going to bed, I indulged in a bit of “doomscrolling” in both Twitter, Reddit, and Google News. Which is, no doubt, one of the reasons I woke up every couple of hours last night, and feel so unrefreshed this morning. (Even a vat of black coffee isn’t helping.)

I should know better. First, I should know that trying to make an all-or-nothing deal with myself usually never works; a better approach would be to slowly taper off my social media and news media reading over time, or (in the case of the news), set aside a schedule of set times of day and predetermined, authoritative news sources to follow at those times (for example, spend no more than 20 minutes every evening reading the Globe and Mail newspaper, or the CBC news website).

And I am trying to be more gentle and forgiving with myself. Although those people and companies who have been on the receiving end of my sarcasm and scorn on this blog over the past three years might not believe it, I do tend to be much harder and more unforgiving with myself that I am with other people.

Aaah, well. Live and learn. I am going to continue to push forward, focusing on things that I can do something about, instead of worrying about those I have absolutely zero control over.

And I marvel at this fact: that without Sansar, and without Facebook/Oculus, I would not be where I am right now. I never would have started this blog, I never would have started up the associated Discord server, I never would have launched the Metaverse Newscast with my producer Andrew, I never would have found an audience, and I never would have made so many online friends who are just as interested in and passionate about social VR, virtual worlds and metaverse as I am! Even given how jaded, bitter, and cynical I feel overall about both Sansar and Facebook/Oculus, the fact remains that I am also grateful to these companies (and the many people who work at them) for the unexpected position I now find myself in. Life is truly strange sometimes, how it all works out.

Some of you have reached out to me personally to thank me for things that I have written here (including my early warnings of a possible pandemic back in January and February of this year). And I want to say, from the bottom of my heart to all of you reading this: thank you for your support, your readership, and your comments, perspective, and feedback on what I write. It means the world to me. (Special shout-out to my fabulous Patreon patrons! I love you guys!!!)

And, even on days when it feels like nothing is working out properly, I know that I can always use this blog to vent a bit, and somehow, it tends to make me feel better. Is blogging therapeutic? Perhaps. It’s a sorely needed creative outlet for me at a time when I am finding it hard to feel creative.

Some days (like today), I use a blogpost to get me rolling, and feeling like I am making a small, discrete achievement, before I dive into my work for the day (and believe me, I have no shortage of it at my full-time paying job with my university library system!). The next six weeks in particular are going to be crazy, but I will get through all this, and hopefully, back to my blistering blogging pace of yesteryear 😉

Cheers! Stay healthy and stay sane in these trying and troubled times.

Yes, life is still beautiful. Never forget that.
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash