Pandemic Diary: January 23rd, 2021: Happy Birthday to Me

My brother called me this morning at 9:00 a.m.. I had slept in, and he left a message for me to call him. When I did get up later this morning, I saw that he had called, and since he telephones me so infrequently (we usually text), my first thought is that it was an emergency, and I called him back.

Only to have him wish me a happy birthday! I had completely forgotten that today is my 57th birthday!! I told him on the phone, as we shared a good laugh, that every day is so much like every other day while I have been working from home in self-isolation for my university library system. All my days tend to run together!

As a birthday present, the Manitoba government has slightly lifted a few restrictions in our province-wide, code-red pandemic lockdown, which has been in place since early November.

Each household can now have a maximum of two external visitors (and no, they can’t be two different people every time; it has to be the same two people). And stores selling non-essential items (books, clothing, consumer electronics, etc.) can now reopen, provided they operate at 25% of their normal store capacity and practice social distancing, face masking, etc.

The timing is perfect, as my trusty iPad 2 has finally bit the dust. I had used it almost every day for the past ten years; the thing was built like a tank! I often would use it to watch Netflix movies or TV, while lying on my sofa in the evenings.

There is a (single) Apple store way up here in the frozen prairie hinterlands of Winnipeg, but I may opt to do my shopping online instead, as I did for my Valve Index. I really don’t feel comfortable walking into any shopping mall right now, even with a face mask and practicing social distancing.

Canada is experiencing delays in vaccine production and delivery, and I am becoming extremely worried about all the new coronavirus variants popping up in the U.K., South Africa, and many other places. It is possible that many vaccines and vaccine candidates will have to be rejigged to handle at least some of these mutations of the virus. The very thought makes me anxious. We are not out of the woods yet! A Manitoba doctor tweeted the following disheartening update yesterday:

Oh, and the Manitoba provincial government also announced that barbers and hair stylists were allowed to reopen, too, provided they adhere to the same restrictions as stores, plus take contact information on all their customers, in case any contact tracing is needed. My mother will be so happy; she has wanted to get her hair cut and styled!

So, next weekend, I will drive across the city to pay a socially-distanced visit to my mother and stepfather at their seniors life-lease condo, and we will finally exchange our Christmas presents, a month late! And I will receive my mom’s birthday present; I told her cash would be a perfectly acceptable gift! (I don’t want to set foot in a bank, or touch a germy ATM number pad, if I don’t have to, and having a little spending money in my wallet can come in handy at times.)

I am still struggling with depression and anxiety at times, but I am coping as best as I can. I hope that you are staying safe and healthy!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: A Fairytale Princess Look for Zero Linden Dollars!

Have you joined the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies group yet? I will be posting EVEN MORE news and tips on finding fabulous freebies and bargains in Second Life than I post here on the blog! More information on this brand new SL group here.


One of Ryan’s top ten tips for freebie hunting (found at the end of my recently-updated All-In-One Guide to Freebies in Second Life) is this sage piece of advice:

Be patient: Freebies can come and go; freebie stores like The Free Dove and Ajuda SL Brasil rotate their freebies regularly, so it’s worthwhile to visit every couple of months, just to see what’s new. It can take some time to pull together a complete look from various components picked up as freebies at different times from different stores and events.

Well, today I have the perfect example for you on how you can combine freebies from three different locations on the grid to create this beautiful princess look, something straight out of a fairytale!

A Disney princess look for zero Lindens!
A closeup of the sheer overshirt and floral crown

Watch and learn how I created this look, step by step!

First, pay a visit to the Designer Showcase shopping event before it closes on January 25th, 2021, to pick up a very generous gift from the Tori’s Stylez booth (exact SLURL), a fatpack of the lovely, bare-shouldered Sylvana ballgown (just click the gift sign at the bottom of the booth; you will need to join the Designer Showcase VIP group for free to pick this gift up):

This gown comes with a HUD that allows you to select one of 16 different colours for the gown, but that’s not all! The Sylvana ballgown features a double skirt, and you can set the overskirt to be sheer or opaque using the HUD! Also, the top part of the gown and the skirt are two separate pieces, so we are going to combine the skirt of the Sylvana gown with a matching bodysuit for the top part of the gown!

Now, teleport to the Shy Doll store (which is located on a sim that only allows a maximum of 20 avatars at one time, so you might have to be patient). On a gift wall in the store are two free group gifts, the Alissa bodysuit and optional matching sheer shirt in rose pink and hologram purple! The Shy Doll Updates group is free to join.

If you’re lucky and get there before the vendor runs out each day, you can also snag a free L$500 gift card to the Shy Doll store, which you can use to pick up another two colours of the Alissa bodysuit and shirt combo! (If you happen to be too late to pick up the gift card, try again tomorrow.)

The final piece of this princess outfit is this glorious Spring Roses crown, which is a free gift from Aisling. Just teleport in to the landing (here’s the SLURL), select the teleporter to Aisling, then click on the gift in the gifts area as shown in the picture below (there’s no need to join any group):

Now, wear the rose Shy Doll bodysuit and sheer shirt, add just the skirt from the Sylvana ballgown gift, and tint it to match using the HUD. The beautiful floral headpiece is the perfect crowning touch!

The complete princess look

If you find that the beribboned, sheer overshirt is a tad too much, simply remove it for a beautiful bare-shouldered ballgown look, as shown below. You can also use the included HUD to turn the sheer overskirt opaque if you prefer a less fussy look.

There you go…simply add a few animated Disney birds and animals, and you’re all set to become the next fairytale princess! (Knight on a white horse is optional.)


All non-store pictures were taken at the Lost Unicorn sim.

A List of Upcoming Social VR Research Events and Conferences

Last year was a watershed year for social VR research! When I first started writing this blog three-and-a-half years ago, social VR conferences were a bit of rarity, but now they seem to be popping up all over. So I thought that today, as one of the bloggers who covers any and all aspects of social VR, I would do my best to pull together a sort of calendar of what events and conferences were coming up.

This list will lean strongly towards academic and corporate research events and conferences pertaining to social virtual reality, as opposed to arts, entertainment, and shopping events. If you feel that I have missed something important, please feel free to leave a comment and I will update this blogpost accordingly. Over time, I hope that this will become a comprehensive list of such events.

Educators in VR UniVirtual Experience: Spring 2021, in AltspaceVR and on other platforms

The Educators in VR group (website, Discord server, Facebook group, Twitter feed), which regularly holds events in AltspaceVR, is one of the very best places to learn more about ongoing research into applications of virtual reality in education!

Plans for the successor to the phenomenally successful Educators in VR 2020 International Summit are already underway (and conference organizer Lorelle VanFossen tells me that she already has “evil plans” for me as a volunteer! 😉 ). Although dates have not yet been announced, it will be pushed back from February to sometime this spring, and it will be called the UniVirtual Experience.

CHI 2021 Social VR Workshop: May 7th, 2021 in Mozilla Hubs

According to the website set up for this event:

This is the 2nd CHI Social VR workshop. It is intended for continuing interdisciplinary discussions regarding proxemics, social cues, and virtual environment designs, which were identified as three important aspects of Social VR communication in our CHI 2020 Social VR Workshop.

The deadline for submissions to this workshop is February21st, 2021.

7th International Conference of the Immersive Learning Research Network (iLRN 2021): May 17th to June 10th, 2021 in VirBELA

Building on the highly successful iLRN 2020 conference, which attracted 3,600 attendees from around the world, iLRN 2021 will be spread out over a four-week period to avoid scheduling challenges, and to give attendees more opportunities to participate. Here is their call for papers and proposals (PDF document with deadlines, etc.).

As I said up top, I will be updating this blogpost over time as I learn of new events to add. Please leave a comment (or ping me via my blog’s Contact Me page) if you know of an event, workshop or conference to add to this list, thanks!

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Join the Brand New RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals & Freebies Group in Second Life!

Did you know that you can help support my work on this blog (as well as the Metaverse Newscast show), and get some great rewards in return? Here’s how.


As you may know, I have decided to significantly scale back my coverage of Second Life on the RyanSchultz.com blog, which means that, alas, I will no longer be regularly blogging about Second Life steals, deals, and freebies (although I do reserve the right to report on a truly exceptional bargain when it pops up, of course!).

But fear not! Instead of the blog, I have set up a brand new Second Life group, just to share with you everything I find as I scour the grid for freebies! Here’s the description of the new group:

Ryan Schultz (the uncrowned Freebie Queen of Second Life, and writer of the popular Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies blogposts on his blog, RyanSchultz.com) has started a new SL group in order to share news about the best bargains and freebies in the virtual world of Second Life, including hunt prizes and lucky chairs!

The logo of my new group

To join this new group, click on the following link and it should open up the group join window in Firestorm or whatever other SL viewer you prefer: RyanSchultz Steals Deals & Freebies. If that doesn’t work, then copy and paste the following group URI into the text chat window of your Second Life client software (type Ctrl+H to pull that up):

secondlife:///app/group/b0dacd23-2e92-238e-e67a-9817845bdcae/about

If all else fails, just do a keyword search for “ryanschultz” (yes, all one word) under the Groups tab in Search. That should definitely pull up my new group!

After some careful consideration, I have decided to charge a nominal group join fee of L$50. Yes, if I charge money for my advice, it means that I can now call myself a professional freebie fashionista!* For that small fee, you will receive every single tidbit of information about steals, deals, and freebies in Second Life, the very best advice on the grid on how to outfit your avatar for nothing or next to nothing, and still look like you spent thousands of Linden dollars!

And you will wear the group tag of Freebie Fashionista, to proudly proclaim your allegiance to everyone you encounter in your peripatetic travels around the grid!

Ermmm, maybe that should be a “Freebie Fashinisto” group tag for my main male avatar, Heath Homewood (lemme think about it…). Please note that I will be covering freebies and deals for both male and female avatars in this new SL group.

Note that this group is actually a spin-off of an internal group to which Vanity Fair (my main SL avatar), Heath Homewood (my main male avatar), and my small army of alts are subscribed, which turned out to be the most efficient and effective way to share SLURLs, notecards, and other vital freebie information between avatars. Unfortunately, that particular group was set to private, and I was unable to switch it so that people could search for it under the Groups tab in Search. Hence, this new group.

And you should also know that being subscribed to the group is even better than following this blog for news of Second Life freebies! Why? Well, you might be surprised to learn this, but I only land up blogging about 10-15% of the freebies I find on the grid! In many cases, I decide it just isn’t worth it to write up a blogpost for just one single freebie, even if it is a nice one (although I have made exceptions in the past, such as this post).

If you subscribe to the RyanSchultz.com Steals, Deals, and Freebies group, you will receive all of the unfiltered, unvarnished news about free items and great bargains from my fevered brain! (While I intend to sharply curtail by blogging about Second Life in 2021, I do still log into SL just about every day, to scout out the latest freebies.)

Now, a few ground rules. Like the blog, the communication in this group will be a one-way street, at least to start. I have decided to turn off group chat and group voice chat for this new group, at least for the time being, as we get set up. You will not be allowed to post your own items to the group (although I reserve the right to change my mind and allow some members to post items, if I think it will be a net benefit the group). As with the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, which I have been running for quite a while now, please know that I will not hesitate to step in and moderate if any problems arise. I expect you to treat each other with kindness and courtesy, even if you disagree.

I do hope that you will join us as we embark on an exciting new chapter of Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies! My coverage of Second Life freebies is still, far and away, the most popular part of my blog, according to my WordPress statistics, and I think that it only makes sense to use a communication method within Second Life itself!

One final note: I have recently updated the compilation and distillation of all my best advice for finding freebies in Second Life, which you can find here. Enjoy!


*Also, Vanity Fair needs new shoes. 😉