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, 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 your SL viewer: 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. 😉

Apple Plans to Release a Virtual Reality Headset Next Year, According to Leaked Details in a Bloomberg News Report

Anonymous insiders have finally shared a few juicy details of Apple’s plans for a VR headset, a development that has been hinted at and highly anticipated by many tech observers. Bloomberg business reporter Mark Gurman tweeted four hours ago:

New story: Apple plans its first headset to be a high-end, niche VR-focused device as a precursor to its future AR glasses. Details on the headset’s design, prescription lens system, inclusion of a fan, features, development hurdles, and more:

The Bloomberg news story linked to Mark’s tweet, titled Apple’s First Headset to Be Niche Precursor to Eventual AR Glasses (original version; archived version) says in part:

Apple Inc.’s first crack at a headset is designed to be a pricey, niche precursor to a more ambitious augmented reality product that will take longer to develop, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

As a mostly virtual reality device, it will display an all-encompassing 3-D digital environment for gaming, watching video and communicating. AR functionality, the ability to overlay images and information over a view of the real world, will be more limited. Apple has planned to launch the product as soon as 2022, going up against Facebook Inc.’s Oculus, Sony Corp.’s PlayStation VR and headsets from HTC Corp., the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private plans. 

Gurman’s report has reignited feverish commentary and speculation within tech media (The Verge, Ars Technica, Apple Insider), which quickly began to ripple out to the mainstream news media (USA Today). The Apple VR headset is rumoured to be a high-end standalone (untethered) device, perhaps costing in the neighbourhood of the Valve Index headset (around US$1,000).

One disappointing piece of news is that the rumoured Apple VR headset will not have extra room for people who wear glasses (as I do), opting instead for prescription lenses, an additional expense for those of us with less-than-perfect vision. This will no doubt complicate both the sale and setup of the system.

Among the details leaked in the Gurman report was that Apple “may sell only one headset per day per retail store” of the high-end VR device, which on first reading sounds rather absurdly low to me. Surely, an Apple-branded VR headset would sell like hotcakes, regardless of price?

Anyway, things are definitely getting interesting. Stay tuned! Hopefully we will learn more about Apple’s plans for virtual reality and augmented reality this year.

Tivoli Cloud VR Has Integrated Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me Avatar Creator: Now You Can Create a Tivoli Cloud Avatar from a Selfie!

Today, on a bitterly cold, -20°C winter day up here in the frosty Canadian prairie hinterlands (which felt more like -30°C when you factored in the wind chill from a strong wind), I was able to spend a convivial hour sitting around a campfire on a warm, tropical desert island, chatting with Caitlyn Meeks of Tivoli Cloud VR and a few other avatars (including a personable, OpenAI-controlled toaster named Toastgenie Craftsby, who every so often would spit out some toast, or even a delicious rain of hot waffles, during our delightful, wide-ranging conversation!).

Tivoli Cloud VR’s Desert Island (picture by Caitlyn Meeks)

Tivoli Cloud VR, a successor platform to the now-shuttered original High Fidelity social VR platform created by Philip Rosedale’s company of the same name (and based on HiFi’s open-source software code), has had a few new developments since the last time I visited, back in September! Among them is the full integration of Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me avatar creation system, as demonstrated in this two-minute YouTube video by Tivoli Cloud ambassador and well-known social VR personality XaosPrincess:

This is the same Wolf3D system which I first reported on back in September 2019, when High Fidelity issued an app called Virtual You, where you could take a selfie on your mobile device and then use that picture to create a HiFi avatar. As a matter of fact, I still have the avatar I created using Virtual You saved to my hard drive, and I hope to upload and resurrect him as one of my avatars on Tivoli Cloud VR! In the case of Tivoli Cloud, the app is fully integrated into the client software; there’s no need for a separate app!

Note that Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me avatar creation system is also used by Mozilla Hubs, although the Mozilla Hubs avatars are only head-and-torso, as opposed to the full-body, rigged avatars used in Tivoli Cloud. In fact, one of the people sitting around that campfire today was animating his avatar’s hands and fingers using a Leap Motion Controller! It was amazing to sit across the campfire from Max and watch him wiggle his avatar’s fingers in real time.

Max Huet, Caitlyn Meeks, and Roxie sitting around the campfire (all three avatars were created using Wolf3D’s Ready Player Me software)
Here’s a closer look at some Ready Player Me-created avatars, provided by Caitlyn Meeks of Tivoli Cloud VR

Using Ready Player Me, it is possible to create endlessly customizable human avatars—and Caitlyn tells me that you don’t even need to start from a selfie! You can just jump right into the program (as shown in the video above) and start creating your perfect virtual representation!

Here’s a thirty-minute interview with Timmu Tõke, the co-founder and CEO of Wolf3D (the creators of Ready Player Me), where he talks with Cristian-Emanuel Anton, the co-founder and CEO of MeetinVR, about VR avatars, meetings in virtual reality, and the metaverse. (MeetinVR is yet another social VR platform using Wolf3D’s avatar system to create their own head-and-torso-with-hands avatars!)

I suspect that we will see other platforms join Mozilla Hubs, MeetinVR, and Tivoli Cloud VR in using Ready Player Me avatars! Such corporate partnerships bode well for the future of the metaverse we will all live, work, and play in.

If you are interested in Tivoli Cloud VR, you can visit their website, join their Discord server, or follow them on Twitter to learn more. As I expect I will be writing more often about Tivoli Cloud VR, I have created a new blog category called (surprise!) Tivoli Cloud VR on the RyanSchultz.com blog (and I will go back and add all my previous blogposts about the platform to that new category).


Thank you to Caitlyn Meeks and XaosPrincess of Tivoli Cloud VR, and thanks to Rainwolf for the heads up on the interesting Timmu Tõke interview!

UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, January 18th, 2021

Today is officially Day 309 of my working in self-isolation from my apartment for my university library system: 309 days, or 7,416 hours, or 444,960 minutes.

I have not left my home in the past month, except to drop my trash bags into the nearest dumpster, and to start the engine on my car in the parking lot and let it run for 10-15 minutes, to make sure that my car battery doesn’t lose its charge during our bitterly cold Winnipeg winter. (As a matter of fact, I am typing the first part of this blogpost out on my WordPress app on my iPhone, sitting behind the steering wheel of my car in my apartment’s outdoor parking lot, while my car is warming up.)

I’ve actually completely lost track of how long it’s been since I’ve been in the vicinity of another human being! The province of Manitoba is still under a code-red pandemic lockdown, and I don’t expect that any of the social distancing and other restrictions will be relaxed or lifted anytime soon. Vaccination is still mostly limited to front-line healthcare workers, and it is happening here at a frustratingly slow pace, with announcements of vaccine delivery delays by Pfizer over the next few weeks to add to the delays.


My car battery recharged, I come inside from the -18°C/-1°F cold, shed my parka, gloves, and face mask, and thoroughly wash my hands, singing Happy Birthday to myself twice under my breath.*

I have been going through a rough patch these past few weeks, which started as I concluded my Christmas holidays and returned to my full-time paying job with the University of Manitoba Libraries. I know that many people are in much worse circumstances than I am during this pandemic, and I know that I am lucky to be able to work from home. But I do not feel very lucky at the moment. All of the classic symptoms of depression are present: low mood, lack of motivation, insomnia.

My brand new Valve Index VR headset and my fancy Knuckles hand controllers sit on my desktop, infrequently used since I installed them in early January.

The Valve Index VR Headset

I do believe that using my then-new Oculus Rift headset four years ago was instrumental to my recovery from my last bout of serious clinical depression, as I wrote on my blog back in May 2018:

I first got my Oculus Rift headset back in January 2017, when I was on sick leave for depression from my job, and my life was feeling pretty bleak. Shortly afterwards, I also got the Oculus Touch hand controllers to be able to handle objects in VR.

I have no scientific proof, but I do believe that using that VR headset regularly—creating art using TiltBrush and Oculus Medium, using apps like Guided Meditation VR and Nature Treks VR, and interacting with other avatars and exploring new experiences in High Fidelity and the then-closed Sansar beta—was indeed a beneficial factor in my most recent recovery from depression. The best way I can describe it was that VR got my neurons firing again!

Now, I am not feeling as depressed as I did four years ago, but I can already see the warning signs. Therefore, I intend to slip on my Valve Index and explore as many social VR platforms, games, and creative apps as I can over the next few long, cold months, as a sort of preventative inoculation against isolation, depression and acedia. And, of course, blogging about them here.

Stay tuned for reports from my virtual excursions and adventures!


*No, today is not my birthday; I only sang Happy Birthday twice because that is how long you are supposed to wash your hands for. My actual birthday is on January 23rd (hint, hint, hint).

UPDATE January 20th, 2021: Wow! Somebody sent me a $50 Amazon gift card! Thank you!! The gift is much appreciated, and will definitely be put to good use. 🙂