UPDATED: Your Guide to SL20B— Second Life Celebrates Its 20th Birthday with Sixty Sims, June 22nd-July 11th, 2023!

Pioneering virtual world Second Life will celebrate its 20th anniversary with events running from June 22nd to July 11th, 2023, spanning a mind-boggling sixty sims! The theme this year is Our Fantastic Future.

Twenty-four of those sims have been set aside for the biggest-ever Shop and Hop event. You can’t get in yet, but you can already get an idea of the futuristic design in these thumbnail images used in the Second Life Destination Guide entries for the SL20B Shop and Hop sims:

As in previous years, if you join the Second Life Birthday group for free, you will be able to access the 24 Shop and Hop sims starting at 9:00 a.m. SLT (i.e. Second Life Time/Pacific Time) on July 21st, 2023.

In addition to the 24 Shop and Hop sims, there are an additional 36 sims for the Second Life Festival, a sprawling and entirely community-built exposition of the best of SL from the past two decades.

Here’a brief overall schedule of what’s going on (thanks to Dreamer Pixelmaid for the information):

  • Early Shop and Hop Access (via the Second Life Birthday group): Wednesday, June 21st, 9:00 a.m. SLT
  • Early SL20B Festival Access (via the Second Life Birthday group): Thursday, June 22nd, 9:00 a.m. SLT
  • SL20B Official Opening: Thursday, June 22nd, 10:00 a.m. SLT
  • Opening Speech: Thursday, June 22nd, noon SLT
  • SL20B Music Festival: Thursday, June 22nd to Saturday, June 24th
  • Live Stage Performances (Over 425 performers on four stages): Sunday, June 25th to Sunday, July 2nd
  • All SL20B Regions Close: Tuesday, July 11th

According to the official blogpost, which just went up an hour ago:

Are you ready for this year’s SL20B Music Fest?

From June 22nd to the 24th, go on an interstellar journey through sound and emotions, as the crème de la crème of Second Life’s live musicians set the SL20B Mandala Stage ablaze with spellbinding performances! 

In the middle of Music Fest will also be a movie premiere! “Made in SL: The Movie” is a special long-form documentary for Second Life’s 20th anniversary, produced by Draxtor Despres and premiering on Friday, June 23rd at 12pm PT at the SL20B Arboretum. Watch the trailer at this link.

But wait, there’s more! Hold on to your (virtual) hats because the euphoria doesn’t wind down after Music Fest. The SL20B celebrations are set to reach stratospheric heights with a staggering 425+ performers ready to take over four majestic stages! This is not just a party; it’s a festival of boundless energy and musical marvels that promises to engulf your senses.

Keep your eyes on the Birthday Events Calendar to ensure you don’t miss a beat!

You can also watch the Second Life Public Calendar for all Linden Lab events and in the next few days, we’ll debut a dedicated Destination Guide category with many event highlights. Look out for entries that will start appearing in the SL20B Destination Guide category later this week and keep an eye on this blog for more information about SL20B coming soon!

I will be keeping this blogpost updated as I receive ore information about SL20B, so stay tuned!

UPDATE 3:03 p.m.: Here’s some more information about the talk shoes and presentations that will be taking place during SL20B (and please note that Tuesday’s and Thursday’s shows are not live, but pre-recorded, so you really could catch those anytime):

Thursday, June 22nd at 12pm PT – Watch a Lab Gab Special Live at SL20B starting with Patch Linden’s opening speech. Watch it live on the Second Life YouTube channel or live at the SL20B Mandala Stage.

Monday, June 26th at 1:30pm PT – Watch a Lab Gab Special Live at SL20B with VP of Product Operations, Patch Linden. Patch works to bring the best of product and support based decisions on a daily operational basis to the virtual world platform for Second Life, while maintaining oversight on how all of the various teams within Linden Lab can best work together for the highest good of the Residents and the business. Watch it on the Second Life YouTube channel or at the SL20B Arboretum.

Tuesday, June 27th at 1:30pm PT – Watch a pre-recorded Lab Gab Special at SL20B with VP of Product Grumpity Linden, and VP of Engineering Mojo Linden. Grumpity heads up Second Life Product, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, a movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach. With over twenty years of experience in the games industry, Mojo is an expert at building teams and launching groundbreaking games across genres that push the limits of their respective platforms. Watch it on the Second Life YouTube channel or at the SL20B Arboretum.

Wednesday, June 28th at 1:30pm PT – Watch a Lab Gab Special Live at SL20B with the Founder of Second Life Philip Linden, and Executive Chairman Oberwolf Linden. Philip rejoined Second Life in 2022, as Strategic Advisor, focused on helping to shape and build a better metaverse. Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member. Watch it on the Second Life YouTube channel or at the SL20B Arboretum.

Thursday, June 29th at 1:30pm PT – Watch a pre-recorded Lab Gab Special at SL20B with  Chief Marketing Officer StyFy Linden and VP of Marketing Brett Linden. Together they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for Second Life. Watch it on the Second Life YouTube channel or at the SL20B Arboretum.

Friday, June 30th at 1:30pm PT – Watch a Lab Gab Special Live at SL20B with the Moles! The Moles are builders, scripters, and content creators employed by Linden Lab to work in the Linden Department of Public Works. Watch it on the Second Life YouTube channel or at the SL20B Arboretum.

SL residents are invited to submit questions to these events, to be answered by the speakers—but you’d better hurry, you only have two days left! 😉 And I assume that the recordings of these talk shows and presentations will remain up on YouTube after the events, so if you can’t be there live, tune in later on, when you do have time.

See you there! I have been told that there will be some special announcements made!

Housekeeping Notice: My Blog, WordPress, Privacy Badger, and uBlock Origin

I have been tearing my hair out since last night, when I noticed that my blog, which normally looks like this:

Suddenly started looking like this, with all the fonts wrong:

Now, I am very picky about my blog, and this is the kind of thing that drives me crazy! I spent half an hour in live text chat with a WordPress support person early this morning, and it turns out that I had to turn off two plug-ins I regularly use with Firefox, Privacy Badger and uBlock Origin (which I use to block trackers on most websites as I surf the web).

Privacy Badger is a program from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It’s a browser extension which stops advertisers and other third-party trackers from secretly tracking where you go and what pages you look at on the web. If an advertiser seems to be tracking you across multiple websites without your permission, Privacy Badger automatically blocks that advertiser from loading any more content in your browser. uBlock Origin is an excellent, free-and-open-source (FOSS) ad content blocker, available for several of the most widely used browsers, including: Chrome, Chromium, MS Edge, Opera, Firefox and all Safari releases prior to 13. I can recommend both programs highly, but I sometimes run in trouble (like I did yesterday evening and this morning), when something stops working or doesn’t work properly, and I forget to check to see if either Privacy Badger or uBlock Origin is the source of the problem.

So, if you are visiting my blog, and it looks like the second picture instead of the first, try turning off uBlock Origin or Privacy Badger (or both) if you have them installed. (There are other ad blocker plug-ins like Adblock Plus, which might cause the same problem. I no longer use Adblock Plus, because I find uBlock Origin to be superior in every way.)

I’m Percolating…

You may have noticed that I haven’t been blogging as often as I used to. I’ve been on holidays from work these past two weeks, and I have been…percolating.

I’ve been feeling exhausted, and sleeping ten to twelve hours at a stretch, without feeling guilty or lazy. There’s been no shortage of things to blog about, but instead of leaping on top of them with a hot take, I have decided to just sit back and…percolate.

Hopefully, I’ll know when I am ready to jump back into things. But I think it’s good sometimes just to pause, take a deep breath, and relax. Recharge my batteries. Distance myself from the fray. Dream. Daydream.

Be back soon!

Editorial: Between Mastodon and Feedbin, I Now Have All the Tools I Need to Avoid Using Twitter While Following People’s Tweets

It’s time for a rethink on how I use Twitter (image source: PC Magazine)

As longtime readers of my blog know full well, I have already severed all ties to Meta hardware and software, even going so far as to vote with my wallet and replace my trusty Oculus Rift PCVR headset at home with a Valve Index. (My final link to Meta was cut in August 2022, when I replaced my work VR headset, a second Oculus Rift, with an HTC Vive Pro 2.) This means that I am not on any of Meta’s social media: no Facebook, no Instagram, no Whatsapp. I shut down my Facebook account a couple of years ago, asking the company to delete all the personal data it had collected on me. I am done.

So, when Elon Musk announced earlier this year that he was going to take over Twitter, I already had some experience in cutting social media platforms out of my life. I responded by setting up an account on Mastodon, which I talk about here, here, and here.

Mastodon is a federated, FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) microblogging app, quite similar to Twitter, but it is decentralized, and not subject to the capricious whims of billionaires! It’s free, but I choose to support it financially through Patreon. If you are curious and you want to kick the tires yourself on Mastodon, start here. You can also watch this two-minute YouTube introduction video:

I unfollowed 90% of the people I was following on Twitter, sending messages to most of them that I was moving to Mastodon, and inviting them to join me. Of course, most didn’t. I get it; change is hard.

So, while I was now posting to my Twitter feed automatically via my blog and via my new Mastodon account, I still found myself having to sign in to Twitter to follow certain people. I grew weary of dealing with Twitter’s algorithmic feed, with its pernicious advertising, and its suggested posts and topics, and its trending hashtags (usually an echo chamber for whatever the latest outrage happens to be). I looked for a solution.

I found it via the recommendation of someone I follow on Mastodon, named Per Axbom. who had posted a link to a blogpost he had written, titled Why I left algorithm-based social media and what happened next. I read about the process Per took to free himself from algorithmically-driven social media and take control over his own newsfeed, and one of the tools he talked about was Feedbin.

Feedbin is a newsreader with a website and associated mobile apps (to set up an account costs US$5 per month or US$50 per year), but it’s more than just that! In addition to following RSS newsfeeds, you can also use it to follow people on Twitter, as well as your favourite YouTube channels. In addition, it gives you a special email address to be used in subscribing to your newsletters, so that they feed into Feedbin, too. You can also use it to follow podcasts. I’ve been using it for a month, and it’s great!

Here are some of the features:

Twitter: Stop mindlessly scrolling through tweets. Feedbin fully unpacks media-rich tweets. If a tweet links to an article, Feedbin will attempt to load the full article and display it alongside the tweet.

YouTube: Follow your favorite creators, with channels and playlists. There’s no algorithm or confusion about what you have already watched, just the videos from your favorite creators in chronological order.

Newsletters: Get newsletters out of your inbox and into Feedbin. Every pro account gets a unique email address to subscribe to and follow newsletters.

Updated Articles: Articles are updated whenever the original changes, so you don’t miss any important changes. You can even see the differences to know what changed.

Full Text: Feedbin can extract the full content of an article for feeds that only offer partial-content. This way you can keep reading without leaving.

Search: Feedbin supports a powerful and expressive search syntax to find exactly what you’re looking for. Save frequent searches to always have the results a click away.

So now I only post to my Twitter account via Mastodon, and I only read tweets from people I follow via Feedbin. This means that I spend next to zero time actually on Twitter—no advertising, no trending hashtags, no outrage machine! My Twitter feed on Feedbin also pulls up any items retweeted by people I follow, and in many cases, any linked articles in the tweets will have their full text loaded, saving me a click. It’s not the same as quitting Twitter entirely, but until more people come to their senses (and when/if Elon Musk drives Twitter into the ground), it’s a fair compromise.

As for YouTube, I can finally browse through only the channels I follow, without YouTube’s irritating suggestions for what it thinks I want to watch next. (And suggestions of music mixes based on my YouTube Music listening habits.) And no advertising unless, of course, the videomaker has a sponsorship in the video! I may never visit the YouTube website, or use the YouTube mobile apps, again. I should have done this years ago, folks.

Feedbin is the greatest thing since sliced bread, in my opinion, and well worth the subscription in alleviating the aggravation of having to deal with Twitter and YouTube algorithms! And, if Elon Musk goes through with his plans to lay off 75% of Twitter’s staff and the platform becomes overrun with toxic content and spam, I already have one foot firmly planted in Mastodon, and between it and Feedbin, I barely have to interact with Twitter at all, aside from keeping my account there.

If Elon Musk buying Twitter doesn’t sit right with you, there are tools and alternatives!