UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: BROX Is a New Bento, Bakes on Mesh Male Body for Only L$1!

There’s a new bargain out there for you men! It’s a very handsome, Bento, Bakes on Mesh-compatible male mesh avatar called BROX, which is available for only one Linden dollar at this location. Next to it is a free group gift for L’Homme Magazine group members, a set of 8 Bakes on Mesh skins, which you can use on this or any other BoM body (the L’Homme Magazine group is free to join; just pay the vendor L$1 and your Linden dollar will automatically be refunded).

Here is the BROX body, straight out of the box, using the included eyebrow and body shapes with zero adjustments to the head and body sliders, and using skin #6 from the L’Homme Readers Gift box of eight BROX skins. Looking good!

Instead of an alpha HUD, the BROX body comes with a unpackable box of alpha sections, which you can assemble to hide any part of the body under clothing:

So men, you really have no excuse when it comes to upgrading that old system body! Everything you might need is yours for a grand total of L$1! Happy freebie shopping!

UPDATE May 9th, 2021: Well, I have been playing around with the BROX body today, and while the folder of alpha sections is useful (in fact, you might want to pick up the BROX dollarbie body just for those, even if you have a female avatar), they aren’t as convenient as a HUD with alpha sections, in my opinion. Also, I wish that there were finer subsections on the alphas, because they don’t work with many mesh items of clothing.

In the picture below, I combined mesh pants and shoes with a system-layer plaid shirt with a separate prim collar and cuffs:

Not bad, but I had to resort to a system-layer shit because the alpha sections for the upper arms were too broad to allow me to wear most mesh T-shirts I tried on this body (either the arms poked through the shirt sleeves, or the alpha section extended below the shirt cuffs). So you might want to keep this mind as a possible drawback to the BROX body.

Still, this is a handsome Bento, Bakes on Mesh body, one that you can simply wear and go! You could also add a head alpha and wear any head with it (although I did not test it out myself).

Cheerio: A Social VR Platform for Finding Your Friend or Match

Cheerio is a new social virtual reality app, free to download on Oculus Go, Rift, and Quest, which calls itself the first social VR matchmaking experience. The concept is prehaps best explained with the following one-minute video:

According to their official press release:

After first launching on Oculus Rift and Go in early 2020, and tens of thousands of users joining since, Cheerio today announces that the company closed a pre-seed fundraise and has launched on Oculus Quest App Lab and Sidequest. With this launch, Cheerio introduces features brand new to Social VR to help people build one-to-one relationships, expressing themselves as personalized 3D avatars.

• Leave the app but not the conversation by recording holograms (3D video avatar recordings)

• Meet many people quickly, browsing through profiles and having one-on-one speed chats

• Control who you meet with age and gender filters

Users personalize 3D avatars and can communicate with others by recording and sharing public and private holograms. Online users can randomly match, one-on-one, with each other and travel together to 170 billion 360-images via Google Street View. Users upvote and downvote others’ public holograms and can
friend each other.

The idea of 3D recording your avatar (called “holograms”) reminds me of that feature in ENGAGE. There’s not much you and your match/friend can do other than explore Google Street Maps together, however. Another drawback is that Cheerio does not appear to support VR headsets using Steam instead of Oculus.

I will add Cheerio to my ever-expanding comprehensive list of social VR platforms and virtual worlds (which I promise I will reorganize and recategorize soon!).

UPDATED! Pandemic Diary, May 6th, 2021: Dumpster Fire

Among the news which my Twitter feed offers up today is this raging dumpster fire in the Osborne Village neighbourhood of my home city of Winnipeg:

Dumpster Fire, Osborne Village

Somehow, a dumpster fire is an apt metaphor for the state of my life lately, on Day 417 since I began working from home in self-isolation for my university library system.

Manitoba now has the third highest per-capita rate of COVID-19 infections in Canada (after Alberta and Ontario), and experts are saying that we will soon have to implement a third lockdown to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system here.

Personal visits to other private households, indoors or outdoors, have already been forbidden. I only leave my apartment to go to work at my closed library on Mondays, to do some collection weeding, and to pick up the groceries I have ordered via the Walmart website every 2 to 3 weeks. I am weary of the restrictions, but it looks like it’s going to be this way for at least another 3 to 6 months. I am not due for my second shot of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine until July.

I have not had a hug for fourteen months, people. It is starting to really wear on me.

The medications I am taking to control my blood sugar are no longer working as well as they used to, so my family doctor has put me on injectable insulin for the first time. It has been extremely frustrating to try and figure out what the optimal dosage of insulin should be, and we are still trying to figure that out. My blood sugar has been consistently high this past month, and it worries me greatly. I know I need to lose weight, but it just feels so impossible what with everything else going on.

On top of all this, my psychiatrist is considering leaving Winnipeg to accept a position in British Columbia, and neither she nor my family doctor know if they can find a new psychiatrist to take me on as a patient. The current pandemic has led to a extreme shortage of mental health professionals in Manitoba, at a time when so many people are struggling with anxiety and depression. It is, quite simply, the worst possible time to lose my psychiatrist.

Because of these and other worries, I must confess that my productivity has taken a nosedive. I’m having trouble getting anything done. I tell myself that things aren’t normal, that it’s normal to feel this way in the middle of a pandemic. But somehow today it doesn’t really help.

Today is just a dumpster fire, and I wish I had a few more buckets of water to put it out.

UPDATE May 7th, 2021: This evening, Manitoba’s chief public health officer ordered, among other things, that all galleries, museums, and libraries must close. So I won’t be going in to work on Monday after all. Given the sharp increase in COVID-19 infections in Manitoba this week, this is not a surprise to me.

Editorial: Some Advice on How to Avoid Buying Stolen Content on Second Life (After I Got Fooled)

You will notice that I have removed my most recent blogpost—about two Bento, Bakes on Mesh heads which were available via Midnight Mania boards for only a L$10 group join fee.

It is because I have been informed by a Catwa customer service representative who reached out to me this morning, that they were copybotted (i.e. stolen) versions of Catwa heads, which retail for L$5,000 each. Not owning either the models of the heads in question, I was completely fooled, thinking that I had discovered a real bargain, which of course I wanted to hurry and share with you! I got hoodwinked.

So today I wanted to write up a blogpost to tell you, my faithful readers, how to avoid buying botted or stolen content. “Botted” or “copybotted” simply means that somebody used a program called a copybot in order to make an illegal copy of something: clothing, shoes, hair, even mesh heads and bodies. I have written before about how stolen content gets given away or sold in some OpenSim-based virtual worlds, but it can also happen within Second Life itself.

First, I should have been suspicious when I saw the heads offered as Midnight Mania prizes in a small store with a wide variety of other items for sale—but no other mesh heads or bodies. I should have stopped and asked myself: why is a clothing and shoe store giving away free heads? How many apparel and footwear stores also sell mesh bodies? That should have been my first clue: CONTEXT. It’s like someone selling Rolex watches out of the back of their van; you should immediately be suspicious when the setting doesn’t match the product.

Check the context; if it’s suspicious, it’s probably illegal!
(Image from Pixabay)

Second, ask yourself if you have ever heard of the vendor before. After 14 years in Second Life, I am very familiar with all the major apparel, footwear, hair, and body vendors. The store I wrote about yesterday was brand new to me. The store also sold a wide variety of (probably also botted) clothing and shoes for both men and women. Most stores focus on either men’s or women’s clothing, not both, or just shoes or clothing, not both (although there are exceptions). If you run across a store (either in-world or on the SL Marketplace) which you have never encountered before, selling a mind-boggling variety of goods, that is also suspicious. And if you recognize a product that is sold by another merchant—much like the Catwa CSR discovered up top—that should set all your alarm bells ringing!!

Finally, check the price. L$10 for a Bento, Bakes on Mesh head? If the price is too good to be true (especially form a vendor you have never heard of before), pause and reflect. Most Bento heads sell for at least 100 times L$10, and often more than that!

Unfortunately, I did not do any due diligence before I spent L$10 to join the group to pick up these heads, and even worse, I told other people about it! So I do apologize to Catwa for not doing my homework. Apparently the eye textures in the included HUD were also ripped, stolen from IKON, and I apologize to them too.

So learn from my mistake!