Second Life Steals, Deals and Freebies: Paying A Return Visit to the Freebie Megastore in London City

I am becoming more depressed and anxious about the Ukraine Russia war, and its potential to turn into World War III. I have been spending a lot of time these past three weeks doomscrolling the news and social media (mostly Reddit and Twitter), but I do try step away for a day or two when I become overwhelmed by it all.

So, in addition to making financial donations to various war-related charities, I was out protesting against this senseless war in front of the Freebie Megastore in the popular London City sim in Second Life, standing right next to an effigy of 💩-tin in a garbage can…you know, as one does in SL (hey, it’s your Second Life; do what you want!).

By the way, the minidress in the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag is a freebie from Princess Stuff (details here; scroll down to the bottom), and the No War sign is a freebie from the WENICE sim (details in this blogpost).

Anyways, while I was there, I freecammed into the Freebie Megastore, and I was pleased to discover that they have considerably enlarged their selection of free mesh clothing and footwear:

You can still pick up the free versions of the male Robert and female Jenny mesh bodies from Altamura, as well as a decent selection of free men’s and women’s clothing specifically designed to fit Altamura bodies. The menswear section has been significantly expanded from what I remember the last time I visited, too! (There is also a nice selection of men’s and women’s St. Patrick’s Day outfits, but you’d better hurry down to the Freebie Megastore to pick those up!)

Here’s a look at the mesh women’s clothing section; while the older items come in standard sizing, the newest additions are designed to fit a wide variety of women’s mesh body brands:

There’s also a women’s footwear section tucked into a corner of the Freebie Megastore, which includes some shoes and boots to fit Maitreya, Belleza, and Slink mesh feet!

So, if you haven’t been down to the Freebie Megastore in London City for a while, it might be time to pay a visit and pick up some fabulous freebies! Here’s your taxi.

UPDATED! How to Show Your Support for Ukraine in Second Life (Including the Latest in Free/L$1 Clothing for Your Avatar)

St. Andrew’s Orthodox Mission in Second Life (SLURL)

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you want to support Ukrainian-owned businesses in Second Life, here is an up-to-date spreadsheet of 28 such businesses where you can spend your Linden dollars to support Ukrainian content creators.

In addition to shopping at Ukrainian-owned SL businesses, there are a number of fundraising events which are taking place across the grid, with some or all of the proceeds going to support various legitimate Ukrainian charities. One such event is Love to Ukraine, running from March 5th to 19th, 2022 with all proceeds going to NBU (the National Bank of the Ukraine), Voices of Children, and the Ukrainian Red Cross. Another is run by Two Moons Gardens, which is donating the proceeds of their Inspiration Garden event to the International Red Cross for use in their care of refugees and victims of acts of war. 

If you don’t have a lot of Linden dollars to spend, you can still show your support by picking up freebie and dollarbie outfits and accessories from various in-world stores, as well as on the Second Life Marketplace (I compiled a first list in this blogpost; this post is an update, with new items I have found since the first blogpost was published).

I decided to load up my main Second Life avatar, Vanity Fair, to model some of these fabulous fashion freebies. Let’s start off with this free cardigan, top, and long skirt set from Marvelous (it’s all one piece). Check out the daring slit on the skirt!

(There’s also a free women’s dress and a free men’s Chinese-style robe, both in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag.)

Croquis is offering a free black women’s T-shirt with two designs:

TW is selling this black men’s polo shirt and matching pants for only one Linden dollar on the SL Marketplace (Meshbody Legacy and INITHIUM Kario sizes only):

Among the Ukraine-themed freebies is the We Stand with Ukraine free female T-shirt by Redangel (which is also available via their in-world store, as well as a matching men’s shirt; just click on the vendor panels on either side of the entrance):

Here’s a free Support Ukraine women’s tank top by Angel Fae Boutique:

There’s also this tied Stand With Ukraine T-shirt from Twisted Princess (L$1):

Here Vanity Fair is modeling the Stand with Ukraine dress by a store called @#1 (only L$1):

Lost Virtues is also giving away a free Stand With Ukraine dress if you visit their in-world store and join their group, called Lost Virtues Off Script by Kylie, for free (it’s also for sale for L$1 on the SL Marketplace). The dress is sized for Maitreya Lara mesh bodies only.

TinRoof Fashion is also giving away free men’s and women’s T-shirts in support of Ukraine on the SL Marketplace (or you can pick them up at the in-world store; just pay the vendor L$1 and it will automatically be refunded):

And there’s much, much more! In fact, there are over 170 free items supporting Ukraine on the Second Life Marketplace; just click here to see them all.

Finally, if you teleport to WENICE Meadows and Beaches sim (SLURL), you will automatically receive a folder with some protest signs with Bento hand holding poses which should work well with your AO, as well as some small and large Ukrainian flags, plus a few other items:

UPDATE March 18th, 2022: Salt & Pepper has just released a new, free gift, this beautiful peace choker, which comes with a HUD to change the metal to one of 6 textures, and the three inlays of the peace sign to any combination of 10 different colours, By default, when you unpack it, the inlays are set with the blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag:

You can pick up this free gift at the Salt & Pepper store in-world (exact SLURL; no group needed), or via the SL Marketplace.

UPDATE March 20th, 2022: I have another lovely free gift to share with you, this women’s top, decorated with a blue-and-yellow hearts and many sunflowers (Ukraine’s official flower). You can pick it up at the MOZ mainstore (exact SLURL):

Slava Ukraini!

UPDATED: The Impact of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine (and the Resulting Economic Sanctions) on the Russian Community in Second Life

SEE ALSO: Slava Ukraini! Ways to Show Your Support for Ukraine in Second Life (And in Real Life, Too!)

I will be following up today’s blogpost about Russia with another one talking about the experience of the Ukrainian users of Second Life, an update to the post I linked to above. Stay tuned! Slava Ukraini!

Although Linden Lab, the makers of Second Life, is headquartered in San Francisco, the 18-year-old virtual world is truly international, having players all over the world—including Russia, a country which is now the target of economic sanctions after Vladimir Putin and his army invaded Ukraine two weeks ago.

I have been glued to the news, following the endless updates and discussions on the r/WorldNews community on Reddit. I have been saddened, depressed and enraged by the footage that has been captured and shared with the world. But I also feel for those civilians who, through no fault of their own, have been caught up in this conflict and its consequences—among them, the everyday Ukrainian and Russian people who use virtual worlds like Second Life, and whom in many cases make a living from creating and selling virtual goods such as avatar clothing. (If you wish to support the many Ukrainian-owned businesses in Second Life, check out this list of 28 Ukrainian-owned stores in Second Life.)

My contacts with Russia are negligible, but I do have one link. Every day, I connect to Second Life – FREE (this is a little-known-about Russian-language group on Vkontakte, the Russian version of Facebook, which often lists items I don’t see on other freebie blogs). It’s part of my early morning scouting of Second Life steals, deals, and freebies, content which has proven to be quite popular on this blog!

Yesterday, I noticed that access to this site was much, much slower than usual, and there was the following announcement pinned at the top of the VKontakte group (I used the handy Google Translate app on my iPhone to translate the red sign, which says IMPORTANT INFORMATION!):

The English translation of the Russian text in the message (courtesy of DeepL):

Today, many chats and chat rooms are full of panicked fears that SL has started banning Russian users. This is NOT the case! Many of you know that as of 00:00 on March 14th, Facebook, Instagram and Meta are banned in Russia and blocked. There is a direct time correlation between midnight in different time zones (starting from Siberia) and problems logging into SL.
⚠ The blocking of Meta, FB, and Instagram has affected SL! ⚠
We believe that SL’s game servers coincided with Meta’s and therefore got blocked by the Russian Federation. I repeat, SL has NOT blocked anyone! This is a login problem on the Russian side!
‼Updated: Many people already have login without VPN‼

So, it would appear that the Russian users of Second Life are already having problems connecting to their favourite virtual world. A user on the r/WorldNews subReddit community on Reddit, who publishes regular, up-to-date compilations of everything that has been happening in the Ukraine war has reported that Russian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have begun a process to block VPN services from working in Russia, which would otherwise allow Russian citizens a way to bypass Russian-blocked online sites and services such as Second Life.

Wagner James Au, of the long-running Second Life blog New World Notes, wrote on March 10th:

Though Linden Lab has not yet announced any plans to ban payments from Russian users on its virtual world platform of Second Life, the US and EU banking sanctions have already taken their toll on SL content creators in Russia — especially those who depend on Second Life for their livelihood:

“After the blocking of PayPal,” as reader “Alex” explains in a recent comment, “all Russian creators were deprived of the opportunity to receive money from sales in SL. For many of them, working in SL is their main and only job.”

All this happens as Second Life users around the world create pro-Ukraine/anti-Russian images and the Second Life island of Moscow has been inundated by so many anti-invasion protesters, the owners resorted to posting a massive billboard in virtual Red Square, imploring visitors to refrain from activism (above). 

In group chats, Second Life content creators based in Russia are now privately discussing their options, but are reluctant to air them with the Second Life community at large: 

“[O]ut of sympathy and compassion for what is happening in Ukraine,” as Alex puts it, “Russian creators do not bring their problems into public discussion… Many [Russian SL] creators and their families are already left without a livelihood.”

Alex believes that some creators in the short term will continue creating in Second Life, even without a cash-out option, but “we will not be able to do this for a long time and will not be able to support our customers in the game as we have always done.”

The large billboard on the Moscow Island sim in Second Life, asking users to refrain from political activism

I end this blogpost with a reminder that you should always treat the other avatars you meet in any virtual world with respect. You have no idea about what’s going on with the person behind that avatar. Please be respectful, even if you do happen to disagree. It’s possible to hate the Ukraine war and still be friends with Russian people you meet in Second Life, who probably have nothing to do with this war.

UPDATE March 16th, 2022: The Second Life – FREE group on VKontakte has posted the following updated announcement (this English translation is once again via the excellent DeepL translator):

Is SL not working for you, too? ❓❓❓

This phrase recently appears regularly in our chat, every new person flies into the chat with this question and we are tired. So in a nutshell the situation: We don’t get banned by LL, we get unintentionally blocked by our own)

👉🏻 First: Linden Labs do NOT block Russians, there is no official information or at least their voiced anywhere position on the topic of possible blocking of SL residents from the RF {Russian Federation]. If you can go to your personal account on the official website and on the marketplace, then your account is not blocked.

👉🏻 Second: Roskomnadzor started blocking Instagram, and global crashes started for many uninvolved – so “broke” Wildberries and partly Votsap, glitches our entire Internet. Naturally, the servers of Second Life are also affected. That is why we are seeing SL failures, and not all users at the same time, but chaotically. You can log in, then fail, then after a while you are allowed in. Sometimes only Siberia suffers. Some users can log in with a VPN (many), but some can’t log in with any VPN, no matter what I’ve tried. It’s hard to say what is guaranteed to help.

👉🏻 Third: on Tuesdays and partly Wednesdays in SL technical work and login to SL always fails on these days. And the servers take turns rebooting, so some sims may be rebooted at the same time and others may work. Consequently, some will be able to get into SL, and some will not.

No need to panic. Losing access to your favorite Second Life is very disturbing, sad and some “break” without the usual virtual leisure time, but let’s keep calm and not turn chats into mass hysteria.

Housekeeping Notice: I’m Juggling

Between the ongoing pandemic, the recently-concluded five-week faculty strike at my university, and now the unexpected war in Ukraine, things have been a little crazy around here these past 3 months (did you know that 14.5% of Manitobans are of Ukrainian ancestry?). Like many of you, I have been glued to the news lately.

Throw in a broken Valve Index VR headset (my unit, of course, died a couple of months after its one-year warranty expired, and Steam has asked me to ship back my headset and cables to be replaced with a refurbished, non-warrantied, headset.) Also, Carlos and I have also—finally!—started working on Episode 1 of Season 2 of the Metaverse Newscast, about which I will be sharing more news soon.

I forgot to mention that after 23 months of working from home for my university, this week I finally returned to my office in the library full-time. (The University of Manitoba has a firm vaccine mandate and a KN95 facemask mandate. Faculty, staff, and students were required to upload proof of vaccination to a special, secure website, and students who did not do so were deregistered from their courses this term. U of M is following the science and absolutely not messing around, which makes me feel much more comfortable coming in to work every day!)

I’m juggling a lot of balls at the moment
(photo by alexey turenkov on Unsplash)

I’m juggling a lot at the moment. All of this is my very long-winded way of saying: don’t expect a whole lot of blogposts from me over the next few weeks. I’ll do my level best to stay on top of all the news and events happening in the metaverse, but no promises 😉

Thanks to my readers and followers for your continued support and engagement! And you are welcome to join the Discord server, with 650 passionate members, representing every social VR platform and virtual world! We discuss, debate and argue about the ever-evolving metaverse and all the companies building it, and we’d love to have you participate (or, if you prefer, just lurk and learn!).