Google+ Adventures of a Southern Gentleman: January 2008

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Go Country!!

[UPDATED]After I posted this I discovered that Fiddlers has moved once more, so I've updated the SLURL below to reflect the new location.

When I was a kid, the only kind of music I *ever* heard was country music because that's all my Dad would ever listen to. Once I got out on my own and discovered other music, I stopped listening to country music for years and years. As I got older, I would listen to it from time to time but preferred other music.

Over the past few months in Second Life, I've run across a few country music places and have really gotten into country music. Perhaps surprisingly, there are quite a few places out there in Second Life for the genre so I'm going to highlight a few that I've been to and enjoy.

This is by no means an exhaustive listing and they are in no particular order except that the ones I have frequented most often will be at the head of the list because I have more to say about them.

Just about all of these are pretty active with folks there during the week in the U.S. evening hours starting early afternoon (3-4 pm) SLT (Pacific Time) and going to at least midnight (SLT), though several actually have events going into the early morning hours to 2-3am SLT so they are pretty much active all night.

The SLURL links to each are embedded in the place names so clicking on any one of them should bring up their location on the map so that you can teleport to them.

Silver Dollar Saloon
The Silver Dollar Saloon is first because it was actually the first country place I went to in Second Life and has some very special memories for me. I haven't been there lately, but I'm going to make it a point to get over there soon because it's been too long.

Fiddlers @MIA
Next up is Fiddlers, which is probably the one I've been to the most. I started going to Fiddlers when it was still at Salt Creek, it moved several months ago to MIA island and Salt Creek island was sold (and is now the home of Coyote Country Saloon). Fiddlers is busy most nights of the week with live DJ's and events going into the wee hours of the morning, SLT.

Even now, as I type this on a Saturday around noon, I'm getting announcements for events going on this afternoon. Fiddlers is probably one of the most active of the country places I've been to, though the others do pretty good themselves.

Blueeyed Wolf
The Blueeyed Wolf is a fairly new place owned and run by my friend Babyblueeyes and it is a wonderful, friendly little place. There are events and a live DJ most nights, also on the weekends during the day, and it's a really great place to hang out with friends.

Bottoms Up Saloon @Country Charm
The Bottoms Up Saloon is another relatively new place with great personality and great folks, busy most nights of the week with events and live DJ's. Be warned, dancing on the bar ensues most nights and having a good time is required.

Tumbleweed Tap Saloon
Tumbleweed Tap is another nice place to go to, though in my experience they have tended to run their events early and not go as late as the other places but I haven't been recently and management has apparently changed so I may have to visit them again some evening to see if they're going later than they used to.

Coyote Country Saloon
As mentioned above, Coyote Country Saloon is a relatively new place, though it is essentially the old Fiddlers@Salt Creek under a new name and management. I haven't gone to hang out here yet since it started up as Coyote Country, but the few times I've been in the neighborhood it's been pretty busy and I plan on stopping by soon (too many places, too little time)

Bailers is another good one, I've only been a few times but like the others they have events and DJ's and a bunch of good folks.

Black Horse Country
I've visited here once or twice, nice place, nice folks, lack of time is the only thing that keeps me from going more often.

Wild Horses Saloon
Black Stallion Country & Western Club
The Real McCoy

Haven't really visited these much, maybe once or twice each over the time I've been going to country places in Second Life, but I wanted to mention them because they are all nice places and though I haven't been able to spend much time at them myself, the are all deserving of mention.

So, if you have a hankering for some good times and a friendly country atmosphere, give all of these places a look see. You won't regret it.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Is Second Life slow, or is it just you?

In the past few months or so, Second Life had been getting progressively slower and slower for me every time I went in. So much so that it got to the point where I didn't even want to go in, it was just too much of a bother to fight the sluggish movement and wait for things to rez. And yes, like many do I've mumbled under my breath about the grid needing to be stabilized and performance improved.

However, I had also been noticing that the PC that I run Second Life on has been booting slower, taking a couple minutes to finish loading stuff. Since the thing is a good 3-4 years old, I decided that enough was enough so I backed up my important files and stuff, wrote down configuration settings and a list of what was installed, then I grabbed the disk with the factory image on it and wiped the thing out, going back to the factory image. Then I spent a day reinstalling just the basic bits of software that I use all the time.

Now the machine is booting up quicker, loading web pages faster, and is just nicer to use over all.

Finally, I installed Second Life again, the main viewer.

Oh My Goodness, the first time I logged back in it was WONDERFUL, stuff rezzed quickly, I was able to actually walk, it was like I remember it being when I first logged in.

Yes, I still go places and rubberband while walking (appear to go forward, then jerk back) but in those instances I can actually see from the statistics (ctrl+shift+1) that it is the Sim that's having the problem with Sim FPS and Physics FPS and it's not me.

Lesson learned? If you have a PC that's over a couple years old and has been running all that time without ever being reformatted and everything reinstalled from scratch, seriously consider taking the time to back up your important stuff and doing a fresh install of the operating system and everything, dig out that disk that came with the machine and reset it to the factory default image. Yeah, it'll take a couple days to back everything up and then set everything back up the way you want it, but the benefit is you'll end up with a much better experience on your PC and a much better Second Life experience.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dr Dobbs Island

As I mentioned in my blog entry (A Place in the Sun), in real life I'm a computer programmer, so one of the first things I did after I entered Second Life was search for programming related stuff in Second Life, searching both in world and out (Google, I love ya) , and so I found Dr Dobbs Journal's Island.

Dr Dobbs Journal is a programming magazine that's been around since 1976, I think I first heard about it in the mid 80's and it's always been one of the best programming magazines out there, if not the best. In the past year or so they've done some articles about Second Life and have really embraced the potential of Second Life. They've done a couple of in-world conferences (and done them quite well) and on a weekly basis they do presentations and stuff related to computing and virtual worlds.

So, the first week or so I was in Second Life, I visited their island in SL because I had read they were holding a virtual conference about Second Life called Life 2.0 which like a real life computing conference, spanned an entire week with presentations and displays largely dealing with Second Life and virtual worlds. I signed up for it and while I was only able to attend a portion of it, this conference was a huge success, in my opinion, and was a proving ground for doing virtual conferences. They have since done a second Life 2.0 conference in the fall of last year and a third is planned for this spring (March 15-21, 2008) and I'm looking forward to attending as much of the event as I can. Go to the Life 2.0 website for more information.

But you don't have to wait until they have a conference to check them out, every week Information Week teams up with Dr Dobbs to do what they call Grid Talks which are one hour talks on business, technology and news in Second Life. These are on held on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. PST (SLT) and on Fridays at Noon PST (SLT).

These are always worth going to, and when time permits I try to attend them, though my schedule rarely allows me to do so. :(

The slurl of the island is


Here is the landing point for the island, though I don't think they're forcing folks to teleport directly to this spot any more as I've been able to directly teleport other places recently. Here you'll find some virtual swag and other information.


They've got teleport signs placed in a couple strategic places, with links to teleport to the main locations on the island.

They also give you a good idea what's on the island at a glance.


The sign for the other island, relatively new, it's not got much on it yet.

Let's take a look at the amphitheater, where most of the action takes place.


This is the amphitheater where the presentations and talks are held. If you will notice the yellow line there in the center, that is the border between the two islands, meaning the amphitheater can accommodate around 100 avatars, 50 per island.


A view of the amphitheater from the rear looking toward the presentation area, usually the speakers sit on the small stage in front and their presentations are displayed upon the large screens behind them. It can still be a challenge to get slides to rezz quickly enough during presentations, but over all it works pretty well, and they've even shown video up there upon occasion.

Originally, they had the speakers hooked into an audio stream and everyone listened to that, but lately they've been using SL Voice to do the presentations, they've even managed to stream it out on the stream too, though with a bit of a delay (anyone know of a good way to get the SL voice into a stream, let me know).

They also have a chatbridge on the Life 2.0 website where those who can't attend in world can still participate by listening to the stream and reading/typing in chat (when it all works). You do have to be registered, though, to use it.


Here's a snap from one of the GridTalks, as you can see there are quite a few people there and this is pretty consistent from week to week.


Another snap of the same viewpoint, but with the UI showing, as you can see by the sea of names, it gets pretty crowded.


A snap of Desmond SHang and Ziggy Figaro. Ziggy (in a snazzy green coat, not sure about those shoes though) is the avatar of Mitch Wagner a writer for InformationWeek who blogs quite a bit about Second Life and is very much involved with the events on Dr Dobbs Island.

Oh, if you're interested, here's the RSS feed for the Second Life Blog at InformationWeek.

This particular grid talk was with the creator of the Caledon sims, Desmond Shang, and it was very interesting to get his viewpoint on the phenomenon which is Caledon, and it's future.


Another view of the crowd gathered for the GridTalk.....

By my count, there were at least 45 people there, maybe more.


Ok, here's a quick tour of the rest of the island.

An aerial view of the island, you can see the amphitheater in the lower center of the picture, to the upper right side of the picture is the convention center where there are some displays from past presentations on sculpties and other things. To the left is the Cathedral and mini-bazaar tents (don't ask my why they have a cathedral there).


The Sun and IBM vendor booths near the amphitheater(on the left in the snap).


The Cathedral and a mini-bazaar (the tents) where you can find some items to purchase.


The Godel, Escher Beach Club....

This is where they hold their mixers and entertainment during the conferences and special occasions.


Another view of the beach with perspective on where it's located on the island, the Cathedral on the right and the Convention Center on the left.


And last but not least, the Life 2.0 Club where I hauled my big green newbie self (another blog post, perhaps?) the first week I was in SL to find out about the Life 2.0 conference.

And no post about Dr Dobbs Island and the Life 2.0 conference would be complete without mention of the two folks that make it all work John Zhaoying and Rissa Maidstone, they have done an incredible job of organizing and making it all work.

If you're at all interested in Second Life and virtual worlds, I very strongly recommend joining the Life 2.0 group in-world and attending the events they hold here.