The title image here is my entry for the NeoVictoria Photo Contest 2021. It runs until 15th November 2021 and anyone can enter. Just take a Steampunk style snapshot in either of the NeoVictoria Project regions and post it in the Flickr group, then comment on the rules post that you consent to the terms.
The First prize is 5000 L$ so it’s wotrh a quick snap!
So Facebook got renamed, or rather the parent company did. Does it matter? There’s been lots of spoof responses in social media about it, from puns on the name to the logo or just the whole concept.
It’s been widely reputed that this is part of his (Evil?) Masterplan to create a “Metaverse” for everyone to connect, work and socialise.
Umm.. HELLO Mr Z…This Already Exists…
When someone says Metaverse to me, I immediately think of SecondLife, Sansar and similar virtual worlds. But to me the term goes beyond those and is very wide ranging, probably encompassing pretty much any digital virtual world or environment.
Zuckerberg wants a piece of it, but whatever he ends up creating or calling it, to me it will just be *part* of the wider Metaverse. Its a concept not a thing you can buy or own, but no doubt he’s trying. It’s not possible to join up all the virtual worlds and spaces out there, a lot of them are technologically walled gardens. Even if it were possible would users want it? You may trust one company (or several) with your Virtual identity (in my case Linden Lab for my SecondLife) but linking all the games, virtual worlds and platforms you might have accounts on through a system run by Mark Zuckerberg? Unlikely. But then there a lot of privacy-careless or privacy-ignorant people out there that just might. Or if it’s the only way they can use their VR headset that he subsidised.
So does it matter? To some it will, others won’t care. I fall into the latter group, but because I don’t care for the privacy invasive business model of FaceBook/Meta doesn’t mean I should ignore it. If the Metaverse as I describe it above was a lake and the various virtual worlds were fish swimming along minding their own business, I’d compare Meta as a shark. It has large financial teeth and has a history of consuming potential competitors(e.g. Oculus among many others).
This analogy may not be as far off the truth as I thought. Since I typed out the above I came across an article published yesterday (30th October 2021) which mentions a 2018 report sent to Facebook board members that says:
“Let’s not build the Metaverse with the plan to help other Platforms accumulate and retain consumers[…] Let’s build the Metaverse to keep them from being in the VR business in a meaningful way at all.”
Sounds very shark-like behaviour to me. Meta will matter, but not I think in the way Zuckerberg wants it to.
Something I would recommend reading is a peice in response to Zuckerbergs announcement entitled “Facebook Meta Isn’t New. The Future Started in 2003” written by a long-time SL resident by the name of Phaylen Fairchild. Which I think any SL Resident would agree with.
Halloween is a special time of year, for different reasons for different people. For some it is a deeply religious time when rituals are performed formally or informally to honour the dead and rememer lost loved ones. You can find legimate Wiccan/Pagan organisations in SecondLife that perform these ceremonies. The opposite extreme is the very Westernised version of the holiday that is a retail exercise featuring lots of black,orange and kids dresing up to get sweets.
Wherever you feel you fit on that range doesn’t really matter in SL. You can go to the rituals, the parties, the shopping, it doesn’t really matter so log as you’re enjoying yourself.
The common theme through it all is the costumes! Whether you go for playful cute witch, some kind of monster or in my case dark creepy vampire, it’s all such fun!
There’s not much in terms of skin coverage in this outfit, but that’s kind of the idea for a vampire on the hunt. Too much clothing would just get in the way and soak up any spillage that could be drunk! The cloak is definitely a requirement though, it lets me wrap up and disappear into the shadows quickly away from witnesses!
This one’s a little different. Much more about an adult horror approach to Halloween than the child-friendly pumpkin fest you see elsewhere.
Usually not many people read the welcome notecards given out at places in SecondLife, they’re usually just full of rules that can be abbreviated to something like “don’t be an arse, be polite”. This one was worth reading because it abbreviates to more like “If you’re offended by adult images of nudity leaning heavily towards porn.. Go No Further. You Have Been Warned.”
Obviously this didn’t stop me, so take it as fair warning that you will see such images below. I started by exploring the outside grounds, first to the left of the entrance since that’s the side you arrive at.
Then along a misty riverbank to the other side and explore some buildings back there.
It was time to go inside and see what all the fuss was about. In here at ground level there are some fairly inoffensive naked ghostly figures, the kind that could be classed as erotica.
When you mount the stairs and head upstairs however, it’s quite a different story!
Up here you’ll find lots of ghostly figures going at it like they were able to breed and the human race needed repopulating. These aren’t just static images like your regular SL “ghost” popping up to surprise you, quite a few are animated. I would advise against sitting your avatar on anything here, there’s no telling what might happen. For me this resulted in being moved somewhere I couldn’t easily leave, so I had to teleport back outside. Since I’d seen plenty inside I thought I’d see if I missed anything around the back of the house. Sure enough there’s more animated kinkiness round there too.
However before I got there I came across this stone altar with a single pink pose ball on, so I sat and it had some cool ritual type animations in that I was capturing when I got a nasty surprise. Be warned ladies, heed the local chat or you may regret the consequences of staying sat too long!
Next is The Haunted History of Hummingbird Isle which is by the same designer as Once Upon a Spell, but it feels a little smaller. I totally love the environment settings here, a thunderous sky with appropriate sound and rain.
The pirate ship isn’t boardable, but it definitely makes for great scenery on the beach before you proceed up the steep steps to the gardens and house.
From up here you get a great view of that cool sky again before you walk through the rain to the house.
I opened the doors and stepped through, immediately recognising the building was the same as one I saw at Dead Mans Island last year, however while the layout is the same the interior and contenst of the rooms is different so still worth exploring!
My explorations of SecondLife’s Haunted Houses of 2021 continues with Once Upon a Spell. I went to the last page of the list of Haunted Houses on the Destination Guide, simply because I don’t like being totally conventional.
The arrival point is at the entrance to a kind of mystical forest setting with thankfully just a couple of boards for their inworld group and Flickr (regular readers will know how much I hate lots of clutter at an arrival point). As I went forward I came to some autumnal red and gold leaved trees, I was immediately reminded of Pumpkin Town a location from last year.
Coming out of these trees, through a tunnel I arrived at a campfire in what felt like a more bayou swampy kind of place, suggested by the rickety shack on the other side of a small stretch of water.
As I continued into the forest I encountered another shack, but this one in much better condition, evidently maintained by the resident witch.
Just past here are two rows of pumpkins forming a path uphill towards a house, but I went the other way into the green darkness of the forest. This took me to another larger area of water, bordeed by waterfalls and a bridge crossing it at the far end.
I followed the lakeshore til I came to the bridge then turned back towards the pumpkin-bordered path and the house at it’s end.
TRIGGER WARNING: SPIDERS and CLOWNS BELOW!
(Yeah I know, it made me cringe typing that, why would you be reading a post about a Halloween location and not expect such things? But I know people that are sensitive to them.)
Around the back of the house is the bridge across the lake I saw earlier,at the far end of which is a big spiders web you walk through to get to the next area to explore.
Through here it opens up into another large area with a big top, a cemetery, a haunted mansion and a ghost train.
The haunted mansion was the most tempting to me and turned out to be the largest part of this area.
I’ve not shown everything here, your visit wouldn’t be fun if I did!
After blogging several spooky places last year, I thought it would be fun to do the same again this year. First up is 80Days-Skullingtown.
The arrival point is in front of a tall pair of gates that instinctively you might proceed through, but wait! I did as I always do and look behind me on arrival, you should do the same here. There is a graveyard and a massive pumpkin patch back there to see first.
As you explore you’ll hear an appropriately tinny version of a tune from the film The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is quite haunting and coming from the creepy merry go round near the entrance.
Heading through the main gates you’re in small town square with lots of appropriately spooky paraphernalia scattered about around and inside the houses and towers. Some of these are just scenery, but several of them you can enter and explore. I picked the house straight ahead first, stopping at the bottom of the steps to admire its creepiness for a moment.
I then had a wander around the other buildings to see what surprises were in store!
Following Ava’s fairly unfruitful visit to the Armoury and conversation with a potential first customer on the way, hopefully a meeting with the pilot mentioned will be productive.
[08:15:12] Ava wanders around the various parked up ships looking for the one she'd been told about
[08:16:02] Ava stops short as she sees someone sat in the shelter of a ship "Hello there"
[08:16:03] Szondi raises an eyebrow noticing the newcoming , but then concentrates again on her computer
[08:16:56] Szondi looks at the newcoming '' hello ''
[08:17:35] Ava steps a little closer "Hi, I'm looking for a pilot called Szondi, wouldn't happen to be you by an chance?"
[08:19:12] Szondi half nods '' so tell the legends...how may i help you ? ''
[08:21:40] Ava : My name is Ava, I work for AMZ, yo probably noticed the big yellow crate over there by now. I've been sent back to this dust pit to set up and negotiate shipping deals with whoever needs them.
[08:22:02] Szondi closes the computer and places it on ground , near the chair '' you can come closer i don't bite , yet ''
[08:23:09] Szondi : do you want i deliver your stuff?
[08:23:35] Ava steps closer, just under the canopy "I was talking to the chick in the Armoury she was pretty unhelpful, saying she had her own stuff worked out, bus suggested I come talk to you"
[08:24:21] Ava nods "Yes, I was thinking something like that yes, sub-contract as it were"
[08:24:55] Szondi frowns and meditates...'' legal stuff , i suppose....dont wanna troubles , you know ''
[08:27:26] Ava : I expect so yes, but AMZ does have a policy of not opening any packages we're asked to ship, best for all parties concerned. Which of course if *you* stick to that, it passes the buck to AMZ for the contents.
[08:28:37] Szondi : that AMZ covers responsabilities ? any sort of legal assurance ?
08:32:00] Ava : The rules are very..undefined..out here. AMZ uses that to it's advantage, adopting that policy and using our crates passes the responsibility to AMZ, yes. The parent company on Earth is too big to be messed with. Works for everyones advantage.
[08:33:21] Szondi : hmmmmm * nods and smiles for awhile , meditating * sounds interesting , yes....tell me more , please
[08:41:35] Ava : Well right now I'm trying to get a feel of who wants what shipped, AMZ were hoping to get contracts with thor and earthgov
[08:42:06] Ava : so far that's not lookng so promising
[08:42:45] Szondi : i don't wotk to Thor ...mainly , but before continuing there are some things you had to know...
[08:43:22] Ava nods "ok, lets hear it"
[08:44:16] Szondi stands up and makes a sign to Ava , indicating to follow '' ok , come aboard please
[08:45:20] Szondi : you can see this is not a freighter , i mainly transport passengers...
[08:46:24] Szondi : people who wants a fast , safe and discrete trip to their destination...with no questions...
[08:46:55] Szondi : i can carry only 2 tons of merchandise...
[08:49:37] Ava /me nods looking at the vessel "Well that's fine, I find it's often the smallest packages that pay the highest prices anyway. The limitation works in your favour too, scarcity raises prices"
[08:51:20] Szondi : maybe but not in Mars....a journey to Gagaringrad and back costs me 1500 C-bills , so i need to recover that amount and get some profit...
[08:57:57] Ava : I think we''d have to negotiate that on a load by load basis. 1 pound is not a lot for that price. We'd be talking likely very dubious contents. But as I said, you'r covered by AMZ for that.
[08:59:47] Szondi : i don't ask what boxes have in , just need a cover if gov officers inquire about...i'm not a smuggler...
[09:05:35] Ava : Well I'm not asking you to be a smuggler, AMZ is a legit shipping company. I'm not sure on exactly what loopholes AMZ have jumped through, but you don't have to worry about the officials. They can't open the boxes, that's the beauty of it. I can't, you can't. Only the sender and the intended final recipient with a biometric lock.
At which point the strange world that is RealLife required my attenion, so I look forward to continuing this story sometime soon.
On her way to find the pilot mentioned by the Armoury proprietor Ava comes across a potential customer outside the Thor Mining Corp offices.
[07:40:52] Cyka looks over to the woman in front of her appearing obviously grouchy as she nods briefly. "Hi... You wouldn't happen to have some smokes on you by chance...?"
[07:43:27] Ava shakes her head "No sorry, never picked up that habit. I'm Ava, a courier for AMZ, they've sent me to try and set up shipping deals with whoever wants or neds them."
[07:44:18] Cyka cocks her brow some and just sighs "Any chance you can procure cigs. or different kind of courier?" she asks obviously going through nicotine withdrawal if Ava had ever seen it before.
[07:47:34] Ava: I'm sure I would work something out, get some on a shipment this way, but obviously would have to be among other stuff. The Armoury chick wasn't too cooperative and not been able to make contact with anyone from Thor or EarthGov yet.
[07:48:41] Cyka nods lightly "Thor mostly keeps to themselves.. and i would suggest not trusting the earth gov people are far as you could throw them" she states flatly. "but if you can get me a few cartons of cigs i will pay you cost and a half for them. "
[07:52:08] Ava laughs "Trust? No, any large organisation, corporate or government shouldn't be trusted. You just gotta use their language though, cash. I don't care if they're trustworthy, so long as they pay upfront"
[08:01:07] Ava: Well I shall keep you in mind your offer as I fish around for customers, a shipload just full of cigarettes might not be all that profitable..but we shall see.
[08:03:15] Cyka shrugs "Im a street sam. working for the towns mayor. All i need are cigs and booze. and I'm offering a 50% over cost at base. more if in bulk.. so just keep that in mind.. its a comodity out here"
[08:05:00] Ava: I certainly will. Gotta go with market demand, if that's fags n booze, so be it.
[08:05:52] Cyka chuckles "i dont know about market demand. but if nothing else. you will have a steady reavenue if you help me out.. and i can help deal with any one who might fuck with your routes. " she says with a chilling smirk
[08:07:22] Ava nods in completely understanding the womans' last comments "Definitely a consideration"
[08:09:36] Cyka shrugs lightly before yawning "Any ways, names Cyka, i work dirrectly for Jadz as her security detail. if you need some help let me know. Will owe ya a favor if you manage to get those cigs. and.. some say a favor is as good as gold" she says lightly reaching to her pocket only to remember her pack of cigs has long since been filled with this horrid places dust just sighing in irritation
[08:11:00] Ava: Thanks Cyka, I look forward to working with you, I've gotta go head over and talk to a pilot that the armory chick told me about.
[08:13:02] Ava raises her hand in a farewell wave and heads off