SL9B: A Small Town, A Smaller World.

I grew up in a smallish town and once a year we had a local festival weekend.  You might know the kind, where the firetruck is the most exciting part of the parade because, well, it’s a fire truck.  Where the Realtor brings out his vintage convertible and the local Festival Princess for the year sits on the back and waves?  There was always a couple really creative floats, and the air cadets had a decent marching band, but really the best thing about the parade was that it was ours and you knew everybody in it.  We all went through a phase where it was cool to mock the parade, and even the festival as a whole, but we still went and all these years later I remember them fondly so I’m glad I did.

The rest of the weekend was a trade show of sorts and a small fair.  There was always a booth selling the latest non stick frying pans or other kitchen gadget, and that old guy making folk art with popsicle sticks and bottle caps.   You could walk around munching your mini donuts, drop your spare change on the boyscouts who were raising money for a canoe trip and wonder, as you do every year, why there was a booth selling prepaid cemetery plots and headstones.  I mean, it isn’t wrong, but … really?  At the fair?

It was always exciting in the days leading up to see what rides had been driven down from “The City”, especially if there was going to be a new one.  We’d line up for ten times longer than the ride took just to get our turn, and afterwards right back in line again while we complained about the wait.  When the games shut down it was off to the beer gardens and dance the night away to a local band.

I spent the last two nights at the SL9B birthday festivities and I have to say, it felt pretty much the same, but that’s not a bad thing.

I know I normally try to focus on the positive, but I won’t lie to you.  You won’t love every single exhibit on all 16 sims.  That’s just not possible.  However there are many that are worth seeing; that are fun, interactive, creative, and informative. There were also two or three where I stood there and the best I can come with for a category is “I don’t get it”.  I even briefly saw a naked guy wearing his freenis at the hub, though he didn’t last long.  Admittedly, there were also two exhibits that if it were my event I wouldn’t have included.  That’s the best part though, it isn’t my event, it isn’t yours, it’s all of ours.  This IS Second Life, complete with mind blowing creativity, representation from various groups and communities, charity awareness exhibits,  music, merchants, content creators, even all the minor technical and human annoyances that go with it rolled up in hundreds of hours of volunteering by those who love this virtual world of ours and SL9B is perfect for exactly that reason.

You will get caught at sim crossings at some point.

Sim Crossing

You might even have a hard time teleporting from one sim to another if you try to map hop.  (Well I did on day one shortly after it opened, but on day two I had far fewer issues)

SL9B I got in sort of

You’ll also smile, a lot.  Not only at the exhibits, but at the people.  I ran into some I hadn’t seen in years, made a couple of new friends, and had the most interesting random chats with others who just happened to be standing where I was in that moment.

The best part for me is not just that I’ll have something to do every night this week, but this is going to give me something to do and write about for the next year at least!  I’ve barely scratched the surface and already I’ve discovered exhibits from a bunch of groups that I don’t know much about so I took their information and hope to visit them in the future.  The Virtual Railway Consortium, The White Tiger Mentors, The Fair Winds Pirates, The Female Wrestling Community, The Dr. Who Fans, The Speed Builders, I even took a test run on a surf board at the Surfing community’s exhibit.  The list goes on and on.  If you are looking for something to get involved with in Second Life, this SL9B party is the best way to get a sample of all there is to do.

If you are going to go, and really, are you so busy when you are online you can’t spare a few hours of your virtual life to hang out with the only other people in the world who understand and appreciate your passion for SL?  I thought so.  So when you go I do have a few suggestions.  First, make use of the website, http://sl9b.wordpress.com/ and in particular this post http://sl9b.wordpress.com/2012/06/17/coming-soon-performer-schedules/   where they have a live online calendar of all the performers and DJ’s at the various stages (yes, stages, plural, there are simultaneous performances going on!)  It’s not just music, the auditorium has speakers and presentations on everything from Mesh to online relationships.

Second, educate yourself about lag, and how you contribute to it by reading this post http://sl9b.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/lag-at-sl9b-how-to-deal-with-it/

That post specifically asks us not to be the arc police, and not confront anyone there, and I didn’t.  However, here on my blog, let me just say this.  If you go to a busy event like this wearing all of your scripted combat weapons and 17 attachable scripted body parts from your hair to your shoes and everything in between, you are a douche.  There, I feel so much better now.

Third, pick the right viewer.  I knew without a doubt in my mind that the only way I was going to experience something like this without frustration was with Catznip.  It’s by FAR the most stable for me, one of the highest FPS for me (almost twice the sim’s FPS while on high settings at the Cake Stage during a performance!) but most remarkably it rezzes everything lighting fast.  You know when someone teleports you somewhere and you say “give me a minute, rezzing” well that doesn’t happen for me with Catznip, it’s just there.  I sometimes forget how remarkable that is until I switch to another viewer to do something else and tap my fingers impatiently waiting for things to pop in.

I also highly recommend that you stop by the Hub first and pick up a wearable teleport hud with all the stages and areas of SL9B.  It’s going to be very handy if you just want to pop in for a performance, the hud will take you directly to whichever stage you are looking for, or visit them all even if no one is performing.  The stages really are quite remarkable. 

I also personally really enjoyed the guided pod tours.  Sure, sometimes they get stuck at the sim crossings, but if you hop off it will cross then you can run and catch it again.  Don’t laugh! It works.  The tour is a quick way to see everything and it tells you a little about each exhibit in local chat as you go by.  From there, you can make a list of which ones you want to revisit.

SL9B Hub to pick up your free Teleport Hud

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/DreamSeeker%20SL9B%20Devet/249/117/21

Guided Tour Pod Stations

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/FruitIslands%20SL9B%20Party/256/242/21

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/DreamSeeker%20SL9B%20Devet/254/76/21

On a personal note, I was using the Hud to visit various stages to see which performance I might want to sit in and listen to and when I arrived at the Cake Stage guess who was standing there?  None other than Mr. Gypsy Quixote.  I had to laugh.  I met Gypsy at Burn2 where I first heard him sing and play, it was one of my first blog posts here but I haven’t really seen or talked to him since.  I asked him if he was going to perform at all for the birthday and he told me he was up next.  His one and only booked session though he might fill in a few more before it’s over.  As I’m typing this, I’m listening to that trademark gravelly voice of his and smiling.

It’s not just a small town, it’s a small world.

Happy Birthday to Second Life and to all of you.

I may try to blog a few pictures of my favorite builds and recommend a few must see exhibits, but in case I get distracted don’t wait for me.  Come see SL9B for yourself and be sure to say hi if you see me.  I’ll be there somewhere.

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