Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Sistine Chapel

The Vassar College island has a beautiful replica of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, where the popes are elected (the white puff of smoke, etc), and where Michelangelo painted his famous ceiling frescos. Walk into the chapel about half way, switch to mouse view, then look up! It's breathtaking: one of the best examples I've seen of an SL representation of the real world. You can spend ages there just standing in one spot and looking at the paintings, there are so many of them.

Also on view are Raphael's tapestries, but only for thirty seconds at a time, for some reason!

Before (or during) your visit, I recommend having a look at the Vatican website for the Sistine Chapel, at this address:

There's lots of information there. And you can also get a good idea of how accurate the SL representation is!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here there (may) be dragons!

Should I or shouldn't I? This tunnel into the underworld in the medieval-themed Avilion sim looks pretty spooky!

Of course I did; but I won't spoil your own thrill of discovery by telling you what I found down there. You'll have to go and see for yourself!

But please be sure to read the rules that are posted at the gates. It's a serious role-playing sim (though not a Gorean one, thank goodness!), and there are free medieval-style clothes provided. No such thing as observer status there, so be prepared to take part in the action!

The Eternal City

The imperial palace in the ancient Rome sim is usually not open to the public. But with the recent celebration of the Saturnalia festival, the Emperor graciously opened its gates to the citizens. The photo shows some of the beauty within!

The Roma SPQR sim is owned by a real-life Roman archaeologist, and provides an accurate depiction of what the ancient city would have looked like. There is some role-playing there, and many of the ancient festivals are celebrated at the appropriate times of year. For example, the Saturnalia involved slaves changing places with their masters for the day.

The sim now covers three entire regions, and flying is not enabled, so be sure give yourself enough time for a long walk! There are many interesting things to see, and informative note cards are available everywhere. (Watch for the red disk with the Roma olive branch symbol on it!) And be sure to pick up a free toga when you arrive at the customs house in the harbour: historical sims are much more fun when everyone looks the part!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The Casablanca sim was built to represent Morocco, rather than the famous Bogart movie. The photo shows the Hassan Mosque and its gardens, from a balcony at the Casablanca Cafe. You can listen to both traditional and contemporary Moroccan music while you're there. Seek out one of the two soccer fields and have a game! There's also a big traditional souk (i.e. marketplace) with all kinds of Moroccan merchandise for sale, a beach, and a harbour. Numerous clickable information tags throughout the sim will tell you about the history and architecture of the place. And if you're there at the right time, you might find me practising my belly dancing at the cafe!

To get there, open the Map and type "Casablanca" in the Search field, then click the Teleport button. The TP landing point is located in the plaza between the mosque and the bazaar.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Travel Advisory

I found this pleasant-looking castle on the east side of the road through the Imperial region. But things are not as they appear! There's a region boundary that passes right beneath the drawbridge. When I crossed it I ignored my own advice (see my post of 24 August) and ended up falling through the floor into the dungeon below. It was full of all kinds of extremely nasty-looking torture equipment. Fortunately none of it was in use. The code of the SL explorer forbids TP-ing out of trouble, except as a last resort. But I was able to find my way out on foot, and made it back to the road without too much trouble.

But as I continued northwards down the road I found this lovely vineyard in the Obscure region, which raised my spirits.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Great Linden Wall

Here's one end of the Great Linden Wall, in the Horisme region. To get an idea of just how great it is, that's me at the bottom of the ramp! The wall passes through perhaps a dozen regions.

Be sure to read the boundary-crossing tips in my last blog entry: if you fall through the surface of this thing, it's very hard to get out again!

To get there, open the map and type "Horisme" in the Search field. The wall is easy to see on the map, with its end near the southern boundary of the region. Then just click on the map where you want to land, and press the Teleport button.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crossing Boundaries

Some odd things can happen when you cross a region boundary! When you walk from one region into another, your avatar often appears to sink beneath the surface and keep on moving. What is happening is the simulator programme for the region you just left is trying to hand you over to the simulator for the region you are trying to enter. For some reason, the client software running on your own computer keeps chugging along with the old data until the handover takes place and data from the new region becomes available. When that finally happens, your avatar will return to a position in the new region just across the boundary.

But when the surface you are walking on is above ground level, your av may end up in the space below the surface when the handover is completed. So you might find yourself in a tunnel, or stuck beneath a bridge or elevated railway. It can be very difficult sometimes to get back to the original surface.

To minimise this problem, you can start flying just before you cross a region boundary. The attached pic shows what a boundary looks like when you've got Property Lines turned on under the View menu.

Another way to get warning of an approaching boundary is to keep an eye on the numbers at the top centre of your screen. There are three of these, right after the region name, and they're affectionately known as X, Y, and Z. X is your distance from the western boundary of the region, and Y is your distance from the southern boundary. These numbers range between 0 and 255. (Z is your altitude, and has no maximum value, at least in practice.) So when you see either X or Y approaching either 0 or 255, a boundary crossing is imminent.

Sometimes the handover can take 20 seconds or more to complete, and occasionally it fails altogether. When it fails, you may get a warning message and find yourself back in the old region; or you may be logged out instead. But of course the intrepid explorer takes it all in stride!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Matthew Street in Liverpool, where the Beatles began! Lots of pubs and clubs on this street, plus the famous Cavern Club itself. There's a lower part, called the Promenade, that's still under construction. You enter it at the north end of Matthew Street. There's a beach there; presumably the banks of the River Mersey. Keep a lookout for the yellow submarine!

To get there, type "liverpool" in Search, and choose one of the Matthew Street landmarks that appear. Then press the Teleport button. Make sure to switch on your music!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Tropical Rainforest

As its name suggests, The Rainforest simulates a Central American rain forest setting, with lush vegetation and an ancient Aztec pyramid. The picture shows the big pyramid to the north of the TP landing point. There's a dance floor at the top.

East of the landing point is a paved pathway through the jungle, with other paths branching off of it. Be sure to have your SL speakers switched on to hear all the exotic jungle sounds! I'm not sure how biologically accurate the vegetation is, but it's pretty anyway. There are lots of winding jungle pathways to explore, and there's even a train ride somewhere.

Keep in mind that some parts of this sim are residential, and not open to the general public.

To get here, type "rainforest" in Search, select "The Rainforest" entry, and press the Teleport button.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

On the Road

The Linden roadways wind all over the mainland continents of SL. They are all protected no-build land, so there is no junk lying around, and you don't run into those infuriating red "no entry" barriers. The roads pass through lots of lovely scenery, and there are many fascinating things that people have built alongside. If you like exploring and encountering things by chance, wandering the roads is just the thing for you!

The roadways aren't listed in Search at all. The only way to find them is by using the map. But only a small fraction of them are paved, so they're not easy to spot. In built-up areas, look for long narrow sections of bare ground. You'll see "protected land" at the top of your screen when you're standing on a roadway, and Governor Linden will be listed as the owner. If you choose to fly rather than walk, turn on Property Lines in the View menu to stay on course and to avoid crashing into those damned red barriers.

For some reason, portions of the roadway network won't let you set landmarks to keep track of your explorations. But it's easy enough to write the region name and the XY coordinates on a notecard so you can find your way back later.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Trinity College, Dublin

Most people visit the Dublin sim for the Blarney Stone pub, but there's lots more to see there. Today I was at Trinity College, whose gates are just to the east of the TP landing point. The architecture is very well done, and people who've been to the RL Dublin say it's a lot like the real thing. Be sure to check out the replica of the Book of Kells, in a room just off the entrance corridor.

To get to Dublin, go to the Places tab of Search, type "dublin" in the text field, and select "Dublin in SL" in the list that appears. Then press the Teleport button. There's also an entry in that list that will take you directly to the courtyard of the college, where I took the pic on this page.

Other Dublin attractions include the Guinness Brewery. See if you can find it yourself in the winding streets!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Gardens of Bliss

Here are the Gardens of Bliss, a wonderful place of elevated pathways, green mountains, and waterfalls. It covers eight different regions, and is a fascinating place to explore. It's a bit complicted getting to the gardens themselves. The TP landing point is at a store located 500 metres above the gardens, and you have to jump into a hole and fall to the ground. But it's worth the extra trouble! To TP, type "Gardens of Bliss" in the search field on the map. It doesn't seem to be listed in either Search-Places or Search-Classifieds.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Starting point

I start all of my travel adventures in SL at my home in the Chibo region, located on SL's southern mainland continent. I have a lovely little house there, built by a dear friend of mine, and also an art gallery, where I display Renaissance paintings.

Chilbo is worth a visit. We have a museum, a town hall with a library, a jazz club with jukebox and dancing, a movie theatre, a pub and a bar. Come visit and look around!