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Friday, 29 May 2009

Spotlight On ......Hibiscus Hastings

There is one person who works behind many of the stories for Virtually London (lite), a person whose writing is vital to the success and rich content of the blog and that’s Chief Reporter Hibiscus Hastings.

Hibiscus is a talented, gifted writer and one of the nicest people you could wish to meet!! On meeting her you may think she is quite reserved, and you would be right to think that Hib is level headed and sensible, but within a few minutes you will see the fun side of her, always ready to have a laugh and quick witted in any situation. Also, I have learned, she is not to be messed with! Hib is a strong person and sticks to her guns, a velvet glove with a steel fist when she needs to be!

Hib discovered SL quite by chance, she says in her own words ‘I had no idea what it was about, never played computer games or entered chat rooms. One day I was reading about art, which is one of my great interests, and I saw a reference to something called Second Life. The artwork I read about was being shown in SL and RL at the same time, so I decided to pop into SL to have a look.’ And have a look she did, not only to see the artwork, but deciding to stay and explore SL further. Now Hib says she ‘enjoys almost every minute of it, aside from the laggy bits and crashes.’

Hib discovered that the news media group, CNN, were in SL and decided to join. It was there that I first met her, one of their ‘Superstar writers’, Hib produced piece after piece of in depth reporting, with informative articles, most of them encompassing how SL and real life cross over each other. Hibiscus and I used to greet each other at the meeting each Tuesday night and we would sit and listen to the real reporters discussing our work. I had always admired Hibiscus and looked forward to reading her latest reports whenever she posted them. She says ‘I will never forget the first time I posted a story; it was such an exciting experience. And that feeling has never gone away.’

Hibiscus and I gradually got talking and around that time I started working for Virtually London (lite). Eager to recruit a top writer, I asked Hib if she would join me as a reporter for the SL London stories that the blog specializes in. Hib agreed to come on board and I am glad to say that we are not only work colleagues but the very best of friends. Hib says ‘Not only did I find a job in SL, but I also decided to move into the London sims since I was going to be reporting on them, so I found a home and a community, too. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined all this when I first joined SL.’

As well as being someone who is great fun to be with, I would describe Hibiscus as an intellect, she amazes me with her knowledge on such a wide variety of subjects. For CNN she has covered many topics that would frighten a normal journalist away, she has written about NASA, which uses SL, educational and research institutions in SL, such as the Biomedicine Research Labs, Imperial College Hospital and Digital Ontario Island which features the use of Broadband technology, plus Art, one of her favourite subjects. Not only tackling these heavyweight articles, Hib is equally at home with the SL Ballet, interviewing people of interest and generally the humerous side of virtual living.

One of the things Hibiscus loves to do, and she is so good at it, is shopping! I suppose being a good reporter is an aid to shopping, Hib delves into getting the very best of the bargains. She has an astonishing wardrobe of really nice clothes and lots of them have been special offers that she has found. If I need a particular outfit I can rely on Hibiscus to know exactly which shop to go to. She always looks beautiful, not only with her clothes, but her choice of skin and hair too. Hibiscus has a flair for interior design as well, she keeps her SL apartment in Chelsea like a show home, and like me, she loves having her home in the SL Chelsea sim.

Hibiscus enjoys writing, saying she thinks of reporting stories in the metaverse as ‘covering the pioneer days of a new world’ and she is right, technology moves so fast and it is a thrill for us to record a little of 3D history in the making, as SL is becoming used for so many real life things.

I know one thing, it was my lucky day when I joined CNN and met Hibiscus Hastings, not only is she such a good friend and colleague, but worth her weight in gold as a top reporter and researcher for CNN, Virtually London (lite) and our new blog ‘Our Virtual Trilogy’. To Virtually London (lite) and me, Hibiscus you are a ‘Superstar’!

Thursday, 28 May 2009

A New Shopping Precinct

Changes continue to be made throughout the London sims. Gerr Finesmith’s store, Fine & Smith, has re-opened in Mayfair, this time near Marble Arch, in a new little shopping precinct. Fine & Smith is as beautifully fitted up as before and makes a lovely addition to the street. There is also a 50% discount for all London staff, residents and all military personel. Behind Fine & Smith is Rails Bailey’s shop Off the Rails.

The whole area is very pleasant, with an inner courtyard and water cascade. Just facing Fine & Smith is another green space, complete with a fountain in which you can soak your aching feet, whether they are aching from shopping in the sim or dancing at the UGC.

Hibiscus Hastings

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Second Fashion Show To Be Held In SL London

It is with great pleasure that I announce the second Fashion Week in SL London! Last year’s event was truly amazing, especially considering that this had been the first time SL London had arranged such an ambitious week long project!!

Event organizer, Cleo Charleville gave me some information regarding the coming event, it says ‘This is the 2nd annual Fashion week, it is something London in-world is proud to represent, to identify the couture and visionary ideas of fashionitas worldwide in a virtual experience.’

SL London sim owner, Debs Regent, told me that over 20 top SL designers are interested already, and anyone who wishes to take part will have to hurry to get their catwalk shows booked before all the slots are taken. It is also a good place to get your SL or real life company’s name ‘out there’ as a Sponsor, enjoying VIP treatment and great publicity for your product.

You can also book an ‘expo lot’ to display and sell your products, once again there will be a limited amount of lots and it is a good idea to book early. The provisional date is the 18th September (which could be subject to change).

I, along with reporter Hibiscus Hastings, covered the whole week last year, and although hard work, it was tremendously exciting and a joy to work on. We have some incredible designers in SL and I am looking forward to another great show this year.

Any queries regarding the Fashion Show should be sent to Cleo Charleville in-world.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

More Surprising Sights – Kangaroos in the UGC!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about some surprising sights I had seen while wandering around the London sims. At that time I happened to run into some of the London greeters and managers who had turned themselves into colourful birds or bunny rabbits. On Saturday evening another surprising sight was to be seen, this time in the Underground Club.

Janey and I have gotten into the habit of going to the UGC at the end of the day, and this Saturday night was no different. When I arrived Brie Janick was dj’ing and cutewillow Carlberg was hosting. I had no sooner entered when a little blue notice went up in the corner of my computer screen saying that cute had given me a kangaroo! A kangaroo! This was a puzzle. Others received kangaroos too, and cute told us to wear them. After putting the kangaroo on, a menu appeared, everyone clicked on dance, and there we were, hopping about the dance floor of the UGC. It was such a sight, kangaroos had invaded the sim! At one point Amourette Dubrovna, nils Tomorrow, Issa Hendes, Trevor Rookstown, Janey and I were dancing away with our kangaroos, while Mancha Larnia got into the spirit of the evening by donning a zebra avatar. To complete the scene Brie played “I Like to Move It” from the Madagascar soundtrack for all of us.

In the middle of all this Seany1235 Blinker walked in, and although he must have been surprised, he quickly joined in, first as a lion, which probably made Mancha the zebra nervous, and then as a snow leopard. After Seany left, Mancha was to be seen calming his nerves with a Guinness at the bar. I’m not sure the barstool was able to withstand his weight, though, as he was a rather large zebra, so the staff will probably have to check that out. However, maybe not, he was pretty light on his feet doing the caramel (a surprising sight in itself) and later on he flew about the room for a bit. I don’t know what is more unusual, a dancing zebra or a flying one.

Thanks to cutewillow for her inspired thinking. Everyone had a great time.

Hibiscus Hastings

Monday, 25 May 2009

SL Def Leppard Final Date

Just to remind everyone that the SL Def Leppard live gig is to be held in Soho on the 30th May between 2pm and 4pm SLT (that’s 10pm to midnight GMT).

Soho, which is still under construction, will now be the venue for the gig which was originally to be held in Hyde Park, however, the location was altered and I expect the London Team may use a sky platform for the concert as they did with the Guns n Roses Tribute show.

So make a note in your diary, it's bound to be a night to remember!

Friday, 22 May 2009

Dancing is Fun!!

One of the things I love about SL is dancing!!! Yes, I suppose it’s a bit weird to people who have never tried SL, that you can enjoy the experience of your little avatar rocking the night away, or dancing posh in a grand ballroom, and guess what? everyone dances fantastically, you don’t have to worry about falling on your bottom or stepping on your partner’s toes!!

One of my favourite things after a long day is to take myself off to the Underground Club in SL Knightsbridge. It is such a friendly comfortable place to be, that you don’t feel at all odd going there on your own. There’s a variety of music and the dj’s and hosts work so hard to keep everyone happy during the evening.

I suppose I am writing this for new people really! No end of newbies come into the club during the evening asking how to dance, plus some can’t hear the music when they first arrive. The hosts keep an eagle eye out for new people who come through the door, greeting them with a nice ‘Hello.’ As well as this, they give them instructions on getting the music to play, and also what to click on to animate their avatars to dance, so all in all the hosts deserve every penny they earn, especially if the club is crowded. (if you can’t hear any music in SL you need to go to the top menu, then choose Edit, Preferences, Audio and Video and then make sure that the box is ticked for streaming music. Once you have done this, the music button is down on the right hand side of your screen, just toggle it to make it work.)

There are different ways to dance in SL, and I remember being new and going into a club and looking around nervously for the object that you touch to make you dance. It’s usually a ball up above the dance floor and fairly easy to spot. All you do is right click on it and you get a notice asking to ‘animate your avatar’, agreeing to this, you are off boogying the night away. I do remember once though, a long time ago I clicked on a ball and chose the ‘sit’ option in my menu, as ‘dance’ wasn’t there and I had the humiliation of being drawn up to the ceiling and sitting on the spinning ball, how embarrassing!! Well I’d have laughed now, but then I was cringing with shyness!! Don’t worry though, that hasn’t happened for a long time, the dance balls normally work!! If you want to stop dancing you click the ball again and choose the option to ‘stop’.

Another way to dance is to click the poseballs scattered around the Underground Club, you will see red pose balls with ‘Caramel’ written above them. Caramel is a very popular dance in SL and seems to fit most music, the Caramel balls are all in line as well, so you can have fun being part of a chorus line with other people. Just right click on the poseball to join in the fun. Getting this one to stop is also simple, you will see a small notice at the bottom of your screen that says ‘stand up’, by clicking this you will instantly stop dancing.

Above the dance floor there is a double dance ball for couples who wish to dance together. One of the avatars will click on this and you will see pink and blue pose balls appear near the av who has clicked on the double dance ball, the pink pose ball is the female one, and the blue one the male, the couple then click the pose balls to dance together. You will also get a blue tag in the corner with a menu, so that one of you can choose the type of dance you want.

You can buy dances to keep in your inventory, Brie Janick who does some great moves told me where I could go to get some and I have three or four that I stick to. I simply find them in my inventory and click to them to appear. You get a little tag on the screen and you can either ‘play in world’ or ‘play locally’. Playing in world is the one you want, as playing locally means that only you can see your av dance, you will be standing still to everyone else! You simply click the tag again to stop the dance when required.

Dancing in formation is great fun in SL and Clive and Pink, who go down the Underground club, are really good at it, they have some great routines! A way to dance with lots of others this way is called a ‘Dance Chim’ and a person who has the routine dance in their inventory can invite all the others to join in (as in the main picture). This is fascinating to watch and you feel so good as you get all the steps right, once again great fun to be a part of. I wasn’t too sure how to stop myself dancing with this, but tried the top menu again for ‘World’ then ‘Stop All Animations’ and this seemed to work ok.

Of course SL being what it is, sometimes you have stopped dancing, or thought you have, and go walking out in the street, only to have people tell you that you are still jigging about. You can’t see this yourself and think they are telling porkies, but in fact you probably are still dancing and you can try the ‘Stop Animations’ again, but alas this doesn’t always work. I do have something in my inventory that I can use to stop this too (if anyone wants one just let me know and I will send it!). If everything else fails and you are still dancing down the street, the only thing to do is to log off and on again, dear old SL, it always gets you in the end!!

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Pirate Rogues Galore At The UGC

The Underground Club was taken over by pirates on Sunday afternoon, who flooded the place and in general created havoc, as is the way of such scurvy folk. DJ Corolla Corobase was at the helm, ably assisted by her first mate TXBarbara Bailey. The motley crew of pirates, wenches and parrots inhabiting the UGC, danced, drank and indulged in the shameless use of such words (?) and phrases as Arrgh, avast, shiver me timbers, as well as pointed references to hooks and suggestions of possibly unauthorized ways of using the plank that was placed in front of the dj’s booth. Thoughtfully provided was a keg of rum, and at least one person, who shall remain anonymous (initials HH), was seen to be enjoying a hot mug of rum throughout the party.

Pirates apparently have wide-ranging tastes in music. DJ Corolla played music by the Irish Rovers, as well as music from the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”, Chic’s Le Freak (who knew that was a pirate favourite), Guns ‘n Roses, Three Dog Night and Bon Jovi. Eclectic to say the least.

Truthsprincess Baramm took home a treasure chest and there were four first place winners in the very popular “Best Costume” contest. They were: Gold Cazalet, Gustavo Lionheart, Amourette Dubrovna and christopher Treves. Second place prizes were given out to 10 other avatars. The costumes were all outstanding, Captain Jack Sparrow and Elizabeth Swann (or their twins) were in the house, as well as some peg legged souls and other tattered creatures. They all looked very much at home in the stunningly decorated UGC, complete with sand, waves and sea water covering the floor.Towards the end of the party DJ Corolla spoke very movingly about how SL unites people from all over the world and those who heard her were very touched by her words and sentiments. Let’s hope there will be many more happy times at the UGC to continue bringing us all together.

Hibiscus Hastings

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

It's Been Virtually One Year!!

Well while we were on the subject of birthdays on Monday, there was one date that slipped quietly by, and that’s the day that Virtually London (lite) was born. It was started by Nikk Huet, it’s creator, on 13th May 2008, when he told us that the new blog was to cover the SL London sims and he was looking for reporters to submit London stories. I had seen a notice advertising for reporters and as I already had experience writing for CNN in SL, plus keeping my own private blog of my virtual world, I decided to see Nikk about the post. Nikk first appointed me as Assistant Editor, then as Editor and finally owner. I never realised at the time that this would mean me posting a story every working day since then, and sometimes on Saturdays too, but there is so much going on in the London sims that I usually have enough news to keep me busy, and hopefully keep the readers of the blog interested in coming back for more. I am also so lucky to have the two best writers in SL working for me, Chief Reporter Hibiscus Hastings and Journalist Pixi Piers!

I have seen SL London grow, not only in the smart new buildings and sims being added (Hyde Park, which is already open and includes the Gateway for new people. Soho too, which is still under construction, will soon be a focal point of interest), but I have seen the virtual population multiply too. People soon realise that the London sims are a good place to make their base and there is the hard working, extremely efficient, London Team to help them with whatever problems they may have. The London Team also make sure that there is plenty going on to keep people informed and entertained. The shops in the London sims have also filled up with people making their businesses there, some even linked to real life businesses. Yes it is a thriving, bustling virtual capital.

One thing about SL is that nothing is permanent, people build then destroy places as new places spring up, I have seen changes in SL London too, the beautiful Mayfair theatre (which people have enquired about recently) has disappeared, I learned that the contract was not renewed with the owner, so sadly it went. Our very own office in the DMGT building in SL Kensington is no more, although the shell of the building exists, again a great pity as the interior was wonderful.

Changes will happen as time goes on, but building in SL gets better and more detailed all the time, so the future is bright for virtual cities such as London and hopefully Virtually London (lite) will be there to inform everyone what is in store for their favourite SL place.

If you have any amazing stories to tell us just give us a shout, that’s me, Hibiscus Hastings and Pixi Piers, your Virtual News Hounds, and don’t forget you can support us and keep us going by clicking in our ads in the side bar!!

Happy Birthday to Virtually London (lite) on our very first year of publication!!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

State Of Our River!!!

Last Thursday a group of people gathered at the Chelsea embankment for another Fishing contest, I arrived as it was drawing to a close, but it seems very popular and this time Seany1235 Blinker was throwing sticks of TNT into the water to make the fish jump out. Another avatar had a key, but I’m not too sure what he was doing with that, he seemed to be using it like a fishing rod but I must admit I am puzzled, perhaps he thought he could unlock Davey Jone’s locker to get the fish out.

Anyway, as I looked out over the SL Thames I could see that standards are dropping quite a lot with our London waterway: there, floating in the middle of the fishing area, was a supermarket trolley and a couple of old tyres. It got worse! as I peered below the water’s surface I could see the murky shapes of an old cooker, a wheelie bin and some other bits and pieces on the river bed. This is not good enough!!! The SL London management should keep our waterways clean and heavily fine anyone they see dumping stuff in the river, I’m sure it is breaking some sort of SL EU law!!! (after all they have laws for everything else!!) So come on think of the little fishes, clean up your act!!!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Happy Birthday Seany!!

I had a message when I logged on Friday evening, from Underground Club host TXBarbara Bailey, she said there was a surprise party for SL Manger Seany1235 Blinker, whose real life birthday it was.

As I had logged on a little late the party was under way when I arrived, but there was Seany right in the middle of the dance floor playing his guitar along with the music. As the evening went on the club became crowded with well wishers. Seany is one of the most popular managers in SL London and Virtually London (lite) would like to wish him a very happy Birthday and may he celebrate many, many more in SL!!!