I was hoping in my second life as Pablo Bellow to avoid any hint of technical problems that I have sometimes besieged me in my first life. Much to my chagrin, so far this has not been the case. I can really see the learning potential in and for a simulation like Second Life, but that is assuming that one is able to have an active second life. Although I am sure that my experience is atypical, I feel compelled to describe some of the hurdles that I have encountered while trying to develop my second life.
First, when I attempted to register as a Second Life resident, I was thrown out of the process several times because my e-mail address has a hyphen in it. This prompted several phone calls to the Lindens, who were very helpful. They sent me several e-mails that I was to reply to that would “fix” the problem. All to no avail. This prompted additional calls to the Lindens, who said that my e-mail address was invalid, and couldn’t be real, to which I responded “Then how is that I am receiving your e-mails?” At this point, Michael Linden registered me manually, over the telephone. This finally worked and I was in. Out of curiosity, I asked Michael if the company was in Linden, N.J., and thus the origin of the company’s name. He replied no to both queries. Michael told me that the company is in San Francisco, and named after the Linden alley near their former location, which was down by the City Hall on Van Ness.
Second, after I downloaded and installed Second Life, the program would lock up, giving me an error message that my Intel motherboard’s AGP system software would not support Second Life. I was then asked if I wanted to go to Intel’s download site for an upgrade. I click ok, and found a whole page of AGP, etc. downloads to choose from. I had to read my computer manual to figure out what chipset my motherboard uses, which narrowed my choice to three downloads. Unfortunately, I had to try all three of them to see which one would work. Of course, this meant downloading, installing, rebooting, and then trying Second Life to see if it would accept it three times. Finally, the third time was the charm and I thought I was ok.
Next, I actually began my Second Life
as Pablo Bellow, and found that with my dial up connection, it is difficult and somewhat frustrating to be an active resident. Here’s why, Although I found that the A and D keys work fine (I can spin in circles with total abandon), the W and S keys do not work well, thus severely impacting my avatar’s mobility. There is an approximate 60—120 second delay between tapping a key and any action, although often no action occurs at all. At other times the avatar moves on it’s own, with out any keyboard input. The avatar frequently freezes, and the only solution I have found is to close the program and open it again.
Needless to say it took me an absolutely ridiculous amount of time to get off orientation island, but I finally did. Oddly, now that I am on the mainland I have been unable to do anything other than spin around, and I remain stuck in a welcome area for an area called Morris, that I have absolutely no idea how I got to. Even after rebooting multiple times, my avatar remains frozen. Oh well, at least I have made it to the mainland. Also, for some reason Second Life logs me out every ten-fifteen minutes or so. I can readily see that with out a fairly modern computer (such as a fast P4/G4/G5 with a fast video card and lots of RAM) and a broadband connection that it can be a real challenge for a user to partake fully in a media rich simulation experience like Second Life.