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Creating an Avatar

There are two paths to follow:

  1. Go to Linden Labs’ (the owners of Second Life®) web site at http://www.secondlife.com
    OR
  2. Follow the “getting started” and orientation activities available from the non-profit group Virtual Ability at http://www.virtualability.org/sign-up-for-second-life.

UTMB Campus in Second Life

If you go directly to Linden Labs, start by clicking on the Join Now button. Follow the directions.

If you choose the Virtual Ability path it will guide you. Follow their directions.

In SL you choose a unique name. When you create a new account you need to specify a user name. This can be anything you want so long as it is unique and not already in use by another account.  Traditionally, user names in SL have been first and last names, like Jane Smithers. Now the user name is one word in lowercase. Examples: jane.smith, janesmith23, outterspaceman, cgdtcbg34y. No spaces or special characters. Periods and numbers are OK, e.g., harry.smith3.

Take a moment to consider your name before signing up as you cannot change it. Your avatar is anonymous in terms of your real life identity. No one can find out who is the real person behind the avatar unless you tell them.

After you create your account, you can choose a display name. That name can be your real name or anything of your choosing. Your display name can be changed once a day or whenever you wish.

Further help on user names (and display names) can be found at: http://community.secondlife.com/t5/English-Knowledge-Base/Usernames-and-display-names/ta-p/700173.

The basic account is free. You do not need a premium account.

If you have problems creating an account, you can submit a Help Ticket on the SL web site and they will get back promptly with assistance. Go to the home page and click on the Help tab. This will take you to the help page and down on the lower right you will see “Contact Support.” Click on it and on the next page click on “Submit a Support Case form.” Fill out the “Submit a case” form and they will get back to you via email. Support is fairly quick and usually very helpful.

Getting the Software

Second Life is viewed via a program called a viewer. Viewers are made by Linden Labs® and by 3rd party programmers. There are multiple versions. Viewer 2 is programmed by Linden Labs and is the version you can download from the Second Life web site.

Second Life is fussy about the hardware on your computer and has high expectations that you can generally ignore. If you have a broadband Internet connection (DSL, cable, wireless, Ethernet) and a fairly recent computer, it will work well enough.

There is an alternative viewer that was developed by a non-profit group and is called Firestorm. Firestorm is free and uses interfaces that many SL users prefer over the version from Linden Labs. I use Firestorm myself and recommend it. To read about Firestorm, go here: http://www.phoenixviewer.com.

Going In-world and Orientation

Get a copy of the Second life Quickstart Guide and print it out. This is a very helpful guide to have while you learn how the viewers work. A link to the guide is:  http://static-secondlife-com.s3.amazonaws.com/downloads/Second_Life_Quickstart.pdf.

As you progress through the orientation activities be sure to learn about these four areas:

  • Move – Learn basic movement and motor skills. Practice moving fluidly through Second Life and avoiding bumping into objects. Learn how to drive a vehicle and to fly.
  • Appearance – Be able to change your appearance, get money and buy clothes.
  • Search – Practice using the Search function in Second Life. Learning how to find things in Second Life is very important if you want to find out about people, places and events at other campuses and regions.
  • Communicate – Practice chatting and communicating with other avatars. Most communication is done using text chat. Voice is supported but in many ways text is more efficient. We will use text mostly in the discussion but voice will be an option.

You can contact Rodger Marion (512-814-9730 or rmarion@utmb.edu) with questions. Also, he will be happy to schedule a time to meet with you “in world” to provide further help.

In SL you can use IM to communicate with any avatar (Dr. Marion’s is Rodger Markova). If the avatar is not in-world, the IM is saved until he/she logs on.

An option you can set, will send IMs to your email if you are not in-world. This is handy to avoid missing messages. To set this option, log in to SL, and when you are in-world, go to Avatar, Preferences, Chat, and check the option, Email me IMs when I’m offline. Please note the steps for various actions are a little different with different viewers, but the general process is always the same.

Additional resources for accessing and using SL are found at the UTMB SLED web site.

Now, go back to the Discussion tab to join in the weekly discussion.

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