Translated by Michael K. Iwoleit
For those of you want to know how to make their first steps into the virtual world of Second Life, here's a short introduction:
First you have to register an avatar on the website of Second Life. Don't worry, ir's free of charge. There's a so-called premium account but it's not really required.
The website of Second Life is at http://www.secondlife.com To register an avatar, click on „Join Now“. You have to enter a few information about you and to invent a name for your virtual alter ego. Also you have to decide for a sex and to select an avatar. Needless to say that you also have to specify a password.
Fortunately a wide selection of newbie avatars is offered now. If you don't want to look like a well-known toy doll or her lover, you can, for example, walk around as a robot or werewolf. Whatever you choose, you can easily change or modify your shape later.
After the registration is finished you are offered to download the Second Life viewer. This is the software to display Second Life on your computer. But better skip the download and proceed as described in step 2.
You need a program to move through Second Life. There is quite a number of alternative viewers that you can use instead of LindenLab's own product.
We recommend the Phoenix or the Firestorm viewer. Preferably the latter. You can download it at http://www.phoenixviewer.com.
At the top right corner you are offered various versions of the viewer. Download the program and install it. It requires about 40 MB on your harddisk and can be deinstalled without problems.
After you have installed the program, start it and enter your user name.
Attention: You have only one name but Firestorm also asks for a last name. This is simply „Resident“. (In the past you could also select a last name in Second Life but not anymore.) So if your username is „Tom“ just enter „Tom“ as your first name and „Resident“ as your last name.
A progress bar shows that Firestorm is logging into Second Life.
You will find yourself at a well-frequented place and may wonder how you could ever have been so crazy to let yourself be persuaded to visit Second Life.
In case that you hardly can move: NO NEED TO PANIC!
In the menu „Avatar“ select „Preferences...“ and „Graphics“. Here you can adjust the graphic performance. Lower settings spare ressources and allow to use Second Life even with a less powerful graphic card.
Use the search feature of Firestorm to look for places you want to visit or people you want to contact.
These were the basics. You can make it. We believe in you. If you need any further help, feel free to contact me.
How to activate voice chat
If you make your first steps through SecondLife or OpenSims and meet groups of avatars who don't communicate via text chat or just stand around it could be that they are talking via voice chat. You may not have activated it yet. Let me explain using the example of the Phoenix/Firestorm viewer how to do this.
Look in the upper left corner for the menu „Avatar“. Click on it to access further menu items. Select „Preferences“ and a grey window is opened.
In the left column is the item „Sound & Media“. Click on it and you can select the pages „General“ and „Voice Settings“. You may already suspect that you have to click on „Voice Settings“ to access a page where you can make all settings to hear voice chat and to chat via microphone yourself.
If you only want to listen to voice chat it's usually sufficient to click the check box „Enable Voice“ on. If you have done this you can test it now, e.g. by asking another avatar to say something.
A note regarding Second Life netiquette: Not all avatars use voice. There are many reasons for that, from health problems (really!) to the wish not to disclose the real sex of the person behind the avatar. You should never insist on communicating via voice. Simply respect the decision of the person at the other end.
Avatars whose voice chat is activated have a small point over their head. If you don't see these, the reason may be that voice chat is deactivated in the region where you're currently are or that it is not yet activated in your SL client.
When avatars are talking you see green waves over their heads the size of which correspond with the volume of their voices. This way you can recognize talking avatars even when your speakers are switched off and can see which avatar is currently talking.
But how can I talk myself?
To talk yourself you need a headset or a micophone and a seperate headphone. Don't use a microphone with switched-on speakers! It can cause echoes and terrrible feedback noises.
Look at the lower edge of the screen for the microphone icon. Next to it is a small checkbox. Click on it to permanently open your microphone and stream your voice into Second Life – but be aware that it's not just your voice but all background noises including your neglected and annoyed girlfriend, clattering dishes or your bowel grumbles. So be careful with this checkbox.
With a little luck you can already be heard in SL now.
But to be honest: usually it's not the case and you have to adjust some settings.
On the page „Voice Settings“ look for the button „Audio Device Settings“. If you click it you can select input and output devices. If you can hear other avatars, you don't have to care for the output device. To select the correct input device click on the dropdown box next to „Input“. It is usually set to „Default“, meaning that the default input device of your operating system is used. It may be, however, that you microphone is connected to an USB port or some other input. If so, simply try the various input devices. Talk into your microphone while you do this. If there is any sound input you see the volume display – the thing with the five squares – flashing. If this happens you have the correct setting.
Finally click at „Apply“ and close the window.
If you click on the checkbox next to the microphone icon now you can talk. You cannot hear your own voice – which is good because the time-lapsed echo would drive you mad -, but you see green waves over the head of your avatar. Now the time for your first voice chat has come. Have fun!