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This page is for users who are new to or unfamiliar with Second Life (SL). It explains how to get started using Second life, including types of equipment required, bandwidth and settings requirements, and download instructions. Learn how to create an account, adjust graphics preferences for your computer, navigate the Second Life features, and more.



SL will run on most newer computers, but the software's full graphic richness and high frame rate are can only be viewed on a relatively powerful machine. SL needs as much Internet bandwidth as possible (preferably wired); it uses the CPU heavily and benefits from multicore chips; and a high-end graphics card can make the SL environment look like an architectural rendering. Nevertheless, even on a lower-powered machine, SL can function effectively.

IEEE staff should keep in mind that SL voice chat is not available from within the IEEE network. In addition, setting up accounts in SL from within the IEEE network might not work reliably. A solution to this common problem is to set up an account from elsewhere and forego voice chat while at the office (or altogether).


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Graphics preferences

Second Life's performance is strongly affected by the settings on the Graphics tab in the Preferences menu.

To access Preferences, click "Mode" and choose the "Advanced" option (you may be required to quit and then restart Second Life). In the horrizontal menu that appears in the upper left, click "Me" and choose "Preferences." In the Preferences menu, click the "Graphics" tab in the left-hand menu, then click the "Advanced" button located in the bottom right-hand side of the menu. 

In terms of system response, the most important control is the "Draw distance" slider, which determines how far away from your avatar objects are rendered (or "rezzed"). If you set the number low, only nearby objects are rezzed, but the system is more responsive; if you set it very high, a much larger area is rezzed, but it can greatly reduce the speed of your SL performance. Experiment with the graphics settings to find the best balance for what you're doing at any given time.

When you arrive at a new location in SL, let things rez for a few moments. After the textures and objects around you have loaded, moving around will be smoother and things will generally make more sense.

When you attend a meeting or event, it's a good idea to show up a little early so that everything will have rezzed and you can interact smoothly when the event begins.


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First steps

1. Go to IEEE Region in Second Life Maps and create a free account (click the "Join Now" button). As part of your registration, you will choose a name and create an avatar; you will be able to modify the avatar once you're in Second Life.

2. Download the Second Life Viewer and install it.

3. Launch the Second Life application and the login screen will appear. Select "Advanced" from the "Mode" drop-down. Type in the name and password you chose earlier and click Login.

Welcome to Second Life!

When you first arrive "in world" (Second Life) as a new user, it is a good idea to run through the tutorials provided to learn the basics.

There are many locations to visit in Second Life. You can use the Search command to help find what you're looking for.


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IEEE Island for new visitors

The IEEE Region in Second Life Maps lets you teleport to IEEE Island (your Second Life Viewer must be installed for it to work). Once you are on the page, click "Visit this location" under IEEE region to teleport to IEEE Island.

IEEE Island currently takes advantage of shared-media displays (live web sites), which require Viewer 2. Viewer 1 will be fully supported soon.

secondlife mediascreens

There are three ways to get around:

Walking allows for low-speed, random exploration. IEEE Island has a lot of sidewalks for random browsing (including a full-perimeter boardwalk), soon to be enhanced by more displays of various types all around the Island.

Flying is faster than walking and allows quick, direct access to upper floors and other locations, as well as an aerial perspective. Many of the rooftops on IEEE Island are interconnected and are being landscaped so as to create yet another interesting path by which which a visitor might go from building to building, as well as a virtually endless series of private meeting areas for small and large groups.

Teleporting instantly takes you to a new location, similar to clicking on a URL. Getting around islands in Second Life can be confusing because there is often no way to tell where you are and what your options are. IEEE Island is addressing this with a system of island-wide, click-to-teleport, "you are here" maps that will allow a visitor to move quickly from point to point. This navigation and teleport system is scheduled to be fully implemented by year end 2011.


What can you do with Second Life?

You can do a lot of things with Second Life.  Some examples:

Meetings — IEEE Island has numerous locations specifically designed for gatherings of all sizes. Various IEEE groups hold regular meetings on IEEE Island. Residents assemble in a location, and SL's integrated voice chat, text chat, instant messaging, and logging offer them a useful multichannel communications environment with the additional ability to display media of all kinds to the group.

Lectures, presentations, events — IEEE Island has several locations where groups can assemble and display media for all to see. The new Auditorium and the adjacent outdoor Lecture Center are set up for large lectures; they have stages, many seats, and multiple large media screens on stage. A virtual world can be used to hold certain kinds of events — for example: parties, live performances, physical-world/virtual-world hybrid events — that wouldn't make sense in other online environments. IEEE Island hosted part of National Robotics Week 2010, where there were competitions for robot-building (exhibits are still open to the public) and dozens of visitors made their way to the Island.

Machinima — A resident can screen-capture the action in SL as video, import the video into editing software, and turn it into anything from a quick presentation or an educational video all the way to a feature film. Machinimatography is the process of creating videos within a virtual environment. In SL, controllable sets, actors, lighting, objects, and so on offer a powerful creative environment in which to create video content.

Live content display — With a few limitations, web pages can be displayed with full interactivity in Second Life. This opens the possibility of an alternative interface for a large web site, with web changes automatically reflected.

3D data visualization —  Complex data might best be rendered in 3D. An avatar could literally walk through a representation of data, perceiving inter-relationships and patterns that would be opaque in a 2D representation. SL offers a relatively simple, flexible environment in which to experiment along these lines.

Education and tutorials — A building can be designed to walk a visitor through a specific learning process, with choices and various outcomes — in effect, using the familiar forms and cues of architecture to structure a cumulative learning experience.

secondlife auditoriumint