Getting a life

Someone once cruelly told me to go and get a life and now, through the magic of the technology, I can actually do so, and so can you.

I’m not talking about changing deodorants and becoming an instant success, but about a virtual world known as Second Life. It is Internet based, of course, and it describes itself as a 3D online world imagined, created, and owned by its residents.

Anyone can go to secondlife.com and join in the fun by creating an electron-based alter ego, or avatar, to represent themselves to the other residents of the world. Residents can explore and find all manner of distractions including going to virtual coffee bars, dances, galleries, or gaming arcades. Entertainment and socialising are one focus, but another is on creating goods and services for sale to other residents and passers-by.

There are built-in tools for use in creating things and public areas which can be used for building your stuff. The basic Second Life account is free but you cannot own virtual land, which you need before you can build a place to stay, a shop to sell your goods, or a venue to hold events to attract people.

A premium account will set you back $9.95 per month and you will have to pay a usage fee based on how much land you’re occupying. The currency used in the game is known as Linden dollars and, although you get L$300 a week as a stipend with your account, you can buy more at the Linden Dollar exchange.

The thing that gets me about all this is that you can sell stuff to other residents of the world for Linden dollars, and then exchange these for real money. People have set up businesses ranging from pet manufacturing (??) to private detection, and many derive all or part of their income in the real world from them.

Don’t be tempted to laugh off Second Life, because a lot of people are taking it very seriously including French presidential hopeful Jean Marie Le Pen, who established a campaign headquarters there. Major vehicle manufacturers have established showrooms in the world, and Suzanne Vega has performed live music there.

In recent column, I wrote about my new printer and how a set of replacement ink cartridges was only R10 cheaper than the machine itself. It’s true that buying a new machine each time the ink runs out isn’t a solution, as a reader has pointed out.

The cartridges you get with a new machine have just a dribble of ink in them, making it cheaper to get the replacement ones, rather than buy another printer. For me, refill kits are the way to go, and to hell with whether they mess the printer up, or not.

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