With all these great new education posts on this über great new blog site, for some reason I decided to aim for something more nuts and bolts to blurt out.
As much as I love the environment of Second Life, the software interface of the client makes me want to tear out my hair and scream, and send someone a pile of Donald Norman and Edward Tufte books. But that’s another blog post.
Although I’ve been in SL for almost 2 years this March, there are still a whole bunch of things in those menus I have no clue what they do. For example, today I was stumped because I was seeing a red tint on every texture that was a video screen… only on my Mac. It was only via some replies on the SL Educators list (they always come through), I noticed I had inadvertently checked Beacons Always On under the View menu.
Oh sure, I know exactly what that is. Yep. Beacons.
But eventually, with practice, poking around, or more likely, someone else telling, you begin to know a few subtle things you can do via the menus that can elevate your SL Intelligence Quotient (well at least among the general populace), and next thing you know, when you tell someone else, they are thinking, “Wow, this CDB Barkley character knows his stuff.”
So here’s two of my favorites. But before I spill the beans, I’m hoping readers will add theirs in via comments. I know you know more than me.
Both of these require activating the Debug and Client menus, the goodie box of menu obscurity. You do this via the four fingered combo – ctrl-alt-shift-d (ctrl-option-shift-d for macs). Just knowing this elevates your interface stature.
The first has to do with taking pictures in Second Life. Of all the things I do, photography is my most favorite! I love the parallels to RL photography (again another blog post). I save 99% of mine to my disk, and like most avatars, I started by using File -> Take Snapshot (or Cmd-Shift-S). The downside is your avatar makes that goofy camera animation and you generate that shutter sound to everyone around you:
and that sounds just says subtly… “noob”. I was doing this at a performance, and my thoughtful and immensely knowledgeable college Ravenelle Zugzwang gave me this tip.
Under the Client menu, activate the option Quiet Snapshots to Disk.
And now, when you want to take a photo, use File -> Snapshot to Disk (or Ctrl-~). Aha! No more silly two armed salutes, no more disturbing the peace with shutter noise. You can take photos and no one but you knows it (But hey, don’t go peeking in private places, ok? Be nice).
And secret menu tip number 2 deals with the annoying slumping over of your avatar when you are not doing anything in SL. This happens all the time in presentations, I’ve seen both speakers and attendees droop over because they are either riveted listeners or they left the computer to make a milkshake or water the plants. But I also needed it for some of our live video streaming, and I need my cameraperson avatar to stay standing awake for an hour.
So here’s how to keep your avatar from slumping and going AFK (unless you do so explicitly). It’s a triple buried menu item. Go to Client -> Character -> Character Tests and make sure Go Away/AFK When Idle is unchecked.
Never slump again. (That tip too came from Rav.)
So tell us- what’s your best secret menu trick? I want to know!
— Alan Levine / CDB Barkley