Once you have installed the Second Life programme, you will have an icon resembling a green hand on your desktop. Click on it to open the Second Life programme. You will see a screen with boxes at the bottom of it. Type your first and last name into the box, type your password and click on 'Connect'.
The first time you use Second Life, you will be taken to a place called 'Orientation Island'. Here you will be conducted through a series of simple tutorials that teach you how to move, how to communicate with others, how to interact with objects and finally, how to alter your appearance.
'Editing Appearance' can be one of the more time-consuming and vital tasks for an avatar or it can be ignored almost completely if you do not care what you look like in your Second Life. Apart from choosing whether to be male or female, you can choose to become a winged being, a 'furry' or any other creature the imagination could create.
If you spend a great deal of time altering your original appearance, you may be rather disgusted to discover that the general population of Second Life simply will disregard any of your painstaking efforts in favour of classifying you immediately as a 'newbie', with 'newbie skin', 'newbie hair' and 'newbie clothes'. Yes, racism and bigotry are alive and well in Second Life...
Fortunately, there are many helpful and compassionate residents who will be more than happy to give you free clothes, landmarks to malls that offer free skins, clothes and items, and who will provide tips as well.
Second Life has its own economical and social structure, and advertising and marketing are as important for merchants there as in any other world. As the world of Second Life is absolutely enormous and new islands and continents spring up on a regular basis, a merchant or artist has to find ways to bring himself/herself to the attention of residents. One of the most effective means of advertising is through the offer of 'free' items.
There are malls like the 'Free Dove' that are dedicated to 'free' items. At these malls or shopping precincts, you will find long tables filled with 'boxes' or billboards that contain free items as well as landmarks to the actual 'shop' or gallery of the merchant. Some of the items may be fairly worthless but others can be truly valuable. One can acquire a decent skin, a respectable wig, an enormous free wardrobe of clothing of every description as well as free shoes, accessories and jewelry without every paying a single Linden dollar for any of it.
Appearance can be important to men and women alike. In many cases, individuals who go to Second Life would like to be the most beautiful or handsome examples of their species. Other individuals would like to become creatures known in this world only from myths. The fact of the matter is that every one in Second Life possesses some mythical powers. Flying is an ordinary means of transport, with or without wings, and teleports are the most common method of travel from one point to another.
One need never interact with the economy of SL in any significant manner. An avatar can spend all of his/her time shopping for free items, visiting museums and other public exhibition areas, attending shows, concerts and lectures, frequenting clubs in order to dance or otherwise interact with other residents without ever spending any Lindens at all.
There is real money to be made in Second Life, however, and even if one only dreams of having a home there, one must invest a little in the economy. In order to own land, one must pay for Premium Membership in SL. The cost of this is about $10. per month if paid monthly but becomes less if one is willing to pay quarterly or annually. The smallest piece of land is 512 m. and the price will vary between about $L 5500 and $L 7000, depending on its location. Once the purchase price is paid, one need not commit oneself to any further expenditure, apart from renewing membership in order to retain the property.
If one wishes to own a larger plot of land, one will be charged a monthly fee for any land in excess of 512 m. 512 m. is large enough even for a small castle, but problems arise usually because of the prim limits on any parcel of land. 'Prims' are 'primitive objects' and each plot of land is allocated a specific number of prims. If one tries to exceed that number, objects will not 'rez'. 'Rez' is short for 'resolution'. Everything that you see in Second Life is based on resolution. Whenever you teleport to a new location, it takes time for the objects surrounding you to 'rez'. Until they do, you will see nothing more than geometric forms.
'Rezzing' objects is an act of magic. Objects will appear in your inventory as small golden cubes. You basically need to drag a cube from your inventory to throw it to the ground in order to 'rez' it on the ground. A golden cube can contain anything from a bracelet to an entire castle or spa.
One of the first lessons an individual learns is how to deal with 'boxed objects'. Very often, any item that is acquired or purchased is contained in a box. In order to access the item, you must throw the box to the ground, then 'Open' it. When you choose the option to open the box, the contents will spill out into a window, to be displayed there. You either can choose simply to copy them to your inventory or choose to 'copy and wear'.
Boxes come in many different forms. Some artists actually create elaborate gift boxes, complete with bows. Designer shoes often are contained in tasteful shoeboxes. Gift bags or tote bags are other forms in which designer clothes and accessories are sold. Other artists and merchants present their boxes in the form of small billboards that display a photograph of the items inside the box. In many cases, however, a box is nothing more than a simple cube with pictures on it. When the contents of any box are copied to your inventory, they usually will be found in a folder afterwards.
Newcomers almost invariably fail to comprehend the 'box' aspect when they first acquire items. When a golden cube is labelled as a 'Black formal gown', they naturally choose the 'Wear' option in order to try it on. What occurs then is rather embarrassing. The avatar suddenly will find himself/herself wearing a box or billboard. One then must detach the box and throw it to the ground from the inventory in order to 'Open' it.
Where clothing is concerned, there usually is a 'default' position in which the clothing will be worn if you simply choose the 'Wear' option. As you acquire more possessions, however, you may discover that two different items are vying for the same position on your avatar's body. You then must find a new position for one of them.
This is where the 'Edit' option becomes very useful. For example, if you wish to wear a cloak and a pair of wings but both ordinarily attach to your 'spine', you can choose a new position for one and attach it instead to your 'right shoulder'. Having attached it to the right shoulder, however, it no longer will be centred properly. Choose the 'Edit' option to move it to the correct position. It still will be attached to the 'right shoulder' technically, but will look as though it is attached to the spine.
More about this later. There is one final point that needs to be made where boxes are concerned. Never leave a box on the ground! Many owners allow all residents to 'create objects' on their land, allowing you to open boxes there, but it is extremely rude then to leave an empty box on some one else's property. I have seen countless empty boxes strewn up and down glorious beaches or in secluded magical glades... Unless the owner of the land sets the land to 'autoreturn' all objects that do not belong to him/her, those empty boxes will continue to clutter the landscape indefinitely.