The general view of the humble computer user goes something like this:
You're a fat, pimply nerd who knows everything about computers, but nothing about women and owns every star trek episode there is on DVD.
I can tell you that I weigh a tonne, I do... I weigh so much that I need a bloody crane to transport me around my house, and this comes about as the typical nerd diet consists of pizza and doughnuts.
Well yeah, it's true, I've put on some weight, I'm now 80kg... which isn't bad I suppose for my height.
I do actually eat well, and I'm not always on the computer, as I'm sure many of you are not.
But I do find the computer a valuable way to keep in touch with people.
My health hasn't been the greatest... I'll discuss that later some time... so I do spend a lot of time at home and... online.
But I try to get out with my big malamute girl at least once a day [sometimes three times]
and I find that keeps our blood flowing very well.
Anyway, the thing is that there's a lot of people like myself who would like to get out and chat with people, but can't always manage it, and sometimes it's because people are in small towns and there isn't really many places to go.
A few years ago I found Secondlife, and I have to say that I wasn't all that sure about it when I got there, but I've taken to it really well, and I've helped a lot of others come to grips with it too.
What is it?
It looks a lot like a videogame, once you're there, you control a character who you use to talk to other users... you can type or use voice, it's completely up to you.
The thing is that it can feel very much like you're with someone, eventhough you're really thousands of miles away.
And this got me thinking.
I know there's plenty of people in remote locations in Australia, or they're in situations where they can't socialise directly... or even in hospital.
I think that if you're in this situation, that secondlife might well be the blues buster you've been looking for.
Now ABC got into secondlife over a year ago, and they've been looking for interesting ways to use their space.... yes, "Our ABC" [I'm an ABC Friends Admin bloke on their Island in Secondlife] and I thought that perhaps we could start a gathering there of our people out in the bush where they could talk about serious issues like drought for instance, it would be live and all over the country at the same time... imagine all the ideas which couls be swapped and friendships created.
It's very very easy to form real friendships in Secondlife, I have made many friends this way myself.
Now before I go any further... there are a few technical things which I need to mention before you get too exited. Secondlife needs broadband, and a pretty solid videocard... but any computer
built within the last four years could probably handle Secondlife reasonably well.
The other thing to keep in mind is that it will drink up your download limits, so if you've got around 10gb per month, you should be ok... unless you're going to go at it like a starving dog at a sausage.
Right, this is how it all works.
You go to http://www.secondlife.com and download the software.
Set it up in the usual way and then sign up for an account, choose a name carefully.
A funny name might be nice at first, but the joke's gunna wear off, and you can't change it later.
You'll notice that you'll also have to choose a fake surname for your character from a list... if you don't like any of the names, do a refresh and you'll get more.
Then once you're in, there's a short course to take in how to get around.
Bare in mind that the first place you come to isn't a reflection on how the rest of secondlife is,
the first area is actually about the worst... persist and you'll be right.
Once you've done the course, give me a bell via an IM.
Do a search for the ABC Admins.... Rails Bailey, Simon Kline, Vermus Dryke or me... Wolfie Rankin, and we'll teleport you to ABC Island where the Aussies hang out, and this is where we'll do our get togethers.
Now I need as many of you as I can to get this working,
ABC Island is very experimental, but it's a bloody good resource to have.
If we don't use it, we could lose it, so by all means come in and give it a look over.