Everyone in SL will have experienced the disorientation which accompanies the first few weeks in the world. When I joined, with only a mainland and around 100 sims (squares of the map) to worry about, it was disorientating, even though I could see the whole of the world coherently on one screen of mapped sims. I understand that it is much, much worse now that there are thousands of islands, several mainlands and no way of seeing them all together.
The usual sequence of events currently is that new explorers arrive on the Linden orientation islands, they then progress to Help island and from there to the main grid. Many people do not understand that they are fenced off from the main grid while on the orientation and help islands, and it isn’t explicit to them that when they first teleport to the mainland, they are assigned a “home” spot from the Linden welcome areas around the grid.
Home is where you respawn if you are “killed” in Second Life — something that has only happened to me once in three and a half years. Home is where you go to if you hit the “go home” key in your map, or where you log into if you have chosen to arrive at your home spot. You can’t just set any place as home: you have to be owner of the land, or a member of the group which owns land, in order to set a place as home. There are a number of Linden places around SL which can be set as home for new people, mostly at the old information and welcome hubs.
Once you start exploring the grid, there are a number of ways to work out where you are. The first and most useful is that the name of the sim and your position within it are displayed at the top of your screen. The sim name tells you which island or square of the map you are on. The co-ordinates tell you where your avatar is on that sim. Each sim is mapped with a set of co-ordinates x, y and z. X and y tell you your position in the sim, and z tells you what height you are at.
Looking at your mini map (click the button on the bottom of the screen) will give you an idea of your position on the sim too, you are the yellow and cream dot, and you will be able to see other avatars in the same area as green dots, and green Ts. The green T shapes represent avatars who are higher than you are, and upside down Ts show you where there are avatars who are lower than you are. Green dots are avatars at the same height as you. The mini map will show other people’s builds as a reddish brown, and anything you have built as a turquoise blue.
Looking at the main map (click the button on the bottom of your screen) will show you where the sim you are in is positioned on the grid. You will be able to see if there are sims joined to it, that you could fly to, and whether the sim is on a mainland or is an island.
If you want to remember a place to come back to, you can create landmarks as long as the landowner allows them, by clicking the world button at the top of the screen and then choosing “create landmark here” on the drop down list. You will see a small landmark window open on the screen and hitting the x on it will store it in the landmarks folder in your inventory. To use landmarks in your inventory, open the Landmarks folder, double click the landmark you want to use to open it, and then click on the teleport button in the little landmark window which opens.
You can create new folders within your landmark folder, to sort your landmarks, and to help you remember what they are. I have folders for shops, interesting sims, things to explore, country sims etc. You can label them any way you choose, including “recommended by others” or “nice places to spend time.
If you get lost, or want to get away fast from somewhere, open the main map by clicking the button at the bottom of the screen and hit the blue button to go home.