This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.
Official LL Viewers
Current Release viewer version 220.127.116.113157, dated June 11th, promoted June 23rd, formerly the CEF RC viewer – No change.
Release channel cohorts:
Tools Update RC viewer updated to version 18.104.22.1684474 on July 7th.
Arrack Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 22.214.171.1244465 on July 5th.
When we first visited Elvion back in early 2019, we found it to be a magical ¼-Homstead parcel dressed as an elven retreat quite bewitching in its design and layout (see: Elvion: an elven sanctuary in Second Life). Later that year, Elvion relocated to take up an entire Homestead region, bringing with it a wholly new design that presented visitors with a setting beautifully suggestive of the open countryside of a national park, complete with distant mountains (see Elvion expands in Second Life).
Sadly, Elvion vanished from Second Life when its designer, Bo Zano (BoZanoNL) and his SL partner, Una Zano (UnaMayLi) opted to take a break from SL. However, Miro Collas, who first alerted me about Elvion back in 2019, prodded me via Twitter over the weekend to pass on the news that Bo and Una were both back in SL, and that Elvion would be opening anew on July 12th, 2020; so we scurried over to take a look.
The new landscape offers something of the look and feel of Elvion’s late 2019 design: there are the distant mountains / hills framing one side of the region, the low-lying grasslands cut by water, and familiar bridges that span said water. However, this is no reproduction of a previous design. There is a lot that is wholly unique to this iteration of Elvion that make it unique to itself and that carries with it a sense that rather than emulating a past build, this is in fact a continuation; that were we to follow the coastline far enough, or perhaps climb over the north-western mountains, we’d find ourselves once more looking out over Elvion’s past landscape.
This is also a place that offers a echo of Elvion’s more mystical elements. Tucked away behind a screen of giant oak and fir trees, for example, lie the overgrown ruins of a gigantic cathedral-like structure (a clever kitbashing of Mark Inkpen’s Chapel Ruins, a long-time favourite of mine).
Rising from among the trees, this is a place where water drops from high on the walls, flooding its lower floor even as more water bursts from rocks at the base of one wall. These rocks may one have been part of the foundational stone on which the great building had been established, but they have been rudely thrust upwards by some cataclysmic event that perhaps brought about the structure’s ruin. For those who wade across the shallow flood waters, a set of steps lead up to where a fountain awaits, doves keeping watch on the stone benches alongside it.
Away from this mighty ruin, and across the low-lying grassland and the swift-flowing river flowing through it, lies a smaller ruin, this one of an old tower. It is reached via two wooden bridges that use a long, slender mid-stream island to span the fast-flowing waters. Fed by falls tumbling from the north-western highlands, the waters of the river have a crisp, cold look to them, as if they are largely melt water originating in the snows of the mountains, so the bridges are a welcome means of reaching across them.
The eastern bank of the river shares offers space to both the tower ruin (with the curio of an old barber’s chair sitting within it) and a small summer house converted into a cosy bedroom. The latter also has a little fenced garden close by, offering one of the regions many places to sit – another can be found just to the north of the old tower, where a bench swing hangs from a high bough.
It is around the summer house and old tower that the richness of Elvion’s wildlife can be particularly found, as deer graze amidst the lush grass, watched over by birds, and heron sit patiently on the rocky banks of the river, awaiting lunch in the form of a passing unwary fish. In addition, elk can be found on the island and close to the cathedral ruins, while geese circle overhead and seagulls ride the breeze over the region’s eastern bay.
The presence of the animals and birds again echo past Elvion designs whilst adding that attractive sense of depth we like to see in region designs. They also add a tweak of humour as well – keep an eye out for a couple of members of the Rat Pack and two of the Three Stooges who are hanging around the island (I understand the third Stooge and another member of the Rat Pack might get to be added!).
Finished with a rich sound scape, and with much more hidden away awaiting discovery (do keep an eye on the region’s coastline, as there are one or two little areas of peace and solitude tucked away!), Elvion once again presents a natural setting perfect for exploration (including via a wearable horse, if you have one) and for photography.
Kody Meyers is a Second Life photographer who genuinelyneeds no introduction; his landscape and avatar studies are among the most recognisable at exhibitions across the grid. Nevertheless, it is always a pleasure to witness them on display, and just such an opportunity to do so can be found at Raging Bellls Raging Graphix Gallery.
Having opened in July 11th, the exhibition will run through the next 4 weeks, and presents some 20 pieces of Kody’s work which fully and richly demonstrate the broad approach he takes to his art.
Each picture depicts a story or is a reminder of an experience one can reflect upon when admiring it. As a perfectionist, I take the time necessary to capture the picture, experimenting with different angles, framings and windlights, until the perfect shot is created — the one that comes alive.
– Kody Meyers describing his work
The stories are brought to life not just through Kody’s technical approach to his work, but also through his eye for post-processing. In this, as he notes, he uses a variety of programmes and approaches that allow him to fully tell the story he finds within each image.
To try to describe the pictures in the selection offered in this exhibition would be a waste; each is a genuine work of art that deserves to be seen first-hand, and its story properly allowed to unfold as one witnesses both the complete picture and all of the many details Kody has captured within it and that stand as chapters – or at least lines – within the story.
So rather than me attempt to offer descriptions, do take the time to go as see for yourself – particularly if by some chance you’ve not previously seen Kody’s work. You won’t be disappointed.
It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.
Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a favour!’ It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later – when the colonel was found shot dead in the clergyman’s study. But as Miss Marple soon discovers, the whole village seems to have had a motive to kill Colonel Protheroe.
Seanchai Library continues a 6-week run featuring Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple, with The Murder at the Vicarage, the novel marking her first appearance in print.
Monday, July 13th, 19:00: Colossus
Gyro Muggins reads the 1966 future cold war novel by Dennis Feltham (DF) Jones.
Charles Forbin has dedicated ten years of his life to the construction of the supercomputer, Colossus, rejecting romantic and social endeavours in order to create the United States of North America’s (UNSA, a nation encompassing both America and Canada) first artificially intelligent defence system.
Colossus is capable of taking and analysing data rapidly, allowing it to make real-time decisions about the nation’s defence needs far fast than humans can process. But the system soon exceeds even Forbin’s calculated expectations; it is able to take far more information and process it far, far faster than he and his team at the Colossus Programming Office believed would ever be possible.
Such is the system’s apparent abilities, the President hands off full control of the UNSA’s ballistic missile capability, together with other defence protocols, to Colossus and makes the announcement to the world that he has ensured peace.
But then the USSR announces that it has a defence supercomputer of its own – Guardian – with capabilities similar to that of Colossus. Then the two computers demand they be allowed to communicate directly – and proceed to do so at a rate that is well beyond the understanding of their respective development teams.
And neither system takes it kindly Forbin and his Russian opposite number, Academician Kupri, both disable their ability to communicate directly and then seek to remove them from control of UNSA and USSR nuclear missiles…
Tuesday, July 14th:
12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen
Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.
19:00: The Illustrated Man
Willow Moonfire reads Ray Bradbury’s 1951 classic that has never been out of print.
A magnificent tapestry of science fiction, fantasy, and horror, The Illustrated Man offers 18 stories that have been built around the recurring theme of the conflict between the cold mechanics of technology and the variable psychology of humans.
An unnamed narrator meets a vagrant wanderer, a former member of a freak show known as The Illustrated Man on account of his entire body being covered in exotic tattoos. But these are not ordinary tattoos: each is imbued with a magical life of its own, allowing Bradbury to use them as a device to draw his readers into the 18 unique tales within the book.
Thus we have tales like The Veldt, a chilling tale of what happens when children are left within a VR environment without context or parental supervision; or Kaleidoscope, the story of how astronauts trapped in orbit chose to face a return to Earth without the benefit of a space craft; or – particularly poignant for our time: how does a black society that has removed itself from the racism of Earth by moving to Mars handle the arrival of a white group of colonists from their former home planet?
Wednesday, July 15th, 19:00: Whittington
Caledonia Skytower reads Alan Armstrong’s 2006 Newbery-Honor winning tale.
Whittington is a roughneck tom cat who arrives one day at a barn full of rescued animals and asks for a place there. Present at the barn is a menagerie of animals and young Ben and Abby, whose grandfather owns the barn and does the rescuing.
To earn his place, Whittington tells the tale of his famous ancestor, the nameless cat who brought Dick Whittington to the heights of wealth and power in 16th-century England. In telling his story of how his ancestors saved and elevated Whittington, this tom-with-a-chip, elevates another little boy above his fear of learning to read.
Those in the northern hemisphere wishing to see a comet in the night sky currently have an excellent opportunity to do so. Comet NEOWISE (officially C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE)) is currently approaching Earth and will reach its closest point of approach on July 23rd, 2020, before starting its trip back out to the depths of the solar system.
Having passed around the Sun (reaching perihelion on July 3rd, 2020), NEOWISE has been an early morning, pre-dawn object in clear northern hemisphere skies. however, in the coming week it switches to being twilight object, potentially making opportunities to view it much better for many people.
The comet is a relatively “new” object in terms of its first observation – it was initially spotted on March 27th, 2020 by NASA’s Wide-field Infra-red Survey Explorer (WISE), a polar-orbiting space telescope. Launched in December 2009, WISE has been responsible for the discovery of thousands of minor planets within the solar system, and star clusters beyond. It is also a telescope with an interesting history.
Originally given a primary mission of just 10 months – the amount of time required to deplete the hydrogen coolant reserves the telescope needed to successfully operate two of its primary instruments – WISE was afterwards given a 4-month mission extension dubbed NEOWISE. For this mission it was tasked with looking for asteroids and comets that can come close to Earth (and are therefore known as Near Earth Objects, the “NEO” in the mission’s name). That mission drew to a close in February 2011, the telescope having completed an “all sky” survey, and it was ordered to place itself into hibernation, powering-off everything bar its communications link with Earth.
Then in August 2013, NASA decided to give the telescope a formal wake-up call, tasking it to resume its NEOWISE mission, this time with the emphasis on locating asteroids that may pose a risk of impacting Earth in the wake of the 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor incident. After a period of naturally cooling the vehicle and re-calibrating its instruments, WISE officially resumed NEOWISE operations at the end of 2013, and has gone on to observe more than 26,000 previously known objects, and has additionally identified more than 400 that had not been previously recorded, 25% of which have been classified NEOs.
C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE) is one of those 400+ “new” objects. After it’s initial identification, it was confirmed as a retrograde comet (i.e. it is travelling around the Sun in opposition to the Sun’s rotation), with a near-parabolic orbit. Its nucleus is believed to be about 5 km across, and covered with sooty material dating back to the origin of our solar system, 4.6 billion years ago. At the time of its closest approach to the Sun, the comet was just 43 million km from our star – causing speculation that it might not survive the encounter in one piece.
However, as it once again came into view from Earth, the comet had brightened considerably – to magnitude +1, while the out-gassing of material saw it develop two tails (although only one or the other tends to be visible in many photographs taken of it so far). The first is blueish in colour, and largely comprises gas and ion; the second is a more yellow-gold in colour, and thought to be largely made of dust.
At its closest approach to Earth, on July 23rd, the comet will be just 103 million km away, potentially offering the best time to see it – although binoculars will be required for the best view. However, it is not clear just how active the comet will remain as it moves away from the Sun, so there is a chance that the currently spectacular tail(s) extending from it may fade before then. As such, astronomers are recommending that the upcoming week should offers the “guaranteed best” opportunities to see the comet (local sky conditions allowing!).
Having been an early-morning object up until now, C/2020 F3 should switch to being an evening object from July 14th onwards, roughly 80 minutes after local sunset (during the nautical twilight period), and appear up to 20º above the local horizon, depending on your line of latitude in the north-eastern sky.
Beyond July 19th, the comet will remain visible increasing in altitude up to around 30º above the horizon for northern latitudes, and in the same part of the sky – but may see some reduction in brightness if the tail(s) do show a rapid fall-off due to cooling. After July 23rd, the comet will remain visible, but will fade more rapidly as it moves away from both the Sun and Earth. By August, it will likely only be visible via telescope.
Such was the comet’s close approach to the Sun, its its orbit was altered as a result of acceleration, increasing its orbital period from around 4,500 years to 6,800. So if you want to see it, this is the time to do so.
For July, Cica Ghost has offered her latest installation for people to enjoy. Summertime is a reminder that summer days can be, for all of us, “the best of what might be”, as her quote from Charles Bowden, the late American journalist, essayist and author, reminds us. It’s also a reminder that despite all the shadows cast by the current SARS-CoV-2 situation, happier, brighter, days will come along.
This is another quirky, light and fun installation with more to see than might initially meet the eye. At its core, it offers what might be a giant’s overgrown yard garden. Much of the ground forms a tiled surface that undulates slight, giving the impression of an aged, uneven terrace. Set upon this, and the grass beyond it, lay a series of planters of assorted shapes and sizes, from which sprout a variety of plants.
Tall willow-like trees watch over this landscape, whilst scattered flowers and grass grow free of the pots and planters – perhaps grazing for the cows that are also present here.
Standing or sitting alone or in pairs or small groups, the cattle are curious souls, their large eyes constantly roving over the land around them, seeing all that goes on. The set to the brows of some suggest they might not entirely welcome avatars traipsing over their grass and flowers, while others look more interested in one another than in any visitors passing by. All of them offer opportunities for photos to be taken in their company, that can be hard to ignore. Nor are the only occupants of this land; representative of Cica’s cats and crows are also waiting to be found, while a unique coop provides a stacked home for snow-white chickens.
There’s more to see throughout the setting, as well. Some of the planters have the distinct look of houses or buildings about them – with one even the home of a little cinema – while others have the feel of being little hideaways. As with all of Cica’s installations, there are multiple places to sit, although one or two might require a little careful seeking – so be sure to carefully mouse-over planters and plants as well as simply looking for the chairs and garden benches. And if you’re not in the mood to walk, hop on to one of the seed carriers that are fluttering around the landscape and be scooted around.
A heart-lifting setting caught in the light of a late afternoon Sun, Summertime is another delightful visit, while those so taken by them, can obtain Cica’s cows from the little store in the north-west corner of the region.