From Niran’s to Black Dragon

Blackdragon logoOn Wednesday August 21st, NiranV Dean officially confirmed that Niran’s Viewer is now depreciated (or as he put it, “Dead”).

He first announced plans to end the viewer’s life in May 2013, when he also announced its successor, Black Dragon. Since that time, he has been working on the replacement viewer, producing a number of beta releases along the way, the latest being version 2.3.1, which appeared on August 23rd.

As I’ve not covered Black Dragon to date, I decided to take a quick look and provide a mini-overview – not a full review, just and overview of the viewer and some of the work Niran has been carrying out.

Download and Installation

The download weighs-in around the same file-size as the official viewer. As with Niran’s Viewer, this isn’t an installer per se, but rather a self-extracting archive which will install the viewer files in the required folder, but which will not generate a Start menu entry, desktop shortcut, etc. You’ll need to do that yourself (not that it’s particularly taxing).

Splash Screen and Logging-in

Black Dragon’s splash / login screen is very similar to that used with Niran’s Viewer. Instead of the usual Destination Guide, etc., options found with the official viewer and a number of V3-style TPVs. Instead, users are treated to one of Niran’s music videos.

Black Dragon Splash / Log-in screen
Black Dragon Splash / Log-in screen

If the viewer has been installed for the first time, or is a completely clean install, the Create Account / Continue pop-up options will be displayed as per most V3-style viewers.

On logging-in, anyone who has used Niran’s Viewer will get a further feeling of familiarity – by default, Black Dragon has its toolbar buttons ranged at the top of the screen, and has a number of other Niran’s-like UI elements, including the vertical menu list, now called Dragon.

I confess, I’ve always liked this approach to the menus. Training the hand to use it doesn’t take long, and it offers a relatively tidy and compact means of having the menus available.

Black Dragon retain's Niran's approach to menus
Black Dragon retains Niran’s approach to menus

Preferences, Floaters and Panels

One thing that has always bugged Niran (and myself to a certain degree) is the amount of “white space” (or “wasted space”, as Niran calls it!)  some of the viewer’s floaters and panels have. While there is an understandable need to consider all levels of eyesight and readability, some of the viewer 3 panels do seem to have an over-abundance of blank space in them which could perhaps be better utilised. Black Dragon goes some way to reversing this; several of the floaters have been tided-up such that they do take-up less screen real estate, offering a more compact display.

However, Niran hasn’t (perhaps wisely) gone to some of the extremes seen in his older viewer, at least for the time being. Frankly, I hope he doesn’t. While a degree of tidy-up in floaters is welcome, I did feel that some of the large-scale redesign of evidenced in various floaters in Niran’s Viewer actually left a lot to be desired. A reduction in “wasted space” didn’t always correspond to an improvement in usability.

Materials and Build Floater

One of the new Lindeny shiny bits to appear in Black Dragon is materials processing, and it is an area where Niran has taken a slightly different direction to the official viewer, offering-up a completely re-worked Texture tab for the application of maps.

The revised Texture tab in Black Dragon's Build floater
The V3 build floater’s Texture tab (l), and Niran’s re-working in Black Dragon (r)

Continue reading “From Niran’s to Black Dragon”

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Dolphin and SSA: a further word from Lance

dolphin-logoServer-side Appearance is now live, as we all know, and issues seem to be minimal / getting dealt with. The majority of maintained viewers used to access Second Life were ready for the event; but due to real life commitments, Lance Corrimal has been unable to get his Dolphin viewer ready in time.

He’s recently issued an update on things,  – and the good news is that an SSA-enabled Dolphin 3 is on the way. In his note, Lance says:

I’m working on it as hard as I can, and it shouldn’t be more than a couple of weeks now. I have to do a bit of QA on it, I do want to release something usable after all.

So, if you’re a Dolphin user, don’t worry. an update is on the way. When it arrives, I’ll plunge in and have a look :).

A small update

Well, it took longer to finish-off than I’d hoped, so apologies to anyone who may have noticed things chopping and changing over the last few days with menu items and sidebar widgets appearing and vanishing. Things should be more-or-less done now.

So what’s happened?

In short, the sidebar on the right of my blog pages has been cleaned-up, with the link lists far more organised than before. The search options have been rationalised, with revised categories and tags which should make it a lot easier to find info, both via the sidebar and through the links at the foot of each post. I’ve kept the tag cloud towards the bottom of the sidebar rather than up with the rest of the search options, as I think it can be a bit of an eyeful, as useful as it might be for finding articles.

Up at the top of each page is a hugely updated menu system. With nigh-on 2,000 articles in this blog, I hope this will make it easier to access information quickly, and when used with article tags allow you to drill down to specific items more easily.

News menus - hopefully an easier means of finding article categories
News menus – hopefully an easier means of finding article categories

Hopefully the headings are straightforward enough, and I’ve tried to organise things as reasonably / logically as possible through the use of sub-menus. Where these occur, note that clicking on their “parent” item will display all the topics for all of the sub-menu items (so if you click on SL Viewer in the Viewers menu, you’ll get all the articles SL Viewer Updates and SL Viewer Reviews combined).

Anyway, have a play and see what you think. Hopefully I’ve captured everything, but do be aware there still might be the odd tweak here and there over the next few days.

Of bards and beaches, and beekeepers and books

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library SL, together with a special event from the folks at Storyfest SL and Stories Unlimited!

As always, all times SLT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday 25th August, 12:00: Bard on the Virtual Beach

Bard 2013 PosterThe third annual Bard on the Virtual Beach festival kicks-off at Nowhereville Beach from midday SLT. Brought to SL by Storyfests SL and Stories Unlimited, Bard on the Beach is a celebration of the works of William Shakespeare in an informal beachfront setting.

“It is really an amazing line up this year,” Caledonia Skytower said on behalf of the organising team. “We have a range of material from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It, to Titus Andronicus and Hamlet.”

This year will see a first for Bard on the Virtual Beach, with a special performance from The Merchant of Venice performed in Spanish by Yunus Nyn of TALIA, with translation provided for English speakers. “This has primarily been an English-speaking event,” Caledonia said, “Yunus and his group approached us, and we are excited to have him be a part of this festival, and  excited to see the event grow in this way.”

Approximate running time: 2 Hours, starting at 12:00 midday SLT

  • Scenes from The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act II, Scene 1) and King John (Act II, Scene 1):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • Sonnet Break!:  with Freda Frostbite
  • “The Duke of Bridgewater presents his interpretation of Hamlet’s Soliloquyfrom Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn:  with BigRed Coyote
  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act II, Scene 1):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • The Merchant of Venice (Act I, Scene 2):  with Ada Radius and Avajean Westland
  • The Merchant of Venice (Act I, Scene 3): with Yunus Nyn (In Spanish, English translation provided)
  • Sonnet Break!:  with Freda Frostbite
  • Titus Andronicus (Act III, Scene 1): with Kayden Oconnell
  • Hamlet (Act III, Scene 3): with Caledonia Skytower and Em Jannings
  • As You Like It (Act 3, Scene 2): with Bhelanna Blaze and Roderic Unplugged
  • Macbeth (Act I, Scene 7): with Gyro Muggins
  • Scenes from Much Ado About Nothing “How Two Wayward Wits Fall in Love”:  with Caledonia Skytower and Kayden Oconnell
  • Selection from The Tempest (TBA): with Crap Mariner

Bard on the Virtual Beach takes place in an informal setting using minimal sets and props, in a partial reproduction of the Globe Theatre. The audience is invited to sit on the benches or on the sand and enjoy the passage of an afternoon in good company. The festival is free to all, but gratuities will be accepted on behalf of the event’s beneficiary, War Child North America.

Bard on the Virtual Beach SLurl (Rated: Moderate)

Monday 26th August, 19:00: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice (6)

Caledonia Skytower continues her reading of Laurie R. King’s 1994 novel for young adults The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, the first in a series of books featuring teenager Mary Russell, and none other than Sherlock Holmes.

The year is 1915 and Sherlock Holmes, now fifty-four, has retired to the Sussex Downs to study honey bees. One April afternoon, he is interrupted by a young girl – fifteen-year-old Mary Russell – who has recently come to live with her Aunt following the tragic death of her parents in an automobile accident. Impressed by her wit and intellect, Holmes finds himself teaching her his former tradecraft. Thus a new partnership is formed between the very modern young Miss Russell and the very Victorian Great Detective.

Tuesday 27th August, 19:00: Time for Girl Talk

With Derry McMahon.

Wednesday 28th August, 19:00: Vacationland (concludes)

With Kayden Oconnell and Caledonia Skytower.

VacationlandOn a lake in northernmost Minnesota, you might find Naledi Lodge—only two cabins still standing, its pathways now trodden mostly by memories. And there you might meet Meg, or the ghost of the girl she was, growing up under her grandfather’s care in a world apart and a lifetime ago. Now an artist, Meg paints images “reflected across the mirrors of memory and water,” much as the linked stories of “Vacationland” cast shimmering spells across distance and time.

Sarah Stonich, whose work has been described as “unexpected and moving” by the Chicago Tribune and “a well-paced feast” by the Los Angeles Times, weaves these tales of love and loss, heartbreak and redemption into a rich novel of interconnected and disjointed lives. “Vacationland” is a moving portrait of a place—at once timeless and of the moment, composed of conflicting dreams and shared experience—and of the woman bound to it by legacy and sometimes longing, but not necessarily by choice.

Thursday 29th August, 19:00: Mabinogion (5)

From the Timeless Myths website:

Mabinogion“The Mabinogion was a collection of eleven (twelve) tales from the Welsh myths. The tales of the Mabinogion were preserved in two manuscripts, White Book of Rhydderch (c. 1325) and the Red Book of Hergest (c. 1400). Though the Rydderch manuscript was the earlier of the two, the tales of Lludd, Culhwch and Owein survived only in fragments, while the Dream of Rhonabwy was completely lost. Only the Hergest manuscript contained all eleven tales.

“The Mabinogion was first translated into English by Lady Charlotte Guest. It was Lady Charlotte who gave the title of “Mabinogion” to this collection of tales. Also, Lady Charlotte had included a twelfth tale, called Hanes Taliesin (“Tale of Taliesin”), belonging to the Independent group. However, the Hanes Taliesin was not found in the two early manuscripts, so some of the later translations of the Mabinogion do not include the story of Taliesin.

“The tales from the Mabinogion can be divided into three categories. The first four tales belonged to the Four Branches of the Mabinogi (“Pedair Cainc y Mabinogi”). The next four (or five, if including Taliesin) were the Independent tales, two tales of which Arthur appeared in the scene. While the last three tales falls into a category known as the Welsh romances, similar to those of the French romances written by Chretien de Troyes.”

Join Shandon Loring as he continues reading from these remarkable works.

Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for July and August is Little Kids Rock. Have questions? IM or notecard Caledonia Skytower.

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