ToS in-world meeting, September 29th: a personal perspective

An in-world meeting was held on Sunday September 29th to discuss the controversial wording of Section 2.3 of the revised Terms of Service issued by Linden Lab in August 2013.

The overall goal of the meeting was, to quote the introductory note card: “to understand the situation, to agree on our interpretation, and to contemplate a next step, if necessary.”

As things were limited to a single region, attendance was capped at 40 attendees, most of whom arrived well ahead of of time. The planned format for the event was to have it moderator-led, with people directed to contact the moderator via IM and wait to be called to the floor to speak. Given the number of attendees, this was a sound approach which would hopefully avoid the meeting becoming a free-for-all.

The East, West, North Ampi-Theatre, venue for the ToS discussion meeting, Sunday September 29th
The East, West, North Ampi-Theatre, venue for the ToS discussion meeting, Sunday September 29th

This is a summary of what I feel to be the key points from the meeting. It is not intended to be a verbatim transcript (I leave it to others to post these), nor should it be taken as representing the views of the meeting organisers. It is a personal perspective, followed by a personal opinion.

After a brief opening statement from the meeting host, Ernie Farstrider, ToySoldier Thor gave some information about an on-line survey to which content creators are being pointed. At the time of the meeting, the survey had gained some 65 responses at the time of the meeting, with 26 claiming the changes are sufficient for them to cease uploading new content to the platform.

The survey is still open, and those wishing to take it can find it at Survey Monkey.

Tali Rosca pointed out that the re-worded ToS can be incompatible with the licences supplied by third-party content creators (e.g. CG Textures and Renderosity), thus causing them to ban further use of their products in Second life.  As such, she suggested that contacting other suppliers of materials used within SL, obtaining their feedback and using it to help the Lab understand that the ToS changes do present an issue.

Crap Mariner pointed to the issue facing artists and performers in Second Life: that the ToS potentially impacts the ability of artists and performers to strike exclusive deals outside of Second Life (e.g. a publishing deal) for material they may have first presented / performed within Second Life.

Mathilde Vhargon raised the impact of the changes for those who operate galleries and exhibition spaces within Second Life, and who invite artists from outside of the platform to display or perform their work. The re-worded ToS requires such artists and performers to assign rights to Linden Lab they may well have no desire to assign, thus leaving them unwilling to display or perform their work.

Mathilde also indicated she feels it important for Linden Lab to understand that for those who  are handicapped or otherwise unable to work, the platform represents their livelihood. As such, apparently arbitrary decisions by the Lab can have extreme personal and social consequences.

As a result of the meeting, a new in-world group, the United Content Creators of SL, has been set-up for those who wish to be a part of a “grassroots movement” to try to influence the Lab’s thinking.

Continue reading “ToS in-world meeting, September 29th: a personal perspective”

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Cocoa updates impact OS X 10.6 users

Update October 5th: The downgrade to viewer 3.6.4.280048 for those on OS X 10.6 has been made optional rather than mandatory, as the latest de facto release viewer (3.6.7.281793) contains fixes which address some of the issues users on OS X 10.6 were encountering. Those still encountering issues may wish to revert back to 3,6,4,280048.

Recent Cocoa updates to the Mac version of the viewer have led to problems for those running Mac OS X 10.6. Because of this, the Lab has opted to roll users on that version of the operating system back to an earlier release of the viewer – specifically version 3.6.4.280048 (August 20).

Commenting on the problems at the Open-source Dev meeting on Monday September 30th, Oz Linden said:

We found some obnoxious problems with the newer releases for users still on OSX 10.6. We’re working on getting them fixed … but in the mean time we decided that 10.6 users would be better off on the older version. We’ll be watching how many users it would affect, I’m sure.  Newer versions of OSX have significantly better crash rates, so if a user can upgrade, they definitely should.

Affected users should be automatically “rolled back” (so to speak) to this viewer release via the viewer update system. However, if you’re running OS X 10.6, experiencing issues and are running a later version of the viewer, you can manually download it here.

Viewer release summary 2013: week 39

This summary is 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 Viewer Round-up 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
  • By its nature, this summary will always be in arrears
  • The Viewer Round-up Page is updated as soon as I’m aware of any releases / changes to viewers & clients, and should be referred to for more up-to-date information
  • The Viewer Round-up Page also 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.

Updates for the week ending: September 29th, 2013

Official LL Viewers

  • Mac OS X 10.6 current release reverted to 3.6.4.280048 (August 20) (download & release notes) – Users running Mac OS X 10.6 have been restricted to this version because the Cocoa upgrade has caused a number of regressions on those systems
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • None at present

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-Style

  • Ctrl-Alt-Studio release version (stereoscopic 3D) updated on September 27th to version 1.0.0.34288 – core updates: added Ctrl-Alt-3 keyboard shortcut that toggles stereoscopic 3D on/off; work-around to get stereoscopic 3D working with AMD Radeon on Windows; bug fixes (release notes)

V1-Style

Additional TPV Resources

Discontinued Viewers

  • Niran’s Viewer – discontinued as of version 2.2.0.2701 & superceded by Black Dragon
  • SLiteChat removed from listing; no updates since 2011, removed from TPV Directory & no response from developer
  • SL Second Life Beta viewer – deprecated as of version 3.6.2.278491, July 15, 2103
  • SL Development viewer – deprecated as of version 3.5.2.274629 April 24, 2013
  • Zen Viewer – discontinued by developer and no longer available, January 27th, 2013
  • Phoenix viewer – development and support ended on December 31st, 2012

Related Links

Of rocks and water, swans and falcons

CuriosityCuriosity has resumed its long drive towards the point where it can begin its examination of the huge mound sitting at the centre of Gale Crater which NASA has dubbed “Mount Sharp” (its official name is Aeolis Mons).

The rover recently stopped-off at an area dubbed “Waypoint 1”, the first of several potential stop-over points on the rover’s route, where it will carried out various studies of the surroundings.

Curiosity departed the area on September 22nd after spending some 10 days examining rocks at “Waypoint 1”, and is once more travelling slowly but steadily towards the point mission managers have identified for it to bypass a dune field lying between it and “Mount Sharp”. Along the way, it is liable to make around four more stops.

While at “Waypoint 1”, the rover spent time examining a rocky outcrop dubbed “Darwin”, using a range of instruments to gather images and data which again showed that Gale Crater was once the scene of considerable water activity.

A mosaic of four images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera shows detailed texture in a ridge on the rock outcrop dubbed “Darwin” the rover studied at “Waypoint 1”. The images were obtained shortly before sunset Sol 400 (Sept. 21, 2013) with the camera 25 cm (10 inches) from the rock. Scale is indicated by the Lincoln penny from the MAHLI calibration target, shown beside the mosaic.

“We examined pebbly sandstone deposited by water flowing over the surface, and veins or fractures in the rock,” said Dawn Sumner of University of California, Davis, a Curiosity science team member with a leadership role in planning the stop. “We know the veins are younger than the sandstone because they cut through it, but they appear to be filled with grains like the sandstone.”

While much of the outcrop was covered in the all-too-familiar oxidised Martian dust, there were a patches of bare rock scattered across its surface in which sand deposits and pebbles could be seen, and it was these that drew the attention of the science team.

A mosaic of nine images, taken by the MAHLI camera, shows detailed texture in a conglomerate rock bearing small pebbles and sand-size particles. Again, these images were captured on Sol 400 (Sept. 21, 2013) with the camera positioned about 10 cm (4 inches) from the rock. Scale is indicated by the Lincoln penny from the MAHLI calibration target, shown beside the mosaic.

Following extensive studies of the outcrop, the science team interpret the sand and pebbles in the rock as material that was deposited by flowing water, then later buried and cemented into rock, forming conglomerates. Research will now focus on the textures and composition of the conglomerates as Curiosity continues onward, to understand its relationship to stream bed conglomerate rock found closer to Curiosity’s landing site. Doing so, together with studies to be undertaken at the remaining waypoints, should help scientists to piece together the relationship between rock layers at “Yellowknife Bay” where the mission found evidence of an ancient freshwater-lake environment favourable for microbial life, and the rock layers at the main destination on lower slopes of “Mount Sharp”.

Water, Water, Everywhere

On September 27th, the Curiosity team published five reports in the journal Science which discuss the mission’s findings during the first four months of the rover’s time on Mars. A key finding from this work is that water molecules are bound to fine-grained soil particles, accounting for about 2 percent of the particles’ weight at Gale Crater. This result has global implications, because these materials are likely distributed around the Red Planet.

The presence of water was discovered as a result of samples of surface material being heated to the point of vapourisation within a small oven inside Curiosity – and the most abundant vapour detected was  H2O. The quantity of water molecules bound-up in the Martian soil suggest that as much as two pints of water could be obtained through the heating of one cubic foot of Martian dirt.

This discovery potentially has major implications for any long-term human presence on Mars in the future. The water – once subjected to appropriate treatment to remove unwanted minerals, such as a perchlorate, which has also been found in small amounts within Martian soil samples and can interfere with the thyroid function – could be used for cleaning and drinking purposes. It could also be electrolysed and used in the creation of oxygen and hydrogen. The hydrogen could then be used for a variety of purposes, including as a raw fuel, or in the production of fuel in the form of methane (created by combining the hydrogen with carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere), which could be used with oxygen to power surface vehicles.

An interesting part of the study is that the analysis of the chemicals and isotopes in the gases released during the analysis of soil samples indicates that the water molecules are the result of an interaction between the soil on Mars and the current atmosphere of the planet; so the process of depositing the water molecules is ongoing, rather than the result of some past mechanism. Even the discovery of perchlorate in the samples is of significance; previously, this had only been found in  soil samples examined at the high latitude Phoenix Lander site. That they’ve now also been found in a near-equatorial latitude suggests they have a global distribution as well.

The other papers released by the science team further confirm earlier studies into the mineral composition of samples gathered and studied during the rover’s initial four months on Mars using its full suite of sample analysis tools: MAHLI, APXS, ChemCam, SAM, and CheMin, all of which can perform a range of complementary as well as disparate analyses.

One of the papers additionally focuses on a rock I covered back in the early days of the mission – Jake_M. Named in memory of NASA / JPL engineer Jacob Matijevic, who worked on all three generations of NASA’s Mars rovers and who passed away shortly after Curiosity arrived in Gale Crater, Jake_M was thought to be quite unlike any other rock on Mars – not because of its pyramid-like shape, but because of its composition.

“Jake_M”, the remarkable rock examined by Curiosity on September 22nd 2012, and believed to be a mugearite type of rock. The markings show where ChemCam and APXS were used to examine it

The paper published in Science confirms that Jake_M is most like a mugearite, a type of rock found on islands and rift zones on Earth.

Continue reading “Of rocks and water, swans and falcons”