Back through the Looking Glass

The Looking Glass
The Looking Glass

I first blogged on The Looking Glass, the fabulous joint creation of Marcus Inkpen and partner Sharni Azalee, back in October 2011. While I make frequent visits there, it surprised me to realise that I’ve not blogged about it in the nigh-one two years since. In that time some things have changed within the region, and my SL photography has (hopefully) matured somewhat. This being the case, I decided to gather together snaps taken during my most recent visits (the last being in August 2013), and update my thoughts on the region.

At first glance, not a lot appears to have changed over the years; however, appearances can be deceptive. While the run-down urban area is still very much present, the Looking Glass shops themselves have now gone. They’ve been relocated to a sky platform, leaving the ground level of the region as a veritable tour de force of Markus’ and Sharni’s creativity.

The Looking Glass
The Looking Glass

As befitting the nature of the urban quarter, the old Looking Glass stores haven’t been re-leased; they stand empty, just a couple of unwanted packing cases left to gather dust. Elsewhere, the old theatre is still its dilapidated self, the coffee shop still awaits patrons while a couple more pieces of graffiti appear to have found their way onto walls.

One of the things I love about The Looking Glass is not only the way in which tableaux have been  set-out in a manner which so very artfully demonstrates the depth of their beauty and the attention to detail poured into them, but also the juxtaposition of themes and imagery which can be found as one explores.

From the very urban look at feel of the corner town, it is only a short wall down steps and through a rocky arch to a setting which is altogether more medieval in look and feel, with wood-framed buildings setting atop the stone walls of an old castle, complete with a brooding tower rising over the local landscape. There are a few subtle changes to be found here for those who have not visited in a while.

The Looking Glass
The Looking Glass

Carry on around the island, under the arches of the great ruined bridge which forms part of the region’s focal-point, and the place takes on an air of fantasy. Here is a verdant land filled with plants which are exotic in both look and colour, where a house sits shaped from the stump of some gigantic tree, a wizard’s tower sits atop a tall rock, and where gardens float serenely overhead.

Another delight with The Looking Glass is that it is not just a shop-front; it is a place to be explored and enjoyed, and where there is often something going on, whether at the amphitheatre, the ruined temple atop the rocky hills which split the region in two or at The Looking Glass gallery itself, which is currently preparing for a winter exhibition entitled Animals in the Scribbled Wild, featuring the artwork of Scott Rolfe, better known to many in Second Life as Scottius Polke, and which opens on December 17th.

The Looking Glass
The Looking Glass

Whether you’ve been to The Looking Glass once or a dozen times, it is a place which never fails to enchant and lift the spirits. Visitors are always welcome and there are plenty of places to explore (including some which are not so obvious!) or to sit and think and watch as the world drifts by.

And if you have yet to visit, then your taxi awaits; I very much doubt you’ll be disappointed by the trip.

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Exodus 13.09.21.1: materials arrival

The Exodus team released Exodus 13.09.21.1 (Beta) on September 21st, which sees support for materials processing arrive in the viewer.

The release is only available for Windows and Linux, but it sees Exodus come pretty much up to par with the official SL viewer, including the most recent materials fixes and updates which saw light of day as an RC viewer prior to becoming the de facto SL viewer release in week 38. Also included in the release are updates from the recent SL CHUIStorm release, the FMODex updates and the Cocoa updates.

Visual changes to the viewer include the additional texture map options for materials, and an option in the Exodus Preferences floater to enable / disable the replacing of your avatar name with “you” in your chat.

Exodus 13.09.21.1 includes materials processing support (l) and an option to replace your avatar's name with "you" in your chat window
Exodus 13.09.21.1 includes materials processing support (l) and an option to replace your avatar’s name with “you” in your chat window

The installer weighs-in at 35 MB, and installation was for me, as usual, smooth and without incident, including the required Windows extras. One point to note that this release see the Windows installation move from “ExodusViewerBeta” to “ExodusViewer” – so if you have a previous version installed, it will not be overwritten, but can be removed independently of this viewer (just use the uninstaller within the older version’s installation folder). This change is a part of Exodus adopting the Lab’s version update mechanism, becoming the second v3 viewer to do so alongside Kokua.

The release notes give a rather false impression of the amount of work which has gone into the update, but for those who wish to check on what has been included, the viewer’s commit history provides a complete breakdown.

Overall a nice update which brings two versions of the viewer back up to speed. The release notes indicate that this version “will not contain an OS X release”, so I assume Mac users will have to wait for a future release to get back on a par with their fellow Windows and Linux users.

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Viewer release summary 2013: week 38

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 22nd, 2013

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release channel updated on September 19th to version 3.6.6.280963, formerly the Materials RC viewer (download page, release notes)
  • Release channel cohorts (See my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC updated on September 24th to version 3.6.7.281385 (download and release notes) – support for new particle capabilities; automatic avatar render limit and feedback system
    • Snowstorm Contributions RC updated on September 20th to version  3.6.7.281199 (download and release notes) – request teleport feature
  • Project viewers:
    • None at present

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-Style

  • Black Dragon updated on September 18th to Alpha 2.3.2 – core updates: merge to SL 3.6.6 code base; addition of Tofu Buzzard’s Screen Space Reflections; tone mapping tweaks (release notes)
  • Exodus updated on September 21st to version 13.09.21.1 (Windows & Linux only) – core updates: merge to SL 3.6.6 code base; materials processing; FMODex updates; Options to enable / disable “you” chat in CHUI; assorted bug fixes (release notes)
  • Kokua updated on September 19th to version 3.6.6.29733 – core updates: merge with SL 3.6.6. code base; OpenSim 4096 region TP but fix; stream enhancements, incl ability to copy stream URL to clipboard; ability to zoom-in on an object via context menu; assorted updates (release notes)

V1-Style

  • Cool VL updated on September 21st to:

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

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