Lab ask for assistance pinning down inventory loss issues

secondlifeOn Wednesday, February 11th, the Lab published a brief blog post seeking help from users in helping to pin-down issues related to inventory loss.

The post reads in full:

As we continue to improve Second Life, we’re looking into the issue of inventory loss. If you have experienced some form of inventory loss in the past 12 months – whether partial (such as a single object or subfolder), or full – please take a moment to share your answers via this quick survey.

Your answers will help provide our engineering team with information that will assist them as they make improvements to Second Life.

We greatly appreciate your time and want to thank you for responding to the survey.

The link will take respondents to a set of 7 questions covering when and how they might have suffered the loss of one or more items from their inventory, the kind of loss experienced (from single item through to their entire inventory, or the loss of a specific folder or items across multiple folders, etc.), details on their preferred viewer, etc.

These are then followed by an opportunity for users to supply any additional information related to their experiences with inventory they feel might be useful to the Lab, and an optional section which can be completed if users have no objection to the Lab contacting them for further information.

If you have suffered from inventory loss over the course of the last year, please do consider completing the survey.

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RFL of SL: 2015 team registrations open

banner-1Wednesday, February 11, 2015 marked the official opening of team registrations for the 2015 RFL of SL season. In a change from previous years, all teams registering to participate in the 2015 are required to have both a Captain and a Co-captain. An e-mail address is also required in order to complete registrations.

Team Captains who successfully register their team prior to March 7th, 2015, will receive a special “Early Bird” Registration Trophy and Plaque.

Should anyone need assistance in completing their registration should contact the RFL of SL 2015 Teams Ambassador, Veruca Tammas, in-world.

Note that a separate Convio registration is also required, details of which, I believe, will be made available in due course.

About Relay For Life of Second Life

Relay For Life of Second Life is an annual activity that takes place in Second Life in July each year. Volunteers form or join teams to have fun while fundraising and raising awareness from mid-March through mid-July. In July teams build campsites and walk a track, just like a Real World Relay. Since 2005, Relay For Life of Second Life has raised over $2.25 million USD for the American Cancer Society. In 2013, Relay For Life of Second Life has raised over $390,000 for the American Cancer Society. Relay For Life has become an international movement in RL and SL. In 2011 participants from over 80 countries took part in Relay For Life of Second Life.

About the American Cancer Society

For more than 100 years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has worked relentlessly to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Together with millions of  supporters worldwide, ACS helps people stay well, helps people get well, find cures, and deal with their journey against cancer.

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IXV paves the way for PRIDE and more

An artist's impression of ESA's IXV lifting body attached to its upper sage booster during its first sub-orbital flight
An artist’s impression of ESA’s IXV lifting body attached to its upper sage booster during its first sub-orbital flight

On Wednesday, February 11th, the European Space Agency (ESA) launched a Vega rocket from their Guiana Space Centre in French Guiana, South America. The rocket has been Europe’s launch system for lightweight payloads since 2012, and in this capacity it has generally been used to lift Earth observation mission payloads into polar orbits, where they can see as much of the Earth’s surface as the planet rotates beneath them.

The February 11th mission was different, however. This was launched due west, out over the Atlantic and directly towards Africa. And, rather than carrying a satellite, the rocket carried a new, experimental spaceplane, very unglamorously called IXV,  for Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle.

Dubbed a “mini-shuttle” by some in the media, IXV is more correctly a lifting body design. That is, it has no wings of any description. Instead, it uses its own aerodynamic shape to generate lift and stability during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This particular principle of flight isn’t new. Lifting body designs have been used for a number of experimental purposes over the years, including in the 1960s and 1970s as NASA investigated potential designs for a reusable space vehicle (although the evolving mission requirements for the space shuttle meant that a lifting body design was eventually rejected in favour of a delta wing configuration).

The IXV mission
The IXV mission

In popular culture, and for those old enough to remember, footage of the crash and disintegration of a lifting body piloted by Bruce Peterson, was used in the opening titles of the TV series The Six Million Dollar Man. Unlike the fictional Steve Austin, however, Peterson survived his crash without the aid of bionics, although he did lose his sight in one eye … courtesy of an infection which occurred while he was in hospital after the crash. More recently, the use of a lifting body approach has been been demonstrated by Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser vehicle, which had been intended to fly crews to and from the International Space Station.

Europe’s IXV is an uncrewed vehicle, weighing just under 2 tonnes. It’s primary objective is to research the re-entry and flight characteristics of such a vehicle shape and to test the re-entry shielding technologies that ESA are developing. All of this is with a view to developing a new generation of reusable space vehicles that could be employed for both crewed and uncrewed missions. The first of these is likely to be PRIDE – the Programme for Reusable In-orbit Demonstrator in Europe – a genuine spaceplane using a combination lifting body / winged design.

ESA's PRIDE aims to demonstrate the use of a reusable spaceplane in satellite launch operations
ESA’s PRIDE aims to demonstrate the use of a reusable spaceplane in satellite launch operations

PRIDE is designed to be launched atop a rocket and, once in orbit, deploy satellite payloads prior to returning to Earth for a conventional runway landing, refurbishment and reuse. In this, it would be somewhat similar to the US Air Force’s uncrewed and classified X-37B spaceplane, which is capable of long duration orbital flights, notching-up some 1,367 days in space in just 3 missions between 2010 and 2014. However, unlike the X-37 programme, which is believed to be both an advanced technologies test vehicle and potentially capable of undertaking reconnaissance activities when in orbit, PRIDE would be a purely civilian operation.

Another potential use for the technologies seen in IXV is in providing the means to operate reusable boosters as a part of Europe’s next generation of launch vehicles, which would be capable of flying themselves back to a safe landing after use. Lifting body technologies and the re-entry systems used on IXV might also be used in missions to returns samples from Mars and the asteroids to Earth, and spaceplane technologies in general might one day form a part of ESA’s strategy for ferrying crews to / from orbital space facilities in the future.

The technologies being tested by IXV may one day be used in reusable boosters forming a part of ESA's next generation of launchers
The technologies being tested by IXV may one day be used in reusable boosters forming a part of ESA’s next generation of launchers

IXV’s maiden flight was relatively short – just under 2 hours in duration – and sub-orbital in nature. Boosted to an altitude of around 450 kilometres (281 miles), the vehicle cruised over Africa prior to initiating re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of some 7.5 kilometres per second (just under 16,800 miles per hour), using its shape to generate lift and stability, and two tail-mounted “paddles” for steering. Once through the heat of re-entry and slowed to hypersonic speeds, a special parachute deployed to slow the vehicle to subsonic speeds. This allowed the main parachute system could be deployed, which brought the car-sized vehicle to a relatively “soft” splashdown at just 7 metres a second (12.5 mph), so it could be recovered by the vessel Nos Aries.

The entire mission, from launch to splashdown, occurred almost precisely on schedule. Only a slight delay prior to lift-off causing the schedule to be adjusted. Ironically, recovery of the vehicle following splashdown took almost as along as the mission itself, and an overcast sky in the recovery zone presented images being captured of the vehicle’s descent by parachute.

Nevertheless, the mission was a great success. Now begins a long trawl through the data gathered by some 300 instruments and sensors spread throughout and over the little spaceplane.

All images and video, courtesy of the European Space Agency

OBR 2015: the regions rise

Saturday, February 14th not only marks Valentine’s Day, but it is also the day on which the 2015 One Billion Rising (OBR) event will take place in both the physical and world worlds.

With the final days to the event counting down, the four regions for OBR in Second Life have been delivered, and the artists and stage hands are all hard at work, and installations and stages are rising.

As with previous years, the four regions, called Drum, Rise, Dance and Change, are arranged in a square, the central area divided into four stage areas. As well as the stage areas, each of the regions provides a landing point and information area which will provide guidance on organisations where victims of domestic and societal abuse and repression can find help  – and those wishing to give support to such organisations can do so.

Then, ranged around the outer edge of the square of regions are the art displays. Over 20 artists are participating in this year’s event, and they’ve been asked to create installations that are inspired by the region names, themselves evocative of core elements of OBR’s physical activities.

Within these art installations will be an area devoted to artists representing 2Lei, the arts-led project also aimed at raising awareness of the plight of women who face violence in their lives, and which takes place in Second Life as part of the global International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which takes place on November 25th each year.

In addition to the main main 2D and 3D art installations from the participating artists, OBR 2015 will also feature a sculpture garden, a picture gallery, and a poetry and performance stage. The full schedule of events can be found on the official OBR in SL website, but be aware that at the time this article was written, it was still subject to update.

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