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 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.
Curiosity, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover has departed “Marias Pass”, a geological contact zone between different rock types on the slopes of “Mount Sharp”, some of which yielded unexpectedly high silica and hydrogen content.
As noted in a recent space update in these pages, silica is primarily of interest to scientists, because high levels of it within rocks could indicate ideal conditions for preserving ancient organic material, if present. However, as also previously noted, it may also indicate that Mars may have had a continental crust similar to that found on Earth, potentially signifying the geological history of the two worlds was closer than previously understood. Hydrogen is of interest to scientists as it indicates water bound to minerals in the ground, further pointing to Gale Crater having once been flooded, and “Mount Sharp” itself the result of ancient water-borne sediments being laid down over repeated wet periods in the planet’s ancient past.
Curiosity actually departed “Marias Pass” on August 12th, after spending a number of weeks examining the area, including a successful drilling and sample-gathering operation at a rock dubbed “Buckskin”, where the rover also paused to take a “selfie”, which NASA released on August 19th. It is now continuing its steady climb up the slopes of “Mount Sharp.”
As it does so, initial analysis of the first of the samples gathered from “Buckskin” is under-way. It is hoped with will help explain why the “Marias Pass” area seems to have far higher deposits of hydrogen bound in its rocks than have previously been recorded during the rover’s travels. This data has been supplied by the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) instrument on Curiosity, which almost continuously scans the ground over which the rover is passing to gain a chemical signature of what lies beneath it.
“The ground about 1 metre beneath the rover in this area holds three or four times as much water as the ground anywhere else Curiosity has driven during its three years on Mars,” said DAN Principal Investigator Igor Mitrofanov of Space Research Institute, Moscow, when discussing the “Marias Pass” DAN findings. Quite why this should be isn’t fully understood – hence the interest in what the drill samples undergoing analysis might reveal.
The drilling operation itself marked the first time use of the system since a series of transient short circuits occurred in the hammer / vibration mechanism in February 2015. While no clear-cut cause for the shorts was identified, new fault protection routines were uploaded to the rover in the hope that should similar shorts occur in the future, they will not threaten any of Curiosity’s systems.
A Flight over Mars
With all the attention Curiosity gets, it is sometimes easy to forget there are other vehicles in operation on and around Mars which are also returning incredible images and amounts of data as well – and were doing so long before Curiosity arrived.
One of these is Europe’s Mars Express, the capabilities of which come close to matching those of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Mars Express has been in operation around Mars for over a decade, and in that time has collected an incredible amount of data.
At the start of August, ESA released a video made of high resolution images captured by the orbiter of the Atlantis Choas region of Mars. This is an area about 170 kilometres long and 145 wide (roughly 106 x 91 miles) comprising multiple terrain types and impact craters, thought to be the eroded remnants of a once continuous ancient plateau. While the vertical elevations and depressions have been exaggerated (a process which helps scientists to better understand surface features when imaged at different angles from orbit), the video does much to reveal the “magnificent desolation” that is the beauty of Mars.
It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.
Sunday, August 30th 15:30: The Cold Shot Players
The Cold Shot Players return to Seanchai Library once more for another of their dramatic presentations focused on the delights and drama of classic radio shows. This month, they present an early start in the run-up to the Halloween season with Ghostly Horrors on the Highway to Nowhere, original Halloween tale about a 1940s radio ensemble and their brush with the macabre, directed by Bhelanna Blaze.
Monday August 31st, 19:00: Solis
Gyro Muggins commences a reading of Alfred Angelo Attanasio’s 1994 thought-provoking novel Solis.
What happens when you gamble your own future on the far future, and opt to have your head and brain frozen in the hope that one day, perhaps centuries to come, it – you can be revived?
That’s exactly what Charles Otis decided to do – only things don’t turn out so well. Found discarded but still in a cryonic state, his brain is purchased sans head and installed in a deep space ore carrier as its primary processor.
Until, that is, he is discovered and rescued by those sympathetic to his plight. And so the story takes a turn to matters of the legal status of a disembodied brain, restored for a specific purpose and of unknown origin; paid for, and – at least they would have it – owned by the corporation that purchased the brain, and which has little interest in any past identity the brain might have had.
Tuesday September 1st,19:00 Not That It Matters
Corwyn Allen continues to read AA Milne’s 1919 collection of humorous essays. Best known for his tales of Wnnie the Pooh, Christopher Robin and the 100 acre Wood, Milne in fact wrote widely in bother fiction and non-fiction.
Here he passes observation on wide range of topics, starting with a reflection upon his own writing, “Sometimes when the printer is waiting for an article which really should have been sent to him the day before, I sit at my desk and wonder if there is any possible subject in the whole world upon which I can possibly find anything to say.”
With considerations ranging from why a gentleman’s collar might squeak, or the fact that Isaiah most certainly didn’t carry a notebook, with assorted thoughts on goldfish and daffodils along the way, this is a book of essays wide-range in topic and content. Some of it may, nigh-on a century since the essays first appeared in this book, appear dated and as solidly dated and trapped forever in the opening decades of the 20th century. Other are perhaps as relevant today in their insights and commentary as they were when freshly written. All of them come with Milne’s familiar humour and jovial observations.
Wednesday September 2nd, 19:00: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street
Caledonia Skytower opens the pages of Jeanne Birdsall’s 2014 volume about the Penderwick family, the second in the series.
When the four Penderwick sisters learn that, encouraged by his sister-in-law and the wishes of their late mother, their father is going to start meeting other women, they fear the worst, and so enact the Save Daddy Plan. They set their Dad up with dates he won’t get on with, while he, also not overly convinced of things, goes out on pretend dates.
However, things start to change as the sisters meet and get to know Ben from next door, and his mum, Iantha. Added to the mix the adventures and challenges each of the four sisters face, and it turns out to be quite a series of events and changes for the Penderwicks – one of them very much turning out for the best.
Thursday, September 3rd
19:00, The Sage of Theare
Shandon Loring reads Diana Wynne Jones’ short story, which has been published in a number of collections of her works, including Mixed Magics: Four Tales of Chrestomanci, linking the characters and events in the stories with her Chrestomanci series of novels.
Within the city of Theare, neatly ordered and overseen by its pantheon of gods, is a prophecy. That prophecy states that one day a sage shall be born within the city, who will question everything, and in doing so, ruin the order of the Heavens and cast the gods into turmoil and disorder. Obviously, the gods cannot let this happen, and so the stage is set, awaiting only the sage to arrive, for conflict to ensue.
21:00: Seanchai Late Night
With Finn Zeddmore.
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 August / September is Water for People, “When one person or one family has clean, accessible water, their lives are changed. But when entire regions and countries have water, the world is changed.”
Ciaran Laval pointed me towards the Romea Country, Rock and Folk Festival which will be taking place on the Meva store home region over the course of Saturday, August 29th and Sunday, August 30th, 2015 (although I’m admittedly a little late in getting this post written and out).
Organised by the Meva team of Rock (TheRock Guardrian) and Mea Carnell, who together form Romea and own the Meva brand (although the Festival is part of their Romea Musics activities), the event will take place in a very country-ish environment and across times that suit audiences on both side of the Atlantic.
The full schedule is is follows, and my thanks to Mea for passing the information over to me. Note that in keeping with Mea’s format, times are given in SLT, with their UK and European equivalents in brackets.
Saturday, August 29th
10:00 (18:00 UK / 19:00 CET)
Live Singer – Jeffah24
11:00 (19:00 UK / 20:00 CET)
Live Singer – Jade Berry
12:00 (20:00 UK / 21:00 CET)
Live Singer – Clyde Barrow
13:00 (21:00 UK / 22:00 CET)
Live Singer – Nance Brody
14:00 (22:00 UK / 23:00 CET)
Live Singer – Zoree Jupiter
Sunday, August 30th
05:00 (13:00 UK / 14:00 CET)
Live Singer – Mimi Carpenter
06:00 (14:00 UK / 15:00 CET)
Live Singer – Garth Lannock
07:00 (15:00 UK / 16:00 CET)
Live Singer – Lisa Brune
08:00 (16:00 UK / 17:00 CET)
DJ – Onisa Lundquist
10:00 (18:00 UK / 19:00 CET)
Live Singer – Donny Collazo
11:00 (19:00 UK / 20:00 CET)
Live Singer – NormReynolds Genesis
12:00 (20:00 UK / 21:00 CET)
Live Singer – Russel Eponym
14:00 (22:00 UK / 23:00 CET)
Live Singer – Katiaportugal Genesis
So, if country, rock or folk musics is your thing, why not hop over and engage in a little line dancing or enjoy the music?
Across four days between Thursday September 4th and Sunday September 7th in 2014, musicians and DJs from across Second Life and around the world came together under the banner SL Music Races for a Cure in order to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C).
The brainchild of key organiser Still Braveheart, SL Music Races for a Cure was an outstanding success: L$ 1.5 million raised over the course of the four days of the event, with donations continuing after core activities had finished. All of the money was donated to SU2C’s work in accelerating the pace of cancer research and the development of effective treatments.
This year, Second Life Stands Up to Cancer is back, with an even bigger, bolder vision, and with Still once again helming the organising efforts.
2015 will see more than 150 performers, DJs and tribute bands performing at over 40 venues across Second Life between Saturday, September 12th and Sunday, September 27th, 2015, all with the aim of raising funds for Stan Up to Cancer’s international activities.
Obviously, with so many performers and venues participating, listing them in a blog like this is impossible – so do please keep a track of the SU2C in SL event schedule on Google, and via Stills’ own blog, which will have daily events, times and LMs to venues as things get under-way, as well as all the very latest news.
Founded in the United States in 2008 as a non-profit organisation run under the auspices of the Entertainment Industry Foundation, Stand Up to Cancer was specifically established to raise funds to accelerate the pace of ground-breaking translational cancer research that can get new cancer therapies to patients quickly.
The organisation takes an innovative approach to ending cancer by focusing on forming “dream teams” of doctors and researchers who are directly involved in leading-edge cancer research and treatment, and then undertaking aggressive research programmes (see the video at the end of this article for more on this). 100% of all donations made through SU2C goes directly into funding cancer research and treatment and paying for these teams; none is lost to “administrative costs” or put aside for CEO or executive salaries, etc.
Such is the success of this approach that as of 2014, and in the USA alone, SU2C has raised over $261 million in seven years. This money has all be used in directly supporting 141 clinical trials of possible cancer treatments, involving 750 scientists and 5,000 cancer patients, and which have spanned 112 US institutions.
Since its inception, SU2C has gained international support as well, with other countries establishing their own SU2C movements. Both Canada and the United Kingdom, for example, are fully engaged in SU2C’s work, with other countries also offering support and promotion.
In recognition of SU2C’s international scale and the direct involvement of Canada, the UK and the USA in spearheading efforts, all monies raised during the Second Life Stands Up to Cancer events will be evenly split between SU2C’s work in these three countries.
Also, in what is quite possibly a first for Second Life, all of the SU2C venues will have special kiosks available which will allow Canadian, UK and US SL residents to make donations directly to the SU2C work in their own country, via links to the SL SU2C Team web pages (UK and US) and the main SU2C Canada website.
What’s more, because the direct donations to SU2C UK and SU2C USA are going through the SL SU2C Team pages, the amounts donated this way can be added to the total amount raised through in-world donations, presenting a clearer picture of how much was raised for SU2C through the activities and generosity of Second Life residents.
Second Life Stands Up to Cancer is shaping-up to be another extraordinary event, one that I hope to be bringing further news and updates about as the dates approach, as well as looking forward to catching at least some of the performers and shows. So, mark September 12th through 27th in your diary and calendar, and get ready to Stand Up to Cancer, because this is where the end of cancer begins.
Frost Mole dropped me a line on Friday, August 28th to let me know The SS Galaxy, the 3-region-long cruise ship that has so long been a part of Second Life, and threatened with the breaker’s yard earlier in the year, is once again open to the public.
“It’s still very much a work in progress, I’ll be decorating the staterooms and adding details to the ship over the next few months. But there’s a lot to see and do right now,” Frost told me, prompting me to hop over and take a look.
In April 2015, I wrote about what at that time appeared to be the final cruise for the SS Galaxy, a series of events causing her owners to decide to call time and close her down. A stunning pirm build, she had been venue, events location, destination and – for those renting her many cabins and staterooms – a home. Given her unique looks and status, her loss would have been a blow to Second Life.
Fortunately, and subsequent to that report, I received the news that an agreement had been reached which would see the Lab take over the running and care of the ship, allowing her to remain a part of Second Life. Under this arrangement, the ship would no longer offer rental accommodation, but would be refitted and equipped ready to once again become a destination and a venue for special events.
Since then, work has been progressing gradually – a ship of this size represents a lot of space that needs to be looked at and decisions made on how to use the various facilities and rooms, etc. Frost has been busy with the ship (and doubtless projects like the Lab’s PaleoQuest as well), working through getting the ship ready for her new role – although as noted, there is still a way to go yet; so if you do hop over, don’t be surprised it looks as if parts have yet to be finished.
“I tried to add lots of interactive things to do – hot air balloon tour, swan boats, tables and food in the dining areas,” Frost told me as I arrived aboard. “Pretty things in the wedding chapel, a working cinema with public domain movies I’ll swap out once a month or so, kids areas, a water slide…”
“And 10-pin bowling?” I asked, spotting the alley,
“Ha-ha yes!” Frost replied. “Although that area needs lots of work. I’d like to add a food court with booths, more games, and giving the bowling alley a better home!”
Elsewhere, the ship retains her upper deck swimming pool, albeit it slightly reduced in size and with a new dance floor installed close by; ice-skating rink and familiar doomed ballroom, after of which sits the balloon tour launch point, occupying two of the old helipads, Similarly, the forward helipads are now the launch-point for hang gliders, offering visitors another way to see the ship from the air.
Curiously, the world map currently shows two SS Galaxys – one occupying her “old” position kitty-corner to Temasek, and the “new” Galaxy, sitting just off the Honah Lee estate (and connected to it by a OpenSpace water sim). I assume the former, which appears to sit on unnamed regions, will be vanishing soon (or already has, as is some kind of map ghost).
Again, just as a final reminder, if you do visit at the moment, keep in mind the ship is still a work-in-progress, so some things will still look a little empty right now – but that will be changing. As it is, it is really great to see her back with us.
I wonder if there will be an official event when she’s finished and ready for a re-launch?