2015 viewer release summaries: week 45

Updates for the week ending Sunday, November 8th

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.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version: 3.8.6.305981, October 26 – no change 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):
    • Project Azumarill (HTTP updates) RC viewer updated to version 3.8.7.306796 on November 2 – provides improved performance and stability. Impacts include: asset uploads, AISv3 inventory manipulation, VMM, Experience management, LSL compilation, Simhost event polling, etc.  (download and release notes).
  • Project viewers:
    • Vivox Project viewer,version 3.8.7.307189, released on November 6 – correcting a number of Voice quality and connection issues on both Windows and the Mac (download and release notes).

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V3-style

V1-style

  • Cool VL Viewer updated as follows: Stable version to 1.26.14.12 and Experimental to 1.26.15.11, both on November 7th – release notes.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

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Charles Dickens to return to Second Life

TDP-15-posterSeanchai Library has announced the return of one of their popular seasonal presentations: The Dickens Project.

First presented in 2012 to mark the 200th anniversary of author Charles Dickens’ birth, The Dickens Project is an interactive, immersive event focus on what is probably his most well-known story, A Christmas Carol.

The 9-day festival will commence on Saturday, December 12th and will present over 15 hours of reading from various adaptations of the story, set within a special Victorian environment. Presentations will take place at different times of the day throughout the festival in order to make reading the readings accessible to residents from around the world. Those attending will be invited to tour the set, where they will encounter interactive information on the times and work of Charles Dickens, and a seasonal ball will round-out proceedings at the end of the festival.

There will be no charge for those attending readings, but donations will be accepted on behalf of the Community Virtual Library, a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, connecting residents with information resources, reference services, and serving as a networking tool for information resource professionals.

Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of the virtual / live performance by Bear Silvershade
Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring (centre) and Kayden Oconnell in an evocative shot of the virtual / live performance by Bear Silvershade

A Christmas Carol has been a seasonal favourite with people from all around the globe since its first publication. It has been serialised, dramatised, and made into numerous films over the decades, and has seen a number of television and radio serialisations. It’s also a story which succeeded purely as a result of Dickens’ own determination: he self published the book.

For an author if his stature at that time, such an act was unheard-of. Yet Dickens did just that. He hired an illustrator and supervised the work, he oversaw the book’s design and consulted on the advertising.  His publishers Chapman and Hall, who had demurred on the project, served only as his printers and received a fixed fee from every book sold.

The Dickens Project also has its own uniqueness. In 2013, following the success of the 2012 festival and preceding that of 2013,  there was a special performance of a Christmas Carol which crossed the digital and physical world divide. On December 1st 2013,  Caledonia Skytower, in her alter ego of writer Judith Cullen, performed before a live audience at the Knights of Pythia Temple in Tacoma, Washington, USA, while on a large screen beside her, fellow presenters Kayden Oconnell and Shandon Loring appeared from within Second Life.

As noted above, this year’s production will take place in a period setting, with members of the Seanchai Library staff also dressed in period costume. In keeping with this, audience members will be invited (but not obliged) to also attend in dress suitable for the wintry setting of the story, and suitable for the Victorian era, to add to the general ambience.

The final schedule for The Dickens Project 2015 has yet to be set, but you can be sure that when it has been, I’ll be providing it through these pages together with SLurls to the event, and may also have some behind-the-scenes photos to hopefully whet appetites!

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Space Sunday: Europe on Mars and a Brit in space

When discussing Mars exploration, it is easy to forget that NASA, the US space agency is far from alone. Both Europe and India are currently operating vehicles in orbit around Mars, while in 2004, the European Space Agency became only the third agency in the world to attempt a landing on Mars, when the British built Beagle 2  mission separated from its Mars Express parent craft but unfortunately failed to safely arrive on the surface of Mars.

Mars Express has gone on to be one of the most successful Mars orbital mission on record, carrying out a range of duties similar to those of NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO),  which it preceded to Mars by some two years. Now approaching the end of its 12th year in operation around the planet, Mars Express continues to return a wealth of data to Earth and also functions as a back-up communications relay for the two NASA rovers currently operating on the surface of the Red Planet.

An artist's impression of Beagle 2 on Mars (image: European Space Agency)
An artist’s impression of Beagle 2 on Mars (image: European Space Agency)

Quite what happened to Beagle 2 remained unknown until early in 2015. It had been thought the tiny lander, just 1 metre (39 inches) in diameter but packing a huge amount of science capabilities into it, had been lost as a result of burning up in Mars’ tenuous atmosphere or as a result of its parachute landing system or air bags failing. However, as I reported in January 2015,  images captured by NASA’s MRO revealed Beagle 2 had landed quite safely, but one of its solar panels failed to deploy, preventing the craft from communicating with Mars Express and Earth.

In 2018, ESA, working in conjunction with the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, plan to overcome Beagle 2’s failure to gather science from the surface of Mars with a rover vehicle called ExoMars Rover, part of an ambitious 2-phase mission itself entitled “ExoMars”, and which commences in 2016.

ESA's ExoMars TGO: due for launch in March 2016, part of a 2-phase mission to search for direct evidence of life, past or present, on Mars
ESA’s ExoMars TGO: due for launch in March 2016, part of a 2-phase mission to search for direct evidence of life, past or present, on Mars. In this artist’s impression, the capsule-like Schiaparelli has already been detached from the circular base of the vehicle (image: European Space Agency)

The first part of the mission will commence in March 216 with the launch of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), a telecommunications relay orbiter and atmospheric gas analyser mission. This will arrive in orbit around Mars in December 2016 and will proceed to map the sources of methane on Mars, as well as analyse and study other trace gases. Methane is of particular interest to scientists its likely origin is either present-day microbial life existing somewhere under the surface of the planet, or the result of geological activity. Confirmation that either is the cause would be of significant scientific benefit.

Whilst in operation in Mars obit, TGO will deploy Schiaparelli, an Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDLM). This is intended to test some of the key technologies needed to safety see a rover-carrying lander onto the surface of Mars, such as the ability to control touchdown orientation and velocity. Most uniquely, the landing will take place during the Martian dust storm season, presenting scientist with the opportunity to characterise a dust-loaded atmosphere during entry and descent, and to conduct surface measurements associated with a dust-rich environment.

The Advanced Prototype EoMars Rover undergoing remote deployment testing in 2015
The Advanced Prototype ExoMars Rover undergoing remote deployment testing in 2015 (image: European Space Agency)

The 2018 ExoMars Rover mission, although yet to be finalised, is primarily designed to find evidence of microbial life, past or present, under the Martian surface. It is provisionally scheduled for launch in May 2018, although this may be delayed until August 2020, around the time NASA Mars 2020 rover mission is due to fly.

The ExoMars vehicle is somewhat larger than NASA’s solar-powered Opportunity rover, but at some 207 kg (456 lb), is about one-third the mass of Curiosity and the Mars 2020 rover.  A unique aspect to ExoMars Rover is that it will carry a drilling system aboard which, for the first time, will allow samples to be obtained from almost 2 metres (6.5 ft) below the surface of Mars. The rover is expected to operate for around 6-7 months, but could remain operational for much longer. During that time, it should cover a distance of around 4 km (2.5 mi), after landing in early 2019.

The four proposed landing sites for ExoMars Rover. The colours on the map represent the relative elevations of surface features on Mars. White / Red refer to the highest elevation, such as the Tharsis Bulge and the great volcanoes to the north-west, and blue the low-lying regions, such as the far northern latitudes and the great impact basin of Hellas in the south-east, which likely caused the Tharsis Bulge upwelling
The four proposed landing sites for ExoMars Rover. The colours on the map represent the relative elevations of surface features on Mars. White / Red refer to the highest elevation, such as the Tharsis Bulge and the great volcanoes to the north-west, and blue the low-lying regions, such as the far northern latitudes and the great impact basin of Hellas in the south-east, which likely caused the Tharsis Bulge upwelling

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Europe on Mars and a Brit in space”