Project Bento: Drax Files filming party reminder

Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones (e.g. 30 for the face, 30 for the hands (both of which can be seen inaction in the image above of an avatar by Matrice Laville), plus bones for wings, tails, additional limbs and ears / antennae
Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones for better avatar animation (human and non-human), including facial expression and jointed fingers (image: Matrice Laville)

Project Bento is the Lab-led project, working in collaboration with Second Life content creators, to enhance the SL avatar skeleton with over 90 new bones. The intention is to enable creators to accommodate features like subtle facial expressions, articulating fingers, smoothly flapping wings, waving tails, and much more that was previously impossible or required complex workarounds.

During the project, Draxtor Despres and I were invited along to the (initially closed) project development meetings, starting in June 2015, to witness the collaborative effort between the Lab and content creators, and document things once the project entered public knowledge.

Now, as a part of this work, Drax and the Lab are working on a special edition of The Drax Files World Makers series, which takes a look behind-the-scenes from the project, featuring interviews with Lab staff and moles engaged in the project, together with content creators who helping with the development and improvement of the project.

Etheria Parrott demonstrates how the new Bento bones can animate the head of a bunny avatar

To help with video, and as Linden Lab recently blogged, there were be two special filming sessions taking place on Aditi, the beta grid, to which those actively working on content utilising the Bento skeleton extensions are invited.

The two sessions, with dates and times, are described thus in the official blog post:

On January 19th at NOON SLT, there will be an open casting call for anyone who has built something with Bento to come show off their work. Selected creators may be filmed and/or interviewed to be featured in an upcoming episode of the Drax Files. You will need to login to Aditi in order to access the location (secondlife://Aditi/secondlife/Bento%20Island/128/128/23).

In addition to the open casting call, creators are encouraged to contact Draxtor Despres in-world with information about what they’re making. Video, screen-shots, descriptions – the more information the better, and the sooner you can share that – the better as well. Chosen creations and their creators will be contacted with information for a private filming on  January 20th, 2016, with Draxtor and Torley Linden.

Aki Shichiroji demonstrates her centaur avatar, which uses the new wing bones to animate the rear legs

Nor is the invitation limited to those directly involved in the  project: machinima makers are also encouraged to log-in to Aditi and enjoy an opportunity to film some of the creations which are currently being developed as a result of Project Bento.

Note that access to Bento Island may not occur prior to the start of the filming event (the official blog post quotes the island will be open from “January 10th”; however, given the post wasn’t published until January 14th and I’ve been unable to access the region when logged into Aditi, I believe this is a typo, and should read “January 19th”).  Also, if you haven’t logged-in to Aditi before (or in a good while), you are advised to do so well beforehand. Instructions on how to this, for those who need them, can be found on the SL wiki page.

In the meantime, Drax had produced a little teaser to help whet appetites, and I’ll see you over on Aditi on the 19th, and you can keep abreast of Project Bento through the project updates in these pages, which will also include more on the background to the project.

2016 viewer release summaries: week 2

Updates for the week ending Sunday, January 17th

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:, January 15 – formerly the Maintenance 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):
    • HTTP updates and Vivox RC viewer version released on January 14 – combines the Project Azumarill RC and Vivox Voice RC updates into a single viewer  (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • UKanDo updated to version on January 16th – core updates: merge with the SL 4.0.1 Maintenance release viewer (release notes)


  • Cool VL Viewer updated as follows: Stable version to and Experimental branch to, both on January 16th, 2016 (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: Dream Chasers Falcons, and spacewalks

The Dream chaser alongside NASA's space shuttle Atlantis
The Dream Chaser flight test article alongside NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis in 2010 (image: NASA / SNC)

NASA has announced a renewal to the current US private sector contracts to provide uncrewed resupply missions to the International Space Station (ISS) – and it came with something of a surprise.

SpaceX and Orbital ATK are the two US companies currently flying cargo resupply missions to the ISS, operating alongside Russian Progress vehicles and the Japanese H-II “Kounotori” Transfer Vehicle. Europe, which previously operated the largest cargo vehicle, the Automated Transfer Vehicle, ended ISS resupply missions in February 2015, and is now focused on supplying NASA with the Orion Service Module.

Both SpaceX, who can both launch and return up to 3.3 tonnes of cargo and trash to / from the space station using their Dragon cargo vehicle, and Orbital ATK,who can transport up to 3.5 tonnes of cargo / trash aboard their Cygnus vehicle (which burns-up on re-entering Earth’s atmosphere) have their resupply contracts renewed from 2019 through 2024, matching the extended lifetime of ISS operations. While this had been expected, the inclusion of a third vehicle, the Dream Chaser vehicle being developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation SNC surprised some.

Dream Chaser was unique among the commercial crew transportation proposals as it was based on a "lifting body" design , allowing to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere and glide to a landing on a conventional runway - aspects which still make it a very flexible vehicle
Dream Chaser was unique among the commercial crew transportation proposals as it was based on a “lifting body” design rather than a capsule system. Although launched atop a conventional rocket, the design allows it to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and glide to a landing on a conventional runway, making it an exceptionally versatile craft (image: SNC)

Dream Chaser was originally designed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programme aimed at having private sector companies provide the means of carrying crews back and forth between the space station and US soil. One of four proposals put to NASA under the programme, it was ruled out of the final selection in September 2014, with SpaceX and Boeing being chosen by NASA despite the fact that on paper, Dream Chaser offered potentially a better deal than Boeing’s CT-100 capsule.

While SNC lodged a complaint with the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a result of the decision, citing interference in the selection process by William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s top human exploration official, the GAO upheld the selection of SpaceX and Boeing for the crewed transport vehicles. However, NASA continued to work with SNC on various ideas for Dream Chaser, alongside of SNC looking at other options for the vehicle’s crew carrying capabilities to be put to use.

An artist's concept of the Dream Chaser Cargo docked with the ISS during a resupply flight
An artist’s concept of the Dream Chaser Cargo docked with the ISS during a resupply flight (image: SNC)

The new resupply contract will see SNC provide NASA with the uncrewed “Dream Chaser Cargo” variant of the vehicle, capable of flying up to 5 tonnes of cargo to / from orbit, As with the original crewed variant, the Dream Chaser Cargo will launch atop a rocket, but return to earth to make a conventional runway landing.

How many missions each of the three resupply vehicle types will fly is unknown; vehicles will be selected on the basis of flight / payload requirements and cost. The total cost of the contract, spilt between the three companies, is expected to be US $14 billion over the 5 years.

The Ice Volcanoes of Pluto

Scientists with NASA’s New Horizons mission have assembled the highest-resolution colour view of one of two potential cryovolcanoes spotted on the surface of Pluto, as the spacecraft hurtled by the little world in July 2015.

Informally called “Wright Mons”, the feature is about 150-160 kilometres (90-100 miles) across at its base, and about 4 km (2.5 miles) high. If it is in fact a volcano, it will be the largest such feature discovered in the outer solar system.

The feature has members of the New Horizons science team intrigued on two counts. The first is that there is a very sparse distribution of red material on its flanks. The second is that it apparently only has a single impact crater. This latter point suggests “Wright Mons” is relatively new surface feature on Pluto, while the former might suggest it is active, with ice ejected by eruptions covering the red material over time.

"Wright Mons" (the large dimple in the image on the right) and as seen in context with the rest of Pluto, may be one of two enormous cryovolcanoes on the tiny world (image: NASA/JPL / JHU/APL / SwRI)
“Wright Mons” (the large dimple in the image on the right) and as seen in context with the rest of Pluto, may be one of two enormous cryovolcanoes on the tiny world (image: NASA/JPL / JHU/APL / SwRI)

The images of “Wright Mons” were returned to Earth from New Horizons in November 2015. Since then, data from the Ralph instrument suite aboard the spacecraft has been used to add the colour details to the images, which have been composed into a new mosaic of the feature. If it and “Piccard Mons” are cryovolancoes, then they present further evidence that Pluto was (and might still be) geologically active.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Dream Chasers Falcons, and spacewalks”