2016 viewer release summaries: week 25

Updates for the week ending Sunday, June 26th

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

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V4-style

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated to version 1.26.18.11 and the Experimental branch updated to version 1.26.19.13, both on June 25th (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: minerals, ice, rockets and capsules

CuriosityNASA’s Curiosity rover has resumed its long, slow climb up the slopes of “Mount Sharp”, the 5 km high mound abutting the central impact peak of Gale Crater on Mars.

For the last few months, the rover has been easing its way over what is called the “Murray Formation”, a transitional layer marking the separation points between the materials deposited over the aeons to create the gigantic mound, and the material considered to be common to the crater floor. Named in honour of the late co-founder of The Planetary Society, Bruce Murray, the formation comprises a number of different land forms, which the rover has been gradually examining.

On June 4th, 2016, Curiosity collected its latest set of drilling samples – the 11th and 12th it has gathered since arriving on Mars – on the “Naukluft Plateau”, a further region of sandstone within the Murray Formation, similar to the area dubbed the “Stimson Formation”, where the rover collected samples in 2015.

The Murray formation extends about 200 metres (650ft) up the side of "Mount Sharp". Starting at the "Pahrump Hills" below "Murray Buttes" in late 2014, Curiosity is about one fifth of the way across the region, spending extended periods examined various features within the formation. Credit: NASA JPL
The Murray formation extends about 200 metres (650ft) up the side of “Mount Sharp”. Starting at the “Pahrump Hills” below “Murray Buttes” in late 2014, Curiosity is about one fifth of the way across the region, spending extended periods examined various features within the formation. Credit: NASA JPL

The aim is to carry out comparative geology between the two sites to determine whether or not their formation is related. The “Stimson Formation” sandstone strongly suggested it has been laid down by wind after the core slopes of “Mount Sharp” had been laid down by sedimentary processes the result of Gale Crater once being home to s huge lake, but which had then been subjected to fracturing by the passage of water. These bands of fractured sandstone have become more prevalent as the rover has continued up through the “Murray Formation”, so it is hoped that by obtaining samples from “Naukluft Plateau”, the science team will gain further understanding of precisely what part water played in the evolution of the slopes of “Mount Sharp” after the lake waters had receded.

The HiRise imaging system on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity on the Naukluft Plateau in May 2016 (credit: NASA/JPL / University of Arizona)
The HiRise imaging system on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity on the Naukluft Plateau in May 2016 Credit: NASA/JPL / University of Arizona

Since completing the drilling operations, Curiosity has turned south, and is now climbing the mound “head on”, rather than gradually zig-zagging its way upwards.

The MSL rover has also provided geologists with another surprise. In mid-2015, the rover collected samples from a rock dubbed “Buckskin”. Reviewing the analysis of the minerals in the samples, as discovered by Curiosity’s on-board laboratory suite, scientists have found significant amounts of a silica mineral called tridymite.

“On Earth, tridymite is formed at high temperatures in an explosive process called silicic volcanism. Mount St. Helens, the active volcano in Washington State, and the Satsuma-Iwojima volcano in Japan are examples of such volcanoes,” said Richard Morris, a NASA planetary scientist at Johnson Space Centre. “The tridymite in the Buckskin sample is thought to have been incorporated into “Lake Gale”  mudstone as sediment from erosion of silicic volcanic rocks.”

The find is significant because although volcanism did once take place on Mars, it has never been thought of as being silicic volcanism, which is far more violent that the kind of volcanism associated with the formation of the great shield volcanoes of the Tharsis Bulge and other regions of Mars. So this discovery means geologists may have to re-think the volcanic period of Mars’ early history.

China Launches Long March 7

Saturday, June 25th saw the inaugural launch of China’s Long March 7 booster, a vehicle I wrote about back in April 2016. The launch was also the first from China’s fourth and newest space launch facility, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Centre, located on Hainan Island, the country’s southernmost point.

The Long March 7 is a core component to China’s evolving space ambitions. Classified as a medium lift vehicle, it can carry around 13.5 tonnes to low Earth orbit (LEO), it will operate alongside China’s upcoming heavy lift launcher, the Long March 5. This craft will be capable of lifting around the same payload mass directly to geosynchronous orbit, and around 25 tonnes to LEO. Both vehicles will play a lead role in China’s plans to expand her explorations of the Moon, establish a permanent space station in Earth orbit by 2022, and reach Mars with automated missions.

China's Long March 5 (l) and Long March 7 (r) next generation launch vehicles
China’s Long March 7 (right) launched on it inaugural flight on Saturday, June 25th. The bigger Long March 5 (left) is due to launch later in 2016. Credit: China state media

The inaugural launch of the Long March 7 took place at noon GMT on Saturday, June 25th (20:00 local time). It carried a Yuanzheng 1A upper stage and a scale model of China’s next generation crewed orbital vehicle into an orbit of 200 km (120 mi) by 394 km (244 mi) as confirmed by US tracking networks.

Yuanzheng is an automated “space tug” China has used numerous times to deliver payloads to their orbits, and is capable of re-using its engine multiple times. It is most often used to boost China’s communications satellites into higher orbits.

The sub-scale capsule was used to carry out an atmospheric re-entry test to gather data which will be use to further refine and improve the re-entry vehicle which will form a part of China’s replacement for its ageing, Soyuz-inspired Shenzhou crew vehicle. This unit returned to Earth, landing in a desert in Inner Mongolia on Sunday, June 26th, after orbiting the planet 13 times. Also aboard the vehicle was a “cubesat” mission to test a navigation system, and a prototype refuelling system.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: minerals, ice, rockets and capsules”

VWBPE: Virtual Science Fair 2017 call for submissions

via VWBPE
via VWBPE

As a part of the run-up to its 10th anniversary, Virtual World Best Practices in Education has announced the VWBPE Virtual Science Fair, and is inviting educators, schools, colleges and universities to participate.

The event will form a new element in the annual VWBPE annual conference, which in 2017 will take place between Tuesday, March 28th through Saturday, April 1st inclusive. It was  announced via a VWBPE blog post on June 21st, which also gives a definition of “science” for the purposes of the fair:

In this instance, the term “science” encompasses a body of knowledge, whose systems, concepts, or major paradigms can then be demonstrated, experimented, and/or designed through the lens of any number of social, behavioural, and natural sciences as disciplines.

Those wishing to participate are invited to submit proposals which may include, but are not limited, to:

  • Science and Mathematics (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geology, Mathematics)
  • Social Sciences (Education, History, Anthropology, Economics)
  • Behavioural Sciences (Psychology, Sociology)
  • Fine Arts (Languages, Art, Music, Theatre)

Submissions can be made in one of three categories:

  • Submitting as a group for an entire class (Grades 9-12) or
  • Submitting as a group for an entire class (University/Continuing Education), or
  • Submitting as an individual teacher.

Each option his is own Requirements for Proposal Submissions, which applicants are asked to review, and each of which includes a link to the relevant proposal submissions form. The deadline for the receipt of all submissions is Friday, July 15th, 2016.

SL13B: Pete and Xiola – hailing frequencies open!

Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia
Kess, Pete, Xiola and Saffia

Meet the Lindens is a series of conversations / Q&A session with staff from Linden Lab, held as a part of the SL Birthday celebrations in-world. These present opportunities for Second Life users to get to know something about the staff at the Lab: who they are, what they do, what drew them to Second Life and the company, what they do, what they find interesting / inspirational about the platform, and so on.

Thursday, June 23rd saw Xiola and Pete Linden sit down with Kess Crystal and Saffia Widdershins, and this article hopefully presents some “selected highlights” of the chat, complete with audio extracts from the event. The video of the discussion is embedded at the end of this article.

About Xiola and Pete

Xiola Linden is the Lead Community Manager at Linden Lab. she originally came to Second Life in 2006, and joined the Lab in 2011. Her role is broad-ranging, including elements of customer supporter,  through blogging and social media output for the Lab, to organising events such as the in-world get-togethers and the likes of the SL13B music fest. She leads a team “100% focused” on supporting and serving the communities of Second Life, and who may be travelling in-world as Linden or equally, using her alt for that ground-level “resident eye” look at things.

During her time in Second Life, Xiola has enjoyed many roles: DJ, designer, shopaholic, music event lover – and outside of her official account still finds time for many of these activities.

Pete Linden is the Lab’s Senior Director of Global Communications, a role which sees him leading the company’s PR work and managing the Marketing team, covering all of the Lab’s activities and products – Second Life, Blocksworld and Project Sansar.

He joined Linden Lab in 2009 from a PR firm which representing the company, and became a PR specialist and then PR Manager, before moving to manage the PR and communications team and thence to his current role, which includes overall management of all of the Lab’s communications activities – PR, marketing, communications and community management.

What were your first impressions on joining the Lab? Was it what you were expecting?   

Pete: For me it was, but part of that was because I’d had the good fortune of working with a number of people quite closely at Linden Lab for about three years before I made the move. I was working pretty closely with Catherine Linden Melissa Linden and some others at that time. So, I had a pretty good sense of what the company was like, how things worked here.

And obviously, that’s  changed over the past number of years; Linden, like Second Life has been through quite an evolution. But it’s still the most exciting and most fun job that I’ve ever had. It’s a great place to be.

Xiola: It’s interesting because I had actually been watching the careers page at Linden Lab for quite a while, waiting for the right opportunity to arise. The timing ended up being perfect and it worked-out really well.

One of Xiola's many looks
One of Xiola’s many looks

So that aside, I think – it’s a tough question, because like Pete mentioned, the people here are some of like the coolest, smartest people you’ll ever meet. So every day there’s something surprising. It’s kind of how I feel about the Second Life community, which sort-of makes sense, that the people working here, working on Second Life, have similarities with our community as well, because they are the community as well.

But there’s always some things that surprises me about people, and it’s almost, I would say, 99.9% of the time delightful. And so in that regard, I really didn’t know what to expect coming here, and I enjoyed that, actually. I was excited about something new and different, even though I had been a resident and understood the product from a resident’s perspective. My background had been more in straight Internet, web and e-commerce sites, and that sort of thing.

So I came here, and it was almost like, “These are my people! This is my tribe!” And it’s continued to be that way over the years, it’s very cool. But the people I have as friends before and after Linden Lab have that similarity. I really appreciate when people surprise me; and I definitely get that every day here.

I think Oz was talking about not going a week without the residents surprising him with something; that really is a common theme, I think, internally as well as externally. It’s really cool. You definitely have to be on your toes, but it’s fun!

Do you still use your other avatar?

Xiola: Every day, actually. Well, lately because of all the Second Life 13th Birthday coordination stuff, I’ve definitely been spending more time on Xiola, even “after hours”, even though no such thing really exists. So, my alt has been a little bit neglected. But I still actually log her in every day, if only to check notices and note cards, as my alt is a creator and I want to make sure I stay on top of that stuff as well. I would hate to go a few days and come back to note cards from customers or something like that, wondering, “what the heck?”

So I spend time on my alt every day. and between her and Xiola, spend a lot of Lindens updating our avatars all the time!

I guess from a marketing and community point of view though, having the alt allows you to do a certain amount of mystery shopping and see how people are engaged in the community. Do you get a lot of feedback on the alt?

Xiola: I do. So, I mean obviously it not like I go around interviewing people or asking when I’m on my alt, that would be a little obvious. But I hang out in places, and people will be having conversations about things, and you definitely get a different perspective when folks don’t know there’s a Linden present. And I try to treat it that way; I mean when I’m doing alt things, I respect the alt code, I’m a resident right now, not a Linden! So there’s definitely some interesting things.

And even some of the outside Second Life stuff, some of the communities that exist on Plurk and Facebook; they definitely have a different perspective. But funnily enough, it’s sort-of like they say, two different parties can have the same goal, but they’re just using different words for it; at the end of the day, I think at the end of the day, a lot of it aligns. And maybe it’s just coming from a different perspective,  the feedback I hear externally and the feedback I hear in here, I think a lot of it actually lines up really well. So that’s kind of kismet and kind of cool.

Continue reading “SL13B: Pete and Xiola – hailing frequencies open!”

Of poems, shorts, odysseys and dragons

It’s time to kick-off a week of 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, June 26th 13:30: Tea Time with The Jungle Book

Bryn Taleweaver presents selections from Rudyard Kipling’s great adventure.

Monday June 27th, 19:00: The Mouse of Amherst: A Tale of Young Readers

Faerie Maven-Pralou reads Elizabeth Spires’ inspired young readers introduction to the works of Emily Dickenson, regarded as one of America’s most prolific and significant poets of the 19th Century, albeit recognition gained posthumously, as she was also very private in her writings. In this book, Elizabeth Spires introduces young readers to Dickenson’s work in an imaginative way.

Mouse of AmherstWhen a mouse finds its a place to live behind the wainscoting of Emily Dickinson’s bedroom, Ms. Dickenson’s constant writing at her desk becomes a source of fascination. Venturing forth when it is safe, the mouse – Emmaline – make her way to the writing desk and discovers Emily’s poetry.

Inspired by what she reads, Emmaline writes a poem of her own, leaving it on Emily’s desk. On finding it, Emily replies with poetry, and thus a poetic correspondence between the two is established.

Featuring eight of Dickenson’s actual poems, together with seven “replies” from Emmaline, Elizabeth Spires gently draws young readers through a charming story into the power of poetry to express our deepest feelings, and perhaps start them writing poems of their own.

Tuesday June 28th, 19:00: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

TriggerCorwyn Allen reads Neil Gaiman’s collection of short fiction intended to entertain and provoke.  Within it, he looks behind the masks we wear and at the people we really are, using a rich mixture of genres and experiences on which to found his stories: horror, science fiction, fantasy, fable, poetry – even his own experiences using Twitter.

Within these tales, characters new and established are revealed. Black Dog, an original story for this volume returns to the world of America Gods, whilst elsewhere can be found stories featuring Sherlock Holmes and a story written for the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.

Neil Gaiman is a literary artist whose unique approach to fiction drives deeply into our imaginations, engaging and stirring us in mind, heart and soul.

Wednesday June 29th 19:00: Ollie’s Odyssey

OllieCaledonia Skytower reads William Joyce’s children’s tale about Oswald (or Ollie, or Oz), a stuffed rabbit and favourite of young Billy. Oz goes everywhere with Billy, until one day, he is accidentally left under a table during a wedding, and is kidnapped by the wicked Zozo.

An unwanted amusement park prize, Zozo hates all toys that are favourites; so much so that he doesn’t just want them lost – he wants them forgotten by everyone – and he has gathered other embittered toys to his cause.

Now Oz must work to not only rescue himself and get back to Billy, he must ensure all the other “lost” toys reach safety.

Thursday, June 30th

19:00: The Dragon of Boeotia (Monsters of Mythology)

Shandon Loring reads Bernard Evslin’s story focused Cadmus, the founder and first king of Thebes, and the first Greek hero. When a fierce dragon plagues a region of Greece, it comes to the attention of young prince Cadmus, who decides to end its tyranny.

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 May / June is Habitat for Humanity, with a vision of a world where everyone has a decent place to live – a safe and clean place to call home.

Additional Links

Project Bento User Group update 16 with audio

Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton
Project Bento – extending the SL avatar skeleton

Updated June 30th – please refer to note following a quoted comment from Matrice.

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Thursday, June 23rd at 13:00 SLT at the the Hippotropolis Campfire Circle . For details on the meeting agenda, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.

Note that this update is not intended to offer a full transcript of the meeting, nor does it present the discussion points in chronological order. Rather, it represents the core points of discussion, grouped together by subject matter were relevant / possible, whilst maintaining the overall context of the meeting.

Apologies for the quality of Vir’s voice in the recording, this is my fault. I had to go afk just after starting the audio recording, and I hadn’t adjusted my local pick-up of Vir’s voice before doing so. As as consequence, Vir sounds a little distorted.

Facial Bones, Rotation / Translation / Slider Issues and Relative Translations

There has been further forum thread discussions on issues with the position of some of the new facial bones when they are used in combination with the head sliders. The core of this discussion commences here, and Mal Vanbeeck has offered a feature request for “shape slider friendly” facial bone positions. Some of this is also tied to issues relating to the range of movement of bones with the sliders or under animation.

Matrice Laville has been looking into some of the issues, and has come up with a proposal for making some amendments to the Bento skeleton to try to address some of the problems. However, any changes which are implemented will change the structure of the skeleton and how the sliders work, and will likely impact some initial content using the affected parts of the skeleton.

Because of this, it is likely the proposed amendments will be built into a test version of the Bento viewer, rather than the current project viewer, together with some test models to allow independent testing of the updates so it can be determined if they address the issues sufficiently and do not have unanticipated additional impact, so that a decision can be made on whether or not to fully implement them into the project viewer.

Specific changes in this test viewer, when available, are focused on issues raised around eyes and jaws, and so should comprise:

  • Changing the eyelids to have the same centre position as the eyebrow
  • Changes to the jaw and tongue positions
  • Changing the lower teeth so that they are parented to the lower jaw bone
  • Associated slider changes.

Adding to this in text, Matrice said:

All jaw related sliders do no longer translate the jaw except the jaw angle slider; the jaw bone has its default position now right below the faceRoot. The jaw angle slider still moves like crazy but I believe it is not an issue any longer. Actually, I propose to remove the [.LAD definitions for the Bento bones from the] jaw angle slider, because it only is needed for the jaw angle. I bet nobody will miss that slider.*

[NB June 30th: This comment has been updated, as some confusion followed the publication of this report, causing Matrice some embarrassment.  The fault is mine, and is the result of copying a text comment verbatim, rather than seeming clarification from Matrice. My apologies to him and any anyone else for the confusion caused.]

As Vir acknowledged, this has been a major amount of work which should hopefully address many of the issues encountered with the complexity of the new face bones and attempting to hook them into a limited set of available sliders.

Vir also noted that when available, Bento avatars using this revised skeleton in the test viewer may look odd when seen on the Bento project viewer, and vice-versa, and that the work has been carried out with the aim of limiting any de-stabilising influences the changes may have if and when they are integrated into Bento as a whole, while at the same time avoiding being so conservative that Bento ends up going live still with issues like these which might impact its adoption and use.

A notification will be placed in the forum thread when the viewer is ready.

Project Viewer Status

There are some bug fixes that will be upcoming in the next Bento project update, which could be appearing sometime in week #26 (week commencing Monday, June 27th).

The Lab is working to get the viewer to Release Candidate status, with the work focused on identifying and prioritising the bugs which really need to be fixed before moving forward. There will also be the work to integrate the modifications to bone positions and sliders noted above, together with associated evaluation, plus the upcoming testing. However, the hope is the viewer will move to RC status in the not-too-distant future.

Medhue Simoni (l) and Coyot Linden (r) wearing the upright coyote avatar Medhue made for Coyot, attending the June 16th Bento meeting
Medhue Simoni (l) and Coyot Linden (r) wearing the upright coyote avatar Medhue made for Coyot, attending the June 16th Bento meeting

Tool Chain Issues

Some of the recent bugs Vir has been investigating with regards to specific content appear to be down to potential issues within the tools used to create the content introducing irregularities in the models and animations, rather than anything specific to how Bento itself is handling the uploaded models.

Obviously, in such circumstances, there is only so far the Lab can go in investigating these types of issues, as they have no knowledge of exactly how the models /animations were defined within the creator’s tools of choice, etc., and so content creators who have encountered these specific issues have been asked to take them back to the tools creators to make sure things are behaving correctly at that end of the process.

Continue reading “Project Bento User Group update 16 with audio”