2016 viewer release summaries: week 30

Updates for the week ending Sunday, July 31st

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: (dated May 23), promoted July 5th – formerly the Inventory Message 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):
    • VLC Media Plugin Viewer RC version, released on July 28th – replaces the QuickTime media plugin for the Windows version of the viewer with one based on LibVLC (download and release notes)
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on July 28th – fixes and updates  (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers



  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated to version and the Experimental branch updated to version, both on July 30th (release notes)

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Windlight rebrands: welcome to Kultivate in Second Life

Kultivate-logoIn June 2015, I helped to spread the word about Windlight Magazine a (then) new arts-focused magazine for Second Life.

For its launch, Windlight sought to innovate, with programmes such as the Windlight Fellowship Programme and gallery, and over the last 12 months that desire to innovate has continued, with the title branching into areas beyond such as e-publication, music, literature, fund-raising, sponsorship, hunts, and fashion.

Because of this broadening of focus, on July 31st, 2016, Windlight founder John Brianna (Johannes1977 resident) officially announced the re-branding of the title to Kultivate Magazine, which will encompass all of the brand’s existing titles and activities, including the on-line magazine, the in-world Windlight Art and Windlight Bailywick galleries, The Edge (fashion) and The Edge Gallery, The Rift, and e-publications like the Quill and Pen. Kultivate will continue to support fund-raising activities, such as the work of Team Diabetes of Second Life, and run competitions, hunts, and events such as the 30/31 Event.

The new name came about for a variety of reasons, one of which is John’s own sister, Kandis. “In establishing Windlight, I wanted to honour my late sister,” he said. “Before her passing two years ago, her love of photography student took her to Paris where she experienced growth in so many ways, including taking her abilities to new heights as she perfected her photographic craft.

“Over the last year, we’ve seen Windlight grow in many areas, and we’ve growth in so many ways to cover the broad spectrum of art in Second Life. ‘Kultivate’ was selected as our new name to both reflect our broader aim of cultivating artistic expression, and to further honour Kandis’ memory through the use of the initial K.”

He continued, “Our strong commitment to the arts will never change. We will continue to have our art shows, our galleries, and our many artistic events to bring you the resources you have grown to love and utilize. If anything we will simply expand and bring you additional resources to help you to cultivate your craft.”

For the last 12 months it has been an absolute pleasure to work with John, Eles and the team, both as a contributing writer and as a quiet advisor. During that time I’ve witnessed not only the brand grow, but also those putting in all the hard work on moving it forward grow as a team committed to the coverage of art in its broadest sense within Second Life. I’ve little doubt that this rebranding will allow further expansion and great coverage of virtual arts across the platform.

Space Sunday: rockets, red spots, fireballs and spaceplanes

SpaceX's plan to start down the road to their first human mission to Mars with their 2018 automated mission to the Red Planet -which NASA suggest will cost the company around US $320 million
SpaceX’s plan to start down the road to their first human mission to Mars with their 2018 automated mission to the Red Planet – which NASA suggests will cost the company around US $320 million

NASA has indicated that the SpaceX Red Dragon mission to Mars, which the company plans to carry out in 2018, will likely cost around US $320 million for SpaceX to mount, ad NASA itself will spend around US $32 million over four years in indirect support of the mission.

The Red Dragon mission, first announced in April 2016, will be financed entirely by SpaceX; NASA’s costs will be related to providing technical and logistical support – such as using its Deep Space Tracking Network for communications with the vehicle.

If all goes according to plan, the Red Dragon mission could be launched as early as May 2018. It is the crucial first step along the road towards the company’s ambitions to land a human crew on Mars by the end of the 2020s. If successful, it could potentially be followed by at least three further uncrewed Red Dragon flights in 2020/22, prior to the company commencing work on building-up matériel on Mars in preparation for a crewed mission.

A SpaceX / NASA infographic outlining the 2018 mission
A SpaceX / NASA infographic outlining the 2018 mission. Credit: NASA / SpaceX

Red Dragon is the name of an uncrewed variant of the SpaceX Dragon 2 vehicle, which will enter service in 2018 ferrying astronauts to / from the International Space Station. Intrinsic to the mission is the plan to conduct a propulsive landing on Mars using the craft’s SuperDraco Descent Landing capability. This is vital on two counts.

For SpaceX, a crewed variant of the Red Dragon will likely be the Mars descent / ascent vehicle during a human mission to the planet. So understanding how it operates in the Martian atmosphere is a vital part of preparing to land a crew on the planet. NASA is similarly interested in learning how well retropropulsion works in slowing a vehicle to subsonic speeds in the Martian atmosphere, as it now looks likely they will use the same approach for their human missions to Mars, which may occur in the 2030s. Gaining the data from the SpaceX missions means that NASA doesn’t have to fly its own proof-of-concept missions all the way to Mars.

A Dragon 2 text article test-fires its eight SuperDraco engines during a hover test in 2014

Whether or not Red Dragon will fly in 2018 is still a matter of debate. SpaceX has some significant commitments and obligations on which to focus: commercial Falcon launches, resupply missions to the ISS, the start of crewed flights to the ISS, introducing the Falcon 9 into its flight operations, etc. These all tend to suggest that the development of the Red Dragon capsule, which will require some significant modifications when compared to the Dragon 2, will be subject to the company’s existing commitments taking priority over it.

In the meantime, the company plans to release more information on the overall Mars strategy, up to and including their human mission, in September.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot: Atmospheric Heating for a Giant

As the Juno space vehicle reached the farthest point from Jupiter in its first orbit around the gas giant and begins a 23-day “fall” back towards the planet, scientists on Earth may have unlocked the secret of why Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is so warm.

The Eye of Jupiter: a CGI recreation of the Great Red Spot based on observations from the Voyager spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope, and as used in the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Credit: 21st Century Fox.
The Eye of Jupiter: a CGI recreation of the Great Red Spot based on observations from the Voyager spacecraft and Hubble Space Telescope, and as used in the television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. Credit: 21st Century Fox.

Here on Earth, the atmosphere is heated by the Sun. However, despite being five times further from the Sun than Earth, the upper reaches of the Jovian atmosphere share similar average temperatures to our own when they should in fact be a lot colder. Many theories have been put forward as to why this is the case, but now a team from Boston University, Massachusetts,  believe they’ve found the answer: the heating of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is the combined result of the Great Red Spot (GRS) and Jupiter’s aurorae.

The Great Red Spot is one of the marvels of our solar system. Discovered within years of Galileo’s introduction of telescopic astronomy in the 17th Century, it is a swirling pattern of red-coloured gases thought to be a hurricane-like storm raging down through the centuries in the Jovian atmosphere. Roughly 3 Earth diameters across, its winds take six days to complete one spin around its centre, driven in part by Jupiter’s own high-speed spinning about its own axis, completing one revolution every ten hours.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: rockets, red spots, fireballs and spaceplanes”