LeMelon and Desy at Ayuda Virtual in Second Life

LeMelonRouge - Ayuda Virtual
LeMelonRouge – Ayuda Virtual Galleries

“We’re trying to show new people much of what is possible in Second Life,” Damian Zhaoying informed me. “As part of that, we want to promote art and music. We’ve already held recitals by Latin singers – Merkabah Oh, for example.”

“Art must be present in the new user experience,” Mona (MonaByte) added, “It’s an important strand of Second Life.”

Desy Magic - Ayuda Virtual
Desy Magic – Ayuda Virtual Galleries

We were standing in the foyer of one of two galleries spaces hosted by the Ayuda Virtual Community Gateway, which has been designed specifically for Spanish-speaking people around the world, and which is part of the Lab’s Community Gateway programme.  Both Damian and Mona are prime movers behind the project, and our conversation came about after I dropped into the region to see the art space – which is curated by Mona – after artist Storie’s Helendale (GitterprincessDestiny) pointed me towards it.

Two artists are currently on display within the galleries: LeMelonRouge (LeMelonRouge Onyett) – aka Francesc Palomas – and Desy Magic. They present very contrasting exhibitions which illustrate the breadth of 2D art potential in Second Life, whilst also touching on 3D art in-world as well.

LeMelonRouge - Ayuda Virtual
LeMelonRouge – Ayuda Virtual Galleries

In one, LeMelon displays BCN, LON, NYC, a selection of his physical world paintings of the cities of Barcelona, London and New York.  Presented in bold, striking colours, the paintings show street scenes, parks, public walkways and café views, their rich colouring perfectly capturing the vibrant nature of all three cities. For me, and having spent more time in them than I have Barcelona (which I’ve only visited the once 😦 ), both London and New York are instantly recognisable, and not just because of their respective taxi cabs! I’ve wandered through Camden Market often enough to instantly identify it, even without the sign, while Piccadilly Circus and Brewer Street are unmistakable, as is New York’s Times Square.

The second gallery space is exhibiting Desy’s art, which features both 2D and 3D pieces. The former are primarily avatar studies presented in a range of styles and finishes, from “straightforward” portrait style studies through nudes to abstract works. Again the use of colour is vivid and striking, with the images amply demonstrating what can be achieved when using SL as a medium for artistic creativity. Also on display are a number of 3D works, at least two of which are prim-based, with all of them further demonstrating the versatility of the platform for creating / displaying sculpture-based art.

Desy Magic - Ayuda Virtual
Desy Magic – Ayuda Virtual Galleries

Including art within a Community Gateway is a welcome idea, and I was pleased to hear from Damian and Mona that Ayuda Virtual consider art – visual and performance – as an important aspect of Second life which should be showcased to new users. Which should not be taken to mean the Ayuda gallery spaces and these two exhibitions are intended just for new users coming into SL through the gateway. Both are richly expressive, are open to visit by anyone – and are worth taking the time to see.

I’ll be covering more on Ayuda Virtual at a future date, as there is a lot to see within the region.

SLurl Details

Ayuda Virtual Galleries (Ayuda Virtual, rated: General)

2016 viewer release summaries: week 49

Updates for the week ending Sunday, December 11th

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 December 1, promoted December 5 – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer download page, release notes.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on December 9 (Bento support) – some 42 fixes and improvements (download and release notes)
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • Black Dragon  updated to version 2.5.6 on December 6th – Bento support (change log)
  • Catznip updated to R11 on December 11th – Bento support + (release notes pending – review)


Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: “Godspeed, John Glenn”*

An unusual shot of John Glenn as he examines a celestial training device in preparation for his Mercury-Atlas orbital launch in February 1962. Credit: NASA
An unusual shot of John Glenn as he examines a celestial training device in preparation for his Mercury-Atlas orbital launch in February 1962. Credit: NASA

On December 8th, 2016, John Glenn, the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth, passed away at the age of 95.

A  U.S. Marine Corps pilot who served in both World War II and the Korean War, Glenn was actually the third American to fly into space after Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom, who both flew in 1961. However, for his 1962 flight, Glenn completed three orbits of the Earth aboard his Friendship 7 capsule before splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean, becoming the third man to circle the Earth in space. His death means that all of the Mercury 7 – astronauts  chosen to lead the fledging American space programme in 1959 – have now passed away.

Born in 1921 in Ohio, Glenn was commissioned in the US Marine Corps in 1943. After training, he served in the Pacific theatre of war, flying 59 fighter combat missions during World War II. In 1946, he returned to the far east, serving in Northern China and then Guam through until 1948, when he transferred to Texas as an instructor in advanced flight training. After further training, he served two tours of duty in the Korean War, flying a total of 149 combat missions. In 1954, he graduated from th U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and in 1957 completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight, travelling from California to New York in 3 hours 23 minutes and 8.3 seconds.

Glenn preparing for his orbital flight, February, 1962. Credit: NASA
Glenn preparing for his orbital flight, February, 1962. Credit: NASA

He became involved in the US space programme before he was selected as a part of NASA’s first astronaut intake. As a serving Marine Corps officer, he was part of NASA research on re-entry vehicle shapes and participated in the Mercury capsule design.

even so, his acceptance into the astronaut corps was not assured: he was almost turned down on the grounds of age – he was approaching 40, the upper age limit for candidates, and he lacked the required science-based degree at the time. However, he fought hard for selection, and was accepted into the Space Task Group in 1959, where, in addition to astronaut training, he was involved in helping with both the Mercury and early Apollo cockpit layout and control functions.

He quickly became the unofficial spokesperson for the Mercury 7, having an easy way with the press – but he wasn’t necessarily popular within the group, setting himself somewhat aside from the rest through study and hard work. This became apparent when the choice for the first man to fly into space came down to a vote among the Seven themselves. Glenn came in third behind Alan Shephard and Gus Grissom, both of whom did fly before him despite a lot of behind-the-scenes lobbying by Glenn himself to get assigned to the first sub-orbital flight. have himself put on the first flight.

However, all this passed into history on February 20th, 1962, when Glenn lifted off atop his Mercury-Atlas 6 rocket, flying his Friendship 7 capsule on a 5 hour, 3-orbit flight round the Earth. And I do mean “fly”: during the flight, he was supposed to briefly take control of the Mercury capsule and manually fly it for 30 minutes before handing control back to the flight systems. However a malfunction in the automatic control system during his first orbit mean he had to take over control of the vehicle for the two remaining orbits.

His problems were then further compounded by telemetry suggesting his capsule’s heat shield had come loose, forcing him to manually fly the vehicle and keep the disposal retro-rocket pack (normally jettisoned prior to re-entry into Earth’s denser atmosphere) in place in case the straps from it were the only things keeping his heat shield in position. At the time, the frictional heat caused the rocket pack to burn up, with large chunks of flaming debris from it passing his window, prompting him to think his vehicle was burning up. “Fortunately it was the rocket pack,” he later wryly told a reporter, “Or I wouldn’t be answering these questions!”

His successful splashdown in the Atlantic meant Glenn became the fifth man to fly in space, and the third to orbit the Earth, after Russians Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov. Any upset he may have felt at being passed over for the first Mercury flight was swept aside as Glenn found himself fêted by the press and politicians alike; he later called the flight the “greatest day of his life”.

Glenn, left, became close friends with John F. Kennedy (centre) and Robert Kennedy,entering US politics in 1964 at Robert Kennedy's prompting. In this photograph, Glenn and Kennedy are seen with the second man to orbit the Earth, Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who orbited the Earth 17 times in August 1961. Credit: NASA / Asif A. Siddiqi
Glenn, left, became close friends with John F. Kennedy (centre) and Robert Kennedy,entering US politics in 1964 at Robert Kennedy’s prompting. In this photograph, Glenn and Kennedy are seen with the second man to orbit the Earth, Russian cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who circled the Earth 17 times in August 1961, and who to this day remains the youngest person to fly in space at the time of his flight; he was just 26 years old. Credit: NASA / Asif A. Siddiqi

In 1964, Glenn retired from NASA, still a commissioned officer in the US Marine Corps (from which he retired in 1965 with the rank of colonel). His interest turned to politics, having been solidly befriended by John and Robert the Kennedy – that latter of whom persuaded him to run for office. After two unsuccessful attempts, he was elected to the US Senate representing his home state of Ohio in 1974, and remained so through until 1999. In 1984 he sought nomination as the Democratic Party’s candidate for the US Presidential election that year, losing out to Walter Mondale – who in turn lost to Republican Ronald Reagan in the election.

In 1998, shortly before retiring from the Senate, Glenn returned to orbit aboard the space shuttle Discovery during mission STS-95. He was 77 at the time, making him the oldest person to fly in space – a record he still holds.

The Mercury 7 - NASA's first astronauts. Standing (l-r): Alan B. Shephard Jr. (1st US astronaut to fly in space); Walter B. Schirra Jr; John Glenn (first US astronaut to orbit the Earth). Seated (l-r): Virgil I Grissom (2nd US astronaut in space); M. Scott Carpenter; Donald Slayton and L. Gordon Cooper Jr. Credit: NASA
The Mercury 7 – NASA’s first astronauts. Standing (l-r): Alan B. Shephard Jr. (1st US astronaut to fly in space); Walter B. Schirra Jr; John Glenn (first US astronaut to orbit the Earth). Seated (l-r): Virgil I Grissom (2nd US astronaut in space); M. Scott Carpenter; Donald Slayton and L. Gordon Cooper Jr. Credit: NASA

Continue reading “Space Sunday: “Godspeed, John Glenn”*”

Catznip R11: jelly dolls, Bento, oh my!

catznip logoOn Sunday, December 1tth, Catznip R11 arrived, bringing with it a lot of Lab love and Kitty goodness. With the last update having been back towards the start of 2016, there are quite a few updates and features from Linden Lab, and well as some niceness from the Catznip team themselves.

In particular, this release picks up on the Lab’s Avatar Complexity capability and graphics presets, and also include Bento avatar skeleton support, as well as a raft of Lab changes such as HTTP co-routines, CEF, LibVLC, voice improvements, bug fixes, and more.

This is not intended to be a comprehensive review of Catznip R11; rather, the hope is to provide an overview of the more major updates and changes. Information on all changes can be found in the release notes (when available – link to be added).

Updates Via the Lab

Avatar Complexity, aka Jelly Dolls

There are probably very few in SL who have not heard of Avatar Complexity, be it by that name or its more popular nickname, Jelly Dolls. However, for those who need a quick re-cap and run through, here’s the deal.

As avatars can often be the biggest single rendering load on our computers (and why you can experience a lot of lag in a crowded place) Avatar Complexity is a means by which you can set a “complexity limit” within your viewer. Any avatar (including their attachments) exceeding this limit will be rendered as a solid colour – a “Jelly Doll” – thus putting a lot less load on your computer. It comes with a handful of notable points:

  • Avatar complexity only applies to other avatars in your view; your own avatar will always be rendered fully to you
  • You can also override the setting for individual avatars around you and select how they render in your view
  • You can adjust the limit at any time according to your needs at that time
  • You can use graphic presets (see below) to save different avatar complexity settings for different circumstances (e.g. a very low limit for crowded places, a much higher limit for home use, etc.).

When first installed, a viewer with Avatar Complexity will set a default limit for you based on your current viewer graphics settings. Hence why you might see a lot of solid colour avatars around you when logging-on for the first time with Catznip R11. These default limits are:

  • Low: 35,000
  • Low-Mid: 100,000
  • Mid: 200,000
  • Mid-High: 250,000
  • High: 300,000
  • High-Ultra / Ultra: 350,000

Avatar complexity is controlled via the Avatar Maximum Complexity  slider, which can be found in three locations:

  • In the Preferences > Graphics tab: Avatar Maximum Complexity
  • In the Advanced Graphics Preferences floater (see Revised Graphics Preferences, below, for more on this): Avatar Maximum Complexity
  • The Quick Appearance panel of the new Catznip Quick Preferences floater (see below for more on this): Complexity Limit
The Avatar Complexity slider in Preferences > Graphics
The Avatar Complexity slider in Preferences > Graphics

In all three cases, moving the Maximum Complexity slider to the right increases your threshold, allowing more avatars around you to be fully rendered, while moving it to the left decreases your threshold, increasing the number of avatars liable to be rendered as solid colours. Changes made in one slider will be reflected in the others.

Note that you can set the Maximum Complexity slider to No Limit (all the way to the right). However, this isn’t recommended because it leaves your viewer vulnerable to any graphics crashers some inconsiderates still occasionally try to use. It is far better to set your viewer to a high limit (e.g. 350,000) if you don’t want to be bothered by seeing Jelly Dolls.

To help you understand how complex your own avatar is, every time you change your appearance, a small notice with your new complexity value will appear in the upper right of your viewer window for a few seconds. Your own complexity value is also displayed at the top of the My Appearance floater (Me > Appearance or right-click your avatar and select My Appearance from the menu), and on the Quick Appearance panel of Quick Preferences (“Complexity”), while the Quick Wearing panel will provide a breakdown of the complexity of all your worn attachments (see Catznip Quick Preferences, below for more on Quick Preferences).e

You can find your own maximum complexity via the avatar context menu > Edit Appearance, and a breakdown of your avatar cost via Quick Preferences >Quick Appearance
You can find your own maximum complexity via the avatar context menu > Edit Appearance, and a breakdown of your avatar cost via Quick Preferences > Quick Appearance

You can also display avatar complexity information on yourself and all avatars around you by going to the Advanced menu (CTRL-ALT-D if not visible) > Performance Tools > Avatar Complexity Information (previously Show Render Weight for Avatars). This displays three items of information over the heads of all avatars Including yours):

  • The render complexity for each avatar
  • A ranking of the avatar’s distance from your camera (1=closest)
  • The attachment surface area for an avatar, expressed in square metres.

Other points of note:

  • Setting an individual avatar's rendering in your view
    Setting an individual avatar’s rendering in your view

    The complexity value of your avatar is transmitted to each simulator as you travel around Second Life. In return, you’ll get a brief notice in the upper right of your screen telling you the approximate percentage of avatars around you who are not fully rendering you because of your avatar complexity.

  • If you always wish to fully render certain other avatars, no matter what your Maximum Complexity setting, you can right-click on those individuals and select “Render Fully” from the context menu.
  • Conversely, if there are avatars around you whom you’d rather render as grey imposters, right-click on them and select “Do Not Render” from the context menu.
  • Note that in both cases above, these per-avatar settings do not persist between log-ins. If you re-log, any avatars you have set via these options will revert to being displayed in accordance with your Avatar Complexity setting
  • You can also revert any avatar exceeding your Maximum Complexity setting by right-clicking on them and selecting Render Normally from the context menu. They will become a Jelly Doll once more.

Finally, Avatar Complexity does not replace Avatar Imposters, but rather is intended to work alongside of it, offering another means to reduce avatar rendering load on your computer.

HUD Complexity Warning

If you attach a HUD which makes heavy / excessive use of large textures and which, as a result, can impact your system’s performance, the viewer will display a warning to indicate the problem and which names the HUD. It will naturally fade after a set time has passed.

The new HUD complexity warning
The new HUD complexity warning

Graphics Presets

Graphics Presets allows you to easily save and restore different sets of graphics settings within the viewer, which can then be used according to need. So you might have one with all the performance-hitting options enabled for when you’re taking photos, and another with many of them turned off, as they’re not really needed (e.g. for shopping or clubbing, etc.), for example. You can then swap back and forth between them as needed via a drop-down options list and without any need to relog.

There is no limit to the number of presets you can create, and any you no longer require can be easily deleted.

The Graphic Presets buttons on Preferences > Graphics
The Graphic Presets buttons on Preferences > Graphics

Continue reading “Catznip R11: jelly dolls, Bento, oh my!”