Sign-up for the Castle, Home and Garden Contest in Second Life

Poster courtesy of
Poster courtesy of

The fourth annual Castle, Home and Garden contest will take place in Second Life from June 3rd through June 24th inclusive, in aid of Relay for Life of Second Life. Registrations are open for both contestants and merchants – but spaces are filling up!

Using the building tools provided within Second Life, RFL Teams and individuals are invited to build a one-of-a-kind original build castle or home, with or without an associated garden, or design a garden setting, in one of 14 themed regions. The completed builds are then opened to the public to explore, and are voted upon by a both a panel of judges and the public at large.

Winning entries as decided by the judging panel can with up to L$200,000 (castle) or $100,000 (Home or Garden design), and L$100,000 for the popular vote competition, with all prizes being paid into the winning RFL Team’s RFL kiosk (and thus to RFL of SL) or to a general RFL kiosk in the case of individual entries. In addition, all of the houses and castles included in the event are then offered up for auction to the highest bidder, with all proceeds from the auction also going to RFL of SL.

Note that is order to be auctioned, all home / castle builds must be transferable. Also note that entrants will be required to run at least one event at their build when the regions are open to the public.

The 14 themed regions for the contest are:  Atlantis, the Sunken City; Beauty and the Beast; Bedrock (Flintstones-style theme);  Bikini Bottom (Spongebob Squarepants inspired); Christmas Town; Game of Thrones: King’s Landing; Game of Thrones: Winterfell; Halloween Town; Harry Potter: Hogsmead; Lord of the Rings: Rivendell; Labyrinth; Springfield (Simpsons inspired); Star Wars: The Death Star; 1984.

Rviendell from The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings is one of the 14 themed regions in the Castle, Home and Garden Contest. Image: WingNutz Films / New line Cinema.
Rviendell from The Hobbit / The Lord of the Rings is one of the 14 themed regions in the Castle, Home and Garden Contest. Image: WingNutz Films / New Line Cinema.

Those wishing to sign up should refer to the Castle Home and Garden Contestants Sign-up Form for all requirements and rules of entry.

In addition, there is a region – It’s A Small World – dedicated to merchants and vendors, as well as merchant locations throughout the 14 theme regions. Shops are available for free, but merchants can also opt for one of a number of sponsorship packages, which offer both more space and additional benefits.

Full details on the Merchant requirements and sign-up information can be found on the Merchants Sign-up Form, and a full breakdown of the sponsorship packages can be found on the Sponsorship Levels Google document.

Finally, the Castle Home and Garden team are seeking help and volunteers. If you would like to assist in running the event, please check the description of roles available on the Volunteer Sign-up Form and – sign up!

You can keep up-to-date with the event, including information on events, entertainment, etc (as the latter are arranged in time),  through both the official website and the official blog.

Light Reflections in Second Life

Light Reflections
Light Reflections

Light Reflections is the name of a full region installation in Second Life by Venus Adored. Spanning six levels, it is, as the name suggests, an experiment in light and reflections.

Visitors start at the top of the installation, where sit instructions on how to set the viewer to best enjoy the experience. Unfortunately, the most important instruction is absent: visitors must have Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) enabled via Graphics > Preferences in order to see the installation correctly. Failing to do this will leave some of the levels apparently devoid of detail.

Light Reflections
Light Reflections

Each of the levels below the instructions provides an environment in which lighting and projected lights are used in different ways. In the first level, for example, visitors can fly around in soap bubbles (use the WASD / arrow keys for movement, and PAGE UP / PAGE DOWN to change height), and project lighting pattens on to the walls and floors of the room as they approach them.

Another level offers a set of different scenes, each within its own cube, where light and particles are again used to add ambience to the environment. Another offers an entirely monochrome setting, while the final (ground level) presents a landscape enhanced by projects lighting. Through the entire piece are interactive elements – the soap bubbles mentioned above, a paper boat visitor can rez and sail at the ground levels, and diamonds offering which will animate an avatar when touched in others.

Light Reflections
Light Reflections

Light Reflections is an interesting piece offering a good demonstration of projected lights in use, although I couldn’t help be feel some of the levels might have been combined (particularly the three introductory levels of instructions). However this doesn’t detract of the installation; if you enjoy seeing or an curious about projected lighting effects, Light Reflections is a worthwhile visit and will remain open though until the end of June.

SLurl Details

2017 Viewer release summaries week 4

Updates for the week ending Sunday, January 29th

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 (no change) – 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):
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • No updates.


Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: remembrance and the future

Credit: NASA

The end of January / beginning of February is a time of pause and reflection for the American space programme and NASA. A span of five days, spread across a 36-year period, mark the three greatest tragedies of US human space flight, and so this period is always marked as a time of remembrance.

I’ve marked these three events – the Apollo 1 fire of January 27th, 1967, the Challenger disaster of January 28th, 1986 and the loss of the Columbia on February 1st, 2003 – in past Space Sunday updates. However, January 27th, 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, which claimed the lives of Command Pilot Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White II, and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee in just 16 seconds. To mark it, and the start of NASA’s period of remembrance, the US space agency unveiled a new Apollo 1 tribute in its visitor complex at the Apollo/Saturn V Centre.

The Apollo 1 astronauts remembered at the Space Mirror Memorial, Kennedy SPace Centre's visitor centre
The Apollo 1 astronauts remembered at the Space Mirror Memorial, Kennedy Space Centre’s visitor centre. Credit: NASA

Grissom, White (the first American to walk in space during the Gemini 4 mission in 1965), and rookie Chaffee were participating in a “plugs out” test of the Apollo Command module intended to determine whether the vehicle was fit to fly at a time when many in NASA – Grissom included – felt it was not (Grissom had once famously hung a lemon in the Command Module simulator during training to signify his dissatisfaction with the state of the vehicle’s development).

It should have been a routine launch pad test of the vehicle the crew were due to fly in the first crewed test of Apollo in the run-up to a lunar landing. Instead, a spark from faulty wiring combusted the oxygen-rich atmosphere, causing a flash fire. This, aided by the many flammable materials used in the construction of the vehicle caused the air pressure inside the vehicle to rapidly rise, sealing the cabin’s inward opening hatch so that the crew could not open it themselves.

The deaths of these three men ultimately made Apollo – and the US space programme itself – far safer for those going into orbit. Flammable materials were all but eliminated from designs wherever possible; the atmosphere used within vehicles was altered so as not to be oxygen-rich, reducing the risk of fires rapidly building up and spreading; exit hatches were all changed so they would open outward, and the mechanisms for opening them either from within or without a vehicles were designed to be as simple and direct as possible.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the fire, NASA has placed the most significant part of the Apollo 1 vehicle – the hatch – on public display, with the full blessings of the surviving members of the astronaut’s families. It is a belated addition to similar exhibits of both the Challenger and Columbia accidents were placed on public display over 18 months ago in order to more fully commemorate those incidents.

All three disasters are commemorated at the Space Mirror Memorial  at the Kennedy Space Centre. However, while both Challenger and Columbia are also marked by memorials at America’s Arlington National Cemetery, no similar memorial currently exists for Apollo 1 (although Grissom and Caffee are interred there – White is interred at the West Point Cemetery). So, as a further mark of the 50th anniversary of the fire, Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) has re-introduced a bill to Congress to have an Apollo 1 memorial established at Arlington.

The Challenger and Columbia memorials, Arlington National Cemetery
The Challenger and Columbia memorials, Arlington National Cemetery. Credit: Arlington National Cemetery

Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia, together with a loss of life which occurred during the Soviet manned space programme, serve as a reminder to all of us that space exploration is still a dangerous undertaking, despite all of the “shit sleeve” images we see of people working aboard the International Space Station. But then, all acts of expanding the human frontier carry with them inherent risks and the potential for loss of life.

This doesn’t mean we should shirk such activities or retreat from them; the rewards are simply too great, not only in terms of our potential to learn and grow and ensure our continuance as a species, but also to out ability to mature as a species and reach beyond the petty nationalisms and narrow-minded thinking which plague so much of what happens in the world today.

Remembering; Apollo 1 (top): Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee; STS-51l (Challenger - left): Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Francis "Dick" Scobee, Ronald McNair, Michael J. Smith and Ellison Onizuka; STS-107 (Columbia, right): David M. Brown, Rick Husband, Lauren Blair Salton Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael Anderson, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon. All images credit: NASA
Remembering; Apollo 1 (top): Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee; STS-51l (Challenger – left): Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Ronald McNair, Michael J. Smith and Ellison Onizuka; STS-107 (Columbia, right): David M. Brown, Rick Husband, Laurel Blair Salton Clark, Kalpana Chawla, Michael P. Anderson, William C. McCool, and Ilan Ramon. All images credit: NASA – click for full size

NASA’s official Day of Remembrance will be held on Tuesday, January 31st, 2017. With it comes the opportunity to not only look back to the sad events of January 27th, 2967, January 28th, 1986 and February 1st, 2003, but also to look forward to what might yet be achieved for all of human kind. Which is why I’m once again quoting Francis “Dick” Scobee, Commander of Challenger mission STS-51L, lost on that cold January morning in 1986.

Words: Francis Scobee via June Rodgers (formerly June Scobee). image: NASA

Continue reading “Space Sunday: remembrance and the future”

Tales to suit everyone with Seanchai Library

It’s time to kick-off another week of storytelling in Voice 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, January 29th 18:00: How to Cheat a Dragon’s Curse

Reluctant hero Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III must rescue his best friend, Fishlegs, from the deadly disease Vorpentitis. The only cure is rare and almost impossible to find…a potato. But where will Hiccup find such a thing? He’ll have to dodge the terrible Sharkworms, battle Doomfangs, and outwit crazy Hooligans if he’s going to be a Hero. Again.

Caledonia reads volume 4 of How to Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Cowell at the Golden Horseshoe in Magicland Park.

Monday, January 30th 19:00: Lisa and David

Gyro Muggins reads Renowned psychiatrist Theodore Isaac Rubin’s book on the complex struggles of children with severe mental illness. Lisa and David are two troubled teens whose growing friendship breaks communication barriers.

Tuesday, January 31st 19:00: Of Mice and Men – Part 2

Caledonia Skytower, Shandon Loring, Corwyn Allen, Kayden Oconnell continue a reading of John Steinbeck’s classic 1937 novella at Seanchai’s Explore the World of John Steinbeck in Kitely (

The World of John Steinbeck - the Steinbeck Gallery, Kitely (
The World of John Steinbeck – the Steinbeck Gallery, Kitely (

From January 20th through February 5th, Tacoma Little Theatre, Tacoma Washington State, presents Of Mice and Men directed by Niclas Olson. The production is being supported by Senchai Library as a part of their Explore the Arts series, hosted on Kitely, where a special World of John Steinbeck has been created and is open to exploration by virtual world users and to members of the audience attending performances of the play at Tacoma Little Theatre, where a PC has been set up to provide access to Explore the World of John Steinbeck.

Within the virtual space, visitors can explore more of Steinbeck’s life and work, and experience the history of the times about which he wrote. If they wish, they can also visit the other Explore environments established by Seanchai in support for Tacoma Little Theatre’s production.

Wednesday, February 1st 19:00: A Monstrous Regiment of Women – Part 2

Continues with Caledonia Skytower.

Thursday, February 2nd 19:00: Monster and Myth

Shandon Loring reads The  Hydra: A Winter’s Love Story, Part 1.

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 January / February is Heifer International, working with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.

SL project updates 2017-4/3: TPVD meeting: 64-bit, Linux

Whimberly, Whimberly; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrWhimberlyblog post

The notes in this update are taken from the abbreviated TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, January 27th, 2017. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

SL Viewer

[01:19] There has been no movement with any of the viewer currently in the various pipelines during the week, leaving the list as:

  • Current Release version:, dated December 1st, promoted December 5th, 2016 – formerly the Project Bento RC viewer
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Maintenance RC viewer, version, dated January 12th
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version for Windows and Mac, dated January 10th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version, dated November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review – still pending completion of work on the 64-bit viewer, and no updates expected in the immediate future
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

[01:48] There are two more branches for the Maintenance viewer updates in the offing. One is, as per Oz’s stated intent, a branch for rendering only fixes, the second will continue with the regular releases of Maintenance RC viewers with all other general fixes and updates.

64-bit Viewer

[22:55] The number of users on the 64-bit project viewer remains “small”, however, the Lab is pleased with the way most things in the viewer and viewer build process are working. There are still three major areas of work which need to be completed, outside of bug fixes, before the viewer can progress to release candidate (RC) status:

  • 64-bit Havok for OSX: the binaries, etc., have been received from Havok, but have been built using Xcode 8. The Lab is therefore updating the Mac viewer build process to use Xcode 8 so that the Havok code can be incorporated.
  • Updated VLC and CEF support: this is in process, and in the case of CEF, will include a new wrapper (project Dullahan – link for those who are curious about the etymology of Lab project names) which will replace llCEF, making it easier to render web content through the viewer
  • The new viewer installation / update process: this is being overhauled to improve the installation and update of the viewer. In particular, it will include a check to ensure users have actually downloaded the correct version of the viewer for their system. For example, if you are on 32-bit Windows and download the 64-bit version in error, the installer will recognise this, and download and install the 32-bit version for you.

Note the above still only apply to Windows and Mac OSX.

Linux Viewer Status / Future

[30:21] Thus far, the Lab hasn’t progressed very far with Linux 64-bit, beyond building some of the libraries. The aim is still to have the third-party viewer development  / open source community provide a strong level of support for Linux. However, it is recognised that the current way in which the Linux viewer is currently distributed makes it difficult for third-party support to be maintained.

In an attempt to improve things, the Lab is going to try to move away from using a TAR ball method of distribution to providing a .DEB file, which can be installed using standard Debian installation commands. This will involve changes to the Linux build process, which itself may highlight issues in producing the desired .DEB file. Where this is the case, the Lab will look to discuss and resolve issues with the TPV / open source community. It is hoped that this approach will result in a much improved and easier to manage mechanism for Linux viewer builds and distribution.

Other Items

Music Streaming Default Volume

[04:57] The first TPVD meeting for 2017 included a discussion on audio streaming autoplay found in the official viewer, and the problems this can cause new users. As a result of that discussion, the Lab agreed to revisit the default media volume setting in the viewer. This is now under discussion within the Lab.

Voice Issues

[06:06] While there is a Voice update coming down the line, people are reporting increasing Voice disconnection issues (see BUG-41288). Kyle Linden has been looking into the problems to try to identify where issues might reside, and it is a topic for discussion at the next Lab / Vivox meeting, in about a week. Oz Linden is also improving the code in the viewer to better monitor and report on Voice connections and issues so that they can be more easily identified; these updates will hopefully be in the upcoming Voice viewer.

Environment Maps

[12:53] At the end of the last TPV meeting, there was a convoluted discussion on environment maps and potential limitations. A JIRA feature request – STORM-2146 – has now been raised, outlining the specific issues with the environment maps, and what can be done to improve them to provide things like simulated environment reflections.  Acknowledged as being a prime example of a really good feature request in terms of level of explanation given (including mitigating risk of content breakage), the topic was put aside for detailed discussion at a later date, to allow this meeting to focus on the 64-bit viewer and Linux.

Server-side Group Chat “Opt Out”

Firrestorm has a viewer-side implementation to mute all chat from a group, but a server-side capability is being requested
Firrestorm has a viewer-side implementation to mute all chat from a group, but a server-side capability is being requested

[17:53] This is a request to provide support for “opting out” (muting) from group chats without necessarily having to wait for it to start & closing the window (e.g. via a right-click option on the group list or in the group profile – a method taken by Firestorm in providing viewer side support for the capability).

The Lab is aware of numerous requests for such an option, together with numerous and different suggestions on how it might be implemented. Because of this, no firm decision has been made on whether or not to add such a capability, managed server-side, has been taken.

The advantage of server-side support is that rather than having the viewer just discard incoming messages seen as “unwanted”, the server will not send them in the first place. This is very much what the Lab would like to achieve, were the capability to be added.

E-mail Improvements

[39:37] Changes are coming to the way in which e-mails are managed / distributed by the Lab. Please see my separate report on what this means and verifying you e-mail address, if you have not already done so.

SL Wiki Editing and JIRA Viewing

[49:03] The Ls Wiki remains closed to general editing. Users with a genuine need to edit wiki pages they have previously helped maintain or have created, should file a support ticket or raise a JIRA requesting the are granted Edit rights, and why they are requesting them. The Lab is now maintaining a white list of approved users.

Similarly, TPV developers and open source contributors who cannot view JIRAs related to their work, etc. (“Permission Violation”), should e-mail Oz Linden to request broader access to the system.