Orcadi Island’s simple splendour in Second Life

Orcadi Island – click any image for full size

Orcadi Island is a homestead design by Julya (Julya77) which is beautiful in its simplicity of approach, and likely mindful of places we may have visited or seen in the physical world. In my case, the strongest impression was that of England’s and Scotland’s heathland, thanks to the wide open vista presented. To others, doubtless it will evoke thoughts of America’s grain belt or the vast farms of the Australian outback.

The island rises from the sea table-like, the mostly flat top is entirely covered in tough wild grass turned sandy blond and suggestive of an autumn’s day – a feeling enhanced by the region’s windlight. A single hill rises to one side of this flat expanse, topped by the slim tower of a lighthouse. While this may break the illusion that the region is in the middle of a broad swath of heathland or wheat fields or the outback, it also reminds us that Orcadi Island isn’t really any attempt to mimic a particular place, but rather to evoke feelings and perhaps stir memories.

Orcadi Island

The landing point sits before the single cottage occupying the land – the storybook LAQ  Picturesque Cottage, which I still adore seeing, even if it’s not really suitable for placement at home. Its presence here further enhances the intertwining of feelings that this place is familiar with the knowledge it is really unique.

A track runs past the cottage, pointing towards the lighthouse on its hill in one direction, whilst winding its way towards a thatch roofed windmill in the other, passing horses grazing on the tall grass along the way. A branch of this path also offers the way to the beach on the north-east side of the island. A second windmill sits closer to the cottage, its circular sail turning slowly, a snuggle for couples sitting just above the late-blooming flowers surrounding it.

Orcadi Island

As well as the horses roaming the island, the yard of the cottage is occupied by chickens, while the nearby bales of hay, neatly rolled or squared, and the red bulk of a tractor suggest this is a working farmstead. But also scattered across the island are small ruins: a wall here, a shattered corner and floor there, the arches of what might have once been a chapel overlooking the sea. all of which suggest this place has long been a place of human habitation.

It’s often said that the skill invested in a design is often shown within its apparent simplicity – a word to which I keep circling back. Orcadi Island exemplifies this in spades: it seems so simple a design, deceptively hiding the care and thought invested in making it such a beautiful setting. Yes, you might be able to “see all there is to see” within a few minutes of arriving, but that’s not the point. This is a place to be savoured; a setting in which you can lose yourself in thought enjoy time spent with a loved one or friend without feeling the need to hurry on and see what’s around the next corner.

Orcadi Island

This is also a wonderfully photogenic place, richly evocative;  while walking through the tall grass, I found myself wanting to open my hands and feel the bushy tops of the golden stalks stroking my offered palms.

Should you enjoy your visit, do please make a donation at the tip jar by the landing point and help ensure Orcadi Island continues to be a place people can visit and enjoy.

SLurl Details

With thanks, yet again, to Shakespeare for pointing me towards Orcadi Island.

MisaKaory’s The Way I Feel in Second Life

Club LA and Gallery – The Way I Feel

Now open at Club LA and Gallery, curated by Fuyuko ‘冬子’ Amano (Wintergeist) is The Way I Feel a selection of images from the portfolio of MisaKaory. I’m actually getting to this review a little late, as the invitation got buried in my inventory, and so offer apologies to Misa and Fuyuko;  but I do recommend a visit before it draws to a close.

“Photography gives me a lot of emotions,” Misa says of her work. “Sometimes it is too exhausting, when you can not sleep at night because you keep thinking of some idea for a photo. It seems the idea came and you get it all together and press the shutter, but you are still dissatisfied. So you keep looking through the viewfinder to find the right angle, lighting, waiting for the moment… And then suddenly, here it is! Often it is a completely random person that you have caught in the frame, a bird or a gust of wind. The feeling that you get after taking the photo you like is just wonderful! The world that we see is infinite, but we remember only some moments that have given us a strong impression.”

Club LA and Gallery – The Way I Feel

Impression is certainly the word I would use with the images she has selected for exhibition here. There are all powerfully emotive and rich in story. A total of 19 pieces are displayed, ranging from black-and-white through monochrome shades to colour, with multi-panel images are  mixed with individual pieces (note that some at the back which might be considered NSFW). The result is an exhibit which demonstrates not only the range of Misa’s photography, but also her sense of art and balance in putting an exhibition together; even the positioning of the sofas and cloth-draped table has been carefully considered.

The emotional impact of these pieces hits you as soon as you enter the gallery, thanks to the mirrored pairing of babe asleep and bald woman lying with eyes closed (seen at the top of this article). So much is conveyed by the two: the indelible link between a mother and her baby; the innocence of new birth reflected in the bald pate and unlined face of the woman; the echo of that subtle, womb-like feeling we get when caught on the divide between wakefulness and sleep. And then there is the eye casually held under the woman’s hand; a subtle note that we are perhaps voyeurs encroaching on the private worlds of woman and babe.

Club LA and Gallery – The Way I Feel

Facing these two images is a line of four pieces running from black-and-white through monochrome shades back to black and white. They are all extraordinary in the depth of feeling they imbue as we are instantly drawn into the stories they tell. The desire to shout a warning  to the girl sitting against the tree in the first one is almost palpable, such is the sense of menace conjured by the shadowy male form coming towards her. The remaining three evoke equally powerful responses.

I could write a lot more, but this really is an exhibition deserving to be seen, not described. The Way I Feel presents images which are both intensely personal but because of their emotional content, are immediately empathic. We can immediately identify with the hope, passion, love, fear, loneliness, regret, joy and more captured within them; the impression they make is almost palpable, remaining with us after we leave the gallery space.

Club LA and Gallery – The Way I Feel

Another highly recommended exhibition.

SLurl Details

Lab Adjusts Second Life monthly Process Credit limits

In December 2016, Linden Lab updated the tier limits placed on trading volumes across the LindeX.

The move was designed to help prevent fraud and to comply with applicable regulations.

On Monday, March 27th, and as part of these ongoing risk management efforts, the Lab blogged about the introduction of new monthly Process Credit limits.

The core of the announcement reads as follows:

As part of Linden Lab’s continued risk management process, we are now introducing monthly Process Credit limits.We anticipate that few, if any, Residents will be negatively affected by these adjustments, and will persist in monitoring any impact these changes may cause.

You can review your existing limits on this page; your Process Credit limit will be listed there, as well as your Buy and Sell limits.  

You can request a tier limit review through our support system. Simply submit a ticket –> Billing –> LindeX Billing and Trading Limits Review Request (for basic accounts) or  Billing and L$ -> LindeX Tier Review ticket options (for premium accounts).

2017 Viewer release summaries week 12

Updates for the week ending Sunday, March 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

V5-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Filling the Cauldron: as things come together

From the Filling the Cauldron blog:

We’re now just a week from the opening of Filling the Cauldron, and everything is starting to fall into place. Our marketplace slots are all filled, several of our artists are all set up and ready to go, the entertainment slots are filling up. There’s a fair bit still to be done, but we’re getting closer and closer to being all ready to open the gates!

Cerridwen’s Corner, Elicio’s shop for the event is now complete, with lots of vendors and the opportunity to enjoy his fabulous creations. Elico has also provided a Welcome Area gazebo for us, which will have information givers, teleport maps (also located throughout the event areas), and more. Just follow the crystal stairway from the main landing point (SLurl coming soon!).

You’ll be able to purchase a lot of Elicio’s goods from Cerridwen’s Corner, located in the South-East corner of the Filling the Cauldron region

The teleport board, designed by Vecchio Barbosa is also available as a handy HUD – just grab it when you arrive, give it permission to teleport you, and you can hop around the event areas at your convenience – although signs and gates throughout the region will hopefully guide you around as well and offer a pleasant walk from place to place!

We’re not going o give too much away on the entertainment front, other than there will be music throughout the week, and we’ve also got two special dance performances being planned. On Sunday, April 2nd, the Night Theatre will perform for us – watch for more details in this blog! Then, on Saturday, April 8th, the Monarch Dance Troupe will be giving a special performance of Amnesia – and we’ll again have full details on that in an upcoming post.

Our teleport boards and HUD will help you get around

We also have a lot going on with out auction, with some very special items up for grabs. Saffia will have more to say on these this week, so keep an eye on the Filling the Cauldron blog for more very soon.

The full event schedule will be available via a Google Calendar soon, and we’ll have a breakdown of entertainment alongside that in the blog to help make finding out what’s going on easier.

And don’t forget – the photo contest is still going, with some great prizes up for grabs – just get your entries in before April 3rd.

We’ll have more for you throughout the week, so keep checking back!

The Welcome Area – you’ll be able to pick up your teleport HUD there

Space Sunday: Flying over Mars, JUICE for Jupiter and black holes

An impact crater which formed between July 2010 and May 2012 and imaged by the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is one of the locations featured in “A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars” by Jan Fröjdman. Credit: Jan Fröjdman; original anaglyph image NASA/JPL / University of Arizona

Ever wondered what it would be like to actually fly over Mars? I have – although I admit, I’m utterly entranced by that red world and the potentials it presents. Finnish film-maker Jan Fröjdman has as well – only he’s taken the idea a step further and produced a remarkable video,  A Fictive Flight Above Real Mars. Last just over 4.5 minutes, the film takes us on a flight over some of the must remarkable scenery imaginable, using high-resolution images and data returned by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).

It’s a stunning piece showing many of the more intriguing features of Mars: the recent impact crater see in the still at the top of this article; the ice walls and melt holes of the Martian poles; gullies and cliffs rutted and marked by RSLs – recurring slope lineae – which might or might not be the result of liquid activity; the ripples of sand dunes, and the winding forms of channels which might have been shaped by the passage of water.

To make the film, Fröjdman used 3-D anaglyph images from HiRISE (the High Resolution Science Imaging Experiment aboard MRO), which contain information about the topography of Mars surface. The work involved manually picking more than 33,000 reference points in the anaglyph images, and then processing the results through six pieces of software to achieve a sense of motion and panning across the surface of Mars.

In putting the film together, Fröjdman  wanted to create a real feeling of flying over Mars and of recapturing the feel of video footage shot by the Apollo astronauts as they orbited the Moon. To help with the latter, he overlaid the video with image cross-hairs of the kind seen in some of the Apollo footage, and added little bursts of thruster firings to simulate a vehicle manoeuvring in the thin atmosphere. The film concludes with a main engine firing, presumably to lift the vehicle back into orbit.

NASA and SpaceX Consider Red Dragon Landing Site

And staying with Mars: NASA and SpaceX have started the process of selecting a landing site for SpaceX’s planned Red Dragon mission to Mars in 2020. The ambitious mission will see the company attempt to land a 10-tonne Red Dragon capsule on Mars purely by propulsive means. While paid for entirely by the company, the mission will feature a science suite provided by NASA.

There are two major criteria governing any landing site location: scientific interest, and the potential for colonisation – the 2020 mission being the first of a number which SpaceX plans to uses as precursors for human missions to Mars. As such, it had initially been decided that any landing sites put forward must be near the equator, for solar power; near large quantities of ice, for water and at low elevation, for better thermal conditions.

NASA initially identified four potential locations on Mars’ northern hemisphere which meet the broad criteria for the mission – but examination of three of them using the HiRISE system on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter showed they are rocky enough to pose a threat to landing a vehicle the size and mass of Red Dragon. This currently leaves a short-list of one, in the shape of Arcadia Planitia, a smooth plain containing fresh lava flows and which has a large region that was shaped by periglacial processes which suggest that ice is present just beneath the surface.

Acadia Planitia is the current sole contender to be the landing site for the SpaceX Mars 2020 mission

However, negating this is the plain’s relatively high northern latitude (40-60 degrees north), which would reduce the amount of sunlight a base of operations there would receive in the winter months. While Amazonis Planitia to the south offers a similar youthful surface, much of which is relatively smooth, it is largely volcanic in origin and unlikely to harbour sub-surface water ice which can be easily accessed.

Given both of these point, it is likely other possible landing sites will be proposed in the coming months.

Curiosity Reveals More Wheel Damage

It’s been a while since my last report on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. This is mostly being the updates coming out of JPL have slowed mightily in recent months.

At present, Curiosity is examining sand dunes on the lower slopes of “Mount Sharp”. Once finished, it will proceed up higher to a feature known as “Vera Rubin Ridge”, inspecting a layer that is rich in the mineral hematite. From there, it will proceeded to even higher elevations to inspect layers that contain clays and sulphates. This will require a drive of some 6 km (3.7 mi) uphill, and so will require time to complete.

A recurring area of concern for the mission – albeit not serious at this point – is the wear and tear on the rover’s wheels. In 2013, Curiosity suffered greater than expected damage to its six wheels while traversing some exceptionally rough terrain.  Although the damage was nowhere near severe enough to impeded the rover’s driving abilities, it did result in engineers keeping a much closer eye on the condition of Curiosity’s wheels using the imaging system mounted on the rover’s robot arm.

The latest of these checks was performed on  Sunday, March 19th, 2017, and it revealed two small breaks in the raised treads (“grousers”) on the rover’s left middle wheel. These seem to have occurred since the last wheel check at the end of January, 2017. These treads perform two major tasks: bearing the brunt of the rover’s weight and providing most of the traction for a wheel.

The broken “grousers” (“treads”) on one of Curiosity’s six wheels, together with older puncture holes through the wheel, as imaged on March 19th, 2017. Credit: NASA/JPL

Following the 2013 damage, testing on Earth suggested that significant breaks in three “grousers” on a wheel would indicate it has passed 60% of its expected lifespan. However, the mission team emphasise the rover has already driven more than 60% of the total distance needed for it to make it to all of its scientific destinations. As such, while the breaks will be monitored, they are not a cause for immediate or grave concern.

Overall, confidence remains high that Curiosity will achieve all of its expected science goals and will likely make an extended traverse up the side of “Mount Sharp”.

A rover’s progress: the 16 km (10 mi) travelled by Curiosity so far, and potential for future explorations up the side of Aeolis Mons. Credit: NASA/JPL / T. Reyes

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Flying over Mars, JUICE for Jupiter and black holes”