A look at the new Second Life sign-up pages

The first of the new sign-up pages. Courtesy of Linden Lab

Linden Lab has deployed a new format sign-up process for those joining Second Life.

Using a simpler, more unified page design, the new sign-up process brings together the previously separate avatar picker and sign-up form into a single page, effectively reducing the number of individual steps a new user must take from initial sign-up through to downloading the viewer.

Picking a starter avatar is now a case of selecting one of two galleries from a drop-down menu in the left-hand panel in the initial page (shown below): Classic Avatars (the default) or Fantasy Avatars. Clicking the portrait of an avatar will display a full body animated thumbnail of the avatar, while personal information can be entered into the form on the right-hand panel.

The avatar selection panel, showing the Fantasy Avatar, complete with the thumbnail of the highlighted avatar

The options for selecting Basic or Premium membership follow the same page format, although the Premium button takes a user to the more familiar Premium upgrade page, allowing them to choose their preferred payment option: monthly, quarterly or annual. The Basic option button will complete the sign-up process and allow present the download option for the viewer.

The revised Basic and Premium options display

The new sign-up process also gave me the opportunity to try the latest iteration of the Learning Island new users are delivered to the first time they log-in to Second Life using the official viewer.

As I reported in 2015 and 2016, the Lab have been using experience keys to help guide new users in gaining familiarity with the basic movement controls in the viewer. The most recent version of the Learning Islands continues this approach, offering incoming new users a basic set of tasks  – walking, jumping, flying – using the camera – they are asked to complete, before moving through a set of portals that deliver them to the Second Life Social Islands.

On arriving at the updated Learning Island, the guidance HUD automatically attaches, guiding users through the initial exercises. It detaches on leaving the island through the main portal

The new island design is a route through a series of broad halls built around a central terrace that might be suitable for socialising with other newcomers, and which is reached via a portal at the end of the final lesson (using the camera), and which contains the portal that delivers users to the Social Islands.

The lessons themselves and are indicated both on the HUD (seen in the image above) and via instruction tablets within the halls. Animated arrows (again seen in the image above) and on the floor help direct users around the halls.

The lessons are simple enough, and have been used before. however the environment is a marked improvement over the last iterations of the Learning Islands I’ve visited

Overall, the new sign-up process is a lot cleaner and – perhaps more importantly – a lot more modern-looking than the last iteration, which always felt cumbersome to me. It is concise enough to hopefully prevent a new user from bailing out before getting as far as downloading, installing and running the viewer.

Similarly, the updated Learning Island  – which may well have been in use for a while, I’ve not been keeping an eye on the generic islands of late, only the themed islands, – offer a much more straightforward approach to getting started with the basics of the viewer. It might be argued that as this particular iteration doesn’t include information on inventory, Linden Dollars, etc., it might be a little too light on details; but keep in mind this may be one of a number of Learning Island variants the Lab might periodically rotate into use.


ArtCare Gallery in Second Life

ArtCare Gallery: Care

Yany O’Real (Yany Oh) recently invited me to visit ArtCare Gallery, where a selection of his work is currently being exhibited. Curated by Care (carelyna), the gallery offers a large display space for her own art, whilst also featuring – at the time of my visit – the art of Yany, together with Leonorah Beverly, Lam Erin, Sandi Benelli, Marga J, Shakespeare (SkinnyNilla) and Maxie Daviau, with 3D art and particle displays by Pol Jarvinen and Kurk Mumfuzz.

I admit to having missed Care’s art up until now, and the gallery offers an excellent opportunity to gain familiarity with it. Focusing primarily on landscape studies from within Second Life, which she presents post-processed to resemble paintings.

ArtCare Gallery: Care

One group of her images are vividly rich in colour, strongly evocative of the likes of Van Gogh in their style and offering truly unique views of Second Life. The more lightly processed images are likewise attractive whilst more fully illustrating Care’s eye for presenting views of Second Life as we are familiar with them. Also included in her selection of art is a set of images captured at one of Kurk’s particle shows, which offers a further contrast in style and approach.

Facing Care’s work are gallery bays featuring the work of Max, Leonorah, Lam, Shakespeare, Marga J and Sandi. All are enticing Second Life landscape artists – and in the interests of disclosure, I have an abiding admiration for the work of Max and Shakespeare. Taken together these artists offer a natural flow of images hat allow us to travel through Second Life to many places and regions.

ArtCare Gallery: Shakespeare and Max

Situated in a hall of its only, Yany’s work covers both landscapes and avatar studies, and in a rich mix of styles. I found two of the images particularly captivating:  We Are Many, presenting a single image of avatars attending a presentation, which has been repeated several times over to become a collage, with the groups of images mirrored to offer something of a unique perspective on how we might perceive our avatars.

The second is Starman, a rich – and lighthearted? – take on the launch of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roaster into space as part of the first launch of the Falcon Heavy in February 2018.

ArtCare Gallery: Yany

Located against one of the walls of the gallery are two pairs of doors marked “reception” – one of which leads up to to a 3D display of Pol Jarvinen’s 3D work, and the other down to ground level and a small display of Kurk’s particle art.

With a rich mix of themed 2D art, together with the 3D and particle work above and below, ArtCare Gallery makes for an interesting visit.

ArtCare Gallery: Lam and Leonorah

SLurl Details

A Spoonful of Sugar 2018 in Second Life

via Spoonful of Sugar

The fourth Spoonful of Sugar (SOS) festival opened its doors on Saturday, September 15th, 2018 and will run through until Sunday September 30th. It brings together fashion, home and garden, breedable designers and creators, artists, DJs and live performers to help raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Also known as Doctors Without Borders, MSF was founded in Paris, France in 1971 as a non-profit, self-governed medical humanitarian organisation delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare around the globe, based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Since that time, MSF has grown to a movement of 24 associations, bound together as MSF International, based in Switzerland. Thousands of health professionals, logistical and administrative staff – most of whom are hired locally – work on programmes in some 70 countries worldwide. See the video at the end of this article for more on MSF.

Spoonful of Sugar – shopping

Established by Ever Courtois and Angelique Wickentower, Spoonful of Sugar (SOS) aims to raise money for MSF as a part of the organisation’s Vital Pact Campaign.

For 2018, the event takes the theme Welcome to Italy, with the six regions of the event set out to resemble an Italian coastal town, complete with winding waterways, while in the central regions, within their hills and paths, can be found breedable displays, event areas, together with an MSF information area.

Spoonful of Sugar: one-of-a-kind Auction

A full shopper’s guide is available, covering the five shopping regions, and participating creators have items on sale via special SOS vendors, with between 50% and 100% of proceeds of sales being donated to SOS. The entertainment guide provides details of who is providing the music and when. In addition, the event sees auctions and raffles and the SOS Home Giveaway Raffle.

Spoonful of Sugar: live music pavilion

Getting around is a matter of either walking – obviously the best way to see the regions – or by clicking the red boxes atop the sign posts along the footpaths. These will provide a set of landmarks to the major locations in the regions, both events and shopping.

Over the course of its first three years, Spoonful of Sugar has raised US $30,000 – a reflection both of the global nature of MSF’s work and of the global reach of Second Life to help support the provision of aid and humanitarian assistance to those so much less fortunate than those of us able to enjoy a virtual life. 2018 will hopefully see that amount grow even larger.

SLurl and URL Details

2018 viewer release summaries, week #37

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, September 16th

This summary is generally published on 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.
  • Note that test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version, dated August 14th, promoted August 20th. Formerly the SL Voice RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers



Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: Earth’s ice and Soyuz leaks

ICESat-2. Credit: NASA

In its final mission, the United Launch Alliance Delta II launch vehicle lifted NASA’s ICESat-2 (Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite 2) up into orbit. Designed to measure ice sheet elevation and sea ice freeboard, as well as land topography and vegetation characteristics, the mission is a follow-on to the ICESat mission of 2003 to 2010.

The launch vehicle lifted-off from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 06:02 local time (9:02 EDT; 14:02 BST). The satellite separated from the second stage about 53 minutes after lift-off, followed by four cubesat secondary payloads some 20 minutes later.

The half-tonne satellite, about the size of a small car, carries a single instrument: a laser altimeter called the Advanced Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS). It is designed to fire 10,000 laser pulses a second to obtain elevation data with an accuracy of half a centimetre, and will primarily be used to measure the elevation of ice sheets and changes in their size, but will also measure the height of vegetation on land.

The last ever Delta II lifts-off carrying the ICESat-2 mission to orbit, September 15th, 2018. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Originally, ICESat-2 had been due to launch in 2015 as a follow-up to the original mission. However, the complexity of ATLAS meant that the mission hit delays and overran its original budget, both of which left NASA facing an either / or situation: either divert funds from other Earth resources missions (such as the Pre-Aerosol, Clouds, and Ocean Ecosystem (PACE) satellite) and cancel them, or cancel ICESat-2.

The first ICESat revealed that sea ice was thinning, and ice cover was disappearing from coastal areas in Greenland and Antarctica. Due to the delays in developing and launching ICESat-2, NASA has relied on an aircraft mission, Operation IceBridge, to monitor ice elevation and gathering other data on ice changes in both the Arctic and Antarctic.

While there are those who like to believe human-made global warming doesn’t exist, and that the unprecedented increases in temperature Earth has experienced in the last 100 or so years is simply a matter of solar cycles (a view that actually does not stand up to objective scrutiny), global average temperatures are climbing year after year (four of the hottest years in modern times all taking place from 2014-2017), largely as a result of humanity’s constant reliance on fossil fuels for energy. This warming is contributing to the shrinking ice cover in the Arctic and Greenland and adding to sea level rises that threaten hundreds of millions of people living in coastal regions around the world, as well as contributing to further weather and climate changes.

An artist’s impression of ICESat-2’s ATLAS laser in operation. ATLAS is capable of firing 10,000 per second and will take measurements every 0.7 m (2.3 ft) along the satellite’s path. It will gather enough data to estimate the annual elevation change in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets even if it’s as slight as four millimetres. Credit: NASA

ICESat-2 should help scientists understand just how much melting the ice sheets are contributing to this sea level rise, with ATLAS being fired-up for the first time in orbit in around a week’s time.

The launch was the 155th and final flight of the Delta II, which first entered service in 1989. Once a mainstay of both government and commercial customers, the vehicle has seen decreasing use in favour of vehicles like the Delta IV and Atlas launchers and, more recently, SpaceX. In 2007, it was announced ULA would phase out the Delta II – although it has enough parts to build around half-a-dozen complete versions of the rocket. With NASA the only user for the vehicle, it has taken time to use these remaining vehicles, and the final vehicle will be used as a museum piece.

The Delta II occupies a unique place in history: it is the only rocket ever to recorded to have debris strike a human. In 1996, the US Ballistic Missile Defense Organisation (BMDO) launched the Midcourse Space Experiment (MSX) atop a Delta II. Ten months later, on January 22nd, 1997, the upper stage of the launcher re-entered the atmosphere and broke apart, the greater part of it burning up in a fireball over the mid-west United States.

Lottie Williams hold the debris from a Delta II upper stage, which struck her on the shoulder in January 1997. Credit: unknown

Witnessing the fireball while exercising in a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was Lottie Williams. Thirty minutes later, she was struck on the shoulder by a charred piece of metal about 15 cm (6 in) across and weighing about the same as an empty soda can. She was uninjured by the strike, and analysis of the object confirmed it originated from the Delta’s upper stage.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Earth’s ice and Soyuz leaks”