Glenrosa’s tranquillity in Second Life

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa } – click any image for full size

Update: {Glenroas} has closed. SLurl have therefore been removed from this article.

The Destination Guide led me to { Glenrosa }, a stunning Homestead region designed by Brandi Monroe and her SL partner Gabriel (gabriel4botto) which – at the time of writing – deservedly sits within the Editor’s Picks section of the DG.

It is a place specifically designed to encourage exploration; a countryside location caught in the early bloom of morning, where the rising mist drifting across unpaved paths and between wooded hills gives a siren call for us to eat a warm breakfast, don thick coats and hiking boots and set forth before the Sun gets too high above the horizon. The region description adds to this call, inviting visitors to “set off down the winding road or take the shoreline,” and noting that whichever route is taken, surprises await discovery.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

The winding road in question lies close to the region’s given landing point, located just above the shoreline on the north coast. Two dry stone walls cup the landing point within their arc, the shingle coastline presenting a view of the broad, flat sea watched over by a squat off-shore lighthouse just away to the east, framed by the rising Sun.

The two dry stone walls are prevented from touching one another by the tall pillars that between them support wrought iron gates guarding the road. The stone stags atop the pillars, together with the region’s name, give the impression this is some landed estate, with the overall ambience of the setting giving me the feeling I could be somewhere in the remoter parts of Scotland – although admittedly, banyan trees aren’t typically found in Scotland.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

This feeling was heightened during my wanderings by the discovery of a single-track railway line running the short distance from a tunnel to a set of buffers, passing a small country station along the way. Clearly a spur line, it is not hard to imagine a small regional train – perhaps a privately owned steamer – pulling into the station with one or two vintage rail cars, so that visitors might alight and explore before the train reverses its way back down the track.

The feeling that this is – or once was – a private estate is further heightened by the presence of a grand hunting lodge at the end of the road leading up from the landing point. Furnished throughout, the Lodge shares the setting with a small chapel a short distance away, atop a  rocky hill. No longer used as a place of worship, the chapel is surrounded by gravestones, giving the impression it may have once been a family chapel and burial plot.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

The house can also be reached along the coast, following the shingle beach towards the Sun and where it broadens alongside the lighthouse before turning south. Along the way, it passes steps leading up to the chapel and one of the surprises in the region: a grand piano sitting under the banyan tree; one of several places where time can be spent in quiet contemplation.

More such places can be found scattered across the landscape, from a little deck built out over the cold-looking waters close to the lodge, to up over the train tunnel, where a little vagabond camp has been set up. This is reached by way of a small house overlooking the railway line on one side, and out across the fir trees and rocky hills of the estate on the other. Down the slope from this little house, possibly once cared for by whoever many have at one time lived in it, is an orchard, still very much being cultivated, although the house itself no longer appears to be a working home.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

A cinder track continues beyond the beach behind the main house, arcing slightly up and away from the coast before dropping back to rejoin the shingles. It leads the way to where part of the land has been flooded to form a natural inlet, its narrow neck spanned by an old bridge. Here the setting, with reeds and trees growing from the water and the wooden shack to one side, is perhaps more mindful of a Louisiana swamp than a place sitting somewhere on the Scottish  coast – but it still feels very much a part of the overall landscape, and it offers more places to sit and spend time in the region.

Caught by the rising Sun, { Glenrosa } also lends itself to other daytime windlights – although for once I’ve tended to keep to the default in the images here. Those who do take photos are invited to add them to the region’s Flickr group, and there is more than enough here to keep anyone’s camera busy.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

Although sitting within a sim surround, I confess I found the rolling, rocky landscape dominated by fir trees, to be more attractive with it derendered to present a more coast-like setting (although just having one side of the region open to water would have really done the trick). Nevertheless, with its gently undulating landscape, this is a place of beauty rounded-out by a gentle soundscape and is definitely not a destination to be missed.

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Space Sunday: Mars roundup

via Associated Press

NASA’s INterior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, launched in March 2018, is due to land on Mars on November 26th, 2018. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the mission is intended to study the internal structure of the planet, and in doing so it could bring new understanding of the Solar System’s terrestrial planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the Moon.

The lander is based on the design used for NASA’s Mars Phoenix lander, which successfully arrived on Mars in 2008, using circular solar arrays to generate power for its systems and instruments. As with the Phoenix Lander, InSight is designed to operate for a Martian year once on the surface of Mars, with an initial primary mission period of 90 days.

As a static lander, InSight will use a range of instruments to study the deep interior of Mars. Two of the principle instruments in this investigation are the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and HP3, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, both of which will be placed in direct contact with the surface of Mars after touch-down.

An artist’s impression of InSight on Mars, showing the SEIS package deployed. Credit: NASA / JPL

Developed by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College, Institut supérieur de l’aéronautique et de l’espace (ISAE) and JPL, SEIS is a sensitive instrument designed to do the work of an entire network of seismographs here on Earth.

It will measure seismic waves from marsquakes and meteorite strikes as they move through the planet. The speed of those waves changes depending on the material they’re travelling through, helping scientists deduce what the planet’s interior is made of. Seismic waves come in a surprising number of flavours; some vibrate across a planet’s surface, while others ricochet off its centre and they also move at different speeds. Seismologists can use each type as a tool to triangulate where and when a seismic event has happened.

Such is the sensitivity of SEIS, it can sit in one place and listen to the entire planet and detect vibrations smaller than the width of a hydrogen atom. It will be the first seismometer to be directly placed on the surface of Mars, where it will be thousands of times more accurate than seismometers that sat atop the Viking landers.

Artist’s illustration of InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument on the Red Planet’s surface. Credit: NASA TV/JPL

Also, because of the instrument’s sensitivity, SEIS will be protected from the local weather by a protective shell and skirt, both of which will stop local wind interfering with the instrument. In addition, it will be supported by a suite of meteorological tools to characterise atmospheric disturbances that might affect its readings.

HP3 has been provided by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). It is a self-penetrating heat flow probe,  more popularly referred to as a “self-hammering nail” with the nickname of “the mole”. Once deployed on the surface of Mars, it will burrow 5 m (16 ft) below the Martian surface while trailing a tether with embedded heat sensors every 10 cm (3.9 in) to measure how efficiently heat flows through Mars’ core, revealing unique information about the planet’s interior and how it has evolved over time.

The “self-hammering nail” description comes from the spike, or “mole” at the end of the tether. A mechanism within it  will allow it to propel itself into the Martian regolith and down through the rock beneath it.

Diagram of HP3, showing the deployment system, the “mole” and tether. Credit: DLR

Once fully deployed, HP3 will be able to detect heat trapped inside Mars since the planet first formed. That heat shaped the surface with volcanoes, mountain ranges and valleys. It may even have determined where rivers ran early in Mars’ history.

On arrival at Mars, InSight will enter the planet’s atmosphere and land on Elysium Planitia, around 600 km (370 mi) from where the Curiosity rover is operating in Gale Crater. I’ll have more on the mission around the time InSight makes its landing on Mars.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Mars roundup”

The art of Milly Sharple at Holly Kai Park

Holly Kai Park: Milly Sharple

I have long been an admirer of Milly Sharple’s art, and so I’m absolutely delighted to be welcoming her to Holly Kai Park Gallery for an extensive exhibition of her work starting at 15:00 SLT on Sunday, October 28th, 2018 and running through until Saturday, November 24th, 2018.

Milly is perhaps best known for her fractal art, beautiful pieces she produces using Apophysis, software she prefers to use as it allows the creation of soft, flowing, liquid effects that can allow her work to stand well apart from other, more rigidly geometric fractal art in Second Life. What may not be so well-known is that Milly was perhaps one of the pioneers in bringing fractal art into Second Life – although her initial attempts to do so met with some resistance.

I had no idea there was an art community here. But when I discovered it, I became really excited about it! Naturally, my thoughts turned to showing my own work in Second Life, and I made some enquiries only to be met with negative responses, that such are was not “suitable” for SL and was even told fractal art was not “real” art…

– Milly Sharple, discussing her art and Second Life

Holly Kai Gallery: Milly Sharple

Fortunately Milly who has seen her “not real art” fractals used on book covers, CD cover art and even on the cards issued by an Indonesian bank to their customers, as well as selling privately around the globe – did not take the negative feedback to heart. Instead, she established her own modest gallery on her own land, and within 12 months she had received multiple invitations to exhibition her work across Second Life, such was the positive response people had to seeing her work.

Becoming more deeply immersed in the Second Life art community, Milly sought to support that community by establishing Timamoon Arts, a place where artists – especially those new to art in SL or who were using the platform to express themselves through art – could find a gallery home and like minds. Over four years, through until 2017, Milly grew Timamoon into a successful and popular art communities, hosting a rich diversity of artists and exhibitions.

Holly Kai Gallery: Milly Sharple

While her fractal art is perhaps the most well-known, it is not the only art Milly produces; she also works with mixed media, creating art that is both incredibly intricate and stunningly beautiful. The use of colour, coupled with the almost etching-like finish to many of the pieces brings them to life in a remarkable way. Whether floral representations, animal studies or pieces with a more fantasy edge, or presenting an image such as a portrait through the use of fractals, these pieces are utterly captivating.

Second Life has also allowed Milly to turn her hand to 3D art, producing pieces that are both practical as well as art forms, such as her hand chairs; or which is exquisite artistic statements, as with her Humanitree pieces. We’re pleased to have examples of both included within the exhibition at Holly Kai. Nor does it end there; Milly has also justly won praise for her region landscaping, notably with her winter-themed Let It Snow! designs, which she is hoping to continue in 2018.

Holly Park Gallery: Milly Sharple

Multi-talented, with a photographer’s eye for art and design, Milly presents art that is always visually captivating, and it is both an honour and delight that she accepted our invitation to exhibit at Holly Kai Gallery. To mark the opening, we will be hosting an event at the rooftop area of the Holly Kai Gallery from 15:00 SLT on Sunday, October 28th, 2018, with music provided by Joy Canadeo, and warmly invite friends of Milly, the Park and this blog, as well as all lovers of art, to attend. Formal / semi-formal dress preferred.

SLurl Details

Holly Kai Estates is rated Moderate.

Senchai Library’s Halloween Hauntings

Seanchai Library

It’s time to highlight 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 home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, October 28th 13:00: Spookin’ It at Octoberville

Stories and Poems for the season at Octoberville with Shandon Loring, Corwyn Allen, Finn Zeddomore & Caledonia Skytwoer.

If you are not already “Octoberville enabled”, then go to the Library where you will be manually teleported to the story camp – BUT BE WARNED! Octoberville fills up very fast, so . . . consider arriving early!

Monday, October 29th 19:00: The Infinitive of Go

Gyro Muggins reads John Brunner’s 1980 novel about matter teleportation and dimensional shifts.

Dr Justin Williams and his collaborator, Cinnamon Wright, develop a form of instantaneous teleportation in which the departure and arrival points appear “congruent” with one another, allowing objects to be instantly moved from one to the other in a transfer process termed “posting”.

The system works flawlessly with inanimate objects, and when a situation arises requiring an urgent diplomatic solution arises, Williams is called upon to transfer a courier from the USA to an embassy in a foreign location. But something goes wrong: on his arrival, the courier is armed – yet he carried no weapon on his departure – and further demands he be given a countersign by those at the embassy – when no such arrangement had been made. Believing the mission to be compromised, the courier shoot himself, and the package he is carrying self-destructs.

In order to prove he did not sabotage the system, Williams has himself posted – only to find that while he feels unchanged, the world around him has changed in the most subtle of ways. As time goes on, Williams – with the help of a doubly altered Wright – realises that the teleportation device is moving its subjects between parallel universes. It is also apparent that some of those arriving in the dimension in which he now exists have far more knowledge about what is going on.

The question is, is it the system that is causing people to move between universes, or ir it something more subtle?

Tuesday, October 30th

13:00 onwards: Stranger Nightfire’s Annual Halloween Party

Featuring Stories & Music, up in Haunted Holly Kai

19:00: Spooky in 100 Words

With R. Crap Mariner

Wednesday, October 31st: Halloween!

17:00 onwards: Stranger Nightfire’s Annual Halloween Party

Featuring stories with Caledonia Skytower and Shandon Loring. Music at 18:00. All up in Haunted Holly Kai.

19:00: The Jennifer Morgue

Corwyn Allen reads the second volume in the Laundry Files by Charles Stross.

Bob Howard is an IT expert and occasional field agent for the Laundry, the branch of Her Majesty’s Secret Service that deals with occult threats. In this second outing, Bob Howard finds himself dragged into the machinations and conspiracies of megalomaniac multi-billionaire Ellis Billington, The Black Chamber and The Laundry…

Dressed in a tuxedo (what else for a globe-trotting British Secret Agent?) and sent to the Caribbean, Bob must infiltrate Billington’s inner circle via his luxurious yacht. His mission? Prevent the Billington from violating a treaty that will bring down the wrath of an ancient underwater race upon humanity’s head.

Offering a wonderful pastiche on both the world of James Bond and a wonderful mimicking of Ian Fleming’s style of writing, Stross produces a novel that also evokes Lovecraftian overtones that is delightfully entertaining to read. In true Bond style, Bob is (reluctantly) partnered with an American agent – in this case a stunningly beautiful woman who also just happens to be a soul-sucking succubus from another dimension. Which, being the case, marks Bob’s mission somewhat differently to those of Bond: not only must he stop the bad guys and come through this at best shaken, he must totally avoid being stirred towards getting the girl…

Thursday, November 1st

19:00: Classic Vintage Spookiness – Tales of Halloween

With Shandon Loring at Haunted Holly Kai. Also presented in Kitelyhop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.


Please check with the Seanchai Library’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

2018 Sansar Product Meetings #43: October release preview

The Art of Drew Struzan: The Studio Experience

The following notes are taken from the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, October 25th. These Product Meetings are open to anyone to attend, are a mix of voice (primarily) and text chat.

Native Sit Capability

The Sansar team is working on a native sit capability. This would allow avatars to (finally) sit on objects properly in Sansar (rather than using the awkward teleport + “/sit” command.

  • Will likely initially comprise defining a sit point and exit point on an object to allow sitting / standing using (initially) a basic male or female sit pose.
  • This would work on both static and dynamic objects, although it would potentially means that a chair (and its occupant) could be picked-up and thrown / tossed around, something the Lab is a little cautious about allowing.
  • However, the precise mechanism has yet to be determined.

Avatar / Avatar VR  Interactions

A further capability being developed in for users in VR to directly interact with one another via fist bumps and high fives and sense the feedback through their VR controllers.

October Release Preview

Note: although referred to as the October release, the next release for Sansar is now likely to be early in November 2018.

VR Updates

Button Remapping: The next release will see some of the buttons in VR realigned; the teleport function will no longer be a trigger button, but will be moved to the lower thumb button on each controller. This is to start exposing the trigger buttons for use to fire guns, potentially with the upper thumb button being used as a “reload” button, thus increasing the number of buttons being used by Sansar. Within the Sansar team, this work is being called “Project Pew! Pew!”.

IK Updates: the IK movement capabilities in Sansar have been improvements over the last couple of releases, so that avatars closely follow physical movements. These will continue with release #27, which will also allow VR users to see their own avatars in first-person view. The first version view does cause some clipping of the head, depending on how they are rigged. To help reduce this, the October will include documentation to provide guidance on rigging custom avatars.

Hand Gestures: the upcoming will allow hand gestures to be seen in the blue VR hands in third-version views, and the hands will show with custom avatars. So, if some in 1st person is looking down at their hands in VR, they will see the blue hands for manipulation (useful for avatars which may have things like tentacles are longer than the avatar arm). In the future it should be possible to hide the blue hands altogether, such as when a custom avatar’s hands are correctly rigged.

VR menus: the menus displayed in VR are being resized so they don’t dominate the scene when open.

VR keyboard: VR users will be able to call up a VR keyboard and type chat and direct messages, search the Atlas, etc. This will apparently include Swedish characters!

Custom Animations

The October release will allow creators to upload and sell custom animations. Initially, the capability will not include the ability to designate the emote command, so the existing emotes will have to be re-mapped to use  any custom animations on a per-avatar basis.

  • When purchased, the animation will appear in a new emotes library in the character editor, and the user can re-map an emote to use the animation from there. For example, if a custom dance is uploaded, it can be re-mapped to play using one of the existing dance emotes
  • Although this doesn’t mean emotes can only be used for similar animations, any of the emotes can be remapped to use any custom animation.
  • However, as this is on a per-avatar basis, emotes must be re-mapped if the avatar type is swapped from one gender to the other.

The Desktop Mode Menu

The Desktop Mode menu will change to the left side of the screen, and will offer fewer buttons, as the options have been distilled down to logical groupings. So, for example, Go will offer a sub-menu for the Atlas, Events, etc.

  • This is being done to make the UI more user friendly for new users.
  • There are no plans at this time to make the button positions configurable (e.g. left or right, top or bottom of the screen).

New User Experience Update

Starting with the October release, new users will be taken to an experience on logging-in to Sansar for the first time, and have a default avatar. The experience will be one of those currently populated with other people, the idea being to get new users interaction with other users as quickly as possible.

Which experience a new user is sent to will depend on a number of factors: whether it is public; how many are already in it (to avoid sending new users to an experience nearing its capacity and the possibility they may be re-directed to an empty instance); and those experiences that present a heavy  / long load time will also be avoided.

Permissions / Licensing

There will likely not be any changes to the permissions / licensing system in the next release.

Other Items

  • Additional dance emotes: “dance5″ and” will be added to Sansar with the next release, these will also be available for re-mapping to use custom animations.
  • Avatar skin sub-shader: this will initially only be applicable to custom avatars, not the Sansar system avatars – that will come in time. This will eventually allow people to change the skin of their avatars.
  • New typing indicator: this will be displayed in a similar manner to the speaking indicator, above those using text chat when they are typing. The indicator will be shown in both Desktop and VR modes.
  • New emissive shader.
  • Keyboard language options: Sansar will support a broader range of keyboard layouts beyond the English QWERTY layout, with support for around 20 languages.
  • Updates to Chat and People Apps, including working copy / paste of chat.
  • Client settings: new microphone / voice check option
  • Script updates:
    • scripted raycasting.
    • “motions of interia” API to prevent things like spinning gyroscopes toppling over.

In Planning

The Lab is still working on:

  • Providing more sliders for avatar customisation.
  • Offering the means to change attachment points, but there will not necessarily be an increase in the number of attachment points.

Purple Leonis: Witch at DiXmiX

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

Opening at 12:00 noon on Saturday, October 27th at DiXmiX Gallery is a special exhibition of art by Purple Leonis ONeill (Nel4481). Entitled Witch, it celebrates the mystery and mysticism of Halloween as a time of witchcraft and dark magic by recalling the story of a woman whose fate is very much tied to black magic and dark arts.

Welcome,

My name is Madeleine and I’m a witch …. well …. I was … here is my story.

Thus we are introduced to the protagonist of the story, a woman who went against her times to seek out the forbidden, to communicate with the dead, and to join with other women of like mind to found a coven.

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

Though brief, the story colours her life sufficiently for us to track it from that first evening of temptation through until her death at the hands of local villagers. It is a story reflected in the  images arranged into the lower and upper floors of the gallery’s Grey Hall, itself decorated to presented a suitably haunting look.

The images are striking both in their richness of character, and in the manner in which they both illustrate and add subtext to Madeleine’s tale. Some show her awakening through subtle means: a seemingly gentle evening game with a cat (felines – albeit generally black ones – being the usual familiar for witches) or the innocent-looking brush of fingers over a Bible. Others are more direct: caught in a Ouija board induced trace, naked dancing around a night-time fire in the depths of a forest and – ultimately, trapped at the stake as the flames rise.

One night, everything has changed. Village men came to capture me. That night sounded my end….
Beaten, maltreated, tied up by the villagers, I was tied to the pyre of those condemned for witchcraft.

DiXmiX Gallery: Witch

With – again appropriately  – 13 images in total, the exhibition sits as both a display of art and – in a sense – a graphic novel telling Maeleine’s tale. My one small quibble with the story is the date on the tale: 1890, a time long after he period when women would be burned for the perception of their witchcraft.

Music for the opening will be provided by Miss Dee Hannaha, and given the nature of the event  – although it is not openly stated – suitable dress may will be appreciated.

SLurl Details