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 188.8.131.529298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
Shakespeare and Max alerted me to the opening of the latest in the Soul2Soul series of Homestead region designed by Minnie Blanco (Minnie Atlass). As with Soul2Soul Bay and Soul2Soul River (see here for more), Soul2Soul Med (read more here) and Soul2Soul Falls, Minnie’s latest – Soul2Soul Highlands – is primarily a rental / residential region, but providing visitors keep to the public areas, there is a still a lot to be seen and appreciated as part of a casual visit.
As its name implies, Soul2Soul Highlands takes it lead from the Scottish highlands – or more particularly, as becomes apparent on arrival, the Scotland’s rugged northern coast, where the wind can blow cold, and islands look at one another across the chilling waters of the Atlantic and the North Sea.
With a series of off-sim islands scattered around it, the region immediately put me in mind of the Orkneys, although there is absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t be representative of the Hebrides or the Shetlands (in fact Minnie states her inspiration for the region came from Skye and the Inner Hebrides). There is a wonderful wildness about the setting that fits the Scottish isles perfectly, not matter which of the major groups comes to mind.
The landing point is set well to the east of the region, where bicycles can be rezzed by those not wishing to walk. From here, the semi-paved, single-track road winds around the island’s central hill, curling up and over a low shoulder to the west, then following the contour of the land to sweep south and then back east to where a fortified manor house with distinctly Scottish looks about it stands on a small islet, reached by a single bridge – an ideal defensive point in times past.
Rental properties are set back from the island’s main road along tracks there are marked as private, making them easy to identify from the roadside. However, as the waterfront areas are also open to the public, some care should be taken to avoid trespassing when wandering the sands at the water’s edge.
As well as offering rental properties, the region is also bought somewhat to life by the presence of static “tourists” and “locals”. These can be found on the shoulder of the hill where the road turns and dips to the south: a couple wrapped against the wind as they walk through local sheep, two teenagers exploring the banks of a tumbling stream nearby.
Further along the road, a couple have stopped their SUV and are showing their little child the view out over the sea. More such characters can be found at and near the fortified manor house, all combining to give the feeling Soul2Soul Highlands is a place (while also piquing my curiosity to hop back to Soul2Soul River et al and see if their have gained some local characters as well).
One of the joys is visiting Minnie’s region designs is the care with which she establishes a location, and Soul2Soul Highlands is no exception. The blending of elements and kits from a variety of sources to create a ruggedly beautiful setting exceptionally mindful of the islands that inspired it. The houses are precisely the kind of properly one might reasonably expect to find along a stretch of Sottish coats: solidly built stone cottages, walls thick to keep in the heat of the fire, the aforementioned manor house with its crenelated roof, through to more modern wooden-framed homes that speak of wealth moving out from the towns and able to take advantage of modern building materials to keep interiors warm, and the inevitable barn conversions that are so often a feature of the countryside in the British Isles.
Public paths are not restricted to just to winding road or the coastal areas, either. Walk far enough along the former and a set of old stone steps will invited you to walk up over the humped back of the island’s spine to where a fell-like shoulder of rock offers a place for deer to roam and a view out towards the manor house to the east. A paths slopes gently down to from here to rejoin the road and it curls about the eastern end of the hill and so arrives at the bridge leading to the manor.
Another truly delightful design from Minnie, set beneath the perfect windlight sky and with an ideal sound scape to finish it. Whether you are seeking a new place to live (rental information available from a sign board near the landing point), or are simply looking for a new place to explore, Soul2Soul Highlands is an ideal destination.
Two important space missions came to an end at the end of October 2018. The Kepler observatory, which spent nine years in deep space collecting data that detected thousands of planets orbiting stars outside our solar system; and the Dawn spacecraft, which spent 11 years orbiting and studying the main asteroid belt’s two largest objects, Vesta and Ceres.
Concerns had been growing for months over Kepler’s ability to continue working as a result of dwindling on-board propellant supplies, as the space observatory has had to use it thrusters a lot more than originally planned, following the failure of some of its pointing gyroscopes several years ago. Similarly, the end of the Dawn mission had been signed as a result of that vehicle also running low on orientation propellants.
Launched in 2007, Dawn was the first spacecraft to orbit a body between Mars and Jupiter, and the first to orbit more than one deep-space destination. From 2011 to 2012, the spacecraft studied the asteroid Vesta before pulling off an unprecedented manoeuvre by leaving orbit and travelling to the dwarf planet Ceres, which it observed for over 3.5 years. Even with the mission now officially over, Dawn will remain in a stable orbit around Ceres for decades, while among its many findings, Dawn helped scientists discover organics on Ceres and evidence that dwarf planets could have hosted oceans over a significant part of their history—and possibly still do.
Both missions were extended past their originally anticipated lifetime because of the innovative work of their engineers and scientists. In 2016, Dawn’s mission at Ceres was extended. In 2017, its mission at Ceres was extended again to study the dwarf planet from altitudes as low as 35 km (22 mi) above the surface, with the main goal of understanding the evolution of this dwarf planet.
Dawn depleted its hydrazine propellant on October 31st, 2018 while still actively engaged in studying Ceres. Without it, the vehicle could not keep its solar panels oriented towards the Sun in order to provide energy to its battery systems, resulting in a complete loss of contact with Earth. Attempts were made to re-establish communications through NASA’s Deep Space Network, but the loss of propellants had been expected, and the US space agency officially announced the mission as concluded on November 1st, 2018.
Among the more surprising discoveries Dawn made was the fact that small bodies in the solar system like Vesta and Ceres are more diverse in nature that had even been thought. Dawn also revealed that geological activity on Ceres had once been sufficient to raise a massive 5 km (3 mi) high cryovolcano, Ahuna Mons (or informally, The Lonely Mountain), and to create more than 300 bright features, called faculae. On Earth, these bright deposits of carbonate minerals are associated with water, suggesting Ceres may have, or had, a liquid water interior. The brightest of these deposits, in Occator Crater is also the largest deposit of carbonate minerals found beyond Earth.
Such is the amount of data returned by Dawn, analysing it all will still take several more years, as noted by the mission’s Principal Investigator, Carol Raymond:
In many ways, Dawn’s legacy is just beginning. Dawn’s data sets will be deeply mined by scientists working on how planets grow and differentiate, and when and where life could have formed in our solar system. Ceres and Vesta are important to the study of distant planetary systems, too, as they provide a glimpse of the conditions that may exist around young stars.
Kepler, meanwhile, was launched in 2009 and completed its primary mission in 2012, leading to the first mission extension. Then, in 2013, a second gyroscope failure left the observatory unable to continue in its primary operating mode. Instead, engineers found a way to use both solar pressure and the observatory’s manoeuvring jets to keep it pointing in a desired direction. This allowed a new mission, dubbed K2, to commence in 2014. It has been running ever since, gathering science from 19 different patches of sky with populations of stars, galaxies and solar system objects.
Kepler was officially retired on October 30th, 2018. For most of the year it had been showing signs of running out of propellants, and without them, it would be unable to maintain the correct orientation to either continue observations or turn itself to communicate with Earth.
As NASA’s first planet-hunting mission, Kepler has wildly exceeded all our expectations and paved the way for our exploration and search for life in the solar system and beyond. Not only did it show us how many planets could be out there, it sparked an entirely new and robust field of research that has taken the science community by storm. Its discoveries have shed a new light on our place in the universe, and illuminated the tantalizing mysteries and possibilities among the stars.
– NASA’s official announcement on Kepler’s retirement
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.
Monday, November 5th 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, November 6th 19:00:Poetry of Autumn
With Aoife Lorefield
Wednesday, November 7th: 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 8th 19:00: Young Jack Sparrow – The Coming Storm
With Shandon Loring at Haunted Holly Kai. Also presented in Kitelyhop://grid.kitely.com:8002/Seanchai/144/129/29.