A further day at Sol Farm in Second Life

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm – click any image for full size

In looking back through my notes on regions visited in these pages, I came across Sol Farm, a place we first visited just over two years ago (see A Day at Sol Farm in Second Life) but had failed to return to in the intervening time. So I suggested to Caitlyn we hop over and take a look at what may have changed over the past 25 months.

During our first visit to this Full region, designed by Show Masala that utilises the additional 10K Land Capacity option available to private regions, I noted it to be:

A largely rural setting, centred around Sol Farm, complete with thatched farmhouse, fields of crops and livestock, outbuildings, and many of the mechanical accoutrements of a working farm. However, there is much more here than may at first be apparent.

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm

This is still very much the case. In fact, on first arrival, I wondered if anything had changed since our original visit or if the region had settled into one of those wonderful places that, rather than offering new looks to entice visits and exploration, instead preserve its original look and feel, making it an attractive and familiar place to re-visit,  where memories can be re-awoken be familiar sights.

For example, the thatched farmhouse with its fields are still there, sun-ripened crops looking ready for harvesting. Also still in evidence is the Mediterranean villa to the south of the farm, complete with its suggestion that it is perhaps a holiday home; while off to the west from the landing point the familiar Ferris wheel of an old fun fair breaks the horizon, as does the rocky knob topped by a lighthouse and pavilion.

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm

But first looks can be a little deceiving: Sol Farm has changed over the intervening time. Thus, for those both new to the region or those who have perhaps visited it in the past but have not returned of late, it makes for an engaging and in places a quirky visit, with much to occupy the eye and camera.

The quirkiness can immediately be evidenced when using the SLurl given in this article. When looking west from the landing point in provides, it is hard to miss the blue whale serenely and slowly circling through the air over the farm, a small wild garden apparently growing on its back (and on in which you can ride for an aerial view of the region). But it is not the only twist to this setting.

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm

It is also to the west that I spotted another change from our last visit. What had once been a large house occupying its own island connected to the rest of the region via a wooden board walk, is now a headland where another crop is ripening and which ends in a rocky promontory, where sits the most eclectic little group of houses, both on the ground and up in the trees, a little wind turbine supplying them with power.

During our January 2017 visit, I noted in passing the presence of a little Japanese village occupying the west side of the region, but somewhat separated from it by a rocky curtain wall. This is still present and open to visitors (just follow the track around the island to the east and under the Torii gate sheltering beneath a rocky arch, or take the north side beach eastwards until you come to it). However, it now offers another odd little quirk, being the home to a host of cats. And not just any cats; these all stand upright as they go about their business, a large part of which appears to involve some kind of festival.

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm

There are many elements that bring this setting together as a landscape painting made real. The first, perhaps are the rutted tracks that run through the region. These link the various points of interest – the farm, the villa, the broken old fun fair, the Mediterranean farm alongside it and the north-western headland – into a cohesive whole, giving the feeling you’re really travelling through a place. Another is the use of farm animals, sheep, horses, cattle, that neatly help stitch the central farm and the western lands together. Then there is the rich sound scape that perfectly enfolds everything.

Stay within the region long enough, and you’ll discover another somewhat unique element to it: the weather. Every so often a small tornado will pass through, bringing with it a squall of rain, the wind tossing bits and pieces of rubbish into the air which fall back to Earth in the storm’s wake before vanishing along with the storm itself.

Sol Farm; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrSol Farm

Beautifully conceived from farm to beaches to houses and village, richly detailed and presented, Sol Farm remains a photogenic joy to visit.

SLurl Details

  • Sol Farm (Story of Infinite, rated: Moderate)
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Love Made in SL 2: Lily and Charles

Logo by Marianne McCann, courtesy of Linden Lab

It seems the UK is a popular place when it comes to people in Second Life finding love that brings them together in the physical world as well as the digital! For the second part of the new mini-series Love Made in SL, the camera turns to Lily Swidlehurst from the UK and CharlesDe Beaumont from Germany.

Released on Monday, February 25th (does the mark the series as being fortnightly in releases?), this is another short video which tells – in the participant’s own words – how their relationship blossomed on both side of the screen.

It’s a story that piqued my curiosity, as Lily and Charles are both Second Life mentors. Together with Aullere Ocello and her SL partner, Notfragile Gausman, they run the Helping Haven Community Gateway, which has been the subject of an article in this blog (see Community Gateways in Second Life: Helping Haven).

This link to mentoring is also reflected in part of the video being sent in Ahern, which also reflects the fact that Lily and Charles actually met at a welcome centre. However, this also perhaps reveals something that tended to be true of Second Life at one time (although I have no idea if it is still the case): that the friendships made during our earliest exposure to Second Life can actually be the most enduring over time.

And in an age where all the emphasis on digital interactions and the “need” to have all the widgets offered by VR  – facial expression, etc – in order to make communication and interaction “real”, Charles points out that actually, quite a lot can be revealed simply through text.

If you get to know someone over several months just typing … then in the end, the personality is becoming very clear.

– CharlesDe Beaumont

Simply put, while it is so often maligned in this the so-called VR age, and disparagingly dismissed as “getting in the way”, the keyboard is actually a magnificent tool for communication, honesty and openness. Perhaps because – like our avatars – it removes us by one step from those with whom we’re communicating, offering an opportunity for consideration and the freedom to offer feelings and emotions that might otherwise remain hidden due to things like embarrassment.

Lily and Charles: sharing their experience through Love Made in SL

As with Teal and Wolfie in the first part of this series (see Love Made in SL: a new video mini-series), the relationship between Charles and lily grew to a point where, after 11 months, Charles took the plunge and moved from Germany to the UK. Around six months later, they were setting up home together.

Also like the first segment in the series, the story is simply and beautifully told, making further commentary here somewhat superfluous. So why not watch the video below, and keep an eye out for the next in this series in a couple of weeks time?

Love Made in SL can be found on the Second Life You Tube channel.

2019 viewer release summaries week #8

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 24th

This summary is generally 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.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5th, promoted December 13th. Formerly the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer updated to version 6.1.0.524240 on February 22nd.
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer updated to version 6.0.2.524476 on February 19th.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No Updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

An art ensemble at * THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project

* THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project: Mirabelle Beidermann

Currently open at * THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project, curated by Ladmilla, is an ensemble exhibition of Second Life and digital art entitled All the Colours of Monochrome, featuring the work of Kapaan, Loegan (Loegan Magic), Patrick (PatrickofIreland), Rachel Magic, Trish (trishasrose) Vinicio Armin and Cybele Moon (Hannahoobinoo), together with a special exhibition entitled Tribute to Surrealism by Mirabelle Biedermann (mirabelle sweetwater).

The gallery itself is an intriguing setting, the exhibition spaces split between a medieval style church and a large castle. A medieval house offers a further annex for displaying art, but for this exhibition, it was empty.

* THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project: Venicio Armin

Mirabelle’s Tribute to Surrealism is located in two rooms within the church. A Second Life photographer since 2011, Mirabelle notes that her interest in surrealism is something of a recent turn for her. she started by interpreting some of the more notable works by René Magritte – a point most clearly demonstrated with Son of No One, reflecting as it does Magritte’s Son of Man – before she moved to developing her own style and images, which is also reflected in the pieces offered here.

Also to be found in the church are exhibits featuring the work of Patrick Ireland, who displays four marvellous monochrome pieces in a suitably monochrome setting; Cybele Moon, who has more of her narrative-rich images on one of the church’s two  upper galleries, the other being taken by the art of Venicio Armin. I confess to not having witnessed (at least, not that I can remember) his work, but I was immediately drawn to it; there is an evocative strength to his work that is entirely captivating.

* THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project: Ladmilla

Rounding out the exhibit in the church is a selection of Ladmilla’s art, more of which can be found in the main rooms within the castle setting. Like Venicio, Ladmilla focuses on landscape pieces, and her work is beautifully lit and rich in colour and tone. Above the main halls of the castle – and indeed below them – on both the parapet walks of the curtain walls and within the narrow passages within the walls, visitors can find the work of Loegan, Rachel, Kapaan and Trish.

Each presents a unique and eye-catching style, but again, I found myself drawn to the more monochrome work of Kapaan. His seven images are presented in two groups, each with its own story to tell, and both drawn together by the setting in which they are offered.

* THE EDGE * Digital Renaissance Project: Kapaan

As an ensemble exhibition, All the Colours of Monochrome offers a rich mix of style and images, and the title cleverly reflects the presentation of both monochrome and colour images. This makes for an engaging visit.

SLurl Details

Space Sunday: tourist flights, landers, moons and rovers

A dramatic shot from the tail boom camera on VSS Unity just after the tail boom has been triggered to its raised “feathered” position to commence the gentle drop back into the denser atmosphere following a flight to an altitude just shy of 90 km (56.25 mi). Credit: Virgin Galactic

On Friday, February 22nd, Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity completed a further test flight, its second time in just over two months, and in doing so set itself a new altitude record.

The space plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier, the VSM Eve at 16:53 UT, some 45 minutes after taking off from the Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The vehicle’s hybrid rocket moor was fired for roughly one minute, pushing the Unity and its crew of three to an altitude 89.9 km (56 mi), reaching a maximum velocity of Mach 3 in the process. After a successful “feathering” manoeuvre of the vehicle’s tail boom, Unity dropped back into the denser atmosphere and glided back to a runway landing in Mojave at 17:08 UT.

The flight, delayed by two days due to high winds over the planned flight test route, marked the first time the vehicle had carried a “passenger”: Beth Moses, Virgin Galactic’s chief astronaut instructor. She made the flight with David Mackay and Mike “Sooch” Masucci, respectively the company’s chief test pilot and lead trainer pilot. All three were making their first trips into space, Moses being aboard to provide practical validation and  data on aspects of the customer cabin and spaceflight environment from the perspective of “people in the back”. Her presence on the flight was not announced until after Unity had landed.

Beth, Sooch and I just enjoyed a pretty amazing flight which was beyond anything any of us has ever experienced. It was thrilling yet smooth and nicely controlled throughout with a view at the top, of the Earth from space, which exceeded all our expectations.

– Virgin Galactic chief test pilot David Mackay

Moses also kept an eye on the flight’s special payload – four science and technology demonstration packages provided by NASA under the agency’s Flight Opportunities Programme. Three of the packages had been flown on the Unity’s previous flight in December 2018.

Virgin Galactic have refused to indicate how many more test flights will be made before SpaceShipTwo starts carrying fare-paying passengers, although the company’s founder, Sir Richard Branson has indicated he hopes to fly on the vehicle in July 2019, possibly to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. Speaking ahead of the February 22nd test flight, Mike Moses, president of Virgin Galactic and husband of Beth Moses, indicated that the company is in the “heart” of their flight test regime, and the focus is on expanding the envelope of flights, including their frequency, prior to committing to commercial flights.

VSS Unity touching down at Mojave Air and Space Port. Credit: Virgin Galactic

The altitudes reached by Unity thus far (just over 80 km / 50 mi on the December 2018 flight and now 89.9 km) have caused some to call into question whether or not VSS Unity has really been in space – including Jeff Bezos, who is heading Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic’s clearest rival in the sub-orbital passenger market.

Speaking about his own company’s test programme with their New Shephard launch system, Bezos emphasised the operational difference between the reusable New Shephard rock and its crew / passenger carrying capsule and Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo. The New Shephard is specifically designed to reach altitudes of 100 km (50 mi), somewhat higher that Virgin Galactic have thus far achieved. 100 km is important, as it marks the position of the Kármán Line, considered to be the point above which where aerodynamics cease having any real influence over an aircraft’s performance, making it reliant on astronautics. Thus, it is seen by some as the boundary of space.

One of the issues that Virgin Galactic will have to address, eventually, is that they are not flying above the Kármán Line, not yet … We’ve always had as our mission that we wanted to fly above the Kármán Line, because we didn’t want there to be any asterisks next to your name about whether you’re an astronaut or not. That’s something they’re going to have to address, in my opinion.

– Jeff Bezos, New Origins founder, commenting on Virgin Galactic, February 20th, 2019

New Shephard is also in the midst of a test programme that could see it flying passengers before the end of 2019. Pictures is a text flight launch on January 23rd, 2019, the 10th test flight for the system, as captured via video. Credits: Blue Origin via CBS News

However, things are actually not that clear-cut. There is no international law defining the edge of space; for example, the United States – from which both New Shepherd and Virgin Galactic will fly (at least initially in the latter’s case) considers the boundary to be 80 km (50 mi), which Virgin Galactic can clearly exceed.

Further, Theodore von Kármán, after whom the line is named, suggested the boundary could lie anywhere between 91 km and 100 km altitude. The ambiguity is exacerbated by a proposal to set the “edge” of space in international law as the lowest perigee attainable by an orbiting space vehicle – which would place it somewhere between 130 km (81 mi) and 150 km (93 mi), somewhat beyond the capabilities of either SpaceShipTwo and New Shephard, which tends to render arguments about altitude and boundaries a little moot, particularly given the fact that whether at 80-90 km above the earth or at 100 km, passengers on either vehicle will experience the same degree of weightlessness.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: tourist flights, landers, moons and rovers”

A wedding, a saga, tales, poetry and a wild call

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, February 24th, 13:30: Tea Time with Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes

Following his retirement from active investigations, Sherlock Holmes moved to the Sussex Downs in order to keep bees. However, the gentility of his retirement takes a turn after an encounter with one Mary Russell,  a 15-year-old orphan from the United States  who moved to England to live with her Aunt.

Somewhat precocious, Mary Russell is also gifted with wit and intellect, and without anything being planned, the two form a new partnership, Holmes teaching Russell his trade craft and assisting her in solving crimes, their adventures charted by American writer, Laurie R. King.

For six years the two work together, until 1921, when they deal with the case of A Monstrous Regiment of Women. At the end of that adventure, Holmes and Mary are wed – but the matter was only given passing mention in the story.

With The Marriage of Mary Russell, here recounted in voice Savanah Blindside, Corwyn Allen, and Caledonia Skytower, Laurie King revisits the nuptials between the two in a short story that also helps to fill some of the blanks around the relationship between Russell and Holmes.

A Tea Time Special Vote

In March and April, Seanchai Library will be presenting Sherlock Holmes Greatest Hits for the Sunday Tea Time at Baker Street sessions. BUT – which four stories should they present? A short list of 10 of the adventures completed by Holmes and Watson has been drawn up, but Seanchai fans and supporters have the power to select the final four. Just visit Sherlock’s Greatest Hits, read the synopses of the short listed ten stories and place your vote for your preferred stories in the list. The final four will be selected from those receiving the most votes.

Monday, February 25th 19:00: Hanta Yo: An American Saga

Gyro Muggins reads Ruth Beebe Hill’s extraordinary novel that is either loved or hated – and has certainly proven controversial since its first publication.

Lyrically written, the story is, at its core, a multi-generational saga follows the lives of two Indian families, members of the Mahto band of the Teton Sioux, before and during their first contact with the white man and his “manifest destiny.” Within its sweeping story, Hill attempted to fashion an epic, Native American version of Alex Haley’s Roots.

Allegedly based in part on writings translated from a Lakota Sioux winter account translated by a First Nation Sioux, the story is certainly cohesive and vivid. For those unfamiliar with the lives and rituals of the Plains Indians of North America, it makes for a fascinating and enlightening read.

However, to some in the Lakota, the book is seen as demeaning and misrepresentative – a fact Hill herself finds baffling. Whilst she fully acknowledges the story is a “documented novel” – a fictional story based on actual events – she also notes that she spent some 20 or more years researching Hanta Yo and carrying out hundreds of interviews with representatives of the Sioux, Kiowa, Omaha, Cheyenne, and Navajo tribes, including allowing them access to her manuscript to verify the historical elements from their standpoint.

Event today, in the year of the 40th anniversary since its first publication, Hanta Yo divides opinions. So why not settle down with Gyro to hear the tale first hand?

Tuesday, February 26th 19:00: Selections from Wind on the Willows

With Faerie Maven-Pralou.

Wednesday, February 27th 19:00: Winter Sea in Poetry and Music

With Ktahdn Vesuvino (on stream) and Caledonia Skytower (in Voice)

Thursday, February 28th 19:00: The Call of the Wild, Part 2

First published in 1903, The Call of the Wild is regarded as Jack London’s masterpiece.

Based on London’s experiences as a gold prospector in the Canadian wilderness and his ideas about nature and the struggle for existence, The Call of the Wild is a tale about unbreakable spirit and the fight for survival in the frozen Alaskan Klondike.

With Shandon Loring. (Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).