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.
The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, April 18th, which served to introduce members of the Sansar team, discussing changes to featured experiences, and raised the possible instigation of a possible Office Hours with the product team. The meeting was followed on April 19th by an announcement concerning the use of PayPal as a supported payment service provider, which is noted at the end of this report.
The meeting took the opportunity to introduce:
Kelly Linden: Kelly is worked at the Lab for 15 years, obviously primarily with Second Life, where he headed the scripting team; he now leads the scripting development team for Sansar.
Skylar Linden: Skylar heads the Sansar Live Events team, and is leading the work on the work with events and the Atlas that is currently in progress.
Signal Linden: has been part of the Sansar team for three years, working in a number of areas, including the web API, and is currently focused on some transform tool changes in the Edit mode, and which see the addition of some hot keys to allow toggling between things like move and rotate, etc.
Lankston Linden: a data analyst for Sansar, focusing on typical activities within Sansar – how many people are doing X at a given time, etc., how many are using Y, helping to determine trends within the platform, etc.
The analytics Lankston is helping develop are intended for use by the Lab, but Landon Linden indicated that developing analytics for use by Sansar creators. This should hopefully start to happen towards the end of the second half of 2019.
Harley Linden, who head the Sansar support team.
Featured (Recommended in the web version of the Atlas) have not been updated in a while. The web version comprises a 3×3 grid, and in the future:
Three of these featured experiences will probably be reserved for the Lab’s content partners.
Three will feature experiences that align with other internal goals the Lab has which “may or may not be obvious”. These might, for example, focus on live music concerts.
The remaining three will be open to Sansar creators, and will be changed on a weekly basis.
The criteria on how the last three are selected still have to be determined, however:
It is likely that a creator featured one week will not be eligible to be featured the following week, even with a different experience.
There is likely to be some form of public “voting / nomination” for potential experiences through the Sansar Discord channel.
It might be that the three slots will be determined by an over-arching theme (e.g. holiday themes during notable holiday weeks, or themes like clubs, games, etc.
Sansar’s Discord channels have been opened to the public.
A new public channel (or channels) is available for those who might hear about Sansar and who want to check the community, etc., before opting to install the client and sign-up.
This means the content of the existing channels will be available for anyone on the public Sansar Discord channel to read, but only registered Sansar users will be able to post to them.
The Lab is additionally look to reach out to other communities on Discord and generate interest in Sansar (e.g. the live music community).
In Brief from the Meeting
Linden Lab is looking to expand the number of avatars a single instance of an experience can handle. The limit has been 35, but 50 is being looked at with tests of up to 65.
There is a known issue with voice that can see it suddenly drop / fail within an experience where multiple people are chatting.
With the next release (as previously reported) events and the Atlas should be fully re-integrated. However, it is still TBD on whether the event will feature the primary instance of the supporting experience, or will be tied to a dedicated instance of the experience.
Product Office Hours: the idea here is for sessions (possibly on Twitch) in which specific topics could be addressed (e.g. “how to rig an avatar”). Feedback on this idea has been asked for via Discord.
On Friday, April 19th, Linden Lab announced – via Steam – that with immediate effect, they would supporting PayPal as a payment service provider, allowing users to purchase Sansar Dollars, store items, and tickets to events using PayPal.This is something users have been requested since at least the time of the public beta.
This week, Seanchai Library joins with Fantasy Faire to present stories of fantasy and science fiction throughout the week and the Fantasy Faire LitFest. Join them at the LitFest region of Trollhaugen.
Monday 22nd 19:00: Selections from the Works of Ursula Le Guin
Gyro Muggins presents selected excerpts from two different works by the late author Ursula Le Guin: Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven.
Published in 1969 as a part of the Hainish Cycle,Left Hand of Darkness established Le Guin’s status as a major author of science fiction. The novel follows the story of Genly Ai, a native of Earth and the envoy of the Ekumen, a confederation of planets that includes Earth. He is sent to the planet Gethen (also know as Winter), to persuade the nation states of that world to join the Ekumen, but he is stymied by his lack of understanding of Gethenian culture: the people there are ambisexual, with no fixed sex, something that plays a powerful role in the culture of Gethen, which Ai finds hard to understand. And then there is the intrigue he finds…
Originally published in serial form by Amazing Stories in 1971, The Lathe of Heaven is set in Portland, Oregon in the year 2002. Now a city of three million inhabitants and continuous rain, in a United States now an impoverished nation, as is much of the world, thanks to the impact of global warming. For Portland, this means the poorer inhabitants to have kwashiorkor, or protein deprivation. Within this environment, a battle of wits ensues between a psychiatrist and a patient with psychic dream powers.
Tuesday, April 22nd 19:00: Nothing But Trolls!
From Neil Gaiman to J.K. Rowling, as well as more traditional adventures, Caledonia Skytower presents a troll’s eye perspective
Wednesday, April 23rd 19:00: Celebrating Ursula K Le Guin
Seanchai Library joins Litfest’s celebration of the life and works of Ursula K. Le Guin.
Thursday, April 24th: 19:00: Halloween in April – X-Files: The House On Hickory Hill
With Shandon Loring and Calaedonia Skytower. (Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).
While the planet – called Proxima-b – lies within it’s parent star’s habitable zone, there are, as I’ve previously reported, some significant barriers to it being a potential cradle for life. In particular, red dwarf stars are volatile little beasts (Proxima Centauri is just 1.5 times bigger than Jupiter), with their internal activity convective in nature. This tends to give rise to massive stellar flares that can bathe planets orbiting them in high levels of biologically harmful radiation. In addition, many planets discovered orbiting red dwarfs are so close to their parent as to be tidally locked – always keeping the same face towards their sun. This means they are liable to extremely hostile conditions: high temperatures on one side, freezing cold on the other, with the region around the terminator liable to violent weather – assuming they have an atmosphere; over longer periods of time, the onslaught of X-ray radiation and charged particle fluxes from their parent star can literally strip away any atmosphere, unless a planet can replenish it fast enough.
This latter point is the conclusion reached by a team of scientists at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland in reference to Proxima Centauri b in 2017 (see: Space Sunday: Curiosity’s 5th, Proxima b and WASP-121b), although they were working largely from computer modelling.
However, all that said, if Proxima-b does still have an atmosphere, then a new study conducted by researchers from the Carl Sagan Institute (CSI) suggests life might have got started on Proxima-b, and might even still exist there.
In essence, the team from CSI examined the levels of surface UV flux that planets orbiting M-type (red dwarf) stars like Proxima-b would experience and compared that to conditions on primordial Earth. At that time, some 4 billion years ago, Earth’s surface was hostile to life as we know it today, thanks to a volcanically toxic atmosphere and the levels of UV radiation reaching the surface from the Sun; however it is believed the it was the period when life first arose on Earth.
In particular, the team modelled a range of possible surface UV environments and atmospheric compositions of four nearby “potentially habitable” exoplanets: Proxima-b, TRAPPIST-1e, Ross-128b and LHS-1140b. These models showed that as atmospheres become thinner and ozone levels decrease, more high-energy UV radiation is able to reach the ground – which was to be expected. But when they compared the models to those developed for Earth as it was 4 billion years ago, things got interesting: the exoplanet models suggest that the UV levels they experience are all lower than the Earth experienced in its youth, when the first (pre-oxygen) life is believed to have existed – suggesting that despite their harsh conditions, life might have gained a toehold on them.
With Proxima-b this is particularly interesting, as it is liable to be somewhat older than the Earth, possibly by as much as 200 million years. This means there is a possibility that if simple life arose there early enough after the planet’s formation, it might well have had enough time to adapt to the development environment as atmospheric conditions changed, and thus survived through to current times.
The news from Proxima Centauri doesn’t end there. A team of researchers from the University of Crete and the Observatory of Turin has found possible evidence of a second planet orbiting the star.
Proxima Centauri b was identified using two instruments operated by the European Southern Observatory in Chile, which recorded “wobbles” in Proxima Centauri’s spin as a result of planetary gravitational influences. One of those instruments, called HARPS, has been the focal point for the team claiming there’s evidence for a second planet orbiting the star. By studying data gathered over the last 17 years, they believe they have found sufficient evidence to suggest a second planet could be affecting the star’s spin.
The team estimate that this second planet could have a mass approximately six times that of Earth, putting it in the category of a super-Earth / mini Neptune class of planet in terms of potential size, and that it likely orbits its parent at a distance of approximately 1.5 AU (1.5 times the average distance between the Earth and the Sun) once every 5 terrestrial years. . At such a distance, it’s likely that the surface temperatures of the planet is likely to be around -230oC.
Confirmation that the new planet does actually exists is now required – hence the research time offering their report for further peer review.
Curiosity Samples Clay on Mars
Curiosity has been on the road for nearly seven years. Finally drilling at the clay-bearing unit is a major milestone in our journey up Mount Sharp.
– Curiosity Project Manager Jim Erickson
With these words, issued in a press release on April 11th, the Mars Science Laboratory team announced a major goal for Curiosity rover had been achieved.
While it may seem are to believe, despite seven years on the surface of Mars, and with multiple drilling samples obtained, gaining a direct sample of clay rock has proven elusive. While the rover has previously sampled clay deposits and the minerals they contain, these have been contained in samples of mudstone the rover has sampled, rather than from an actual layer of clay.
The primary goal for the mission is to determine whether Mars ever have the right conditions for microbes to live. It’s a question that can be answered by sampling the planet’s soil, air, and rock and carefully analysing it. This goal was actually met in the first several months of the rover’s time on Mars while it was still exploring the crater floor, but the more evidence Curiosity can gather, the clearer our understanding of past conditions in Gale Crater and on Mars become.
In this, clays play an important role. They form in water, a key requirement for life, and can act as repositories for chemical and minerals that might be indicative of conditions suitable for past life. This particular sample of clay came from a rock formation on the side of “Mount Sharp” dubbed Aberlady, which Curiosity drilled on April 6th, 2019.