Still messing about in (house)boats in Second Life

Yes, I’m playing with my Linden Home houseboat again. Note the “extra door” on the side of the Windlass design, about which more below

A lot has been written about the “new” Linden Homes and their continent, Bellisseria – I know, because I’m one of those doing a lot of the writing 🙂 . However, the truth is that with four styles of house or houseboat to play with (and the promise of new types of both on the horizon), it’s really hard to stop playing with them and trying different interior layouts – as can be seen in the ever-growing forum thread on interior designs.

I started with the Windless, which has the largest interior floor space of the four houseboats initially offered by the Lab, using a simple open-plan design. From that I moved on to the Barnacle, playing with various designs, one of which I inflicted on you in a blog post. More recently, I’ve played with the Wallower – but I’ll spare you that! – before returning to the Windlass once more.

The Windlass actually has a high-ceilinged element which can, with care, be turned into an additional room

My reasons for going back to the Windlass rather than playing with the Evening Star – the forth design in the current houseboat styles – come down to the facts that, a) I’m actually not that keen on the Evening Star; b) I really wanted to see if I could come up with a Windlass design that’s a little more “cosy” thsn my original open-plan design; and c), I’ve been intrigued by the way people have added an “upper floor” to the Windlass.

For those unfamiliar with the design, the Windlass offers a split level layout, with one end having a raised ceiling so that it is possible to access the open-air roof deck via an internal staircase.

On the one hand, making this raised space into a room of its own is a simple matter of slapping in a new ceiling / floor. On the other, it’s a bit of a pain, because the newly-created space cannot be directly accessed from the existing staircase. This means either installing a teleport between the two floors, or giving up some of the available floor space “upstairs” in order to add a second staircase. But, teleports are terribly passĂ©, and even allowing for losing some floor space, having two stairways relatively close together in a living space can look … odd.

I opted to solve this by minimising the impact of a second stairway through the use of a spiral staircase from VL Designs by Veronica Lockwell. I’ve used her Mesh Spiral Staircase – Walnut kit in the past and find it highly adaptable. It’s also well made, with low LI, good LOD, and a small overall footprint, allowing me to minimise the amount to floor I has to “lose” in the new bedroom.

The spiral stairway leading up to the new bedroom space, together with the walls separating the Windlass interior stairs from the rest of the design, and which create a space for the kitchen.

To overcome the issue of have two open-plan stairways in the houseboat, I installed a couple of new walls to separate the “built-in” stairs. Doing this had the additional positive of allowing me to create space for a gallery-style kitchen, as shown in the image above. In addition, dropping in a simple prim block (partially obscured by the spiral staircase in the image above) and false door allowed me to create a faux bathroom.

However, this left me with another issue. What’s the point of having an “upstairs” room adjacent to the huge roof deck on the Windlass if you can’t easily get from the bedroom to the roof?  You can’t easily use the houseboat’s own roof door due to the intervening banister wall.

The new bedroom, reached via the spiral staircase in the left corner

I solved this through the use of the Curio Obscura Anywhere Door by Pandora Wrigglesworth. Sure, it’s a teleport system, but it gives the illusion of “walking” through a doorway rather than just being teleported, and can be modified with ease.

A pair of these mounted on the side wall of the new bedroom (one inside, one out), complete with a set of images added to suggesting showing the “indoors” or “outdoors” views when open, and presto! instant bedroom access to the roof deck!

Using an Anywhere Door to add roof deck access from my Windlass bedroom

The Anywhere Door system also solved another annoyance I have with the Windlass: it only has one “ground level” door. If you have a parcel like mine that places your houseboat “beam on” to the shore, this can make getting to the waterside mooring a nuisance. Either use the front door and walk around, or drop in additional piers and steps from the small lower deck balcony on the Windlass. I find neither approach particularly attractive.

So, with the simple expedient of two more Anywhere Doors (again with suitable images to added to suggest the interior and exterior views when the doors are open), I created a way to get from inside the Windlass to the moorings and my boats / planes with relative ease, with one of the Anywhere Doors forming a “back door” between kitchen and “bathroom”.

Borrowing a section of Blush Bravin’s Party Add-on for the Barnacle Houseboat and combining them with prims, allowed me to neatly section-off the raised part of the Windlass floor space to create a cosy lounge area, complete with a little entrance are fr the front door. To further add warmth to this space, I also blanked of a couple of the large windows at that end of the boat to create additional “solid” walls, providing space for a fireplace on one side and a little corner for my piano on the other.

Looking across the lounge area towards the front door from the fireplace, and peeking over the top of the carriage clock on the fireplace mantle

I’m still not 100% sure about using my Linden Home as a “full-time” living space, but as it is I think I now had enough variations of designs for three of the houseboat types to keep living there interesting, should I end up going in that direction! 🙂 .

2019 viewer release summaries week #22

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, June 2nd

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 6.2.2.527338, formerly the Teranino RC viewer, promoted May 22nd – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Rainbow RC viewer, version 6.2.3.527584, released on May 29th. Contains a Windows / Nvidia fix.
    • Love Me Render viewer updated to version 6.2.3.527478, on May 28th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated to version 1.26.22.49 and Experimental branch to version 1.26.23.2 on June 1st  (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: ExoMars, a magic movie and a “forbidden planet”

A model of the ExoMars rover, Rosalind Franklin, in the ROCC Mars Yard. Credit: ESA

When it comes to Mars rover missions, eyes tend to be firmly on NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity vehicle and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover.

However, if all goes according to plan, come 2021, Curosity and Mars 2020 will have a smaller European cousin trundling around Mars with them, thanks to the arrival of ExoMars rover Rosalind Franklin. While the rover isn’t due to be launched for just over 12 months, the European Space Agency (ESA) take two further steps towards the mission in June 2019.

At the start of the month, ESA inaugurated the Rover Operations Control Centre (ROCC) in Turin, Italy. Designed to be the hub that orchestrates all operational elements supporting Rosalind Franklin once it has been delivered to the surface of Mars by its Russian-built landing platform, ROCC is one of the most advanced mission operations centres in the world.

This is the crucial place on Earth from where we will listen to the rover’s instruments, see what she sees and send commands to direct the search for evidence of life on and under the surface.

– Jan Wörner, ESA’s Director General

As well as providing communications with the rover, data processing, and science and engineering support, the ROCC boasts one of the largest “Mars Yard” sandboxes currently available. Filled with 140 tonnes of Martian analogue soil, it offer a range of simulated terrains similar to those the rover might encounter within its proposed landing site. Such simulation capabilities will allow Earth-based teams to carry out a wide range of activities  using the rover’s Earth-bound twin before committing to particular courses of action, or to help assist the rover should it get into difficulties on Mars.

Use of such environments is not new; NASA uses an assortment of indoor and outdoor Mars Yards to help support their static and rover surface operations on Mars. However, the ROCC Mars Yard is somewhat unique in its capabilities.

For example, as ExoMars has a drilling system designed to reach up to 2 metres (6 ft) below the Martian surface, the ROCC Mars Yard includes a “well” that allows rover operators to exercise the full sequence of collecting Martian samples from well below the Martian surface. This well can be filled with different types / densities of material, so if the Rosalind Franklin gets into difficulties in operating its drill, engineers can attempt to replicate the exact conditions and work out how best to resolve problems.

The “well” in the ROCC Mars Yard, as seen from underneath, allowing the ExoMars rover mission team rehearse the full range of sample gathering operations. Credit: ESA

And while it is not part of the main Mars Yard, ROCC rover operations will be assisted by a second simulation centre in Zurich, Switzerland. This 64-metre square platform can be filled with 20 tonnes of simulated Martian surface materials and inclined up to 30-degrees. Engineers can then use another rover analogue to see how the rover might – or might not – be able to negotiate slopes.

For example, what might happen if the Rosalind Franklin tries to ascend / descend a slope covered in loose material? What are the risks of soil slippage that might result in a loss of the rover’s ability to steer itself? What are the risks of the surface material shifting sufficiently enough that the rover might topple over? What’s the best way to tackle the incline? The test rig in Zurich is intended to answer questions like these ahead of committing the Mars rover to a course of action. In fact, it has already played a crucial role in helping to develop the rover’s unique wheels.

Both the Mars Yard and the Zurich facility will be used throughout the rover’s surface mission on Mars, right from the initial deployment of the rover from its Russian landing platform (called Kazachok, meaning “little Cossack”).

With the Mars yard next to mission control, operators can gain experience working with autonomous navigation and see the whole picture when it comes to operating a rover on Mars. Besides training and operations, this fit-for-purpose centre is ideal for trouble shooting.

– Luc Joudrier, ExoMars Rover Operations Manager

The Mars Yard can also simulate the normal daytime lighting conditions on Mars. Credit: ESA

June will see the new centre commence a series of full-scale simulations designed to help staff familiarise themselves the centre’s capabilities before commencing full-scale rehearsals for  the rover’s arrival on Mars in March 2021.

Meanwhile, in the UK – which carries responsibility for assembling the rover – Rosalind Franklin is coming together. The drill and a key set of scientific instruments—the Analytical Laboratory Drawer—have both been declared fit for Mars and integrated into the rover’s body. Next up is the rover’s eyes – the panoramic camera systems. Once integration in the UK has been completed, the rover will be transported to Toulouse, France, where it will be put through a range of tests to simulate its time in space en route to Mars and the conditions its systems will be exposed to on the surface of Mars.

The targeted landing site for Rosalind Franklin is Oxia Planum, a region that preserves a rich record of geological history from the planet’s wetter past. With an elevation more than 3000 m below the Martian mean, it contains one of the largest exposures of clay-bearing rocks that are around 3.9 billion years old. The site sits in an area of valley systems with the exposed rocks exhibiting different compositions, indicating a variety of deposition and wetting environments, marking it as an ideal candidate for the rover to achieve its mission goals.

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