2019 viewer release summaries week #39

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, September 29th

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 6.3.1.530559, formerly the Umeshu Maintenance RC viewer, dated, September 5th – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Ordered Shutdown RC viewer updated to version 6.3.2.530972 on September 24th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer update to version 1.26.22.62 (Stable Branch) and version 1.26.23.15 (Experimental Branch) on September 28th (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

  • MetaChat updated to version 1.2.9109 on September 27th (release notes)
  • Mobile Grid Client updated to version 1.25.1270 on September 25th (?) (release notes)

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

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Exploring Kinglet Sound in Second Life

Kinglet Sound, September 2019 – click and image for full size

Designed by amberfff, Kinglet Sound is a recently opened Full region offering visitors the opportunity to escape to a late summer setting where there is a plenty to see – although a little effort in exploration is required order to reveal everything!

To me, the region’s name evokes a location in North America, a place in the wilder, perhaps more northerly aspects of the east or west coat of the United States, or perhaps – if at a slightly higher latitude – just over the 49th parallel north; although there is a fair mix to the region that suggest some of the inspiration for it may have been drawn from elsewhere. The setting is predominantly rugged in nature, with cliffs raising the land to the south and east and through the middle of the region, before allowing it to fall gently away to lower grasslands and sands in the north and the west.

Kinglet Sound, September 2019

A gorge cuts its way diagonally through the landscape from a set of falls to the north-east, slicing its way south and west to the coast. It has also managed to branched to the north, breaching the lower-lying land to form a large body of water, thwarted in its efforts to reach the sea on that side of the island by a low-lying wall of rock. This wall, in part natural, also in places has the look of being carefully built up by unseen hands to expressly prevent that side of the island from being completely overwhelmed by water.

Caught within the bounds of the rock, the lake forms a place for people to relax and enjoy themselves. Decks are built out over the water to offer places to sit, while boats and floats offering more intimate places to snuggle are watched over by swans. On the sands, picnic spots await company, while further places to sit and enjoy company are to be found on the seaward beaches on the far side of the low rocky divide. These face a small island tucked into the north-west corner of the region that holds an altogether more tropical look, and what appears to be a venue for music and dancing.

Kinglet Sound, September 2019

The landing point for the island sits on the uplands, close to the gorge that splits them almost into two. Here, on one side of the divide sits an octagonal pavilion in a field, horse grazing quietly around it, a track from the bridge linking it with the rest of the uplands snaking away down a gentle slope to the shaded lowlands alongside the lake. This trail, crossing the bridge, also runs by the landing point and into a little circle of commercial style properties surrounding a fountain.

Primarily places to eat and / or drink, these little properties are all complete with décor, and together with the seating and other touches outside of them, both welcome exploration and offer places to sit down or for photography. A little south of them, and visible beyond a curtain of trees from the landing point, the ruined wall of what might have once been a very large structure invites investigation. Reached via another path, it stands as a backdrop to another cuddle spot and overlooks a further music venue sitting on the headland that in turn offers an view across the gorge to the highest point of the island.

Kinglet Sound, September 2019

Reached by crossing the single bridge spanning the gorge, this high table of rock has paths curling around it, one rising to the low-slung ranch house occupying its flat peak. Fully furnished, the ranch house is open to the public and offers further seating both indoors and out – including a fine look-out point extending over the cliffs, and another right at their edge.

However, the ranch isn’t the only point of potential interest here. As well as going up, the path cutting into the cliffs also descends, offering a path down to a ribbon of sand and the base of the rocks. The sand curls around to the west and then north, offering further places for couples to slip away from the rest of those visiting the island. Follow it far enough and it will turn to a grassy path that passes under a rocky arch back to reach the north side beaches. When taking this path down and around the base of the cliffs, keep an eye out for a couple of burning torches; the inquisitive might find they betray a secret within the cliffs.

Kinglet Sound, September 2019

All of this is still only scratching the surface of the region’s richness; there are paths and trails around the landscape I’ve yet to mention, both coastal and inland. Follow the sound of a faint guitar as the tune of Greensleeves is played, and it might lead you by way of path and sand to where a little garden cosy sits amidst a copse of trees showing the first hints of autumn with their golden leaves.

Offering an entirely natural look, a rich environment to explore (although it’s a bit of a shame that the “secret” aspect of the region referenced above doesn’t offer one or two little snuggle spots / points of interest) and with multiple opportunities for photography (and a Flickr group through which to share images), Kinglet Sound comes wrapped in a perfect sound scape to present a setting well worth visiting – and supporting by way of a donation at the landing point.

Kinglet Sound, September 2019

SLurl Details

With thanks to Shawn for the LM!

Space Sunday: SpaceX Starship update

A Starship / Super Heavy pairing lifts-off from a dedicated launch facility in this still from an animated video produced by SpaceX for the September 28th, 2019 update. Credit: SpaceX

On the occasion of the eleventh anniversary of SpaceX achieving orbit for the first time with their Falcon 1 rocket on September 28th, 2008, CEO Elon Musk presented an update on the company’s progress developing its massive Super Heavy booster and interplanetary class vehicle, Starship.

It has been some 12 months since the last update on the development of the two vehicles – the last update really being overshadowed by the announcement SpaceX planned to fly a Japanese billionaire and his entourage around the Moon and back (see Moon trips, Mr Spock’s “home” and roving an asteroid for more), and the programme has moved on significantly since then, as indicated by the fact that the 2019 update took place at the SpaceX facilities in Boca Chica and against the backdrop of the first of the Starship prototype vehicle.

Starship Mk1 under construction at the SpaceX facilities near Boca Chica, Texas. Credit: unknown

Since its first public unveiling in 2016, the Starship / Super Heavy combination has been through a number of iterations and name changes. However, it is fair to say that things have now settled down on the design front, and what was presented at Boca Chica is liable to remain largely unchanged, assuming everything proceeds as SpaceX hopes.

In this, the flight capable prototype Starship at Boca Chica is the first in a series of such vehicles. A second is  under construction at the SpaceX facilities in Cocoa, Florida, and three more are planned, one of which will be used to make the first orbital flight within the next 6 months, and Musk suggesting another could be used in a crewed orbital flight within the next 12 months – which sounds exceptionally ambitious. Construction of the two initial Starship prototypes has not exactly been secret: both have been literally assembled in the open. So even ahead of the September 28th event, some were already developing renderings of the new Starship design compared to the last known iteration.

A rendering by Kimi Talvitie comparing the 2018 design for Starship (l) with the prototype (r). The rendering of the 2019 prototype was based on direct feedback from Elon Musk

The new design sees some significant changes in Starship – notably with the fins, canards and landing legs. The 2018 variant was marked by three large fins, two of which would be actuated (hinged for up / down motion relative to the hull) for atmospheric flight, with all three fins containing the vehicle’s landing legs. At the time of that design, I commented that this approach appeared risky: a heavy landing on the Moon or Mars might conceivably damage one of the actuated fins, affecting the vehicle’s ability to undertake atmospheric flight on its return to Earth.

With the new design, the fins are reduced to two and reshaped, both of which are actuated to hinge “up” and “down”. In addition, the landing system is now independent of the fins, removing the greater part of the risk of damaging them on landing. The number of landing legs is also increased to six. At the forward end of the vehicle, the canards are enlarged and hinged in a similar manner to the fins.

Starship’s basic specification. Note the “dry” mass of 85 tonnes is incorrectly stated in the slide: it is expected the production version of Starship will mass around 120 tonnes (the prototype masses around 200 tonnes. Credit: SpaceX

The remaining aspects of the design are more-or-less unchanged as far as the body of the ship is concerned: it will be some 50 metres (162.5ft) in length and have a diameter of 9m (29ft). The forward end of the vehicle will be given over to crew and passengers or cargo (or a mix of the two), although Musk now estimates the vehicle will – with the aid of the Super Heavy booster – be lifting up to 150 tonnes to low Earth orbit – an increase of roughly a third – and return up to 50 tonnes to Earth.

To help achieve this, the motor system has been slight revised. While six engines will still be used, three will now be optimised for vacuum thrust, ideal for orbital flight and pushing the vehicle out to the Moon or Mars, and the remaining three optimised for sea level thrust and capable of being gimballed for use during a descent through an atmosphere and landing.

Starship’s motor arrangement: three central Raptor engines optimised for sea level thrust and capable of gimballing and three outer vacuum optimised motors with fixed, large diameter exhaust bells for maximum efficiency. The “boxes” visible in the rendering are potentially additional cargo bins. Credit: SpaceX

During the presentation, Musk explained the rationale behind the use of 301 cold rolled stainless steel in the design, noting a number of reasons. Firstly, the cold rolling process results in a stronger, light finished product, and this becomes even stronger when exposed to the very low temperatures of cryogenic fuels. Thus, Starship and Super Heavy in theory have a structural strength equitable to that of carbon composites – but at a much lower overall mass.

Secondly, the cold rolled steel has very high melt temperatures, reducing the amount of direct heat shielding required, again reducing the vehicle’s overall mass. It is also both highly corrosion-resistant and easy to work with. This means that basic repairs to a vehicle on the surface of the Moon or Mars could be effected, or even that a Starship could even be dismantled and the steel from the hull re-purposed. Finally, there’s the fact that all these advantages are gained in a product costing around 2% that of an equivalent mass of carbon composite.

Starship Mk 1 filmed during the September 28th livestream event. Credit: SpaceX

In terms of heat shielding, the “windward” side of Starship (the side facing the fictional heat of entry into an atmosphere) will be coated with lightweight ceramic tiles. Somewhat similar in nature to those used within the space shuttle, they will be of a hardier material and less prone to damage. The re-entry profile was also discussed, with Musk comparing Starship to a sky diver.

To explain: the vehicle will approach the atmosphere at a relatively high 60-degree incidence, using the heat generated by contact with the upper atmosphere to slow its velocity from Mach 25 to a point where, once within the denser atmosphere, the vehicle is literally falling more-or-less horizontally. The fins and canards can then be used to maintain the vehicles orientation in a similar manner to that of a sky diver using his arms and legs. in addition, the lift generated by fins and canards will further help slow its descent until, roughly 2 km above the ground, the vehicle will rotate to a vertical position and use the three gimballed Raptor motors to make a propulsive, tail-first landing.

SpaceX plan to offer Starship in support of lunar operations – but the company’s goal is to establish a permanent human presence on Mars. Credit: SpaceX

Starship Mk 1 is equipped with the same sea level optimised Raptor motors as intended for the production vehicles.  SpaceX hope to see it make at least one flight before the end of the year – although the company has yet to secure a permit from the US Federal Aviation Authority to commence flights. This first attempt will be to an altitude of around 20 km (12.5 mi) before a descent and landing. If successful, the test programme involving the various prototype vehicles will unfold from there.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: SpaceX Starship update”

This week at Seanchai Library in Second Life

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, September 29th

13:30: Tea Time with “Last Words”

We live in an age in which words are disappearing from the daily lives of children content to live before screen and game console. Words like dandelion, otter, bramble, acorn and lark that represent the natural world of childhood, a rich landscape of discovery and imagination lying beyond back doors and into which children seem to venture with increasing rarity.

The Lost Words, combining thoughts and poems by British nature writer Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by artist and author Jackie Morris, stands against this loss of wild childhood times. It is a joyful celebration of the poetry of nature words and the living glory of our distinctive, British countryside. Call it a book of spells, if you will, seeking to conjure back the beauty and wonder of nature that is fading from childhood lives, whilst reminding parents of the precious fragility and marvellous joy of the natural world.

In July 2019, July eight leading folk musicians released their response to the creatures, art, and language of The Lost Words, and in this special session at Seanchai Library, Caledonia Skytower and Elrik Merlin celebrates both the book and those responses in Second Life.

Lost Words – Sunday, September 29th, 2019

18:30: Tilly and the Bookwanderers

Eleven year-old Tilly has lived above her grandparent’s bookshop ever since her mother disappeared shortly after she was born. Like the rest of her family, Tilly loves nothing more than to escape into the pages of her favourite stories.

One day Tilly realises that classic children’s characters are appearing in the shop through the magic of `book wandering’ – crossing over from the page into real life.

With the help of Anne of Green Gables and Alice in Wonderland. Tilly is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago, so she bravely steps into the unknown, unsure of what adventure lies ahead and what dangers she may face.

Join Caledonia Skytower at the Golden Horseshoe to find out more!

Monday, September 30th 19:00: Moonheart

Gyro Muggins reads Charles de Lint’s 1994 novel.

When Sara and Jamie discovered the seemingly ordinary artefacts, they sensed the pull of a dim and distant place. A world of mists and forests, of ancient magic, mythical beings, ageless bards – and restless evil.

Now, with their friends and enemies alike–Blue, the biker; Keiran, the folk musician; the Inspector from the RCMP; and the mysterious Tom Hengyr; Sara and Jamie are drawn into this enchanted land through the portals of Tamson House, that sprawling downtown edifice that straddles two worlds.

Sweeping from ancient Wales to the streets of Ottawa today, Moonheart will entrance you with its tale of this world and the other one at the very edge of sight and the unforgettable people caught up in the affairs of both. A tale of music, and motorcycles, and fey folk beyond the shadows of the moon. A tale of true magic; the tale of Moonheart.

Tuesday, October 1st 19:00: The Spooky Classics

Halloween is approaching and for the next few weeks, Caledonia Skytower will be reading ghostly stories from some of the classics of the genre. Each week features a different author associated with tales of the macabre, Gothic, or just plain spooky. This week: Washington Irving, with Corwyn Allen joining Cale.

Wednesday, October 2nd: 19:00 Anne of Green Gables

As soon as Anne Shirley arrives at the white farmhouse called Green Gables, she is sure she wants to stay forever. The problem is, the owners of Green Gables, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert wanted a boy to help Matthew with household chores; so at first it seems as if she will be returned to the orphanage from whence she came.

However, Anne is determined to stay, trying hard not to get into trouble or speaking out of turn, and the Cuthberts come to realise she is someone blessed with an enormous imagination. The latter is especially noticed by the quietly-spoken Matthew, who persuades his sister that young Anne should stay.

Thus we are drawn into Anne’s life and world as she settles into her first real home. Over the course of a five year period from her arrival in Bolingbroke at age 11 through until her move to Queen’s Academy at the age of 16, where she earns a university scholarship, we follow Anne’s adventures and ups and down within the close-knit community, making friends (and sometime enemies whom she is perhaps too stubborn to admit she’s long since forgiven for perceived wrongs) and her domestic trails and tribulations. The later, when tragedy strikes, we follow her back to Bollingbroke, where she indeed becomes Anne of Green Gables, and her story is left open.

Join Faerie Maven-Pralou as she reads L.M. Montgomery’s 1908 classic (and first of a series).

Thursday, October 3rd

19:00 The Bride of Frankenstein

Shandon Loring reads Guy Preston’s adaptation of the 1935 screenplay of the same name. Also in Kitely – teleport from the main Seanchai World grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI.

21:00: Seanchai late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy from on-line sources with Finn Zeddmore.

Art and nature in Second Life

Club L.A. and Gallery – Sue Kass

Somewhat unusually for this blog, I’m covering three exhibitions of art split across two galleries – Club L.A. and Kiku Gallery  – that between them presents three very individual displays of art by Second Life artists, and which are each small enough to make a joint interesting and contrasting visit for those who enjoy art in Second Life.

Opening at L.A. Club and Gallery, curated by Wintergeist, on September 28th, 2019 and running for approximately two months are exhibitions by Maloe Vansant Sue Kass, two very different artists.

Club L.A. and Gallery – Maloe Vansant

Maloe is always a provocative in her work, and with A Glitch in Time, she again shows this to be the case, with a very mixed set of predominantly physical word photographs – and I have to be honest, I’m not entirely sure what to make of them. This is something I say without any intention to be dismissive towards the exhibition, but simply because the mix of images offered is so diverse, it really needs individual viewing and contemplation, rather than any attempt to understand them through the eyes of another.

Sue Kass, meanwhile, is an artist I’ve not previously encountered. She presents a selection of 16 avatar studies offered as a mix of photographs, paintings and drawings. I have to admit, they make an engaging collection; each one captivates the eye, offering a perfectly framed image complete with the strong suggestion of a surrounding story; so much so that again, they deserve an direct visit to view, rather than a second-hand interpretation here. However, I will say I found myself drawn to those pieces that suggest a drawing or watercolour – notably Fall, Hug and Flowers, seen below, and Ink.

Club L.A. and Gallery – Sue Kass

Running through until November 8th, 2019 at the Kiku Gallery curated by Suzanne Logan is an exhibition of photography by Ktahdn Vesuvino entitled A Closer Look, a series of marvellous close-up images from the physical world captured using a digital single-lens reflex camera with (for the most part) a 100mm macro lens. These are combined with a small series of photographs of the most astonishing series of sand sculptures.

When I go for walks, I see most people with heads down, looking at their telephones. The world presents beauty in great detail, everywhere one chooses to look. I know there is also ugliness. It’s part of our reality. I choose to focus on things I see as being beautiful, and attempt to make a photograph that will show some of the beauty to others… and be worth looking at again.

Ktahdn Vesuvino, describing A Closer Look

Kiku Gallery – Ktahdn Vesuvino

This is another captivating collection of images, Ktahdn’s macro pictures offering a fabulous series of portraits, while those taken on the beach marvellously underline his comment about people being so focused on their smartphones they can literally miss life passing them by.

Taken together, and as I said at the top of this review, all three exhibitions make for individually absorbing visits.

Kiku Gallery – Ktahdn Vesuvino

SLurl Details

Second Life Blogger Network: an update from the Lab and some thoughts

via Linden Lab

Roughly 24 hours after the launch of the SL Bloggers Network – and which I reported on myself from the perspective of someone who helped with defining some aspects of the initiative prior to its launch – Linden Lab posted an update on the initiative, in which feedback by the Lab on the programme is given and concerns raised in various channels by bloggers and interested parties are addressed.

In Second Life Blogger Network Update – What’s Next?, the Lab reveals that the initial response has surprised them, and has caused something of a bottleneck:

Since our announcement of this new initiative yesterday, we’ve already had more than 100 bloggers opt-in! 

We’d like to extend a sincere “thank you” to all of the blogging community for the many years of coverage of Second Life culture, communities, creations, and, yes, even controversies …

We do ask for a bit of patience during our launch week as we sort through and strategize how to both efficiently and fairly review the many blogs who have opted-in. In all honesty, we’re a bit overwhelmed by the number of bloggers who have responded in the first 24 hours!

To be honest, the volume of potential material that might become available to the Lab and the challenge this would create was a concern I raised with LL ahead of the launch. When first discussed, the approach considered for SLBN was to have bloggers enrol and, after writing an publishing an article they believe might qualify for promotion by SLBN, submit a link to the post to LL so it can be reviewed and potentially promoted. I was, frankly, surprised when it was decided to go for a “simple” blanket opt-in, just because because I felt it would place a large volume of work on LL’s shoulders in trying to keep abreast of monitoring blogs and selecting posts for possible promotion.

This approach of letting bloggers submit links to articles to me had (and has) merit for a number of reasons:

  • It reduces the volume of potential posts that need almost daily review.
  • It could allow time-limited articles on events, etc., come to LL’s attention sooner than might otherwise be the case, and so get promoted in a timely manner.
    • While it may be a somewhat atypical situation given it was the launch of the programme, the initial post selected from my own blog in some ways evidences this: referring as it does to a series of events, the majority of which had already taken place by the time the post was listed.
  • Most importantly: it eliminates certain anxieties and concerns bloggers may have about opting-in to the process in the first place, including:
    • Fear that being critical of LL or SL could see them disbarred from the programme.
    • Concern that – and despite statements by the Lab otherwise –  in order to participate in the programme, bloggers must change their overall approach to and style of blogging (tone only might need to be adjusted when consciously opting to submit an article for consideration for SLBN promotion).
    • The general concern that by participating, bloggers have the “big brother” of LL constantly looking over their shoulder, monitoring all of their output.

The anxieties / concern are particularly worth referencing here, because as can be seen in the Lab’s September 27th Update post, they have already been raised by bloggers – and they could continue to be of concern for bloggers learning about SLBN in the future.

By having an additional level of “opt-in” through link submission, the Lab potentially helps reduce such anxieties and underlines the freedom bloggers retain in writing posts and determining where they might have them promoted. Further, such an approach might help limit the (inevitable?) incorrect claims that the initiative is just about “LL trying to control the SL blogging community”.

That said, I’m not advocating the Lab should change the approach to SLBN submissions right now; we are, after all, only 48 hours into the programme, and hopefully some of the challenges the Lab faces will diminish somewhat as they gain greater familiarity with the blogs opting-in to the programme. However, I do think it is an option that is kept in mind such problems of volume and the timely review and promotion of posts does continue to be a problem.

In the meantime, those bloggers who have not familiarised themselves with the SLBN initiative and who wish to do so, can follow the links below: