Chouchou: Hello Astronauts

From the Chouchou Hello Astronauts teaser track featuring an excerpt of The Lovers

Earlier in 2019, there was widespread upset over the news that the popular region and builds of Chouchou in Second Life might be closing down and vanishing (see: A Farewell to Chouchou?). At the time of the news I noted:

Designed by Japanese pianist Arabesque Choche and vocalist Juliet Heberle, who together form the successful musical duet of Chouchou, the regions are among some of the longest running, unchanged private island environments to be found in Second Life, and are an absolute delight for all who encounter them. I made my first visit in 2012 (see Chouchou: blending music and art in SL), and have been back many times since, being particularly drawn to the sky build of  Memento Mori (located on Chouchou V), a quite remarkable cathedral.

Pianist Arabesque Choche and vocalist Juliet Heberle, who form Chouchou via their biographies on, the Asian media wiki

As the news of the possible closure spread, I was one of a number of people who reached out to both Chouchou and Linden Lab in an attempt to bring the two together so that the regions might be saved under the Lab’s Second Life Region Preservation Society (SLRPS). For a time, it appeared this might not be achieved, but in October 2019, Chouchou announced that an agreement had been reached that would indeed see the regions continue to exist as a part of the SLRPS programme (see: Chouchou set to remain in Second Life – and there’s more).

I raise this for two reasons. The first is, as noted in Chouchou set to remain in Second Life – and there’s more, the preservation will see the return of The Babel – of which more below. The second is that – more particularly on December 13th, 2019 Chouchou will be releasing their third concept album, and it is one that has something of a special appeal for me, inspired as it is by the theme of space travel.

Theme03: Hello Astronauts offers everything that is quintessentially Chouchou. It follows the first of their “experimental” series of recordings released in October 2019, and which has another space theme: Oort.

For the last week, Chouchou have made three of the tracks from Hello Astronauts – Voyager, Hyper-euphoria, and Lovers – available for download in advance of the release, together with a series of teasers available for You Tube, including and extended teaser for Voyager, which I’ve embedded below.

Hello Astronauts is available for pre-order via Bandcamp and iTunes – both of which include the ability to download the three tracks mentioned above in advance, and will also be available on the Japanese music site Fans’ Music following the album’s release. So if you’re looking for music that is ideal listening no matter what your tastes, and which carries with it an echo of Second Life – why not have a listen?

While it has yet to open to the public once more, The Babel presents a musical construct of boxes, elements and levels. Each box is a sound – an instrumental or vocal note or chord – which is played when touched. Some will play once when touched, others work on a toggle – they will play until touched again. These boxes are arranged in musical elements, with the lowermost boxes in an element representing bass notes or chords, and the boxes above containing percussion or melody elements. By touching the boxes in an element you can create various harmonies. It’s a place I last visited shortly before it was first retired from Second Life in (if I recall correctly) 2013; as such it is a place I’m looking forward to revisiting once it re-opens to the public.

The Babel, 2019

In the meantime, the existing Chouchou regions remain open to visitors, and you can find out more about Chouchou’s music and all of their albums on their website.

SLurl and Links

2019 viewer release summaries week #49

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, December 8th

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, formerly the Ordered Shutdown RC viewer, dated November 4th, – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version on December 5th.
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on December 4th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers


  • No updates.


  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Wizards, planes and Dickens 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, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, December 9th 19:00: Grey from The Wizard of London

Gyro Muggin’s reads an extract from Mercedes Lackey’s The Wizard of London, the 4th volume in the Elemental Masters series.

Set in a Victorian London where magic is real and Elemental Masters control the powers of Fire, Water, Air, and Earth, the novel follows Lord Alderscroft, Master of the British Elemental Masters Council-the most powerful Fire Master ever to lead the Council. Loosely based on The Snow Queen, The Wizard of London delves into Lord Alderscroft’s youth, when he was bespelled by an evil Elemental Master who hoped to use him for political gain.

In Grey, Sarah Jane is sent from her home in Africa to school in London because her parents felt it would be better for her health. But given the conditions in London, however, she might have been safer in the African jungle.

Tuesday, December 10th

12:00: The Dickens Project

Ce Soir Arts Presents Russell Eponym in concert.

19:00: Spirit of Steamboat

Kayden Oconnell returns to the tales of sheriff Walt Longmire, reading the ninth volume of Craig Johnson’s tales about his laconic US Marine-turned-lawman protagonist.

It’s Christmas Eve, and Longmire is reading A Christmas Carol in his office when he is visited by a ghost of Christmas past: a young woman with a scar across her forehead. He doesn’t recognise her, but she clearly knows him and his predecessor, sheriff Lucian Connally, under whom Longmire started his career as a deputy sheriff in 1972.

His interest aroused, Longmire takes the the young woman to see Connally, now a resident at an Assisted Living Home. But Connally, a former US Army Air Force pilot who flew B-25 Mitchell bombers in the Second World War, fails to recognise her. This is in some ways hardly surprising, given Connally’s frequently inebriated state.

Disappointed at the two men’s reaction, the young woman whispers a single word, “Steamboat”. In doing so, she embarks on a tale that tales Longmire and Connally back to Christmas Eve 1988, when Longmire had been a deputy sheriff just two months. The holiday season had brought with it a record-breaking blizzard – and a road accident that left Longmire and the (again inebriated) Connally with no choice but to pull a B-25 out of mothballs and make a dangerous flight through the blizzard to Denver, Colorado, in order to save a life.

Wednesday, December 11th 11:00-19:00: The Dickens Project

  • 11:00: Music – Christmas Revels Around the World! with DJ Aoife Lorefield in Dickens Square.
  • 13:00: Ce Soir Arts Presents Stories with Bryn Taleweaver.
  • 14:00: Ce Soir Arts Presents Stories with Dubhna Rhiadra.
  • 15:00: Ce Soir Arts Presents Stories with Caledonia Skytower.
  • 19:00: A Child’s Christmas in Wales with Aoife Lorefield.

Thursday, December 12th

The Dickens Project

  • 12:00 noon: Tea Dance (Roleplay) at the Opera House.
  • 15:00: Pony Class – Handling Merrylegs.

19:00: Rock Crystal

Seemingly the simplest of stories—a passing anecdote of village life— Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal opens up into a tale of almost unendurable suspense.

Young Conrad and his little sister, Sanna set out from their village high up in the Alps to visit their grandparents in the neighbouring valley. It is the day before Christmas but the weather is mild, though of course night falls early in December and the children are warned not to linger.

The grandparents welcome the children with presents and pack them off with kisses. Then snow begins to fall, ever more thickly and steadily. Undaunted, the children press on, only to take a wrong turn. The snow rises higher and higher, time passes: it is deep night when the sky clears and Conrad and Sanna discover themselves out on a glacier, terrifying and beautiful, the heart of the void…

With Shandon Loring, and also presented in Kitely (

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore.

Friday, December 13th The Dickens Project

  • 09:00: Non-Profit Commons Tour of the Resource Centre.
  • 20:00: Idle Rogue Productions Presents The Midnight Dinner in the Opera House.

Saturday, December 14th The Dickens Project

  • 12:00 noon: Merrylegs Pony Companion Give-away!
  • 13:00: Idle Rogue Productions Presents The Midnight Dinner in the Opera House.
  • 18:00: Sea Shanties (Roleplay) at the Docks with Aoife Lorefield and Corwyn Allen.

Sunday, December 15th 11:30-14:00 The Dickens Project

  • 11:30: WALD SCHRIDDE Live! Music Dickens Square.
  • 13:00: TEA TIME with Charles Dickens – stories.
  • 14:00-16:00: Fantasy Faire Radio Presents DJ Elrik Merlin –  Music Dickens Square.

A summertime Isle of Cezanne in Second Life

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019 – click any image for full size

The Isle of Cezanne is a 1/4 Full region that has been designed and landscaped by ElenaMicheals Core. Occupying the south-east quarter of a region that has the full region land capacity bonus applied, the setting has something of a riverside feel to it, thanks to the use of two off-sim elements sitting off of the water-facing south and east sides.

Offering in a summertime setting, The Isle of Cezanne presents a rich countryside look and feel, but one with little touches of sci-fi fantasy that are just enough to add a twist to any visit without looking at all out of place. Rather, they add to the setting’s appeal for photography – which is a core theme for the location overall.

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019

The landing point is tucked away in the north-western corner of the parcel. It is here, among the stones of an ancient ruin that visitors can find the teleport boards leading to three further photography locations in the sky over the region. Two of these are cosy studio-style settings (the Artist Studio and the Dressmaker Attic), and the third a more open winter setting for those seeking snowbound settings for avatar photography.

From the landing point, the ruins point southwards towards a tall house that has a little hint of Provence about it and which has been cosily furnished, including – at the time of our visit – hints of the season. This sits on a broad table of grassy rock (the entire landscape here is mesh, the terrain having been pushed below water level) looking south across the “river”. The land before the house slopes gently down to the water’s edge, pointing the way to where a wooden deck stretches out of the the water, offering a place to sit and admire the view while cormorants perch and flap their wings and the water’s edge, watched by black swans.

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019

A second pier extends out into the water from between the house and the landing point ruins, but given a pair of brown bears are patrolling alongside of it, caution might be required when trying to reach it. However, it is the north side of the parcel that offers the sci-fi fantasy feel – although at first glance, it appears to be a natural setting: a further rocky landscape that ends with a barn and shed with cattle grazing on the wild grass, suggesting the house to the south is owner by a farmer.

To reach the barn and cattle, visitors can take a choice of routes. One goes part-way through the old ruins and then down the stone steps from the and past a little camping site sitting above the water. The other is to go directly east from the landing point and over the rugged terrain.

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019

This latter route will take visitors past a “UFO house” sitting on concrete legs. It Sits as a strange little hideaway with and very eclectic set of contents, including toys, a laptop, a bomb, a crate of ammunition and – well, other interesting items. Outside this house are two large plants, with eyes at the centre of their flowers and a curiosity of their own, fixing any passers-by with a glassy, unblinking stare.

Throughout the parcel are numerous opportunities for avatar photography – the house, the wooden deck with its seating below it, the camp site, the “UFO house”, and so on. Also waiting to be found are multiple little touches of detail: deer in the shade of trees, sculptures, cranes dancing over the the water and so on,  all of which add depth to the parcel  for explorers.

The Isle of Cezanne, December 2019

Those wishing to rez props for their photographs can join the local group (no charge), and photos are welcome in the parcel’s Flickr group. Those who enjoy a rounded setting should ensure they have local sounds enabled during a visit to appreciate the local sound scape.

SLurl Details

Space Sunday: on the ISS – mighty mice and robots

A time-lapse video of the SpaceX CRS-19 cargo Dragon being captured by the Canadarm-2 of the International Space Station (ISS)

The past week has seen two resupply missions launched to the International Space Station (ISS), which between them will deliver 4.6 tonnes of supplies and equipment to the station, including some special visitors.

The first mission, CRS-19, featuring a SpaceX Dragon and Falcon 9 launch vehicle, lifted-off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (adjacent to the Kennedy Space Centre) on Thursday, December 5th, after being delayed 25 hours due to high winds over the launch site. It rendezvoused with the ISS at 10:05 GMT on Sunday, December 8th. The second mission features a Russian Progress resupply vehicle, which lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 09:34 GMT on Friday, December 6th, and is due to dock at the ISS on Monday, December 9th, carrying a mix of food, fuel and supplies.

However, it is the Dragon vehicle that has captured most attention, due to its cargo. As well as carrying the traditional Christmas goodies for the ISS crew, CRS-19 carried 40 passengers in the form of mice and elements of the station’s increasing use of robots.

The mice will spend a month aboard the ISS as a part of research into two of the most debilitating effects of spending extended periods in micro-gravity environments such as orbiting the Earth or something like a 6-month flight to Mars: muscle and bone mass loss.

Several of the mice have been dubbed “mighty mice” on account of their being genetically engineered by scientists at the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX-GM) in Maine, USA. Specifically, they have been engineered to inhibit myostatin, a molecule that occurs in mammals that regulates muscle growth (discovered in 1997 by Dr. Se-Jin Lee), allowing them to develop increased muscle mass compared to ordinary mice.

One of the myostatin-inhibited “mighty mice” (l) and a non-inhibited companion. Credit: JAX-GM

The idea is that by inhibiting the myostatin, the mice will be able to maintain both muscle mass and limit bone calcium loss whilst at the station, the lack of myostatin allowing them to continue to convert protein into muscle mass despite the mice being less active on the station than the would be on Earth.

They will spend their time on the ISS with a group of mice that have not had their myostatin blocked, and with two similar group sof enhanced  / non-enhanced mice on Earth, to determine the overall impact of the lack of myostatin in the production / maintenance of muscle  bone mass in micro-gravity compared to how myostatin might contribute to muscle / bone mass loss when allowed to function normally.

As well as helping determine what medical / genetic assistance can be given to humans on long duration, low-gravity space missions (possibly alleviating the need for up to 4 hours a day to be spent in exercise to counter muscle / bone mass loss), it is hoped that controlling / inhibiting myostatin’s function could be used to help treat patients recovering from hip fracture surgery, or those in intensive care where muscle growth could be a major factor in their recovery, and to assist elderly people suffering from muscle loss or osteoporosis.

CIMON Returns to the ISS

In addition to the mighty mice, the CRS-19 mission also delivered CIMON-2 (“Simon-2”), an updated versions of a robot assistant for ISS crews. Developed by Germany’s DLR CIMON (Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON) is a medicine-sized robot that can float around the ISS using 14 small fans boasting a combination of IBM Watson AI, cloud connectivity, and neural network training. It was first flown aboard the ISS in 2017 / 2018, and is capable of assisting with routine tasks and research projects, displaying instructions on its forward screen, and recording images. It can also recognise, learn from, and bond with crew members through natural language; offer creative solutions to tricky challenges; and even serve as a security guard, noticing potential problems before they become dangerous.

CIMON-2 operates alongside ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst during its first outing to the ISS in November 2018. Credit: NASA / ESA / DLR

Unfortunately, the first outing for CIMON didn’t entirely go according to plan, in an outing with ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst, things started out well enough, with CIMON helping Gerst complete some test tasks, but problems arose when Gerst asked it to play his favourite music. Selecting Man Machine by Kraftwerk, CIMON continued to play the music while accepting other tasks, and when Gerst ordered, “Cancel music” the robot to replied, “I love music you can dance to! Alright, favourite hits incoming.”

While CIMON could still comprehend other commands, it appeared to become confused and not a little stroppy as Gerst communicated with those monitoring the test. “Be nice, please,” it requested at one point, followed a little later by, “Don’t you like it here with me?” and “Don’t be so mean.”

The improved CIMON-2 comes with more sensitive microphones that will hopefully allow it to hear better and not confuse commands, and a more robust AI system to allow it to better understand when it is being addressed and when an astronaut might be talking to someone else. This improved AI system includes IBM Watson Tone Analyser technology, which uses linguistic analysis to detect emotion in the tone of a conversation and respond to it – which given CIMON’s own moodiness noted above, could be interesting!

CIMON-2 is expected to spend up to three years aboard the ISS. As well as serving as a test bed for easing the stress of living and working in limited environments like the ISS and in developing greater understanding of how robots and AI can function to support crews on long duration missions, CIMON-2 is also potentially a stepping stone for developing the necessary trust human crews require to make the routine use of such systems  – which can record, process and store human activities, interactions and moods, raising concerns of privacy and data security – acceptable to crew.

Dextre, RELL and and the “Robot Hotel”

Dextre (highlighted) mounted on one of its Orbit Repair Unit (ORU) “workstations”. The Canadarm-2 robot arm hovers to the right. Credit: NASA

Robots are an important part of future human space activities, and over the years, a number of systems have been employed or tested aboard the ISS, for working both inside and outside the station. The most obvious of these is the Canadarm-2 remote manipulator system used outside of the ISS, while inside the ISS there have been robot system like CIMON and FYODOR (see: Space Sunday: Lunar landers, and robots in space).

Continue reading “Space Sunday: on the ISS – mighty mice and robots”