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 18.104.22.1683275, formerly the Wassail RC viewer, dated November 5th, 2019 – No change.
Release channel cohorts:
Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 22.214.171.1244234 on January 9th.
EEP RC viewer updated to version 126.96.36.1994193 on January 9th.
Linden Lab has issued a call to merchants interested in participating in their 2020 Valentine’s 2020 in-world shopping event, scheduled to run from Monday, February 3rd through to and will run through Friday, February 17th, 2020 inclusive.
Merchants interested in participating are asked to offer at least a 20% discount on the normal price of their goods, and to indicate whether or not they would be willing to offer a gift to shoppers.
Those wishing to participate in the event should do so via the official application form, and do so no later than Monday, January 20th, 2020. Note that this is only an application – depending on the number of respondents, it is possible that not all those who apply may receive a place at the event. Successful applicants will be contacted by the Lab after January 20th.
Monique “Moni” Beebe makes a further return to Dido Haas’ Nitroglobus Roof Gallery to mark the start of the year, with her latest exhibition Forbidden Fruit.
Moni is one of the most sensuous, evocative artist and – given she is generally the subject of her own work – models in Second Life, somthing I’ve noted in the past, as such I’ve been looking forward to seeing her latest exhibition since Dido tipped me the wink that Moni would be making a further return to Nitroglobus. She has the ability to present studies that are rich in mood, sensuality, nuance, story and sexuality – the latter without relying on being blatant provocation. Rather, they are genuine works of art that would be fully at home in any physical world gallery as they would in a virtual setting.
This latter point is very much proven with the selection of work forming Forbidden Fruit, which marks something of a departure from Moni’s previous exhibitions at Nitroglobus – Hidden Faces , Sensuality, and Changing Moods – in that for some of the pieces here, Moni has found inspiration in the work of a another artist, as Dido explains:
Moni got inspired by a RL exhibition of famous Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf, which she visited last Spring in the Gemeente Museum The Hague. Especially the mood of the early series Squares and Chessmen by Mr Olaf you will notice are reflected in some of the images of this present exhibition.
Such is Moni’s compositional eye that she presents a unique perspective on Olaf’s work (take Stone as an example) which is far from derivative – but which would nevertheless be completely at home in an exhibition such as Chessmen.
For me, the power of Moni’s work is her ability to offer a tale of sensuality through pose and / or focus on bodily curve without necessarily utilising exposing nudity or full facial expression (which is not to say nudity is not present in some of the pieces here). Take the titular Forbidden Fruit, for example. It carries a rich sensuality that evokes feelings of desire bordering on lust, heightened by the use of clothing and the hiding of Moni’s eyes under the wrap. This particular piece also highlights another maturing aspect of Moni’s work: her ability to layer narrative and images; in this case the pairing of a woman with prominently placed apples offers a suggestiveness of story that reaches all the way back to Eve, the apple and a certain serpent – and what form the knowledge may have taken.
There is also a richness of self about Moni’s work that I again find attractive perhaps more than other artists who produce images using their avatars as models; Moni offers subtle insights into her personality and nature – with the emphasis on subtle. This heightens the response to her work that can reach beyond examining any single image or selection of images, to tickle the desire to know her personally.
Rounded-out with lounge, a sculpture by Kaiju Kohime that sits perfectly with Moni’s images, this is again a marvellous exhibition by an exceptionally talented artist and visualist.
Designed by artist and blogger Oema and her SL partner Van Lopen, The Cold Rose is a public / residential homestead region that opened its doors at the start of 2020, and which we dropped into over the weekend whilst out exploring.
Nestled amongst a group of off-sim islands, and itself split into a number of rocky and low-lying isles, the region has the feel of being a small group of islands perhaps seated in the more northern latitudes, and a place caught between the passing cold of winter and the warmer times of spring. The About Land description states the region is “perfect for photographers and bloggers”, and there is certainly much that is photogenic about the setting. However, I’d suggest this is tempered somewhat by the five private properties also to be found within it.
These five properties – a private residence for Oema and Van Lopen, occupying the top of the large island to the north-east, and four rental properties occupying the western islands of the group – take up the majority of the space within the region, being located in large parcels that once occupied, might be considered “off limits” to visitors to ensure the privacy of those occupying them. Indeed, the private residence is denoted by ban lines should visitors stray too close, while the rentals are equipped with security orbs that, when active, will presumably cover the entire parcel occupied by each house.
This tends to limit exploration to the islands to the south-east and east of the region, and the tracks skirting around those occupied by private houses. Even so, this still gives people a fair amount to do, and numerous opportunities for photography, with several nice little touches await discovery.
The landing point sits on the low-lying south-eastern island that is almost a shale bar that has been built up over the passage of time such that it can keep itself above the coming and going of the tide – or perhaps it is all that remains of the low-lying land that once connected the islands one to another. It is here that details of the rental properties can be found, with one of them visible just across the water on what amounts to the “middle” island of the group.
A simple plank bridge links the landing point with another low-lying island to the north, a place home to horses, a couple of them Animesh and suitable for sitting (if not, at the time of our visit, riding). Beyond this, things get a little more physical for explorers – the route to the northern island is via rope slide, with a second connecting it with the western islands. As noted, the north island is topped by a private residence, so on crossing to it via the rope slide, it is best to turn right and follow the track around the base of the hill and the island’s north side to reach the second rope slide and the western islands.
Of the rental properties, three are clearly marked by gates / gateways that lie to one side or across the paths that run through and around the islands, making them easy to identify. At the time of our visit none were occupied, so wandering their parcels wasn’t an issue. However, this might not always be the case, so please check ahead and be respectful of privacy. The remaining rental sits at the southern end of the “middle” island, and rather than being reached by track, it has a bridge reaching out to it from the western isle, the end of which might best be considered denoting the start of private property.
Set under a moody sky by default, and rounded-out by a gentle soundscape, The Cold Rose includes several places for visitors to sit and could present those seeking a private home in SL with a picturesque, quite environment they might enjoy.
At the end of 2019, I wrote about the speculation around Betelgeuse and its recent behaviour (see: Space Sunday: a look at Betelgeuse). However, when it comes to a star going nova or supernova, there is a candidate out there that will more than likely do so before the end of this century.
V Sagittae, a variable star in the constellation Sagitta that is actually a binary system some 1100 light years away. In particular, it is in a class of stars called cataclysmic variables (CVs). These comprise a large, ordinary star orbiting a much smaller white dwarf at a distance where the white dwarf (referred to as the primary) distorts the larger (called the donor), drawing off mass to form an accretion disk around itself.
Usually, material at the inner edge of this disk heats as a result of both increasing density and proximity to the primary, causing dwarf nova outbursts, resulting in the pair to suddenly brighten. In some cases the material drawn into the primary can trigger a nova explosion or even a Type Ia supernova explosion, which would completely destroy the white dwarf.
However, the V Sagittae is amongst the most extreme group of CV stars, with the donor star almost 4 times as massive as its companion, and an extremely hot star. The material being drawn off of it is correspondingly hot (around 12,000ºK), and on contact with the white dwarf is either being accreted, building up the white dwarf’s mass and heat, or violently accelerated away in an extreme solar wind. This wind irradiates the inner hemisphere of the donor, further heating it, fuelling a circle of activity that is seeing mass transferred between the two at an ever-faster rate.
Checks back through archival images show the binary has been steadily brightening for around a century – and the rate of brightening has been accelerating. The net result of this is that astronomers believe V Sagittae is now in the closing decades of this life: over the next several decades, it will continue to brighten and the mass transfer accelerate further. Around the 2080s this will reach a point where the donor will spiral into the primary, triggering a catastrophic nova – one so powerful it could, with the assistance of the extreme solar wind, border on a supernova event.
Astronomers studying the system are so confident of their findings, they are prepared to to put a year on when the collision and subsequent explosion will occur: 2083 ±16 years.
When it happens, the normally faint V Sagittae will be between Venus and Sirius in brightness – not as bright as any supernova from Betelgeuse by any means, but it will be bright enough for even casual observers of the night sky to notice it – although it will be somewhat short-lived as a “new star”; after a month or so, it will dim down once more. The explosion itself will totally destroy whatever was left of the donor star at the time it occurred, with the primary likely converted into a red giant with a core of degenerate electron matter, surrounded by a hydrogen burning shell in turn layer surrounded by a vast halo of mostly hydrogen.
Happy Anniversary Yutu-2 and Chang’e 4
China greeted the New Year with some impressive lunar milestones. January 3rd, 2020 the Chang’e 4 mission to the lunar far side achieved its first anniversary of surface operations, while its Yutu-2 mini-rover completed its 13th lunar day of science operations.
Yutu-2 in particular has proven impressive. Designed to have a primary mission of 90 days, it has survived a full year of operations, which include the little rover having to put itself to sleep for 14 out of the 28 days of a lunar day in order to survive the cold lunar night, and it is still going strong. In that time, it has travelled 357.7m, the longest distance travelled by any vehicle on the lunar surface.
In during so, the rover has revealed a great deal about the composition of lunar soil – regolith – within the South Pole Aitken-Basin, including about materials that are believed to have originated from deep inside the lunar mantle. This has helped scientists understand more about the composition, formation, and evolution of the Earth-Moon system. It’s anticipated that Yutu-2 will continue these explorations, helping to better understand the Moon’s composition and locate accessible resources that might be used in establishing and operating a permanent lunar base.
Chang’e 4 is part of a broader Chinese Lunar Exploration Programme, which includes the Chang’e 5 sample return mission scheduled for launch towards the end of 2020. It will be followed by a second sample return mission in 2024, (Chang’e 6), while Chang’e 7 will continue and extend the work of Chang’e 4, and Chang’e 8, scheduled for a 2027 launch, will test technologies and lay the groundwork for a crewed mission.