Speedlight: using the Android app

via Speedlight

Earlier in February, I reviewed Speedlight, the browser-based app for accessing Second Life from almost any web browser (see Speedlight: access SL via a browser (incl. mobile devices), February 14th). Created by long-term Second Life resident Glaznah Gassner, who is responsible for the SmartBot group / bot management application, SpeedLight is still very much under development, with the cost of the work paid form via the Gold account subscription fees and through optional Patreon support.

At the time of my first look at Speedlight, I focused on using it purely through a web browser on both a PC and on an Android device, highlighting its OS-agnostic nature. However, the team behind the app has also released Speedlight as an Android app available through Google Play, so this article serves as a brief introduction to the app.

The Android version is available for free, and offers all of the same capabilities when compared to running it within a browser, using the same style of interface. It requires Android 4.4 or above to run.

In order to use the app, you will need a Speedlight account, to which you can then link the Second Life avatar account(s) that are to be used with Speedlight (you can add and remove accounts as required). If you’ve previously created a Speedlight account via the Speedlight website, you’re good to go. If you don’t have a Speedlight account, the app will offer you the option of creating one through it.

You’ll need a Speedlight Account to use the app (in addition to your SL account) if you don’t have a Speedlight account when first using the app, you can see the Have No Account? link to create one

Those new so Speedlight will also then have to connect the avatar account(s) they wish to use with Speedlight. This is a on-time operation (unless you opt to remove an avatar account later). Link avatars to a Speedlight account is simple, and is covered in my article on the web browser version of the application (link below).

Those who already have avatar accounts link to their Speedlight account, will, on logging into the Speedlight Android app, be presented with a list of their available avatars (and can add more via the + panel if required. Tab the log-in button for the avatar that is to be used, and enter the required log-in credentials (you can optionally have the app save the credentials).

Logging-in to an SL avatar account via the Speedlight Android app

Once logged-in to Second Life via the app, note that:

  • As with the browser version, Free account holders are limited to one hour of continuous log-in time before they must re-log, while gold subscribers can remain logged-in all the time, or until actually logged out or until the Speedlight app is closed.
  • The clock in the left menu column will advise you on the remained time before you may need to re-log or will be logged out.
  • The Speedlight menu on the left of the screen will switch to a set of icons, making room for your avatar menu, just as it does in the browser version of speedlight.
  • Minimising the app will not disconnect you, and you have the choice of:
    • Logging out of SL and leaving Speedlight active on your device.
    • Exiting Speedlight, both disconnecting you from SL and terminating the current app session on your device.
  • The application offers the same options for both Free and Gold account users as seen when running Speedlight in a web browser. The only difference between the two is the larger amount of screen real estate available to the application, as it does not require a browser tab.
  • Details on using the available options can be found in my article on using the web browser version (link below).
There is absolutely no difference is using Speedlight in a browser on a computer or mobile device (left) or via the dedicated Android app version (r), other than the latter doesn’t run in a browser tab (click for full size, if required)

Feedback

As light clients go, there is no faulting Speedlight. It does, as the saying goes, exactly what it says on the tin. If you’ve not seen it before, I do recommend reading Speedlight: access SL via a browser (incl. mobile devices) to get a more thorough overview.

Given the Android app gives an identical experience to running Speedlight through a web browser, whether you opt to actually install the app or not comes down to the choice between the convenience of a simple tap-to-launch (and potentially smaller memory footprint) the app brings, or being happy launching a browser and fiddling with URLs / bookmarks.

As noted above, the app offers the same capabilities as using Speedlight through a browser, and has the same seamless switching between devices (I was happily flicking between the app on my Nexus and browsers on both the device and on a PC without any issues or being logged out in more back and forth when using my test avatar account and playing with the app).

Still only text based for the time being, Speedlight is already a credible SL mobile solution, and I understand we’re now not that far from seeing the first iteration of its 3D world rendering.

Related Links

A return of Bryn’s Hand in Second Life

Bryn Oh: Hand

Bryn Oh first created Hand is Second Life in 2016. An immersive experience, it mixed art and storytelling with a touch of mystery and discovery.

Originally an installation that used Second Life Experience Keys, Hand recently transitioned to Sansar with the assistance of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, and which I recently wrote about in Bryn Oh’s Hand in Sansar. That grant has also allowed Hand to once again be resurrected in Second Life.

In writing about Hand in 2016, I noted of the installation:

This [is a] journey takes us through a strange, broken urban setting with decaying, collapsing buildings; a place where adults are almost (but not entirely) absent, apparently leaving their children to fend for themselves. Technology is still active – drones  buzz around and project adverts on walls and floors for whoever might watch them – presumably as a form of currency / earning, and lights flicker and play. Walking through the streets and buildings there appears to be nods to dystopian sci-fi: a hint of Soyent Green here, a reference to rampant consumerism there. While Flit [the principal character] and the other children brought to mind shades of And The Children Shall Lead, minus the space alien angle.

Bryn’s Hand in Second Life, December 2016

Bryn Oh: Hand

This is still true, as is the use of Experience Keys to assist visitors, instructions for which are provided at the landing point. What is different with this iteration is that rather than using a teleport to reach the actual starting point of the story – Flit sitting in an underground station – visitors must find their way through a tunnel from one station to the next, where Flit is waiting.

From here visitors once again travel up the escalator and out into the the run-down setting of a city well past its prime. Here the story will unfold by finding, and following Flit as she appears at various points in the installation, either pointing the way through the story or ready for a chapter of it to be told. As you approach the latter, you should hear the narration (assuming you have local sounds enabled). However, if no audio is obvious, make sure local sounds are on, and touch the microphone alongside Flit.

Bryn Oh: Hand

Aspects of the path through the story do require some care – making your way over tightrope-like planks and fallen towers for example, or climbing up piles of the detritus of humanity. Also, cleverly woven into the story are hooks to several other elements of  Bryn’s work – so don’t be afraid to touch things as you explore. Take the scene of the girl with the golden crown and her little entourage waiting to be found whilst exploring the rooms of the main building in the installation: touching the girl or the insects and creatures will offer you the chance to watch a video about The Girl with the Paper Crown.

Hand, whether visited in SL or Sansar – and a visit to both shows some of the core differences between the two – remains a captivating story, one that encourages us to fill-in the blanks through our own imaginations, adding to the richness of the tale Bryn tells through character, setting and the words of her narrator.

Bryn Oh: Hand

SLurl Details

  • Hand (Immersiva, rated: Moderate)

ALS Awareness Week 2020 in Second Life

The ALS Awareness Week stage and dance area, 2020

The 2020 Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week is taking place between Sunday, February 23rd and Sunday, March 1st, 2020.

Dedicated to the memory of ALS victim and Second Life resident Harvey22 Albatros, the week focuses on music and art, with both live performers and DJs offering sets, and a number of SL artists offering pieces for auction, with all proceeds as well as donations during the week going to AISLA, the Associazone Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica.

Art by Cica Ghost (foreground) and Solkide Auer

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), sometimes also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND) or by the synonyms Lou Gehrig’s disease and Charcot disease, is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles.

For about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown; for the remaining 5-10% of diagnosed cases, it is inherited from the sufferer’s parents. There is no known cure, and symptoms generally first become apparent around the age of 60 (or 50 in inherited cases). The average survival from onset to death is three to four years. In Europe and the United States, the disease affects about 2 people per 100,000 per year.

ALS Awareness Week 2020 schedule board

The Harvey Memorial Ensemble in Second Life features a daily schedule of music running from 07:00 SLT through to 18:00 SLT, comprising a mix of live performances and DJ sessions lasting between one and three hours. A schedule board (seen above) is available at the event location.

In addition, there is a special art auction taking place throughout the event, featuring 3D pieces donated by Solkide Auer, Cica Ghost, Mistero Hifeng and Bryn Oh. Those wishing to keep up with the event outside of Second Life can do so via the event’s Facebook page or Discord server.

SLuel Details

2020 viewer release summaries week #8

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 23rd

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 6.3.7.535996, formerly the Yorsh Maintenance RC, dated February 7, promoted February 20 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: moles, asteroids and a high speed planet

InSight’s scoop hovers over the HP3 mole. Credit: NASA / JPL

It’s now close to 15 months since NASA’s InSight lander arrived on Mars (see Space Sunday: insight on InSight for an overview of the mission and Space Sunday: InSight, MarCO and privately to the Moon for more on the mission and InSight’s Mars arrival). In that time the lander has completed a lot of science, but one thing has remained an issue: the HP³ experiment.

This is one of two surface experiments InSight placed on Mars, and comprises a base module and a long, slender self-propelled probe called the “mole”, designed to “burrow” its way down into the the sub-surface to a depth of up to 5 metres, towing a sensor-laden tether behind it designed to measure the heat flow from the planet’s interior. The mole has an internal hammering mechanism that is designed to drive it deeper into the ground, but this relies on friction against the material forming the walls of the hole it is creating – and this hasn’t been happening.

After a good initial start, the probe came to a halt with around 50% of its length embedded in the soil. At first it was thought it had hit solid bedrock preventing further motion; then it was thought that the mole was gaining insufficient traction from the hole walls, on account of the fine grain nature of the material it was trying to move through.

The HP3 “mole” showing the spring mechanism and “hammer” it drives into the ground. Credit: DLR

By mid-2019, engineers thought they had a solution: use the scoop at the end of the lander’s robot arm to compact the soil around the lip of hole in the hope of forcing sufficient material into the hole it would provide the traction the probe needed to drive itself forward. When this failed, the decision was made push the scoop directly against the side of the probe, pinning it between scoop and hole wall to again give the probe the traction it needed.

Initially, this approach worked, as I noted in Space Sunday: a mini-shuttle, Pluto’s far side & mole woes, but then the mole “bounced back”. Since then, the probe’s progress has been a case of “three steps forward, two steps back”, making some progress into the ground and then bouncing back – a source of much frustration among the science team.

After a year with the mole more-or-less “stalled”, mission engineers have decided to take more direct action. The decision has been made to try to “push” the probe using the robot arm’s scoop. This means placing the scoop on the top end of the mole – an approach that has so far been avoided out of concerns to might damage the sensor tether as it emerges from the same end of the probe. However, in manipulating the lander’s robot arm and its scoop over the course of a year, engineers are confident they can avoid harming the tether.

This latest effort to get the mole into the surface will take place in late February / early March. If it is successful, the team may revert to using the scoop to once again compress the sides of the probe’s hole to try to provide it with further traction as it continues to dig down into the subsurface material. Should the attempts fail, it’s unclear what might be tried to get the mole moving again; the mission team admitting they have “few alternatives” left to try.

How to Deflect an Asteroid

On April 13, 2029, an asteroid in the region of 370 metres in length and 45 metres across will pass by Earth at 30 km/s no further away from the planet’s surface than some of our geostationary satellites.

Called 99942 Apophis, an object I’ve written about in past Space Sunday articles, it is one of a large number of potentially hazardous objects – asteroids larger than 140 m in length that in crossing the Earth’s orbit as both they and the planet go around the Sun, pose a potential risk of one day colliding with us, with potentially devastating consequences. When it was   discovered in 2004, initial tracking of Apophis suggested it could collide with Earth in 2029. Further observations of the object showed this would not happen, not would it do so the next times it passes close to Earth in 2036, 2068 and 2082.

Extinction level event: a very large asteroid impact. Credit: Anselmo La Manna/YouTube screenshot

Which is not to say Apophis or 101955 Bennu, or one of the many other PHOs – Potentially Hazardous Objects – that are being tracked might one day strike Earth. The tipping point for such a collision comes down to such an object passing through, or close to, it’s gravitational keyhole. This is a tiny region of space – perhaps only 800 metres across – where gravitational influences – notably that of Earth – are sufficient to actual “pull” an objects course onto a collision with Earth.

Currently, plans to try to prevent such an impact revolve around identifying when an object has passed its particular keyhole, making an collision inevitable. There’s a reason for this: identifying where an objects keyhole might lie isn’t a precise science, and relies on scientists known an awful lot, including things like the size, mass, velocity and composition of these objects, what forces might be at work to influence their orbit, and so on. However, by leaving things until after an object has passed its keyhole means the time available to try to divert it is relatively short, perhaps months or just a couple of years or so, leaving very little time to plan and execute a mission to prevent any such collision.

Better then, to identify when an object is liable to pass close enough to its keyhole that it it will be drawn into a collision path. This would provide a far greater lead time for planning how to deal with it. This is exactly what a team of MIT researchers are suggesting in a part that also defines a framework for deciding which type of mission would be most successful in deflecting an incoming asteroid.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: moles, asteroids and a high speed planet”