The 19th edition of Lab Gab will be live streamed on Friday, March 27th at 10:00 SLT (17:00 UK; 18:00 CET). The segment will feature Ebbe Linden (aka Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg) and Brett Linden, Senior Director of Marketing, two recent guests on the show (see here and here for summaries of their prior interviews). They are returning to address, as the official blog post states:
Discussing how Linden Lab is responding to the public health crisis to ensure uninterrupted Second Life operations, as well as how the company is offering new remote turnkey solutions for conferences, events, or classes.
This is once more a segment during which questions from Second Life users will be put to Ebbe and Brett, so if you have anything you’d like to ask – particularly in relation to the SARS novel-coronavirus pandemic and Second Life / Linden Lab operations, although not necessarily restricted to that topic – be sure to submit them via the Lab Gab Episode 19 Questions form. Not all the questions may be asked / answered, but if you don’t try, there’s a greater chance your question may not be asked anyway!
The programmed will be streamed via YouTube, Facebook, Mixer, or Periscope, and if all goes according to plan, I’ll have a summary of the video (and the video itself) available soon after the the broadcast, for those unable to watch live.
Fantasy Faire, the largest fantasy-related event to take place in Second Life, will take place in 2020 from Thursday, April 23rd, through Sunday May 10th, 2020 inclusive, with the scheduled activities programme running between April 23rd and Monday, May 4th.
Dollowing this, on February 16th, DJ applications and Host applications opened for submissions, while on February 18th, and for the first time in the event’s history, Fantasy Faire issued an invitation to region designers to be a part of this year’s event (although applications have now closed for this aspect of the Faire) – see Fantasy Faire 2020: calling DJs, hosts and – world builders!).
Now, and as promised, on Monday, March 23rd, Fantasy Faire announced the opening of the 2020 blogger applications.
We are looking for bloggers that genuinely love the Faire and cherish the fleeting time the Fairelands visit our realm. Since the application is mostly about getting into the early access, we are focusing on bloggers who take pictures in the regions, or of the regions. Studio-work is not dependent on if the regions are laggy or not, after all. We are also searching for bloggers with strong ties to RFL, who are passionate about the Relay and willing to write about it. I am also always, always looking for and favoring good writers and storytellers.
Full details concerning applying to be a Fantasy Faire blogger can be found on the official blogger info page, which includes links to the optional blogger challenges and to information on writing for the official Fantasy Faire website. And, of course, there is the link to the blogger application form itself.
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 version 184.108.40.2068264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer – NEW.
Release channel cohorts:
EEP RC viewer updated to version 220.127.116.118823, on March 20th.
Zirbenz Maintenance RC viewer, version 18.104.22.1688719, issued on March 19th.
There have been several rumours that the estates of Second Norway and Sailor’s Cove East are closing, with one of the reasons being given as “high vacancy rates”.
Both estates are operated by Ey Ren and Mialinn Telling, and form an important part of the environment connected to Blake Sea, offering private homes to many as well as open waters and skies for the Second Life boating / sailing communities and the aviation community.
Currently, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, the precise future of both estates is unclear. The only official statement on the matter has been posted on Mialinn’s Second Life profile:
I am sorry to inform that due to year of deficit and the current corona crisis, job loss and failing krone exchange rate, Ey Ren are no longer able to keep the ship afloat. LL has closed his account. Ey has contacted LL and the other owners of Blake Sea in hopes of reaching an agreement for further existence of SN and SCE. Unfortunately, I have no more information at this time.
I’ve reached out to Mialinn in the hopes of learning more – if there is indeed further news to be had at this point – and if I do hear back, I will provide an update.
We set a theme and we go our own ways. We take pictures at any sim in the whole of Second Life for about 2 or 3 weeks, and then at the agreed date, we combine our picture at the Café Gallery.
– Lynx Luga and Kit Boyd describing their personal photo challenges
Photo challenges are not new to Second Life, but Kit and Lynx, owners and curators of the Monocle Man gallery spaces and hang-out, use them to good effect to capture images in a thematic manner whilst allowing them to jointly see Second Life in a way that might otherwise be missed or taken for granted.
For their latest joint challenge, now on display at the ground-level Monocle Man Café they offer The Neon Challenge: images of Second Life featuring or focused on the use of neon across the grid.
Neon is very much a part of Second Life; who hasn’t been to a cyberpunk / Bladerunner / sci-fi themed location, and not encountered neon signs, logos, and lighting? Similarly cityscapes oft have neon signage for stores and locations. As such, its not surprising that some of the images in this selection are from such locations – but they are not, as one might perhaps think, in the majority.
Both Lynx and Kit have cast their nets wide, such that while the sci-fi / Bladerunner, etc., elements are present, they mostly offer unique views and subtle hints (Videophone, Cyberpunk Circles). What’s more they are displayed alongside pieces where neon, whilst present, is not seen as the immediate focus. Instead it sits as a part of the complete picture, forming part of the narrative, rather than being the narrative (Neon Doggy, Trailer Park, Busted, Sexy Legs and Neon Girl).
Even what might be regarded as the seedier side of neon’s use in adult theme locations and advertising (Sexy Girls, Sexy Neon and Dancing Girls) is framed to offer a story behind the light. Take Dancing Girls in particular; within it lies the the suggestion of a hidden life of wanting being the colour-backed dance of the silhouettes, one that for me brought to mind the lyrics from Elton John’s In Neon.
An engaging exhibition that I believe will be open through the next month.
Mercury, the closest planet in our solar system to the Sun, is hardly the kind of place where you’d expect to find water ice. With surface temperatures reaching 400º C (750º F) on its sunlit side, the planet is fairly constantly broiled by the Sun. And yet NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission did actually confirm ice on Mercury in 2012.
As with ice on the Moon, this water ice is located in deep craters around Mercury’s poles where the Sun never shines. What’s more, it appears to be created through a similar process and the lunar water ice; however, and in what may seem to be a counter-intuitive fact, the greater heat Mercury endures means it has far more ice located in its polar craters than the Moon.
It goes like this, electrically charged particles from the Sun’s solar wind interact with the oxygen present in some dust grains on the surface to produce hydroxyl (OH – a single hydrogen atom and a single oxygen atom). This hydroxyl bonds in groups within Mercury’s surface material, just as they do on the Moon.
On both the Moon and Mercury, heat from the Sun both frees these hydroxyl groups and energises them, causing collisions that that produce free hydrogen and water molecules. Some of these water molecules are broken down by sunlight and dissipate. But others descend into deep, dark polar craters that are shielded from the Sun. Here they freeze to become a part of the growing, permanent glacial ice housed in the shadows.
However, because Mercury is so much closer to the Sun, the greater exposure to the solar wind and – more importantly – greater heat means that the production and release of hydroxyl means that the production of hydrogen and water molecules is much greater – and some is the volume of those molecules falling into polar craters. Thus, the production of water ice on Mercury is much more pronounced – so pronounced that it is estimated some 10,000,000,000,000 kg (11,023,110,000 tons) of ice is generated over the course of 3 million years, cumulatively enough to account for around 10% on the total ice found on and under the surface of Mercury – the rest having being delivered via asteroid bombardment in the planet’s early history.
The process of the ice falling into the craters is a little like the song Hotel California. The water molecules can check in to the shadows, but they can never leave.
– Thom Orlando, Georgia Tech, a co-author of a new study into water ice on Mercury
Starliner: 61 Changes Required
On Friday, December 20th, 2019, NASA and Boeing, together with launch partner United Launch Alliance (ULA), attempted to undertake the first flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner commercial crew transportation system to the International Space Station (ISS).
The mission – called Orbital Flight Test-1 (OFT-1) should have seen the uncrewed Starliner craft achieve orbit and then rendezvous with the ISS, where it would dock and spend several days there before making a return to Earth and a parachute landing in the Mojave desert.
While, as I reported in Starliner’s first orbital flight, the majority of the mission was a success – the vehicle achieved orbit and was able to carry out as series of orbital tests before returning safely to a soft landing, issues with the craft meant the capsule incorrectly initiated a series of firings of the vehicle’s attitude control system (ACS) when they were not required. By the time the errors were corrected, the vehicle had insufficient fuel reserves left in the ACS system tanks to achieve a safe docking with the station, thus causing the rendezvous to be abandoned.
Since then, NASA and Boeing have been investigating the root cause of the ACS timing misfiring. The results of these investigations identified both technical and organisational issues within Boeing’s management of the CST-100 programme. At the same time, a NASA internal review identified several areas where the agency could make improvements with regard to its participation in the production and testing of Orion capsules.
In all, some 61 corrective actions have been identified by NASA that Boeing need to make to both the processing of Orion vehicles and in their flight management organisation. These include gaps in processes that prevented ground-based mission controllers identifying what had gone wrong with OFT-1 in order to initiate corrective action that might have allowed the vehicle to go forward with its rendezvous with the ISS.
Boeing has accepted all 61 recommendations from NASA, and has started to implement them. At the same time, it has indicated it is to overhaul all of its testing, review, and approval processes for CST-100 hardware and software, and institute changes with its engineering board authority. NASA also plans to perform an Organisation Safety Assessment (OSA) of the workplace culture at Boeing prior to any future CST-100 flights.
While there was no crew aboard the test vehicle, NASA has nevertheless designated the flight a “high visibility close call” in accordance with their own procedural requirements. This means that while it is unlikely they would have threatened a crew had they been aboard (in fact, a crew would likely have been able to immediately respond to the ACS issue and correct it) the anomalies during the flight were simply too big to ignore, and could have led to serious consequences under different circumstances.
No date has yet been confirmed for the second orbital flight for a Starliner vehicle. This is due to deliver a crew of three NASA astronauts (Nicole Mann, Mike Fincke and Christopher Ferguson) to what might yet be an extended stay at the ISS in what is regarded as the final test flight for the CST-100.
The first “operational” flight for Orion will comprise NASA personnel: mission commander Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and cosmonaut Andrei Borisenko. This flight will see the vehicle used in OFT-1 re-used as part of NASA’s plans to fly each CST-100 a number of times. Commander Williams was on hand to witness the vehicle’s return to Earth at the end of OFT-1, and she named the vehicle Calypso.