2020 Simulator User Group week #22 summary

Devil’s Bend National Park, April 2020 – blog post

The following notes were taken at the Simulator User Group meeting held on Tuesday, May 26th. Not a lot was discussed in terms of meaningful reportage (again), so just a short update on server deployments / official viewer updates.

Simulator Deployments

Please refer to the simulator deployment thread for updates.

  • On Tuesday, May 26th, the majority of the grid was updated to server maintenance release 542403, comprising the fix for the group notice archive timestamps bug.
  • On Wednesday, May 27th there will be a single RC deployment – maintenance update 542737, comprising infrastructure improvements related to the cloud migration work.

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the official viewers to mark the start of week #22, leaving them as follows:

  • Current Release viewer version, dated May 11th, promoted May 19th, formerly the Camera Presets RC viewer.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • FMOD Studio RC viewer, version, issued May 21st.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version, May 19th.
  • Project viewers:
    • Mesh uploader project viewer, version, issued May 15th.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, December 9th, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version, November 22nd, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, September 17th, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version, July 16th, 2019.

New Simulator Chat Range Capability

As noted in my May 16th TPV Developer meeting notes, a new ability is being developed to allow region / estate owners / managers to set the open chat range on a region (see BUG-228333). This update is only intended to affect nearby chat channel 0 (the default open chat channel).

The change has caused a certain amount of confusion. For example, will the chat range be defined by originating region or the recipient region?  For example, if you are in a region with a 100m chat range and are 10m from a neighbouring region, does your chat travel 90-100m into the neighbouring region, or will it be limited to the chat range set within the neighbouring region, if less than 100m?

Or what if you’re 10m from a region boundary, and the region has a chat range of 40m, and the neighbouring region 70m – does it mean people 50m from you in your region cannot hear your chat, but a) your chat will be relayed 70m from the region boundary in the other region,  or b) just 60m (due to the 10m between you and the region edge)?

Replying to questions like these, Rider Linden indicated that it would be the recipient region that would determine the distance chat is relayed within it, where you are close enough to be heard across a region boundary. Oz expanded on this, suggesting it would be a combination: the originating region’s chat range determining which, if any, neighbouring regions can “hear” chat from it, and the chat range in those regions determining which avatars within those regions can then hear the chat.

Rider further indicated that whatever the chat distance set, chat will never be relayed beyond the region(s) immediately adjoining the originating region. So, for example, if you have three region, A, B, and C, arranged in a single line one to the next, chat from A could be relayed in B, but not to C (and vice versa), but, depending on the chat range set in B, it might be relayed by both A and C or only in A or C, depending on the speaker’s location in B.

Hope that clears things up!

Obviously, the new capability won’t override parcel privacy settings. There is still no time frame as to when this feature will be implemented both server-side and in the viewer, which will require an additional UI element to allow the chat range to be adjusted.

An empire of books in Second Life

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

We received an invitation to visit The Empire of Dreaming Books by the region’s co-creator, Num Bing. Together with Clifton Howlett, she has created an environment to honour the Zamonia series of books by German comic creator and author, Walter Moers.

Captain Bluebear tells the story of his first 13.5 lives spent on the mysterious continent of Zamonia, where intelligence is an infectious disease, water flows uphill, and dangers lie in wait for him around every corner.

– A description of the Zamonia books and their protagonist, Bluebear

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

In particular, the setting recreates a part of the city of Buchhaim., located in western Zamonia on the Dull plateau  on the dry, flat, steppe country not far from the border with the South Desert. The city sits on the convergence of many trails across the plains, and is famous for two things. 

The first is Buchhaim’s countless book stores and second-hand bookshops, printers, publishers and all things involving literature. It’s a place where the evening hours are traditionally called “wood time”, when poets of all kinds present their works in dining rooms and everyone can listen at will. The second is the extensive network of catacombs lying beneath the city.

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020 – click any image for full size

It is said that it is in the centre of the city is where the influence of the Buchimists (alchemists who mainly experiment with books, words and literature) of Buchhaim is the greatest. It is also the the part of  the city Clifton and Numb have recreated for their build. Specifically, they present the Schwarzmanngaße, the oldest alley in city, which spirals its way inwards to shop number 333, the home of Phistomefel Smeik and his bookimistic laboratory.

Number 333 is also where you can find the landing point for the build. From here you can step inside Herr Smeik’s store and thus find your way to the catacombs (via teleporting), or follow the Schwarzmanngaße on its outward spiral to the city’s edge, where paths offers routes of exploration around the outlying lands.

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

Wandering these outlands will reveal multiple places to appreciate the city from a distance. These retain bookish themes – some in quite a novel ways: even the bird stands offer a book or two to read! Thus, it’s worth taking time to explore on the ground before using the teleport to reach the catacombs.

I say this because the latter really are extensive – after two visits, there is still a lot I’ve yet to reach – so going to the catacombs could distract from ground-level explorations. While it is possible to “cheat” by flycamming around the tunnels and chambers, doing so is hardly keeping in the spirit of exploration, and also risks missing the finer details awaiting discovery. The tunnels wind their way up and down, connecting chambers one to the next – although some are also dead ends in terms of finding a way through all of the tunnels, thus adding to the sense of exploration and discovery.

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

Books feature strongly throughout the catacombs, which can make things feel a little “samey” in wandering through them – but the chambers offer their own individual themes that more than compensate for this. From cosy lounges to vast, tiered libraries, there is a wealth of detail to be found throughout these chambers – so much so, more than one visit may be required to appreciate them all.

Many of the chambers offer a further surprise in keeping with the catacombs of Buchhaim: they are home to buchlings (booklings). Often depicted as bloodthirsty cyclops species in Zamonian legends that eat everything that gets in their way, buchlings are actually the most intelligent and educated form of existence of the catacombs of Buchhaim. They worship, collect, maintain and read books, and believe they are the ones who have the most literature, because they only have to read it while others have to write, proofread, publish and sell it.

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

Within Numb’s and Clifton’s catacombs, the Buchlings are to be found  in tunnels and chambers, sometimes standing innocently and sometimes getting up to a little mischief (or trouble). Their presence further reinforces the region’s homage to the Zamonia books, as does the name for the setting: The Empire of Dreaming Books was the title of one of the volumes of work by Hildegunst von Mythenmetz, the most famous Zamonian writer of his time.

A truly magical setting, The Empire of Dreaming Books is well worth the time taken to visit and explore.

The Empire of Dreaming Books, May 2020

With thanks to Cube Republic and MorganaCarter for their suggestions to visit the region as well.

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The art of Shakti Adored in Second Life

Kultivate The Loft Gallery: Shakti Adored

I love to paint nature in the abstract form as I feel it. I try to capture that energy, the movement, of the natural world. My innate and incessant feeling and filtering energy is what drives me to paint the crazy way I do.

– Shakti Adored

I make no apology for covering another art exhibition connected with Kultivate Magazine and galleries just a couple of days after my coverage of the Kultivate Sensuality exhibition. While I may well be a contributing writer for Kultivate, this is not favouritism on my part; simply put, the Kultivate galleries cover an enticingly broad range of art and artists that is is entirely natural to be drawn back to shows there. This is certainly true of the May / June exhibition at Kultivate’s The Loft Gallery that opens at 13:00 SLT on Tuesday, May 26th 2020, featuring the extraordinary abstract work of Shakti Adored.

Kultivate The Loft Gallery: Shakti Adored

A 10+ year resident of Second Life, Shakti is perhaps best known to many as the curator of a range of art projects and galleries in Second Life over the years, including some exquisite exhibitions at Angel Manor. However, she is an accomplished artist in the physical world, with a lean towards abstraction, as the quote at the top of this piece notes.

However, far from being “crazy”, Shakti’s use of the abstract form is actually enticing, as can be seen within the twelve pieces she has selected for The Art of Shakti Adored. Rich in colour and tone, these may at first appear to be pure abstractions, but each carries within it a strong sense of theme and narrative that offers further depth to what are already captivating pieces.

This sense of narrative may be more obvious in some than with others: the titular character of Funny Bunny, for example, is unmistakable as his / she raises an inquisitive nose to take a sniff at a plant leaf – or is it a feather? – immediately drawing us into the picture, as it is hard not to find the bunny’s presence in the painting adorable, further adding to its appeal. Alongside of it, Fea Lights might at first appear to be more chaotic, but the two smoke-like presences quickly give it form, opening a story of sprites at play (or dancing) in an autumnal woods.

Kultivate The Loft Gallery: Shakti Adored

Meanwhile, Moving Forward offers a rich mixture: an abstracted watercolour / ink wash backdrop that almost suggests a collage, but within which the eye can discern certain things (in my case, the bent trunk of a palm tree, the suggestion of a conch shell and a pine cone, and a sense of flowing water to name but three), overlaid with more prominent elements (a rabbit once again), plus a hand holding what might be an infinity symbol). All of this combines to offer a sense of motion through both layering and motifs).

Creativity can often be a form of catharsis for the creator / artist. This is certainly true with Shakti’s work, as she notes herself. Her art, with the aid of a garden bath tub has allow her relief from the pain of fibromyalgia. At the same time, her discovery of Second Life offered her a way to escape the pain of a harmful marriage to a world that allowed her life-long love of art to bloom, first through her work in curating art galleries and projects.

Having recently returned to painting herself, Shakti now finds art as means to continue the healing process that continues on after the ending of her former marriage, that ability to overcome the discomfort of her medical condition, and a means to express the teaching of her other interests, such as Reiki, in a visual way, with Second Life offering her the means to present her work.

Kultivate The Loft Gallery: Shakti Adored

Thus, The Art of Shakti Adored is not only a expression of Shakti’s art, but very much an expression of her journey through life – physical and virtual – in which she is inviting us to share.This makes it a truly engaging exhibition that should not be missed. 

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