Speedlight: recent updates and iOS development

via Speedlight

Speedlight, the browser based / Android Second Life client, gained a further series of updates at the end of May and the beginning of June, together with an important announcement about the client’s future direction.

Key within the updates were the following:

  • The Android app now supports sending error feedback to the Speedlight team to help with bug fixing.
  • Web links are now displayed in IMs, local and group chats, together with a warning that following them will take a user away from the Speedlight site.
Links contain in IMs, chat and group chat are now clickable. Those that connect to external web pages will display a warning when clicked.
  • Further performance improvements.
  • Full-function 3D capabilities are now available to basic and well as Gold subscribers. So, Basic account holders can now move their avatar around.

The feedback capability means that the Speedlight developers are currently focused in bug fixing, although the team also note they are working on group management capabilities – viewing groups, sending notices and moderating group chat, and state these capabilities will be release soon™.

iOS Version Coming

While Speedlight is entirely operating system agnostic in its browser version, allowing it to be used on Windows, OS X, Linux, Android and iOS through a suitable browser, the team has already released a dedicated Android version, as I noted in Speedlight: using the Android app, back in February 2020.

On May 27th, 2020, the Speedlight team have started working on a dedicated iOS version of the client as well, with an expectation that it will follow the same development path as the Android app, and – if all goes according to plan – should initially be made available in around 2-3 weeks.

Observations

The two key points of the recent announcements are likely to be the 3D avatar capabilities now being available to all Speedlight users, Basic or Gold, and the iOS app development, and the upcoming iOS app version.

The former could help make Speedlight a more attractive alternative to users who would like a “light” / mobile client (remembering that with Android, the device must be running version 7.0 or higher, whether using the dedicated app or running Speedlight through an Android browser), but who were not keen on paying a fee to be able to do so.

This does, however, also beg the question as to what the Speedlight team plan to do in order to maintain the attraction of Gold subscription. Currently, there is the mass IM capability, but his is liable to have limited appeal for most SL users, some one can only assume other features will be made available on a Gold subscription basis, although obviously, time will tell on this.

Given that Speedlight is already on the road to developing world rendering with interactive capabilities, the news that they are working on an iOS app version of the client may also be welcomed by users, particularly given that many feel such a capability is is “essential” to a mobile client, and Linden Lab has indicated that it will be some time before their in-development iOS / Android client will have such a functionality.

Related Links

Tranquil Droplets at Nitroglobus in Second Life

Nitroglobus: Bamboo Barnes – Traquil Droplets

Opening on Monday, June 8th, 2020 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas, is Tranquil Droplets, an exhibition of art by Bamboo Barnes.

There can be few involved in the art world within Second Life who can be unfamiliar with Bamboo’s work; it is by turns vibrant, evocative, provocative, emotive and so often rich in narrative. A physical world artist hailing from Japan, Bamboo works with digital tools to produce her pieces, her finished works strongly assertive in terms of its presentation, ability to dominate the space it occupies and in the way it demands the attention of the eye and mind.

Nitroglobus: Bamboo Barnes – Tranquil Droplets

There’s hopeless life still seeking for hopes like abandoned walking shadows of people on the street, my artworks are expression of confusion of life, darkness of light and strangeness of love. I create what I see but maybe you won’t, they are about people’s reality and mind.

– Bamboo Barnes, discussing her work

Much of her works is produced entirely outside of Second Life, which presents itself – along with Flickr – as a means for Bamboo to reach her audience. Which is not to say the pieces offered in Tranquil Droplets originated beyond our digital realm; rather the reverse, in fact, as the focus here is very much on avatar faces.

Not that the pieces offered are in any way a “traditional”avatar portrait / study; far from it. Each is presented in Bamboo’s rich, evocative style such that her use of colour, digital highlighting and layering all serve to add depth to the portraits offered. This gives each piece a life of its own, an expressive richness that presents us with a sense of story.

Nitroglobus: Bamboo Barnes – Traquil Droplets

For Bamboo, emotions are a core element of her art, be they those that are invoked by the piece she is working on; those she felt at the time she started working, and / or those evoked by the music she is listening to, as well as those she sees within her subject.

All of this is strongly evident within the 17 pieces offered within Traquil Droplets, each one of which offers unique reflections of both her subjects and of various artistic techniques – abstract, modernist, hints of dadaism / collages, and impressionism, all without ever merely mimicking these styles.

Nitroglobus: Bamboo Barnes – Tranquil Droplets

As Bamboo says, these pieces are like water whose dripping echoes in the silence; once heard, it cannot easily be forgotten, except here, it is that each of these images that continue to live with the imagination long after they’ve been seen, because of their richness of colour, presentation and emotion. In other words, this is a captivating exhibition.

SLurl Details

2020 viewer release summaries week #23

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, June 7th

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 viewer version 6.4.3.542964,, dated May 29th, promoted June 2nd, formerly the FMOD Studio RC viewer – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Tools Update RC viewer, version 6.4.4.543148, issued on une 5th – this viewer is built using VS 2017 / a recent version of Xcode, and Boost.Fiber. It contains no user-facing changes.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer updated to version 6.4.4.543142 on June 3rd.
  • Project viewers:
    • Mesh uploader project viewer updated to version 6.4.3.542535 on June 3rd.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • No updates.

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer stable branch updated to 1.26.24.21 and Experimental branch to 1.27.0.1, both  on June 6th – release notes.

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

A Vulcan crisis, a fallen bridge, flappers and fantasy

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 at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated. Note that the schedule below may be subject to change during the week, please refer to the Seanchai Library website for the latest information through the week.

Monday, June 8th, 19:00: Spock’s World

Gyro Muggins reads Diane Duane’s take on a classic figure from science fiction.

In the 23rd Century…

On the planet Vulcan, a crisis of unprecedented proportion has caused the convocation of the planet’s ruling council, and led to Starfleet ordering the U.S.S. Enterprise to the planet in the hope that its first officer, and Vulcan’s most famous son, can help overcome the issues the planet faces.

As Commander Spock, his father, Sarek, and Captain James T. Kirk struggle to preserve Vulcan’s future, the planet’s innermost secrets are laid open, as is its people’s long climb to rise above their savage pre-history, merciless tribal warfare, medieval-like court intrigue to  develop and adhere to o’thia, the ruling ethic of logic, and to reach out into space.

For Spock, the situation means he is torn between his duty to Starfleet and the unbreakable ties that bind him to Vulcan. Confronted by his own internal conflicts, he must quell them and prevent his world – and possibly the entire United Federation of Planets – from being ripped apart.

Tuesday, June 9th

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session at Ceiluradh Glen.

19:00: The Bridge of San Luis Rey

With Willow Moonfire.

On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travellers into the gulf below.

Thus begins Thorton Wilder’s second, and 1928 Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Influenced in part by Wilder’s own conversations with his deeply religious father, and inspired by Prosper Mérimée’s one-act act play, Le Carrosse du Saint-Sacrement, Thorton described the novel as a means to pose the question, “Is there a direction and meaning in lives beyond the individual’s own will?”

The bridge of the novel’s title and opening is a fictional Inca rope bridge, and its collapse is witnessed by a Franciscan friar, himself about to cross over it. A deeply pious man, Brother Juniper finds his faith challenged by the tragedy, and as a result embarks upon a “mission” to prove that it was divine will rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who fell with the bridge.

Over the course of six years, he compiles a huge book on the lives of those who perished, much of it obtained through interviews with those who knew them, in an attempt to to show that the beginning and end of the lives of those lost in the tragedy might be a a window into the will of God, and that the beginning and end of every life is in accordance with God’s plan for the individual.

Thus, within his book, he records the lives of those killed, as presented in succeeding chapters of the novel, mapping all that led them to their fate. The novel itself weaves a story through time, from the opening tragedy, then back to the lives of those who perished, then forward to the book’s reception by the church, then back once more to the events that immediately followed the tragedy and before Brother Juniper embarked on his quest.

Through this, we not only witness the lives of those lost, but also Brother Juniper’s own fate as a result of his efforts – a fate itself foretold within his book, and which again leaves one pondering the question Wilder set in writing the novel: is there indeed direction in our lives beyond our own will – and if so, is it rooted in the divine, or humanity’s own attitudes of a given time?

Wednesday, June 10th, 19:00: The Phryne Fisher Mysteries

Corwyn Allen brings us stories about Kerry Greenwood’s Australian heroine of the 1920s, possibly made popular to a globe audience through the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s series, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

Phryne Fisher is rich, aristocratic and far too intelligent to be content as a flapper in the Jazz Age. She collects men, fast cars and designer dresses. she flies, dances, shoots and has a strong bohemian outlook on life. But no matter how delicious the distractions, Phryne never takes her eyes off her main goal in life: bringing down villains.

Thursday, June 11th 19:00: Strong Medicine – Weird Westerns

Shandon Loring reads Tad William’s short story. Also in Kitely – grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).

Space Sunday: moving a mole and Planet Nine

InSight’s scoop gently presses against the top of the “mole” of the HP³ experiment, ready to gently push it down into the Martian regolith. Image Credit: NASA/JPL

NASA and its partner, the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) finally have some good news about the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP³, carried to Mars by the InSight Lander: they’ve made some progress towards perhaps getting moving again.

As I’ve noted in past Space Sunday articles, the experiment has been a source of consternation for scientists and engineers since InSight arrived on Mars in November 2018. Following the landing, HP³ was one of two experiment packages deployed directly onto the surface of Mars by the lander’s robot arm. One of the key elements of the experiment is the “mole”, a self-propelled device designed to drive its way some 5m into the Martian crust, pulling a tether of sensors behind it to measure the heat coming from the interior of Mars.

After a good 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. That was in February 2019.

The InSight lander was commanded to deploy the HP3 drill system on February 12th, 2019. Credit: NASA/JPL

Since then, scientists and engineers have been trying to figure out what happened, and how to get the mole moving again – because of the delicate nature of the sensor tether, the HP³ experiment couldn’t simply be picked up and moved to another location and the process started over. instead, various attempts were made to try to giving the mole material so it might gain traction.

Most of these revolved around using the scoop at the end of the lander’s robot arm to part-fill / part compress the hole created by the mole, the theory being that loose regolith would gather around the head of the mole and help it regain the necessary fiction to drive itself forward once more. Initially, some small success was had – until the mole abruptly “bounced” almost completely back out of the hole.

Further attempts were made to compress the ground around the hole, but all forward motion remained stalled, leading scientists to believe the mole had struck a layer of “duricrust” – a hard layer formed as a near the surface of soil as result of an accumulation of soluable materials deposited by mineral-bearing waters that later leech / evaporate away. These layers can vary between just a few millimetres to several metres in thickness, and are particularly common to sedimentary rock, which itself has been shown to be common on Mars.

The rub for the InSight mission is that if it is a layer of duricrust beneath the lander, it is impossible to tell just how thick it might be.

This images shows how difficult “pushing” the mole would be. The scoop (upper right) had a very small surface area at the end of the mole with which it could safely make contact, shown circled, without potentially damaging the tether harness. Credit; DLR

Earlier this year it was decided to use the scoop on the robot arm more directly, positioning it over the exposed end of the mole and applying pressure in the hope it could push the mole gently down into the ground in a series of moves that would allow the mole to get to a point were it could resume driving itself into the ground.

However, this approach has not been not without risk. The end of the mole has a “harness” – a connector for the tether, so the scoop has to be precisely positioned and any sort of pressure applied very gently and carefully to avoid any risk of slippage that might result in damage to the tether and / or harness and render its ability to gather data and information from the probe useless.

However, on June 3rd, NASA announced that a series of gentle pushes had resulted in the mole being completely below the surface, and with no apparent damage to the tether or harness. However, whether or not this means the mole is able to proceed under is own self-proplusion is unclear, as NASA noted in their tweet.

In all, the tip of the mole is now some 3m below the Martian surface. That’s deep enough for it to start registering heat flow, but to be effective, the mole still needs to drive itself down the full 5 metres. It is only at this depth that the mole and sensors can correctly start to measure the sub-surface geothermal gradient, and thermal conductivity, the two pieces of information required by scientists to obtain the heat flow from deeper in the planet. By studying the thermal processes in the interior of the planet, scientists can learn a lot about the history of Mars, and how it formed. They may also gain insights into how other rocky bodies formed.

Attempts have yet to be made to see if the mole can move under its own spring-driven propulsion, but for now NASA and DLR are rightly treating the current status of the probe as a victory. The tether harness at the end of the mole is undamaged, so if the mole can resume progress under its own power, there’s not reason why it shouldn’t start recording information.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: moving a mole and Planet Nine”