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 188.8.131.526539, dated August 11, promoted August 17, formerly the Arrack Maintenance RC viewer – NEW.
Release channel cohorts:
Love Me Render RC viewer, version 184.108.40.2067427, August 21st.
Updated, August 25th: following Patch’s forum post, Yavanna issued a note card through the in-world Pod Riders group stating her pleasure with the outcome, and I’ve quoted it at the end of this piece.
On Friday, August 21st, I reported on the news that for various reasons – including her on-going recovery from being stricken by COVID-19 -, Yavanna Llanfair, had decided to suspend the automated running of her Mainland YavaScript Pod tours (see: YavaScript Pod Tours Mainland operations suspended – UPDATED).
At the time, there was a certain amount of confusion over what may have happened with regards to an account suspension she had received in late July. As I noted in an update to that original report, this matter had particularly confused Patch Linden, who commented on a forum thread on the subject, promising to look into things.
Keeping his word, on Monday, August 24th, Patch provided a further update:
I have returned with an update! 😁 We have just met with Yavanna and I am super excited to say that we will be working more closely together going forward on not only helping to support the pod tours system as it currently exists, but also expanding it in to other areas it does not reach today. I’m sure that as expansions and other fun add-ons unfold, there will be more updates on those as they happen. For the immediate future, the pod tour system should be retuning to normal functionality.
By “returning to normal functionality”, Patch presumably means that the automated running of the pods across the Mainland will shortly resume.
In the meantime, speculation has already started on what the “expansions” to the system might be – including suggestions such as using the pods to make tours of Bellisseria and the SS Galaxy, which as I reported in January (see: SS Galaxy drops anchor at Bellisseria), is now moored off the west coast of that continent.
Obviously, time will tell where the expansions are concerned, but for now, Patch’s immediate news is being warmly received by the majority of Mainlanders concerned about the situation, and pod users.
Update – Yavanna’s Comments on the Outcome
Following the publication of this article, Yavanna issued a note card giving her very positive reaction to the understanding that has been reached between herself and the Linden, which reads in full:
Dear pod riders,
I am very pleased to report that I’ve just had an extremely constructive meeting with Patch Linden, Derrick Linden and Tommy Linden. Hopefully I won’t get suspended for a pod crash again! (It was clearly a mistake). I have therefore removed the server block on the pods.
It’s actually better than just that though. We were able to discuss possible future joint ventures, and how they could help me going forward. So I’m very happy about the outcome of all this.
I’m extremely grateful to you all for your support. It’s not been an easy time for me lately for reasons I’ve talked about before, but your good wishes have made me feel so much better.
I’m still going to be mostly keeping out of SL for the moment, but as the winter nights draw in and I feel better in myself I hope to be working on more pod projects.
Currently open at ArtCare Gallery, curated by Carelyna, is an ensemble exhibition featuring Black Rose, Juidlynn India, Eva Burroughs, Ladmilla and Eli, and Patrick Ireland, all of whom are presenting theme selects of their art.
For States of Mind, Lamilla and Eli present 24 of their image / poem combinations focused on reflections on life, love, relationships, some of which can lean towards darker, more regretful thoughts, all of which are richly evocative in both form and words – as is always the case with this unique pairing. Rounding out the exhibition is a thirteenth piece sans words, that offers a slide show of images that are again intended to poke at the grey matter.
With Flowers and Sea, Black Rose offers two selections of her physical world paintings which, as the title of her exhibit indicate, focus on flowers and on the sea. The former total seven pieces that are rich in colour, reflective of the vitality and life of their subject matter – which in this case includes butterflies as well as plants.
In the neighbouring bay art eight pieces representing the sea that again use colour to reflect the changing nature of both the ocean and our relationship with it. Some are offered in lighter, paler colours or given predominantly in blue, suggestive of the colder nature of the sea, or the way in which oceans and weather can so often quickly change their moods. Other offer warmer tones – yellows, oranges and reds, with the Sun sitting low over the waters and / or lighting the bellies of clouds. With their softer, warmer shades they remind us of our more romantic views of the sea.
Warmth might also be an adjective that could be applied to Judilynn’s selection of art, presented under the title Texture and Tone, given the deeper colours on offer in these paintings. Another might be tactile, because – and again in reflection of the title of the collection – these are pieces that are visually physical in their layering on paint and colour.
Most of the pieces are richly abstract in form – and thus powerfully evocative (just look at The Lighthouse, for example, and the richness of colour and narrative it contains). Two perhaps lean more to a suggestion of neo-impressionism with a modern edge.
Eva Burrough’s Visus Aquam (the sight of water) returns to an aquatic theme, the focal point of which is a stunning rendering of water bordered on either side by two sets of superb images of tropical and semi-tropical fish. beyond these, on the wall separating this collection from that of Judilynn are three abstracted images of coral that are as captivating as the six fish paintings, and which offer something of sense of flow between the two exhibits, given their abstracted style. Facing them, and rounding-out the collection are images of ships and lighthouses captured from within Second Life, and two intriguing monochrome studies of coral.
In Carnival, Patrick Ireland offers an unusual trip through his art, and I mean that in a literal sense: re a bumper car, take a seat and get up close and personal with Patrick’s remarkable avatar studies, all of which are powerfully expressive and rich in narrative.
All three are taking different routes to supply vehicles capable of landing humans on the surface of the Moon and then returning them to lunar orbit for onward transit to Earth. For the initial mission, which NASA has time-tabled for 2024 – a highly ambitious date – one of the three vehicles must be capable of delivering a crew of two to the south polar regions of the Moon and then back to orbit.
On August 20th, 2020, the National Team delivered a full engineering mock-up of its proposal lander / ascent vehicle to NASA’s Johnson Space Centre (JSC).
For those familiar with the Apollo lunar lander, the National Team’s vehicle is a veritable monster, standing over 12 metres (40 ft) in height. It comprises three elements: a descent element that physically lands on the Moon and that is topped by the ascent element, both of which are helped down to the lunar surface by a transfer element.
It’s a combination of vehicles that build on a definable heritage. The descent element is being designed by Blue Origin using the technology the company has been developing over the last three years for its automated lunar lander, Blue Moon.
The ascent stage, meanwhile, is being developed by Lockheed Martin leveraging technology used in NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV), the capsule vehicle that will be used to ferry crews to and from Lunar orbit. Finally, the transfer stage uses technology and elements from Northrop Grumman’s automated Cygnus resupply vehicle serving the International Space Station (ISS).
The newly delivered mock-up will remain at JSC through until early 2021. It will be used by NASA engineers and astronauts to ascertain how the vehicle works, what is required, and helping engineers within the National Team to validate the team’s approach to getting crew, equipment, supplies, and samples off and on the vehicle.
In all, the three contractors were awarded a total of US $967 million that would be used to meet the costs of the first 10 months in developing each of their proposals of a Human Landing System (HLS). Of the three, the National Team took the lion’s share of the funding, some US $579 million. As well as delivering the engineering mock-up to JSC, the National Team is also preparing for a certification baseline review of their proposed design, with NASA expected to release a draft of the call for proposals for the next phase of the programme in early September.
For their design, Dynetics is also working with Draper and with Sierra Nevada Corporation, the developers of the Dream Chaser space plane. Their design is the smallest of the three proposed HLS vehicles – and potentially the most flexible. It is effectively a two-stage craft comprising a core lander / ascent vehicle of a squat design, supported by “drop tank” units that provide fuel for the initial stages of descent to the lunar surface, and which are jettisoned as their supplies are used.
The core craft is designed to carry crew or cargo down to the surface of the Moon and return crews back to orbit to rendezvous with an Orion MPCV or the Lunar Gateway. In addition, the uncrewed cargo variant is designed so that once cargo has been unloaded, it can be utilised as an additional module for a lunar base, providing a means for the base to be routinely expanded.
SpaceX – a surprise receiver of funding for HLS – is proposing the use of a modified version of its Starship vehicle, one sans aerodynamic surfaces, as these will not be required for operations to / from the surface of the Moon.
It is expected that NASA will de-select one of the proposals in early 2021, allowing the remaining two to continue. However, there has been a crimp put in plans: NASA requested some US $3.3 billion specifically to fund the HLS programme in fiscal year 2021, but under the proposed House budget, only US $670 million is allocated to HLS development, and the Senate’s budget proposal may not significantly raise this.
Was the Sun Once Part of a Pair?
A theory published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters on August 18th, 2020, dips into the theory that the Sun was once part of a binary pair.
The theory itself isn’t new: the Sun was one of a number of stars formed around the same time in the “local cluster”, and so may well have been twinned with another early in its life, before the gravitational influences of other stars in the cluster forced them apart. In fact, in 2018, astronomers from the Instituto de Astrofísica e Ciências do Espaço in Portugal announced they may have discovered it in the form of star HD 186302, some 184 light-years away – although this has yet to be proven.
In the new publication, scientists from Harvard University point to the Oort cloud – a complex combination of a ring of icy planetesimals (the Hills Cloud) and a larger, more distant sphere of such objects, both of which lie beyond the heliosphere, as indicative that the Sun once had a companion.
Conventional thinking has it that the Oort cloud formed from debris left over from the formation of the solar system and its neighbours. However, models designed to show this have been unable to produce the expected ratio between scattered disk objects within the Hills cloud and outer Oort cloud objects. But if a relatively close stellar companion is introduced to the mix, modelling the formation of the Oort cloud elements and the distribution of objects within them becomes clearer, the paper’s authors claim. Not only that: it may actually help explain how life on Earth started.
Oort cloud objects are rich in water ice and the minerals and chemicals essential to starting life. Having a stellar companion for the Sun dramatically increases the amount of perturbations that might ripple through the Oort cloud and send some of its objects to fall into the solar system – and potentially collide with Earth, bring that water and those compounds with them.