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 Dawa Maintenance RC Viewer, version 126.96.36.1995248, dated January 25, 2021, promoted February 1st, 2021 – No change.
Djehuti-Anpu (Thoth Jantzen – TJ to those who know him) is an artist specialising in immersive, interactive audio-visual presentations within virtual spaces. His work is a captivating mix of light, colour, sound, and interaction that many have likely seen at various venues across Second Life, including several SL Birthday events, where he has frequently presented microcosms of his work as featured artist at those events.
On Saturday February 13th, he opened Immergence, an installation featuring music, sound, light and colour that is made up of a series of experiences joined together through a common hub.
The very title of the piece is itself an interesting fusion, given that the two words can be taken as opposites: “immersion” tends to suggest being subsumed into something, confined by it, whilst “emergence” might be said to be moving out of something, to be free of its constraints.
However, when put together like this, they suggest the act of opening oneself to experience, thought, stimulation and ideas through the act of immersing oneself into a single medium – in this case, a series of interconnected virtual environments, each with its own form and purpose, but all of which combine to present a contiguous, provocative and evocative experience.
Before visiting the installation, there are a number of settings that should be enabled within your viewer:
Advanced Lighting Model (ALM) – must be enabled (Preferences → Graphics → ensure Advanced Lighting Model is checked)
Note that you do not need to enable shadows as well if rendering these places a significant strain on your computer’s rendering capabilities.
Ensure you have set the following media requirements (Preferences → Sound and Media → Media):
Media auto-play = ON / checked.
Allow in-world scripts to play media = ON / checked.
Play media on other avatars = OFF / unchecked.
Media Filter (TPVs only, if part of the viewer) = OFF / unchecked.
Ensure your viewer is set to Use Shared Environment (menus → World → Environment → make sure Use Shared Environment is checked).
Do note as well, that those sensitive to moving or flashing light or who may be particularly motion sensitive may find elements of Immergence unsettling.
The landing point offers information on the installation – presented by the HAL-like THJ-900 computer, together with a series of teleport portals that lead to the surrounding experiences, some of which can also be found at TJ’s New Khemmenu spaces at Ars Simulacra NMC’s SL Artist’s Showcase Island.
There is no set order of portals to take, so just choose those that pique your curiosity and step through. Similar portals within each of the environments can be used to return you to the landing point:
Khemennu University: immerse yourself in one (or more) of a number of discussions on a range of topics – ethics, philosophy, physicalism, memetics, and more, and test your own knowledge.
Marbles: float and / or dance amidst the dancing marbles as they capture and reflect the lights and patterns of the sphere that encloses you.
Mothership: take to a purple pod and lose yourself in music as the camera reveals the many environments within Immergence – just tap the ESC key a couple of times once folded into your pod.
Ramalama: I think this is about using a canon to shoot yourself into a tunnel of light, but I confess (possibly because of a shortcoming with my Bluetooth keyboard) I could not get the canon to work.
The Gauntlet – embark on a walk through space, light, time and more; best appreciated if you can manage it in Mouselook.
The Hippycampus: float through the brain, Superman-style.
The Mind Melter: wander halls of colour and reflection in what appears to be an endless space.
The two remaining portals – the large stargate and the Starburst portal – access event spaces that I gather will be used for special events.
In addition a green diamond formed by a pair of pyramids at the landing point will allow you to rez a little flying car (and companion) and zoom around the installation, whilst a second platform reached via a semi-transparent bridge, is home to a further series of portals connecting to other arts environments, including Ars Simulacra, mentioned above.
Obviously intended to be experienced rather than written about, Immergence is fascinating in its presentation, offering visitors an immersive, visually and aurally stimulating opportunity to both escape and, should you so wish, have your grey matter informed and exercised.
As I noted in my previous Space Sunday update, Mars is having one of its busiest period in the 50 years we have been sending probes to either orbit or land on that world, with no fewer than three new robotic missions either now in orbit or about to arrive.
The reason for this rapid-fire arrival is simple: Mars and Earth both orbit the Sun, but Earth, as the nearer of the two, completes a single orbit once every 365.25 days whilst Mars does the same once every 687 days. This means that Every so often, Earth “overtakes” Mars as they circle the Sun.
These periods of “overtaking” occur once every 26 terrestrial months, and are – slightly confusingly – called periods of “opposition”, so-called because Mars and the Sun appear to be on “opposite” sides of the Earth relative to one another in their orbits. However, where space missions are concerned, it’s not the point at which Earth “overtakes” Mars that is important, but the period of a couple of weeks beforehand, when Earth is in the final stages of “catching up”.
It is at this point that a mission to Mars can be most effectively launched. This is for a number of reasons: firstly, it marks the time when Earth and Mars are relatively close to one another in their respective orbits – perhaps as close as 50-60 million km when measured in a straight line. While spacecraft do not travel in a straight line between planets, it does mean the distance they do have to traverse is reduced to a few hundred million kilometres. Secondly, launching while Earth is still “catching up” with Mars means a spacecraft receives an added “boost”. Thirdly, it ensures the vehicle can enter a Hohmann Transfer orbit between the two planets.
Named for German engineer Walter Hohmann, who first calculated it in 1925, the Hohmann Transfer Orbit is the most fuel-efficient means for a spacecraft to move between the orbits of two different planets, further reducing the complexity of the journey by reducing the number of mid-course corrections that might otherwise be required. When taken as a whole, these three points mean that a mission to Mars can be launched with the minimum amount of time it needs to reach its destination and in a manner that maximises fuel efficiency.
Because the orbit of Mars is more elliptical than Earth’s, the actual time it takes to travel between the two during these periods can vary between six and seven months., with the distance this time meaning that the three missions launched in July 2020 have taken almost seven moths to reach Mars. They form an international flotilla, as I noted in my previous Space Sunday update, being from the United Arab Emirates by way of Japan, China and the United States.
All three are highly ambitious in nature, again as I noted last time around. The UAE’s Hope mission, the first to arrive, marks both the country’s first attempt to reach Mars and its very first interplanetary mission as a whole – no mean achievement for a country that has only recently committed itself to the goal of long-term space exploration and science.
The mission itself has been put together and is being run by a team of around 150 and at a cost of just US $200 million – which, as the saying goes, is just peanuts for space [missions]. It utilised a Japanese H-IIA launch vehicle to reach Mars, and in the face of understandable nervousness within the Hope mission team, the roughly cubic vehicle with a mass of around 1.4 tonnes, lipped into its initially orbit around Mars on Tuesday, February 9th following a 27-minute continuous burn of the vehicles main thrusters, a manoeuvre that used around half the craft’s available fuel load.
As it did so, the UAE staged a national celebration, with images of the Martian moons of Phobos and Deimos being projected into the night sky over the desert, while the skyline of Dubai saw buildings lit up with the mission name and images of the planet.
The aim of the mission is to further understand the Martian weather, atmosphere and climate, and to specifically close existing gaps in our knowledge of all three. It occupies what is called a high supersynchronous orbit, circling the planet once every 55 hours at a distance of between 20,000 km (periapse) and an apopapse of 43,000 km, altitudes that allow it to observe daily cycles across the entire visible hemisphere of the planet and witness season changes as they affect both the northern and southern hemispheres.