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
Release viewer: Love Me Render (LMR) 5, version 188.8.131.520171, dated May 27th, promoted June 7th – NEW.
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 in Nowhereville, 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 7th 19:00
In 1914, the world is divided into Darwinists and Clankers. The Darwinists have evolved genetics to make animals more useful to humans. The Clankers have built their society on machinery technology.
When the Leviathan, a living whale flying ship, arrives in Constantinople, a city where Clanker culture and Darwinst principles intersect in the most intriguing ways, Dr Barlow and Deryn Sharp deliver their precious cargo to the Sultan as part of a peace-keeping mission, only for things to suddenly take a left turn. Now the only way to save themselves in this hostile, politically-charged city is for Dr Barlow to offer up the thing that matters most: Leviathan itself.
Meanwhile, Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand, the would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne following the murder of his father, escapes from his prison camp and once more goes on the run with his men and the loris while Count Volger stays behind to fend-off the pursuit, forcing Alek to take on new responsibilities.
Thus, fate once again sees to it that both Deryn and Aleks must re-evaluate their precarious situations in the world…
Join Gyro Muggins as he returns to Scott Westerfield’s alternate history of Earth.
It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake.
While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is chasing her own mystery: teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.
Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?
Join Corwyn Allen as he reads Ben Aaronovitch’s latest novel.
Wednesday, June 9th, 19:00: Carl Hiaasen’s Skink
A native Floridian, Carl Hiaasen is an American journalist who focuses on political issues (notably corruption, environmental issues and other wrong-doings) within his home state. Starting his career in the 1970s , he became renowned for being exceptionally outspoken – even against his own employers.
During the 1980s, he started writing fiction in his spare time, achieving initial success with three co-authored novels published between 1981 and 1984, as well as writing several non-fiction titles.
In 1987, his second novel, Double Whammy introduced the “trailer park star tenant” and private eye, C.J. Decker, which Hiaasen fondly refers to as “the first (and possibly only) novel ever written about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing tour.” Among the cast of characters mixed into Double Whammy is one Clinton Tyree, the one-time governor of Florida, who abandoned his office and now lives as a outdoorsman (and partaker of roadkill cuisine) in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, using the pseudonym Skink.
Skink went on to become a recurring character in a further seven of Hiaasen’s novels to date, with all the books in which he features being gathered together under the general title of SKINK, with several of them being been among the 20+ works of fiction and non-fiction by Hiaasen to appear on the New York Times best-seller list.
Join Kayden Oconnell as he continues a journey with Hiaasen’s characters.
Thursday, June 10th, 19:00: Terry Pratchett’s Unseen Academicals
Football in Ankh-Morpork is not as we might know it. Rather than being comprised of rules and played within a recognisable ground, it is far more akin to the somewhat violent mob football of medieval Europe.
Not that this is a concern for the elderly, mostly indolent and (some might be tempted to think) somewhat inept old wizards making up the faculty staff at the city’s school of wizardry, the Unseen University. Until, that is, their very handsome annual endowment becomes subject to their playing the game themselves.
Thus, Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully sets out a two-pronged strategy: to ensure the city’s version of football is restructured with proper (and favourable?) rules, and to put team preparations at the university in the hands of the talented candle dribbler, Mr. Nutt and his assistant, Trevor Likely, the son of the city’s most famous (if deceased – did I mention the game can be violent?) player, who are in turn supported by Glenda Sugarbean, who runs the university’s night kitchen and her assistant Juliet Stollop.
Except Mr. Nutt soon discovers he has problems of his own to deal with, and Trevor has promised his Mum he’ll never get involved in the game. Meanwhile, Glenda has the daily responsibility of baking the Discworld’s best pies, and Juliet is about to find herself whisked towards the heights of fame as a fashion model, thus potentially leaving the team a little short on practical advice…
Join Caledonia Skytower as she presents the 37th novel in the Discworld series, and possibly one of its greatest satirical undetakings encompassing football, academia, traditions, the fashion industry, politics, love, fandom, and which mixes in more serious themes of identity, crab mentality and self-worth.
As a cultural movement, surrealism developed in Europe towards the end of the First World War, and is best known its visual art, music and writings that offer the juxtaposition of different realities to challenge the eye and the mind.
In terms of art, those embracing the movement initially tended towards scenes and settings that could appear unnerving – or at best illogical – that could bring together the ordinary and the extraordinary, the approach intended to allow the artist’s subconscious to express itself more than their conscious processes. Thus, pieces often feature the elements of surprise and that of and non sequitur, which tend to become the focus of their art when viewed, rather the being an expression of the philosophical movement surrealism was intended to be.
However, when well executed, surrealist art brings together a balance; a joining of the natural with the non sequitur, of colour with form and the subconscious of the artist with the imagination of the observer that is captivating and extraordinary to witness.
This is absolutely the case with the art of Anja (Neobookie), who is the artist of the month for June 2021 at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, curated by Dido Haas. On display is the most stunning exhibition of surrealist art it has been my pleasure to witness, one that fully embraces the core principals of the movement whilst encompassing broader photographic and artistic techniques and commentary.
Through her work, Anja is able to touch on subjects in her images in a way that is entirely non-directive. Take Free Willy, Survivors, and Wrong Shipping for example, with their subtle suggestions of our relationship with the world around us.
Elsewhere might be found commentary on the human condition – life and relationships – and an embracing of technique such as fata morgana and chiaroscuro that is simply captivating. But, and at the risk of repeating myself, it is important that you do not try to directly seek meaning in these pieces – rather allow them to talk to you, a Anja herself notes:
Do not try to understand all of the images shown, but just let them affect you. Even after two rounds of wandering, are you able to discover a pattern? Is there a common theme or common thread? Crazy, crazier, craziest seems to be the only connection and thing in common in this colourful collection of ‘Anja’s Surrealism’.
So, do take the time to drop into Nitroglobus through June and let Anja’s Surrealism to whisper its words to you.
Thursday, June 10th will bring forth an annular eclipse of the Sun that will be visible from Western Europe and North America (weather permitting!).
An annular eclipse is when the distances from the Earth and the Moon and the Earth and the Sun are such that as the Moon comes between Earth and Sun, its disk is too small to completely “blot out” the Sun’s disk.
The event on June 10th will occur at a time when Earth is approaching aphelion – the point in its orbit furthest from the Sun (which it will reach on July 5th), and when the Moon has just passed apogee – the point in its orbit around the Earth when it is furthest from our world. This means that when seen from Earth, the Moon will have an apparent diameter of 29’ 34”, and the Sun 31’ 30”.
Note: you should never, under any circumstances look directly into the Sun, even when wearing sunglasses. Not even during an eclipse.
While annular eclipses are regarded as being less spectacular than a total eclipse, they do have a beauty of their own, and are actually far more common – and will become more and more common in the aeons to come, due to the fact that the Moon is very slowly edging ever further from Earth, and so is ever so gradually forever slipping beyond the “Goldilocks zone” where its apparent diameter will at times almost match that of the Sun’s to present us with a total eclipse.
Not that this will be any time soon – astronomers estimate that it will be another 1.4 billion years before this planet witnesses its last ever total eclipse.
For the event on June 10th, the good news is that the eclipse will be above the horizon for North America from Florida and in an arc curving through the western and central United States and Canada to reach the Bering Strait, whilst in Europe a similar curve will run from the southern tip of Spain across all of Western Europe and parts of Eastern Europe before turning tightly over Russia to also reach the Bering Strait.
The bad news is the path of annularity, which offers the very best views of the eclipse, lies along a sparsely populated arc that runs across remote regions of Ontario, Hudson Bay, Northern Quebec and North-western Greenland before crossing the North Pole and ending at dusk on the Arctic shores of Siberia.
Even so, millions across the north-eastern half of North America, nearly all of Europe and Russia will see various stages of a partial solar eclipse, with parts of the United States being especially fortunate in being is the sweet spot for witnessing the a ‘sunrise horns’ eclipse, which will be visible for those up and about in the early hours in the Great Lakes down through the New Jersey-Pennsylvania/Delaware tri-state region..
Those within this arc can project an image of the Sun onto a plain white surface using a telescope or binoculars in order to see the “horns” – an effect caused as the Moon passes partially across the Sun’s disk (see right).
Those outside the path of greatest impact should still notice a dimming in daylight during their local period of eclipse (times on the images here are all UTC, so adjust for your time zone).
Or, for possibly the easiest and safest way to view the eclipse – again, weather permitting – is to hop over to the Virtual Telescope Project, who will be hosting a live broadcast of the event starting a 09:30 UTC on Thursday, June 10th.
NASA to return to Venus
For the first time in more than three decades, NASA plans to send robotic mission to Venus, with two mission proposals selected for funding in the latest round of the agency’s Discovery programme.
DAVINCI+, or Deep Atmosphere Venus Investigation of Noble gases, Chemistry, and Imaging, will be led by the Goddard Space Flight Centre. It will send a probe into the planet’s atmosphere, measuring noble gases and other elements that can provide information on how its runaway greenhouse effect developed. Cameras on the probe will hopefully provide high-resolution images of massive geological features known as “tesserae” on the planet’s surface that may be similar in form to Earth’s continents.
VERITAS, or Venus Emissivity, Radio Science, InSAR, Topography, and Spectroscopy, will be run out of the Jet propulsion Laboratory, and will map the planet from orbit using a synthetic aperture radar system. It will also search for infrared emissions that could help scientists determine if there is active volcanism on Venus.
Hardware for both missions will be built by Lockheed Martin at an estimated cost of US $500 million per mission, with both set to be launched between 2028 and 2030, although NASA will not award actual launch contracts for either until later in their development.
In being selected, the Venus missions elbowed their way past the Io Volcano Observer and Triton Trident missions which had also been under consideration for Discovery funding.
The first of these would have sent an orbiter to study the most volcanic place in the solar system, Jupiter’s moon Io, in and attempt to understand the role tidal heating plays in planetary formation. Meanwhile, the Trident mission would have sent a robotic vehicle on a flyby through the Jovian system en route to Neptune, where it would fly by the planet – and through the atmosphere of it’s geologically active moon, Triton.
While Io Volcano Observer may get to fly in the near future, things are a little more complex for the Trident mission, as this requires a particular planetary alignment between Earth, Venus, Jupiter and Neptune, that allows it to use their gravities to gather the velocity needed to reach Neptune without the associated fuel load. Such alignments only occur once every 13 years. , with the next occurring in 2026/27, meaning the next opportunity for the mission will not come until 2039/40.
However, NASA sees value in funding two Venus missions as both DAVINCI+ and VERITAS are very different in their science objectives, offering the potential to massively increase our knowledge of Venus for a comparatively small cost.
Another aspect that weighed in their favour is that both of the Venus missions can function as technology demonstration missions. VERITAS will host an updated version of a deep space atomic clock first flown on an Earth-orbiting spacecraft in 2019. This will assist in radio science observations and autonomous spacecraft manoeuvres. Meanwhile, DAVINCI+ will fly a new ultraviolet imaging spectrometer.
The decision to go ahead with DAVINCI+ and VERITAS marks the first time dedicated US missions to fly to Venus have been funded since the Magellan radar mapper orbiter, which operated between 1989 and 1994. It also marks an interesting contrast: since 1989, NASA has spent some US $28 billion on missions to Mars, whilst science spending on Venus has barely passed the US $3 billion in the same period.