Boarding the USS Sleipnir in Second Life

USS Sleipnir and Planet Freya, November 2021 – click any image for full size
Personal log Stardate: 2551.11.10.
After an enforced break at Jasper Point on Idun, and the loss of Resilient Station and its host asteroid a major source of speculation and rumour, it was a relief to receive Commander Constantine’s invitation to take an intra-system jump ship to from the Point to the resource-rich Freya, and the orbit of the coalition’s newest jewel, the USS Sheipnir. Not only had the rumour mill started to get to me, I was keen to see what would be our new home and an opportunity to broaden our exploration of the galaxy, even though the Commander had made it clear elements of the ship were still under construction.

OK, so I’m not actually a part of the Blushock role-play group, but their adventures have been something I’ve been documenting (in part) in these pages, so when the group founder and leader, Fazzy Constantine (Faisel Constantine), invited me to visit the latest chapter in the group’s expanding story and universe, it seems only fitting I should offer some form of in-character notes!

USS Sleipnir and Planet Freya, November 2021

Offering a rich and ever-evolving role-play environment built out from Mass Effect™ Legendary Edition, the Blushock team has a rich history of activity in Second Life dating back over a decade – which in itself pretty impressive. However, rather than re-tread this history here, I invite those interested to find our more by visiting the group’s informative website, to discover more about the group and the Vanaheim system (where most of their adventures have thus far taken place.

When I last visited, the team had just set up a new base of operations – Resilient Station – within a carbonaceous asteroid orbiting Vanaheim in a 19 terrestrial year orbit that periodically carried it close to the lush world of Idun, and the team’s planetary base of Jasper Point (see: Docking at Resilient Station in Second Life). Functioning as a base of operations, an R&R and trading facility and containing research capabilites, the asteroid – Baldur – was mysteriously lost following an experiment involving the artificial creation of black holes.

As a result, Blushock embarked on the development of a new base-of-operations, this time opting to build a massive starship capable of both sub-light and supra-light velocities. In this, the ship uses alien technology able to “fold” space (and time) recovered from pre-existing caverns found deep within Baldur prior to its loss, and which Chief Engineer Noah Constantine (NoahLion) was able to reverse engineer to work with existing Blushock tech.

USS Sleipnir, November 2021 – command deck

The result is the USS Sleipnir, a “Dreadnought” class of vessel that is a truly impressive starship. Named for the mythical eight-legged horse ridden by the Norse god Odin (thus further maintaining the Norse mythology theme that runs through the Blushock RP). The name is fitting both for the fact that the mythical horse could carry Odin great distances, and for Sleipnir’s ability to “mediate between earth [in this case planets] and sky [in this case, space].

A multi-level vessel that clearly utilises a form of artificial gravity, USS Sleipnir is designed to perform a variety of roles: her drive systems means she is capable of visiting multiple worlds within any given star system and uses her space-folding abilities to move between different systems – and even different points in time. As a home, she is fully equipped with the essentials of comfortable living, from living quarters to extensive recreational facilities modelled after those found at Resilient Station – a communal swimming pool, a gymnasium, public social spaces and more.

She is also capable of launching, retrieving and maintaining a range of smaller craft – essential of planetary surface operations and also (potentially) for self-defence – as would be the case with the gunship Mjolnir, named for Thor’s hammer, occupying a dedicated docking hanger under the ship’s stern portions.

USS Sleipnir and Planet Freya, November 2021

Not all of the facilities of the ship are open to casual visitors – although guest quarters are available to those wishing to make an extended visit; joining the Blushock community as an active member can result in access being given to those parts of the ship that are otherwise not readily accessible. However, a part of the ship that can be accessed by all is the most impressive: the massive multi-deck atrium that rises from over the engineering spaces along the ship’s keel to her very top and which sits roughly two-thirds of the way back from her bow and directly between crew and guest quarters and the ship’s primary operating spaces.

This huge space is genuinely stunning – and I really urge visitors to approach it on foot rather then camming out and spying on it. Dominated by two huge hemispheres extending outwards from the main hull, it offers unparalleled views of space – or, when in orbit, of a nearby planet. Extending out into each of these great domes are holographic display platforms, one of which at the time of my visit offered a view of our Milky Way galaxy.

USS Sleipnir – briefing room with the gunship Mjolnir visible through the windows

Between them, and centrally placed beneath the huge, transparent roof of this gigantic atrium is a stellar illumination sphere that casts a natural level of daylight that both gives light and helps to nourish the plants and trees growing throughout the lower garden levels and on the tiers of rock – yes, rock –  down which fresh water falls to be recycled and purified for re-use in the recreation area’s pool, located on Sleipnir’s uppermost deck.

The public and social heart of the sip, the atrium is home to birds as well as people, and features places to sit, play games, eat and / or meet friends and crewmates, with companionways and elevators connecting decks and providing access to crew and guest accommodation in the forward part of the ship, or – for those with access – the various offices, labs and other spaces towards the rear of the ship.

USS Sleipnir – personnel quarters

Framed against Planet Freya, named for Odin’s wife and thus a fitting location for the ship’s construction, USS Sleipnir and Planet Freya presents an ideal visit for anyone who enjoys science-fiction. Further setting (representative of Planet Freya, I believe) are to come; while for those looking for a suitable sci-fi environment for photography (RP allowing), the ship makes a great backdrop. And for those who enjoy RP far removed from the likes of Trek or Star Wars, the Blushock team is an ideal group to join and share adventures. The ship’s stargate (not part of the RP) also makes for an ideal means to visit other sci-fi realms in SL.

SLurl Details

2021 SUG meeting week #45 summary

Finian’s Foraois, August 2021 – blog post

The following notes were taken from the Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 Simulator User Group (SUG) meeting. The meeting was recorded by Pantera Północy, and the video is embedded at the end of this summary. Note this summary focuses on the key points of the meeting; where there is something to report, the video should be referred to should full details of the meeting wish to be reviewed.

Server Deployments

  • Tuesday, November 9th saw simhosts on the SLS Main channel restarted, but no actual simulator update, leaving them running version 565008.
  • Wednesday, November 10th should see regions on the RC channel restart:
    • The majority of RC simhosts will be restarted without any update, also leaving them running simulator version 565008.
    •  Those servers on the Bluesteel channel will be updated to version 565204, containing the outcome of the recent work in updating the simulator toolsets. Testing of the simulators using the new tools has shown “significant improvement” in simulator operations, so the hope is that this will be reflected in the deployed version.

SL Viewer

This list reflects those official viewers available via Linden Lab.

  • Release viewer: version version, formerly the Apple Notarisation Fix RC viewer, issued September 24 and promoted October 15.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • 360 Snapshot RC viewer, version, issued October 21.
    • Maintenance RC viewer updated to version, on October 20.
    • Simplified Cache RC viewer, version, dated September 17, issued September 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Performance Improvements project viewer, version, dated October 12.
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version, issued September 2.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version, issued September 1.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version, dated December 9, 2019.

Apple Notarisation Viewer Issue

With the release of the Apple Notarisation Viewer there were updates to many of the viewer’s third party libraries, and some of these updates have be found to cause issues related to playback of certain media types in-world (notably MP3s and MP4s). A fix is in progress, and once ready, LL intend to fast track it through QA ahead of other viewer updates and make an RC viewer with the fix available ASAP.

TLS Changes

Monty Linden provided an update on the status of disabling TLS 1.0 / 1.1 and future certification work:

There are some ongoing issues [with] a combination of effects in play. In Bug-231303, we have reports of failed cipher negotiation. Right now, only three ciphers are available under tls1.2 on login. I hope to strictly expand that. *HOWEVER* this is where that old viewer cert checking code comes in and does the wrong thing. Future certs will not have the ‘key encipherment’ usage extension – and those old checks need to disappear from all viewers and bots and comms libraries. 
We can’t check every combination people try to use. We can’t even check many combinations, but we’re heading in the direction of wider conformity of the rest of the net. I would like to be able to offer testing on Aditi prior to future changes but we’ve coupled the two grids in an unfortunately way. That might take time to separate. Maintained clients that updated the cert check should work. Old libomv stuff that is broken currently may or may not be repaired (some will, some won’t). Anyone truly doing their own thing will have to answer to the crypto gods.
The reg changes should hold up. But more changes will be coming in ’22 and beyond. Things that have gone unmaintained for years are going to be very susceptible to crypto changes in the wider world. This is the warning.
FYI, consider the 2020q1 profile in this as a target.
For client authentication where Linden doesn’t control the server endpoint, I’m thinking other authentication schemes are in order. OAuth2, etc. We had a high-level LSL discussion the other week. Better supporting auth schemes for scripting would be one of these. But it also enters into having private storage and secrets management. I.e. all the stuff real cloud providers have to do. Even that is a project. All of which would be A Really Good Thing.

Monty Linden

This commentary rolled into a wider discussion of potential scripting options and of further HTTP work. In terms of the former, Monty indicated that the Lab is not ready to increase script memory limits, because there is a believe that ” we can make the memory you have do more.” He also indicated that amongst the backlog of work is a Mono update, but could not say when that might progress to a point of being worked on.