Clouds and windlight skies by Stevie Davros

Saturn over Holly Kai Park, via the Cosmic Skies clouds set by Stevie Davros

During the Friday, January 26th TPV Developer meeting, mentioned was made of cloud texture sets produced by Australian photographer Stevie Davros, which he offers for sale through the Marketplace. Curious, I decided to go and take a look and have a play.

In all, Stevie is offering five sets of cloud textures at prices ranging from L$99 through to L$599. These are essentially collections of .TGA files designed to replace the cloud texture found in the viewer, and a selection of associated windlight sky .XML files specifically designed to work with the cloud textures, together with comprehensive set of installations instructions and links to his installation videos. To help people understand how they work, Stevie provides a sixth demonstration set for free.

As delivered from the marketplace, each set comprises a note card providing a general introduction to the sets, and a set of links, as follows:

  • A link to a Dropbox file location where the actual files for installation can be downloaded.
  • A link to a YouTube slide show of the various cloud textures.
  • A link to his set of Flickr albums showings the cloud images.
  • Assorted links to windlight tutorials.
The JuilaSet clouds and ~Clouds_JulietSet_Blue_Day windlight .XML by Stevie Davros (Sci-Fi and Fantasy clouds)

On receipt of a note card (delivered to your Received Items in its own folder), simply copy / paste the Dropbox link into your web browser to display a preview of the download ZIP contents (thumbnails of the folders and instruction files), and click the Download button, top right of the web page – don’t download the individual files.

I’m not going to run through the installation process here, as Stevie provides a comprehensive guide in both .PDF and .RTF formats, and links to his installation videos. Some file manipulation is required, but providing you are comfortable navigating a folder / directory hierarchy via your computer’s file manager / explorer, and with renaming files and copy / pasting files, you shouldn’t find the installation that taxing. Suffice it to say that the downloaded ZIP contains:

  • A choice of folders with the cloud .TGA files – one for PC, one for Mac OSX. These are intended to replace the default cloud texture provided in the viewer.
  • A folder of .XML windlight files that can be used with the cloud textures. Copy the contents of this folder to your viewer’s user windlight skies folder, rather than the viewer’s main windlight skies folder.
  • Installation instructions in .PDF and .RTF.
  • Two images used in the installation instructions.
The JuilaSet clouds used with Annan Adored’s Morning Dream windlight

For most viewers, using the different cloud textures requires renaming the texture you wish to use via your computer’s file manager, and restarting their viewer. Again, Stevie’s installation instructions explain what is required.

If you use Firestorm, you can simply copy all of the cloud textures to the viewer’s windlight\cloud folder and select your required cloud texture from the Preferences > Windlight > Cloud Texture drop-down, although a viewer restart will still generally be required to apply the change.

Note: when re-logging after selecting a custom cloud TGA, you may see no change in your sky if you are in a region using the default sky settings, or things might look initially messy. If this happens simply switch to a suitable windlight setting – see below.

There are a wide variety of ways to access windlight .XML files depending on the viewer you are using. Within the official viewer, windlights are access via the World menu > Environment Editor and then using either the Environment Settings panel or Sky Presets > Edit Preset floater, using the drop-down on each to select your preferred windlight setting (see below).

Selecting windlight pre-sets from the World menu in the official viewer – click for full size, if required

When applying the cloud textures and windlights supplied by Stevie, it’s worth keeping the following in mind:

  • Some of the cloud textures have recommended or specific sky .XML presets for use with them. For example, in the Cosmic Skies set:
    • The JuliaSet clouds have set of associated .XML files with the prefix ~Clouds_JuilaSet_[name]).
    • The Saturn cloud texture requires the ~Clouds_Saturn windlight sky in order to display correctly (the planet will display with some other windlights, but generally appears distorted)
  • Some of the cloud textures can look rough – faint rings may appear in the sky, the texture repeats might have a definable edge, etc. These issues can generally be corrected by adjusting the amount of cloud cover using the appropriate slider (e.g.  World menu > Environment Editor > Sky Presets > Edit Preset … > Cloud tab) and use the coverage slider to adjust as required.

FCirrus v2 Windlight: Pinky Yellow, by Stevie Davros, on FlickrCirrus v2 Windlight: Pinky Yellow, by Stevie Davros on Flickr


Given there are a lot of windlight .XML sets freely available to users, charging for them might at first seem odd – but remember, with these sets, it is not the .XMLs you are paying for, but the .TGA cloud files. How useful then might be to the individual depend on your Second Life use. Photographers will potentially find the sets to be of the most use; however, there are some points to be noted:

  • The cloud .TGA files are copyrighted by Stevie Davros. As such, although they are supplied outside of Second Life, they should be regarded as supplied under the following permissions: Copy, Modify, No Transfer, and so should not be passed to other users.
  • These sets are intended to be applied on the viewer side only (the cloud .TGA files can only be applied on the viewer-side), so only you will see them in operation when applied (those with their own region / with EM rights, might apply the windlight .XML files to their region).

It is perhaps also worthwhile pointing out that Rider Linden is working on the Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) – read this overview about the project for more. The point of this is that some might prefer to see how this project is implemented – testing is due to start on Aditi very soon – before purchasing sets of clouds.


Flying the CLSA Fairey Gannet in Second Life

The CLSA Fairey Gannet over Blake Sea Half Hitch

I’m not that into military aviation outside of airshows, and in SL, all my flying is restricted to civilian light aircraft with the exception of a Supermarine Spitfire, which was a thank you gift from its creator, Eric Gregan, and a civilian version of the PBY6A Catalina. So I’m a little surprised to be writing about a veteran military ‘plane, the Fairey Gannet.

I confess to having known next to nothing about the Gannet prior to obtaining this particular model – but wikipedia was once again my friend, helping me fill-in the blanks about this post-World War Two Royal Navy aircraft. I came across the model in question after learning through Whirly Fizzle that CLS Aviation, owned by CaithLynnSayes were being sold at L$10 per aircraft on an unsupported basis. At the time, I picked up a couple (see here for more). A subsequent chat about the CLSA range with friend Jodi Serenity led me to an impulse buy of CLSA’s Fairey Gannet – it’s not as if L$10 is going to break anyone’s bank!

The CLSA Fairey Gannet on rezzing

The first thing that struck me is that it is a comparatively big aeroplane (by the standards of the aircraft I generally fly, at least!). It is also something a very faithful reproduction by Helijah Bailey (sold under a licence agreement by CLSA) with a lot packed into it – more, it would seem, then the instruction manual explains. The complete package comprises the aircraft, a minimal but acceptable flight HUD for those who like them, a pilot’s headset and two manuals. By default, the aircraft rezzes with wings folded – these can be deployed when sat in the pilot’s cockpit by typing w(ing) or wings in chat. They unfold quite satisfactorily, and the twin turboprop engines can be started at the same time via the Engine button on the HUD if you use it, or by typing s(tart) or engine in chat – note chat commands are not case-sensitive.

Starting the engines will also do a couple of other things – activate the Gannet’s strobe and nav lights, and cause the other two crew members pop-up in their respective cockpits (the plane is a single avatar seater).  With the exhausts under the rearmost cockpit spewing fumes and heat, the ‘plane is ready to fly. This is achieved by releasing the parking brake (p) and then using the conventional controls: PAGE UP / PAGE DOWN for the throttle (5% increments or nX – where X is a number between 1 and 100, for quickly setting), UP / DOWN for nose pitch, LEFT / RIGHT for banking.

The CLSA Fairey Gannet: the two observers appear when the engines are started

In flight, the Gannet handles well – I’d rate it the best of the CLSA aircraft I’ve flown to date.  Being a beast, it does require constant pressure on the controls with banking or it’ll simply try to rapidly straighten out, but this adds a level of realism in flying. Airspeeds are given in metres per second, and when landing, you’ll need around 8-15 m/s to both avoid stalling on approach or coming in too fast and having to force it onto the ground.

As noted the ‘plane comes with plenty of features: the aforementioned folding / unfolding wings; a deplyable radar dome for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the Gannet’s primary role in this variant and an extensible arrestor hook for deck landings (would that there were a Royal Navy carrier steaming around Blake Sea!). There are no fewer than 10 default camera positions and 11 preset paint schemes (5 Royal Navy Air Squadrons, one Royal Australian Navy Air Squadron (albeit it with UK roundels), one Indonesian Navy Aviation Squadron, 3 Marineflieger (German Navy) options, and one simply labelled “FAA” (Fleet Air Arm). There is also a custom option. There’s also a fuel system, a sliding pilot’s cockpit canopy, and a park / unpark mode (only use the latter with the wings folded, as it includes the stays to hold the wings in that position).

The CLSA Fairey Gannet: weapons bay doors open – flying in a region with rezzing rights will drop a torpedo

The Gannet is also fully VICE enabled for combat operations – although this is missing from the flight manual. I’m not into combat flying and so blindly fiddled around until some things worked. Enabling VICE via the menu prims the weapons bay, and typing b in flight will open the bay doors and drop a torpedo (providing you have rezzing rights in the region you’re flying through). There is a cycle delay limiting the frequency at which torpedoes can be released. There are also weapons hard points under the wings with depth charges (I assume) and missiles attached. These are alpha’d by default, and appear to be unscripted. I’ve no idea if they can be accessed by this particular variant of the Gannet, or if they an hold-over from another design, and confess I didn’t spend too much time trying to figure them out.

Overall, I found this a nice aircraft to fly – and one that is certainly nippy at high throttle settings, which offers some fun in flying. While it is not something I’d use with any frequency – only curiosity and the price caused my to buy it, as noted -, for those who like their military aircraft, it potentially offers a pretty good value for money, particularly given the preset finishes.

Additional Links

CLS Aviation on the Marketplace

2017 in review part 2

The Mill; Inara Pey, December 2017, on FlickrThe Mill, December 2017 – blog post

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages for me to look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers July through December. January through June can be found here, and a look at SL’s technical developments through the years is available here.


Second Life

The month opened with Jayjay Zifanwe contacting me to give me the (then) exclusive news that UWA’s regions would be remaining in Second Life for a further two years, albeit it on a reduced scale, rather than closing as anticipated. A celebratory Art of the Artists machinina challenge followed the announcement. The lab launched their “Bento equipped” starter avatars, and issued updates to the Terms of Service, while some purchase notifications were also updated. Nicky Perian announced he would be retiring from Kokua development in October 2017 to enjoy a well-earned rest, in the hope that someone else would take up the reins.


The end of July saw the Creator Beta launch, with the platform opening to anyone wishing to join. The run-up through the month was marking with an increase in Preview invitations, plus profile videos featuring Ria, Blueberry and London-based Unit 9, all of which I reviewed and added some thoughts around vis Sansar’s reach and marketing. With the Public Beta openI did a quick getting started guide.

VR and AR

CastAR sadly closed and AltspaceVR gave notice they would be closing. On a brighter note, it was revealed how Google had been re-inventing Glass over the last two years.

Space and Astronomy

July 2017 marked 20 years of continuously studying Mars from both the surface of the planet and from orbit, and also marked the anniversary of the first lunar landing. Remarkable images of Betelgeuse were revealed, and further traction was gained for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway while Elon Musk walked back some expectations around the first flight of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Voyager mission: 40 years on. Credit: NASA/JPL


Wouldn’t you just know it – I revised the island home again!

Travel and Arts

July Travels July Art Reviews
Stony Hill Vineyard Artful Expressions: Cecilia Mode, Lawrence Pryce, Rosy Hanry Jarom
Gale Storm Retreat Wintergeist: Pieces of a Whole
Collins Land Solo Arte: Terrygold’s Reflected on Black
Ash Falls Karma Avedon: One Tree Hill
Welcome to Somewhere Commonwealth Village: Inara Pey
Follow Your Bliss Commune Utopia: Cybele Moon
Solo Arte: Boudicca Amat and Inara Pey
MetaLES: Harbor Galaxy
Serena Arts: aldiladeisogni – Picture of Oh
Bailywick Gallery: August 2017


Second Life

It’s a quiet month for me, reporting-wise, the focus being on my weekly series of SL user group meeting reports, although Bay City does announce the 2017 Hot City Nights event, which takes place towards the end of the month.


With the Public Beta open, I offer some initial hints’n’tips and suggestions of places to visit, following by a more detailed look at the Runtime Desktop Mode. I also look at what the media is saying, and offer my own thoughts on the opening.  Three visits to Sansar experiences launch my Exploring Sansar series, while also taking a look at some of the Creator Challenge winners before starting my series of reports on Sansar Product Meetings.  Keeping with the spirit of competitions, the Lab co-sponsors an avatar design competition, and Bjorn and Widely Linden discuss the new platform (with audio), while there’s a further official Creator Profile video.

Secrets of the World Whale; Inara Pey, August 2017, on Flickr Sansar: Secrets of the World Whaleblog post

VR and AR

AltspaceVR announces a reprieve from closure may be in the wind, and there’s a look at VR and AR in the wake of Sansar’s public Creator Beta while High Fidelity reveals currency and IP protection plans.

Space and Astronomy

There’s another anniversary to be celebrated – this one marking 40 years of the Voyager mission. Curiosity celebrates five years of Mars surface operations, and exoplanets once more step into the spotlight, while the 2017 total solar eclipse is tracked across America.

Travel and Arts

August SL Travels August SL Art Reviews August Sansar
Banana Bay Battle of the Little Liars Seven Wonders
Wimberly (2) Cica Ghost: Future LOOT Interactive
Yasminia Dathúil: Welcome to My Brain Secrets of the World Whale
Cocoon Split Screen: Creator Challenge winners
Fine Art Gallery and Jungle No Life Without Art
Yamagata Club LA and Gallery: Burke Bode and Twain Orfan
Les Reves Perdus  Anibrm Jung – Art by Nature
Long Journey Kultivate’s Black and White
De*cid*u*ous Nitroglobus: Marie (mariajo60)
Cica Ghost: Fairy Tale

Continue reading “2017 in review part 2”

2017 in review – part 1

It's A New Dawn, Lemon Beach; Inara Pey, January 2017, on FlickrIt’s A New Dawn, Lemon Beach – our first 2017 Exploring Second Life destination

The end of the year is once more approaching, which is often a time of reflection as we look back over the old before pausing to await the arrival of the new. It’s become something of a tradition in these pages for me to look back over the articles and coverage of the year’s events I’ve managed to write-up, and offer a chance to revisit the ups and downs and the good and the bad the last twelve months have brought us.

To keep things digestible, I’ve broken this year’s review into two parts. This one covers January through June, and July to December will be along later in the week, and I have a review Second Life’s technical enhancements through 2017 available here.


Second Life

The year started with a look at Tyche Shepherd’s 2016 end-of-year grid survey summary. This was followed by a behind-the-scenes look at the Bento project, with an article linked to a piece written for Kultivate Magazine. The Horizons project land sale reached its mid-point, and I offered a summary of sales to date. The Second Life Place Pages beta launched,  while there was the usual weekly SL Project Updates from assorted meetings and Spoonful of Sugar announced their 2017 fund-raiser for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders. January also saw me note the fact that the Lab would, through 2017, be requiring people to verify their e-mail addresses if they wanted to keep receiving SL-related e-mails and things like off-line IMs being forwards to their e-mail.


Sansar opened the year with a Creator Profile video featuring Loz Hyde, on which I offered some thoughts, in general and concerning monetisation. The latter also came in for a little thought when I considered Ben Lang’s piece on Sansar for Road to VR.

Space and Astronomy

I kicked-off my Space Sunday reports with a look at the key events for 2017. January then became a period of remembrance and recalling great missions – including the Huygens Lander, marking the passing of Gene Cernan, the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the Moon, and marking both NASA’s Day of Remembrance and Opportunity’s 13th anniversary.

Artist's concept of Cassini's final orbits between the innermost rings and Saturn's cloud tops (see below). Credit: NASA
2017 would mark NASA / ESAs Cassini Mission’s Grand Finale, repeatedly diving between the innermost rings and Saturn’s cloud tops before finally burning up in the planet’s upper atmosphere in September. Credit: NASA


I started on the first of my fiddling around with the island home sessions for 2017.

Travel and Arts

January Travels January Art Reviews
A New Dawn The art of Grazietta Blauvelt in Second Life
Flotsam and Blake Deeps Lucid Dreams with Miles Cantelou in Second Life
Nagare no Shimajima Gallery 23 in Second Life
The Sagan Planetarium Dathúil: visions of desire
ragVR: imagination and expression The Forest Beyond- Ceakay Ballyhoo
Hell’s Heaven No Frontiers – Gem Preiz
An Uncertain Destiny DiXmiX: Mistero Hifeng and William Weaver
Once Upon a Fairy Tale Cica Ghost: Burning
Devin DaphneArts: Celebrating Poe
Whimberly MetaLES; Illogism
Sol Farm Elo (Elorac Paule): Ray of Light
Elin Egoyan: Lide is a Journey
The Edge Gallery: February 2017
Venus Adored: Light Reflections


Second Life

Linden Lab spoke out against Donald Trump’s Executive Orders on US immigration. A new maintenance viewer with inventory management improvements surfaced. One Billion Rising put out a late call for volunteers, with the event taking place mid-month; the organisers of the 2017 Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education also put out a call for volunteers. The Founder of the East River Community, Indigo Mertel, put out a plea for help to secure the community’s future. Michael Linden of LDPW fame, departed the Lab.

Hobbiton, Dragon Island; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrHobbiton – a visit for February 2017

The second round of Skill Gaming applications, launched in January (but which I previewed in December 2016), closed after a run of a month. The Lab offered their traditional Valentine’s Day celebration, and I gave a final round-up of the Horizons land auctions. There was the announcement of a new Community Platform for Second Life, which took a little longer than planned to get up-and-running, and MadPea held an International Food Fair to raise money for Feed A Smile / Live and Learn Kenya. The final UWA art show – Transformations launched with a call for entries, and also among the event announcement / calls came the first for SL14B – which was directed towards infrastructure builders.

February also saw ALS Awareness Week take place, and an appeal went out on behalf of Ceredwin’s Cauldron creator Elicio Ember, who faced a severe family set-back, and the RFL Home and Garden Expo was announced.

Space and Astronomy

The focus for the month was very much on the discovery of seven Earth-sized planets orbiting a red dwarf star 39 light years away, which I covered in two posts here and here.


February saw Holly Kai Park overhauled  – notably around Caitinara Bar, which reopened in time for a celebration of the Oscars. The Park’s Pavilion also played host to an event in support for Feed A Smile. In addition, Caitlyn and I also returns to the greens and golfing.

Travel and Arts

February Travels February Art Reviews
Natural Falls Hills (Hillany Scofield): The Recreation
Anduril Artful Expressions: Blip and Nekonuko
NonStop DiXmiX: Angie Manners
Hobbiton Cica Ghost: Frogs
Lost World MetaLES: The Haul
Shot of Tequila Astral Dreams: Mistero Hifeng
Shareta Osumai Tea Garden Solo Arte: CioTToLiNa Zue
History of the Telephone The Gardens by the Bay
AERO Golf Club The Photo Game
Molly Mirassou: Studio M
Nightroglobus: Monique Beebe
InterstellART: Fossil Fractals
Methias Kira: The Architect’s Playground
Venus Adored: Light Reflections


Second Life

The VWBPE social calendar was announced together with the Above the Book series, new for 2017. The event itself kicked-off at the end of at the month. I was honoured to be able to announce Filling the Cauldron in aid of Elicio Ember and his family, and the 2017 RFL kick-off weekend took place. The Lab revamped the Second Life Home Page and the 2017 Fantasy Faire regions were announced, and blogger applications opened. The new SL community platform launched, and with the help of Tommy and Corky Linden, I looked at raising abuse reports. The 2017 Sci-Fi convention beamed-in to SL, while SL’s monthly process credit limits were revised. With changes being made to SL’s asset fetching, I took time to look back over the HTTP project and SL’s use of CDNs.

2017 SL Science Fiction Convention -“Water”

Space and Astronomy

March saw Elon Musk announce his lunar ambitions, I looked at options for exploring the icy worlds of the solar system, and the question of when is a planet not a planet – and how many might be in the solar system before catching up with Mars news.


I offered a quick catch-up on highlights from the worlds of VR and AR.


I became enamoured of the composite designs by Morgan Sim Designs, some of which found their way onto the island home (and can still be found there). I also revamped the Holly Kai Park website.

Travel and Arts

March Travels March Art Reviews
Long Journey Cica Ghost: Under the Sea
Calas Skate-on-rama Artful Expressions: Maxie and Cyoko
NorderNey Dathúil: Private Sphere
Spring Spirit Whitechapel Victorian London
Field of Dreams / L’Intangible Split Screen: Bleeding Books
The Heart of the Sea DaphneArts: The Journey
Storybrooke Gardens MetaLES: Wild Lost Line
PeTOu Art Is… Rhythm
Orcadi Island The Photo Game 2
 Mystical Fae Forest Journey of Life
Second Life 2009-2017
The Way I Feel
Methias Kira: The Architect’s Playground

Continue reading “2017 in review – part 1”