Space Sunday: SpaceX – balloons, bouncy castles and rockets

The Falcon 9 carrying TESS lifts-off from Launch Complex 40, Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on Wednesday, April 18th

After a two-day delay, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force  Station atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster on Wednesday, April 18th.

As I previewed in my previous Space Sunday report, TESS is designed to seek out exoplanets using the transit method of observation – looking for dips in the brightness of stars which might indicate the passage of an orbiting planet between the star and the telescope. Once in its assigned orbit and operational, TESS will work alongside the Kepler space observatory – now sadly nearing the end of its operational life, and eventually the James Webb Space Telescope – in seeking worlds beyond our own solar system.

It will be another 56 days before TESS has reached its unique orbit, a “2:1 lunar resonant orbit“, which will allow the craft to remain balanced within the gravitational effects of the Moon and Earth, thus providing a stable orbital regime which should last for decades. However, the launch was perfect after issues with the Falcon 9’s navigation systems prompted the initial launch attempt on Monday, April 16th. Once it had lifted the upper stage and its tiny payload – TESS is just 365 kg in mass and about the size of an upright fridge / freezer combination – the Falcon 9’s first stage completed a successful burn back manoeuvre and made a successful at-sea landing on the SpaceX Autonomous Drone Ship Of Course I Still Love You, waiting some 300 kilometres off the Florida coast.

The Block 4 Falcon 9 first stage captures an image of the autonomous Drone Ship Of Course I Still Love You just 3 seconds from touch-down. Credit: SpaceX live stream

The second stage of the rocket placed TESS into an initial 250 km circular orbit about the Earth before shutting its motor down for a 35-minute cruise period which correctly positioned the vehicle to allow the engine to be re-lit and send TESS on its way towards a 273,000 km apogee orbit. Over  the next several weeks, the instruments aboard TESS will be powered-up and calibrated, including the four cameras it will use to imaged the stars around us in an attempt to locate planets orbiting them.

The first exoplanet – the ” hot Jupiter” 51 Pegasi B, unofficially dubbed Bellerophon, later named Dimidium and some 50 light years away –  was discovered in 1995. In the 23 years since that event, some 3,708 confirmed planets (at the time of writing) have been found, with a list of several thousand more awaiting verification. Most of these have been discovered by using the transit method, with the vast majority by the Kepler space observatory. Such are the capabilities of TESS, it could double this count during its whole-sky survey, the first phase of which will last two years.

The count of confirmed exoplanets over the past 23 years. The sharp rise in 2016 is as a result of extensive follow-ups to observations made by the Kepler observatory in the K2 phase of its mission. Credit: NASA

TESS’s primary mission is scheduled to last two years – but it orbit means it could study the skies around us for decades, seeking out planets amount the 200,000 stars that are the nearest to us.

SpaceX: Party Balloons and Bouncy Castles?

Elon Musk loves to tease. He’s also generally in earnest when discussion space flight. Sometimes the two things combine in unusual ways. Take a trio of tweets he sent on April 16th, 2018, for example:

This is gonna sound crazy, but … SpaceX will try to bring rocket upper stage back from orbital velocity using a giant party balloon. And then land on a bouncy house.

Elon Musk’s trio of tweets, April 16th, 2018

Precisely what he meant has been the subject of much Twitter debate and theorising in various space-related blogs, but the CEO of SpaceX is now keeping mum on the subject; most likely enjoying the feedback and making plans.

SpaceX has serious ambitions to make their launch vehicles pretty much fully reusable. As we already know, the company has pretty much perfected the successful landing, refurbishment and re-use of Falcon 9 first stages (also used in triplicate on their Falcon Heavy booster), and plan to use the same approach with their upcoming BFR – standing for Big Falcon (or at least, a word that sounds close to “Falcon” but with a cruder meaning) Rocket – formerly, the Interplanetary Transport System.

To date, SpaceX has successfully recovered 24 Falcon 9 first stages, with almost half of those recovered now refurbished and either re-flown, or awaiting re-use. But the first stage – which does all the heavy lifting, is perhaps the “easiest” element of the vehicle to recover. It does not achieve orbital velocity (around 7,820 metres per second, or 17,500 mph), but instead tends to reach a peak velocity of around 1,716 metres per second (roughly 3,800 mph or Mach 5).

While this is still enough to generate a significant amount of heat and cause a first stage to break-up / burn-up in an uncontrolled descent, it is “slow” enough to avoid the need for extensive (and heavy) shielding to protect against the friction heat of passage back into the denser part of Earth’s atmosphere, providing the stage can be oriented correctly so three out of its set of nine motors can be re-lit. The exhaust plume from these forces the atmospheric compression generated by the rocket’s penetration of the upper layers of the denser part of the atmosphere (and which actually generates the associated re-entry heat), to occur away from the rocket, so the need for additional heat shielding is avoided.

However. recovering the upper stage of the rocket is altogether a different proposition. This does reach orbital velocity, and so finding a way in which it can be safely recovered without relying on expensive and heavy heat shielding which would both increase launch costs and reduce the payload carrying capabilities of both the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy is a doozy of a problem. So much so, that SpaceX have twice cancelled attempts to make the rocket’s upper stage recoverable – and as recently as late 2017, it was believed further attempts at trying to get the stage to a point where it could be recoverable had been abandoned in favour of focusing on the BFR’s massive upper space ship stage – which as a crew / passenger carrying vehicle needs to be able to make safe landings.

So what do Musk’s tweets mean? how could a balloon be used to slow a vehicle and help it through the searing heat of orbital re-entry (where the heat load is around 27 times hotter than the heat experienced by the first stage)? The most likely explanation is that SpaceX are exploring the potential of using a ballute – a portmanteau of balloon and parachute – with the upper stage.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: SpaceX – balloons, bouncy castles and rockets”

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April 20th 2018 Town Hall with Ebbe Altberg: transcript with audio

Strike the pose: Ebbe and moderator Xiola Linden at the first Town Hall session, Friday, April 20th

On Friday, April 20th, Linden Lab hosted two Town Hall meetings at which questions were put to the Lab’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg. Those wishing to ask questions were asked to submit them via the forum thread A Conversation with Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, although outside of the core meeting, Ebbe took time to answer questions from the audience present at the event.

Some 200 questions were asked, many of which were technical in nature. As many of the subjects of these questions were no things Ebbe could respond to directly, the decision was made to have the Lab’s subject matter experts address them directly through the forum thread itself after the Town Hall meetings, a process which may take several days to complete. So, if you did ask a technical question that wasn’t raised at either Town Hall event, be sure to check the thread to see if an answer in provided there.

The following is a transcript of the core questions and answers offered at both sessions, with audio extracts provided as reference.

  • These notes don’t follow the chronological flow of the sessions, as I’ve attempted to group subjects by topic for more concise reference.
  • Due to the nature of the event, some questions of a similar nature were asked at both sessions, which elicited very similar answers in each case. Where this is the case, I have generally provided the answer which – in my opinion, admittedly – offers the most information.
  • Similarly, Ebbe’s opening comments at both events followed similar lines, so I have only provided a transcript of the remarks made at the first session.
  • Questions are given in bold.
  • The “back to summary” links will take you back to the blog post summary of the session, and can be used by those who prefer to “subject hop” rather than work their way through the entire transcript.

The Short Form

For those who prefer, the following is a bullet-point list of the core questions asked, gathered into the same topic headings as the transcript notes. Links are given to the relevant part of the full transcript for those who would prefer to read / listen to the complete answers / comments.

Note: due to the nature of WordPress internal text anchors and scrolling, you may have to scroll up a little after jumping to a specific topic, in order to see the question.

Opening Comments – First Session

  • Linden Lab remains committed to Second Life, which is managed by a dedicated team covering Product, Engineering, Support, Marketing, etc. Jump to topic.
  • The Lab remains focused on growth, for Second Life as much as Sansar; Sansar does not signal the end of Second Life, nor are there plans to “transition” SL users to Sansar.
  • A lot of focus is on pivoting LL’s Second Life revenue generation away from a land-based model to one more balanced between land tier and other fees. Jump to topic.
  • Major effect and investment in being put into moving all of Second Life to a cloud based infrastructure, which will hopefully bring benefits. This should be seen as a sign of commitment to SL. Jump to topic.

Revenue: Land, Fees, Subscriptions and Compliance

Note: this section includes answers to questions about upcoming US SEC regulation changes and the incoming EU GDPR, which were primarily responded to in terms of compliance data management.

  • Land costs following the move to the cloud. – Land costs many not dramatically change, and revenue rebalancing has the potential to do more. Cloud benefits potentially more technical in nature, but may offer some fees benefits. Jump to topic.
  • How can Linden Lab sustain itself on a free-to-play basis? – Free-to-play, revenue and subscriptions: Free-to-play accepted norm in the industry and not changing with Second Life. However, as part of a re-balancing of revenue generation, what can be done on a free-to-play basis versus what might be possible through subscription options is being considered. Jump to topic.
  • Can you explain how LindeX and transaction fees are constantly increased with no perceived added benefit to users?
    • Providing an economic model that globally allows people to pay money into it and withdraw money from it requires regulatory compliance a state, federal and global levels, and this costs.
    • Increases in transaction fees, along with subscriptions, etc., may offer a means to reduce the cost of SL land.
    • Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s policy on user data protection? – taken very serious, vis: compliance (above), LL does not participate in any business models that feature the use of user data. Jump to topic.
  • Have you considered charging for additional accounts, say US $10 per account? – Not come up, will pass it on to the team.
  • Are there going to be adjustments to Premium accounts? – Yes, and considerable work is being put into this by the Product team to determine the types of Premium account / subscriptions should be offered and what their individual benefits should be. Jump to topic.
  • Will the changes to Premium accounts also see changes to how arrears are handled, e.g. not lock accounts out? – time is provided for people to catch up on payments. Jump to topic.
  • Will any reduction in land fees apply to Skill Gaming regions? – in time, hopefully, yes. Jump to topic.

Technical / Project Questions

  • Will there be updates to Lab-owned in-world infrastructure – InfoHubs, themed private regions, etc? – already in hand. Jump to topic.
  • What are the plans for Second Life on Mobile? – It’s under discussion, but no firm plans, with a hope there might be a good business case to move in that direction. Jump to topic.
  • Will the return of Last Names allow people to freely choose their last name, or will it be ‘choose from a list’?
    • Also see my audio updates from Oz, Grumpity and Patch Linden on the return of Last Names – comments referencing that post are including in parentheses in the following bullet points).
    • Pre-made list (but suggestions on last name options may be sought from the community to help with refreshing the list with new options).
    • Will also be able to change your first name.
    • Will involve a fee (in US $) and might be a Premium benefit.
    • As a warning to creators: if you script items to identify avatars, don’t use names, use the avatar Agent Key.
    • No time frame as yet on when it will be rolled out.
    • Might be a Premium-only benefit; if available to all, Premium may have a specific advantage (TBD) over Basic.
    • Jump to topic.
  • When will Animesh Bakes on Mesh and Windlight EEP be available? –  No precise dates, but Users actively involved in testing. Hopefully in the next couple of quarters. Jump to topic.
  • Will the Teen Grid ever come back? – Not being discussed. Probably better to work on ensuring proper controls in place to allow people to use the one grid. Jump to topic.
  • What is the Lab’s commitment to the open source project? No change. Can’t really take it back and wouldn’t want to due to TPV synergy. Jump to topic.
  • Will any features from Sansar be back-ported to Second Life, such as the rendering engine or Marvelous Designer support? – rendering engine, no. Marvelous Designer support – possibly a question for the Second Life team. Jump to topic.
  • Will my.secondlife.com [Profile feeds] be improved to help make connections a-la Facebook? – connections and building communities are important, but whether my.secondlife.com is a part of that is unclear, as there are other potential channels. Jump to topic.
  • Would it be possible to spin-up a second instance of a region being rebooted, and transfer avatars to it and maintain traffic, rather than forcing them to teleport elsewhere / log off, and then letting the original just shut down? Jump to topic.
  • When is Second Life going to be optimised to run well on high-end client systems with good Internet connections and graphics? Jump to topic.

New Users and the On-boarding Process

  • Is Linden Lab planning to advertise Second Life to attract new customers and keep the population size healthy and sustainable? – this is a constant effort, and the Lab is investing time, effort and money into the entire end-to-end on-boarding process to not only maintain, but to hopefully grow, SL’s user base. Jump to topic.
  • What are Linden Lab’s plans to bring-in new users and incentivise past users to return? – partially answered above, plus the improvements to the platform, the content users continue to make, etc. Jump to topic.

General Topics

  • What is the Lab’s view on adult content and the future of adult content? – No change. Jump to topic.
  • Will there be more sessions like the Town Hall or like Lab Chat after SL15B? – There are in-world technical meetings, but the hope is to have more general in-world meetings and discussions going forward. Jump to topic.
  • How do you compare the Oasis [from Ready Player One] as an educational place with Second Life? – Second Life is probably the closest to the Oasis in the world today and has a broad range of uses and involvement which is inspiring. Jump to topic.
  • Do you see Second Life lasting for another fifteen years? – Yes; Second Life is still successful on many levels, so why not keep it going?
  • Can you give a positioning statement between Sansar and Second Life? – two products with some similarities, but also significant differences, each managed by a separate teams. Jump to topic.
  • What have you found to be the biggest challenges for Second Life with regards to your planned vision, and how are you overcoming those challenges? Jump to topic.

This Weekend in Second Life Dance

Ballet Pixelle - Avatara - April 18 2018

Hi there. R. Crap Mariner, your friendly neighbourhood dance correspondent.

I’ll be posting dance performance schedules, similar to Inara’s posts about Seanchai Library readings.

This is a huge week. Lighting the Way and Fantasy Faire are running, and I’m running like a beheaded chicken trying to keep up with the updates and note cards. Hopefully, I caught them all.

Let’s get started, here’s the events that I saw on the calendar as of press time.


(All times SLT)

Winds of the Sahara - April 15 2018

Friday, April 20th

9:00AM – SLCS

The Second Life Cheerleading Squad is the grid’s oldest, largest and most successful professional cheerleading squad. Our members undergo a month-long training, and are some of the most motivated and talented Girls anywhere. We offer large squad cheer performances, event hosting, on-line experience beta testing, etc.

We perform all over the grid, with performances at special events, Clubs, Live music shows and the like. In addition, The SLCS raises a large amount of cash for RFL, with over 10000 USD raised so far.

For more information on how the SLCS can work with you contact Lisa Tredwell

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

12:00PM – Nouvelle Folies

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Astrids%20Nemeton/119/247/61

6:00PM – Elysium Cabaret

Elysium Cabaret – Welcome to the Weekend!

If it’s Friday, it’s Elysium Cabaret! Fancy some imagination? In The Empire Room at Copperhead Road, every Friday at 6pm SLT the dynamic performers of Elysium Cabaret take the stage to bring you a solid hour of entertainment!

Featuring elaborate sets and choreography sequenced to an eclectic genre of music, Elysium Cabaret offers something for everyone. Grab your friends and get their early because the sim fills. Come celebrate Friday! Welcome to the weekend!

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Copperhead%20Road/74/64/2754

6:00PM – Misfit Follies

Misfit Dance & Performance Art performs full-scale production shows at our home theatre, other venues, fund-raising events & private parties all over the grid! The theme is a fantastical variety dance show with fun & unusual character /avatar dancers – each act tells a little story. Think Broadway in SL!

We are so proud to present shows continuously for our amazing audience of dance art patrons! With close to 60 (and growing!) story dance art pieces to build our weekly shows that we perform in our Theatre two Wednesdays per month at 7 PM SL, one Sunday per month at 5 pm SL and once per month on certain Fridays at 10 AM SL for our global time zones friends!

Misfit Dance also presents shows “OnTheRoad” at various locations for Cancer/ Autism / Parkinsons’ Disease and More – Awareness & Fund Raising events in SL / year round!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

9:00PM – Monarchs

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It’s an article that you should read to learn more about Monarchs!

(NOTE: I rarely give suggestions, but if you are lucky enough to catch Monarchs on Friday night, you can then be free to catch Burlesque Dolls at 3PM on Saturday.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Monarchs/143/214/454

Saturday, April 21

Debauche - April 14 2018

9:00AM – Misfit Follies

Misfit Dance & Performance Art performs full-scale production shows at our home theatre, other venues, fund-raising events & private parties all over the grid! The theme is a fantastical variety dance show with fun & unusual character /avatar dancers – each act tells a little story. Think Broadway in SL!

We are so proud to present shows continuously for our amazing audience of dance art patrons! With close to 60 (and growing!) story dance art pieces to build our weekly shows that we perform in our Theatre two Wednesdays per month at 7 PM SL, one Sunday per month at 5 pm SL and once per month on certain Fridays at 10 AM SL for our global time zones friends!

Misfit Dance also presents shows “OnTheRoad” at various locations for Cancer/ Autism / Parkinsons’ Disease and More – Awareness & Fund Raising events in SL / year round!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

11:00AM – Winds of the Sahara

(NOTE: This is a rare early performance of Winds for LTW. If 5PM Sundays is a bit late for you, then catch them now.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

12:00PM – Oasis and Debauche

Not one but TWO great dance troupes join forces to create a truly magical experience. Always great to share the stage with such brilliant performers and always a fantastic show for the audience to be a part of.

You do NOT want to miss this great show. Oasis and Debauche light up the stage together.

(NOTE: Yay!)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Puntarenas%205/82/111/22

12:00PM – Night Theatre

A brand new show, made just for Fantasy Faire 2018!

“Where the magic flows free between Dusk and Dawn….and tales take form from pixels….weaving a never-ending tapestry of twilight stories…..”

The Night Theatre has been actively running shows in SL since the winter of 2013. We have been involved in many various events such as One Billion Rising, The MilkyWay Cabaret, Fantasy Faire, LEA, SL B and are honoured to have been part of the Fallen Gods annual celebrations the last couple of years and much more. During these years we have produced several new shows and been a part of various other festivals and celebrations.

Curious? Have a look at our pics in Flickr, subscribe to our blog or join The Dreamers group! Or get on our subscribo list to stay updated on our upcoming events. Want to book us for a show? Or are you burning for SL dance and want to join us? Speak to Aelva and she will weave some magic for you.

Let the Magic Begin…

(NOTE: This is Aelva’s performance group. I talked with her a few weeks ago, and you can read the article.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Astrids%20Nemeton/119/247/61

1:00PM – Dance Variety Show @ LTW

The special event variety shows are a good opportunity to learn about a lot of different performers, choreographers, and groups at once. It’s like a salad bar, but every bowl is your favourite pudding.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

3:00PM – Harleyquin Workshop

Performance Director Class 3: Advanced, Making it Sing

You have the basics down – in this workshop we play with additional features and possible ways to use them! Load another routine note card, derez your set, other ways to use groups, starting animations….and anything else we can think of! We’re even going to touch on layering!

** Requires experience in creating a full PD routine

http://harleyquinadventure.com/

(NOTE: This is a class. I’ll talk more about classes in an upcoming article.)

3:00PM – Burlesque Dolls

Join us at the Jefferson Opera House for a day of teasing and tantalizing by some of the most talented dancers on the grid. Burlesque at it’s best. Now under the direction of Melina Aurotharius (semi-formal or formal dress please)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Aldo/113/67/3002

3:00PM – Monarchs

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It’s an article that you should read to learn more about Monarchs!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Monarchs/143/214/454

5:00PM – Avilion Mer Ballet

Avilion is a medieval fantasy community, home to dragon and drow, elven, land dwellers and winged fae, creatures of every kind and of course the merrow.

In addition to combat and role-play, Avilionians entertain their citizens with regular performances from the Avilion Merballet Company, Avilion Cameo Theatre and the Bards.

For 8 years the merballet has showcased the beauty and agility of the mer form more than 10 unique performances. Combining mer mystic and magic, we have made waves entertaining with this visually inspiring SL art form.

The Avilion MerBallet Company also performs to benefit Fantasy Faire, Relay for Life in Second Life and other charities.

Share this dream with us!

(NOTE: This group performs infrequently, so this is a good opportunity to catch them.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

5:00PM – Phoenix Dance Team

(NOTE: They usually post descriptions at the last minute, so check their Facebook group.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

7:00PM – Elysium Cabaret @ LTW

Featuring elaborate sets and choreography sequenced to an eclectic genre of music, Elysium Cabaret offers something for everyone. Grab your friends and get their early because the sim fills. Come celebrate Friday! Welcome to the weekend!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

7:00PM – Desire Arts

Desire Arts Dancers

Desire Arts Dancers do an “after hours” show. Starting at 7pm SLT on April 21st & 28th… we bring you the performance quality at our Saturday shows, with more skin… little less costume. Some acts do contain adult content.

As an “Arts” theatre (and gallery) Desire Arts will be a venue perfectly suited for SL Performers wishing to express themselves through live performances, through Dance, Art Exhibits, Performance Art as well as Dramatic Presentations.

Also, Presentations of a controversial nature (including those involving sex, politics and/or religion) will be presented separately from the Dance Program.

You can read the article with Path and Lotta here.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Hell%20Lust/174/78/21

Sunday, April 22

Elysium Cabaret - April 13 2018

7:00AM – Club IMAGE

(NOTE: Even when Club IMAGE repeats, it’s still a magical experience.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Laem%20Singh/193/28/2021

10:00AM – Luxe Girls

The Luxe Girls have been entertaining the members of Elysion since 2015. Their shows are most often a mix of individual and group acts around a given theme. Each dancer chooses her music, builds her own set and choreographs her dance. This makes for an entertaining and eclectic mix of acts because each Luxe Girl has her own unique talents to bring to the stage every month.

Syn Beresford, owner of Elysion and Stage Mama to the Luxe Girls, hosts and DJ’s the shows as well as provides creative input and set design for many of the group acts.

The Luxe Girls will be returning to the Fantasy Faire this year with Le Cirque des Reves, their interpretation of Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus”. Music and concept by DJ Lucid Hurricane with set design by Syn and the Luxe Girls and choreography and costumes by the Luxe Girls. This is a show you don’t want to miss!

(NOTE: Luxe is a group that usually performs at the private/paid Elysion estate, but it’s a rare treat to see them in an open access event like Fantasy Faire. What’s killing me is that Muse is doing Chicago at the same time, and Anu goes all-out too, so… Chicago has a second showing soon on May 6 at 10AM, but they fill the sim frequently. This one’s going to be tough.)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

10:00AM – Muse Dance Company

Chicago Musical by Muse Dance Company

Sunday April 22nd and Sunday May 6th at 10 am SLT

Join the Muse Dance Company for this dance musical Chicago. A satire on corruption in the administration of criminal justice and the concept of the “celebrity criminal”. You don’t wanna miss this one!

Choreographed by Anu Papp and Cordelia Cerise. I chatted with Anu for an article a while back here.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Whymsee/117/6/2019

11:00AM – Dazzlers

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

1:00PM – Debauche

Debauche return once more to the House Of Jana. New location, new theatre, same wonderful dance show.

It is always such a pleasure to perform here, always such a great crowd and a great atmosphere. Why don’t you come join us and see for yourself?

Debauche. A little naughty, a lot sexy and……ALWAYS CLASSY!!

(NOTE: Yay!)

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Chaton/193/102/903

1:00PM – Mynx Dance Academy

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

1:00PM – Red Hot Chili Pipers

The Chilli Pipers are Bagpipes with attitude. Drums with a Scottish accent. A blazing rock band and a show so hot it carries its own health warning. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have been rocking the world from New York to Beijing with musicianship of the highest order and a passion for pipes that will leave you breathless. The Virtual Red Hot Chilli Pipers was established in August of 2009.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Astrids%20Nemeton/119/247/61

1:00PM – Sky Fire

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

3:00PM – DRUM

DRUM’s goal is to bring the world to you via the power of drumming. Our aim is to have fun and to create incredibly beautiful rhythms – live.

Members of the DRUM group have collaborated to create the unique sounds, drums, and animations that enable us to perform. Our performances are live and are subtly different each time – they are not pre-recorded music. The sounds are created right within Second Life. We then send them out and back in via stream in order to provide you with a lag free experience! We hope you enjoy our performances as much as we enjoy providing them.

Right now our performances consist of 10 different drum cultures, Taiko (Japanese), Native American, African, Latin, Indian, Mallets, Stomp Wall, Rusty Barrel, African Ghost, Brazilian, and Steel Pan drums. We are planning many new exciting sets for the near future!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/The%20Story%20Well/99/194/61

5:00PM – Ballet Pixelle

Ballet Pixelle – “Avatara”

Opening Sunday April 15th at 5 pm SLT and every Wednesday and Sunday at 5 through June 13

Ballet Pixelle® will open its production of “Avatara” on Sunday, April 15 at 5:00 pm SLT, Join us for this original composition of virtual dance! What if a real world dancer could dance in a virtual world? What movements would be the same or different? What kinds of different beings could she be? What would be the same? And how would that dancer be changed after her experience? Performances are Wednesdays at 5:00 pm and Sundays at 5:00 pm SLT throughout April in the Ballet Pixelle Theatre. Audience dancing at the after-show party every performance! Join us for an evening of delights. Chat with the performers and crew after the performance for autographs, photos, and a question & answer session.

Formal dress expected.

(NOTE: There’s something raw and organic and special about Ballet Pixelle. Retaining the hand-triggered method of performance makes each performance a cool kind of quirky and dadaesque. It’s a living experience, natural in a digital world. A fractal experience that embraces the lag and latency in a powerful way. I’m really hoping to cover them in an article here.)

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Quat/32/22/107

5:00PM – Winds of the Sahara

Winds is going to take you on a date tonight, want to go see a movie? (NOTE: If you’re a Don Hertzfeldt fan, the proper response is “I’m feeling fat and sassy!” Okay, back to the description.) We do too! We are all dancing to songs from the movies! Each dancer chose a song to dance to, taking their inspiration from the movies. We will delight your eyes and put some songs in your heads from Fifth Element, Copacobana, Risky Business, Xanadu, 50 Shades & Dolphins to name a few. It is sure to be a toe-tapping good time. We will even let you sneak in some candy, as long as you share with us! Come early for some pre-show dancing with us too. We will also have a 500L gift card from Insatiable Dreams to give away. Come join us for a Night At The Movies!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Aladona/124/193/2001


I assume there will be a few more shows this week… folks are just taking their time getting the notices in, finishing up their routines… that sort of thing. I’d prefer to error on the side of caution and just post the ones confirmed at press time.

Check with the Dance Queens event calendar for updates and additions to the weekend’s schedule, as well as the many events that happen during the week.

So, folks, is this useful? Let me know. Drop me an IM when you get to a show and that you enjoyed it.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I perform with Guerilla Burlesque and Debauche. Which leads to a funny story… I went to the Ballet Pixelle performance on Wednesday, and at the after party, people keep calling me Star. And I’m like “I’m not a star.” but it continues. Then the next day, when I try to rez something and I fail, I realize I don’t have the right group tag on. I’ve got “Debauche Star” on. I had it on during a rehearsal and forgot to change back. This is what happens when you turn off group tags and name tags in your viewer.

(NOTE: Yes, there are going to be a lot more NOTE rambles and digressions in my articles. Try not to start a flame war.)

Debauche - April 15 2018

(NOTE: Oops.)

Come see the superheroes of Second Life Dance: The Monarchs!

Superheroes Poster 006

Hi there! It’s your Dance Correspondent, R. Crap Mariner.

There’s big productions, and then there’s really really big productions. Monarchs puts together a few shows a year that are really big, people line up for hours to get into the sim early, and their upcoming Superheroes show is shaping up to be another feast for all senses.

Here’s the show announcement:

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? NO!
It’s dates and times for The Monarchs’ upcoming sim-wide production of SUPERHEROES.

Join us on a mad dash into the world of ultimate good and evil where superheroes always prevail – even if it means destroying a vehicle, a building, a city…or two.

April 20th 9pm // 21st 3pm // 27th 9pm // 28th 3pm

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Monarchs/151/209/453

~ Monarchs

That’s the TL;DR, but I want to know more. Who are the Monarchs? What makes them different from the other dance groups out there? What does it take to put together one of their productions?

I know I want to know. So, let’s go exploring, shall we?

LET’S BEGIN

I sent Diiar Von Shippe a list of questions. She’s one of the leaders of Monarchs. Despite all the craziness of putting together costumes and sets and dance acts and coordinating all of the performers, she still had the time to answer them for me.

So if I were to say “I teleported over into the landing area of Monarchs and met with Diiar and we sat down and…” like I usually do

Monarchs for blog post

I’d be lying. This was me being lazy and not really having a true conversation, so why try to hide it, right? I sent her a list of questions, and she answered them beautifully. My faux-journalist heart wept.

Still she was nice enough to answer these, and I’m very grateful for that, and I hope this gives you some insight into the journey Diiar has taken in Second Life and Dance Performance. (As opposed to the road to burnout and misery I’ve been crawling down. Anybody have a bottle of something?)

Besides, her answers were just so… beautiful, I couldn’t bring myself to edit this down and chop it up. (Okay, I’m lying again. I’m lazy.)

Questions in bold, comments in italics, and she’s in plain text.

Let’s roll.

Tell me about yourself, Diiar.

My name is Diiar Vader Shippe, I am co-owner of The Monarchs dance troupe along with Royal Shippe. I’m also a manager, choreographer, dancer, poster-maker, story-writer, alleged slave driver, part-time workaholic, epic rant writer and much more – though none of that is as interesting as this.

I spend my days nagging at people (mostly Royal), sneaking out to listen to some of SL’s live singers perform – a fairly (re)newed interest of mine – or attending to this distracting little thing called Real Life.

(This is where I’d raise an eyebrow at slave-driver and count the number of exits available to me. Because the last thing I want to do is end up enslaved to a dance performance group and doing their bidding, right?)

How did you get your start in Second Life?

I had to take a class at college some 5-ish years ago where we, at one point, discussed on-line communities. Naturally Second Life came up. Now, my teacher made it sound like a dripping hub of malcontent, pervy freaks – so naturally I had to make an account and go check it out…

I was surprised to find that in between all the specimens that proved my teacher’s case were some real characters and some interesting souls and so…I stuck around.

(Please do not undersell the malcontents and pervy freaks. We have our time to shine, too.)

What got you into dance in Second Life?

After about 6 months of general depravity,

(… awesome!)

I found myself at a dance show at Ellie’s. It was much like the ones you find weekly across the grid these days. Smaller perhaps than most – it never seemed like a long show and I think more burlesque-y for sure than Monarchs is. And I remember they had a great host – I forgot her name, but I’m sure people that went there will remember her. I always thought she had a great style and I took a lot from that when I started hosting a show myself a bit later on.

But I saw absolutely no appeal in it. On the other hand, my company did, and before long I was suckered into their plans to open a theatre of their own.

(This is one of my big fears… getting suckered into building my own dance performance theatre. I’ve already got an almost-always empty venue for my storytelling. God help me if I ever put together an almost-always empty dance performance venue. Thank goodness I’ve used up most of my remaining space on an almost-always empty art gallery.)

That’s where I started – as a hostess. Before long though I had the urge to try my own hand at creating a performance and though I didn’t know how to build (like at all), I had my, embarrassing, début back in 2013. It wasn’t until my 3rd set I finally thought I was onto something and from that point, it’s been a slow, but steady journey to where I am today.

(I’ve noticed that a lot of people have mentioned Ellie’s. I should probably hunt her down and find out what the history is there. After a vacation, I think.)

And then came Monarchs, right?

We have to go about 3 years up in time before Monarchs starts taking shape. And then you have to add Royal Shippe and Myth Raven – my better and worse half in SL respectively, hah!

(For the record, I am my own worse half. Which makes for one and a half me. Maybe I need to redo the math.)

For the longest time, we were joking about how nice it would be having our own troupe where we could set the agenda and where we could do things the way we thought they ought to be done. Now, before I go on, I want to make it clear that we didn’t (and still don’t) think our way is the one and only right way, and in many things, we’re still trying to find a way that makes sense. Personally, I think as long as you have something unique to offer there’s room for a new perspective. We wanted a troupe that focused heavily on quality over quantity, and one where you could never be quite sure what you’d be getting, other than a spectacle and a performance.

(SPOILER ALERT: Monarchs creates excellent spectacles and performances. Just wanted to you to know.)

Just before our début show Myth had to poof to RL and with that we also took a step away from solo dances and the naughtier stuff – which quite naturally gave way to the size shows you see us doing today.

It’s quite a way from joking about it to actually doing it, and I’ve forgotten what the deciding factor was in the end. In any case, Monarchs was born in the spring of 2016. And in the time since then, we’ve gathered together a small but fun group of people that can carry the ambition and continuously put up with our unreasonable antics. And a growing fan base of what I personally believe to be among the most patient people in all of SL, waiting months in silence for us to finish anything new for them.

(On top of that, we’re also the most patient because we get to the sim hours in advance and wait because it always fills up quickly. So, I’m a total idiot for doing this article because now you know they exist and you’ll be fighting for those few seats, too. Remember what Blaze said about being very sad if you miss Cirque? Well, you’ll be sad if you miss Monarchs, too.)

Continue reading “Come see the superheroes of Second Life Dance: The Monarchs!”

Space Sunday: of exoplanets and naming Charon’s features

Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) – due to hunt for exoplanets potentially orbiting hundreds of thousands of stars around us. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

On Monday, April 16th, 2018, after being delayed from a planned December 2017 lift-off, the launch window opens for NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

As its name implies, TESS is designed to seek out exoplanets using the transit method of observation – looking for dips in the brightness of stars which might indicate the passage of an orbiting planet between the star and the telescope. Once in its assigned orbit and operational, TESS will work alongside the Kepler space observatory – now sadly nearing the end of its operational life and eventually the James Webb Space Telescope – in seeking worlds beyond our own solar system.

Roughly the size of an upright ridge/freezer combination, the 356 kg (800 lb) TESS is due to be launched on its way atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster from Launch Complex 40 at Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, on April 16th, 2018, in a launch window that opens at 18:32  EDT (22:32 UT).  The rocket – sans it’s payload – underwent a static rocket motor test on Wednesday, April 9th, prior to it being returned to the launch preparation facility, where the Payload system and fairings containing TESS were mated to it in readiness for the launch. As well as launching TESS, SpaceX plan to recover the Falcon 9’s first stage.

The diminutive TESS satellite being enclosed in the Falcon 9 payload fairing at NASA’s Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space Centre prior to transfer to Canaveral Air Force Station for mating with the launch booster. Credit: NASA

Once on its way, Tess will take 60 days to reach its unique orbit, a “2:1 lunar resonant orbit“, which will allow the craft to remain balanced within the gravitational effects of the Moon and Earth, thus providing a stable orbital regime which should last for decades. In addition, the orbit means that TESS will be able to survey both the northern and southern hemispheres.

During this initial 60-period, scientists and engineers will spend the first week re-establishing contact with TESS and confirming its operational status as its instruments are cameras are powered-up. The instruments will then go through an extended commissioning and calibration phase, as engineers monitor the satellite’s trajectory and performance. After that, TESS will begin to collect and downlink images of the sky.

While Kepler has so far found the most exoplanets in our galaxy, it has done so by surveying relatively small arcs of the space visible to it. TESS, however, will do things differently. It will scan the galaxy in hundreds of light-years in all directions, a sphere of space containing some 20 million stars, paying particular attention to the brightest stars around us in the hope of detecting planetary bodies in orbiting them.

Left: The combined field of view of the four TESS cameras. Middle: Division of the celestial sphere into 26 observation sectors (13 per hemisphere). Right: Duration of observations on the celestial sphere. The dashed black circle enclosing the ecliptic pole shows the region which JWST will be able to observe at any time. Credit: NASA Goddard Spaceflight Centre

This will be achieved by dividing space into 26 individual “tiles”, allowing the four imaging systems on the craft to repeatedly observe a “strip” of four tiles at a time for a minimum of 27 days each (and parts of some for up to a year at a time) before moving to the next strip, working its way around the sky. In this way, it is estimated TESS will be able to survey up to 200,000 stars in both the northern and southern hemispheres over multiple years.

Amid this extrasolar bounty, the TESS science team aims to measure the masses of at least 50 small planets whose radii are less than four times that of Earth. Many of TESS’s planets should be close enough to our own that, once they are identified by TESS, scientists can zoom in on them using other telescopes, to detect atmospheres, characterize atmospheric conditions, and even look for signs of habitability.

In this latter regard, TESS will pave the way for detailed studies of candidate exoplanets by the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), now scheduled for launch in 2020. While TESS cannot look for atmospheric or other signs of life on the distant worlds it locates, JWST will be able to do just that. So, even as we prepare to say a sad goodbye to Kepler, the hunt of exoplanets is actually just hotting up.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: of exoplanets and naming Charon’s features”

This Weekend in Second Life Dance

Debauche - April 8 2018

Hi there. R. Crap Mariner, your friendly neighbourhood dance correspondent.

I’ll be posting dance performance schedules, similar to Inara’s posts about Seanchai Library readings. We’ll start with the weekend events for now.

Lighting The Way launches this week, with a huge number of great dance performances. There will be even more of them next week, but how about we get through this weekend first, okay?

Let’s get started, here’s the events that I had on the calendar as of press time.


(All times SLT)

Friday, April 13 2018

6:00 PM – Elysium Cabaret

If it’s Friday, it’s Elysium Cabaret! Fancy some imagination? In The Empire Room at Copperhead Road, every Friday at 6pm SLT the dynamic performers of Elysium Cabaret take the stage to bring you a solid hour of entertainment!

Featuring elaborate sets and choreography sequenced to an eclectic genre of music, Elysium Cabaret offers something for everyone. Grab your friends and get there early because the sim fills. Come celebrate Friday! Welcome to the weekend!

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Copperhead%20Road/74/64/2754

10:00 PM – Guerilla Burlesque

It may be Friday the 13th but it’s still Friday and a reason to dance!

We are so excited to be back on the Pit stage Friday night performing at 10 pm! We hope you will be there to welcome us! We have a couple of things tucked into our corsets to keep you amused and entertained because we missed you! Special shout out to Chrissy Rhiano who will be directing this week!

An amazing line up of fun, creative, and original acts all performed by your favourite Guerilla dancers! Mark the date, make your plans and meet us at the theatre doors for the 10 pm Guerilla Burlesque dancing in the PITS!

Doors open at 9 pm for those who like to arrive early and interact with their favourite dancers!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Idle%20Rogue/104/182/34

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I have recently joined Guerilla Burlesque, and my début performance is in this show. No monkeys were harmed during the production of this act.)

Saturday, April 14 2018

9:00 AM – Nouveau Ensemble Dance Troupe

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

11:00 AM – Virtuoso

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

12:00 PM – Oasis Dancers

Oasis Dancers.

Concert Hall, Standing Ovation.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Standing%20Ovation/92/119/2001

1:00 PM – Breezes Dancers

Breezes Dancers will be performing their show We Can Dance at Breezes Theatre on Saturday 14 April at 1pm SLT.

This is a show of 6 Acts and lasts about 1 hour. There will be a party for approximately 1 hour after the show for everyone to enjoy some dancing fun.

Title: Breezes Dancers show We Can Dance at the Breezes Theatre on Riviera Island. Dress code: Formal/semi formal.

http://slurl.com/secondlife/Riviera%20Island/120/132/1166/

1:00 PM – Misfit Follies

Lighting the Way for Autsim Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/SkyBeam%20Hideaway/30/102/3001

1:00 PM – Dance Variety Show @ LTW

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

1:00PM – Debauche

Debauche return once again to the beautiful Tryst Ballroom. Such a grand, wonderful theatre in which to dance. We sincerely hope you join us and enjoy both the show and the surroundings. Truly breathtaking – both.

Debauche – A little naughty, a lot sexy and always classy!

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Forbidden%20Fruit/20/76/3032

(FULL DISCLOSURE: I am a guest performer with Debauche. This will be my first performance with them.)

3:00 PM – Atlantis Grand Theatre

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

5:00 PM – Young Dreamers Dance Troupe

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

7:00 PM – Paramount Grand Theatre

1990’s Music Evolution. Paramount Grand Theatre’s brand new show for April. Come join us for an evening of classy but sassy entertainment as we the Paramount Players bring you back to the 90’s! 1990’s that is. Decade of music changes, revolutions and madness!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Hell%20Lust/77/83/22

7:00 PM – Dance Xcetera

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

8:00 PM – A&M MOCAP Maniacs

Our monthly Home Show, showcasing what you can do with A&M MOCAP Animation Workshop dance animations! Join us for the performances, stay for the totally FUN after party where our DJ will dance you on stage!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Mocap%20Dancer/51/219/504

Sunday April 15 2018

7:00 AM – Club IMAGE

It’s Sunday at Club Image, and it’s going to be special! We’re very excited to have you here at our theatre! Hope to see you all!

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Laem%20Singh/193/28/2021

9:00 AM – Dazzlers

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

11:00 AM – Virtuoso

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

1:00PM – Debauche

Debauche travel to a brand new venue this weekend. It’s always so exciting to step into the unknown but the people there are so lovely. The theatre is beautiful, the setting lovely. Cannot wait to be there. Won’t you join us? Debauche at Shadow Lands.

https://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Shadow%20Lands/71/223/3501

1:00 PM – Moonstone Theatre

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

3:00 PM – Men in Motion

8th Annual Lighting The Way Autism Awareness Event.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/This%20Sim/94/161/2503

5:00 PM – Winds of the Sahara

Each Sunday we have a shiny, new show at Winds of the Sahara Theatre. Our dances range from burlesque to performance art and you are sure to be amazed at all of the wonder that sets, costumes and music can create. We’ll put sparkles in your eyes and leave sequins on your shirt collars.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Aladona/124/193/2001

5:00 PM – Ballet Pixelle

Ballet Pixelle – “Avatara”.

Opening Sunday April 15th at 5 pm SLT and every Wednesday and Sunday at 5 through June 13.

Ballet Pixelle® will open its production of “Avatara” on Sunday, April 15 at 5:00 pm SLT, Join us for this original composition of virtual dance! What if a real world dancer could dance in a virtual world? What movements would be the same or different? What kinds of different beings could she be? What would be the same? And how would that dancer be changed after her experience? Performances are Wednesdays at 5:00 pm and Sundays at 5:00 pm SLT throughout April in the Ballet Pixelle Theatre. Audience dancing at the after-show party every performance! Join us for an evening of delights. Chat with the performers and crew after the performance for autographs, photos, and a question & answer session.

Formal dress expected.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Quat/32/22/107

5:30 PM – Kiki’s Burlesque

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/LORII%20CAPRONI%20ISLAND/106/174/24

7:00 PM – Art Factory – The Greatest Showman

The Art Factory presents: The Greatest Showman! A show about Phineas T Barnum’s start with the circus we know today! This show will leave you inspired to be yourself! We promise to leave you stunned with razzle dazzle and songs that will make you dance in your seat! The show starts at 7pm SLT but you may want to come a little early for a seat.

http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Josina/188/161/22


I assume there will be a few more shows this week… folks are just taking their time getting the notices in, finishing up their routines… that sort of thing. I’d prefer to error on the side of caution and just post the ones confirmed at press time.

Check with the Dance Queens event calendar for updates and additions to the weekend’s schedule, as well as the many events that happen during the week. And then, next weekend; something extra-special is happening: The Festival of Saint Put Up Or Shut Up!

So, folks, is this useful? Let me know. Drop me an IM when you get to a show and that you enjoyed it.

Club Image - April 8 2018