Singularity 1.8.9: the big catch-up

April 2nd, 2020 saw the first full release of the viewer 1.x style Singularity viewer in almost four years with the arrival of version 1.8.9.8338. The last formal release of the viewer had been in June 2016, with the release of version 1.8.7 – although there have been many, many, “nightly” builds of the viewer made available in the interim to help keep Singularity users up-to-date with viewer changes.

As I don’t tend to report on “beta” or “nightly” builds of viewers unless they contain something absolutely vital to users  – were I to try, it’s not unreasonable to say there would be times when I’d be writing nothing other than articles on viewers and clients – this release means there is potentially a lot for me to cover – the to possibly drown you in an ocean of text! To avoid this, please excuse me if I just touch on the core aspects of the update and point you towards the official release notes for a full list of updates.

In Brief

Linden Lab Derived Updates

Given the length of time that has elapsed between the last formal release and 1.8.9, the latter rolls-up a lot of significant releases from the Labs. As a summary, these comprise:

  • Animesh.
  • Bento.
  • Bakes on Mesh (system wearable on mesh bodies / heads – see my Bakes on Mesh Basic Primer).
  • Experiences (World → Experiences from the menu bar).
  • Viewer Managed Marketplace. Actually released prior to the previous full release of Singularity, the Viewer Managed Marketplace (VMM) functionality didn’t make it into the 1.8.6 or 1.8.7 releases, and so arrives for the first time now.
    • The Marketplace Listings Panel can be accessed via either World → Marketplace Listings in the menu bar, or by activating the Marketplace Listings toolbar button (View → Change Toolbar Buttons → check Marketplace Listings).
    • Singularity also allows the listing ID for any Marketplace listing (active or inactive) to be obtained by right clicking on the associated folder in the the Marketplace Listings panel and selecting Copy Listing ID.
    • In support of VMM, Singularity also provides a Marketplace button (View → Change Toolbar Buttons → check Marketplace). Note that this will open the Marketplace in the viewer’s internal browser, regardless of whether links are set to open in an external browser.
Singularity 1.8.9 also features the all-singing, all dancing LL viewer splash screen with tweaks

Singularity Updates

This is actually a huge list of new additions, improvements, updates and fixes. So big, in fact that trying to run through them here would give rise to a novel, rather than a review, as noted. So again, please refer to the official release notes for a complete breakdown.

Availability

At the time of writing, Singularity 1.8.9 had been released in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours for Windows; 64-bit Linux and promised an “emergency” version for OS X that is described as possibly “buggy” and “available soon”. As the download page on the Singu website still listed 1.8.6 as the last formal release for OS X, Mac users interested in Singularity are advised to watch the Singularity website for updates.

Feedback

The Post-Processed Effects (PPE) panel (View → Change Toolbar → Post-Processed Effects) has some interesting real-time graphics processing options.

I’ve not had much time using Singularity 1.8.9, my total hours possibly amount to little more than an afternoon of fiddling. As such this feedback is perhaps a little more subjective in approach than might otherwise be the case.

All of the Linden-derived updates appear to work as expected, and the Singu-developed updates are certainly extensive and I have no significant issues with those I got to play with.

When it comes to rendering, where you’re looking, how far you can see, what is occluding your view, what to have cached, etc., all has a part to play in what the viewer renders, how fast it can do so and what your overall fps is. In an attempt at rudimentary “like-for-like” testing (e.g. same region, same location, same directions of view, roughly the same number of avatars, same graphics settings, etc), I found Singularly perhaps a little faster in rendering content than either the SL viewer or Firestorm, with average fps reporting pretty much on a par with, or very slightly higher than, those two viewers once rnedering had settled down for any given direction.

What I did notice with respect to 1.8.9, both in comparison to Firestorm and singularity 1.8.7, and when again, using the dame Windlight presets is that 1.8.9 produces a much more natural rendering result on my system  – gamma, haze, tone, etc., – than I’ve noted with either Firestorm or the SL viewer when using the “default” settings.

For those who like a v1-style UI coupled with something of a more “power user” range of options, Singularity 1.8.9 is liable to be just the ticket. Hopefully the huge amount of effort put into this release will mean that in future, the viewer will be better able to keep pace with changes coming out of the Lab.  Kudos to all involved in getting it back up to speed.

Related Links

Announcing Le Cirque de la Nuit 2020 in Second Life

Idle Rogue Le Cirque de la Nuit

April is upon us, and with it comes a variety of events across Second Life, including Idle Rogue’s Le Cirque de Nuit. Now something of an annual tradition – the first presentation having been in 2014 – this hour-long programme features award-winning animated dance performances based around Erin Morgenstern’s novel, The Night Circus.

So you think you have seen Idle Rogue Productions annual steampunk circus in black and white, “Le Cirque de la Nuit”? Think again! No two editions of “Cirque” are exactly alike, and reservations for this year’s open Monday, April 6th at Noon for the limited six performances. Advanced Reservations are required.

– From the Idle Rogue press release for 2020’s Le Cirque de Nuit.

One of Idle Rogue’s most popular productions, Le Cirque de Nuit will for 2020 offer two rounds of shows over the weekends of Friday, April 10th through Sunday, April 12th and Friday, April 17th through Sunday, April 19th, with individual performances as follows (all times SLT):

  • Friday, April 10th, 22:00.
  • Saturday, April 11th, 19:00.
  • Sunday, April 12th, 15:00.
  • Friday, April 17th, 22:00.
  • Saturday, April 18th, 15:00.
  • Sunday, April 19th, 17:00.

Given their popularity, seats for all performances must be booked in advance. Reservations can be made by contacting Saturday Melody in-world on or after 15:00 SLT on Monday, April 6th. All seats per show will be offered first cone, first serve.

Bloggers wishing to preview the show should contact chryblnd Scribe in-world for information on the Preview performance that is planned for Wednesday, April 8th (time tba at the time this article was written).

Le Cirque de la Nuit: Dax Dover. Credit: Idle Rogue

Directed by Blaze DeVivre,the show might be described as “a steampunk circus in black and white”. It uses Morgenstern’s novel as a background  to present stories of magic, circus and illusion as dance entertainment within an environment created by Gloriana Maertens.

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazement. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

– Cover copy of The Night Circus

This year, the show features an introductory act, narrated by the storytellers of  Seanchai Library, with all of the acts interspersed by displays of colourful fantastical art installations, including pieces by Bryn Oh, Cica Ghost, and equestrian designer H0ney Heart.

Note that should you book seats for a performance, guests attending the show are requested to:

  • Arrive no later than an hour prior to the stated start time of a performance. Music will be provided for entertainment.
  • Use an up-to-date viewer, with Advanced Lighting enabled so that the full effect of ambient and projected lighting can be seen.
  • Keep their complexity level low, and minimise their script load (including by removing HUDs ad well as worn scripted attachments) for the benefit of all the audience and the performers.
Le Cirque de la Nuit: Meegan Danitz. Credit: Idle Rogue

Further information can be obtained via e-mail to idlerogue-at-gmail.com.

Additional Links

2020 viewer release summaries week #14

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, April 5th

This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version  version 6.3.8.538264, dated March 12, promoted March 18th. Formerly the Premium RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • o updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • Kokua updated to version 6.3.8.43751 (non RLV) and 6.3.8.46425 (RLV variants) on April 1st – release notes.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: crunches, telescopes and ambitions

Starship SN3 tank section sits as a crumpled mess after the pressurisation test failure. Credit: SpaceX

I’ve covered the development and plans SpaceX have for their mighty Starship vehicle – designed to be capable of lifting up to 100 tonnes of cargo, or 100 people to the Moon or Mars – and its equally massive reusable booster on numerous occasions. For the last 12+ months, the company has been engaged in fabricating a series of prototype / test versions of the Starship vehicle, some of which are (or were) intended for actual flight testing. But it has been far from plain sailing for the company.

The first vehicle in the series, called simply “Starship Mark 1”, and built at the company’s Boca Chica test facilities in southern Texas, underwent a series of tank pressurisation tests that were initially positive, at least up until a full pressure test – mimicking the pressure the vehicle’s tanks would be under when fully fuelled and awaiting launch – on November 20th, 2019. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk anticipated this test might end in failure – and it did, the fuel tank bulkheads suffering a catastrophic failure.

Sections of the Starship SN3 unveiled on March 26th, 2020. Note the black cylinders of the deployable landing legs on the section on the right. Credit: SpaceX

A second prototype, Starship SN1, had a series of refinements built into the tank bulkheads and was subjected to a similar test on February 28th, 2020. This time, the bulkheads survived, but a failure occurred with a “thrust puck” at the base of the tank that takes the load from the vehicle’s Raptor engines, again resulting in the loss of the vehicle. As a result, the third prototype, SN2 was modified and then stripped back just to its tanks so that a further test of the “thrust puck” weld on March 3rd – which it passed successfully.

The adjustments were then made to the next prototype: SN3, a vehicle intended to start flight tests. The sections of SN3 were revealed on March 26th, 2020, after which the main tank section was moved to a test stand where it would also undergo a series of pressurisation tests, culminating a full pressurisation using liquid nitrogen to simulate a fuel load at typical launch temperatures. This took place on April 2nd (CST) / April 3rd (UK / CET), and once again ended in failure and the loss of the tank section.

Video recorded by NASASpaceflight.com (not an official NASA site) shows the tank under pressure and venting gas (as expected) before the upper portion initially buckles before completely collapsing.

Immediately following the test, Musk indicated via Twitter the the loss of the section may have been a result of the test being incorrectly configured, rather than a failure with the vehicle itself – although analysis of the data is continuing.

A significant difference between the SN3 vehicle and the prototypes that came before it was the inclusion of deployable landing legs, included in the vehicle to allow it to undertake the system’s first, low-altitude “hops”. SpaceX had already applied to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to complete a static fire of the vehicle’s raptor engine – a required precursor for any test flights – and the FAA had in turn issued a notification to airmen to remain clear of the airspace around the Boca Chica test area between April 6th to 8th, a move consistent with an engine static fire test, which the failed pressurisation test was in turn something of a precursor.

Artist impressions of Starship. On the left, the crewed and cargo variants, on the right a typical large payload deployment. Credit: SpaceX Starship User Guide

It’s not clear how the incident with SN3 affects Starship testing; a further test vehicle, Starship SN4 is under construction specifically to complete higher-altitude flight tests before SN5 undertakes flights in excess of 20km altitude. Whether this SN4 will now be used for the low altitude hops and SN5 and SN6 for the higher flights, or the range of flights for SN4 is extended to cover both low and intermediate altitude tests remains to be seen. All the company has indicated is that the failures encountered so far shouldn’t deflect them too much in their aspirational goals of a lunar vicinity flight in 2022 and a Mars flight in 2024. In respect of these, in March 2020, SpaceX issued payload and crew guidelines for customer wishing to launch cargoes to orbit – a further option for the Starship / Super Heavy booster combination being cargo flights and payload deployments, replacing the company’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.

James Web Unfurls its Telescope for the First Time

NASA’s next great observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope, has fully deployed its primary mirror under test conditions for the first time, marking another milestone on its journey to space.

The giant mirror, 6.5 metres across, is so large, it must be folded and stowed during launch, requiring it to be carefully deployed while on-route to its final L2 halo orbit beyond the Moon – which will take it around 14 days to initially reach, and another 14 to settle into.

Prior to the SARS-CoV-2 situation caused NASA to suspend work on the telescope, it was hooked-up to a gravity / mass compensating rig – needed to support the weight of the two deployable “sides” of the mirror as well as the mass of the central section – allowing the mirror’s deployment motors to be spun up and the entire mirror assembly put through its actual deployment routine.

JWST deployment. Credit: NASA

The test was one of the final large-scale crucial test of JWST’s key systems. Integration testing of the telescope’s systems and those of it’s “bus” that includes the sun shield were completed in early 2019, while a test deployment of the complex and delicate sun shield “sandwich” – vital to keeping the telescope cool and allowing it to “see” in the glare of the sun – was successfully in October 2019.

Even so, the project has several more hurdles to clear before its actual launch date can be confirmed without risk of further significant delays, and such confirmation will not be given until after the coronavirus situation is no longer impacting the project, and a further review of its overall status completed.

Secrets, magic & science, poems, and games in Second Life

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 at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, April 5th, 18:30: The Secret Garden

Caledonia Skytower continues this classic of children’s literature  by Frances Hodgson Burnett, first published in 1911, at the Golden Horseshoe in Magicland Park.

Orphaned after losing her parents in a cholera epidemic, young Mary Lennox returns to England from India, entering the care of her uncle Archibald Craven, whom she has never met.

Up until this point, Mary’s childhood had not been happy; her parents were selfish and self-seeking, regarding her as a burden over which they were not obliged to hold much responsibility. Not overly healthy herself, she is as a result  a temperamental, stubborn and unmistakably rude child – and her arrival at Misselthwaite Manor and the relative gloom of Yorkshire’s weather does little to improve her mein.

Her disposition also isn’t helped by her uncle, who is strict and uncompromising, leading to Mary despising him. But her uncle’s story is itself filled with tragedy, particularly the loss of his wife. As she learns more about her uncle’s past, so Mary learns about a walled garden Mrs. Craven once kept, separated from the rest of the grounds and which, since her passing has been kept locked by Mary’s uncle, the door leading to it kept locked, the key to it buried somewhere. 

Finding the missing key and the now hidden door, Mary enters the garden, and her passage into it starts her on a journey of friendship and discovery, one that leads her to the thing she never really knew: family.

Monday, April 6th 19:00: The Higher Space

Gyro Muggins reads Jamil Nasir’s 1996 novella that mixes science and magic.

Bob Wilson is a lawyer with a house in the suburbs, a beautiful wife, and a predictable life. Then he agrees to represent a neighbourhood couple in what looks like an open-and-shut custody case.

But no sooner do the Wilsons take in fourteen-year-old Diana Esterbrook than Bob must ask himself some troubling questions. Is Diana a computer genius or a dangerously disturbed adolescent? Why is his house being bugged? Who is the mysterious man in black? And what about Diana’s birth mother, a convicted kidnapper just released from prison?

Wilson’s quest for answers will lead him to an enigmatic private detective, a meek professor with dreams of immortality, and finally to the secrets of a discipline called Thaumatomathematics a strange blend of magic and science where death becomes the key to beatific ecstasy.

Tuesday, April 7th:

12:00 Noon: Russell Eponym, Live in the Glen

Music, poetry, and stories in a popular weekly session that is finding a new home in Ceiluradh Glen as guest of Seanchai Library.

19:00: Words for Our Souls: Poetry in The Glen

Seanchai Staff share words for our time around the fire.

Wednesday, April 8th, 19:00: No Session

The library will be dark.

Thursday, April 9th:

19:00: What’s in a Username?

Shandon Loring returns to Game On: A Gamelit Anthology, this time to read Angel Leya’s short story, What’s in a Username?

While playing a hot new MMORG called Power, gamer girls Maddy and best friend Amber run into a guy on whom Maddy has an all encompassing crush. 

Given her inability to talk to any guy she likes without becoming a tongue-tied, fumbling wreck, Maddy determines the best way to make her feeling known is through her (albeit male) game avatar.

Things start to go awry, however, as Maddy realises Amber likely also has a crush on the object of her affections. As a result, both of their gaming suffers in their pursuit of the eye-catching player.

But what  no-one playing Power realises is that there is more at stake in the game than they could ever realise.

Also in Kitely – grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

Contemporary Sci-Fi-Fantasy with Finn Zeddmore featuring stories from sources including Escape Pod, Light Speed, and Clarkesworld on-line magazines.

The Oller Belair Gallery and Circular in Second Life

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

The Oller Belair Art Gallery (follow the path across the covered bridge from the landing point), created and operated by Pencarrow Oller offers a venue for physical world artists to present their work within Second Life. In this, it presents an exhibition space that encompasses art by Pencarrow herself with artist in residence Layachi Ihnen, together with invited artist exhibitions and a monthly competition for physical world artists, the Unicorn Awards competition. For April, the invited artist is Uleria Caramel, whose exhibition Circular opened on April 3rd, 2020.

An abstract expressionist, Uleria works in a number of mediums: oils, glass painting, aquarelles, ceramics and photography. Her art combines colour and contrast, inspired by her own feelings and emotional reactions to the things and the worlds she observes; something that can give her art a particular depth of emotional resonance from observers.

This is particularly true for Circular, her exhibition within the Belair hall of the gallery. This series of works has, as their foundation, the on-going global crisis that is affecting us all, as Uleria noted to me when discussing the exhibition.

I was thinking, what would be this exhibitions theme, and the main thing in my mind has been this corona crisis on this Earth. So my vision started to grow from words like lifeless, rock, space, and round shapes like an Earth shape, the corona virus shape and round shapes in general. But I don’t want to the virus theme into the foreground; if someone sees it, that’s OK; if they see something else, that’s OK as well.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

This idea of a theme for the exhibition that is not in and of itself a driving force behind the images presented within it is clearly reflected in the selection process Uleria used for Circular. While the ideas of circles, spheres and round shapes and form that might contain elements suggestive of things like a virus is prevalent in all of the images she offers here, none of the pieces have been created specifically because of the foundational theme for Circular; rather, they are all pre-existing pieces drawn from Uleria’s rich portfolio if past works.

This give Circular a layering of interpretation and emotional depth that is genuinely captivating; some of the pieces through colour, impression and shape offer very clear reflections of virus-oriented themes, from the idea of a viral invasion. Take Cell One, The Origins, and Drifting, for example, with the latter in particular perhaps bringing to mind oxygenated haemoglobin, so vital to aerobic respiration, offering an indelible link to the respiratory nature of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the resulting Covid-19 disease.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Uleria Caramel

Other pieces are more subtle in their connection to the thematic play of the exhibition, allowing us to view them entirely independently of that theme – although the threads of connection are there. Take the corner collection of mandala-like Kaleido images, together with Liquid Moon, for example.

These stand as pieces that engage the mind without any overt thoughts of illness or the like, yet within them are still thematic echoes: the Kaleido pieces offer both subtle suggestions of viral entities and of the interconnectedness we all share as a part of life that can enable their spread, while Liquid Moon can perhaps bring forth celestial thoughts on the cosmos around us and also suggestive of a single cell – the building block of life. Thus, these – and the other pieces presented here – mean that Circular can be viewed both as a social commentary for the times or purely as a retrospective of Uleria’s remarkable art.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Pencarrow Oller

As noted, the gallery also features exhibitions by Pencarrow, who at the time of my visit was offering a display of abstract, flowing pieces inspired by haikus. Through their use of colour, these are expressive pieces, even without the words of the haiku which inspired them (these should be offered by touching an individual piece, although this was still to be set-up at the time of my visit), with the more slender pieces each suggestive of traditional Japanese scroll paintings, thus adding to the depth of the theme.

Deserving of a more expressive space in which to be shown, Pancarrow’s pieces occupy the Oller hall / stairway leading up to the upper floor of the gallery, where Layachi Ihnen’s always absorbing studies and portraiture can be found. These are presided over by the impressive multi-panel The Infinites, a study that wraps itself around three walls of the exhibition area to form an unfolding story.

Oller Belair Art Gallery: Layachi Ihnen

Provided for physical world artists displaying their work in Second Life, the Unicorn Awards is operated through the gallery, offering a prize pot of L$10K with art displayed in the Unicorn Studio hall. Each awards competition is themed, and details  can be obtained by setting foot in the Unicorn Studio or by contacting the gallery’s manager, Airam79 Carami, in-world.

SLurl Details