ALS Awareness Week 2021 in Second Life

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

The 2021 Harvey Memorial Ensemble ALS Awareness Week is taking place between Sunday, February 21st and Sunday, February 28th, 2021.

Organised by members of Supporto Italiano, the Harvey Memorial week is dedicated to the memory of ALS victim and Second Life resident Harvey22 Albatros, and focuses on music, fun and raising funds, with all donations during the week going to AISLA, the Associazone Italiana Sclerosi Laterale Amiotrofica for research into, and treatment of,  Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Sometimes also referred to as motor neurone disease (MND) or by the synonyms Lou Gehrig’s disease and Charcot disease, ALS is a specific disorder that involves the death of neurons that control voluntary muscles. For about 90-95% of all diagnosed cases, the precise cause of the disease is unknown; for the remaining 5-10% of diagnosed cases, it is inherited from the sufferer’s parents. There is no known cure, and symptoms generally first become apparent around the age of 60 (or 50 in inherited cases). The average survival from onset to death is three to four years. In Europe and the United States, the disease affects about 2 people per 100,000 per year.

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

The Harvey Memorial Ensemble in Second Life features a daily schedule of music running from 07:00 SLT through to 18:00 SLT through the week up until Saturday, February 27th.

On Sunday, February 28th, the schedule of music runs from 07:00 SLT through to 17:00 SLT, after which there will be an After the Memorial event that will go on as long as people want. All of the music events are a mix of live performers and DJs, and a schedule board (seen above) is available at the event location.

Donations to AISLA can be made in three ways when at the event:

  • By clicking the donations kiosks in front of the event stage.
  • By purchasing one or more items of clothing from the vendors located to one side of the dance area.
  • By clicking on the boards at the AISLA information tents in the event space -these will take you directly to AISLA’s donations web page where you can use credit / debit cards or a PayPal account to make a direct donation.

100% of L$ donations made to the in-world kiosks and vendors will be forwarded to AISLA a the conclusion of the event.

Harvey Memorial ALS Awareness Week, 2021

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2021 viewer release summaries week #7

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, February 21st

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 viewer: Project Jelly viewer (Jellydoll updates), version 6.4.13.555567 and dated February 5th, 2021, promoted February 17th – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render (LMR) 5 project viewer updated to version 6.4.13.555871 on February, 18th.
    • Simple Cache project viewer updated to version 6.4.13.555641 on February 16th.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V6-style

  • Kokua updated to versions 6.4.13.46998 (No RLV) and 6.4.13.50041 (RLV variants) on February 20th – release notes.

V1-style

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: ‘Perseverance will get you anywhere’

A CGI model of the Mars 2020 rover Perseverance on the surface of Mars.  Credit; NASA

NASA once again has more than one rover operating on the surface of Mars. On Thursday, February 18th, the Mars 2020 mission, comprising the rover Perseverance and the aerial technology demonstrator Ingenuity, arrived in Jezero Crater in the northern hemisphere of the red planet.

The landing followed the same profile as that of NASA’s other operational rover, Curiosity, which arrived on Mars as the physical element of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission in August 2012, and which is still exploring Aoelis Mons, the huge mound at the centre of Gale Crater, although there were some notable differences.

Referred to as “the seven minutes of terror”, the landing involved the rover and its helicopter payload and landing system packed within an aerodynamic aeroshell, slamming into the upper reaches of the tenuous Martian atmosphere at 20,000 km/h, then the rover and payload touching gently down on Mars on the end of a winch just seven minutes later.

Some ten minutes prior to atmospheric entry, the mission had separated from its supporting cruise stage – the component that that provided it with power, heat and communications with Earth. Small reaction control thrusters on the aeroshell fired shortly after, slowing the spin induced to assist with stability during the 3.4 million km cruise out from Earth so that it would interfere with the vehicle’s passage through the atmosphere.

Mars 2020 Entry, Decent and Landing (EDL).  Credit; NASA

Protected by the heat shield that formed the lower part of its aeroshell, Mars 2020 passed through the searing heat of atmospheric entry, the friction of its passage helping to decelerate it. From here on in, things happened fairly rapidly.

Just under five minutes from touchdown, the vehicle used programmed control checks to align itself onto a course towards its intended landing site and entered what NASA call the “straighten up and fly right” manoeuvre – jettisoning a final group of balance masses whilst using its aerodynamic shape to steady itself on course ready for parachute deployment. This occurred with the craft just 20.8 km up-range of its landing site and still travelling at more than 2,000 km/h – or supersonic speed.

With the parachute deployed, the heat shield could be jettisoned, exposing the rover vehicle and its instruments to Mars for the first time. This meant camera and radar systems could start operating (as could the on-board microphones), and the craft could enter an entirely new mode of robotic landing.

Given the distance between Earth and Mars, two-way communications are impossible, so Martian landing have to be programmed in advance and triggered triggered by events such as velocity, atmospheric pressure, elapsed time, etc., but without any means to deviate from programming in any way. However, Mars 2020 was equipped with Terrain Relative Navigation (TRN).

What TRN means for landing accuracy: superimposed over Jezero Crater, the white ellipses representing the potential landing sites for various missions. The outermost is that of Mars Pathfinder (1998) and reflects the lack of detailed data available on the proposed landing site for that mission. By 2012, and the MSL rover Curiosity, engineers had more then enough data to target a substantially smaller area for landing. Thanks to TRN, this could be reduced still further for Mars 2020 (note the InSight lander (2018) has a large landing ellipse because the amount of data available on the regions around the north and south poles of Mars is not as extensive as is the case with latitudes moving towards the planet’s equator. Credit: NASA

This essentially took readings of the ground below and ahead of the craft as it descended under its parachute,  comparing the findings with high-resolution terrain maps of the landing site and surroundings. If it noted any potential hazard, it would cause the vehicle to use its thrusters to steer itself away from the hazard whilst maintaining its overall heading towards the landing site. TRN also allowed the vehicle to identity any obstructions within its target landing area and feed the data necessary to avoid them to the rover’s skycrane system that would handle the final part of the landing.

Weighing around a tonne, Perseverance, like Curiosity before it, is too heavy to rely solely on parachutes to make a landing. Instead, both rovers relied upon a jet-powered “backpack” – the skycrane. This, with the rover strapped underneath it, fell clear of the backshell and parachute just 1.6 km above the surface of Mars. Once safely clear of the backshell, rock motors on the skycrane fired, reducing the rate of descent from around 360 km/h to just 3 km/h whilst also flying the rover directly over the ideal landing point.

Seconds from touchdown: this remarkable image was captured by a camera mounted on the Mars 2020 skycrane. It shows the Perseverance rover with wheels deployed and other systems (Mastcam camera systems, robot arm) still stowed, as the rover is winched away in preparation for delivery onto the surface of Mars on February 18th, 2021. The bin-like section of the rover, top right, is the shielded housing for its plutonium nuclear “battery” power source. Credit: NASA/JPL

Entering a hover some 21.5 metres above the landing site, the skycrane held steady as it released the rover on a winch mechanism and lowered it towards the ground. This triggered the rover’s wheels, which had been folded stowed against its body, to deploy and lock themselves into their operational position. With the rover at the extent of the cables, the skycrane eased it down to deliver it to the surface.

Once the rover was able to confirm it was firmly on Mars – a matter of a second or so using sensors in its wheel mechanisms – it sent a message up the wire to the skycrane telling it to detach. This it did before carefully piloting itself away along a course that prevented the rocket motor exhausts washing over the rover and possibly damaging / contaminating it, before crashing into the surface of Mars.

The entire EDL – Entry, Decent and Landing – phase of the mission had been watched over by three of the craft currently in orbit around Mars. The first of these was the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO – now approaching 15 years of continuous operations in Mars orbit) that was specifically tasked to act as both observer and communications relay. Also recording the event was NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft – it would transmit the data it received some time after the landing had been completed, whilst ESA’s Mars Express orbiter (currently the longest-running operational Mars orbital mission, with 17 years under its belt in Mars orbit) acting as a back-up relay.

Not only was NASA’s MRO vehicle performing the role of active communications relay during the Mars 2020 landing, it was actually observing the landing using its phenomenal HiRISE camera system, which actually caught Mars 2020 suspended under its parachute as it drifts towards and inflow delta within Jezero Crater (see on the left side on the main image). Credit NASA/JPL

In addition, it had been hoped that NASA’s InSight Lander, although over 2,000 km from Jezero Crater, might be able to hear the sonic booms of Mars 2020’s passage through the Martian atmosphere. However, at the time of writing, I’m not sure if this was successful.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: ‘Perseverance will get you anywhere’”

A slice of old Nordic life in Second Life

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

VARGSÅNGEN (Wolf Song in Swedish) is a homestead region designed and held by Camila Runo that has been coming in for a lot of attention of late, having been featured in a number of blogs and in a Destination Guide short video. And it entirely right that it has, because the region is home to an engaging build that is fully evocative of the Viking era.

A regular meeting place for the SL Norse and Viking Society (group joiner at the landing point), the region’s About Land panel describes it thus:

A land in the far North, a long time ago when there were gods and giants, Valkyries, dwarfs and trolls. A land where the winters were long, dark and cold and the summers not so warm either but exploding with flowerage for a short period of time. Everyday life was a challenge, sometimes ending way too early.
VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

And I have to say, having just waded through all six seasons of Vikings, with its re-imagining of the legends of Ragnar Lothbrok, Lagertha, Björn Ironside, Ivar the Boneless, Hrafna-Flóki Vilgerðarson, Horik I, et al, on landing within VARGSÅNGEN, I felt as if I had just arrived in Kattegat, not far from the town of the same name held as the setting for so much of that series.

The region presents a small settlement straddling two islands occupying what might be the mouth of a fjord – it faces an opening to the sea on one side whilst a river flows through the surrounding mountains from the other. It would appear to be of some strategic import, as a huge craved figure towers over the islands, sword held aloft. shield at the ready. Whom it might be – god or man – is yours to decide.

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

This statue stands on the southern tip of an island dominated by a huge domed hill of rock and grass, doubtless formed by its resistance to the passage of ice down through the fjord, and which is now home to a (quite literally) high alter where blood sacrifices appear to be a part of the order of ceremonies, watched over as they are by standing stones.

The path up to this summit comes via the lowlands on the north side of the island, using a combination of stone slabs that have in places been set as steps into the steep slopes, and short climbs over grass that feels both slippery and wet to the eye in perfect accompaniment to the overcast sky.

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

These low northern reaches of the island also contain reminders of the harshness of life back in the times of the Vikings: bears are to be found among the trees together with wild boar, whilst a stag attempts to defend its already dead mate from the wolves that brought it down and which are hungry to finish feeding on the carcass.

The second island is smaller and lower in nature, separated from its neighbour by a small neck of water easily spanned by a couple of hewn tree trunks. This is the location for the setting’s landing point and settlement. The latter is made up of half-a-down structures presided over by a stone-and wood watchtower where keen eyes keep watch on the fjord’s mouths, and strong legs are ready to descend and run to the great horn in order to sound warning should anything undesirable opt to slip into the channel.

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

Within the settlement is a wealth of detail that really needs to be seen to be appreciated, and it is clear that a huge amount of care has been taken to present life in those times as we currently understand it to have been. Humans and livestock share living spaces (making it easier to protect the latter); food is taken wherever it may be found, be it grown from the land, slaughtered after rearing, or taken from the sea in the form of fish or whale meat.

The ties to the sea are also much in evidence: a longship is drawn up at the settlement’s wharf, shields still in place and cargo (the haul from a raid, perhaps?) is being off-loaded. Just across a low ridge from the wharves lies an second ship under construction, the shipwright’s house close by. Could this be Flóki developing his improved hull that would make possible voyages so far out to sea, he’d be able to make his expedition to Iceland?

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

Norse mythology is touched on throughout, from the little carvings of Odin (some of which stand as teleporters along with the smaller boats that can be found), through the the menacing form of Jörmungandr, one of Loki’s three children. It circles within the fjord rather than encircling the world – so perhaps Odin has only recently tossed into the waters of Midgard?

And what of the name of the region itself – VARGSÅNGEN? Whilst meaning wolf song, as noted above, might it also be perhaps taken from the writings of Astrid Lindgren?  Specifically, the lullaby from Ronja Rövardotter (Ronia the Robber’s Daughter)? It’s a haunting song that both in tone and lyrics fits the region perfectly.

VARGSÅNGEN, February 2021

The latter is pure supposition on my part, but to me it adds twist of mythical romance to the region. However, even if the lullaby has nothing to do with the region’s name, VARGSÅNGEN is a rewarding visit in and of itself, and offers a doorway through which enquiring minds can discover more about medieval Nordic life.

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The digital mastery of Kraven Klees in Second Life

The Janus Gallery: Kraven Klees

Currently open at the Janus I Gallery at Chuck Clip’s Sinful Retreat is a truly magnificent exhibition of the art of Kraven Klees which is an truly must-see event.

Working in the digital medium, Kraven specialises in the creation of pieces encompassing a range of techniques –  art, photography, mixed media = whilst also embracing a spectrum of approaches and styles including fractals, abstraction and photo layering, to create pieces that explore the boundaries of what we might consider art to be, and what it means to us personally.

The Janus Gallery: Kraven Klees

As a result, his pieces are both highly esoteric and instantly captivating. There is both a richness of presentation and melding – conscious or otherwise, given the artist notes he deliberately embraces an aleatoric approach to his work such that the final appears of each is a mix of predetermination on his part and circumstance encountered in the creative process – that gives them immediate visual appeal while can be immediately experienced and enjoyed, whilst also calling the eye and mind to look again, and more deeply.

This approach to mixing concious decision with the passage of chance taken by the artist means that while many of these pieces many be linked by a core theme – portraiture, living study, the very richness of colour palette – each and every piece is genuinely unique content, form, colour, style, and expression. This adds enormously to multi-faceted appeal of the exhibition as a whole whilst giving each piece a sense of individual beauty and depth that sets it apart from its neighbours.

The Janus Gallery: Kraven Klees

But there is more here as well; even within those that may appear to be “straightforward” portraits, there are elements that can trigger our emotions and alter our perception. Neural Network, for example, initially appears to offer commentary on the nature of intelligence and our growing reliance on  technology. But a closer examination offers other potentials for interpretation – the potential for, and form of, artificial life; questions on the nature of life  – are we simply little more than the filaments of the brain and the neurons that fires across them? and more.

Alongside of it, Bamboo Man sits as an intriguing study on the human form: flesh, sinews, bone; but at the same time, the entire image in form and colour opens the door to discomfiting thoughts of evisceration and / or hints of Geiger-esque horrors. There is also a certain psychedelic aspect to many of the pieces that comes to us through both the stylised  use of expressive colours and fragmented, fractalised form that heightens our response to them. Like the effects of a drug, they seem to expand our consciousness, reflecting the artist’s desire to increase the dynamic between audience and art / artist.

The Janus Gallery: Kraven Klees

All of this makes The Art of Kraven Klees an exhibition a rich exploration of art, ideas, emotions and outlook. Whether you are drawn into the deeper layering of individual pieces or chose to admire them for their natural beauty and styling, this is a collection that will attract and beguile. As such, this is very much an exhibition that should not be missed, and it will remain available through until the end of the month.

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Sampling some Poison Rouge in Second Life

Poison Rouge, February 2021

Busta (BadboyHi) has a well-deserved reputation for designing eye-catching regions – so when I heard he is behind the new design for the Poison Rouge store in-world, I had to jump over and take a look.

Occupying half of a full region, the setting has something of a Dutch urban feel to it around the landing point – tall, slim town houses built along cobbled streets that line the banks of canals spanned by little bridges – with more to discover beyond.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

The landing point itself is located within a large square. Facing this on three sides, and separated from it by the above mentioned canals, are the town houses that form the home of the Poison Rouge fashion and accessory brand, operated by Shena Neox, who is also the parcel holder.

It’s a visually appealing setting, the square with water features and places to sit, whilst in the streets surrounding it and the store buildings are other little attractions: a little outdoor coffee bar, boats (with sitting poses)  on the canal waters, little overgrown garden plots, while bicycle racks add to the feeling we’re in The Netherlands. To the north of the square lies open water, a row of moorings home to sail boats and fishing trawlers. Further moorings can be found to the west of the square and store, watched over by a lighthouse.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

However, this is very much a location of two halves – whilst the west side is devoted to the urban environment with shops and canals and streets, the east side presents an entirely different setting – although still one in keeping with lowlands that might be found in The Netherlands.

It is reached by way of a railway station that effectively splits the setting in two as it runs south-to-north, from tunnel to terminus. A familiar DRD Arcade Express sits at the station, and with no footbridge over the track, visitors can either pass through the train’s carriages to reach the far side of the station, or follow the footpaths around the northern end of the terminus.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

Beyond the station is a remarkable garden area that is also part cemetery. Of great age, overgrown and rich in features and detail, this is a place to capture the eye and imagination – and time really should be taken in exploring it, as there is a lot to see.

The north side of the cemetery includes the ruins of the church, with further ruins beyond, sitting between open waters and a wetland cove that naturally intrudes into the landscape, gulls circling overhead.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

An aged path runs south through the old churchyard to reach a second square. neatly paved if starting to be overgrown. It is dominated by a large square water feature and grand statue, bordered on three sides by more structures.

The first of these is an elevated walkway that offers a good vantage point from which to observe the square. It looks westward to where a pavilion is slowly breaking into ruin. This appears to form a stage area for music events. Behind it lies another garden space, forming a quite waterside walk, in turn bordered by a rushing stream pouring over rocks from narrow southern falls. The south side of the square is house to tearooms fronted by a raised terrace.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

Throughout all of this is a wealth of detail awaiting discovery: inscriptions on water features, the flight of butterflies, the multiple places to sit through the the looks wildlife – all of which also heighten the photogenic nature of the setting.

Definitely not a place to miss.

Poison Rouge, February 2021

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