Death on the beach, people from the stars, folk from the sea and poignant letters

It’s time to kick-off another week of fabulous story-telling in Voice, brought to Second Life and Kitely by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library.

As always, all times SLT / PDT, and unless otherwise stated, events will be held on the Seanchai Library’s home on Imagination Island.

Sunday August 31st

09:00: The Heart of Ireland: The Red Girl – Seanchai Kitely

Via Goodreads.com:

In the 1930s, Irish novelist Maurice Walsh placed the moors and mountains of Ireland firmly on the literary map with this celebrated collection of stories. Since then, readers have continued to be charmed by these accounts of the simple and common activities of the characters in 1920s rural Ireland.

The lives of Hugh Forbes, Paddy Bawn Enright, Archibald MacDonald, Joan Hyland, and Nuala Kierley intermingle as the themes of nationalism, human dignity, honour, and love are given full play. Made famous by John Ford’s Oscar-winning film The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, these remain humorous and poignant tales set against a backdrop of intrigue and Irish civil unrest.

Join Caledonia at the White O’ Morn cottage on Glen Island at the Seanchai Homeworld  (grid.kitely.com:8002:Seanchai) as she once again takes listeners to the very heart of Ireland

13:30: Tea-time at Baker Street: The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes

Caledonia Skytower, Corwyn Allen and Kayden Oconnell once again open the pages of The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, the final set of twelve Sherlock Holmes short stories first published in the Strand Magazine between October 1921 and April 1927.

This week: The Adventure of the Lions’s Mane

“It is a most singular thing that a problem which was certainly as abstruse and unusual as any which I have faced in my long professional career should have come to me after my retirement, and be brought, as it were, to my very door. It occurred after my withdrawal to my little Sussex home, when I had given myself up entirely to that soothing life of Nature for which I had so often yearned during the long years spent amid the gloom of London. At this period of my life the good Watson had passed almost beyond my ken. An occasional week-end visit was the most that I ever saw of him. Thus I must act as my own chronicler.”

Thus begins the second of only two stories of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures to be narrated by the great man himself. As the opening suggests, Holmes is now in retirement in Sussex, where he meets an old friend whilst on the beach. Harold Stackhurst is the headmaster of a local preparatory school, and as the two men chat, one of the masters from the school, Fitzroy McPherson, staggers up to them, his torso covered in livid welts as if he had been whipped with a hot wire. McPherson manages to utter the words, “Lion’s mane,” before dying.

More mystery ensues when it emerges that McPherson was involved with one Maud Bellamy – much to the chagrin of her father and brother -, and he had a sometimes strained friendship with another of the school’s masters, Ian Murdoch. What’s more, Murdoch may have also once been a suitor for Maud Bellamy.

Is murder most foul in the air? Could hatred or jealousy be the reason? Is McPherson’s death the result of his involvement with Maud Bellamy? The mystery seems to become more perplexing when McPherson’s dog is found dead, apparently having suffered as agonizingly as its master. But is its discovery the clue Holmes has been seeking?

To find out more, be sure to turn up on time for a spot of afternoon tea at Baker Street!

Monday September 1st, 19:00: Far From Home: The People Deluge

the peopleZenna Chlarson Henderson was one of the first female science-fiction authors, having started reading publications such as astounding Stories from the age of 12, and becoming a popular author in the 1950s and 1960s.

She is perhaps best known for her The People stories, which focus of a race of human-like aliens forced to flee their homeworld due to a natural disaster, and some of whom arrive in the American southwest shortly before the start of the 20th century.

The People have the very best of human qualities: love, gentleness, spirituality; and also special powers of healing, levitation, telekinesis and more, who wish only to preserve their home culture and beliefs amidst a world which, despite their human appearance, does not understand them.

Henderson’s tales about The People ran to some 17 stories which examined the lives of The People, their past on their homeworld, their attempts to live quietly on Earth, their interactions with their human neighbours, all told in a beautiful, moving style. Why not join Gyro Muggins to learn more as he resumes their story through the pages of The People Deluge?

Tuesday September 2nd, The Sea Fairies

Lyman Frank Baum is best known for his Wizard of Oz novels. However, over the course of his life he wrote some 59 novels (including four “lost” novels), 83 short stories and over 200 poems.

sea-fairiesThe Sea Fairies, first published in 1911, was intended to be the first volume in a new series of stories after Baum had “finished” the Oz series with the Emerald City of Oz. It tells the tale of young Mayre Griffiths, known to all as Trot, who lives on the coast of Southern California, where her father is the captain of a sailing schooner. Trot’s home life is shared with Cap’n Bill, her father’s former skipper, who has lived with the family since an accident cost him a leg.

Cap’n Bill is a devoted guardian to little Trot, and spends his days walking the beaches with her, or rowing her along the coast, regaling her with tales. But when the subject of mermaids comes up, Trot’s wish to see one is granted, and both she and Cap’n Bill fix themselves transformed into merfolk – who are sea fairies – and taken to the undersea realm of Queen Aquarine and King Anko, where they witness many things and are forced to come up against the wicked Zog the Magician …

Join Faerie Maven-Pralou as she takes to the seas once more and continues this lasting tale.

Wednesday September 3rd, 19:00: Stories from the Shadows

With Shandon Loring

Thursday August 28th

19:00: Letter to My Daughter

lettersFrom the publisher’s notes:

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Told in her own inimitable style, this book transcends genres and categories: guidebook, memoir, poetry, and pure delight.

Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that led Angelou to an exalted place in American letters and taught her lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward, six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling such lost friends as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice–Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.

Join Caledonia Skytower as she opens these remarkable pages.

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.

—–

Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule. The featured charity for September-October is Reading is Fundamental: seeking motivate young children to read by working with them, their parents, and community members to make reading a fun and beneficial part of everyday life.

Related Links

Alchemy brews a new beta

Alchemy-logoOn Wednesday August 27th, the Alchemy team released further beta version of their v3-style viewer, which they refer to as a celebratory release, marking their inclusion in the Lab’s Third Party Viewer Directory.

As a beta, version 3.7.14.33534, the release obviously isn’t a full feature release; as Cinder notes in the blog post, it is still a work-in-progress, and the Alchemy team are still working on things. As such, this article is a rapid-fire overview of points-of-note, rather than an in-depth article.

The new release is available for Windows (32-bit and 64-bit) and Mac (64-bit), with Linux referred to as “coming soon”. I installed the Windows 64-bit version, which not only suited my system, it allowed me to run the new beta alongside the 32-bit version of the previous beta release, which I looked at back in April. Installation was smooth and direct, with the viewer firing-up automatically once installation had finished. No anti-virus flags triggered, just my usual firewall warning about the SLplugin for voice,

Starting the viewer revealed the most notable change to it – the UI font presentation. To quote Cinder’s blog post:

We’ve decided that Adobe® Source Sans Pro is a little nicer on the eyes, and Sovereign went to great lengths to push around the pixels and make everything fit just right.

The viewer certainly reflects this effort; font presentation is crisp and sharp (doubly so, perhaps on my new shiny monitor! :) ), and everything fits the floaters, button, icons, toasts, etc., perfectly when using a default UI size, and it scales nicely with the UI size slider. Alongside of this, the UI itself has been generally refreshed, although some of the updates may not appear obvious to the eye.

Preferences

The additional move & view options in Preferences

The additional Move & View options in Preferences

Preferences get the same UI refresh as the rest of the viewer, and a couple of changes in the Move & View tab, which see the addition of two camera constraints check boxes (Disable Minimum Zoom and Disable Object Push), and a check box for Realistic Mouselook (which comes to Alchemy via NiranV Dean).

Toolbar Buttons

Alchemy 3.7.14 sees changes to the toolbar buttons available to users.

Alchemy Toolbar Buttons floater

Alchemy Toolbar Buttons floater

Of particular note with this release is the addition of the buttons for sharing to Twitter and Flickr, the Region Tracker and Quick Settings buttons (both of which are examined later in this article), and the removal of the Windlight button.

Legacy Profiles

Alchemy's new legacy profile display - integrated into the People floater

Alchemy’s new legacy profile display – integrated into the People floater

Legacy profiles come to Alchemy with a completely fresh implementation of the profile floater, which has been neatly integrated into the People floater. Accessing your own profile can be done from the Me menu or the Profile button, as per usual, while accessing other people’s profiles can be done through the right-click avatar context menu, also as per usual.

All of these options open the new profile panel within the People floater, and the arrow at the top left of the floater will switch you back to the People panel display itself, allowing you to page back and forth between, say, Nearby People and individual profiles quickly and easily, and without opening additional floaters. Note that in this regard, your own avatar is listed in Nearby People, allowing you a further means of accessing your own profile information.

This entire approach is smooth and sweet, and followed through with all other means of accessing a profile (e.g. through the mini-map, and so on). Nor does it end there. The updated Profile display neatly organises the various tabs – Second Life, Groups, Interests, etc, vertically, with what might be the mostly common-used option buttons (Chat, Add Friend, Block) ranged at the bottom of the display, with a gear icon providing access to additional options – share, offer teleport, request teleport, Pay, etc.

Snapshot Floater Update

As I’ve recently reported, the official viewer is gaining a more unified snapshot floater (at the time of writing, available via the Snowstorm RC viewer version 3.7.15.293295). Given that this beta release of Alchemy is based on the Lab’s 3.7.14 release code, it doesn’t include the newer snapshot floater; instead it provides its own means switching to the Facebook, Flickr and Twitter floaters.

This has been achieved via the addition of three links (rather than buttons) at the foot of the snapshot floater itself. Clicking on any one of these will close the snapshot floater and open the required upload floater.

The Alchemy snapshot floater with the links to switch to the Flickr, Facebook orTwitter upload floaters (l); and the additional image size options

The Alchemy snapshot floater with the links to switch to the Flickr, Facebook or Twitter upload floaters (l); and the additional image size options

Continue reading

Firestorm issue blocking warning for version 4.5.1

firestorm-logoFollowing the recent release of Firestorm 4.6.7 (see my overview for details), the Firestorm team has announced that Firestorm 4.5.1 will be blocked as from Friday September 12th, 2014.

The blocking of version 4.5.1  – which does not affect any of the more recent releases of Firestorm, is in keeping with the Firestorm team’s agreement with Linden Lab to only allow – as far as possible – only the most recent three releases of Firestorm to connect to Second Life.

Also unaffected by the block, and for the benefit of Mac users, is version 4.4.2 – in keeping with their promise to Mac users, Firestorm will not be blocking version 4.4.2 until such time as more of the Mac-specific bugs which have occurred in more recent SL viewer releases (and inherited by Firestorm and other TPVs) have been dealt with.

However, although the blocking is related to Second Life, please note that this announcement does mean that as from September 12th, Firestorm version 4.5.1 will no longer be able to connect to OpenSim grids as well.

If you want to know why Firestorm block versions, you can find an explanation on their blog. Similarly, if you wish yo know how Firestorm implement a block, you can do so via the Firestorm wiki.

In terms of the upcoming block, those users who are still running 4.5.1 are asked to update to a more recent very of Firestorm sooner rather than later. As the official blog post from the team notes:

If you wait until the last minute to update you will have a harder time reaching support since most people seem to wait until the last minute and then contact support for help.

Related Links

The fractal geometry of genesis

Opening in September at the Galeria Mexico is a new exhibition by Gem Preiz, featuring more of his remarkable fractal art. Gem kindly sent me a personal invitation to preview the new exhibition ahead of the opening, and I was only too happy to pop along and take a look.

Geometries – Genesis presents a display of two distinct halves bound together by a common theme: humanity’s quests for knowledge and understanding, and where it might eventually lead us.

The first part of the display – Geometries – presents seven pieces of Gem’s art which all of a distinctly linear composition, and which are presented in a white room. Each piece of art is governed by Euclidian rules, such that, as Gem describes them, “the parallel lines join only in the infinity and where the shortest way between two points is the straight line.”

Even without this description, the depth of perspective within each of the pieces on display is clear; one is not so much looking at them as looking into them. It is as if each one is a window looking out over a vista of light and colour; a feeling heightened by some of the pieces having echoes of architecture about them, as if one is looking down upon futuristic high-rise buildings while passing overhead.

Not that the pieces are intended to represent buildings; rather they offer the infinite to us, and as such translate themselves into brightly lit highways stretching off into the future, a window of colour with the promise of knowledge and understanding yet to be found, opening off of the whiteness of all that we have learnt and absorbed to date.

Upstairs, in the second part of the exhibit, we find Genesis, and the differences couldn’t be more apparent. Here, in a blackened room, sit seven more pieces of Gem’s fractal art; these all depicting planets forming against a stellar blanket of stars, sitting under a slowly rotating galaxy, small worlds and Moons painted with images from Google Earth suspended in the spaces between them.

“These pieces,” Gem told me, “evoke the creation mysteries which remain beyond human knowledge, way more complex than our usual geometrical rules.” And they do; each image in this section is deeply evocative. Mathematics and digital processing may have created each of the worlds being formed in the seven paintings, but looking at them, it is hard not to imagine each world cradled in that hands of a Creator, its form being gently shaped and rolled, order emerging from chaos.

The idea of creator runs deeper still. As digital creations, each of these seven worlds has been authored, their creator being the artist himself. Thus the pieces resonate further, the comparisons between the work of the artist and the idea of a creative force behind the very universe itself become interwoven; there is majesty here.

Taken individually, Geometries – Genesis present two remarkable exhibitions of fractal art on their own; together they present a single whole which, while comprising two unique perspectives and styles of painting, are unified in both their form and in their representation of our civilisation-spanning quest to know and to understand, and – as Gem reminds us, the fact that Nature is not so simple to decipher as we may have once thought.

Geometries – Genesis opens on Monday September 1st, and will remain at the Galeria Mexico through until the end of September, alongside a number of other exhibitions hosted at the region-wide gallery.

Related Links