What’s in the Box? be a part of Santalarity and find out!

SantalaritySantalarity, the BURN2 seasonal event, will this year kick-off at 10:00 SLT on Saturday, December 13th ans run for 24 hours.

Santalarity is BURN2′s antithesis of the typical  rushed holiday season focused on profits and buying, on unrealistic expectations and joy found in aisle 3.

So reads the event’s press release, which continues:

Instead we ask, “What’s in the box?” What do we want to give? We invite you to come to the playa, to observe artists’ interpretations of these questions; to skate, dance, drum and be present when we Burn the Box. Before the Box is burned,  messages left by visitors to the playa will be read, which will express what they would like to give. To give without expectation of return. To give for the pure joy of giving.

The event itself will start with an initial drumming by the Lamplighters. The Box will burn twice during the event, at 12:00 noon SLT and again at 20:00 SLT.

Artists and builders wishing to participate in Santalarity by building to the theme of What’s in the Box.  Land plots are free, and applications should be made via the What’s in the Box application form.

DJs and live performers who would like to participate in the event are invited to submit their details through the Santalarity Performer sign-up form. Questions about performance scheduling should be addressed to the BURN2 Performance Lead, Larree Quixote in-world.

About BURN2

BURN2 is an extension of the Burning Man festival and community into the world of Second Life. It is an officially sanctioned Burning Man regional event, and the only virtual world event out of more than 100 real world Regional groups and the only regional event allowed to burn the man.

The BURN2 Team operates events year around, culminating in an annual major festival of community, art and fire in the fall – a virtual echo of Burning Man itself.

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Of Martian walkabouts, pictures from a comet, and getting ready to fly

CuriosityIn my last report on the Mars Science Laboratory, I mentioned that Curiosity has been on a geology “walkabout” up the slopes of the “Pahrump Hills” at the base of “Mount Sharp” (more correctly, Aeolis Mons). The zigzagging route up through the area took the rover from “Confidence Hills” and the location of the last drilling operation up to a point dubbed “Whale Rock”, the drive being used to gather information on potential points of interest for further detailed examination.

The exposed rocks in this transitional layering between the floor of Gale Crater, in which Curiosity arrived back in August 2012, and the higher slopes of “Mount Sharp” is expected to hold evidence about dramatic changes in the environmental evolution of Mars. Thus, the “walkabout”  – a common practice in field geology on Earth – was seen as the best means of carrying out a reasonable analysis of the area in order for the rover to be most efficiently targeted at specific locations of interest.

Curiosity’s walkabout, from “Confidence Hills” to “Whale Rock” in October, the rover is now working its way back to various points of interest for further studies

“We’ve seen a diversity of textures in this outcrop,” Curiosity’s deputy scientist Ashwin Vasavada (JPL) said of the drive. “Some parts finely layered and fine-grained, others more blocky with erosion-resistant ledges. Overlaid on that structure are compositional variations. Some of those variations were detected with our spectrometer. Others show themselves as apparent differences in cementation or as mineral veins. There’s a lot to study here.”

During the drive, Curiosity travelled some 110 metres, with an elevation of about 9 metres, using the Mastcam and the ChemCam (Chemistry and Camera) laser spectrometer system to inspect and test potential points of interest for more detailed examination at a later date. Since completing that drive, the rover has been working its way back through Pahrump Hills, this time examining specific targets using the robot-arm mounted Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera and spectrometer. Once this work has been completed, specific targets for in-depth analysis, including drilling for samples will for the core activity of a third pass through the area.

So far, two specific areas have been identified for detailed examination. The first, dubbed “Pelona” is a  fine-grained, finely layered rock close to the “Confidence Hills” drilling location. The second is a small erosion-resistant ridge dubbed “Pink Cliffs” the rover drove around on its way up the incline.

“Pink Cliffs” is roughly a metre (3ft) in length and appears to resist wind erosion more than the flatter plates around it.As such, it offers precisely the kind of mixed rock characteristics mission scientists want to investigate in order to better understand “Mount Sharp’s” composition. This image is a mosaic of 3 pictures captured on October 7th PDT, 2014 (Sol 771 for the rover) by Curiosity’s Mastcam. It has been white balanced to show the scene under normal Earth daylight lighting – click for full size.

Another target of investigation has been the edge of a series of sand and dust dunes right on the edge of “Pahrump Hills”.  In August 2014, Curiosity attempted to use these dunes as a means to more quickly access the “Pahrump Hills” area, but the effort had to be abandoned when it proved far harder for the rover to maintain traction than had been anticipated, particularly given the rover has successfully negotiated sandy dunes and ridges earlier in the mission. As a result, scientists are keep to understand more about the composition of the dunes.

On November 7th, Curiosity was ordered to venture onto the dunes very briefly in order to break the surface of one of the rippled dunes and expose the underlying layers of sand in an effort to better understand why the rover found the sand such hard going the first time around, and what might be within these wind-formed dunes that would prove to be so bothersome to driving over them. Data gathered from the drive is still being analysed.

Spanning roughly 1.2 metres from left to right, a wheel track breaks the surface of a dust sand dune ripple on the edge of “Pahrump Hiils”. The MSL science team hope the exposed material within the ripple will help them understand why Curiosity found these dunes hard-going when trying to cross them in August 2014.

The work in the “Pahrump Hills” area has given rise to concerns over one of the two lasers in the ChemCam instrument. As well as the main laser, known for “zapping” targets on the surface of Mars in order to reveal their chemical and mineral composition, the system uses a second laser, a continuous wave laser, used for focusing the ChemCam’s telescope to ensure the plasma flash of vaporised rock is properly imaged when the main laser fires. Data received on Earth when using the ChemCam to examine rocks on the first pass through “Pahrump Hills” suggests this smaller laser is weakening and may no longer be able to perform adequately.

If this is the case, the laser team plan to switch to using an auto-focus capability with the telescope so it will automatically focus itself on a few “targeting” shots from the main laser ahead of any data-gathering burst of fire, allowing for proper telescope calibration.

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SL project updates week 47/2: TPV Developer meeting

The following notes are drawn from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, November 21st, as shown in the video below, and from the Server Beta Meeting held on Thursday November 20th. Where relevant, timestamps are included in the article to allow for referencing to the video. My thanks as always to North for the recording.

SL Viewer

[01:10] RC and project viewers are starting to stack-up once more, and further viewers are on their way. The release channel currently has four RC viewers in it: HTTP Pipeline 3.7.21.296736; Snowstorm 3.7.21.296724; Maintenance 3.7.21.296734, and Attachments 3.7.21.296729.

HTTP Pipeline RC and Texture and Mesh Fetching

The HTTP Pipeline viewer appears to be performing better with the CDN than the current pipeline code for those encountering problems. However, further updates to the RC are likely before it reaches a release status.

[05:23] In general, texture and mesh fetching via the CDN continues to work well for most people, although the Lab are still investigating why it is not working so well for some. The hope is that further improvements will be forthcoming, but at the moment the work is still very much in progress.

Attachments RC Viewer

[07:55] Vir Linden has some further updates for the Attachments RC, which should help improve the predictability of getting the right appearance as you’re going through outfit changes. This work has been tested in a closed test viewer and the results are such that Vir hopes to pull them into the RC version of the viewer as soon as possible.

Benchmark Viewer RC

[02:33] A new Benchmark viewer (removal of the GPU table) should hopefully be released on Monday, November 24th (or shortly thereafter). This includes:

  • Further improvements to how the viewer initials sets graphics preferences for some GPU types
  • Address the crash-on-start-up issue which some users are encountering in the current release viewer (3.7.20.296094), and which appears to be related to the benchmark update.

Viewer Build Tools

[30:19] The Lab is making progress with compiling the viewer using the new build tool chains. The performance issues that resulted when building the Mac viewer (again, see my week 43 report), appear to have been resolved.

The work to build the windows version of the viewer using Visual Studio (VS) 2013 is going “really well”, with the Lab having almost all the packages ready to go – so much so that Oz believes that the Lab will have a version of the viewer built using VS2013 in week 48 (week commencing Monday, November 24th) – although this doesn’t necessarily mean said viewer will be publicly available.

As Microsoft have just issued Visual Studio Community 2013, which allows developers to create applications fro free, so long as they are not intended for commercial gain (and TPVs aren’t built to be sold), it is hoped at TPV developers will in future be able to builder their viewers with exactly the same software as the Lab,

In addition, the Lab is working on an internal wiki page for building with VS2103, which will likely go public when finished to sit alongside the existing wiki page on the new autobuild process.

Viewer-managed Marketplace

The Viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) project viewer, version 3.7.21.296858, was released on Friday, November 21st, together with information on the open beta testing for VMM on Aditi. I have provided coverage of this via a separate article in this blog, see:Viewer-managed Marketplace: beta testing and a look at the project viewer.

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Viewer-managed Marketplace: beta testing and a look at the project viewer

In October 2014, I reported on the viewer-managed Marketplace (VMM) project, which the lab has been developing for several months.

The aim of the project is to enable merchants to manage the creation and management of Marketplace product listing through the viewer, bypassing the need to use the Merchant Outbox (and have copies of items stored on the Marketplace inventory servers) or using Magic Boxes.

VMM does this by adding a new Marketplace Listing panel to to viewer, of which more below.

On Friday, November 21st, the Lab announced that wider beta testing of VMM is now ready to start on Aditi (the Beta grid). and is inviting merchants to download a new VMM project viewer they can use to test creating and managing product listing through the viewer.

Alongside of the announcement, the Lab also made available:

If you are a merchant and wish to test the VMM functionality, you’ll need to download and install the project viewer, and use one of the following three test regions on Aditi: ACME D; ACME E and ACME F. Using the viewer anywhere else can generate error messages when first logging-in (designed to indicate VMM is not available, and which will not interfere with using the viewer for other activities).

If you’ve never logged-into Aditi, please refer to the instructions on how to do so on the beta grid wiki page.

You may also wish to be logged-in to the Aditi Marketplace place.

When testing VMM, remember that it is not intended to enable all Marketplace-related activities through the viewer. Rather, it is intended to allow merchants to create new Marketplace listings with inventory, associate inventory with an existing Marketplace listing, remove items from a listing and unlist goods entirely. All other Marketplace activities will still have to be carried out within the Marketplace itself.

Also note that at present there is a bug within the Aditi Marketplace that will cause purchases to fail. The Lab is working to address this, and it shouldn’t interfere with testing VMM to create and modify product listings.

The following notes are intended to get you started with the project viewer and beta testing, please refer to the Lab’s VMM FAQ for other pertinent information.

The Marketplace Listings Panel

An active Marketplace Listings panel showing the four tabs used to manage inventory

An active Marketplace Listings panel showing the four tabs used to manage inventory

The heart of the viewer-managed Marketplace is the new new Marketplace Listing panel within the viewer. This will eventually replace the Merchant Outbox,  although both are provided in the project viewer.

The Marketplace Listing panel allows a merchant to carry out a number of Marketplace tasks from within the viewer, such as:  create a new product listing, modify a listing, change the items associated with a listing, etc.

It does this by enabling merchants to directly associate products in their inventory with product item listings on the Marketplace, eliminating the need to either upload copies of products to the Marketplace inventory servers via the Merchant Outbox or, in the case of limited stock No Copy items, having them stored in-world in a Magic Box. When a customer purchases an item listed via VMM, it is delivered to them directly from the Lab’s asset servers.

This does mean that care must be taken when handing product items in inventory in order to avoid occidentally deleting items associated with Marketplace listings. To help with this, the folder associated with the Marketplace Listing panel remain hidden from view (as far as is possible) when working directly in the inventory .

Google Form

The first time you open the Marketplace Listing panel, it may display the following message:

This feature is currently in beta. Please add you name to this Google form if you would like to participate

Should this happen, click on the link to go to the Google form and enter your merchant name (or names). When you relog with the project viewer (and assuming you are in one of the VMM test regions) the Marketplace listing panel will be good to go – see my overview later in this article).

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