Global Youth Engineering Climate Conference 2021

The Global Youth Engineering Climate Conference 2021 (GYECC21) online virtual event took place on 7th and 8th September 2021 with exhibits and facilities being available thereafter until 12-Nov-2021. Over 4,000 attendees for some 100 countries joined the event. Use #GYECC21 in social media posts. Access facilities via

The virtual event platform used is “Beehive” (

See also

A few observations on the Beehive platform:

  1. The animated “Eco-Park” orientation approach and entry to the various areas works well and is easy to use and navigate. Watch out for “Nessy”.
  2. The “Points” system encourages exploration of the exhibits and galleries as well as use of the collaborative aspects of the platform.
  3. When an attendee tries to set up a 1-1 meeting, there was no means I could see to message them to better arrange mutually convenient times, or discuss in advance the topic of the proposed conversation.
  4. When trying to suggest an alternative time for 1-1 meetings for someone who had previously suggested a meeting, the time slot selector briefly flas
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360° Snapshots in Second Life

On 21st October 2021, the 360° Snapshot “Project Viewer” became a Release Candidate as version

linden-lab-360-snapshot Since 2016 a Second Life “Project Viewer” has been under development by Linden Lab that allows for the creation of 360° snapshots in Second Life virtual world scenes (see this earlier blog post). After a period of inactivity, a new version was released on September 3rd, 2021.

The 360° Project Viewer allows for the capture of 360° panorama (equirectangular) snapshots which can be saved to the users’ local computer and then viewed or shared via social media streams, uploaded to sites that support 360° images such as Flickr, or viewed in VR for example via the “360 Photos” app for Oculus Rift. The facility can be accessed via the Viewer menu “World” -> “360 Snapshot”. For convenience, a User Interface button can be added to the menu bar to provide access to the 360° Snapshot Tool, or a link off the standard 2D snapshot tool also opens the 360° tool.

Set a suitable viewer distance for what you want to capture, and I find it best to look round and ensure all content is concurrently visible without refreshing as you look round. Try increasing the viewer cache size if it doesn’t.

Image Quality Choices

All 360° images are created as 4096×2048, 24-bit colour and 96dpi. The quality settings vary in the JPEG image quality saved setting, and hence the file size. All image quality levels looked crisp except for “Preview” which appears blurry.

Click on Thumbnails Below to View Example 360° Images on Flickr

l360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210903_214710 sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210903_214749
sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210903_214710 sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210904_101116
sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210904_101116 sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20210904_101317

The above 360° images can also be viewed in this Flickr Photostream.

Issues Remaining with Second Life Project Viewer

  1. The “Preview” quality settings appears blurry in all instances. Perhaps a refinement to the quality being created here to make it the minimum that would appear crisp would be useful.
  2. When using the “Maximum” quality image setting, a few times some objects in view, such as a sailboat, was only partially rendered. Dropping to the next level down “High” quality appeared to render fine.
  3. The 6 sides of the cube “skybox” that are created to form the image can show clear demarcation lines at the sides of the faces… especially when the sky light varies a lot between the directions. The sea level can also appear with a straight edge and corner where the sides of the cube meet. See example to right.

Images from 360° Snapshot Project Viewer

sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20211022_141531 sl360_Damiano_4096x2048_2048_20211022_141603

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Space:1999 Moonbase Alpha Technical Operations Manual

Launch video for Space:1999 Technical Operations Manual by Chris Thompson and Andrew Clements… due for release in October 2021 via Anderson Entertainment.

Starlog Moonbase Alpha Technical Notebook

Released via Starlog Magazine in 1977 as a mail order item.

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Abba Avatars

50 years after their initial formation and 40 years after their last performances together, Swedish super-group Abba are back with a new album and a virtual reality concert planned to start in London’s Olympic Park in May 2022. Avatars created by Industrial Light & Magic and a team of graphics artists have created the Abba as they appeared in 1979 using motion capture by the four members of group themselves: Agnetha, Anni-Frid, Benny and Björn… Abba Voyage

Abba Avatars

Motion capture by Industrial Light and Magic. Image by Baille Walsh

Abba Voyage Motion Capture

Abba Voyage Arena – London

Abba Avatars Technology

Back in 2019, the web site GraphicNews had an infographic that described the likely projection technology to be used for the show. Click here for Infographic.

Track from Abba Voyage Album – I Still Have Faith in You

Extra Trailer for Abba Concert and Avatars – 4-Nov-2021

Update 30-Apr-2022: Dolce & Gabbana Costume Designs for Abbatars

Update: 2-May-2022 – Abba Avatar Images from @AbbaVoyage

Update: 17-May-2022 – Abba Avatar Images from @AbbaVoyage

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Future Culture Edinburgh

Can we collectively reimagine Edinburgh’s cultural ecosystem and its future?

A mixed-reality workshop broadcast from Leith Theatre, Edinburgh with online participants via Zoom, organised by the Edinburgh Futures Institute. was used to allow brainstorm style input from participants… []

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Second Life – New Account Sign Up Experience

This is feedback after trying for myself the recently changed new account sign up web experience after receiving comments from professional colleagues joining Second Life for the first time, and being surprised at unsuitability for their purposes for the starter avatar they were given without choice BEFORE they were logged in, were visible to others, and used the appearance and avatar selection facilities. An issue seems to be the lack now of a selection of a starter avatar closer to their purpose and preferences BEFORE entering in world, as used to be the case (see this blog post of the process in 2016). [Note added: it is possible to use an alternative ne user sign up experience provided by Firestorm Viewer team. see ]

There seems to be no mention you have to go to e-mail and check that for the verification mail that is there. The viewer just says could not log you in!

Initially I could not log into the viewer the password accepted at account creation time, so thought that the password I had used must be wrong. I had remembered it correctly, as I could log in to the web account page. BUT when I came to change the password on the web it kept complaining the password was not suitable. I had to add more special characters and complexity than the instructions of a suitable password indicated before it was accepted. When that was accepted on the web page it also worked in the viewer. So there is some mismatch between viewer checks and account creation checks in terms of password complexity allowed (as at 30-Aug-2021).

The new avatar arrives at a “Welcome Island” where a few orientation areas allow the new avatar to get used to the environment. A “Guidebook” is displayed in the viewer to walk the new user through the initial essential things of movement and interaction between objects and other avatars. the Guidebook and tutorials can be recalled at any point via a button in the viewer, and the user can return to a version of the Welcome (Back) Island – not the original one so new users are protected from hassle).

The initially allocated avatar seems to be arbitrary. Though feedback from colleagues indicates a single choice for female (shopping girl!), male (orange shirted 70’s bloke) and Chris (for no Gender/Non-binary) seem to be the avatars appearing on the starter/welcome region. I understand avatar appearance and complete avatar selection can be altered in the viewer, but a lot of users may be unhappy with the initial allocation in terms of look, shape, skin colour, etc. My colleagues say they also feel under pressure at this point as they are aware they are in a place where they are seen by others. Removing the avatar selection carousel may not suit everyone. Maybe show the initial avatar choices or a “select later in world” option at account creation time? Or fundamentally change the initial process to use a personal “changing room” space BEFORE joining any public space.

I could not see an area where Linden Lab sought feedback after I logged in with the new avatar.

Details After Some Use

As soon as I began to obtain some of the avatar items and complete avatars, I realised that all empty folders in the inventory were not (by default) displayed. That meant when it came to amending or making a new shape the “Body Parts” folder was not visible to place these items in and to encourage organised inventory for new users from the start. This can be changed by the user, but is not obvious to new users.

It is also the case that opening group and friends tools to participate in social events is quite deeply buried. Placing these choices on the right-click context menu for the avatar (as it was for many years until recently) would be helpful.

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This blog post is to support a short project to have University of Edinburgh Information Services (IS) folks get started with (or return to) Second Life as part of the handover of some of the work with the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) from Austin Tate (avatar Ai Austin) who has acted as the Coordinator for Vue from 2007.

Vue is a virtual educational and research institute bringing together all those interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach related to the University of Edinburgh.

Project Aim from IS

Stuart Nicol on 24-Aug-2021: “I was thinking about getting some people in my team more up to speed with Second Life/OpenSim. One way to do this would be to get a couple of folks to work on a practical experiment. I’d like to set up a virtual office in SL as we return to our physical office … by setting up something akin to the approach used in the Vue virtual graduations (a screen in the office showing SL and avatars of those working at home, and a video feed of the physical office being displayed in SL). I’ve identified a couple of people who are willing to help with this, and was wondering if you would be able to advise them on how to set this up? It would mean that they begin to get up to speed and we would be in a better place in relation to keeping some knowledge of the environment.”


I think its a good idea to start in Second Life to gain experience. They can install the official Linden Lab viewer, but (later) I would suggest though that your team use the Firestorm viewer rather than the official Linden Lab one. FS is the most widely used viewer in SL but also has the advantage that a version of that same viewer also can be used on both SL and for the open source OpenSim grids. Both can co-exist anyway.

When you first enter Second Life there will be a welcome/tutorial area to help you get started. But here is some info and a short video…

Have ONE of the users register in SL with a “Premium Account”? It can be done monthly ($12), but my suggestion is to do it as one annual payment as its quite a bit cheaper… $99

This will allow that user to have a 1024sq.m. plot on a LL region without further payment… such as one of the Linden Homes in various styles.. like the houseboat I have. I think this is a good way to get a simple start and it can easily be changed later to a different style or to a custom use mainland plot (you just abandon the plot you already may have first), or even a private island like we used to have.

The rest can use free accounts. I will suggest a group is set up to link these folks. The premium user will get L$1000 (about US$4) as a starter fund and L$300 a week to have some funds if needed to buy items. Some free items for avatars can be found at helping Haven Gateway in Second Life at its “Freebie Village” via this link…

With that in place I can maybe join the folks in world and help them set up the office/base to support the group, rather than just the individual owner) and set up a media screen that should support the video stream inwards.

OpenSim can follow along if things work out… maybe by setting up an addon region in OSGrid to replicate what is set up in SL, but maybe starting with the OpenVCE collaboration region content as an initial setup.

Locations, Avatars & Groups

Temporary meeting place: Ai Austin’s Houseboat (Linden Lab Home):

Ai Austin
Gallagher Glenfadden
Nico Halfpint

Vuer (open group for anyone interested)
Vue Associates (Project group including people outside UoE)
Vue Development (Vue builders group)
Vue Experimental (Vue experiments group) [Used for this experiment]
Vue Maintenance (Vue estate managers and administrators)

Sample Video Live Streams

The aim is to link a real world space in IS via video into Second Life workspace and vice versa. We can explore a suitable format to use to play in world, but pretty much anything that will play in Google Chrome will work (as SL uses the Google Chromium Embedded Framework (CEF) library to play content on inworld media surfaces.)

E.g. for a YouTube Livestream – use the embed/<video>?autoplay=1 form:

SpaceX Starbase Nerdle Cam:

Temporary Facilities for Meetings in Second Life

A number of Open Educational Resources (OERs) are available in Second Life to set up Vue facilities. See the blog posts Vue -> Openvue and Vue and OpenVCE OERs.

Vue Resources in Unity

The Vue continent 3D models have also been ported to Unity (and could be made available as a loadable .unitypackage) and via that to MMOs such as Sinespace (see this blog post).

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Clever Zebra – OpenSim Assets

An updated version of the OpenVCE OAR file has been provided at 27-Feb-2022 in

The OpenVCE project ( contracted with Clever Zebra to produce the OpenVCE collaboration region virtual world assets for Second Life and OpenSim. Those assets are available under the Lesser GPL open source licence via or

The original Clever Zebra open source assets under the CC-BY-NC licence are archived at and this includes an OpenSim Archive File (OAR) file which can be loaded onto an OpenSim region using “load oar” region console command.

The OpenVCE assets are described in this readme file…

OpenVCE Virtual World Assets
Version: 1.3
Revision Date: 13-Aug-2009 (Second Life and OpenSim locations updated 19-Jul-2021)

Description: Freely available buildings, landscaping elements and textures to support the creation of collaborative and other facilities in virtual worlds such as Second Life and OpenSim.


The licence details and credits should remain attached to the assets.

Open source under the GNU Lesser General Public License (Version 3,
29 June 2007) for maximum flexibility and re-use potential.

The OpenVCE approach makes use of modular components from many other open source contributors and communities, and are available under their respective licences. Most parts are available from their normal open source download site.


Design and Development: Clever Zebra (
Design Inputs from AIAI, University of Edinburgh (Austin Tate, Stephen Potter)

The development of these resources was supported by a grant from the OpenVCE project (


OpenVCE web assets are available at:

Second Life OpenVCE assets are available via the Second Life Marketplace:

OpenSimulator OpenVCE assets are available on the OpenVCE region on OSGrid at hop://

Contact: and

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Skateboarding in Scotland in 1978 and 1979

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics (actually run in 2021 due to the COVID-19 epidemic) introduced Skateboarding Freestyle and Park Riding into the event list for the first time. It reminded me to go back over some of the early championships run in Scotland and at UK and European level back in 1978-1980.

I was Competitions Secretary for some of these events and Secretary for the Scottish Skateboard Association at the time as well as a skateboarder in the Edinburgh University Skateboard Club. We were fortunate to have excellent park/bowl riding facilities in Glasgow at Kelvingrove Park (see this short movie from the time) and in Livingstone, both of which had enlightened and enthusiastically supportive Recreations & Parks departments. A few of the competition programmes and competition regulations used at that time are reproduced here.


Click on any thumbnail image to see the full resolution version.

1978 Scottish Skateboard Championships

1979 Scottish Skateboard Championships

1979 1st UK Open Skateboard Championships

Congratulations Telegram to 1st UK Open Skateboard Championships Organisers from Rolling Thunder Skatepark, London

1980 Scottish Skateboard Championships

1978 Scottish Skateboard Association Competition Rules

1978 Scottish Skateboard Association Competition Rules
(click for PDF version)

The 1979 revised competition regulations added extra details and appendices for Park/Bowl Riding and Freestyle competitions along with the naming of tricks and their degree of difficulty.

1978 Scottish Skateboard Association Proficiency/Skatepark Grading Scheme

1979 Scottish Skateboard Association Competition Rules

1979 Scottish Skateboard Association Competition Rules
(click for PDF version)

SSA Badge and Competitor’s Registration Card

SSA – Annual Report 1977-78

SSA – Annual Report 1978-79

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Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.21

Firestorm 6.4.21 + P373R VR Mod: This build includes P373R’s VR Mod 6.3.3 changes merged into Firestorm release branch. No change to the VR Mod code is needed. It is created using “GitHub Actions” (GHA) thanks to @humbletim. See latest release at

The user instructions are identical to Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.12 which is described at

Update March 2022: Jumbled VR Initialisation Text:

I have noted that Ctrl+Tab to start the SteamVR/HMD device software sometimes shows jumbled letters for the VR driver initialisation message, and once that occurs using Tab to launch VR mode does not give a VR display in the HMD.

After some experimentation, I found that after starting Firestorm VR Mod, rather than going straight to Cltrl+Tab to set up for VR devices, I dismiss the message with tab, and THEN do a Ctrl+Tab the full message without missing letters immediately appears, and SteamVR/Oculus is launched and when the Tab is then used the VR mod works properly.

This may be a temporary situation and could be related to driver updates or SteamVR changes, but if you see the same thing, try the Tab and then Ctrl+Tab sequence to see if that also works for you.

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Blue Origin First Human Flight

Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk, and Oliver Daemen have become the first humans to fly in Blue Origin’s New Shepard from the West Texas launch site. Funk, an 82-year-old aviation pioneer, became the oldest person to fly in space. Daemen, an 18-year-old Dutch student, became the youngest.

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Open Educational Resources – Vue and OpenVCE

This is a blog post to support resources from the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) and Open Virtual Collaboration Environment (OpenVCE) activities to make them available on Contact – Stephanie Farley (Charlie). Downloads available are in


Vue is a virtual educational and research institute bringing together all those interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach related to the University of Edinburgh.

Even before Second Life began to be used across the University of Edinburgh in 2007, groups in Business Studies, Education and Artificial Intelligence/Informatics had been exploring virtual worlds platforms for a range of collaboration, educational and research project uses. Early Multi-User Dimensions (MUDs), platforms (now long gone) such as “There” and commercial virtual world simulators such as “Forterra” had been in use, and Second Life itself had been used even in its very earliest incarnation.

The following blog post indicates what Vue usage there has been of Virtual Worlds…

The original Second Life Vue regions used from 2007 to 2019 are no longer maintained, but resources are available to use any available space in Second Life and a similar set of facilities are available on the OpenSimulator Platform and in some other experimental virtual worlds platforms…

Virtual Worlds Regions and Content

The Openvue “mini-continent” contains 12 256mx256m regions…

The lower right hand corner contains the “OpenVCE” (Open Virtual Collaboration Environment) region created by us and made available an an open educational resource that anyone can obtain and use in Second Life or OpenSim (see this blog post). It is also available as a selectable starter region on a range of OpenSim hosting platforms.

Open Educational Resources – Vue

Available via

  • OpenSim OAR (OpenSimulator Archive File) and terrain (.png and .f32 formats) for each region in the Vue “continent” as originally mounted on Second Life.
  • Extra OpenSim OARs and terrain files. Edinburgh is a variant of the Edinburgh Uplands region with “Edinburgh Castle” and “High Street” content that can stand alone. Sea-Vue is a simple region with only water and can be used for infill between other regions where useful.
  • Male and Female “Bots” avatars.
  • Second Life Marketplace – Ai Austin Store – resources to create temporary facilities on Second Life sandboxes or other areas where they are allowed to build.

Open Educational Resources – OpenVCE

OpenVCE content for Second Life is available via the Second Life Marketplace:

OpenVCE content for Opensim is available via

  • OpenSim OAR of all core elements and buildings.
  • OpenSim OAR of a pre-arranged collaboration region.
  • Presentation screen adjustments to scripts.
  • Readme and LGPL licence.

OpenVCE is also available as an OAR that can be loaded into a region on DreamGrid, one of the largest OpenSim distributions.

You can visit an OpenVCE region on OSGrid (free avatar via at

  • hop://

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Virgin Galactic – Unity 22 Mission

On 11th July 2021 Virgin Galactic plans flew its first fully crewed mission in “VSS Unity” spaceplane launched from under the carrier aircraft “VMS Eve”. The crew included Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic. See this press release for more details. Welcome to the next phase of the Space Age.

Also win a trip to space with Virgin Galactic via Omaze –

Congratulations, Keisha S. from Antigua & Barbuda who won the prize. She said her daughter would accompany her on the flight.

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New (Virtual) University of Edinburgh

Austin Tate has acted as the Coordinator for the Virtual University of Edinburgh (Vue) since 2007 and acts as the administrator for the various collaboration facilities. These notes are intended as resources to assist in the transition of the assets and resources to a new Coordinator for Vue.

Vue is a virtual educational and research institute bringing together all those interested in the use of virtual worlds for teaching, research and outreach related to the University of Edinburgh.

Even before Second Life began to be used across the University in 2007, groups in Business Studies, Education and Artificial Intelligence/Informatics had been exploring virtual worlds platforms for a range of collaboration, educational and research project uses. Platforms (now long gone) such as “There” and commercial virtual world simulators such as “Forterra” had been in use, and Second Life itself had been used even in its very earliest incarnation.

The following blog post indicates what Vue usage there has been of Virtual Worlds…

Green Technology, Virtual Reality (VR) and Intelligent Teaching Spaces

Virtual worlds can play into a range of learning technologies that the University could be interested in longer term. Hybrid or mixed-reality meetings to reduce the carbon/travel impact of academic conferences, workshops, project meetings and interviews, project expo spaces, use of VR, intelligent instrumented supportive teaching spaces with AI virtual assistants, etc.

2014-09-09-Ai-Austin-with-Rift-DK2 2010-05-13-Train-for-Success-1

Virtual Worlds Platforms for Vue

The original Second Life Vue regions used from 2007 to 2019 are no longer maintained, but resources are available to use any available space in Second Life and a similar set of facilities are available on the OpenSimulator Platform and in some other experimental virtual worlds platforms…

The OpenSim Openvue “mini-continent” contains 12 256mx256m regions…

The lower right hand corner contains the “OpenVCE” (Open Virtual Collaboration Environment) region created by us and made available an an open educational resource that anyone can obtain and use in Second Life or OpenSim (see this blog post). It is also available as a selectable starter region on a range of OpenSim hosting platforms.

Vue Collaboration Facilities

Vue Regional Planning Authority (VRPA)

The rather grandly named “Vue Regional Planning Authority” (VRPA)* is a small group of people from across the University of Edinburgh who raised funds for the Second Life and OpenSim Vue regions and servers and were involved in the design and creation of the facilities. The group continues to be involved in explorations of other virtual world platforms in their own Schools, groups and across the University for the potential benefit of others. [] [Admin:]

*name suggested by Hamish Macleod.

Making Fresh OSGrid Addon Regions

A new set of regions could be created with new region owner avatar(s) and content restored via save and load OAR (OpenSim Archive files) which are now archive on open.ed.

Temporary region names would be used, but once the new regions are established and running well, the original Vue addon regions on OSGrid can be closed down, and then the new regions can be renamed to their original counterparts.

Continuation of Second Life Capabilities

I-Room-2007-08-23-IX-2 I-Room-2007-08-23-IX-3-new

The University and Schools no longer own specific regions in Second Life, but a foothold could be achieved by having a small home/office setup. This could perhaps be most effectively done by having a user (normally free) become a Premium Member (approx. US$99 per annum) which gives a weekly stipend of around US$1.25 per week and allows a 1024sq.m. personal space with options for a range of prebuilt home styles (Linden Homes), e.g. such as this “Houseboat” style used by Ai Austin.

Making a Fresh Openvue Grid

Over time the databases and content for the OpenSim-based Openvue and the Vue regions added onto the openly accessible OSGrid have grown and an occasional tidy up can be be beneficial to ensure only truly accessible content and active avatar users are included and the data base size is reduced. As at July 2021 the Openvue MySQL data base when dumped to an SQL file as a backup is 18GB. There are 36 avatars included, quite a few of which are inactive.

A new OpenSim “ROBUST” grid can be set up with a new administrator and a single new region owned by the new administrator. This can become the welcome or landing region for the new grid. The grid and any regions can be renamed later. Further regions and active content can then be added via recreating the key content owning users (create user with previous UUID) and loading their inventories (via save and load IAR – Inventory Archive files) and then setting up the regions afresh and restoring their content (via save and load OAR). Once the new grid is established and running well, the original Openvue grid can be closed down.

Issues for the Future

To improve security, the University of Edinburgh may not permit non-central services staff to run or manage services and applications accessible outside of the University and may require use only by internal users or those with login access via VPN to This could mean that OpenSim Hypergrid access to external users and potential external visitors to meetings or viewing content held on OpenSim (Openvue) would not be able to gain access.

OpenSim Openvue grid and OSGrid Vue regions make use of a free vivix voice license that was offered to educators, non-profits and small grids on a free basis. Vivox is now owned by Unity and they have announced that new free licenses will not be offered. Voice is an important facility cor Vue uses of virtual worlds. An alternative may have to be found in future. Dome people have experimented with self hosted open source “Freeswitch” servers for voice.

Notes on Security for OSGrid Regions Running in

To enable discussions about the risk of running OSGrid addon regions in,uk or the following notes might be helpful.

OSGrid is the main development, testing and community hub for and provides free avatar registration for users. It is a non-commercial grid that runs on community support and donations. It allows self hosted regions to be added in a simple way. OSGrid central servers and the core databases are hosted in the USA. OSGrid allows a simple way for anyone to host their own add on regions and manage that virtual world space. Users agree to the terms and conditions of usage centrally and their details are not managed at all locally by regions. For each region one port (typically port 9000 and upwards for more than one region) has to be accessible for TCP and UDP. Local regions can set a very wide range of policies for users to their own regions, e.g., to allow access to members of specific users or groups, prevent local building. etc, and even close the region completely when needed. The default policies have safe limits on what scripts can run and are set to prevent external interaction with the underlying operating system.

Posted in OpenSim, Virtual World | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Virgin Orbit Launcher One

Virgin Orbit launched their first commercial orbital mission on 30th June 2021 following a successful orbital test mission in January 2021. The mission was called “Tubular Bells Pt. 1”.

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Nebula 75: a day of puppets at the University of Hull

Hosted by the University of Hull on 27th may 2021, there was a live screening, Q&A, discussion and live onstage filming re-creation of a key scene with the team behind the web series Nebula 75, which was created during the Corvid-19 lockdown of Spring/Summer 2020. The productions uses ‘Supermarionation’ puppetry techniques originally developed by Gerry Anderson and Sylvia Anderson as well as the ‘Superisolation’ techniques that the team developed themselves by necessity as the series was recorded in their London flat.

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BIS Event – Ron Miller – Space Artist

Ron Miller gave a presentation at the British Interplanetary Society (BIS) online event on 19th May 2021 (web page). Ron Miller is an internationally acclaimed artist who is focussed on space themes. I have been a fan of his work since the 1990s when I got his book with William K. Hartmann entitled “Grand Tour – Traveller’s Guide to the Solar System” and later books.

“Long Distance Traveller – the Life and Work of Space Artist Ron Miller”

Replay of the event on the BIS YouTube Channel:

During the presentation and discussion Ron described some of his techniques and tools. Having started off with traditional painting techniques, he changed to digital art. He typically takes 3 to 4 days for each image. Much of teh work is done in Photoshop, but for some elements he composes into the scenes he uses a range of methods and tools. GHe uses TerraGen to create some landscapes as 3D models. He also uses 3D models of spacecraft, such as NASA models. He has 3D printed some parts to photograph and include in compositions. Recently for his own interest he went back to using traditional painting in acrylic for some images.

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Shane Pickering – Supercar Cutaway Take Two

Shane Pickering, a graphic artist and private pilot in New Zealand, in the late 1990s worked on schematics and internal details for Supercar compatible with the TV shows and annuals. Details in this blog post (20-Jan-2016). We had a lot of exchanges about plausible internals for Supercar taking into account many references in the TV shows and (mostly) using plausible aerospace concepts with a bit of advanced technology known only to the research community of the time. Remember the late 1950s and early 1960s was the age of the hypersonic X-15 rocket plane, Harrier VTOL Jump Jets and the SR-71 Blackbird!

Now Shane is carrying on the work he started two decades ago by producing a technical “cutaway” based on the detailed schematics.

Supercar Cutaway – Solid Shell Base – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Preview of Wing & Fin Framework – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Preview of Supercar Cutaway – Nose Cone – Work in Progress – Shane Pickering 2021

Shane’s Modifications to Supercar Model

Shane has modified the details of the Supercar model based on improved resources, and these largely coincide with similar improvements in accuracy compared to the puppet-scale studio model as incorporated by Mick Imrie in his “Take Two” Supercar 3D model as described in this blog post (23-Feb-2021).

  • Nosecone enlarged and intake fins straightened and skinnier (I haven’t reduced the width of the front intake as that is fairly major and would need some major “redrawing”.
  • Nosecone spike corrected for a closer match to Mick’s model – spike is straight not tapered as per my notes (Mick corrected me there).
  • White/silver upper panels lengthened and reshaped towards the front, front lights enlarged, more curvature added, rotated and moved forward.
  • All of the chrome trim changed to gold and dash trims either side of the Clear-Vu made the same length.
  • Windscreen rubber seal straightened over top of the Clear-Vu and more rounded running off to the side to connect to the front canopy frame.
  • Right-hand corner of the Clear-Vu rounded off a bit and the shape altered based on frame grabs.
  • Thin grey line added onto the top FlexiGlass to explain the “seam” – those little canopy supports (added to the rear frame) can be explained as part of the seal mechanism (this is sitting on a separate layer so it can be removed if you prefer).
  • Interior and rear seat inserts changed to similar dark grey; (I now know the rest of the interior incl. the bask seats are actually blue – I experimented with that and frankly it looked awful (what were they thinking)??? As it was in B/W, I guess no-one would notice. 🙂
  • For the sake of consistency and accuracy, I’ve reshaped the back seats and removed half the “buttons”, again based on frame grabs. I’ve curved the white front seat strips a little to give the illusion of them having more shaped padding rather than flat), again based on the frame grabs.
  • Not too sure about adding the exposed piping/tubing visible in some interior shots (between the front and back seats on the sides) – I can show that as part of the cutaway for a bit more interest (I can see they lifted a lot of that straight out of old fighter jets of the period). Ugh – hide it behind some panels.
  • Left front hull contour slightly “straightened” from the side intakes forward, but I haven’t altered it heading rearward. Instead, I’ve reshaped and flared out the lower part of the side intake where it connects to the hull. The lower step has been slightly altered but the upper step and heat extractor vanes are unchanged.
  • Stretched the line of the wings a little where they go into the hull to create the illusion they’re a little higher and thinned down the “hole” they slide into, also to make it look as they’re on the upper curvature of the hull and also a tighter fit; I haven’t repositioned the wings but just added a little more onto the rear of the wings.
  • Wing pods completely redrawn to more closely match Mick’s new model; they’re shorter with flattened ends and the spike is a closer match.
  • Four rear jets have been slightly reshaped (more curve on the top).
  • The left tail fin strake thickened a little near the rear cockpit frame to give it a more uniform shape than what I drew previously.
  • Second fuel filler added to right hand side and redrawn the left as domed rather than the octagonal shape I had earlier.
  • Trim across the top of the front seat back widened.
  • Now I haven’t touched the canopy/frame (for good reason); Mick and I concluded that was quite a bit off in the original but would require a major redraw at my end (i.e. its longer and shorter towards the rear frame).

Overall, about 70% of this rendering has been altered compared to the original, and much more carefully drawn. Overall, I think it’s a big improvement and a more accurate representation over the original.

Supercar Fuselage Side Logo

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Blue Origin – First Seat

Blue Origin ( is to auction the first seat on a crewed flight to space on the New Shepherd rocket and capsule planned tor 20th July 2021 with the proceeds of the auction being donated to the Club for the Future ( charity to inspire future generations to pursue careers in STEM and to help invent the future of life in space. The flight is a ballistic trajectory similar to that flown by Alan Shepherd, the first American into space 60 years ago.

Note: There are 29 A4 pages of Terms and Conditions, privacy notice and other information on the multi-step and US$10,000 deposit process to raise your bid limit to be competitive.

Bidding Status at 20-May-2021 – Highest Bid at $2.8m

Winning Bid

The final winning bid was for US$28m.

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Earth Day- Vangelis

Earth Day – 22nd April 2021 – Space Rocks – Vangelis

I have been a fan of Vangelis since hearing his track “Alpha” (from Albedo 0.39) on the collection of music loved by Carl Segan when he was on BBC Radio’s “Desert Island Discs” and used by him on his TV Series “Cosmos”. Vangelis has been a soundtrack to future sounds in films like Blade Runner, and in composing pieces for space missions like NASA’s Mars Odyssey (Mythodea) and ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander.

Vangelis VEVO Channel on YouTube

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Trying to make sense of Black Rock Laboratory

The fictional base in the Nevada desert for the team in Gerry Anderson’s Supercar TV series is called Black Rock Laboratory. For 3D modellers it is a nightmare as many of the sets used in the TV series are separate filmed elements and do not sit well together or fit sensibly into the external envelope for the lab. The lab exterior only appeared as a drawing in series one.


This was replaced by a miniature model built by Derek Meddings in series two. The series two model added an extra concrete reinforced blockhouse on one end, and it might be that Derek did this to house the control room which protrudes beyond the roll up garage door as seen from the inside of the hanger.


Mick Imrie built a 3D model of the core Supercar hanger part of the lab interior to try to make sense of this… and Austin Tate built a simple exterior model to fit this in. The lab is arranged in 5 segments: two contain living accommodation, then two over the Supercar hanger floor area with roof door overhead, and then a final segment over the control room. There is a block of smaller rooms along the front of the lab and a separate smaller building with the radar dish on top.

Images of the Interior Looking Towards the Control Room

Images of the Control Room Position and Roll Up Garage Doors

Some TV images do allow (with a bit of imagination) for an interpretation that the “internal” roll up garage door leads to an area that is still within the lab space and is not directly to the outside. And that the outside door is different to the inside one…

Unfortunately external plants show in the image from the outside viewpoint, as confirmed by a wider shot in the Runaway Train episode.

Assumptions for Modelling of Black Rock Laboratory

  1. The Supercar hanger area is very well shown in the TV series and if at all possible its visual appearance and layout ought to be preserved.
  2. That means that the Control Room is within the floorplan of the main laboratory rather than being housed in the blockhouse added for season two.
  3. That also necessitates a double garage door arrangement.
  4. The door to Beaker’s Laboratory appears to lead directly outside unless an extended lab space of approx. 1.7m single storey area is added behind the lab.

Trying to Make Sense of This

The sets used for filming were often separate or rolled into position depending on the camera angle. So, of course there are a number of problems with the Black Rock Lab layout as used in our models to date…

  1. From an inside view of the lab, the roll up slatted “garage” doors are flush with the front of the control room, whereas on the exterior they are situated on the end wall.
  2. If the control room is set where shown in the TV stills, then the interior part of it cannot sit back into the blockhouse, which would have made some sense as a protected location.
  3. Dr. Beaker’s lab door is alongside the high voltage equipment area, but that would lead directly outside the lab. The “Laboratory” door would have to lead to a corridor width passage behind it and then access to the right to a room alongside the control room for this to make sense.
  4. Position of the elevator must be in corner somewhere to the left of the AVGAS hose door, but it does not show in TV stills showing the control room wall. Perhaps it could be there but hidden by the “internal” roll up garage door when that was closed.
  5. The elevator shown in “Tracking of Masterspy” and “Talisman of Sargon” shows an indicator for 4 levels whereas the lab is a 2 storey building over a basement area. Masterspy also appears to come DOWN from Level 3 which he refers to as the “gallery” when he steals into the Lab.
  6. After the “Rescue” episode Jimmy Gibson is shown in a bedroom that looks out through the double doors under the gallery to the Supercar hanger floor area, whereas in other episodes a corridor is behind those double doors.

Revised Black Rock Laboratory Plan

Firstly lets change our current 3D model to more closely resemble tge season two model by repositioning the blockhouse more centrally on the end wall and making its floor plan square, and widen the block of bedrooms or offices at the front of the lab a little to allow space for a corridor. And show a possible area where the basement sits (in red). Some adjustment to the radar/communications block upper structure and the upper windows in our original 3D model building also needs to be made.

The main externally visible change is the addition of approx. 1.7m of extra space for Dr. Beaker’s Laboratory at the back of the building.

Seeking to Explain the Control Room Placement and “Garage” Roll Up Doors

We have to accept there are multiple (non-exclusive) possibilities here:

  1. The TV stills show the control room front flush with an internal garage door, and fairly close to the nose of Supercar in the hanger. This would imply that there are two sets of garage roll up doors separated by one unit of the 5 unit laboratory. That would be enough space to park a pickup truck, and tyre marks are shown in outside views going into that space.
  2. The blockhouse addition was probably meant (by Derek Meddings in season two) to house the control room interior, so the control room is really set back one whole lab unit. There is then just a single garage door.
  3. The blockhouse should not be there at all and was a continuity mistake!
  4. The blockhouse was a later addition to house Dr. Beaker Experiments and to provide a playroom for Mitch!

I am going for the moment with (1) and (4)!

Supercar Annuals – More on the Position of the Blockhouse

In the Supercar Annuals, EVERY image of Black Rock Lab that shows the blockhouse has it positioned to the extreme right hand edge of the end wall, not in the middle as in the Derek Medding’s studio model. But the images also add an extra “segment” to the lab and also extra bedrooms along the block of rooms at the front.

Interesting, MOST interesting… if it was in that position it could be that it directly is alongside Dr. Beaker’s lab in the back corner of BRL.. and there could be the experiment observation hatchway through to it from the lab end wall? But I am sticking with the Derek Medding’s model position for the blockhouse as centred on the end wall.

Seeking to Explain the Position of Dr. Beaker’s Laboratory

This is a tricky one. The door as it sits alongside the High Voltage zone would appear to lead directly outside. There are two possibilities perhaps:

  1. The door leads to an external room. Unfortunately the series two model seen from the back does not show this clearly, though many of the images of the back side of Black Rock laboratory are in deep shadow!.
  2. The door is misplaced and actually stands inwards a little (corridor width) and then the Laboratory itself opens to the right off that entry space and is placed alongside the control room.

After consulting with Mick Imrie, I am going with (1)!

There is a TV screen shot of the laboratory door partially open where it seems that there is a narrow corridor snd wall immediately behind the door, rather than the main laboratory space opening out immediately behind that.

Seeking to Explain the Room behind the Double Doors under the Gallery

The double doors might open onto a corridor that runs to the side rooms and in some way to the kitchen/lounge areas. A further set of double doors aligned with the hanger bay ones would allow Jimmy after his rescue to see through when both sets are opened.

There is likely a corridor behind the double sliding doors across which another set of double doors gives access to a room that may be a guest bedroom and/or infirmary.

Jimmy being in the “bedroom” that looks out to the hanger floor in the first Rescue episode might be explained by that being an infirmary or guest bedroom and not Jimmy’s allocated bedroom after he joins the team! We see a TV monitor in the room on which Mike shows Jimmy Supercar in the nearby hanger before opening the double doors to show him the actual craft.

The rooms alongside the lab in the single storey may all be bedrooms as the lights all come on in all four rooms one at a time when the team is disturbed one night (episode 70-B-Lo). Popkiss’s room light is already on first, so his bedroom is at the left of the block of bedrooms.

Seeking to Explain the Elevator Levels

Is this a plausible explanation of the 4 levels shown on the elevator indicators?

  • Level 1 – basement (partial floorspace of lab only) where safe is. Assume its an area where AVGAS tank is under the AVGAS door, boiler room, mechanical workshop and storage.
  • Level 2 – hanger floor level
  • Level 3 – mezzanine level within garage area to access gantry
  • Level 4 – engineering position to locate lift a metre or two above highest normal level for elevator repairs

In the episode “Tracking of Masterspy” Masterspy (dastardly man that he is, and due to careless BRL team security) had snuck in through the outer garage doors and had already taken the lift to the “gantry” level (level 3) at that end of the lab (Masterspy refers to it as the “gallery”) to spy on the team from behind the (closed at the time) inner garage roll up doors to wait for the plans in the briefcase to be brought over by Jimmy before he re-enters the elevator to descend to the hanger floor “ground” level (level 2) as Jimmy approaches it!

Seeking to Explain the Position and Use of the AVGAS “Door”

The red AVGAS panel in the corner of the laboratory hanger floor has on it the SAVGAS fuelling hose and valves. The panel looks like a door, but with no handle. It does not match up with any external door in the lab, so it must just be a panel attached to the wall.

Seeking to Explain the Upper Storey Windows Slats

The external appearance of the window slats appear narrower than those on interior hanger bay views.

To reconcile these, the outside appearance could be designed to offer sun protection to the interior by using a outer beam that has a tapered shape which is wider on the outside and is narrower at the inner side to leave an opening there between beams that is wide enough to match the larger internal window glass panel.

Speculation on the “Garage” Area

Assuming that the lab has two roll up doors, and inner one and the external one, we can speculate on what is in that space… especially as TV episode camera angles don’t show its upper parts.

  • The space between the roll up doors provides enough space to garage a pickup truck. This is necessary as we don’t see the team’s truck parked outside in any TV episode.
  • The clearance available allows Supercar to be pushed out on roller skates with wings retracted, though Supercar’s wings are also removable to make it narrower for such manoeuvres if necessary.
  • The elevator shaft is positioned just inside the inner door. Hence the reason it is not seen in camera angles from the Supercar hanger floor.
  • There is likely a heavy lifting hoist and pulley mounted on a track on the ceiling of the garage area. This is used to load or unload heavy equipment from the pickup truck.
  • There is likely a floor lift that can lower or lift large items to or from the basement.
  • There is a garage gantry that can bridge between the elevator level 3 position and a doorway that leads to storerooms that sit above the control room and adjacent areas. This gantry is often not visible in scenes that show the garage area as it retracts telescopically and hinges up to fit against the elevator shaft when not in use… allowing full headroom clearance out through the garage when necessary. Note that Masterspy refers to this garage gantry as the “gallery” when he sneaks into the lab via the garage and elevator.

Speculation on the Tanks and Pipework at Back of Lab

At the back of the season two model there is a storage tank spaced well away from the main body of the lab, connected by pipework in a girder arrangement to the lab at the level of the building eaves. This could be AVGAS fuel, but it comes in high up, rather than near the inner lab door that has the AVGAS hose. Heating fuel would likely come in at a lower level or feed a boiler in the basement. Could this tank and pipework be related to air conditioning and/or fire protection?

Speculation on the Basement

The basement is referred to as “downstairs” from the Supercar hanger level and there is a safe down there. Some ideas for that level besides the safe could include an AVGAS storage tank under the AVGAS hose door, boiler room, mechanical workshop with heavy machinery tools and storage.

Speculation on the Pickup Truck

The truck is probably meant to look like a 1960 US vehicle. Mick Imrie thought that the small model shown on an exterior shot of Black Rock lab may be a Land Rover.

For colour, Ford Pickup truck colours from around 1960, especially early 1960s pastel colours, may be appropriate as its MEANT to be a US (Nevada) pickup. Land Rovers tend to be sludgy colours and often blue or green.

Maybe something like the Ford Tidewater Aqua (Ford 1960), Ford Waterfall Blue (1956) or Land Rover Marine Blue (1958-1971) could be the colour.

Speculation on the “Communications Block”

The separate building with the radar on the roof probably houses communications and computer equipment related to the radar, radio, telemetry and high bandwidth Clear-Vu links. Computers would be old style 1960s mainframes and tape drives. Power generation units for the whole laboratory and cooling units would also be needed for such equipment. A storage tank is located under the colonnade at the side of the building, which may house fuel for power generators.

Some Experiments with the 3D Black Rock Lab Model in OpenSim

The following images show Interior Rollup Garage Door closed and Interior Rollup Garage Door open with Elevator Position and Gantry in its retracted and folded up position and when unfolded and telescopically extended…

Following images show the area of the basement (terrain removed) and Dr. Beaker’s Lab Door access to his Laboratory which partially occupies the space next to the Control Room and a short extension outside (approx 1.7m extra depth) the main hanger wall line (with windows similar to the front block rooms)…

The Lab exterior therefore might look something like this (note the upper windows need better modelling to be similar to the Season two model)…

Visit Black Rock on OSGrid (with a free virtual world avatar) at hop://

FAB98 Graham Bleathman Black Rock Lab Cutaway

Graham Bleathman produced one of his wonderful watercolour cutaways of Black Rock Lab in Fanderson’s FAB98 (July 2021). Not surprisingly we had a good exchange of information and ideas, along with input from Mick Imrie, during its preparation…

My own revisions to this to change a few details to fit with the notes in this blog post is shown below…

Posted in 3D, Supercar | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Moon Dialogs – International Collaboration for Lunar Bases

A seminar in Moon Dialogs Peaceful Moon Salon on “International Collaboration for Lunar Bases” was help in Zoom on Monday, March 29, 2021 3:00 PM (BST).

A Google Document is used to capture comments and resources shared during the event…

Contribution to Relevant Initiatives, Reports, Events

ESA and other missions to explore the possibility of using lava tubes as a moon base…

Vimeo Video Recording of Event

Report from the Event

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BBC Academy – Trust in News

Trust in News Conference: The View from the Frontline Fighting Disinformation
Online event – 24th March 2021 –

Hosted by Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC Technology Correspondent, speaking to representatives of the social media platforms about their part in turning the tide on disinformation.

Questions can be asked on Twitter or using the hashtag #TIN21 …


BBC – Beyond Fake News Resources

  • Misinformation refers to false or out-of-context information that is presented as fact regardless of an intent to deceive.
  • Disinformation is a type of misinformation that is intentionally false and intended to deceive or mislead.

Project Origin – Protecting Trusted Media: involving BBC, CBC/Radio-Canada, The New York Times, and Microsoft has been working to define an end-to-end process for the publishing, distribution and presentation of provenance enhanced media. This tamper proof indication can be adapted for audio, video, images and text-based digital media.

Content Authenticity Initiative: is building systems to provide provenance for digital media, giving creators tools to express objective reality and empowering consumers to evaluate whether what they are seeing is trustworthy.

EBU Publications: Report: Fast Forward: Public Service Journalism in the Viral Age.

Reuters Fact Check

AFP Fact Check

Eric Horvitz, Chief Scientific Officer, Microsoft… “I don’t want to be in a world where I can’t trust any sources anywhere anymore”.

Trusted News Initiative (TNI): Jessica Cecil, BBC Trusted News Initiative Director.

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Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.13

Firestorm 6.4.13 + P373R VR Mod: This build includes P373R’s VR Mod 6.3.3 changes merged into Firestorm 6.4.13 release branch. It is created using “GitHub Actions” (GHA) thanks to humbletim… see

The user instructions are identical to Firestorm VR Mod 6.4.12 which is described at

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dearMoon Crew Candidate

Images from

Fly with Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) who aims to be the first civilian to fly around the moon on
@SpaceX and has reserved all the seats on the craft. A selection process is underway to select those who will accompany him.

This mission will head to the Moon aboard Starship and Super Heavy Rocket, the next-generation reusable launch vehicle developed by SpaceX. It is a supersized rocket and spacecraft designed for transportation of people and cargo to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

Step 2: Initial Screening by 21st March 2021

From this step the terms and Conditions do not allow further communication about the selection process unless approved by the dearMoon mission organisers.

The Applicant may… publicly announce … only the fact that the Applicant has applied for the Selection and the result of the Selection, but the Applicant may not disclose… the remaining process of the Selection without the prior consent of SPT (SPACETODAY INC.)….

dearMoon Resources in the Virtual World

Prototype facility for social collaboration, interaction, training and education started on the OpenSimulator-based OSGrid dearMoon region and the nearby Space City region…


  • SpaceX Starship by MartianDays, Creative Commons Attribution
  • Moon by AirStudios, Creative Commons Attribution

Flight to the ISS 2021

Yusaku Maezawa (MZ) will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2021 as a preparatory mission for his Moon flight. He has asked for suggestions for 100 things to do while at the ISS on his 12 day stay. I contributed one…

From the ISS Cupola check off items you can see from a pre-prepared checklist of man made objects said to be visible to the naked eye from space.

I hope you have time to just look at the Earth from space and what better viewpoint than the ISS cupola. This “task” may make the experience more fun and provide some feedback to those on Earth as to what a space farer can actually see from large to smaller man-made objects. The check list of items could itself be something you seek to gather from your social media followers prior to your flight and provide the results afterwards. Bon voyage!

Update: 1-Sep-2021

@dearMoon: “Here’s an update on the selection process for all dearMoon applicant… Candidates who will be going to the next round have now all completed a medical check-up. To those who have not gone that far, we thank you for applying and we hope for your continued support.🚀 ”

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Edinburgh Futures Conversations – Health

The Future of Health – 2 March 2021 – the first event in the Edinburgh Futures Conversations series involved experts from around the world sharing their perspectives of the Covid-19 pandemic and explored how to change and reshape public health systems to transform outcomes. #EdinburghFuturesConversations

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health organization also presented a recorded video to give his inputs to the meeting..

Closing Session

“Meeting our neighbours’ needs, meets our own needs”.
Sign the UN #VaccineEquality declaration here.

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Mick Imrie – Supercar Take Two

Mick Imrie created a detailed Supercar 3D model in Cinema4D back in 1998-1999 and this has been used as the basis for many ports to other 3D modelling tools, game platforms, flight and space simulators and virtual worlds platforms since then. See

Mick has now begun the creation of a new Supercar model taking on board experience gained. As previously, the reference point is the puppet-scale studio model. [There also was a mid-sized model and a smaller “flight” model details of which differed from the puppet-scale model.]

Mick is posting about the new model on the EagleTransporter British SciFi web site.

Fan Produced Model

Supercar was created by A.P. Film Studios in association with ITC (now ITC Studios). Supercar 3D Model by Mick Imrie with technical assistance from Austin Tate. Original Supercar designed by Reg Hill of A.P. Films. This is fan produced material to promote the shows of Gerry Anderson and provided for your enjoyment, and should not be used for any commercial purpose. Mick aims to make the Supercar models available to others.

Model Improvements

The new model accounts for some of the following inputs:

  1. Availability of higher quality visual reference material published over the years and higher definition TV screen captures from the TV series. Mick has been able to use these to provide corelated reference images to better inform the modelling shapes.
  2. The main hull shape has been refined using the detailed screen captures and normalising them. This led to the shape changing in ways consistent with Phil Rae’s 1990 revision of his Supercar blueprints. Wing position, nose shape and front light pod size and position also altered. Retro jet length was shortened.[Phil Rae produced a Supercar blueprint for a centrespread in Fanderson’s SIG no. 3 in Autumn 1981 and revised it in 1983 for a set of A3 Gerry Anderson vehicle blueprints. In a personal communication to Austin Tate on 18th August 1990 he offered further revisions as an amalgamation of the three studio models (Puppet scale, Bill James’s 3ft. version and the smaller “flight” model.
  3. Improved accuracy of the wing slot on the fuselage.
  4. Improved modelling shape of the side cooling vanes and the red fairings above and below them which slope rather than sit horizontally.
  5. Improved understanding of the colour and shininess of some parts and trim on the Supercar from improved colour reference material. E.g. the puppet-scale model hull piping is pale brass rather than chrome.
  6. Improvements to the texturing of the model to allow for simpler use on other platforms.
  7. Detailed research by Mick to identify original parts and instruments used in the construction of the puppet-scale model. He is documenting this material on a new web site to help other modellers. See ‘deconGA’ (deconstructing Gerry Anderson).
  8. Improvements to the Supercar dashboard using screen grabs of the human hand scale dashboard. However, this dashboard often had replacement instruments and switches to accommodate the story lines and cannot be reconciled to a single consistent model.
  9. Design to allow for a simpler texture based dashboard, as well as a detailed 3D modelled version to support different delivery platforms.
  10. Significant reductions in polygon count for the hull, fuselage piping and other complex curved elements of the design.
  11. Use of curve based modelling (NURBs) where useful but ability to export as polygons for those platforms needing this.
  12. Canopy structure, size of holes in rear support improved and added small block on rear support to support the canopy top.
  13. Cockpit interior details for the interior sides, front bench seat, rear seats and pipework in the rear corners was made using better reference images.
  14. Compatibility with Supercar Schematics Details (PDF) where feasible.
  15. An “add-on pack” for accessories such as Clear-Vu mounted gun and fairing, magnetic grabs, nose drill attachment, canopy mounted searchlight, etc. Possibly also in including the lab blast shield, Dr. Beaker’s lab console and remote console.

Initial Plans as at 18-Feb-2021

Initial Model as at 23-Feb-2021

Model and Initial Texturing as at 1-Mar-2021

Model as at 11-Mar-2021

Model as at 24-Mar-2021

Fin Remodelling as at 27-Mar-2021

Model as at 1-Apr-2021 – No Fooling

Canopy Structure

Mick has put quite a bit of work into getting the canopy structure to better reflect the Supercar puppet-scale studio model. This includes adding the small canopy top piece support block on the rear framework, and making the holes in that part more accurate.

Cockpit Interior

Details of the cockpit interior are to be improved. The front bench seat piping, trim on the top of the back (based on “Hidem Banding”) and the seat base shaping and upholstery buttons are all to be improved.

Dashboard Details and Instruments

Mick found that many of the instruments used appear to come from the cockpit of the Gloster Meteor NF12.

My own notes on the dash and the instruments that appear is in this diagram.

Supercar Dash – Work in Progress – Font Swiss921BT – 20-May-2021 – Mick Imrie

Supercar Dash – Work in Progress – 10-Jun-2021 – Mick Imrie

Model Complexity

The new Supercar model is designed to be less complex than the previous 1998/1999 version which had a high polygon complexity (measured in vertices and triangles). The 1998/1999 model complexity was approximately (see this blog post for initial mesh upload experiments):

Triangles: 135,000-165,000

The new 2021 model has complexity approximately:

Triangles: TBD

Supercar Colours and Fonts

Mick Imrie made these notes back in 1999/2000 for the original 3D model…

    The font used for the Cinema 4D Supercar model was a TrueType font supplied with Corel Draw called SWISS911 XCm BT (free download). This was selected primarily on the basis of the ‘S’ shape. The logo is obviously all in capitals, the ‘S’ is 118 point size and the rest of the characters are 78 point.

    On the subject of colours, Austin and I spent some time trying to get the colours as good as we could given the vagaries of colour photography. What we came up with are as follows (all given as RGB values):

         Red bodywork:           255,0,0
         Light blue:             204,255,255
         Yellow:                 255,255,0
         Off-white bodywork:     254,250,230

Piping noted as likely a light brass colour on 3-Mar-2021. Perhaps “Gold Tone” Brass such as in this example [Local Copy of Image][RGB: 236,236,186].

Shane Pickering has more closely studied the font, letter shape (the “A” is rounded at the top) and shape of the lines at each side of the logo. The following logo is traced off a close-up of the studio model and normalised (original and Photoshop .psd version here).

Shane Pickering has also been studying the Supercar colours as part of his work on a detailed technical cutaway for Supercar. He has been assisted by a friend who is a classic car restorer. For the “off-white bodywork” colour using reference colour photos, such as the Suter’s Store Windows Display, he has suggested we “aim for a middle range light grey with perhaps a little brown in it”. A light grey with a hint of beige perhaps from the “Palomino” colour range used on General Motors’ Cadillacs and Pontiacs in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

I am exploring the 1960 General Motors Pontiac Palomino Beige with RGB: 236,236,230 which seems to look a bit like the colour in some of the scans of the Supercar LP cover image. I also tried RGB: 230,230,224 and RGB: 224,224,218 but maybe they are a bit too dark.

Posted in 3D, Supercar | Tagged | 2 Comments

NASA Perseverance Mars Rover Landing

On 18th February 2021 the NASA Perseverance Mars Rover landed on Mars..

This was my setup for watching the mission with NASA TV Live and a real time simulation of the landing in NASA Eyes…

Along with participation in the British Interplanetary Society Mars Rover Landing Party in Zoom…

The Rover is the size of a small car…

Real Time Landing Simulation

First Image from Mars

Congratulations NASA and JPL

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Importing Mesh to Second Life and OpenSim

This is a page of resources related to creating mesh models suitable for upload and use in Second Life and OpenSim.

Beq Janus Advice

Beq Janus, who improved the mesh uploader now in use in Second Life/OpenSim viewers, and hence understands the limits, offered this advice…

  • Mesh limits more correctly should be interpreted as applying to each mesh element, not the whole model.
  • It is each sub-mesh in a model that has a 64K vertex limit because as you might surmise there is a 16bit index involved.
  • Every material is split into a separate mesh because it will enter the renderer differently depending on its nature (alpha blended, bump mapped, etc).
  • If a hard-surface model approaches the limits you need to go back to the drawing board… it is not a good model for any gaming platform.
  • Nurb models are certainly not allowed.
  • The models need to be triangulated too, not quads, you can let the uploader do that for you but frankly I would never leave a job like that to be done automatically.
  • You will need to take your curve based models and convert them to mesh. Again, even if you did have the option to convert on import the viewer would have to decide on the sampling frequency and you’d lose control of how it appears.

Collected Hints

  1. Any 3D modelling software will work, as long as it can output models in COLLADA (.dae) format. Note: Second Life uses COLLADA 1.4.1. (see Second Life Wiki – Mesh Background Information
  2. A “model” can have many separate “mesh” parts in it.
  3. The maximum mesh asset size after compression is 8MB, roughly equivalent to a 256MB raw COLLADA file. An entire region can support up to 128MB of distinct mesh assets after compression, not including attachments.
  4. A single convex hull is limited to 256 triangles.
  5. Maximum number of vertices is limited to 65,536.
  6. Scale limit is set to 64 meters.
  7. Take care to create low polygon meshes (as few verts as possible).
  8. Use no more than 8 face textures (8 materials assignments) on any mesh. These will import as “faces” in Second Life/OpenSim, which can be individually textured. You need to create a UV mapping for your model and its mesh parts which defines what part of the texture will go on which polygons of each mesh.
  9. Avoid intersecting faces (unless intersections are intended).
  10. Avoid duplicate vertices (unless you want to use the split modifier).
  11. Avoid creating more than 21844 tris per texture face.
  12. Avoid creating extremely small polygons (< 0.1 cm edge length).
  13. Make sure the objects, materials, submaterials and textures in the meshes do not contain any spaces. (so not “Box 001” which will give the “Error: element is invalid”, but “Box001” or “Box_001”).
  14. You can use any of the modelling tools while working on your model, but in the final form it should be saved before export as an Editable Poly.
  15. Before you export your mesh, make sure that it doesn’t have any stray vertices or overlapping edges. These will either cause unexpected visual results in Second Life or worse, the mesh will fail to upload entirely.
  16. For all meshes, make sure that the “Up Axis” is set to “Z-up”. If the axis isn’t set to Z-up, the mesh axis will be flipped on its side and/or rotated in Second Life/OpenSim.
  17. Advice on Levels of Detail (LOD)… note the need for the bounding box to be identical in all models, and all LODs to have same number of textures. See
  18. Textures can be provided for the usual diffuse image, a normal map (Bumpiness) and for specularity (shininess). PNG and TGA formats are allowed. PNG is to be preferred. Stick to x/y dimensions that are a power of 2 as on import textures are reduced to the nearest power of 2.
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Supercar @ 60

This is an extended version of an article which appeared at on 28th January 2021 –
60th Anniversary of the first broadcast of Supercar on TV.

Supercar – The Wonder of the Age for Six Decades!

First Broadcast: 28th January 1961

Gerry Anderson TV was a backdrop to my school years in the early 1960s, a favourite when returning home from school. Having seen the programmes from Twizzle, Torchy and Four Feather Falls.. Kaiya Kalamakooya kala kaiya! … and beyond. But my absolute favourite was always Mike Mercury in Supercar!

Supercar is an experimental multi-purpose vertical take-off and landing craft. As well as its ability to fly, Supercar can travel on and under water, on land with a ground effect cushion from its vertical boosters, and even go into space. It is designed to perform a range of missions including search and rescue. Supercar is based at the Supercar team base in the remotely located Black Rock Laboratory within Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA.

Well… there she is Mike….Supercar! [YouTube Episode 1 (3:25)]

… exclaimed by Professor Popkiss to Mike Mercury as Supercar is finishing a ground test in the first episode still sends tingles through my spine. The tech details were really appealing to my interests in science, engineering and aerospace. All the procedures for the familiar Gerry Anderson “launch sequence” began in Supercar…

Charging port engine, …, 9000, 12000, 15000, interlock on, Fire One

There are lots of superb details. I like the one where Dr. Beaker is examining a Supercar engines test and commenting on the crazing of the ceramic material of the blast shield. Reg Hill did a fine job of designing Supercar and giving it exciting capabilities on land, under the sea, in the air and even into space.

The sound effects for Supercar startup and flight added much to the atmosphere and Barry Gray’s music added a lot to all the Gerry Anderson TV series.. and Supercar has a very rich repertoire of themes and incidental music. The “Mike Mercury March” (aka “Mike’s Theme”) played as Supercar races to the scene of another rescue is wonderful.

While still at school I was so keen that I arranged a petition and got thousands of signatures from locals to send to ITV and AP Films to ask them to produce more episodes and show Supercar more on TV.

Having seen adverts in TV Comic, I was an early member of the Supercar Club which had a tie up with National Benzole “Super National” petrol and produced a flexi-disc with a Supercar story along with the Supercar theme and more Barry Gray music. I still smile when I remember my dad pulling into a National station to fill up, and as we drove away he accelerated fast and shouted out “zooooom”. The annuals each year, several Shipton Plastics “Plaston” PVC models (which we floated in our fish pond and tried to film in action in front of a back projection sheet), Budgie diecast Supercars and more merchandise followed. My dad, who had been in the Royal Navy, even got me a captain style peaked cap like Mike Mercury wore which I mounted my Supercar wings on.

It is wonderful that over the years since then we have been able to get the whole 39 episodes of Supercar from Series One and Series Two on DVD and that many new merchandising items and fan produced materials have appeared to keep the contents alive.

TV Comic ran strip stories in colour for many years and promoted the “Supercar Club” offering a golden “wings” badge and pilots licence to members.

When Supercar was still on air in the early 1960s, I was taken by my dad to a TV trade show at Earls Court on London, as he ran a TV retail and repair store. And as we went around I heard a loud announcement that “Anything can happen in the next half hour”! Turning round to the big screen just in time to see the black and white image turn to COLOUR and STINGRAY appear. So there was plenty to look forward to, even though Supercar remained my interest.

A number of scientists and engineers have noted how they were influenced in their career choices and areas of interest from watching early Gerry Anderson programmes. And so it was in my case too. The Black Rock Laboratory team under Professor Popkiss and Doctor Beaker created Supercar (fictionally) using a grant from the US Air Force and their research people. Reality can follow fiction… I have (in real life) received research funding for my Artificial Intelligence work on planning, command and control of spacecraft and in search and rescue applications from the US Air Force Research Laboratory and the US Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA) using the very same research mechanism that funded the X-15 rocket plane (and, one imagines, Supercar).

I have been fortunate to be part of the international community who continue to enjoy Gerry Anderson TV and work with some very creative people all round the world who are also very interested in Supercar over the years.

60 years later and Supercar is still in my life via the detailed and accurate 3D models produced 25 years ago with friends and collaborators around the globe and still looking good today as computer graphics have improved. The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators.

Mick Imrie in the UK in the late 1990s created Supercar and Black Rock Laboratory 3D computer models, originally in Cinema4D and subsequently ported by others in the Gerry Anderson Model Makers Alliance (GA-MMA) to Studio 3D Max, Lightwave, etc. See Supercar 3D Model – Mick Imrie and Austin Tate – 1998

Shane Pickering, a graphic artist and private pilot in New Zealand, in the late 1990s worked on schematics and internal details for Supercar compatible with the TV shows and annuals. See Supercar Schematics – Shane Pickering and Austin Tate – 1999.

Brian Douglas, a Microsoft Flight Simulator enthusiast in the UK, worked with me in 2003 to improve the visual appearance and flight dynamics for the earlier versions of Supercar for Flight Simulator I had created. Iain Murray and I worked to improve my earlier Black Rock Laboratory scenery for Flight Simulator. See Supercar for Flight Simulator – 1996-2003.

Kez Wilson at Misc!Mayhem in Texas created the Supercar Comic published in 2003, working with script writer Michael Wolff, and I was happy to help with its production using our 3D models used to get accurate outlines for rotascoping of some image panels. I met up with Kez and Graydon Gould, the voice of Mike Mercury, at the Fanderson Century 21 celebration event in 2002. Kez and I created a Supercar Club 2000 to give new resources to fellow fans. See Supercar Comic – Kez Wilson and Michael Wolff – 2001-2003.

Playing Mantis in the USA produced the Johnny Lighting miniature diecast Supercar models originally in 2001 with colouring reflecting “The Little Golden Book” drawn images. Working with their designer Alan Pletcher I was able to give a little input to improve the later versions for colour and details to better reflect Supercar as seen on TV. I was fortunate to get deliveries of each new variant and limited edition that came out over the following years.

I have also had fun interactions with Martin Woodhouse (who along with his brother Hugh wrote the stories for Supercar series one), Dirk Maggs and some of the good folks at Fanderson.

The fan produced resources and computer models created with others internationally has enabled me to create virtual world and virtual reality experiences to continue to enjoy Supercar, to visit the (virtual) Black Rock Laboratory and take Supercar out for a spin in flight simulators and space simulators. See Supercar for Virtual Worlds and Virtual Reality.

Roof Doors Open!


More info, computer models and images:

Supercar at 60 in OpenSimulator

Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box

Availability March 2021 – Anderson Entertainment – Supercar 60th Anniversary Limited Edition Treasury Box (alternative URL: Limited to 300 units worldwide. Reversable DVD cover art by Chris Thompson (who also did the Pilot’s Licence Replica artwork) and new artwork by Lee Sullivan and Tim Keable. The replica Supercar Licence is individually numbered (my set was 60 277). Note the spacing of “Made Expressly for THE SUPER CAR CLUB” on the backing card for the Supercar Wings badge. As confirmed by Jamie Anderson, this is a deliberate nod to the original backing card from the maker… J.R. GAUNT & SON LTD (Ribbon Makers).

Supercar 60th Anniversary Blu-ray Special Edition Box Set

Supercar has been remastered in High Definition from original 35mm film elements and released in August 2021 on Blu-ray along with a paperback book, new comic, pilot’s licence and golden wings badge in a special 60th Anniversary Box Set.

Update: 25-Nov-2021: Colour Clip for Episode Pirate Plunder

A colourized clip of Supercar for the Network on Air evening of Gerry Anderson’s “You’ve Never Seen These”…

Supercar and Fireball XL5 in Colour! | You’ve Never Seen These | Supercolourisation

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