2019 SL User Groups 20/3: TPV Developer Meeting

Hotel California; Inara Pey, April 2019, on FlickrHotel Californiablog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, May 17th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. The key points of discussion are provided below with time stamps to the relevant points in the video, which will open in a separate tab when clicked.

There was a lot of inconsequential text chat about Display Names during the meeting, which these notes ignore.

SL Viewer

[00:00-01:47]

The rest of the SL viewer pipelines remain as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.2.0.526190, formerly the Estate Access Management RC viewer, dated April 12, promoted April 17 NEW. – see my EAM overview for more information
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Bakes on Mesh RC viewer, version 6.1.1.525409, March 26 (and not currently recorded on the the new release notes pages)So, a
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Emoji Support

[4:00-9:30 – also in text, with broader text discussion on unicode in Display Names]

  • A frequent feature request for Second Life is for emoji support in chat.
  • This is not something the Lab has the bandwidth to support.
  • An invitation has been put out to any open-source developers who would like to pick this up as a project for submission as a viewer contribution on all supported operating systems, the Lab is willing to work with them.
    • Note that this is not a promise that SL will have emoji support soon.
    • If the work is taken up by an open-source developer it will only be for emoji support in chat; it will not include the use of emojis in Display Names.

Group Notices to IM

[19:47-26:44]

  • As per my April 26th TPVD meeting notes, the Lab is considering the possibility of no longer sending group notices to e-mail when a user is off-line.
  • This will only be for off-line group notices. It will not block / change the receipt off-line IMs.
  • The reason for making the change is to help is secondlife.com being regarded as a spam domain by e-mail services.
  • it is hoped that changes being planned to the way SL events work (and which have yet to be formally described / announced) will naturally reduce the need for at least some group messages in the future.

In Brief

  • [13:56-16:12] There is reportedly a viewer crash related to Animesh that is estimated to affect around 2.5% of Firestorm crashes. However, it does not appear to be easy to reproduce (example crash stack).
    • The issue appears related to rideable Animesh and region crossings. In short, when it happens, the Animesh (such as an Animesh horse), existing in the two regions when crossing between them, and for some reason the “wrong one” unloads, causing the viewer to crash.
    • At the time of the meeting, a bug report on the issue had yet to be raised, due to the issues in trying to reproduce the problem, however, it seems to be particularly prevalent in the Bellisseria (Linden Homes) continent – probably because there are a lot of people out and about in that region and using Animesh, rather than the problem being specific to the regions in the continent.
  • [29:20-33:20, with further text discussion on inventory offers and IMs through until close to the end of the meet] It appears that BUG-225696, “All offline inventory offers from scripted objects are lost” still remains an issue for viewers adhering to the off-line IM cap.
  • [34:08-35:20] BUG-41379 “Script (running) state is lost when logged out during forced teleport” – this is a known issue that is being addressed at as a part of a broader project.
  • [51:36-52:20] The Lab still has job openings for a senior graphics engineer and a QA server engineer, both working on Second Life.

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RelayStock 2019 in Second Life

RelayStock 2019

It’s a weekend of Peace Love and Hope and great music as the 6th annual RelayStock continues over Saturday May 18th and Sunday May 19th, 2019.

Paying homage to Woodstock, hosted by the Relay Rockers and sponsored by X-City games, the event features live and DJ entertainment, dancing, vendors and the opportunity to help raise money for RFL of SL.

The event is focused on RFL team camp sites all located around a 60s style festival stage. The camp sites, mixed between iconic VW camper wagons and tents, are occupied by RFL Relay teams who present kiosks and fund-raising vendors, while the event stage plays hosts to the performers and the ever-popular Celebrate Remember Fight Back (CRFB) Top DJ Competition Top DJ Competition.

The Rockers have been fortunate to have participants from many teams in our CRFB Event. RelayStock is our way of saying thank you for the huge support across the grid for our event. It affords every team the opportunity to share in a super fund raising event.

– Relay Rockers Co-Captain Arizona Ballinger

The event is open to all residents of Second Life. In addition,, when visiting, you’ll also be able to Bid a Linden Bald, which this year see five teams for Linden Lab participating – see 2019 Bid a Linden Bald for RFL of SL for more.

RelayStock 2019

The event’s activities line up as follows all times SLT):

Saturday May 18th:

  • 10:30: DJ Ray02 Little Inspired Dream Walkers.
  • 12:00  noon: DJ Dolleyes Barbosa Too Tough To Die.
  • 13:30: AustinMoores.
  • 15:00: Todd Rumsford – LIVE – Cure Chasers.
  • 16:00: Keeba & The Tiny Maniacs – LIVE – Relay Rockers.
  • 17:00: The Core Four – Cancer Gets Stung.
  • 18:30pm: DJ Heath Harmony Of Hope.
  • 20:00pm: DJ Kayla Roos With A Dream.

Sunday May 19th:

  • 11:00: Holocluck Henly ACTS.
  • 12:30: DJ Escape.
  • 14:00: CRFB FINALIST #2.
  • 15:30: CRFB FINALIST #1.
  • 17:00: CRFB AWARD CEREMONY.
  • 17:15: Trader Whiplash – Cure Chasers, The River Of Life & Roos With A Dream Teams.

So, let the age of Aquarius enter your life this weekend, don your kaftan (and galoshes!), put flowers in your hair and head on over to RelayStock for get music, great dancing, great fun – and all in a good cause!

Event SLurl

Sansar Product Meetings week #20: avatar LOD, policies, and more

Sitting at the Product Meeting, Wurfi (r) demonstrates that with the R32 release, it is possible to be a Tiny in Sansar …

The majority of the following notes were taken from my recording of the Sansar Product Meeting held on Thursday, May 16th, which covered the avatar LOD system, further changes to events, rendering updates and policy reviews feedback.

Avatar LOD System

  • The avatar level of detail (LOD) system has now been deployed.
  • This applies to all avatars in Sansar, whether default or custom.
  • It is an automated process that produces five LOD versions of the avatar using different tri counts, and which are automatically used / swapped so that avatars become progressively less complex the further they are from the observer, reducing the impact they may have on performance.
  • The process is “quality” based, rather than tri-count tied, so the system tries to reduce tri count without unduly impacting on the overall shape of an avatar.
  • The LOD models are generated after the avatar has been dressed and hidden surfaces removed as the avatar is baked (after something like selection in Look Book or a change of outfit).
  • It has been noted that the system isn’t working as well as might be the case with certain avatars and / or avatar attachments (e.g. eyes bugging out when lower LOD models are used by the system).
    • Those who do notice particularly odd / deformed avatars in their view are asked to take a screen shot and send it to the Lab via a bug report / on Discord.
    • If there are specific issues that occur with default avatars that do not seem to reproduce on custom avatars, again, the Lab request a screen shot showing both.

Event Changes

  • There have been reservations voiced about the way events are counted.
  • As events now take place in special instances of experiences, these can count against the total number of experiences a creator is allowed to have published, which has been seen as a problem for some creators.
  • The Lab is now “temporarily” withdrawing this, until such time as the events system has been improved.
  • Thus, creators will for now be able to create / host as many events as they wish without hitting the ceiling on the total number of experiences they are allowed to have published within their subscription banding.

Rendering Updates

  • The Sansar R32 movement update included some rendering updates there were not documented in the release notes. These updates comprise:
    • Bloom setting on the scene settings menu – improved to be less blurry and more “bloomy” (so fog may appear denser, for example). This might require experience creators to check any of their scenes using bloom to ensure things are rendering correctly, or whether adjustments are required.
    • Billboard material – has been enhanced to include scroll UV support and a non-scrolling mask. An occlusion issue with billboards has also been fixed so they should not occlude other billboards.
    • New features for fixed shimmering by scrolling emissive materials. This should also fix a problem with anti-aliasing across the edges of objects, and shimmer when scrolling UVs are used for colour cycling effects.
    • Transparent multi-bump scrolling speed has been fixed.
  • None of the fixes should require the re-upload on content; they should simply see things now working as expected.

Policy Feedback and Content Guidelines

  • Concerns were raised at a recent community meet-up about some of the policies enforced around Sansar. These include the Community Standards and their governance, and the guidelines relating to the Sansar Store not being clear / enforced.
  • This has resulted in an internal discussion within the Lab concerning which guidelines may not be as clear as they perhaps could be, those that might be a little heavy-handed and might require further adjustment, and equally those that may need to be made both clearer and stronger.
  • In terms of Guidelines, some changes / updates being considered include:
    • Store Listing Guidelines – enforcing the (community-suggested) requirement that the screen shot associated with an item listing in the Store must be taken from within Sansar. In addition, the overall listing requirements may be subject to review.
    • Atlas Publishing Guidelines and Events Guidelines – these are not currently subject to review, but will be re-evaluated for fitness for purpose based on the feedback from the community meet-up.
  • There is a feeling that the Community Standards are inconsistently applied one person in violation of the standards might be treated one way, another committing the same violation is treated a different way, for example).
    • LL have acknowledged this and a new process to ensure consistent application of the standards is to be put in place.
    • Once ready, the process will be shared with the community, so people can understand what is in place / what to expect should infractions occur.
    • The process will be designed to allow those who may have contravened the standards to be aware of what is happening and why – and to give a response that may equally weight on any decision about action the Lab might take.
    • The only exception to this is liable to be where the infraction is clearly and significantly egregious and clearly upsetting to others / in violation of the platform’s requirements for decency, etc.
  • In terms of general communications / concerns about policy / direction, etc., Galileo, as the community Manager is in place to act as a bridge and enabler of communications between users and the Lab (and obviously, vice-versa).
    • As such, people are encouraged to content him to open conversations / feedback, rather than letting concerns fester.
    • It is acknowledged that the platform is at a unique point in its development to allow this (the community is still of a size where these interactions can take place), so people are encouraged to make use of it.

Selected Q&A Items

  • Experience maximum avatar capacity: the current default for the maximum number of avatars in an experience is still 35 per instance.
    • The Lab can manually raise the limit for specific events (e.g. Product Meetings now often run with 40+ avatars present).
    • It is hoped that as a result of various improvements and the introduction of the avatar LOD system, the limit can be raised more generally soon. However, more testing is required before this can be done.
    • In the future it might be possible for the maximum count cap to be exposed to experience creators to allow them to set their own limit on the number of avatars able to access a single instance of an experience (e.g. for use in games geared for a specific number of players).
      • As the Lab faces additional costs for spinning-up instances of experiences that have a low avatar count, limiting the number of avatars able to access an experience to very low numbers might be subject to that cost being passed on to the experience creators requiring it – or even to those wishing to access the experience. However, this all still needs to be examined by the Lab.
  • Instances:
    • As noted in past Sansar articles in these pages, instances of experiences run entirely independently to one another, so that avatars in one instance cannot cross to another, nor can they see one another.
    • The lab is already thinking about how to make it possible for friends who all visit a popular experience all end up in the same instance, rather than possibly being split between instances because some fall on the “wrong side” of the experience avatar cap.
  • Avatar 2.0: work continues on developing Sansar’s “avatar 2.0”. The target date for release is currently August 2019, but this may be subject to alteration.
    • This will hopefully see:
      • Changes to the base mesh, with male and female avatars are a lot more similar in a size and frame.
      • This latter point is to make clothing items potentially more unisex: if a jacket fits a male avatar frame, it will also fit a female avatar frame.
      • More sliders for morphing / customisation. These will initially be focused on the face, with body customisation capabilities following after the initial release of avatar 2.0.
    • It’s not clear what will happen with the current “avatar 1.0” as the new avatar system is deployed.
    • Avatar 2.0 will likely result in the breakage of rigged avatar clothing. However, clothing modelled in Marvelous Designer can be resized to fit the new avatars.
      • In addition the Lab is working on an MD scaling translation system to allow MD clothing to be scaled and repositioned.
    • It is also planned for avatar 2.0 to have defined attachment points for accessories.
  • Store redelivery system: the Lab would “like to have a redelivery system in place around the time” avatar 2.0 is released. However, they are still looking at how easy / hard it will be to deliver in that kind of time frame.

April Linden blogs on the May 13th/14th downtime

The week of May 13th-17th saw a planned period of Second Life network maintenance work, as announced in the Grid Status updates.

The first tranche of this work – Monday, May 13th through Tuesday May 14th – appeared to go well, until there was a completely unexpected 4(ish) hours of downtime, which at the time caused significant upset.

On May 17th, April Linden, the Second Life Operations Manager, has provided an insightful blog post on both the work being carried out and the cause of the downtime.

This week we were doing much needed maintenance on the network that powers Second Life. The core routers that connect our data centre to the Internet were nearing their end-of-life, and needed to be upgraded to make our cloud migration more robust.

Replacing the core routers on a production system that’s in very active use is really tricky to get right. We were determined to do it correctly, so we spent over a month planning all of the things we were going to do, and in what order, including full roll-back plans at each step. We even hired a very experienced network consultant to work with us to make sure we had a really good plan in place, all with the goal of interrupting Second Life as little as we could while improving it …

Everything started out great. We got the first new core router in place and taking traffic without any impact at all to the grid. When we started working on the second core router, however, it all went wrong.

– Extract from April Linden’s blog post

In essence, a cable had to be relocated, which was expected to cause a very brief period of impact. However, things didn’t recover as anticipated, and April resumes her explanation:

After the shock had worn off we quickly decided to roll back the step that failed, but it was too late. Everyone that was logged into Second Life at the time had been logged out all at once. Concurrency across the grid fell almost instantly to zero. We decided to disable logins grid-wide and restore network connectivity to Second Life as quickly as we could.

At this point we had a quick meeting with the various stakeholders, and agreed that since we were down already, the right thing to do was to press on and figure out what happened so that we could avoid it happening again…

This is why logins were disabled for several hours. We were determined to figure out what had happened and fix the issue, because we very much did not want it to happen again. We’ve engineered our network in a way that any piece can fail without any loss of connectivity, so we needed to dig into this failure to understand exactly what happened.

– Extract from April Linden’s blog post

April Linden

In other words, while it may have been painful for those who were unceremoniously dumped from Second Life and found they could not get back in, the Lab were working with the best of intentions: trying to find out exactly why connectivity was lost within a network where such an event should not cause such a drastic breakage – and its worth noting that as per April’s blog post, even the engineers from the manufacturer of the Lab’s network equipment were perplexed by what happened.

As always, April’s blog post makes for an invaluable read in understanding some of the complexities of Second Life, and goes so far as to answer a question raised on the forums in the wake of the week’s problems: Why didn’t LL tell us exactly when this maintenance was going to happen? – in short there are bad actors in the world who could make use of publicly available announcements that give them precise information on when a network might be exposed.

If you’ve not read April’s blog posts on operational issues like this, I really cannot recommend them enough – and thanks are again offered April for providing this post. And while things might have hurt at the time, there is a silver lining to things, as she notes:

Second Life is now up and running with new core routers that are much more powerful than anything we’ve had before, and we’ve had a chance to do a lot of failure testing. It’s been a rough week, but the grid is in better shape as a result.

Caravanserai: a Silk Road celebration in Second Life

Saturday, May 18th, 2019 will see the latest iteration of Caravanserai, a celebration of music, poetry and the spoken word from around the world, which this year is again aimed at raising money for Feed A Smile.

From Singapore to Second Life: come to the Caravanserai for a one-night stop over to witness a grand live concert, streamed on-line as Singapore wordsmiths and improv musicians team up with accomplished artists, writers, musicians, comics, film-makers and poets from Germany, UK, Holland, Portugal, Japan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Hawaii, Canada and the USA.

– From the Caravanserai Press Release

I first wrote about Caravanserai, which has been developed and coordinated by Dr Chris Moonie-Singh (Singh Albatros in SL) of The Writers Centre, Singapore and Scott Grant (Kaylee West/ Xilin Yifu in SL) of Monash University in Melbourne Australia ahead of the first event in 2017 (see here for more).

With that event, Caravanserai sought to celebrate the sharing of different cultures by transporting guests to an earlier time when the Silk Road contributed hugely to artistic and cultural understanding and world culture. Travellers going both directions would seek shelter in oasis’ or a caravanserai: an inn with a central courtyard for wayfarers in the desert regions of Asia or North Africa.

And so it is with 2019 as well, with events taking place within the walls of a desert caravanserai, featuring the main stage and various attractions to entertain, with more attractions beyond the caravanserai’s immediate walls – including the opportunity to race on a magic flying carpet.

Commencing at 05:00  through until 08:00SLT on Saturday, May 18th, the event features live streaming from the Writers Centre, Singapore, as well as in-world performances. The latter include:

  • Some Teardrop (singer-songwriter); USA.
  • Yadleen (Clara Mayef) Germany – ambient synth composer/performer.
  • Karima Hoisan and Natascha Randt, poet and film-makers (Costa Rica/Germany).
  • Dansy Insight (Traditional Chinese songs).
  • Rosedrop Rust (Oregon)
  • Poets: Persephone (NYC), Shyla (MiD-West), Klannex Northmead (London), Adele Ward (London), Key Key Underwood (Cleveland), Frederique McMIllan (Quebec, Canada).
  • Storyteller: Caledonia Skytower: Seattle area, USA
  • Esteban Voljeti – comedy.
  • Singh Albatros – original spoken word and music.

For those unable to make it in-world to the event, but who can watch it on-line, it will be streamed via Twitch.

As the Singaporeans share South-East Asian culture, world artists likewise share their poems, songs and stories this unique programme will be streamed live from Second Life from their on-line locations in the spirit of bygone days along the digital Silk Road.

So much of world history is built on the dialogue and cultural exchange represented by the land and sea Silk Roads.

We are very happy to start the Silk Road Series and share the heritage of East-West arts.

– Kaylee West and Singh Albatros

Caravanserai the crossroads of the arts

About Feed A Smile

Feed A Smile is a programme run by Live and Learn Kenya (LLK) to provide nutritious warm lunches for over 400 children every day, paid for entirely from donations to the project. It is part of a broader programme managed by LLK, which includes finding sponsors to finance the education of children in Kenya and helping to provide them with everything they need: uniforms, shoes, text books, school supplies, etc., and the building of the Nakuru school, Kenya.

In addition, the organisation also provides medical and dental care for children, including check-ups and vaccinations. 100% of the donations received by LLK are transferred directly to Kenya to care for children, provide education, medicine, food, shelter and foster care. Nothing is lost to salaries, fees or administrative costs at LLK.

SLurl Details

New SL viewer release notes pages: an overview

As noted in my week #20 SL Content Creation summary, Linden Lab have unveiled their new viewer release notes pages.

At the time of writing, the new pages are focused on the release candidate (RC) viewers that are in development and currently available as download cohorts in place of the de facto release viewer. It is not currently clear if project viewers will be included in the new format or not.

As Steven Linden from the viewer team notes in a Tools and Technology blog post on the subject, these new pages are part of a new website for viewer release information. This website comprises a dedicated home page with an introduction to viewer release notes. together with links on the left side to:

  • “Recent viewer releases”: a clickable list of the most recent RC viewer updates, provided as viewer version numbers. These are provided in release date order, with the most recent updates at the top.
  • Additional links to viewer-related support information:
The new Release Notes home page – access specific viewer release notes via the version numbers outlined in red on the left

Individual viewer release notes can be accessed by clicking one of the the listed version numbers, which will open a page specific to that viewer. These pages comprise:

  • Icon links to the available OS versions (Windows 32/64-bit, Mac OS).
  • The general release notes (description, etc.).
  • A list of resolved issues.

A significant change in these pages is that, where relevant, Jira links in the Resolved Issues section now, wherever possible, reference “public” bug reports (e.g. BUG-XXXXXX), rather than the Lab’s internally cloned versions of such bugs (e.g. MAIT-XXXXXX).

Currently, the new pages can also be accessed from the existing Alternate Viewers wiki page, (click the Release Notes link for an RC viewer on that page). However, whether this page will remain relevant if the release notes for project viewers are also converted to the new format, remains to be seen.

An example of the revised release notes for a viewer (in this case the Teranino Maintenance RC) – note the use of “public” Jira numbers where relevant, in the known issues list

The new pages are a lot easier on the eye, although I have a number of reservations at this time.

  • While I understand understand why version numbers are used to reference individual viewers (they are URLs and so can be dropped into the pages without necessarily requiring human intervention), they are less user friendly to those wishing to quickly look-up the specifics on a viewer.
  • The “recent Viewer Releases” lists can include links to multiple versions of a given viewer (at the time of writing, two versions of the EEP and Teranino RC viewers are listed, for example). This might cause a degree of confusion for some users, who may mist he “most recent at the top” arrangement of the list.
  • If project viewers are to be added to these pages, I would hope there will be some form of clearer distinction between them and any listed RC viewers, other than just a top-down list of version numbers, again for ease of user reference.

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