2018 SL UG updates 42/1: Simulator and Governance

Lost Unicorn Forest Sanctuary; Inara Pey, September 2018, August 2018, on FlickrLost Unicorn Forest Sanctuaryblog post

Simulator User Group

Server Deployment Plans

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates.

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018, leaving the simulators on that channel running on server release 18#, comprising the simulator update for Bakes on Mesh. However, regions on the channel were restarted, per the Lab’s 14-day restart policy.
  • On Wednesday, October 17th, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • The three core RC channels, Magnum, LeTigre and BlueSteel should all be updated with server maintenance package 18# containing internal fixes.
    • The Snack RC channel should be updated with server release, containing server-side EEP support. This will be an initially limited deployment to regions under LL’s management.

SL  Viewer

There were two SL viewer updates at the end of week #41:

  • The Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) project viewer updated to version, on October 12th.
  • the Spotykach Maintenance RC viewer updated to version on October 11th.

The rest of the official viewers remain unchanged at the start of week #42:

  • Current Release version, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Animesh RC viewer, version, October 8th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version, September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version, September 10th. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version, released on August 20th.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17th, 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Non-HTTP Asset Fetching

For some time now, all SL assets have been fetched using HTTP via the Lab’s CDN provider(s), avoiding the need for the simulator to handle all asset transfers and associated messaging directly. While the viewer code has long had the necessary code to support asset fetching via HTTP / CDN, the code for the old, non-HTTP fetching has remained in place in the simulator, allowing much older viewer versions to continue to fetch assets by way of the simulator.

However, Linden Lab has announced that as from January 6th, 2019, they will be removing the old non-HTTP fetching methods from the simulator code. Any viewers still fetching the affected asset types via UDP after this date will not longer work correctly.

The specific asset types affected by this change are: system body parts, system clothing, gesture, animations, sounds, and landmarks (mesh, textures and avatar appearance having long been HTTP only).

Operating System Update

The Lab is working on another major operating system update for the simulators and their back-end services. Part of this work is being deployed to the Morris region on Aditi, the beta grid, on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018. As OS updates can lead to some unanticipated outcomes, the deployment to Morris is very much a test of the new code. Those who routinely use the beta grid and the Morris region are asked to raise a beta grid Jira on any issues or other “oddness” they note subsequent to the deployment – “oddness” in this case being anything outside of the usual / expected behaviour of things.

The Cloud and “On Demand” Regions

Questions continue to be asked about the use of “on demand” regions following SL’s eventual move to cloud infrastructure. That is, regions that are only spun-up and active when one or more avatars are in them.

As Ebbe and others from the Lab has indicated, making regions “on demand” is not a priority at present with the move. Rather the focus is on shifting SL to the cloud “as is”, without significant changes to how the simulators and their region appear to operate.

While an “on demand” region offering might be possible in the future, it will most likely be an entirely new product offering when compared to the current Full and Homestead region types, and would probably only by suited to a standalone use, rather than such regions being part of any contiguous land mass, simply because of the complexities of  access (imagine trying to fly across multiple regions and having to stop at each border for 60+ seconds while the next region is deployed and spun-up) and in handling LSL scripts that assume all regions are running all the time, etc.

So , don’t expect anything like these immediately after the move – although such a product might surface at some point in the future, one the Lab have built up confidence in running SL in the cloud.

In Brief

  • BUG-216320 “Error when retrieving grid statistics page via llHTTPRequest”: no fix as yet.
  • BUG-7084 “Prim properties visually revert to an earlier state since Interesting”: again, no progress to report at present.
EEP is coming! server-side support is being deployed in week #42 on a limited basis to the main grid (Snack RC), and Simon Linden has been having seasonal fun with his home parcel. Expect EEP to gain wider simulator availability in the coming weeks. Credit: Simon Linden

Continue reading “2018 SL UG updates 42/1: Simulator and Governance”


Standing On The Other Side in Second Life

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side – click any image for full size

Shakespeare recently forwarded a landmark for On the Other Side, a homestead region designed by Michelle (xxMichelle20xx) and Indriel (Indrielx) – and once again we’re in his and Max’s debt for alerting us to another fabulous region design.

The home of {JAS} main store, reached by teleport from the landing point, the region is beautifully landscaped as a small rural island, one of a number that appear to be sitting just off the coast of a larger  landmass. It’s a magnificently eclectic mix of elements which come together to present a photogenic and engaging setting.

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side

The landing point is a tall stone watch tower, looking as if it might have been transported here from the Great Wall of China, and which sits on a sheer-sided table of rock that dominates the island. Three ways off of the rock are offered: the aforementioned teleport up to {JAS}, a zip line that crosses land and water to arrive at a canopied pavilion floating in the air; and a ladder down through the tower, and then via path down the rock face.

Of the two going down, I would suggest taking the ladder and leaving the zip line for when explorations are complete. Doing so will introduce to some of the region’s curios, such as the Star Wars stormtrooper endlessly dancing on behalf of the region (and who will take donations for its continued upkeep).

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side

Nor is he alone, as overhead the region introduces a fantasy element into the mix with a dragon caught with hind legs poised either in readiness to make a landing – or ready to grab potential prey. The sci-fi  / fantasy elements continue further out in the sky as well, where what might appear to be Mars slowly tracks around the region. Stay long enough and you’ll see it transform itself into Earth, or you can click on it to change it to one of several solar system bodies.

Northwards from the path leading down from the plateau sits a farm-like setting. Horses graze on the grass, a traditional windmill stands with sails turning slowly. However, it is no longer producing flour from grain; the millstone has been moved down to the ground floor and converted for use as a coffee table, the room now a cosy lounge and kitchen, with the upper floors similarly converted for residential use. However, when walking around the outside walls, do be aware that some of the leaves drifting in the breeze aren’t phantom.

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side

The windmill is one of several small residences on the region that add to its stirring of ideas, moving thoughts away from fantasy and sci-fi, and towards more a feeling that the island could simply be a holiday retreat. Like the windmill, the house boat and converted lighthouse are both open to public viewing, but please keep in mind the large house occupying a low-lying isle in the south-west corner of the region is a private home, and avoid the temptation to cross the stone walkway leading to it

Not far from the windmill is a large pond, the home to ducks and swans. It shares the hilltop it is on with a little outdoor refreshments area looking out over the artificial run-off linking the pond with the bay below. Fronted by a narrow curve of beach, the bay offers surfing for the adventurous (the very adventurous, given the great white shark lurking under the waves, perhaps sizing-up his next snack…), or a cosy beach house for those content to sit and watch and / or cuddle.

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side

More of the eclectic mix of the region can be found to the south-east and across a stone bridge reached across a narrow channel to a small isle. This is home to Ganesh, sitting at peace on the single hill-top, surrounded by Joshua and palm trees, while down at the foot of the hill African elephants stand on the shore and in the surf. The elephants aren’t alone in being unexpected occupants of the island alongside horses, goats and sheep; there’s also an embarrassment of pandas waiting to be discovered.

There’s also ancient mystique to be found here in the form of an ancient stone circle on a low hill. A place of atmospheric mystery which, given the time of year at the time of writing, holds the suggestion of mystical goings-on.

On the Other Side; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrOn the Other Side

Naturally landscaped and rich in detail, On the other Side has a lot to keep the visitor occupied. There are places to sit and spend time in the region to be found throughout, and those who wish to use props to take photos can do so, as auto return is set to 30 minutes – but do please pick-up props after use. However, do note that access is restricted to avatars of at least 60 days of age.

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2018 viewer release summaries, week #41

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

Updates for the week ending Sunday, October 14th

This summary is generally published on every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:

  • It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
  • By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
  • Note that test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer updated to version on October 12th.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers



  • No updates.

Mobile / Other Clients

  • No updates.

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Ani’s Art by Nature in Second Life

Art By Nature

Art By Nature is the name Ani (Anibrm Jung) uses for her physical world photography presented through Second Life. I’ve covered her work in the past (see here and here), as I’ve always found it a stunning tour-de-force of photography sans the need for post-processing; and I’m happy to be able to say that she has returned once again to hosting her own gallery space in-world, this time located on the mainland region of Gimchi.

Based in the Netherlands, Ani is an award-winning photographer who has been active in Second Life since 2006. She  specialises in photographing nature – hence Art by Nature – and captures many of her images in her own garden using only her camera and natural light. Everything is framed directly through the viewfinder, and no cropping nor image manipulation is used after the fact. In this way, we are able to see each picture exactly as she did when taking it, allowing us to share her own sense of closeness with her subjects.

Art By Nature

The result of this are images that are completely captivating in their depth and presentation, which Ani rightly displays in-world in a large format (although I believe her work is resizeable post-purchase). Split across two floors, her new gallery presents pieces that combine her marvellous work with the macro lens with her broader landscape work, offering the visitor a rich mix of her art.

Broadly speaking, the ground floor focuses on Ani’s landscape work and features some truly stunning photos of sunrises and sunsets, the majority making beautiful use of water and light to produce genuinely wonderful images. On the upper floor, the focus is towards Ani’s macro work – and this really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. It is in her close-up images of flowers and Ani captures the majesty of nature we can all too easily take for granted when captivated by the broader scenes of the world that nature presents to us.

Art By Nature

From the delicate touch of a bee collecting pollen through to the beauty of trees and contrails caught against a sunset to the playful delight of a cat, there is so much here to capture the eye, making a visit more than worthwhile.

All of the images displayed are available to buy, and if you do visit the gallery, please consider a donation towards its upkeep.

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Space Sunday: of Soyuz aborts and telescopes

Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin (l) and astronaut Nick Hague (r) prior to their flight aboard Soyuz MS-10 – a flight that was a lot shorter and a little more exciting than either man anticipated. Credit: Roscosmos

On Thursday, October 11th, 2018, the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft carrying two crew – American astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to the International Space Station (ISS) suffered a core second stage failure, triggering an emergency launch abort. Both Hague and Ovchinin survived the ordeal – although the way some of the media were reporting things, one might have thought they were hoping otherwise.

Soyuz utilises a R7 booster family of launch vehicle. This comprises a single-engined core element (confusingly called the 2nd stage, surrounded by 4 liquid-fuelled strap-on boosters referred to as the first stage. Each of these also has a single motor with, like the core stage, four combustion chambers. At launch, all five elements are fired, with the four strap-on boosters running for around 2 minutes. Then, with their fuel expended, they are jettisoned.

The view from the ground as Soyuz MS-10 starts its flight, October 11th, 2018. Credit: NASA TV

It is at this point – 2 minutes into the vehicle’s ascent from the Baikonaur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, that things went awry,  and gave observers watching from the ground the first indication of trouble – telemetry being relaid to mission control in Star City, near Moscow give little indication of a problem, causing commentators there to keep to their prepared scripts even as the drama unfolded.

Due to the way they fall clear of the core stage, the four strap-on boosters perform a controlled tumble with their exhaust plumes still visible. Seen from the ground, this forms distinctive and almost symmetrical pattern around the core stage called the “Korolev Cross” in honour of the father of modern Soviet / Russian space flight, Sergei Korolev, who also designed the original R7 rockets.

On this occasion, however, following separation, a decidedly asymmetrical Korolev Cross briefly formed, before the sky around the rocket became spotted with debris as if something had broken up.  At the same time, video of the cabin in the Soyuz vehicle’s decent module, where the crew sit during both ascent to orbit and their return to earth, showed Ovchinin  and Hague suddenly experiencing a brief period of weightlessness, almost as if thrust from the vehicle’s second stage had ceased, before they were pushed back into their seats and the plush toy suspended in front of the camera (used as a very rough-and ready G-force indicator) suggested a rapid acceleration.

This sudden acceleration was the result of the launch escape system kicking-in, separating the payload shroud containing the upper two modules of the Soyuz from the failing rocket. The manoeuvre recorded a 6.7 G acceleration right when the crew would have been expecting a 1.5G climb up to orbit as a result of jettisoning the spent strap-on boosters.

Once clear of the rocket, the fairing deployed a set of aerodynamic breaking flaps, slowing it to allow the Soyuz descent module to detach. The normal parachute and retro rockets where then used to bring the capsule back to Earth and execute a safe landing.

The distinctive “Korolev Cross” of booster separation see with R7 launches (l), and how it looked with Soyuz MS-10 (r). The first visual indications from the ground that something had gone wrong. Credits: NASA TV

Precisely what caused the failure has yet to be determined. As well as recovering the two crew safely and returning them to Baikonour unharmed, teams have also been busy recovering parts of the failure rocket, and Roscosmos believe they’ll be in a position to use the parts so far recovered together with telemetry from the vehicle’s ascent to provide a preliminary report on the failure within a week.

In the meantime, space experts have been examining video footage of the launch, and it would appear some form of malfunction during the separation of one of the four strap-on boosters may have caused it to actually collide with the core rocket. In his analysis of the flight, Scott Manley points to both the asymmetrical pattern of debris from the booster separation and what appears to be a radical slewing in the exhaust plume of the core stage as evidence there was some form of collision.

A remarkable shot of Soyuz MS-10 captured by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the ISS. Credit: A. Gerst / ESA / NASA

Some confusion also exists over what actually happened during the abort sequence. Like Apollo crewed rockets, Soyuz has a tower-like escape system at its top. In an emergency, rockets mounted in the tower fire, pulling the crew module clear with a brief acceleration of about 14 G. As the reported acceleration with MS-10 was less than this, there was speculation the escape system hadn’t been used.

However, the Russian escape system, called the Sistema Avariynogo Spaseniya (SAS), unlike American systems, has two sets of motors: those in the tower, and a set of lower-thrust motors mounted directly on the payload fairing, and capable of around 7 G acceleration – the reported speed of the Soyuz on separation. It’s theorised it was these motors that pulled the Soyuz clear, the vehicle not having reached a velocity warranting the use of the tower rockets in order to pull the Soyuz clear.

Left: the Soyuz escape system (SAS) and how it works. The system uses two sets of motors which can be used together or independently of one another to pull the upper section of the payload fairing and the Soyuz clear of a malfunctioning rocket. The Soyuz descent module can then jettison, using its parachute and landing motors to return to Earth. Right: The SAS motor tower (boxed) with four rockets, and the second set of 4 RDG rockets mounted on the payload fairing (ringed). Credits: assorted.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: of Soyuz aborts and telescopes”

Emerging from a Tokyo Street Subway Entrance

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance – click any image for full size

At the start of September 2018 we visited Tokyo Street Subway Entrance, created by Paradox Ivory under her Dox brand (you can read about a past region design of hers here). It’s taken a little while to get around to writing about it, simply because immediately after our visit, I didn’t have the opportunity to hop back for photos – so apologies to Paradox for the delay in blogging.

As the name suggests, the scene is built around a street in Tokyo – one in which the old and the modern combine in what is very much an aural as well as visually immersive setting – one that absolutely must be visited with local sounds enabled (and perhaps played through headphones – just don’t have the volume set too high!).

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance

Visits commence in a busy subway entrance. PA music pays in advance of trains arriving somewhere further within the station, echoing down tiled halls, the voice of an announcer chasing after the ping-pong tones, even as the rumbling hum of the electric  trains adds a basso chorus to the cacophony filling the air. Anyone who has ever commuted on the subway of any major city during rush hour will instantly recognise the noises.

Turnstiles and a sign point the way up to ground level, where a surprise awaits. Rather than exiting onto the hustle and bustle of a busy city thoroughfare, the steps lead up to a narrow side street, more of a service road than anything, that terminates at the subway entrance. The  majority of the building are between one and three storeys in height, surrounded further out by low-rise apartments, all of which suggests an older part of town. However, the sound of passing traffic weighs heavily in the air, suggesting a busier road is not too great a distance away – perhaps located on the other side of the tunnel at the far end of the street.

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance

This isn’t the only street here, however. Running parallel with it are two more, each narrow enough to almost be classified alleyways. These are connected to the main street by covered and open walkways,   which combine with them to offer multiple paths of exploration.

When walking them, care is strongly recommended; not because of anything untoward lurking, but because there is far more to see indoors and out, on the “ground” level and up assorted steps, than might appear to be the case. From cafés and snack shops to a little cinema and a roof-top baseball practice area, these streets and alleys present a lot to keep the local residents active and entertained. The detail poured into the scene is stunning; from the street signs to the little gardens and the wandering cats; the ambient sounds, the details tucked away inside some of the buildings…

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance

Wander far enough, and you’ll find your way to a little shrine, passing typical aspects from a modern Japanese setting along the way. Further depth to the scene is added by entrances and stairways which, although they might not ultimately go anywhere, still give an extra feel that this is very much a place where people live and work. Travel far enough along the narrower roads and alleys, and you might find tennis courts Surrounded by little 2-storey apartment blocks that look as if they might have drawn their inspiration from American roadside motels.

By default, the scene is set under a night-time windlight, something that enhances the distant, haunting hooting of train horns, the scene also works under daylight and evening environment setting particularly well – as I hope some of the images here demonstrate.

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance

“Vibrant” is a word that can frequently be used to describe a region, parcel or scene within Second Life; but usually when employed, it is to define the overall visual effect that has been achieved. With Tokyo Street Subway Entrance, however, the word takes on its fullest meaning: the setting is alive with the pulse of life wherever you go, sight and sounds working together to present something almost tangible while walking the street, alleys and passages.

Engaging, detailed, beautifully modelled and presented Tokyo Street Subway Entrance packs a huge amount into itself, making a visit – for those who take the time to look down alleys, peek behind doors (not all of them are façades!) and avoid rushing things, it makes for a rewarding visit.

Tokyo Street Subway Entrance; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrTokyo Street Subway Entrance

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