2019 SL User Groups 12/2: Content Creation summary

Elvion; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrElvion – blog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, March 21st, 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer

  • The long-expected Maintenance RC viewer, code-named Teranino, was released on Wednesday, March 20th. Version 6.1.1.525401, comprising 50+ fixes.
  • The EEP RC viewer updates to version 6.2.0.525395 on Thursday, March 21st. It is felt EEP may have “one or two” further RC updates before it is ready to go to release status.

The rest of the official viewer pipelines remain as:

  • Current Release version 6.1.0.524670, formerly the BugSplat RC viewer February 13th, promoted February 28th 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):
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.1.1.524929, March 6th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 6.2.0.524909, March 5th.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Environment Enhancement Project – on the Grid

On Tuesday, March 19th and Wednesday March 20th, EEP back-end support was deployed to the SLS (Main channel) and to the Magnum and Cake RC channels, meaning it is now gird-wide.

As EEP handles environment rendering differently to windlight, that can be that at time, viewers without the may rendered skies oddly (e.g. black dots (stars) appearing in daytime skies, the sun may look bigger than it actually should be, and similar). Should this be the case, toggle the Use Region windlight option in your viewer off / on.

Note that if you are using a personally applied windlight or a custom parcel windlight through a viewer like Firestorm, generally speaking, you should see no issues.

Bakes on Mesh

Again, no update, other than a back-end Bake Service update is due (presumably to fix the “black skirt issue”. Once this is deployed, it should allow a resumption in progress with the viewer, which could likely be promoted to RC status.

ARCTan

The ARCTan project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs in the viewer is still stalled. One concern is that more needs to be done to encourage a greater number of creators to create low impact worn mesh; high impact worn mesh can do much to impact viewer performance, but is currently seen as having little around it to discourage better design. While there are options like the “jelly doll” capability, these are seen as limited in encouraging better content design as the onus is pushed onto other users to determine what they can or cannot see.

ARCTan itself is a difficult set of measures to calculate, as user hardware plays a role in performance (obviously), such as the split between CPU-based and GPU-based computations. As a result, frame times can vary widely. Ergo, more objective measures are required (e.g. triangle counts + surface area for textures, etc.).

Other Items

  • Mesh attachment loading: this is taking appreciable longer, and is particularly noticeable in busy regions, where avatars with a lot of mesh can take what feels like an age to “pull themselves together” (so to speak), although no cause has yet been identified. Vir Linden has been leading work to look into this.
  • Animesh follow-on: the focus is still on allowing body parts in the inventory of an Animesh to be used to customise the skeleton of the Animesh.
  • Creator requests: Vir asked a general question on things creators may be seeing a blockers to developing new content and what they would like to see to overcome these blockers. The feedback included:
    • More script functions.
    • Replacing appliers with an inventory based solution and a Bakes on Mesh follow-on.
    • Extending the existing constraints in the animation format to be a full Inverse Kinematics system.
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2019 Home and Garden Expo in Second Life

via slhomeandgardenexpo.com

The 11th Home and Garden Expo (HGE) in support of Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, is currently open, and will remain so until Sunday, April 7th, 2019. Taking place across ten regions (Hope 1 through 10) and the new Linden Homes preview region, the event offers some of the finest in home, garden, and furnishing designs available across the grid.

With over 100 exhibitors taking part, the event offers something for anyone who is looking for a new home, ideas for furnishing and décor, wishing to improve their building (or other) skills, or who just wishes to keep abreast of the latest building / home trends in Second Life.

The Home and Garden Expo Theatre

As always, the Expo there will be a range of events and activities, including entertainment and dancing, classes, a dedicated gacha region, talks and discussions, artists, and more. There is also:

  • The Silent Auction – featuring some stunning prizes – visit the auction boards in-world.
  • The Expo Hunt: follow the hints, visit all the main expo regions (in any order you choose), and pay L£10 for each prize (all proceeds to RFL of SL).
  • Visit the Home Decorating Competition and watch as the finalist decorate their assigned homes (March 20th – March 28th) and then vote on which you like the best (March 29th – 5th April), with the winners announced on April 6th.
  • Participate in the Lantern Ceremony at the main theatre. This ceremony goes back to 2012, when Alchemy Immortalis created the Blue Willow lanterns especially for the Home and Garden Expo. It became the custom to release them each day at 4pm, and people would gather to watch and reflect as the lanterns rose slowly into the air.

Don’t forget as well, that you can see a preview of the first designs for the new Linden Homes that will be made available to premium members in the near future.  You can also read more able these homes in my New Linden Homes Preview.

The first designs for the new Linden Homes for Premium members can be previewed at the Home and Garden Expo

About the Expo

The Home and Garden Expo raises money for Relay For Life of Second Life (RFL of SL). Relay For Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fund-raising event, and RFL of SL is one of its virtual counterparts. 100% of registration fees, sponsorship fees and donation items are paid to Relay For Life of Second Life. 50% of the proceeds from the gachas will be paid to RFL and 100% of the L$10 hunt items.

G.B.T.H. Transients in Second Life

G.B.T.H. Project – Transients

Now open through until Friday, April 19th at the G.B.T.H. Project is Transients, an 3D exhibition by Mr. and Mrs. S (respectively Saka Infinity and LauraLar Resident).

Given both of the artists are rightly noted for their exceptional photographic work (see here and here respectively), Transients is tempting in its promise of a 3D installation. And it is one with an intriguing concept, a series of individual elements drawing inspiration from memories and dreams, colours and sounds, objects and settings.

G.B.T.H. Project – Transients

In all, nine individual settings are provided (excluding the start and end points).  Access is gained via the G.B.T.H landing point – take the green bicycle teleport up to the installation start point. Here, if you’ve not already done so, make sure your viewers settings are adjusted to meet the requirements of the installation: time of day set to midnight, Advanced Lighting Model enabled and local lights set to Sun/Moon+Projectors. Once you have, proceed to the individual elements of the installation by using the green bikes to teleport up to each in turn.

Each scene is presented in its own room, each room identical in design. Thus they are the foundation for dreams and memories established: as we move from one to the next, the environment remains the same, but the scenes they present change, each one unique, yet in a way, transient – passing thoughts and memories framed within the “familiar” – the structures representative, perhaps, of our grounding in self.

G.B.T.H. Project – Transients

These are scenes that deserve time to contemplate – and in some, the opportunity is presented through the provision of chairs or seats. Like dreams, they need interpretation, like memories, their meaning perhaps needs to be considered and given context; and like both their interpretation and / or meaning can be ephemeral, shifting in context the more we observe them and moods and emotions shift and change as our observation of the whole focuses down to the individual – or vice versa.

But are they echoing our own memories, or are we recalling something else? Something from an enacted dream sequence within a film or a scene from a story once read? Thus, our sense of understanding again shifts, our thoughts become more convoluted. Soundscapes designed by Mr. S add a further layer of imagery to each scene, increasing their depth and – perhaps – stirs a further sense of familiarity and strangeness.

G.B.T.H. Project – Transients

A fascinating installation, offering an engrossing combination of ideas and designs from two artists that marks their first public exhibition of this particular style.

SLurl Details

An Authors Point in Second Life

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point – click any image for full size

Miro Collas suggested we pay a visit to Authors Point, a Homestead region designed by Xarl Bombastic (Xariell) and Weed Bombastic as both a region open to visitors and a residential offering. Rugged and rural, it offers a mixed landscape with some interesting quirks.

The island forms a table-like plateau, most of it raised well above the surrounding sea by cliffs, and split almost in two by a narrow gorge running from the south to the north-west to where it forms a pool. Part of the plateau top to the west sits a little higher than the rest, grass dried to gold by a summer’s sun, a flat head of hair for the rock, broken only by the occasional bent tree, knots of scrub hedge and a single, old warehouse building that listens the turning wheel of a wooden windmill and the gentle chimes of bottles strung from rope lines.

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point

Two sets of stone stairs lead down from here. The first drops to the lower step of the plateau, home to more grass and an old piano , sheet music upon its stand. The second, longer stairway drops down to where a grass glade sits just above the waters of the sea and cosseted by the protective arc of rocky cliffs. Here can be found one of several places scattered around the region where quit times can be enjoyed.

Across the watery chasm cutting into the island, itself spanned by an old bridge, the larger part of the plateau stands as another flat head of grassland, this rich green and dotted with tall trees. A track loops around it,, running from and to the bridge, roughly following the line of the cliff edge.

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point

On its way along the south-east cliffs, the track passes a second path, this one winding it way down the rock to coastal lowlands. Here sit five rental properties – so do be aware of people’s privacy should you follow the path downwards. A sixth rental unit faces them across the entrance of the gorge that cuts into the island. The fact the rental units are separated from the rest of the land by cliff and path means it is reasonably easy to avoid trespassing into people homes.

I say “reasonably”, because there is an exception: a tree house sits over the grassy table of rock, close to several point of public use. As such, it is easy to miss the fact is also a rental unit. However, stray too close and you will be curtly warned that it is by a security orb allowing you five seconds to move away. It’s an abrupt discovery that can be off-putting given the nearby carousel and other locations to sit scattered across the island’s top.

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point

This is also a place of change – although how frequently this might be is hard to tell: on our first visit, we found a small Alice In Wonderland-esque tea party setting, complete with a hare (although not the March Hare) accompanied by a chipmunk standing-in for the dormouse. On my return 24 hours later to take photos, the tea party had been replaced by a collection of books, some of them suspended in the air under the spreading branches of a tree.

More stone steps descend down a cutting to the north, offering the way to a cinder beach and another cosy hideaways for couples or those wanting to be alone. Follow the beach westwards around a headland and you’ll come upon  another of the region’s secrets, again hidden from the land above by the curving arms of cliffs.

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point

Two more houses sit on the northern side of the island. The first, mounted on stout wooden legs that presumably protect it from high tides that might otherwise sweep over the low-lying headland, does not appear to be a rental – but perhaps caution should be employed when exploring it, just in case. The second sits offshore, and appears to be a private home for Xarl and Weed.

Aside from the risk of bumping into the slightly abrupt security orb as a result of mistaking the tree house as a part of the public space, Authors Point is a pleasant, photogenic visit that may well stir the urge to write. Photographs are welcome at the region’s Flickr stream for those so minded.

Authors Point; Inara Pey, March 2019, on FlickrAuthors Point

SLurl Details

2019 SL User Groups 12/1: Simulator User Group

The Missing Whale; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrThe Missing Whaleblog post

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, March 19th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server maintenance package 19#19.03.07.525089. Previously deployed to BlueSteel and LeTigre, this update contains:
    • Internal fixes.
    • The Environment Enhancement Project code and all bug fixes for it.
  • On Wednesday, March 20th, the server RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will remain on server maintenance package 19#19.03.07.525089.
    • Magnum will update to server maintenance package 19#19.03.15.525315, containing:
      • The new operating system update.
      • The Environment Enhancement Project code and all bug fixes for it.

These deployments will mean that server-side support for EEP will be grid-wide. However, the viewer is still at RC status and awaiting some final updates (including the Chrome / Chromium / CEF) fix noted below). The version with the fixes is due to go to the Lab’s internal QA later on March 19th.

SL Viewer

There have been no official viewer updates at the start of the week, leaving the current pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.1.0.524670, formerly the BugSplat RC viewer February 13, promoted February 28. No Change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • 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.

Chrome and Chromium Exploit

As noted in my TPV Developer meeting summary, an exploit within Chrome / Chromium which affects all versions except the very latest, 72.0.3626.121. This is being addressed by Linden Lab, but it will take time for the patch to filter out to all viewers – both the Lab’s own and TPVs (note that neither the Linux Spur viewer and the obsolete OS viewer will not be updated with a patch to fix this issue).

In the meantime, the current internal SL web browser is potentially vulnerable; do not use it to browse non-LL websites on it, and avoid using media on a prim from untrusted sources.

Inventory Maintenance

There will be a period of scheduled inventory maintenance between 05:00 and 07:00 SLT on Wednesday, March 20th, 2019:

During this time, residents may have issues with any inventory related activities including building, logging in, as well as avatar and object rezzing. Please refrain from rezzing in-world, in addition to transacting in-world, on the Marketplace, or on the Lindex during this time.

– SL Grid Maintenance notice

Two Bandits at sea in Second Life

The Bandit 460 (foreground) and 580

Over the last several years I’ve collected numerous boats in Second Life, but one thing that has been missing from collection is a cabin cruiser. After looking around, and given budget is a little limited at the moment, I decided to pick up a Bandit 580.

Now, to be sure, this is not the most recent design in the Bandit range by Analyse Dean, but there was something about the lines I liked, together with its rich range of animations. It also, given the budget limit noted above, fitted my purse rather nicely, given I wasn’t entirely sure how often it would be used. However, I was in for a very pleasant surprise; unbeknownst to me, Analyse had noted the purchase, and no sooner had I arrived home and started unpacking the 580, she tapped me on the (IM) shoulder and dropped the more recent Bandit 460AK (the AK a reference to the included streaming radio) into my lap. So now I have not one, but two cabin cruisers to play with – thank you, Analyse!

The Bandit 580

As noted, the 580 is the older model, roughly 16 metres in length and about 5.8 metres across the beam. It has a large central cabin with a double berth forward, and dining cabin to the stern, which raises the helm station and stern deck. A second helm position can be found in the main cabin and both this and the stern helm station have working gauges and are suitable for Mouselook piloting. Two versions are supplied, the 580GT noting it has a built-in GridTalkie grid-wide marine 2-way radio system.

At roughly 12.1 metres in length and 4.6 metres at the beam, the Bandit 460AK is noticeably smaller than the 580, but it packs in a lot more. As with the 580, it has a primary midships cabin, with a stern sleeping area and forward dining area / sleeping cabin with a “functioning” toilet / shower cubicle. Piloting the boat can be performed from both inside the main cabin (standing position) plus a seated stern helm area with co-pilots seat alongside, separated by the single hatch to access the cabin.

The Bandit 460 with my own custom hull finish

A visual comparison between the two quickly reveals the improvements Analyse has made to her modelling; the steering wheels on the 580 are noticeably more “clunky” looking than those on the 460AK, for example, while the control switches on the latter all work via touch, as do the cabin light switches, hatches and a number of windows – the instruction manual highlights all touchables. Overall, the detailing on the 460AK is a step above the 580, but there are also similarities between the two. Many of the animations found in the 580 are also present in the 460AK: both share the same, or have similar, swimming, dancing, and deck working animations, for example (although overall, the 460AK has more animations). Local chat commands are similar for the two as well, although again, the 460AK’s are more extensive.

But when it comes to handling, these are very different boats. A twin-screwed vessel (the engines can be accessed via floor panels in the main cabin), the 580 has a higher top speed than the 460AK, and includes a racing mode. Trim can be automatically set via the engine script, or manually adjusted (Page Up and Page Down keys).  The engine sounds are suitably diesel-like for a vessel of this size, and while turning feels very flat, overall handling and manoeuvring is acceptable.

The Bandit 580 (l) dashboard features working gauges, but is showing its age a little – note the steering wheel. The 460 dashboard (r) offers more refined working gauges and steering wheel, together with a working compass and master switches for Mouselook driving

By contrast, the 460AK has more realistic handling, the boat naturally rolling outwards as it turns, and the helm being affected by inertia when travelling a speed (the faster you’re going to more pressure is required on the left or right cursor keys to maintain the turn). Like the 580, it is well suited to Mouselook piloting, and the superior helm controls make this a joy. My one small disappointment is the engine noise itself, which is  – to my ears – is a little underwhelming.

Another difference between the two boats is in their LI and physics costs. The 580 weighs-in at 32 LI and a physics cost of 24.2. The 460AK, however is a heavy 55 LI and 40.5 physics. Both of these tend to make themselves felt at region crossings, making the 460AK something of a handful, although like the 580 it recovers well enough.

Taking the Bandit 460AK around Isla Pey

The additional LI / physics costs with the 460AK is a result of the range of options included: deck furniture for the rear deck – chairs, table, drinks-; forward deck loungers that sit over the main cabin, radio (working) forward cabin switchable bed / table, cushions and curtains for the cabins and a stern deck railing canvas. The upper deck also has a 3-option Bimini (at least the top canvas needs to be deployed to see the in-world text HUD displayed over the boat), and the rear cabin has a built-in television.

Further accessories are supplied in a separate box, the smartest of which is the 460AK wooden dock. Place this out in a suitable position and bring the 460AK in close with engine running, preferably with the fantail at the stern facing towards the small extension side from the  dock, and then type “moor” in local chat. The 460AK will slide neat into to place, fenders deployed, before mooring lines appear, together with a shoreline power connector, before the boat’s engine shuts down.

The 460AK alongside with mooring and power lines deployed

When leaving the dock, starting the engine will automatically hide the mooring lines – then just click the fenders to return them to their stowage bins on the boats’ railings, and you’re ready to advance the throttle and ease away from the dock. The dock itself is provided in handed versions – but the second is unscripted. Other accessories include a fishing rod, dock poles, a second radio for the boat and a lounge chair.

Custom painting of either boat is possible, with texture PNG files supplied. These are adequate for the task, with each boat having at least one additional hull finish. For those not up to painting, there are also several paint schemes from various merchants to be found on the Marketplace – just search Bandit 580 or Bandit 460. I opted to use one of the supplied Bandit 580 pre-sets, as it has a nice musical theme, but took work I’d previously produced for my Loonetta 31 and applied it to the 460AK to offer something of a matching theme.

Both the Bandit 580 (l) and the Bandit 460 (r) are set-up to be rezzed from our vehicle rezzer, although the 460AK tends to remain rezzed by default.

As noted, both boats have optional in-world hover text information displays, while the 580 also includes two screen HUDs, one for the skipper and one for crew. The former provides options to start the boat, activate the lights and sound the horn. It also includes a CTRL button, which takes control of the driving the boat back from any crew member currently driving it. Crew can drive the boat if the skipper (owner) expressly allows it, and use the crew HUD Control button to take command.

The 460AK doesn’t have a screen HUD of its own, relying on chat commands – which can get a little tedious (e.g. typing “bimini” multiple times to step through the Bimini options and remove it). However, .:: KG Creations ::. have produced a L$170 460AK Control HUD, that reproduces the majority of the boat’s commands either directly (button click) or via button-click and displayed menu. By default, when attached to your screen, this will appear at the top of the viewer window (and can be repositioned, obviously), making switching from the HUD to a displayed menu dialogue straightforward.

The third-party Bandit 460AK Control HUD by .:: KG Creations ::.

Analyse is justifiably proud of the Bandit 460AK, and while it takes a little getting used to handling-wise, it’s a feature-packed vessel that justifies the L$3,000 price tag. While older in build quality and lacking all the options found in the 460AK, the Bandit 580 offers a good cruising experience at a modest L$1,250.

But before buying either, I do recommend seeing them in-world at the Bandit / Mesh Shop store at Dutch Harbor, where demo versions are available to take out and get a feel for their respective handling – note that the demos are limited to 10 minutes rez time, but that should be more than adequate. In addition, the 460AK can be obtained via the Bandit Marketplace store.

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