Sea fever

Aside of the odd occasion, I’ve never really tried my hand at Second Life sailing. Sure, I’ve played around on the water, zapping about on my Neuspa, or riding a jet ski, or out on a motorboat, and I’ve taken my Premium sailing boat out a couple of times; but on the whole, I’ve left sailing alone.

That changed when, on a whim, I called Spikey and asked if she’d like to accompany me out on the waters of Blake Sea. We started out at Blake Sea – Half Hitch, which is rezzing-enabled, climbed aboard my boat and set off.

Ready to go – Blake Sea – Half Hitch

We headed due West to start with, letting the wind carry us across the first of many sim boundaries without a hitch, then turned north. I immediately appreciated the open waters of Blake Sea  because, o long as you keep your eye on the horizon around you, there is little need to focus on “driving” a sailboat, leaving you with time enough to chat with any friends who are with you and enjoy their company.

Blake Sea -Crows Nest

Which is not to say that Blake Sea is simply lots of empty water sims – there are islands to sail around, ports to visit, and quite a lot of things to see as you go. The open regions of the Sea are popular among pilots as well, and we saw several taking advantage of the freedom offered by these (comparatively) low-lag sims, with light aircraft, helicopters, transport planes routinely passing overhead (and rather un-routinely, in one case, ditching into the sea about 30 metres away from us).

Our progress was a little cumbersome, with me swapping between sail and motor as I initially couldn’t get the hang of tacking back and forth in order to make progress when the prevailing wind wasn’t favourable, and I frequently managed to turn the boat entirely out of the wind, and then having to switch over to the motor.

Blake Sea

There can be a lot going on in and around Blake Sea; there are sailing races, and some areas are given over to sea combat, and so on. Not every parcel is necessarily open to public access, either. Therefore, you do need to be aware as to what is going on and where you are going; however, the Map is generally enough to keep you informed of any activity near you (although it won’t stop you bumping into the occasional “cannot enter” pop-up warnings when you reach a parcel which has object entry blocked – I was a little surprised to encounter one of these outside the entrance to a harbour. Oh, and be wary of sand bars if your boat has a deep keel!

The Premium sailing boat offers a variety of sitting / sunbathing pose points in the cockpit and on deck which means you can share your time out on the water with friends, and Spikey took advantage of the deck-top poses to catch some sun as well sailed.

Blake Sea

All-in-all, sailing on Blake Sea can be a very pleasant experience – although admittedly, we happened to pick a time when there were no races scheduled, so things might get a trifle more frenetic when races are being held. It was certainly a great way to get out with a friend and simply chat, rather than sitting around indoors or IMing one another.

I’m not ready to take to the ocean blue full-time, but as a pleasant afternoon spent with a friend or two, sailing the waters of Blake Sea could become a very relaxing way to spend an hour or three.

Blake Sea

SL projects update week 40 / 2

Server Deploys

As many are aware, there was a major error in this week’s LeTigre Release Channel deploy. Apparently, the root cause of the problem lay in the server-side prim account code, which Simon Linden describes as having “blown up” on the LeTigre RC channel. This resulted in a large number of items (including partial builds) being returned to people’s inventories as a result of regions being seen as “full”. The problem required a two-stage recovery:

  • LeTigre regions were rolled back to a state prior to the faulty deployment, and were then updated with the BlueSteel code also deployed on Wednesday October 3rd. This helped to determine the extent of the damage (a total of some 1200 regions)
  • The regions damaged by the land impact miscalculation were then restore to a state prior to the roll-out of the original faulty LeTigre code. These had to be restored manually, which took a considerable time

There is further post-mortem work going to to try and discover why this error did not reveal itself when the code deployed to LeTigre was being tested on Aditi, and whether there is anything specific to the regions impacted by the error which may have triggered it. Thought is now also being given to managing large scale region restorations, despite this being the first time there has been such a massive issue of this kind occurring across the grid.

Current RC plans for next week call for the same maintenance release to be made to all three RC channels, which Simon Linden describes as, “Mostly internal changes but [which] does include a minor update for the physics engine library … It’s almost all updating libraries … we’ve been using a fairly old set of compilers and such to make some of the development builds of the servers, and this brings us to more recent code.” Further details on the deploy should be available next week in the Second Life Server section of the Technology forum.

SL Viewer

As indicated in part one of this report earlier this week, problems have continued with the Beta viewer code and high crash rates. Work has been ongoing to try and locate the probable cause(s), some of which included the temporary return of tcmalloc. While not actually a cause of the crash issues, having tcmalloc disabled was affecting efforts to reproduce the problems. a beta release was made on the 3rd/4th October (, which is proving to be a lot more stable than previous versions, and which happens to have tcmalloc enabled.

The current plan is for a further beta release to be made, most likely on Monday 8th October, which should see tcmalloc turned off once more (if not removed). Should this also prove to be stable, the fixes it contains will be merged back into the development viewer code, and this will clear the way for clearing the backlog of code merges for both the beta and development viewers. It may also see a further 3.4.1 release version of the viewer being made.

Among the projects awaiting merging into the development and beta viewer code are:

  • The Steam support changes, which have been available within a development viewer stream, and which are described as “mostly cosmetic”. There is apparently a version of the viewer on Steam, but it is not available for general viewing / download, and is presumably there for testing purposes
  • Monty Linden’s HTTP library (texture fetch) code
  • Baker Linden’s Group Services project code
  • Apple OSX 10.8 Mountain Lion support work, including gatekeeper compatibility
  • Bug fixes and further regionalisation work.

Previous plans for these releases called for them to be made under the 3.4.2 code base. While this wasn’t discussed at the TPV/Dev meeting, one assumes this is still the case. However, speaking at the TPV Dev meeting on Friday October 5th, Oz Linden indicated that the order, etc., in which waiting merges will be cleared hasn’t been fully defined, and will be the subject of internal conversations next week at the Lab.

Avatar Baking Project

Bake fail: a familiar problem for many

There is still no major news on this project, although work is continuing both on the viewer and on the server code.

The plan remains to provide TPV developers with access to the viewer code at least 8 weeks ahead of any initial deployment of the server-side code to an Agni release channel. This is to allow TPVs time to merge the code into their viewers and participate in ongoing testing of the new service.There is a possibility that that viewer code will be available sufficiently well ahead of things in order for TPVs to be able to use it alongside the testing on Aditi (beta grid), depending on the status of the beta grid tests and how development of the viewer code progresses.

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