Marketplace listing categories contest winners announced

almost a month ago, I reported on LL launching a contest to define new female skin categories for the Marketplace.

As I explained at the time – for those who don’t / rarely use the Marketplace / notice their existence, listing categories are the selections under which merchants can have their products listed in the Marketplace. The idea is to help quantify / filter products on the Marketplace (together with keywords) so that they can be more easily found (by a user using the Category option on the left of Marketplace pages and clicking down through the options to refine a list of displayed results in the main part of the page).

Marketplace listing categories: LL seeling to improve
Marketplace listing categories: LL seeking to improve

Merchants have long felt that many of the categories used within the Marketplace are too broad; however, defining where and how the categories should be expanded is a problem in itself. In November, LL therefore issued a survey to merchants asking them for feedback on a proposed new structure – and as an incentive for people to participate, offered-up the aforementioned contest: to define a new set of categories for female skins.

Today, in a quiet update to their original announcement, the Lab have issued details on the new categories and the five winners. The new categories will also now be applied to male skins as well, and comprise:

  • Fantasy, in turn comprising: animal, vampire, fairy, alien, zombie and “other”
  • Human Light Toned, Human Medium Toned, Human Dark Toned – each of these in turn comprising: young, adult, aged
  • Human Fatpacks

The five winners of the contest are: SayaNicole Cuttita, Kilene Kondor, Emma Krokus, Yuukie Onmura and Voshie Paine. Each has apparently been informed and received their cash prize of L$2899 which, as LL keep reminding us, is equivalent to the cost of a month long [sic], frontpage Marketplace Product Listing Enhancement”. Indeed, according to the survey itself, a month-long listing enhancement was the actual prize!

So, congratulations to the winners!

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SL project news week 49

SL Viewer Updates

Things have been relatively quiet viewer-wise with only two updates to the official viewer branches. The development viewer rolled to 3.4.4.267614 December 4th, while on December 5th, the beta viewer rolled to 3.4.3.267755. The latter included a good crop of updates, including a number of graphics and GPU support related changes, and the long-await snapshot tiling fix.

Rough the same image shot using the new beta viewer at the same resolution  - no tiling line (click to enlarge)
The MAINT-628 fix in action: an image taken with the latest beta viewer running in deferred mode and at a resolution of 3500×2154 pixels, well above the 1400×900 of my monitor – and no tiling! There are limits to how well the fix works at ultra-high resolutions, as noted in the JIRA comments included in my report on the release.

Server Deployments

Following-on from last week’s RC deployment issues, there was no main channel deployment on Tuesday December 4th, although a number of regions were restarted during the course of the day.

Wednesday December 5th saw the same maintenance release rolled to all three RC channels. This comprised the release originally aimed at Magum in week 48 and which included all bugs fixes for the problems which required the roll-back on Thursday 29th November. Initial statistics for this update during the brief time it was available last week showed a clear improvement in stability, and this seems to have continued with this week’s release, although there has been one major issue come to light and is under investigation.

This relates to IM messages sent by scripted objects failing to trigger e-mails to the object’s owner if they are off-line. The problem appears to be related to the use of llInstantMessage(llGetOwner(), and appears to affect regions on all three RC channels, but not every case where llInstantMessage(llGetOwner() is used appears to be affected.

Currently, it is thought that a fix will be available for deployment during week 50, and should reach the RC channels om Wednesday December 11th.

Details of the week’s RC release can be found in the release notes and in the forum discussion thread (including some discussion on the current scripted object / e-mail issue).

Continue reading “SL project news week 49”

WOOT! Snapshot tiling fix is here!

Back in July 2012, I indicated that Runitai Linden had a long-awaited fix for the “tiling” issues affecting high-resolution snapshots for some people.

The issue was initially reported in JIRA MAINT-628 at the end of 2010, and has impacted viewer releases since then, becoming the subject to intense investigation by users and LL alike. The problem has tended to make itself known when taking images at a higher resolution than that of your monitor, resulting in lines breaking-up the captured image in a tiling effect.

In July Runitai commented on the JIRA thus:

Runitai Linden added a comment – 18/Jul/12 1:57 PM

Fixed in viewer-cat

Fix was to use a large render target for snapshots that are larger than the window, but only when lighting and shadows is enabled. Screen space effects will still show seams when lighting and shadows is disabled.

If the graphics card is unable to allocate a single render target large enough for the high res snapshot, the old method of tiling is still used. On my GTX 580, I could take artifact-free snapshots up to 3500 pixels wide, but could not allocate a full set of render targets at 4000 pixels wide, so the old method is used.

Changes involve an invasive set of changes to LLRenderTarget, so QA should be careful to check various shadow modes, ambient occlusion, depth of field, and anti-aliasing with lighting and shadows enabled. Running with Debug GL enabled will likely cause a crash now when taking high-res snapshots (expected and acceptable behaviour), since the driver reports “out of memory” when trying to allocate a large render target. When Debug GL is not enabled, the viewer handles this error condition gracefully and continues to function.

Sadly, in the interim, things went slightly pear-shaped with LL’s viewer code, with major bugs appearing in the beta code branch which brought updates to a juddering halt which they were sorted out. Those reading my weekly project news updates will be aware of the issues, which were finally sorted out last month. However, in the interim, a LOT of high-priority work has backed-up, with the result that MAINT-628 appeared to be in a holding pattern with a lot of other work, waiting for the high-priority stuff to clear. When I asked Oz Linden about the situation, he could only say that the JIRA looked likely to be out “pretty soon” – which suggested a potential wait of a few more weeks.

However, for those using the SL viewer – the wait is over!

Beta viewer 3.4.3.267755 was released on December 5th, 2012, and the release notes contain a small but significant entry:

MAINT-628[c] Highres snapshot – Rendering artefact (Window sized frame buffer regardless of snapshot size)

I’ve just been playing with the release, having long suffered from the tiling issue when trying to capture images at almost anything over my screen resolution of 1440×900 and the results are superb. The following two images were captured at the same image resolution (3500×2154). The top was captured using the current SL release viewer, and the lower image with the new beta viewer. The results are clear – but click to enlarge each, if required. Note the tiling line across the sky in the first image and the lack of any such line in the second.

The problem again: an image captured on my PC at twice my screen resoltuion (1440x900), using the release SL viewer, 7th December. Note the tile line in the sky (click to enlarge)
The problem again: an image captured on my PC at 3500×2154 resolution, using the release SL viewer, 7th December. Note the tile line in the sky (click to enlarge)
Rough the same image shot using the new beta viewer at the same resolution  - no tiling line (click to enlarge)
Roughly the same image shot using the new beta viewer at the same resolution – no tiling line (click to enlarge)

So, for those who have been afflicted by the tiling bug, the wait is almost over. You can either grab the beta viewer and start snapping in high res, or wait for the fix to arrive in your favourite viewer – the wait shouldn’t be that long now, hopefully!