Bay City Fashion Week 2013 announced

BayCityFashionMarianne McCann brings word that the Bay City Fashion Week 2013 will be held from the 20th through 29th April 2013.

The press release on the event reads in part:

Mid-Century Designers welcomed back

BAY CITY, SL (2nd April, 2012) – Bay City is again welcoming back designers of mid-century fashion for their second annual Fashion Week. The event seeks to show off the best of fashion that typifies Bay City’s theme: the American urban experience, between 1940 and 1965, perhaps best typified by Chicago circa 1950 and marked by a distinct deco influence.

Established designers will be provided with a space in the Bay City Fairgrounds, in the North Channel region, from April 20-29 to present the best in mid-century modern fashions for all Second Life avatars. Runway space and other amenities will be provided to help them highlight their designs.

According to the press release, designers already planning to present at the event include: 1-800-BETTIES, Vita Bella, Delicate Sensibilities, Electica, Fin, Ingenue, Sonatta Morales, Rhapsody, Schadenfreude, Volstead, and Robin (Sojourner) Wood.

About Bay City

Bay City is a mainland community, developed by Linden Lab™ and home to the Bay City Alliance. The Bay City Alliance was founded in 2008 to promote the Bay City regions of Second Life™ and provide a venue for Bay City Residents and other interested parties to socialize and network. It is now the largest Bay city group, and home to most Residents of Bay City.

For more information, or to participate in the event, please contact Marianne McCann in-world.

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SL project updates week 14 (2): Server releases; deformer

Deployments for Week 14

SLS Main Channel

On Tuesday April 2nd, the Second Life Server (SLS or Main) channel received the interest list update which has been running on the Magnum RC channel for weeks 12-13. This includes:

  • More correct sorting when streaming objects to viewer
  • More objects are categorised as cacheable by the server (improves scene loading speed when revisiting regions)
  • Packed full ObjectUpdate data recycled for multiple viewers (optimisation of how UDP packets are built)

Additionally, the package includes fixes for the following issues:

  • BUG-1779 – Updates for objects that are out of view are delayed for a maximum of 5 seconds, at which point they will be sent
  • BUG-1795 – “Agent appears in incorrect position to other agents after being moved by a sim teleporter”
  • BUG-1814 – “No object updates from vehicles after some region crossings” – yes, the vehicle region crossing bug fix reaches the Main channel (and should be on BlueSteel and LeTigre following the RC deployments on Wednesday 3rd April).

As always, there are release notes for the deployment.

Following deployment, there have been assorted reports that:

  • Region crossings in vehicles are generally a lot better – although the BUG-1814 fix will not reach the entire grid until after the RC deployments for Wednesday 3rd April (see below). However, feedback is pretty much in line with my own Magnum tests in my Mark XI Spitfire
  • There are reports that the fix for BUG-1779 is not working in all cases – Whirly Fizzle reports that her Meeroos are still suffering the same update issue as prior to the roll-out
  • There are also reports of increased issues with prims / parts of linksets failing to rez until right-clicked upon – although there is some speculation that this might be worse for some TPVs as they may not have recent code updates from the Lab.
Prims failing to rez until right-clicked: issue more prevalent?
Prims failing to rez until right-clicked: issue more prevalent?

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday April 3rd, the Release Candidate (RC) channels should receive the following updates:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre should receive the same package as week 13, which includes the new Animation Override LSL capabilities. In addition they also should receive:
    • The changes deployed to the Main channel on Tuesday April 2nd
    • A fix for BUG-2134 – “Avatar pre-jump is sporadic”
    • Release notes are available (BlueSteel link)
  • Magnum should receive Monty Linden’s new server-side HTTP updates (see below) – release notes.

SL Viewer

The Mesh Deformer project viewer was finally updated on Tuesday March 2nd with the release of version 3.5.1.273384. There are no changes to the deformer with the release – which does see the deformer code now merged with the CHUI codebase.

HTTP Updates

Monty Linden's HTTP updates should arrive on the Magnum RC on Wednesday 3rd April, assuming no last-minute hitches
Monty Linden’s HTTP updates should arrive on the Magnum RC on Wednesday 3rd April, assuming no last-minute hitches

The next stage in Monty Linden’s HTTP project should reach the Magnum RC channel on Wednesday April 2nd. these updates can be briefly summarised as:

  • More complete and more correct headers on texture and mesh fetches – these should ensure the viewer is better able to handle objects as they are downloaded to it
  • Keepalive connections for some HTTP-based services

Notes on the latter point explain that:

The behavioral change for HTTP connections marks the beginning of support for persistent (keepalive) connections. Services transiting the capabilities router, at ports 12043 and 12046, may honour a request for keepalives and keep a connection open after request completion. These services may include such activities as texture and mesh fetching, event delivery to viewer, HTTP-In for LSL scripts, asset uploads and inventory operations. Benefits from keepalives include immediate and future throughput increases and less TCP connection churn (which often disrupts consumer-grade networking equipment). The exact set of services that will see this is expected to change over time.

In other words, connectivity between the viewer and the server should be somewhat more robust and, in the case of older router models, less taxing.

Server-side Baking Avatar Z-offset

I missed the Monday Content Creation meeting on April 1st due to family commitments. However, I understand from information received that the question of avatar height offsets. The solution, as currently offered by LL, is considered to be less than optimal for all situations. In replying to the question, Nyx Linden apparently indicated that the Lab do not consider the matter fix in light of further examples having been given, and that further work in correcting matters is in-hand. Whether these further fixes address all concerns remains to be seen.

Other Items

Griefing

Griefing was once again a subject of discussion at the Simulator User Group meeting on the 2nd April. As with the last time the recent increase in mainland griefing was raised, LL are not willing to discuss specifics in terms of what they’re aiming to do. However, Simon Linden did provide more general feedback in response to questions.

Nothing new to report about griefing tools … but it is on our radar and definitely a concern … When looking at griefing problems the most serious issues and the ones that get the fastest attention is anything that can crash a region or viewer. After that there’s a broad spectrum mostly based on the level of pain and if there are things that can or can’t be done about it already. The fight has been going on since long before I joined the Lab.

During the discussion, Simon was at pains to again point out that those Lindens attending the User Group meetings are not responsible for dealing directly with griefing accounts – that is the role of the Governance team. However, he also made it clear that there are internal LL meetings where griefing is discussed, saying:

The Lindens that come here like Andrew, Kelly and myself are server developers, so we focus on features there that can help. Dealing with accounts is outside our area and the Governance people handle that … We do regularly meet and discuss what’s going on … everyone is aware of the recent increase in griefing … It’s gotten a lot worse recently. Not due to technical failures and it becoming easier, but from more griefers.

Simon also indicated that the bug which allowed objects to get stuck in limbo at the edge of a region, where they could be exploited by griefers, now has a fix in the BlueSteel and LeTigre RC channels, and that measures to help combat particle spamming are “in the pipeline”, with the hope that a project viewer will be featuring these will be available soon.

SCR-19 – Script function to return objects remains a popular choice of handling griefing objects, and Simon – purely as a brainstorming exercise asked for feedback on region controls which could be turned off / options which could help make land more “griefer-proof”. Some of the responses included:

  • Having particles require group permissions
  • Banning individuals based on their group membership. This raised questions over privacy and usefulness / effectiveness. The former as it would require a means to discover someone’s groups, even if hidden; the latter points because it would only otherwise work on a person’s active group, it would be relatively easy to circumvent (by leaving the group, if necessary)
  • Blocking object rezzing based on the creator’s name
  • Turning off public script operation over explicit banned/no access parcels, making the return time for public rezzed objects over explicit banned/no access parcels 1 minute.

Again, none of this should be taken as an indication that any of the above will be explicitly developed by LL; rather they are likely to be added to the melting-pot at the Lab and help LL better understand where user concerns lay and what directions they should consider for further technical responses to griefing issues.

Mesh Object Physics Shape

There has been a (possibly long-standing) problem with the physics shape for some mesh objects being changed unexpectedly. Lares Carter, speaking at the Simulator User Group, described it thus:

The physics shape type for mesh objects gets changed from Prim to Convex and doesn’t change back until the object is right-clicked. This only happens for linksets that contain a prim with a target omega property. Things that can trigger the change: movement changes and rezzing the object. There also seem to be other factors as it can happen for static objects too.

The issue has been reported in BUG-2147, and differs from the problem wherein some objects / parts of builds (such as floors, walls, etc.) fail to rez until clicked upon (but can be walked on, etc.), in that the mesh object can be seen and can collided with – but the physics shape is incorrect. There are reports that analysing the physics model in the mesh uploader can be used by content creators to mitigate the issue. However, this issue is now on the Lab’s radar in terms of further investigation.

 

Lab updates pricing on private region management services

secondlifeOn Tuesday April 2nd, Linden Lab issued a blog post on pricing for private region moves on the grid (i.e. moving a region from one location to another on the grid map), and for renaming regions.

The blog post reads in full:

If you have a private region in Second Life, there are several special services you might occasionally need, like region moves and name changes.

The charges for these services depends on the number of private regions you have, and to make it easier for all of our customers to understand the fee structure, we now have laid it out in this chart in the Knowledge Base:

New region fees - poor readability due to original also being of poor quality
(New region fees – poor readability due to original also being of poor quality – click to enlarge)

To request one of these private region management services, please submit a case through the support portal.

The guidelines for actually moving / renaiming private regions remain unchanged.

Also unchanged is the cost of transferring a region to new ownership. This remains at $100 per region (plus VAT for Europe), which includes moving and renaming the region, transferring billing for the region and changing the estate ownership settings.

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Fantasy Faire 2013: Blogger registrations open and first regions announced

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The fifth Second Life Fantasy Faire will be held from April 20th through 28th 2013. There has already been a call for designers – which has been very well supported – and on April 1st, the organisers opened registrations for bloggers.

Once again, those wishing to blog about the event can do so in one of two ways:

  • Become an “official” blogger, complete with certain requirements and benefits
  • Remain a “casual” blogger, but enjoy access to the regions on the press preview day.

To qualify as an “official” blogger, a blogger must (among other things) have been blogging for at least 2 months, update their blog at least weekly and be required to blog about at least one item designed specifically as a RFL fund-raising item for the Faire, as supplied to them by each of the four stores to which they’ll be assigned. In return, the blogger will be listed on the Fantasy Faire website.

Full details on the requirements can be found on the blogger application form. Note that applications must be received no later than Friday April 5th.

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One of the stunning official Fantasy Faire 2013 posters – picture: Tamzin Xiglia; design: Alia Baroque; logo: Marcus Inkpen

First Regions Announced

The first three regions for this year’s event have been announced, together with their sponsors and participating designers. They are:

  • Crimson Fields: sponsored by T R I D E N T; featuring: lassitude & ennui; [ContraptioN]; Satyrs Moon; FallnAngel Creations; meadowWorks; Unzipped; and with themed stores:  The Muses; Vengeful Threads; Psst…Here Kitty, Kitty; Kishi Creations; ImpWerks; – NaLa –; MysticHope Design; TempT; The Elegant Goth; De La Soul
  • Evensong Woods: sponsored by Roawenwood; featuring: Boudoir; ~*Star Kindler Designs*~; Illusions; Mystique; Mindgardens Creations;ThatChick; and with themed stores: Swings Paradise Furnitures; Unique Obsession; Kotori; +Half-Deer+; {Lemon Tea}; An Lema; EagleHeart Designs; ~Sa-eela~; ~ Mystic Sky ~; .:EMO-tions:.
  • The DragonSpire: sponsored by: The Arcanum; featuring:Dark Goddess Designs; Curious Kitties;Favourite Genes; Black Veil Outfitters;The Golden Thorn; ~Refined Wild~; and with themed stores: Niekra’s Dreams; Wilds of Organica; Tayren’s Fantasy Fashions;
    Sparkle Skye Designs; Elvenbreath; Dysfunctional Designs; *.:!Completely oBVious!:.*; Talevin’s Designs; Whatz; Analog Dog Hair.

Further regions to be announced in due course.

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Lab introduces new pricing model for Creatorverse

LL logoLinden Lab have announced that as from April 2nd, 2013, Creatorverse, the first in their new range of products to be released in a “full” version, is available free-of-charge for the Apple iOS (iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone) – however, “advanced tool” packs will now be sold within the application itself.

The announcement of the move reads in part:

SAN FRANCISCO – April 2, 2013 – Linden Lab, the makers of shared creative spaces including Second Life®, PatternsTM, and dioTM, today announced that CreatorverseTM for iOS is now available for free. Previously, Linden Lab had offered Creatorverse for iOS for $4.99, and Creatorverse Lite for free, but now Creatorverse is available for iOS as a single, free app. Creatorverse for Android and for Kindle Fire will soon follow the same model.

The announcement goes on:

For more complex creations, packs of advanced tools like teleporters and motors, are now available for purchase within the app. In addition, a new capability for Creatorverse, thrusters, are now available in the Rocket Tool Pack, which will allow users to easily add rockets, jetpacks, and more to their Creatorverse designs.

Creatorverse - "Full" version now free on iOS - other than "advanced tools" - Android and Kindle to follow
Creatorverse – “Full” version now free on iOS – other than “advanced tools” – Android and Kindle to follow

The the first of the “advanced tools” packs will be an “Advanced Creator Pack” priced at $4.99  However, all those who have purchased Creatorverse for iOS prior to the pricing model change will receive this pack free of charge – and it is assumed the same offer will be extended to Kindle / Android users when these versions also switch to the new pricing model. Whether or not other “add-on” packages will be offered at the same price remains to be seen – but it appears likely.

Downloads rapidly tumbled on Google Play
Downloads rapidly tumbled on Google Play (Dec 2012)

It’s been hard to gauge how Creatorverse has faired since being launched; while initial interest was high, it did appear – within the Android market at least, to tail-off very quickly, with downloads plummeting rapidly. Today, downloads appear to be so low, they are no longer graphically represented on Google Play

As I commented on the launch of the “Lite” version of the application, it’s hard to judge the move on LL’s part – is it a clever marketing ploy or a further attempt to bolster an application which isn’t actually making much headway?

Doubtless, there will be many who see the move in terms of the latter.

Creatorverse Lite on Android apears to be performing somewhat better than its full-price cousin
Creatorverse Lite downloads on Google Play (Mar 2013)

However, offering the app free, but holding the more advanced tools back as a purchasable option could actually be a canny move – and it is possible that downloads of the Lite version of Creatorverse have encouraged LL to think in these terms. These appear to be running at a somewhat higher daily average compared to the full-price version – which is suggestive that there is a market for the free version of the app out there, and that the marketing additional features and capabilities in “advanced” tool packs could be a tidy way for LL to continue to generate revenue off the back of that popularity, and to maintain interest in the product as a whole.

In this regard, the idea of generating income from “expansion packs” isn’t new – it’s something those at LL with a background in games will be very familiar with. What’s more, it is putting Creatorverse in the same marketing model as Versu.

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