SL10BCC: Your Community Celebration needs YOU!

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Applications to be a part of the Community Celebration to mark SL’s tenth anniversary have been pouring in.

However, we’d love to have even more, More, MORE!

Applications on all fronts do not close until May 20th, 2013 – but things like time preferences for performances and presentations, etc., will be on a “first come, first served” basis – so now is the time to get those applications filled-out and submitted!

If you’d like to be involved in any aspect of the celebrations, follow the links below to the applications forms you need and:

We’re looking forward to receiving your application – and more importantly, seeing you at the celebrations!

If you have any questions about applications, IM Budster Bashly or Doc Gascoigne inworld.

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Reaching out: SL as a platform for “outside” events?

Following on the heels of this year’s Fantasy Faire, follow blogger and Lord of Dee Ciaran Laval comments that Outside Companies Should Create Their Own Second Life Faires. In it, he examines how external companies and authors – notably in the fantasy business – could use Second Life as a promotional tool and could, together with the Lab and SL itself, greatly benefit from doing so.

Fantasy Faire: demonstrating the viability of SL as an events platform?
Fantasy Faire: demonstrating the viability of SL as an events platform?

And he has a point. As Zander Greene pointed out in The Drax Files special on Fantasy Faire, when all is said and done, Second Life is one of the most cost-effective mediums for fundraising – and the same is true of global outreach. Yes, the cost of server space isn’t cheap, but when compared to the cost of venue hire, etc., and the scope of what can be laid-on, it is an intensely cost-effective medium.

In his article, Ciaran looks specifically at the case of fantasy and the opportunities of fantasy-focused MMOs and authors. However, I’d suggest that the potential reach here is far greater – and while some may shudder at the thought of SL returning to the bad old corporate-focused days of 2008-2010, this needn’t necessarily be the case.

Rather, there are mechanisms which, although dormant / disbanded / forgotten, could actually be revitalised and used to the benefit of both the Lab and the platform.

For example, for several years, the Lab ran the Solution Providers programme. This provided a means by which corporate entities could get in contact with people with expertise both within SL and a range of other disciplines they could harness to help develop an in-world presence. Such a scheme could be implemented by which those organisations could connect with in-world content creators and sim builders who can develop the necessary in-world environments on which their could host faires and promotional events.

The promotional poster for the event
The SL Science Fiction convention in 2012 saw real-world TV personalities Jonathan Frakes, Garrett Wang and Richard Hatch appearing in-world. SF conventions are a major crowd-pulling draw

A collaborative marketing venture by which LL would seek to promote SL as a venue for conventions / faires and such-like and which demonstrates its viability as such, specifically targeted at key market audiences while at the same time folding-in the in-world expertise of the community to make things happen, could be enormously beneficial to all.

Of course, things would have to be carefully managed, and additional capabilities put in place. LL would, for example, have to be willing to handle the marketing effort and work to overcome the more negative perceptions many have of SL as either being “unsuitable” for their market or “dead”. They’ve also have to work creatively to demonstrate the power of the platform as a promotional medium and suitable venue for such events and be willing to work cooperatively with sections of the community.

More practically, things like how the prospective visitors for a focused faire could be readily brought-in to Second Life and not only arrive at their intended destination, but also understand the basics of avatar  / viewer use would need to be carefully considered. However, these are not insurmountable issues. In terms of avatar use, it’s likely that in the case of MMOs and the like, users will already have a grasp of basic movement controls, and the rest could be simplified through the provision of a specialised viewer, possibly based around the old “basic” viewer (but with a few enhancements). And if that viewer includes a means by which the user can opt to download the “full” viewer (even as a separate install option) by which they can explore the rest of Second Life, then potentially so much the better.  And putting in place a sign-up process which successfully delivers incoming users to a desired venue also shouldn’t be too hard to achieve.

Obviously, everything would require careful management – not the least, as Ciaran again touches upon, the possible reaction of some sections of the SL community itself – and this might not be considered worth the time and effort by the Lab. There would also need to be some careful balancing of the scales – for example, I personally wouldn’t wish to see something like Fantasy Faire, with its very clear focus on RFL, being usurped by a more commercial endeavour.  However, I do believe that the idea has merit and that the Lab would be foolish to pass completely on at least investigating the potential here.

The possible benefits are clear: SL would gain broader recognition; there could be an opportunity for LL to establish another modest revenue stream which may actually attract more users into Second Life (with the additional benefits that would bring). Those companies utilising the ability to use the platform as a promotional environment get to stage a rich, immersive and global outreach opportunity which may equally gain them users and expand their networking opportunities without being tied to a more costly investment in SL which may not gain them the same level of return in attracting users, etc., and so on.

As such, the idea could well be worth exploring. Danko Whitfield comments on Ciaran’s post that there is a degree of this kind of promotional activity already occurring within OpenSim. So why shouldn’t the Lab look into the feasibility of grabbing something of the market, particularly as they could be well-placed to attract some of the big players?

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SL projects update 18 (4): servers, viewer release process, group bans and bits

Server Deployments – Week 18

As reported in the first part of this update, the SLS Main channel was rolled back to release 13.04.05.273580, as a result of a widespread performance issue.  This unfortunately saw the removal of the new LSL animation capabilities from the channel.

The issue itself is related to problems with regions locating their neighbours. “The sim were hitting the [region presence lookup] service too hard, causing stability problems.” Maestro Linden said at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday May 2nd. Release notes.

In the original notes for this week’s deployments, BlueSteel and LeTigre were scheduled to receive the same deployment package. However, this was subsequently changed so that:

  • BlueSteel received the same reversions as the Main channel due to the performance issue between neighbouring regions, but also received updates for the Experience Keys project as originally planned. Release notes.
  • LeTigre received the same code that was on the main channel in week 17, the only difference being that it fixes the performance issue that caused the Main channel to be rolled back this week.  Release notes.

Maestro described the deployment of the fix for region lookup issues as the “conservative option”, rather than deploying the fix to multiple Release Channels, “In case the changes from the other two channels have their own problems.”

Magnum received the package originally scheduled for it, described as bringing some new minor features to LSL, and fixes some crash modes as well as the fix for grid performance issue, and fixing an issue in which llDialog() messages sent to the object owner could be incorrectly throttled. Release notes.

The hope is that if all is well with the Magnum update, it is liable to be deployed to the Main channel in week 19.

SL Viewer Updates

Beta Viewer Release

A new beta version of the viewer emerged on May 2nd, using the 3.5.2 code (3.5.2.275087). This release includes the update from FMOD to FMOD Ex, and well as a number of other maintenance and other fixes as specified in the release notes.  However, it does not include the anticipated Vivox updates to improve SL Voice. These will be coming along at a later date.

The current plan is for this release to remain in the beta channel for at least one further update prior to it appearing in the release channel. As such, it is unlikely to be in the release viewer until late in week 19 or in week 20. Once it has appeared in the release viewer, LL will probably deploy the new viewer release process, and the beta channel will cease being used.

Viewer Release Process

Oz Linden
Oz Linden

As previously reported, the viewer release process will be changing in the coming weeks. As a part of this, the development viewer channel has already been deprecated; however it will still be a while before the new process is put into place, as further infrastructure changes are still required on LL’s part.

Concerns have been raised by TPV developers about a side-effect of the new process potentially being that the rate at which code becomes available to them may slow down, thus causing them to “fall behind” the LL viewer in terms of new functionality or capabilities. Stressing that this is not the intent, Oz Linden described process in further detail at the TPV Developer meeting, indicating that under the new system:

  • Viewer projects will each have their own repositories, which will be made available to TPVs (and others) once it is deemed they are “safe to share” as a project or “beta” viewer
    • While it has yet to be formally decided within LL, and may take a little time to work up to, critical bug fixes are liable to have their own repositories, from where they can be merged into other viewers
  • Users will be able to pick which beta / project viewer(s) they download from the Alternate Viewer wiki page without being tied to any specific update route (so you can download and run as many project / beta viewers as you like)
  • Once a project is believed to be of release quality, it will be put into a release candidate, built on the current viewer release code and released to a target number of users (as chosen by LL), alongside other release candidates being used by other users
  • When a user receives a release candidate viewer via the download page, the updates they receive will be offered on the basis of the release candidate they are currently running (for example, if a user is running the Materials RC viewer, they won’t be offered updates from, say, the SSB/A RC viewer)
  • After some period of time, and when LL have looked at the results, one of the release candidates will be promoted to the default download (without the viewer having to be rebuilt) and will be available on the main download page
  • The remaining viewer projects (at least those at release candidate status) will then be merged with the newly-released viewer code, and re-test and issue a further release candidate, which may in turn be selected as the next candidate for promotion to the default download.

He added that in terms of TPV’s concerns over code being made available to them, the level of co-operation which has been evident in the Sunshine project (SSB/A) has “not gone unnoticed” within LL’s management, and that the team involved has received a lot of kudos for the way they have handled interaction with TPVs. As such, it is likely that the Lab will endeavour to build on this going forward.

Continue reading “SL projects update 18 (4): servers, viewer release process, group bans and bits”

Jessica talks Firestorm and Second Life

The Carter and Dar Show, hosted by Carter Giacobini and Dar Writer, isn’t something, I confess, I watch on a regular basis. There’s no bias here on my part, it’s just that I don’t have time to take everything going on in and around SL to take everything in.

However, on May 3rd, they broadcast a show featuring Jessica Lyon, recorded just after the release of Firestorm 4.4.0, so I tuned in to take a look. The show is just under an hour in length, with the interview with Jessica starting at the 12:50 mark.

Jessica Lyon with
Jessica Lyon with

During the show, Jessica talks about a range of topics, including: Server-side Baking / Appearance; the HTTP updates, very LOUD users, viewer bugs (and how it’s not always easy to catch everything), the “missing prim” issue and the interest list, why the z-offset Quick Preference is no more in Firestorm, and more. She also explains some of the reasoning behind Firestorm and why it focuses so much on features and capabilities in comparison to the official viewer.

So, if you’re looking to find out more about Firestorm and what might be coming down the road, take a look at the Carter and Dar Show.

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