LL announce “Marketplace to move to Second Life billing engine”

Update June 24th: The billing system “move” has now been completed, see my update here.

A new post appeared in the Commerce forum on Tuesday June 18th, announcing that the Marketplace is to “move” to the Second Life billing engine, generating some confusion along the way as to how Marketplace payments are currently processed with regards to Second Life.

The intimation appears to be that although the Marketplace allows for payments for goods to be taken directly from your L$ account, the finances themselves are handled through two different channels, with the Marketplace perhaps still, underneath it all, using elements dating back to the XSL / SLX days. With the upcoming “move”, everything will be handled by the one system, the Second Life billing engine – hence the reference that Commerce Linden will be replaced by Currency Linden as the escrow account for Linden dollar purchases via the Marketplace.

One aspect which appears to have gone largely without comment is that international users will, with the switch-over, apparently see more international payment options offered (one assumes alongside the US dollar payment option).  How advantageous this is seen as being is perhaps open to question (the US dollar prices for items on the marketplace are hardly favourable when compared to the straight L$ prices, which already tends to encourage people to use L$ rather than USD for purchasing goods).

The switch-over is due to take place in the week commencing Monday June 24th. no action is required on the part of users or merchants, although the blog post does warn that:

We will be failing any old orders that have not completed in preparation for the switch over, so you may see a refund appear from a stuck order over the next week prior to the release.

If you do start experiencing issue with Marketplace transactions, please ensure you submit a Support ticket. All issues related to billing are fully supported by Customer Support and will be addressed with appropriate priority.

With thanks to CS Pfeffer.

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Of Madpeas and hatters

I’ve been a little pressed for time recently, with both SL and RL conspiring against me, and in rushing to keep up with things like SL news and SL10BCC, I’ve managed to let a few things slip.

So here’s an attempt to redress the balance on two of them. I recently received nudges about two art exhibitions currently underway: the Madpea Art Festival and Art in Hats – Hats in Art.

MadPea Art Festival

The MadPea Art Festival kicked-off on June 15th and will run through until June 29th.

The first festival of its kind the MadPea crew have organised, the festival show-cases the work of 24 of SL’s top artists, and includes daily entertainment sessions throughout the event from some of SL’s top DJs, live performers and dancers.

The distinctly Tron-esque environment of the MadPea Art Festival
The distinctly Tron-esque environment of the MadPea Art Festival

Located in a very Tron-esque environment high above Salette, the festival is jointly sponsored by MadPea Productions, Branwen Arts, Cha Klaar and Sally Lavender, and features art ranging from sculpture to painting to immersive pieces to the abstract and even the erotic.

Participating artists include: Solkide Auer, Giovanna Cerise, Safi Farspire, Fuschia Nightfire, ArtWolf  Eternal, Rhea Vintner, Ginger Lorakeet , Yaiza Galicia, DavidWeiner Resident, Anrod Meads, Graham Collinson, Harter Fall, Rebeca Bashly, Fae Varriale,  Moeuhane Sandalwood, Daruma, Jessicabelmer, Kylie Sabra, AniWitt, Rag Randt, MadPeas, voidheart mistwalker, Morlita Quan, FirleFanz Roxley and Noke Yuitza.

The MadPea Art Festival
The MadPea Art Festival

Full details of the event, including the entertainment schedule, can be found on the MadPea website.

Art in Hats- Hats in Art

A new exhibition at Veekay Navarathna’s Art India Gallery started on June 17th and runs through until July 28th. Sponsored by AVENUE magazine, it focuses on hats as both a fashion statement and an art statement, bringing together hats from well-known couture designers and SL designers to present images of the hats being worn in a way which tells a story about the hat itself.

Art in Hats - Hats in Art
Art in Hats – Hats in Art

Participating designers and artists include: LB DREAM FASHION,  Annie Klavinham, Annough Lykin, BaObA, Betty Tureaud, BSD Design Studio, “B&W” – Hats & Accessories, Burk Bode, CapCat Ragu, Cold Frog, Couture Chapeau, Dantelicia Ethaniel, Eve Kazan, Grim Bros., Hatters n’Hell, Haveit Neox,  Horus Dover aka Noke Yuitza, Kynne Llewellyn, LODE HEADWEAR, Maloe Vansant, MEB, Meilo Minotaur, Melusina Parkin, nexuno Thespian,  Nur Moo, Paris METRO, Renee Parkes, RO™, Romy Nayar, Sabine Mortensen, Steven Venkman, Syra Hyun, Wizardoz Chrome, The Mad Hattery, WuWai Chun, Zibska.

Art in Hats - Hats in Art
Art in Hats – Hats in Art

Visitor Contest

Visitors to the exhibition are invited to take a basic, full permissions cloche hat, which they can then decorate howsoever they please and take a photo of it (on its own or being worn). Snaps should be passed to Quan Lavender, Art India’s Curator, who will display them in the arrivals area of the exhibition. Visitors to the exhibition will be invited to vote on the displayed submissions, and the first three winners (as decided by 50/50 vote from visitors and a panel of judges), will be awarded the following prizes:

  • 1st prize: L$3000 voucher to AVENUE Models Academy
  • 2nd prize: L$2000 voucher to AVENUE Models Academy
  • 3rd prize: L$1000 voucher to AVENUE Models Academy

All three winners will also receive a selection of hats featured in the exhibition.

With thanks to Quan Lavender.

Materials Processing reaches SL viewer release status

Update June 21st: Kokua version 3.6.0.28975 has been released, which include Materials Processing support.

Update June 20th: NiranV Dean has released a version of his “in development” Black Dragon SL viewer with Materials Processing support. See his blog post for details.

Further to the first part of my SL projects update for week 25, materials processing has now officially reached release status with the release of viewer 3.6.0.277516.

If you are already running the release version of the viewer (3.5.3.276452) and have automatic updates enabled, the new version of the viewer, you should be notified that the update is available. If not, or if you have not previously installed the SL viewer, but wish to try-out the new materials capabilities, you can download and install 3.6.0.277516 by following the above link to the official download page.

A katara showing detail created by the use of materials properties
A katara  created by June Dion showing surface detail and reflective qualities using materials properties

For those not in the know, Materials Processing adds normal and specular maps to the in-world tools capabilities of the viewer (using the new land impact accounting system in the process!), allowing much higher / improved levels of realism be obtained with textures used on prim, sculpt and mesh items (they do not work on avatar skin and clothing layers).

I provided an overview of the Materials Processing, including brief notes on normal and specular maps when the project reached a beta viewer release status at the start of June, and I refer you to that post for details.

As noted in that article and elsewhere, the materials capabilities introduce a revised Textures tab to the Build floater in the viewer, which allows you to add normal and specular maps to objects and object surfaces, as well as textures (referred to a diffuse maps).

Materils Build floater Texture tab: The diffuse (texture) option, showing the Alpha mode drop-down options (l); the normal map options, with map picker and default bump map drop-down (c); the specular map options, in which the Shininess drop-down displays the familiar low, medium & high shiny options (r)
Materials Build floater Texture tab: The diffuse (texture) option, showing the Alpha mode drop-down options (l); the normal map options, with map picker and default bump map drop-down (c); the specular map options, in which the Shininess drop-down displays the familiar low, medium & high shiny options (r)

Note, as well, that in order to see materials in action, you’ll need to enable the Advanced Lighting Model option in the Graphic tab of the materials viewer. Please also see the Materials FAQ for other information relating to Materials Processing.

Given the capabilities are now available in the release viewer, and allowing for pressing activities around Server-side Baking / Appearance, it is likely that we’ll start seeing more TPVs start to adopt materials in the coming weeks (for example, the Cool VL viewer already has materials support in the experimental branch).

In the meantime, the Lab has released a video demonstrating the capabilities, complete with a Torley Dancing SL10B bear!

Materials Processing represents a collaborative project developed and implemented by both Linden Lab and third-party viewer developers. Originally a proposal submitted by members of the Exodus viewer team in 2012, the project has included the direct involvement of developers from Catznip (notably Kitty Barnett) and Firestorm (notably Tonya Souther) as well as from Exodus (notably Geenz Spad) in the development of the viewer-side tools and capabilities, with the Lab working on the server-side of the capabilities.

If you encounter any major issues with the viewer, such as alpha issues, severe problems with texture rendering as black, etc., please make sure you file a JIRA on the issue, with any screen shots you can provide in addition to details of your system (Help > About Second Life > COPY button to copy / paste system information).

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SL10BCC: My picks of the day – Wednesday 19th June

SL10BCC is well underway, with lots to see and do. Given the size of the event, trying to review everything on offer simply isn’t feasible, and some hardware issues at my end mean that I’m not in a position to do the kind of “region round-ups” I did last year.

So instead, I’m offering some personal picks from what’s on display by way of suggestions as possible stop-off points in your explorations.

Botgirl Questi and Whiskey Monday – Single Frame Stories

Around a year ago, Botgirl Questi and Whiskey Monday started a collaboration, “Single Frame Stories”. As a weekly challenge, participants are given a word or prompt and asked to submit a single image with an optional text element of up to 140 characters, which acts as a narrative to the themed word / phrase. The image can be a photo, screen shot, drawing or painting and the text either integrated into the image or form a caption or title.

Single Frame Stories
Single Frame Stories at SL10BCC

For SL10B, participants were asked to submit single frame stories on creativity, community and identity in Second Life. This exhibit showcases those entries, and does so simply and stylishly in a way with amplifies the maxim, “less is more” and which presents  a thought-provoking and a powerful demonstration of the creative talent flowing through Second Life.

A Single Frame Story on the theme of “Creativity” by Meandra from the SFS exhibit and website

Commenting on the exhibit, Botgirl and Whiskey state, “This SL10B exhibit is a natural extension of the weekly challenge. It takes the project full circle, from Second Life to the Web and back again.”

Bear Silvershade – Journey

Staying with art and photography, my next choice for today is Journey, an exhibition of Bear Silvershade’s SL photography covering his work from his first arrival in SL through to the present day.

A photojournalist in RL, Bear has developed a very distinctive and eye-catching style over the years, which at present is represented primarily through his monochrome series, Journey of the Lonely Man which presents places and scenes in Second Life in black-and-white and in a manner which strongly emphasises the “film noir” aesthetic.

A black and white homage to Bear Silvershade's Journey exhibit at SL10BCC seemed appropriate...
A black and white homage to Bear Silvershade’s Journey exhibit at SL10BCC seemed appropriate…

I admit to being an unabashed fan of Bear’s work, although I envy him coming up with the black-and-white approach to documenting SL in an ongoing series, having just dabbled a finger into such waters (and while not in any way comparing myself to his level of artistry) I find it presents a fascinating way to showcase SL in a very understated way.  His gallery at SL10BCC is also beautifully understated, offering a clean, minimalistic approach which focuses the eye and the mind on the work it presents.

If SL photography is your thing, and you’ve not seen Bear’s work before, this one is highly recommended. And whether you already enjoy Bear’s work or are new to is, be sure to pop over to Mesmerize and see the work of his partner, Derry McMahon, who has recently entered the world of SL photography, and is already making a name for herself – deservedly so.

Continue reading “SL10BCC: My picks of the day – Wednesday 19th June”

SL projects update week 25 (1): server, SSB/A, viewer

Server Deployments – Week 25

As always, please refer to the week’s forum deployment thread for news, updates and feedback.

Second Life Server (Main) Channel

On Tuesday June 18th, the SLS main channel received the interest list improvement project which have been previously deployed to Magnum (week 22) and BlueSteel and LeTigre (week 24). This includes:

  • A fix for excessive AvatarAppearance packets being sent to the viewer [in which the simulator would send many unnecessary AvatarAppearance messages to the viewer]
  • A final fix for the “meeroo problem” whereby animations on Meeroos and other animals fail to update correctly when camming around.

Release Candidate (RC) Channels

On Wednesday 19th June, all three RC channels (Magnum, BlueSteel and LeTigre) should receive the server maintenance package briefly deployed to BlueSteel and LeTigre in week 24. to fix a number of crash modes, addresses an issue with neighbouring region visibility, and adds new LSL pathfinding capabilities and object return capabilities:

  • The new pathfinding property CHARACTER_STAY_WITHIN_PARCEL, which can be used with llCreateCharacter() and llUpdateCharacter(), and is intended to help with keeping characters within parcel boundaries – see my week 19 report for details
  • The new object return functions I reported on in week 23, namely llReturnObjectsByOwner and llReturnObjectsByID, are intended to provide an automated means of returning objects to their owners – see my full update on these functions for details.

This package also includes the following:

  • An update to llReturnObjectsByID() to prevent it from returning other objects which are owned by the parcel owner or estate owner/manager
  • A fix for an issue in which LSL HTTP-in scripts would sometimes see the incorrect URL (BUG-2833)
  • A fix for Bug 2850 (Cannot rez objects in Bluesteel and LeTigre parcels which disallow object entry) – which caused this deployment to be replaced by the Magnum RC package in week 24.

SSB/A Pile-on Test Update

Nyx Linden (stock)
Nyx Linden (stock)

On Friday June 14th, a Server-side Baking / Appearance pile-on test was conducted on the main grid (see my report on events). The Lab is still going over the results of the test and all JIRA filed and log files submitted. Giving a preliminary summary of the test at the Content Creation User Group meeting on Monday June 17th, Nyx Linden said:

We actually just recently got through looking at the bug reports that were filed. Things are looking good, if you know anyone who saw anything major during the pile-on test please encourage them to file a bug ASAP if they have not already done so.

The system seemed to work quite well for most people, and we’re looking closely at the people who were having trouble resolving to try to figure out exactly what happened. The baking service was doing fine, there were some other services that weren’t used to that many people changing their outfits that close together (hence some attachments had difficulty resolving, etc). If anyone knows of failure cases for SSA (aside from those reported if you log in with very old viewers), please let us know asap.

The test did not include a minor update intended for the viewer-end of things, or the code change to help avoid SUN-74. However, as mentioned in my last SSB/A update, the former isn’t required prior to SSB/A starting its deployment across the grid, while the safest way to avoid encountering problems with non-maintained viewers  / viewer without the necessary SSB/A updates is to upgrade your viewer. Now.

Viewer News

Materials Processing

The final beta release (3.6.0.277409) performed well over the weekend, with a crash rate “comfortably under” 9%. The code has been merged with the release viewer and is in its final QA testing ready for deployment. Providing nothing unexpected happens, it should appear on the viewer download page as the release viewer very soon.

Viewer Release Process

Work is continuing on the new viewer release process, which may go live later in week 25 or early in week 26. In the meantime, and as reported in week 24, a viewer source repositories page has been produced on the wiki. There is also a further wiki page explaining the release process, although it is still under development. You can find it listed as the Viewer Integration and Release Processes.

The new viewer integration and release process – click to enlarge (image courtesy of Linden Lab)

Note that the new process does not mean there will be multiple versions of the release viewer available for download (although there will potentially be multiple project / beta / release candidate versions available for download).

Should two projects reach a point of being ready to go to a release status at the same time (such as with “project 1” and “project 2” in the diagram above), a decision will be made by the Lab as to which should go first. That viewer then changes status to release, with the code pulled back to the viewer-release repository. The second viewer awaiting release will then merge with the changes and put out a further release candidate, and will then move to a release status from there.

For ease of reference, the viewer download page and the Alternate Viewers wiki page remain the default places for most users to obtain versions of the SL viewer.

Other Bits

Object Contents Loading

We’re all familiar with using prims as storage for other items (e.g. “boxed” items sold through the Marketplace or using a prim to store items in inventory we don’t frequently use). when a prim has a large number of items in it, there can be a noticeable delay in seeing the contents listed in the Contents tab of the Build floater. In addition, adding objects can be prone to a slow response as well – and can cause problems such as the loss of No Copy items when dropping more objecting into the Contents tab while the system is already copying / adding items to a prim’s contents. I

n terms of the slow loading issue, some have reported times of 30-40 seconds when trying to list the contents of a prim with 100 or so items, and a question was asked at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday June 18th on whether there was any particular reason for this.

Replying to the question, Andrew Linden started with a cautionary note, “Sure, people can create that many items in contents, but I wouldn’t rank it as a good idea.” He then went on, “I don’t know the exact nature of the bottleneck there, but 30 seconds sounds too long. I’m pretty sure it could be sped up, but I’d have to dig around to see why it is slow.”

Kelly Linden then added: “Object inventory transfer from server to viewer uses one of the oldest legacy methods in Second Life. Updating that is probably a good idea but would require a joint viewer and server version change, or some acrobatics on managing compatibility.”

While agreeing this might be the case, Andrew went on, “The UDP protocol should be able to transmit 300 items in much less than 30 seconds. I’ll try to look around to see what is limiting that. However, I should note… I won’t be attending next week. I’ll be on vacation.”

So, there may be further updates on this in the future.

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