Return of 50% discount to educational & non-profit groups

secondlifeOn Wednesday July 24th, Linden Lab announced the official return of the 50% discount on both private region set-up costs and tier for accredited educational and non-profit organisations. The announcement came via a blog post which reads in full:

We’re pleased to announce an update to Second Life pricing for educational and nonprofit institutions. Effective immediately, any accredited educational institution or any organization with a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit tax status (or equivalent) is eligible for a 50% discount on private region set-up costs and a 50% discount on private region maintenance costs.

As long-time Second Life users will note, the discount on maintenance costs is similar to a discount previously offered to these organizations. More recently, after reviewing our pricing, we have been offering this discount directly to individual organizations, but today we are happy to formalize this pricing, extend the discount to also include set-up costs, and open applications for all that are eligible.

For more details on the offer, including how to apply, please see the wiki page here

Organizations eligible for this discounted pricing are also eligible for invoicing of the private region costs. Invoices must include a minimum of six months of maintenance. Additional details can be found here.

Deep Think East - one of the regions operated by the UK's Open University, one of the educational organisations which still operates within Second Life
Deep Think East – one of the regions operated by the UK’s Open University, one of the educational organisations which still operates within Second Life and now eligible for the renewed educational / non-profit discount.

As noted in the announcement, this comes on top of a move in March 2013, where selected educational and non-profit organisations were offered a similar deal. While it is pure speculation, and despite doubts expressed at the time, it might be the renewal  / extension of the offer to all educational / non-profits might be as a result of the “private” offer being well-received.

Whether or not this is the case, the move is to be welcomed as a reversal of a decision which struck many as possibly unnecessary and damaging at the time it was taken in 2010. Leaving speculation aside, it will be interesting to see how many organisations do respond to the offer (assuming LL release any details) as time progresses and as the offer fits with various budget cycles.

There are inevitably some requirements for qualification for the deal. Not only do organisations applying have to be properly accredited (e.g. hold 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit tax status in the case of US-based organisations), but payments must be for a minimum of six months maintenance (tier), on top of the initial set-up fee, again as noted in the blog post. However, these are to be expected, and were a part of the original educational / non-profit discount offer.

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With thanks to Mona Eberhardt.

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SL projects update week 30 (1): server releases, viewer, SSB/A

Server Deployments – Week 30

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

Second Life Server (SLS Main) Channel

On Tuesday 23rd July, the SLS Main channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to BlueSteel. This comprised a further package of under-the-hood changes related to the experience tools.

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday July 24th, the three main Release Candidate channels should receive the following updates:

  • BlueSteel should receive the same server maintenance project that was on LeTigre in week 29, and which additionally includes the experience tools updates deployed to the Main channel
  • Magnum and LeTigre should both see Server-side baking / appearance (SSB/A) enabled, and should both receive the experience tools updates deployed to the Main channel.

Viewer Updates and Release Process

The second release candidate viewer was made available on Friday July 19th. Version 3.6.2.278609 comprises the long-awaited Vivox updates. This was followed on Monday July 22nd by the third release candidate, version 3.6.2.278615, which contains Google Breakpad updates.

Commenting on the first two release candidates to be deployed (the Beta Maintenance RC and the Vivox RC), Oz Linden said at the Open-source Dev meeting on Monday July 22nd that, “they each got as many users as we asked for, and we’re getting good data on them.” However, this doesn’t mean that either one will is likely to become the de facto release viewer yet, as Oz went on to note, “we configured both of these for a relatively small number of users just in case… we might want to raise it before we make a release decision.” Given that the Google Breakpad RC has been added to the mix, any decision on which get promoted to release status may well be held over even longer as numbers are crunched.

Release candidates are now also listed on the Official Alternate Viewer wiki page, where they can be downloaded manually. In light of this, I’ve updated my overview of the new viewer release process to include notes on manually downloading and installing release candidate viewers.

Server-side Baking / Appearance

As noted above, following the RC channel restarts due on Wednesday July 24th, both Magnum and LeTigre should be running with SSB/A enabled. Overall, the response to SSB/A deployment both on LeTigre (week 28) and Magnum (week 29) has been good, with few issues being reported.

Of those which have, some may be tied to the way in which some TPVs have implemented the Current Outfit Folder (COF). To help determine whether this is the case, Nyx Linden issued an e-mail on Monday July 22nd, outlining how the Lab anticipates the COF should be set-up within a viewer, and has asked all TPVs to verify that they’ve met the requirements.

More on COF Mismatch Issues

In week 29, I referred to the issue of COF Mismatch Issues. These tend to occur when your viewer and the baking service disagree on the COF version number on which your appearance should be based, resulting in “COF version mismatch” errors appearing in the viewer. Part of the problem is due to the inventory protocol relying on both HTTP and UDP messages, some of which have failure callbacks and some which the viewer may wrongly assumes completes successfully – and the “COF version mismatch” results.

To eliminate this, the Lab is working to update the Agent Inventory Services (AIS), which will see the most error-prone operations related to the COF converted to use AIS rather than UDP. The hope is that this work will both remove the most prominent causes of COF mismatch errors and reduce the number of network calls needed to update the COF. This work has been ongoing for a while, and will form part of the next phase of SSB/A work once the current deployment has seen SSB/A go grid-wide. These updates will involve further viewer-side updates, and include a range of additional improvements, although as yet there is no time scale for their release (particularly as the Lab is only just starting discussing them with TPVs).

Group Ban List

There is not a lot to report here. Baker Linden is still working on the viewer-side code. Giving a brief update at the Simulator User Group meeting, he said, “I’m currently deciding on the format of the data coming into the viewer, and adding it to the group manager subsystem in the viewer. That’s about it :).”

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