SL projects update week 32 (1): Server, viewer

Server Deployments Week 32

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

Second Life Server (SLS Main) Channel

There was no update to the Main channel on Tuesday August 6th. This is primarily because the SSA project is not being further deployed during week 32, and BlueSteel was not updated in week 31 (other than to be brought up to a par with the Main channel), so there is nothing from the RC channels to promote to the Main channel.

Release Candidate Channels – Wednesday August 7th

Magnum and LeTigre will remain SSA enabled, and apparently without any further updates.

Bluesteel should receive a new server maintenance package comprising:

  • A new feature which will see regions block rezzing and entering during the final 60-seconds before a shutdown / restart (see notes below)
  • Code to help fix an exploit whereby a scripted object can surreptitiously obtain permissions from an unsuspecting avatar, allowing the object owner to later use the object against the avatar in s griefing attack (e.g. by tracking camera movements in a deform attack, and so on – see publicly viewable JIRA VWR-13228 and the notes below)
  • A fix for “llListen in linked objects is listening at root instead of linked object local position *after re-rezzing the linkset*.” (non-public JIRA BUG-3291)
  • Fixes for further simulator crash modes.

Region Restart Blocks

Referring to the new feature allowing regions to block rezzing and entering during the last 60 seconds before a restart at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday August 6th, Simon Linden said, “this is just trying to stop adding stuff to the region’s workload when it shuts down. Let’s say you TP into a region in the last second before it shuts down … you’re still going to be loading when it boots you out [and changes made to attachments could be lost after the resultant relog]. [It’s] the same possibly with rezzing an expensive no-copy item … it’s just not a good idea to start a complicated process right before shutdown. So those last 60 seconds are going to block entering and rezzing.”

In addition to the new blocks, Simon has also added the region name to the pop-up warnings which are displayed during the 5-minute countdown to a restart shutdown / restart.

Animation Griefing

The fix for scripted objects surreptitiously obtaining permissions from an unsuspecting avatar (per JIRA VWR-13228) will require a viewer-side update as well to be effective, which will utilise the Stop Animating Me function in the viewer.

Currently, Stop Animating Me is purely viewer-side. When activated, it will stop all animations running on your avatar within your view, with an update (ANIM_REQUEST_STOP) sent to the simulator which gets relayed to everyone in the same sim to tell their viewers to also stop animating you. The system isn’t perfect, but generally works.  However, it is important to note that no actual permissions are revoked by the process, allowing griefing objects such as Soul Seize to retain control over an avatar.

Under the new system, and once the viewer-side update is available in viewers, Stop Animating Me will send a message to the simulator so it revokes all animation permissions for all objects in the region (other than those worn by the avatar issuing the command, such as AO HUDs, etc.), with the result that they are no longer animating the avatar (legitimate objects can re-animate via an explicit request, as per normal).  While there were concerns expressed at the Simulator User Group meeting that a griefer may be able to work around the approach (although most workarounds appear to be somewhat labour-intensive), the new capability should be enough to stop griefing objects such as Soul Seize within a region from retaining control of an avatar.

Commenting on the viewer side of the fix, Simon Linden indicated that the viewer with the change is undergoing QA testing, but because of the number of updates it contains, it is unclear as to when it will make a public appearance.

Simulator UG meeting, August 6th
Simulator UG meeting, August 6th

SL Viewer Updates

The Vivox release candidate viewer was promoted to the de facto release viewer (version number 3.6.2.279258) on Monday August 5th, which can be obtained via the main viewer download page or will be offered as an automatic update to those using the previous release and who have updates enabled. The release notes summarise changes.

As a result of this, the Google Breakpad release candidate updated to version 3.6.2.279364, on August 5th (download / release notes) and the Maintenance Viewer RC updated to 3.6.2.279427 on August 6 (download & release notes).

In the meantime, the Cocoa viewer updates (Mac only) moved from a project viewer to a release candidate (3.6.2.278960, download & release notes) on August 6th, bringing the number of active RCs back up to five.

The latest CHUI updates (now in release candidate 3.6.2.279321, released on August 1st) still contain the issue of highlighted text in scripts  / notecards being deleted if somewhere else in the script editor / notecard is clicked, requiring a CTRL-Z to undo (see publicly viewable CHUIBUG-210 and the associated forum thread).

As a small aside, apparently the (or perhaps only one of the) meeting(s) to decide on the status of the current viewers and determine which (if any) is ready to go to release status is held around late morning SLT on Mondays.

Group Ban List

Baker Linden - old style (stock)
Baker Linden – old style (stock)

There has been some confusion over the group ban function, which lead Baker Linden to clarify that anyone banned from a group under the new capability will be automatically ejected as well (hence the ban), and will not be able to re-join the group until such time as the ban is lifted. Group owners will automatically be blocked from the ban function, to prevent them being accidentally banned by other group officers.

Baker has been considering who can actually be banned by a group member granted the ability to ban others.

His initial idea is to allow anyone given the authority to ban group members to be able to ban anyone else (other than the group owners), so one officer with the ability to ban people could ban another officer, for example. “My reasoning is that if you can’t trust an officer with banning, don’t let that person be an officer,” he explained.

Descibing the other option he was considering, he said, “The other route I can go is anyone with the ban ability can [only] ban anyone that doesn’t have that ability.”

This second option appeared to gain more support than the first, although Baker himself sees it as somewhat limiting, “But I don’t see the point in that,” he said, “Since we already have a problem with eject not being able to eject anyone belonging to any role other than ‘Everyone’ which seems pointless to me.”

Unfortunately, the meeting drew to a close before both options could be further explored, and so they may be a topic for further discussions at the next meeting. However, the idea of those with the ban ability only being able to ban those who don’t have the ability doesn’t actually seem to be as limiting as Baker suggests when citing the issue with group ejections (only those in the “Everyone” group can be ejected), so it will be interesting to see how much more discussion there is on this subject.

Andrew Linden: Interest List Work and Anti-Griefing Measures

Andrew Linden reports he has now all but finished his current work on interest list updates. While there is still no indication when the viewer-side changes might surface, he’s nevertheless freeing himself up to take a look at anti-Griefing measures. He’s already compiling a list of items he wants to look into, although his initial focus will be on general maintenance work to get him, as he puts it, “back in the groove”. One item in particular he’ll be looking at prior to delving more into anti-griefing measures is that of motion stops on region restarts.

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A little bit of Bitacora

A new entry popped-up in the Photogenic Spots of the Destination Guide recently. Bitacora Land is the brainchild of Serenity Goizane, one of the founders of the Spanish SL travelogue, Bitacora Viajera, and the winner of the official SL10B photo contest.

Bitacora
Bitacora

A Homestead region, Bitacora certainly has a lot for the SL traveller to see, all very cleverly presented and offering a range of photo opportunities, as well as featuring a number of very familiar motifs and objects for those who do spend a fair amount of time exploring Second Life.

The arrival point delivers you to a clifftop picnic area with a nearby barn / stables. This overlooks a small village square which in turn overlooks a quayside and some sail boats nestled in a sheltered harbour. An opening in the ground, while somewhat grave-like in appearance, leads to a network of tunnels which can be used to reach various parts of the region, including the village square by means of actually walking under it and then flying / jumping up a set of quayside steps. Or, if you’re feeling energetic, you can scramble down the cliff-side and slide down the roof of one of the buildings :).

Bitacora
Bitacora

The village square offers itself as a place to meet friends and sit and chat. Unusually, none of the buildings are shops or stores (they are all shells backing into the surrounding cliffs). and the square offers an eclectic set of photo opportunities. Gates at one end lead to a little children’s play area.

Follow the tunnels to their various destinations and you’ll find a number of beaches, each with its own little theme – such as one featuring a disco and live music stage, another with a beach house standing out over the water, surf boards propped up against it, and so on.

Above ground, things are equally interesting, with high cliffs and mesa connected by wooden bridges (in places), with a church and balloon ride atop one, the aforementioned barn on another and a hot air balloon on another together with some chairs suspended under what I assume to be helium-filled balloons for the daring!

Bitacora
Bitacora

The high lie of the land has echoes of a number of places I’ve visited recently, all of which seem to be taking the land upwards to create gorges and valleys into which the designer then builds, Wendy Xeno’s Hazardous perhaps being the most popular example. Here, the approach is enhanced through the use of Grand Canyon sim surround which works very well with the overall design of the region, and gives a good deal of additional natural depth to the build.

There are echoes of other regions as well; perhaps the most obvious being the name of the region appearing in large stone letters overlooking the village square, which is very mindful of the big SMILE standing on It All Starts with a Smile. Railway tracks leading out into the water also remind one of other popular places the seasoned SL traveller may well have come across.

Which is not to say that Bitacora is merely an ad-hoc series of ideas copied from other regions. Everything here comes together, albeit a little haphazardly, into a complete whole which is unique unto itself. As such, the echoes of other regions and places in SL are, I think it fair to say, intended as little homages rather than attempts to copy. Hence the use of balloons in the stone-carved name, or the positioning of the little trawler at the end of the railway line leading out into one of the region’s bays.

Bitacora
Bitacora

I would perhaps have liked to see more means by which one could get to see all the various parts of the region without the need to resort to flying – there are some cliff-top aspects which appear to be inaccessible unless you do fly – but this is just a quibble on my part, and if you have a look beforehand, any flying can be kept to a minimum and leave you with plenty still to explore using your pedal extremities.

All-in-all an interesting place to visit, with plenty of opportunities for the photographer, and more than a few places for the romantics to sit and enjoy one another’s company, and for the gregarious to meet others.

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UWA Centenary Art Challenge and 6th Machinima Challenge winners announced

On Monday August 5th, the University of Western Australia (UWA) announced the winners of both its Centenary 3D Art Challenge and the 6th UWA Machinima Challenge. All told, both competitions saw a total of L$1.7 million on offer for the winners, of which some L$65,000 was on offer to members of the public participating in the judging.

As always, the entries came from all around the globe, with 64 pieces submitted to the 3D Art Challenge, in which artists were tasked with creating a piece of 3D art which fits the theme of the challenge, and to do so using no more than 150 prims (LI 150). The theme was that of “Reflections”, in recognition of the fact that the UWA is itself celebrating 100 years of existence and pondering on what the next 100 years might bring.

The first prize of L$100,000 went to Australian artist Glyph Graves, and his piece, I Thought I Hated Him. described by the artist as “a romance of the old style pulp paper book variety”, and also a “dance piece, one conducted between the New York Stock Exchange composite index and The Shanghai Stock Exchange composite index.”

I Thought I Hated Him by Glpyh Graves, winner of the UWA's Centenary 3D Art Challenge
I Thought I Hated Him by Glyph Graves, winner of the UWA’s Centenary 3D Art Challenge (image courtesy of UWA)

In it, two figures dance a dance of cautious passion, with both the moves and the music generated by the interaction of the New York Stock Exchange (the male character) and the Shanghai Stock Exchange (the female character). The characters, move towards or away from each other depending upon the “price” of their index, a reflection of the desires, thoughts and wants of the millions who trade on these markets.

The 6th Machinima Challenge similarly saw 64 entries from around the world, which was held on the same theme of Reflections, which the original challenge announcement described as:

Reflections in a pool of water… Reflections of light… Reflecting on the grandeur of the universe… Reflections of art…. An Inner Reflection…..Reflecting on opportunities lost, or seized… How ‘Reflections’ is interpreted is exactly like how beauty is interpreted…. in the eyes of the beholder… or in this case, the eyes and lens of the machinimatographer.

The video awarded the L$200,000 first prize came from Vilvi Rae of Finland, ending Tutsy Navarathna’s 3-year run as “defending champion”. Vilvi’s piece, Past I Beyond is described by Jon Stubbs, Director of UWA’s Student Services as “a hauntingly beautiful future fantasy autobiography that explores past choices and what lies beyond. Beautifully filmed: 5 stars from the judging panel!”

Tutsy’s own piece, Narcissus,  was awarded the second prize of L$150,000.

The full list of all prizes winners in both challenges can be found in the UWA blog post. In addition, FreeWee Ling has put together a superb on-line exhibition catalogue for the 3D Art Challenge, and the pieces themselves can be enjoyed for a while longer by visiting the exhibition space at UWA. Links to the winning machinima can also be found in the UWA blog post, while all of the entries to this year’s Machinima Challenge can be found on Aview TV.

Fruit of Time by Rebeca Bashly, one of my personal choices in the 3D Art Challenge
Fruit of Time by Rebeca Bashly, joint 8th prize winner, and one of my personal choices in the 3D Art Challenge

Audience Participation 1st Prize Winners

The first prizes in the audience participation competitions for each of the challenges went to Gisle89G (L$7,000) for the 3D Centenary Arts competition and Karima Hoisan (L$15,000) for the Machinima Challenge competition. In addition to the cash prizes, both will receive real-life prizes and offered the chance to be on the judging panel for the next art and machinima challenges.  The full lists of audience participation winners are again available in the UWA blog post.

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