SL project updates week 34 (1): server releases, SSA, viewer, Oculus Rift

Server Deployments Week 34

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

Second Life Server (SLS Main) Channel – Tuesday August 20th

The Main channel had Server-side Appearance (SSA) enabled, as per this blog post from the Lab. As I’ve previously noted, users will need to run a maintained viewer which incorporates the SSA code in order for other avatars to render correctly in their view. See the release notes for additional information to the above links.

There were no other updates in this deployment.

Release Candidate Channels – Wednesday August 21st

  • Magnum should receive a new maintenance package which “only includes a few internal bug fixes which shouldn’t show any visible changes to the residents”. In describing this at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday August 13th, Simon Linden said, “There’s one performance fix that you might see in the viewer … you shouldn’t get those situations where you see lots of ‘duplicate caps. messages” – this package was deployed to LeTigre in week 33
  • Bluesteel and LeTigre will both be on an update to the package deployed to BlueSteel in week 33, which includes:
    • A fix for the “grey box attachment  issue” (non-public BUG-3547, details below)
    • A (further?) update to for “llListen in linked objects is listening at root instead of linked object local position *after re-rezzing the linkset*”, which was also listed in the BlueSteel release notes for week 32  (non-public JIRA BUG-3291)
    • The code to block avatars entering a region / objects being rezzed in a region during the last 60-seconds before a restart. In addition, restart warning pop-ups will include the region name. This was again in the release notes for week 32, so would appear to be a further update to that code
    • Fixes for further simulator crash modes.

Further, all three RC channels will have Server-side Appearance enabled at the conclusion of the Wednesday August 21st deployments.

SL Viewer Updates

Release Viewer Updated

Tuesday August 20th saw a new update to the de facto release viewer, when the former Maintenance Viewer RC 3.6.3.279564, dated August 12th, was promoted. The full list of updates for this release can be found in the release notes. However, of most interest to many will be the fact that it includes the particle selection capability.

As previously reported in these updates, this capability (MAINT-2268) allows a user to right-click on a particle emitter and mute it, blocking the particle emissions from their viewer. This is liable to be very welcome to those using regions which are frequently the target of particle griefing, as it means that the emitter itself no longer needs to be located and blocked. In addition, the new code has a FPS limit on particles, and will stop generating new particles when frame rates drop to 4 FPS or lower.

Other SL Viewer Updates

The promotion of the Maintenance Viewer RC to release status leaves four remaining release candidate viewers at this time: CHUI, the MAC-focused Cocoa RC viewer, the Google Breakpad RC for better crash / stats reporting and the Snowstorm RC, which contains updates contributed to LL by third-party developers. As is now the practice, these will each be rebuilt using the “new” de facto release viewer code, and so will have updates appearing over the coming days.

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift - UI work progressing at the Lab
Oculus Rift – UI work progressing at the Lab

Work is progressing with integrating Oculus Rift with Second Life. While I’m not overly interested in the Rift myself, one are that does interest me is that of the UI and how it is going to be integrated with the headset – as I’ve commented in the past, while others see it as a potential issue, I don’t necessarily agree, although I’ve felt that a balance would have to be struck in order to avoid the UI completely overwhelming  / spoiling the first-person view.

Speaking at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday August 20th, Simon Linden indicated that this is on the Lab’s collective mind as well – and that a potentially clever solution is being tried-out to ensure the UI menus, etc., are usable without interfering with the user’s view of things:

I know recently they were working on how to have the SL UI appear … having menus hanging out in your vision is an interesting design, but you’re not in a “window” anymore … In the Rift it’s projected on a surface around you … so you look up to see the menus and they float there in mid-air … I think they’re experimenting with the shape of that surface too … if it’s flat, the text can look funny as it’s slanting away from you.

This, I have to say, does sound intriguing, and I’d be curious to see it in action; if nothing else, it gets me thinking somewhat of Bruce Branit’s World Builder – although admittedly, the protagonist in that piece is physically “inside” his virtual realm…

If nothing else, that gives me an excuse to post the new HD version of World Builder Bruce posted to his YouTube channel earlier this month (yes, I know it’s not the first time I’ve posted it, but I do love the movie).

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Kokua 3.6.2: all set for auto-update

Update August 21st: Nicky Perrian from Kokua has added a comment about a Windows issue with uninstalling, due to a change in the installer.

kokua-logoKokua released version 3.6.2.29072 on August 16th, becoming the first TPV to start operating LL’s viewer update capability since the Lab formally announced it was making the capability available to TPVs if they want to make use of it (Catznip has actually has an auto update capability since release R7, but I’m not clear on whether that uses any of the LL code, or is something the Catznip team built for themselves). Along with this change comes a number of smaller updates.

Download and Installation

The latest Kokua installer (Windows) weighs-in at 36.8 Mb. As expected, the installer runs without a hitch. As I’m still getting around to re-installing viewers on an “as needed” basis on the new PC, I didn’t have to perform a clean install (not that one is recommended in the release notes).

Auto Update

Oz Linden announced that the Lab would be making their viewer release mechanism available to TPVs via an e-mail earlier in the month and also at the TPV developer meeting on Friday August 9th, when he indicated that the Lab were already working with some viewer development teams to help them implement it, Kokua clearly being one of them.

Kokua implements LL's viewer update mechanism code
Kokua implements LL’s viewer update mechanism code

With Kokua, the update options are presented exactly as they are in the official viewer – complete with the check box to update to release candidates. Whether this means Kokua will be completely following suit with the overall release process implemented by the Lab, I’ve no idea.

Obviously, while the code is from LL, viewer updates obtained via it are still coming from Kokua – it doesn’t mean people sill suddenly start getting SL viewer updates!

The change does mean that from now on, updates will be obtained from Kokua’s SourceForge repository as the code does not work with BitBucket. However, the team are at present continuing to post updates to both BitBucket and SourceForge.

Additional Updates

This release brings the viewer up to parity with the Linden Lab 3.6.2 code base, which means it has the more recent materials processing code updates, although not necessarily the very latest to surface in the SL Materials Project viewer, and well as other recent updates within the official viewer. Other notable updates comprise:

  • A return to standard SL viewer Debug for the login menu. This allows the selection of Debug level before logging in
  • “Stop animating me” short cut has been assigned to Shift-S
  • There are several Linux build changes to allow compiling on current compilers (builds on gcc-4.7 and gcc-4.8 have webkit runtime issues)
  • Maximum number of groups has been corrected for OpenSim
  • Freeze/Unfreeze and Eject/Ban context menu options have been added to the people / radar floater, as per Feature Request #1254
  • The Reach Out slider on the people floater mini-map is renamed Radar Range, has been repositioned above the mini-map and now has a maximum range of 4095 metres
  • The Map button in the tool bar is renamed World Map
  • Clicking on the bandwidth or packet loss graph will bring up the Statistics floater
  • The middle mouse button can now be used as a paste function and / or to scroll the world map.

This is another small but very tidy update for Kokua, and the release notes are available on the Kokua blog. While I only had a very brief time to try it out over the weekend, I didn’t notice any issues of import / impact (other than the issue of mesh clothing on other avatars failing to render, which I frequently encounter on Firestorm and the official SL viewer, so is not a Kokua issue).

All-in-all a tidy update.

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Once more a Scribbled Heart

Scribbled Hearts; Inara Pey, August 2013, on FlickrScribbled Hearts (Flickr)

I was delighted to learn from Ziki that Scribbled Hearts has made a return to Second Life. Formerly on the region of Water Reserve, Scribbled Hearts is back on another Homestead, this one bearing its own name.

It’s fair to say I fell in love with the original when I visited it in October 2012, and I was disappointed to learn it was going away at the end of that year. So on reading that is it now back with us, I had to hurry over and explore.

The new region has much in keeping with the old. It is a quiet rural / coastal setting where water plays a key part, styled by Randi Lenroy. It is the home of *. emm [shop],  which was present in the original, owned by Snowy Melody-Deluxe, and which is this time joined by Little Closet, operated by Noel Ryhann Kennedy-Deluxe. Finally, as also was the case with the original, neither store overwhelms the region, but fit their surroundings perfectly.

Scribbled Hearts; Inara Pey, August 2013, on FlickrScribbled Hearts (Flickr)

Little Closet occupies a small island in the south-east corner of the region, which is linked to the rest of the land by a partially flooded grass causeway which in turn forms the main teleport point.  *. emm [shop] is across the region, towards the north-west corner, sitting in open grassland.  There is also a cafe on the west side of the main island, surrounded on three sides by water. The rest of the region is a mixture of woodland, water and a small, intimate beach,  all beautifully and naturally presented.

Winding across the main island are a couple of trails, one of which runs from the cafe the other from * emm [shop] before they both meet under the shade of the trees and point the way towards Little Closet. “Trails” is actually probably too strong a term. Looking at the way they wind across the land and under the trees, and considering their raised, cut sides, they look just like dried-up stream beds rather than paths. If that was the intention is laying them, then it’s another clever nod towards Scribbled Hearts’ water-related nature.

Scribbled Hearts; Inara Pey, August 2013, on FlickrScribbled Hearts (Flickr)

The region  has a custom windlight setting which is absolutely perfect for the landscape, presenting you with a late afternoon, the sun partially hidden by clouds, a slight haze evident through the trees. If you have Firestorm or have installed Vincent Nacon’s clouds, the windlight works really well with the altocumulus clouds. Not that you need be limited to using it; as with the previous designs, this is a place which lends itself to a whole range of lighting options and opportunities, allowing the SL photographer to play to their heart’s content.

There’s a lot worth snapping as well; not only is the landscaping superb, there a lots of lovely touches to be found throughout the region and around the buildings themselves. The cafe is practically a work of art of itself with all the detail put into it, and very photogenic as a result, while Little Closet has a number of nice touches around it, some of which form little vignettes of their own, such as the scene with the taxi and shed.  * emm [shop] offers itself as a part of the rural setting, its barn-like appearance blending will with the open meadow and surrounding trees. And it doesn’t end there – wander around and you’ll come across opportunities to capture a lot of pictures and scenes.

Scribbled Hearts; Inara Pey, August 2013, on FlickrScribbled Hearts (Flickr)

If walking isn’t particularly your thing, you can pick-up a bicycle from the cafe and use it to get around the islands, although I confess I found the bike a little hard to steer (hardly surprising giving there are no paved surfaces :)).

There is a 3-minute auto return time on the region, so if you are in need of a prop or two for a particular photo, you have a few minutes in which to make use of it.

It is wonderful to see Scribbled Hearts make a return to Second Life, more so given the strong sense of continuity between “new” and “old” for those of us fortunate enough to remember how it looked when hosted on Water Reserve.

Scribbled Hearts; Inara Pey, August 2013, on FlickrScribbled Hearts (Flickr)

If you’ve never paid a visit to Scribbled Hearts old or new, I cannot recommended it highly enough, whether you’re seeking a new place in which to relax or to explore, or whether you have an itchy camera shutter finger.

For me, the return of Scribbled Hearts came at just the right time. It’s the latter end of the school holidays here, and as per a usual routine, I have a my God-daughter (one of three) for the week. She’s an energetic almost-eight, and it may well be only Monday, but I’m already worn out, so it’s a welcome piece (peace?) of sanity in my world right now :).

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