SL project update week 38 (2): server, viewer and other bits

Server Deployments – Week 38

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

  • On Tuesday September 17th, The Main channel received the HTTP updates  previously deployed to Magnum in weeks 36 and 37. See here and here for details. These changes are pending  a viewer-side update in order to be effective.
  • One Wednesday September 18th, the RC channels were updated as follows:
  • BlueSteel and LeTigre remained on the same maintenance package as week 37, but gained a fix for a crash mode and the server-side HTTP work
  • Magnum received the BlueSteel / LeTigre updates, a series of crash fixes and an update to parcel access priorities.

Some people have reported issues with sculpties only partially rendering following the deployments. This seems to be occurring when teleporting into a region, and has been noted with sculpted trees and foliage with a low LI. One suggested solution has been to raise the RenderMinimumLODTriangleCount debug from its default of 16 to 28 or 32.

BlueSteel / LeTigre Crash Mode Update

In part one of this week’s report, I mistakenly assigned the crash mode fix referred to as being something Andrew Linden had been working on. In fact, the crash mode was only created as a result of the week 37 deployment to these channels. Related to region crossings, it would only occur under very specific, non-exploitable conditions involving vehicle-riding avatars, and would result in the region just left crashing. This issue never got beyond the two RCs, and has now been confirmed as fixed.

Magnum Parcel Access Priorities Update

Speaking at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday September 19th, Maestro gave further information on this fix, “There was a longstanding bug where an avatar who was on the ‘Allowed Residents’ list of a parcel was still not able to enter the parcel, due to other access restrictions.” So if someone was on the access list, but had no payment information on file, and the parcel required it, they could still not enter the parcel. With this fix, Maestro explained, “If the parcel is set to ‘allow payment info on file always’, somebody on the ‘allowed residents’ list can always enter, regardless of their PIOF status.” The change does not alter anyone being on the banned list being unable to access a parcel,

As the sun sets, the Server Beta attendees gather ...
As the sun sets, the Server Beta attendees gather …

Week 39 Deployments

While the final decisions on deployment packaged are not made until the start of the week in which they are due, Maestro reports the data on both the Magnum and the BlueSteel / LeTigre packages deployed this week are good. However, he suspects the Magnum package will most likely be promoted to the Main channel in week 39 (week commencing Monday September 23rd.

Viewer Updates

The release viewer was updated on Thursday  September 19th, when the Materials release candidate (release 3.6.6.280963) was prompted to the de facto release viewer (release notes & download). This currently leaves just two release candidates in the release channel at present:  the Snowstorm contributions RC, which includes the Request Teleport feature, and the maintenance update, which includes the viewer-side updates for the “new” particle capabilities.

Other Items

LSL Parcel Access Function

Jenna Felton raised a question at the Server Beta meeting on whether it would be possible to have a LSL function which could determine if a specified avatar can enter a specified location within a region, or is able to pass through every parcel on a given path through the region. She explained why such a function might be useful:

The reason is when you build a vehicle or a physically working teleporter, you face a problem: Although you can read the parcel flags and determine for example if a parcel uses ban list, but you can’t determine if any sat passenger is on the list or not. So you get false positives and refuse teleport even if the vehicle would cross the parcel. Now, even if you are ok with that, you have to perform a large number of such checks to be sure at no position of your path you are entering a parcel or cross an edge of a parcel using ban list.

So I’d like to know if such a function is reasonable, that takes two vectors and determines if the path connecting them is safe for objects with seated avatars to move along. A reasonable range of systems would benefit from it.

This prompted some discussion of the idea, apparently continuing a discussion Maestro and Simon Linden had prior to the meeting. This took-in a number of ways in which such a check might be achieved, including a look-up based on agent_id and parcel_id, through to using the location-to-parcel ID lookup or extending llCastRay to have parcel detection.  Simon Linden also pointed out it would be possible to do something similar now, saying: “It’s not too hard to create a function in LSL to do that, Jenna … you’d just move along your path 4m in X or Y at a time, use llGetParcelDetails() and if the ID changes, then check if you can enter”, although as Jenna pointed out, this would require around 64 calls during a region crossing.

There may be further discussion on this idea in the future, with Maestro suggesting Andrew Linden be given a poke on the matter, as a result of his recent work on parcel encroachment.

Meeting Venue Update

Maestro revealed he’s going to be revamping the Server Beta meeting area on Aditi soon. The gym will be going to be replaced with … well … here’s the preview!

Apparently,  attendees will be invited to bring their own chairs / dance poseballs!

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The Drax Files 11: the power of creativity

There are always challenges and there are shortcomings. Sometimes you just want to bang your head against the wall. But then you realise it’s really a world without limitations, and puts no restrictions on your imagination … Before Second Life, how could you have done what you can do now?

These words, spoken by Dante Spectre in episode 11 of The Drax Files sum-up the technical dichotomy that is Second Life. On the one hand, it is a platform that offers people the freedom to create anything they want, participate in almost any activity be it social, educational, creative, game-oriented, health-related, research-focused and so on; and to be almost anyone or anything, enjoying a freedom of expression which may not so easily be found in real life. Then on the other, it can be a real PITA when things go wrong or new capabilities hiccup as they are introduced, and so on.

Very often, for those of us involved in SL, it’s all too easy to focus on the latter, the challenges and shortcomings, than it is to remain focused on the former. Which is why this episode of The Drax Files serves as a useful reminder that – as Dante says, if not for SL, how could we do what we do in-world?

Dwarfins!
Dwarfins!

In exploring the world of Dwarfins, created by Dante and his wife (and project manager!) Judy Chestnut, together with their “adopted daughter”, Jaimy Hancroft, this episode reminds us of the incredible power Second Life puts at our fingertips, whether in the ability to create something as technically advanced as the Dwarfins themselves, or to create fantasy environments we can enjoy with friends and others, which can be populated by NPCs like the Dwarfins.

This is also a piece that reaches out to those beyond the walls of the Second Life garden and really tries to frame the reasons why many of us involved in SL are so involved. Where other segments have been framed more around the human aspects of people’s lives and their time with SL, this show unashamedly dives into more of the inner workings of the platform, more directly picking-up the threads laid in earlier shows and weaving them together to create a picture of how Second Life is a user-created world and how it allows people to be creative and, if they so wish, enjoy something of a financial return on their work.

Dwarfin-3_001In many ways the Dwarfins team are an ideal showcase for this; as they demonstrate the fact that virtual environments allow people to develop a shared interest which helps to creatively enrich their real lives, and which forms bounds of friendship, family and even entrepreneurial endeavour around the globe.

“In real life I would never have met Jaimy, or anyone like Jaimy,” Judy tells us. “First of all she’s in Belgium; she’s about twenty years younger than me, almost. I very much feel a mother / daughter relationship with her … except she doesn’t really listen to me, either. So it really is a mother / daughter relationship!”

In expressing this, Judy opens the door on the ability of virtual worlds to provide whole avenues of very human interaction between people, regardless of age, background, geographical location and to develop genuine friendships and relationships with one others which simply would not otherwise happen. This is again something so often missed by those outside of Second Life; indeed it’s fair to see it’s an element of the platform almost completely overlooked when promoting Second Life – not that it is particularly easy to portray.

Judt and Dante
Judt and Dante (and Drax!)

Similarly, Judy and Dante have enriched their own relationship through this joint endeavour of creativity and invention, just as another couple may well share and enjoy an evening of putting up photos on Facebook or whatever.

In episode 11, Drax once again provides a fascinating insight into how people relate to Second Life and what it is such a captivating and immersive world. More than this, however, is that he also shines more of a light on why people become involved in SL and how it can present opportunities and freedoms unmatched by other digital mediums. And he does so in a way that encourages a greater curiosity about the platform which might just lead some to take another look.

Continue reading “The Drax Files 11: the power of creativity”

Lette Ponnier: “The three hours that can change your SL”

Letter Ponnier, one of the core support staff on the Firestorm viewer, runs her own blog, which often focuses on Second Life, the user’s experience and more. Obviously, as a member of the Firestorm team, many of her posts are Firestorm-centric – but this doesn’t make them any less a worthwhile read. When it comes to understanding SL and the viewer in general, Letter has much to say that is very much worth taking the time to read.

In a recent post, she covered The Three Hours That Can Change Your Second Life. As many know, the Firestorm team run regular classes throughout the week focusing on many aspects of Firestorm and getting to grips with it. In her blog post, Lette points to four lessons the team run, three of which could lead to anyone, regardless of their viewer preference, to enjoy their SL experience a lot more and gain a deeper understanding of the intricacies of the viewer and Second Life.

These classes are:

  • Preferences 2 – covering the Graphics and Network & cache tabs – which is definitely of use to anyone using SL, regardless of viewer
  • Lag – a mini-class which explains the major types of lag and dispels many of the myths surrounding lag – once again useful for anyone who has ever felt their SL is suffering as a result of “lag”
  • Basic Troubleshooting – which may be useful to anyone who experiences issues and problem, again regardless of their viewer
  • Reporting Bugs, Requesting Features – which is more Firestorm-centric, but can still be useful for those using any viewer which has a JIRA-based bug reporting system.

Details on when these lessons are held can be found on the Firestorm wiki.

As well as the blog post, which provides an overview of each of the classes, Lette has provided an audio recording for those who can multi-task and wish to listen while doing over things. You can find the recording at Vocaroo.

If you are at all interested in making your SL experience more enjoyable and / or in getting to grips with your viewer, I recommend three things – take a read of Lette’s post or listen to the audio, read Lette’s blog (you’ll also find a link in my blogroll, right), and try popping along to the Firestorm lessons.

Related Links

With thanks to Lette Ponnier.