Lab issue reminder / warning about care with L$ purchases

secondlifeLinden Lab has issued a reminder / warning to users about buying and selling Linden Dollars and taking the appropriate precautions to prevent being scammed.

Second Life users do tend to be targeted by scammers periodically, so the reminder is timely as we approach what is for many the end-of-year holiday season, with both Christmas / winterfest and New Year looming.

The blog post reads in full:

As with any online service, Second Life users are targeted by scammers from time to time. One type of scam we’ve seen recently are websites that promise huge discounts on L$ sales and even offer to buy L$.

Often, these sites use these “too good to be true” discounts to lure you into entering your credit card information, which they then steal. Sometimes, they will use trusted payment systems, but sell you fraudulently obtained L$. When these fraudulent L$ are recovered by Linden Lab, you may then struggle to recover your payment from the anonymous strangers that sold them to you.

Not only does using these sites put your credit card information at risk, but it also constitutes a violation of the Terms of Service. Remember, you can buy L$ only on the LindeX or from an authorized L$ reseller; you can sell L$ only on the LindeX.

The good news is, keeping your credit card and your Second Life account safe is easy:

  • Only purchase L$ on the LindeX or from an authorized L$ reseller
  • Remember that the only place to sell your L$ is the LindeX, the official exchange operated by Linden Lab
  • Be wary of any offer (which may be made via IM or direct message) that sounds too good to be true. If the site isn’t an authorized L$ reseller, ignore it.

There are currently 47 authorised L$ resellers available for the purchase of L$, including the likes of CasperTech, VirWox, ZoHa Islands, AnsheX, DXexchange, CrossWorlds, PodeX and others which will be familiar to SL users. Many will accept payments in a range of currencies via a range of credit / debit cards as well as accepting payments via PayPal, as such there would appear to be little reason to trust non-authorised sites for the purchase of L$.

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Lab looks to make mesh garments fit better with the Fitted Mesh project viewer

secondlifeOn Wednesday November 20th, Linden Lab surprised the Second Life community by announcing the release of the Fitted Mesh project viewer.

Project Viewer is aimed squarely at resolving the thorny and oft-critiqued issue of making mesh clothing fit a wide variety of avatar shapes, as the blog post itself notes, reading in part:

Since the introduction of Mesh to Second Life, creators have faced challenges fitting Mesh garments to the Second Life avatar. Because mesh objects are not resizable in as many ways as the avatar itself is, it has been difficult for mesh garment creators to provide garments that adapt to the shape of the avatar in the way that the image-based clothing layers do. While many creators have made heroic efforts to provide products in a range of sizes, and some have collaborated to define a set of standard sizes that work reasonably well for much of the user population, many have found that mesh garments just don’t work well enough for their avatars. Mesh garments also don’t move with the body parts affected by avatar physics.

Users have developed two approaches to address these problems:

  • Rigging garments to the “collision bones” of the avatar skeleton (often marketed as “Liquid Mesh”). This works in current Viewers for some body parts, but there are some avatar shape parameters that do not have corresponding collision bones, so garments do not adapt to fit everywhere on the body.
  • The “Mesh Deformer” project added code to the Viewer to dynamically compute how to modify each garment shape by looking at how the vertices of the avatar were changed from that of the female and male base shapes.

The Linden Lab development team has studied both approaches, and compared their effectiveness, maintainability, and performance. Neither approach completely eliminates the occasional need for an alpha clothing layer to prevent small parts of the avatar skin from appearing through garments, but both work quite well at resizing garments so that they fit the avatar and move naturally with it. While the collision bones method requires the creator to do some additional rigging, we have decided that because it leverages more of the existing avatar shape system it is likely to be the more maintainable solution and to perform better for a wider range of users.

While the two current approaches to fitting mesh clothing are mentioned in the blog post (“Liquid Mesh” and the mesh deformer), it’s worth pointing out that the “Liquid Mesh” solution is actually based on an idea first demonstrated by RedPoly Inventor as far back as June 2012 – and it turns out that his approach is the one that the Lab, via Oz Linden, acknowledge as the one that first got them “started down the path of using collision bones to do this.”

At the time Liquid Mesh first appeared, there were concerns as to its impact on the market and the potential for content breakage should it prove popular only for something like the mesh deformer to eventually arrive in Second Life, prompting calls earlier in 2013 for the approach to be blocked by preventing mesh rigged to non-standard collision bones from being uploaded.  At the time, the Lab remained silent on the matter, although many did blog on the potential pros and cons about the approach, including myself. Strawberry Singh not only blogged, but produced a video showing her testing a pair of boots she’d purchased which utilised the capability.

Prior to the launch of the Fitted Mesh project viewer, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to preview it, and get to try out some sample clothing to see how it works. I don’t pretend this is a comprehensive review of the viewer, the new collision bones or skeleton; nor is it intended to compare / contrast the Lab’s approach to other methods. It is purely intended to provide an overview of the viewer and how suitably rigged mesh garments are handled.

The New Bones

As noted in the LL blog post, the project viewers includes an additional set of collision bones alongside the familiar set of bones. These are:

  • BUTT *
  • LEFT_PEC *

* These bones are affected by avatar physics.

All of these bones, and the original avatar bones, now affect mesh clothing when the avatar shape sliders (Edit Shape) are manipulated, thus giving mesh clothing which is rigged to the avatar skeleton the ability to adjust with the avatar shape as the sliders are adjusted, thus leading to a better “fit” for the clothing.

Content creators are invited to begin experimenting with creating garments rigged to the new skeleton. To assist creators in this, a Rigged Fitted Mesh wiki page is under construction, which includes information on the existing / new collision bones, links to the male and female .fbx, .ma and .dae files, and basic instructions on getting started with creating fitted mesh, including a link to downloading the avatar skeletons and to additional external resources.

Do be aware that this wiki page is a work-in-progress, as is the viewer, and liable to both update and change.

The Viewer and a Quick Series of Tests

There are a number of important things to note before going too much further. The first is highlighted in the Lab’s blog post, and is this:

At this time, the new skeleton should be considered provisional and subject to change; we do not yet recommend selling or buying garments rigged to it. Since we may find reasons to improve it during this testing process, and any change to the collision bones will likely break garments rigged before the change, we want to make sure that we have a set of bones that we can all live with into the indefinite future before it is widely used.

The second is that as with RedPoly’s original approach and Liquid Mesh, the approach will not entirely eliminate the need for alpha layers – but then again, it’s unlikely the mesh deformer would have entirely eliminated them, either.

The third is that the viewer obviously will not work with either unrigged mesh or rigged mesh which does not make use of the new collision bones (or additional bones intended to work with the appropriate sliders).

As the test clothing passed to me was for male avatars, and presented some of the usual problems when used with a female shape (and given I have very few mesh garments in my inventory, unrigged, rigged, liquid or otherwise), Oz kindly popped over and gave an initial demonstration. As he was already wearing a mesh jacket, he quickly played with the sliders to give himself a more portly shape – with the result that his mesh jacket (as expected) no longer fitted. However, when he swapped to the rigged t-shirt in the pack, it more-or-less fitted off-the-bat.

Oz, looking more portly than his usual self, demonstrates the new project viewer and collision bones. His mesh jacket (l) which is not rigged to the new bones, fails to adjust to his altered size. The t-shirt which has been rigged to the bones, however, does (r)
Oz, looking more portly than his usual self, demonstrates the new project viewer and collision bones. His mesh jacket (l) which is not rigged to the new bones, fails to adjust to his altered size. The t-shirt which has been rigged to the bones, however, does (r)

Continue reading “Lab looks to make mesh garments fit better with the Fitted Mesh project viewer”

SL projects update: week 47 (1): server releases, viewer

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

Main channel: Tuesday November 19th

The Main channel received the maintenance package deployed to BlueSteel and LeTigre in week 46. This package comprises further infrastructure changes for the yet-to-be-announced Experience Keys (experience tools) project

Release Candidate Channels, Wednesday November 20th

BlueSteel and LeTigre should receive a new maintenance package comprising the update deployed to Magnum in week 46, with additional bug fixes. However, at the time of writing, testing was still ongoing, and Simon Linden noted at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday November 19th that things were “down to the wire” in terms of getting the release out. If it does go ahead, the package will include:

  • Bug Fixes
    • Fixed “Sim crossing on vehicle fails when parcel at opposite sim border is full.” (BUG-4152)
    • Fixed a case in which a viewer with a high draw distance would not connect to distant regions which are within the draw distance area
    • Fixed some crash modes
    • Fixed “Vehicles containing a mesh are returned to the owner upon region crossing when destination parcel is full”
    • Fixed “Temp Attachments are sometimes not removed on the viewer when detached from a region change event.”
    • Fixed “Avatars inside a private parcel can see other avatars 2 regions away” (BUG-4356)
    • Fixed an issue with object return to inventory on test grids
  • New Features
    • Objects which are rezzed by sat-upon or attached scripts no longer inherit the temp-on-rez or auto-return timer of the parent object
    • Estate managers and region owners are now prevented from being teleported by llTeleportAgentHome()
    • Estate managers and region owners are no longer affected by scripts which use ESTATE_ACCESS_BANNED_AGENT_ADD
    • The grey goo fence is now stricter for large physical object rezzes
    • More robust handling of inventory management within objects
    • Cleanup of controls-grabbing in LSL scripts (no functional changes)
    • Parcel owners are now prevented from being teleported by llTeleportAgentHome()

Magnum should remain on the same maintenance project as deployed to it in week 47, but which features a further update to the grey goo fence change made in week 46, but which now only applies to objects which are both large and physical. This alteration is in response to BUG-4448.

Thanksgiving Code Freeze

Week 48 (commencing Monday November 25th) is Thanksgiving week in the United States, so there will be no server-side releases during the week. Sever updates will resume in week 49.

SL Viewer

No updates as yet in week 47 to the SL viewer.

Default Object Permissions

A number of TPVs include the ability to specify the default permissions applied to a new prim object (cube, cylinder, torus, etc.) on creation. A similar capability is being developed for the LL viewer (STORM-68) by Jonathan Yap, a long-time contributor to the viewer. Currently, the work is awaiting some server-side capabilities tweaking which will likely be done by Andrew Linden. This work is unlikely to be completed ahead of Thanksgiving, so there is no date as to when the new capability might appear.

Default Region Restart Sound and Notification

Jonathan is also working on STORM-1980 (“Improve awareness of region restarting message”) to add  a default region restart sound added to Second Life. This would be played automatically by the viewer on receipt of a region restart message, adding an additional warning of an approaching restart for those who may miss the pop-up notices, giving them time to take the appropriate action prior to logging-out. The work on this is also progressing, with a modified notification which includes new colours and a countdown. again, further work is required on this, so there is currently no timescale as to when it will be showing up in an RC viewer.