This must be November: it’s Premium Promo Time in SL

November is half-over and once again it’s time for the end-of-year Premium membership promo from LL – and Premium gifts make something of a seasonal return.

As usual, the offer is 50% off of membership for those upgrading, but only if they opt for the Quarterly billing plan, and the discount is applied only to the first quarter billing period.

There is also an e-mail circulating to users about both the promotion and the gifts. I’m still not clear why, whenever the upgrade promos are run my main account (which is Premium) gets the invitation to “upgrade”, while my Crash Test Alt account never does (and it has a separate e-mail address, so it’s not like I’m confusing the two), but hey-ho.

The image accompanying the Premium promotion e-mail
The image accompanying the Premium promotion e-mail

The Premium gift is designed to be of a festive spirit featuring a range of items,  notably twelve empty cubes textured as gifts, together with teddy bears last seen in the SL10B premium gift vendors, now attired for Christmas; a thanksgiving candle; a Christmas candle; a poinsettia; “high” (26 LI) and “low” detail (15 LI) versions of an Xmas tree; and a Christmas wreath.

I’ll leave it to others to comment on the gift set. Instead I’ll just mention that the Premium  promotion started at 00:01 on Thursday November 21st and runs until 00:01 on Wednesday  1st January 2014 (although at the time of writing, the small print of the upgrade page itself quotes the offer period as ” starts Friday July 26, 2013 at 12:01AM (PST) and expires Sunday August 11, 2013 at 11:59pm (PST)”. Oops.).

If you’re interested, I offered some thoughts on the matter a couple of years ago, and which probably still holds true today and might be worth reading before making the jump.

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Rediscovering a gem in Second Life

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

One of the difficult aspects of being a chronicler of Second Life is that it is constantly evolving. Not just technically, but also in terms of the ebb and flow of life. Regions arrive, are built, grow, change, are rebuilt, exchanged, and sometimes lost. This means that in documenting one’s own travels, it is sometimes necessary to retrace footsteps just to see what has occurred since a last visit, particularly if that visit was six or more months ago. Many are just as they were, some, sadly, have vanished, quite possibly into memory as they are no more. When the latter occurs, it’s generally noted with sadness and regret. Fortunately, however, not all builds which vanish from their former locations have necessarily gone forever; some have simply relocated.

Such is the case with Taka no Sakura, a wonderful gem of a build I came across in July of 2013. While engaged in one of my periodic walks back across Second Life to see what had changed, I discovered this Edo period Japanese build had indeed vanished from its former home, but rather than having been closed, it had been moved to Midnight Dream and has been completely rebuilt. So it was with a sense of anticipation that I set out to rediscover it.

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

One of the many points which attracted me to the original build was the way in which it had been composed with a number of focal-points, each with its own attractiveness. all of which drew one in, and which encouraged the artist in me to try to produce images just a little different from those for other destinations. While the “new” Taka no Sakura is of a very different design, it has lost none of that attractiveness; nor has it lost any of the other aspects which drew me so powerfully to the original.

The theme is still that of Edo period Japan, and there are still the little quirks in the build which immediately brought a smile to my lips simply because of their charm – such as the little vendor carts scattered around the region, all fitted with bicycle wheels and rubber tyres, and some hiding propane gas cylinders!

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

This is a rocky, mountainous landscape, cut through with deep channels of water which surround the island and one of which almost cuts the region in two, forming somthing of a narrow harbour where sits a quayside and commerce area. This is where you arrive on teleporting to the region via search. Paths lead away from this area wind through the region, stone lamps lighting the way as the sun sets, talking you on a journey of exploration, up hill, over dale, and through bamboo forests.

Follow these, and you’ll be taken across bridges to high wall gardens and down to a village sitting nestled between high cliffs. Steps and paths will also show you the way to high temples and an impressive clan house and shoreline hideaways.

Along the way there is much to discover and enjoy; there is an artful attention to detail here and also flashes of a whimsical sense of humour – or quite possibly opportunities for quite serious swordplay which leaves the vanquished quite possibly hanging on for dear life! 🙂

Taka no Sakura
Taka no Sakura

Windlight plays an important role here; the selected preset – Bristol – complements the setting perfectly. so much so that it’s hard to find reason why one would want to fiddle around for alternatives. such is the care with which sky and sim surround have been brought together to create an impressive sense of depth to the region. Not that the region doesn’t lend itself to experimenting, of course; just that it’s worthwhile looking through the camera’s viewfinder using the default and simply tweaking the time of day.

Last time around, my old PC was suffering mightily with graphic issues, leaving me reliant on basic screen captures for images (which also formed a reason for trying to put together images of the region that were just that little bit different). Although I’m not a great believer in trying to get lightning to strike twice (you only tend to end up getting burnt, after all), I couldn’t resist playing with the images I took this time around to try to emulate the look and feel I managed to develop back in July. I hope you’ll forgive me that indulgence!

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Blog menu nips and tucks

Back in August 2013 I finally finished-up a complete run-through and rationalisation of the categories, tag, etc., used in this blog to try to ease the process of finding information. At the same time, I also implemented a new top menu structure to further help people find information on a specific topic category.

The new travelogue menu option
The new travelogue menu option

While I was reasonably happy with the menu system as far as it went, I was still left feeling it might be in need of tweaking.

Today, I’ve managed to put some effort into a little of that tweaking, which will hopefully again ease the process of finding stuff. In particular, regulars my notice that the Other Worlds menu heading has gone, and there is a new heading of Pey’s Travelogues in its place.

This new menu now presents all of my SL destination reviews (re-tagged “Exploring Second Life”), and my news and reviews on other virtual worlds into one menu.

Hopefully this will make finding my SL destination reviews a little easier than hunting down the Events & Reviews menu, although I confess, I’d actually like to make the Exploring Second Life topic a little more granular in nature to ease finding a specific group of destinations – but precisely how to further sort and tag them is a bit of a head-scratcher at the moment.

Don't forget you can use sub-menus (where provided) to display articles on a specific topic, or click the parent topic (in this case, "Linden Lab") to display all the items from the sub-menu topics
Don’t forget you can use sub-menus (where provided) to display articles on a specific topic, or click the parent topic (in this case, “Linden Lab”) to display all the items from the sub-menu topics

In the meantime, do take a peek at the new menu option, and don’t forget the other menu items should help in finding stuff, and remember that where an option has a sub-menu, you can either select a topic from the sub-menu or click the parent menu item and get everything listed under it.

SL projects update week 47 (2): server, viewer, general items

Server Deployments week 47 recap

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

  • Tuesday November 19th: the Main channel received the maintenance package previously 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
  • Wednesday November 20th:
    • Magnum remained on the same maintenance project as deployed to it in week 47, but which features a further update to the grey goo fence, now only applies to objects which are both large and physical. This alteration is in response to BUG-4448, wherein it was reported that building rezzers were running up against the fence when attempting to rez complex builds
    • BlueSteel and leTigre received a new maintenance package comprising those changes deployed to Magnum in week 46, with additional bug fixes.
Server Beta Meeting (stock)
Server Beta Meeting (stock)

Notes on the Deployments

Commenting on the BlueSteel / LeTigre updates during the Server Beta meeting on Thursday November 21st, Maestro Linden underlined the last four bug fixes listed in the release notes, together with the final “new feature” item, as being newly introduced with the deployment.

With regards to the BlueSteel  / LeTigre fix for  “Vehicles containing a mesh are returned to the owner upon region crossing when destination parcel is full”, he added, “I believe the issues with region crossing on vehicles due to ‘parcel full’ should be fixed, though there’s still that bug about certain vehicles sometimes going crazy upon region crossing.”

A question was asked if the change to the grey goo fence (BUG-4448) might impact llGiveInventory object-to-object transfers. Apparently there were reports n the Advanced Scripters of Second Life that people were encountering a “give inventory failure: grey goo fence: rapid or recursive inventory transfer” warning on Magnum regions following the update.

Commenting on this, Maestro Linden said, “I checked with Simon about this one; the GGF change should only affect rezzing of objects; when you simply pass items around with llGiveInvenotry(), the object geometry data hasn’t been loaded, so it wouldn’t have the opportunity to apply a penalty. However, he thinks that if you hit the GGF for rezzing objects , the GGF may also prevent llGiveInventory() from operating.”

Maestro also indicated that new restart scripts were using during the RC deployment which displayed the restart messages in “big, bold letters”. Whether these changes are in addition to the restart message changes made by Simon Linden and deployed in September is unclear; Maestro also referenced the fact that restarts will now occur as soon as the last avatar departs a region, rather than waiting for the countdown to complete, and this was a change initially deployed in September.

Week 48 (Week Commencing Monday November 25th)

A reminder that there are no deployments / rolling restarts planned for week 48 due to it being Thanksgiving week in the United States (which also means the Server Beta meeting will not be taking place.

SL Viewer

The SL release viewer was updated on Thursday November 21st to version 3.6.11.283787 (dated November 15)  – formerly the GPU table updates RC. This release contained no functional changes to the viewer, but saw support added for the following GPU families:  newer nVidia GTX 700 series; AMD R7/R9; Intel Iris Pro  (download page, release notes).

Fitted Mesh Project Viewer

RedPoly
Redpoly Inventor, who first looked into the use of custom bones for mesh garment deformation in SL

Thursday November 21st also saw the release of the Fitted Mesh project viewer 3.6.11.283899. This viewer includes a new avatar skeleton with additional collision bones which allow mesh garments rigged to the collision bone structure to adjust with changes to an avatar’s shape using the Edit Shape sliders.

The system is modelled at the approach first mooted during the Closed Mesh Beta and later prototyped by RedPoly Inventor, and which has been subsequently employed in approaches such as Redgrave’s “Liquid Mesh” range of garments.

The official blog post on the release can be read here, and I was fortunate enough to be given preview access to the viewer a little ahead of the launch, and my own overview is also available.

This approach to fitting mesh garments is still at a project status, and those trying it are requested to file any issues they have via a JIRA to the Fitted Mesh project.

Other Items

Copying Large Numbers of Items to the Inventory of an Object

Many people are likely to be familiar with this issue: select  a large number of items from inventory and attempt to drop them into the contents of a prim in a single go, and part / all of the process may fail. This is a long-standing problem, and there had been something of a limit of around 42 items which could be successfully transferred into an object’s contents in a single go. However, there have apparently been renewed reports of problems, and a suggestion that the threshold for moving a large number of objects in a single go may now be around the 30 mark. Maestro Linden has updated a bug report from Dan Linden on the issue with this information in the hope it will assist in narrowing-down the possible cause.

Aircraft Region Crossing Issues

Yuzuru Jewell reported further issues with some aircraft encountering problems on attempting to cross regions. It takes the form of aircraft using mono scripts with collision detection  are failing to cross region boundaries. A similar bug has been reported for mesh vehicles – BUG-4084 is “Mesh car starts to bounce like pinball after sim crossing”, but the Lab has been having problems reproducing that issue.  One workaround that seems to prevent the problem is for the collision event to be moved to a separate script compiled as LSL2 rather than mono.

In the discussion Maestro noted this approach had also been put forward in dealing with BUG-4084, except that in that case, all scripts were being compiled as LSL2, possibly because the issue hadn’t been identified as perhaps being with collision event handlers. Maestro believes the pointer towards collision events may well  be an interesting lead and has requested that anyone able to reproduce the issue and show that specific events / functions are responsible, it will obviously make it easier to determine a resolution.