The Drax Files Radio Hour launches!

radio-hourWith a familiar welcome from Torley Linden, the first segment of the eagerly awaited The Drax Files Radio Hour is now available for all to “tune-in” to.

The inaugural “broadcast”, transmitted from “an attic deep within the Berlin 1920s project”, covers a lot of ground: the ToS debate, an Oculus Rift update, Lily Allen’s confusion over L$ and Bitcoins and her regret at not having undertaken a gig in SL, the NSA and virtual worlds / games, fitted mesh  – and more.

Hosted by Draxtor Despres and Jo Yardley. The Drax Files is aimed at being a community show, driven by the community, for the community while looking at virtual environments from all sides, and input from SL users has been encouraged right from the start.

Oculus Rift

Given Jo’s enthusiasm for the Rift, it comes as no surprise that it features large in the broadcast – coupled with the news that the Oculus Team have been working on a new variant with head tracking capabilities and a low latency screen and which was unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The Oculus Rift Crystal Cover prototype
The new Oculus Rift Crystal Cove prototype

I’ve followed the Rift development for SL from a distance, both through what has been revealed by the Lab concerning their work at integrating it, and via Dave Rowe (Strachan Ofarrel in SL), who has been developing a version of his CtrlAltStudio viewer for use with the Rift quite independently of the Lab (Dave will also be a guest on an upcoming segment of TDFRH).

If I’m honest, I’m not altogether convinced that the Rift will be quite the “game changer” within Second Life some have been predicting – which is not to say I don’t think there will be applications in-world where the Rift will be put to very exceptional use. I just don’t quite see Rift-driven experiences becoming “the norm” in terms of how people engage with Second Life on a daily basis. What comes after the Rift, however (and indeed, Second life), may well be an entirely different story.

In this, I also tend to agree with ex Battery Street staffer Babbage Linden, as expressed by Drax during the show: I’m somewhat dubious about the Rift achieving the levels of “everyday” mainstream use some picture for it. This doesn’t – just to be clear – mean I think people won’t find uses for it outside of games and the like; rather, it’s that I think the uses that are found for the Rift will themselves be somewhat niche and not as all-encompassing as is being imagined in some quarters. That said, I’m looking forward to hearing Dave talk some more about his work with the headset, and seeing what does emerge from the Lab even if I don’t have an Oculus Rift myself.

ToS Changes

Having been entirely missed by all of us (myself included) when first released in August 2013, the last set of changes to the Lab’s Terms of Service have gone on to cause a considerable amount of upset and controversy – some of which was not helped by people getting hold of the wrong end of the stick.

The Linden Lab Terms of Service: changes problematic, but also not necessarily clearly understood
The Linden Lab Terms of Service: changes problematic, but also not necessarily clearly understood

This latter point perhaps most clearly demonstrated by Jo’s reference in the podcast to her situation with using third-party textures, and her conviction that it is down to the Lab to convince those third-party texture providers that they should allow their textures to be uploaded to SL once more. However, as attorney Agenda Faromet has commented, there is nothing changed in the updated ToS which drastically affects the texture suppliers concerned, or which should have caused them to react as they did – and so that actually isn’t, in fairness, the Lab’s problem to “fix”.

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Paradise lost: new teaser / trailer released

In December 2013, I was one of several bloggers who provided preview notice of the upcoming new production from the Basilique Performing Arts Company, which will be opening to the public in Spring 2014.

Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin is an ambitious and sweeping re-telling of original sin based on John Milton’s Paradise Lost, choreographed and set to the fourteen movements of Mozart’s Requiem Mass in D minor.

The creation of Canary Beck and Harvey Crabsticks, the new production will last about an hour and comprise three Acts: The Creation, The Fall and The Expulsion. Through each, we will follow Satan, as he builds Hell, God as he creates the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge, Adam … and Eve; witness Satan’s beguiling of Eve, watch as she and Adam wilfully lust for one another in the face of God’s anger, only to be banished from the Garden of Eden; then finally, watch all that came after: the battle between  the forces of Good and Evil, and Adam and Eve’s lives after Eden. All have been specially choreographed, and each act will comprise a number movements from Mozart’s Requiem.

The Basilique Performing Arts Company have today released the second in a series of trailer for this new piece, which builds on the initial teaser as it reveals God creating Adam and “the beasts of the field”.  It is another marvellous piece which again demonstrates that Paradise Lost: The story of Adam and Eve’s original sin promises to be a very special production.

SL projects update: week 2 (2): Fitted mesh, breedable issues and [L4L]-Gestures & Walkers (Freebies) <3

Week 2 Deployments – Recap

  • On Tuesday January 7th, the Main channel  received the server maintenance project that had been on the RC channels for the past few weeks. It contains a single bug fix, related to vehicles becoming stuck in the ‘sat upon’ state (which prevents parcel auto return)
  • On Wednesday January 8th, all three RC channels received a new server maintenance project, which contains some crash fixes and the new LSL functions for uniformly scaling linksets, all of which are immediately accessible using current viewers (see part one of this week’s report for details).  This project also contains updates related to STORM-68 and STORM-1831, both of which require viewer-side updates which have yet to be released by the Lab.

LSL Syntax Highlighting Updates

Related to STORM-1831, these updates, which were deployed to the RC channels as noted above, will eventually see the viewer able to fetch LSL syntax highlighting rules directly from the simulator. However, there are currently some errors in the syntax file as deployed to the RC channels this week (repeating text, bad whitespace, or inaccurate definitions of functions), which require further corrective work. As there is currently no publicly available viewer which can use this new capability, it is unlikely this issue will prevent the server maintenance project from being promoted to the Main channel in week 3.

The file is designed to be cached by the viewer (once the viewer-side updates are released), and is around some 600KB in size. This means that the file should only ever be downloaded and updated if the LSL editor is open, and the viewer detects a version number difference between the file it has cached and the file held by the simulator to which it is connected.

It is unclear when the viewer-side updates for this work will appear. While planned to arrive in a release candidate viewer containing a number of Snowstorm updates, it appears there are still a few bugs in the STORM-1831 code, such as with function arguments being presented in an incorrect order in the tool tips, which may delay its inclusion.

Week 3 Deployments

It is likely the server project currently on the three RCs will be promoted to the Main channel in week 3 (commencing Monday January 13th). However, it is also likely there will be no RC updates for the week, as there are no server maintenance updates ready to go, and no other projects (such as group ban lists) are in a position to be deployed.

The first Server Beta UG meeting of 2014
The first Server Beta UG meeting of 2014

Viewer News

Release Viewer

Thursday January 9th saw the PackageFix viewer (dated January 2nd, 2014) promoted to the de facto release viewer. As per pervious notes in this blog, this viewer has no SL-related functional updates. Rather, it corrects an issue introduced with the 3.6.12 code base whereby the Windows executable name was changed from “SecondLife” to “SecondLifeViewer”, without removing any executable using the “SecondLife” name from the installation folder. As a result, any shortcuts pointing to the “old” executable would allow it to run if used, thus potentially triggering further auto-updates.

With this fix, any executables using the old name (“SecondLife”) are removed from the installation folder, so any shortcuts created to them will cause Windows to display an error message, and the user can then remove them or modify them to point to the correct executable.

Fitted Mesh Progress

Oz Linden is anticipating a release candidate of the Fitted Mesh viewer Real Soon NowTM. There are currently no open issues at present, and work is underway to move it to a release candidate status. Exactly how soon “Real Soon Now” might be, however, is a little up in the air, as Oz went on to note at the Open-source Dev meeting on Wednesday January 8th, saying, “there are a bunch of steps [still to be taken] and I don’t know how long they’ll end up taking.”

Continue reading “SL projects update: week 2 (2): Fitted mesh, breedable issues and [L4L]-Gestures & Walkers (Freebies) <3”