Patterns gets more substance (editing) and other bits

LL logoUpdate, October 9th, 2014: Linden Lab announced that development work on Patterns has been discontinued.

I’m not sure what has happened with the Patterns roadmap; when launched, the original idea was that the product would remain in a Genesis version for about a year prior to progressing to an official “version 1.0” release. However, here we are at the start of 2014, and Patterns is still apparently in Genesis mode with version  0.06 released on Monday January 20th, and the development team promising lots more to come as Patterns progresses.

Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; a lot of what is going on appears to be as a direct result of user input, and the development team are refreshingly engaged with the Patterns community through blog posts, wiki updates, forum posts and live streams. Makes one long for the crazy, heady, communications-rich days of old in Second Life!

The 0.06 update further enhances the Substance Editor introduced at the end of 2013, and which I covered in brief at the start of January. As  explained back then, the Substance Editor allows users to modify the existing surface and other substances (clay, copper, moonstone, etc.), and to create new substances for use in-game. The initial release included the ability to edit the diffuse (texture)  normal (bumpiness) properties of substances.  Version 0.06 adds the ability to edit and modify a number of additional substance properties:

  • Specular: the shininess of a substance  – this uses a greyscale  palette with white being the most shiny
  • Occlusion: – to map darker and lighter pixels resulting in a texture with an illusion of relief, and so allows the creation of hotspots and shadows on substances.  The brick and bonestone substances are good examples of substances using occlusion maps
  • Illumination: defines the glow and light emission effect for materials, using the range of white (most illuminated) to black.  The lava and moonstone substances are good examples of the use of illumination
  • Metal:  affects the metallic quality of a substance. The default is black with white being the most metallic.
The updated substance Editor with the added tabs for spcular, occlusion, illumination and metalic properties (right)
The updated substance Editor with the added tabs for specular, occlusion, illumination and metallic properties (right)

In addition, the Substance Editor gets an HD mode which doubles the texture resolution when using it, although the release notes indicate this makes using the Substance Editor performance intensive. It is also possible to define the total number of substances you include in a new Substance Pack.

The first part of a new video has been produced to explore the Substance Editor. This is described as “in-depth”, but I have to admit that this first part leaves something to be desired; the new properties in the Editor are glossed over with a “I’ll leave you guys to look these up…” Hopefully, there will be a more detailed look at them in the future as these series progresses, this is only an introduction, after all. However, given there has already been a far more detailed introduction to the Substance Editor already (albeit with only diffuse and normal maps), one has to wonder why the approach in that video was not followed, and a more informative piece produced to kick this new series off; as it is, the initial video is  – frankly – disappointing and waffly.

First Person Camera Lock

The new first person camera lock option in Settings. also note the option for applying your own substance sets to a world (top)
The new first person camera lock option in Settings. also note the option for applying your own substance sets to a world (top)

Another new element introduced to Patterns is the ability to lock the camera into first person view (consider Mouselook in SL). This is activated via the Scene Settings options (ESC > Scene settings > Lock first person view).

Continue reading “Patterns gets more substance (editing) and other bits”

Second Life tax requirements: form W-8BEN

As recently reported, in November, the Lab commenced e-mailing users meeting certain criteria to submit tax documentation to the Lab, which was subsequently expanded upon via a blog post on the matter.

In both the e-mail and blog post, reference was made to two IRS forms: W-9 (for U.S. residents) and Form W-8BEN (for non-U.S. residents), which must be completed and returned to Linden Lab within 30 days of any request for them being received in order to avoid having funds from accounts being withheld as stimplated by the US Internal Revenue Service (at the current rate of 28% of the gross amounts received).

With reference specifically to Form W-8BEN, concern has more recently be expressed at the fact it calls upon the person submitting it to provide either an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), either of which must be obtained from the IRS. However, the EIN is not something everyone outside of the US may be in a position to obtain, while obtaining an ITIN can take from between four and six weeks (compared to the Lab’s stated requirement that the form and supporting documentation be submitted to them within 30 days of receipt of the request).

Confusion was further heightened when several people indicated that had supplied Form W-8BEN to the Lab without either an EIN or ITIN.

As a number of people contacted me on this matter, I dropped a line to Peter Gray, the Lab’s Director of Global Communications, asking of the Lab could provide further clarification as to whether Form W-8BEN must have either an EIN or an ITIN in order to be submitted to the Lab. He replied with the following:

Hi Inara,

The users whom we have asked to submit the W8-BEN need only complete the fields in Part I, #1-5 (which does not require an EIN nor an ITIN). 

We regret the confusion this form has recently caused for some users. To help avoid this confusion moving forward, we’ve uploaded a new version of the form that allows users to complete only the necessary fields and will update the messages sent to users when this information is requested.



[My emphasis in the above.]

Hopefully, this will resolve any confusion where this particular matter is concerned.

Also, and purely as a point of reference:

Deirdre Young pointed me towards Kat Fetisov’s attempts to unravel W-8BEN, which have also been referred to by Ciaran Laval.

Kat’s circumstances, being what is effectively a UK-based Sole Trader, are such that she was able to get an EIN directly from the IRS, with the form-filling taking place over the ‘phone.  Those who are in a similar situation as Kat may want to consider approaching the IRS to obtain an EIN for future reference. Should this be the case, please refer to Kat’s blog, where she has provided clear guidance on doing so based on her experience.

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