Rod Humble departs the Lab

Update January 26th: My own look back at Rod Humble’s time at Linden Lab.

Update January 25th: Gamesbeat has caught-up with the news.

Update: Games industry has covered the news as well.

Update: The message on Rod Humble’s Facebook page confirming his departure from the Lab reads: “Its been a great 3 years! All my thanks to my colleagues at Linden Lab and our wonderful customers I wish you the very best for the future and continued success! I am starting-up a company to make Art, Entertainment and unusual things! More on that in a few weeks!”

Jo Yardley has posted that Rod Humble has apparently left Linden Lab. In a blog post she states:

In a personal message to me via facebook send a few minutes ago, Rod Humble told me that he has left Linden Lab as CEO last week.

After 3 years of running Linden Lab and bringing a lot of improvements to Second Life he resigned and is going to start up his own company that will make art, entertainment and all sorts of wonderful stuff.

It is not yet clear who will replace him but I wish him lots of success with his new project.

This news comes as a bit of a surprise and shock and there is no official announcement yet.

As noted in Jo’s post, there is no official announcement on the matter, but I have contacted the Lab in an attempt to gain further verification. I’ll provide an update should any reply be forthcoming. Even if confirmation is given, and there is no reason to doubt the veracity of Jo’s post, it is unlikely the circumstances behind his departure will enter the public domain

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Cloud Party team joins Yahoo! Platform to close in February

logo-CP

Update: Botgirl Questi pointed me to this coverage of the Yahoo! buy-out of Cloud Party, which includes a statement from Yahoo! on the acquisition.

It’s been the darling for some, and has come a long way in a short period of time. However, it now appears is if things are to draw to a close at Cloud Party, as spotted by Phadrus on the SLU forums.

After a year which has seen some rapid development, particularly in the latter half of 2013, with features and options being added nigh-on weekly – such as Oculus Rift support, and e-mail updates hitting users’ in boxes as a matter of routine, the company has today announced a major change of direction via a new blog post from Cloud Party’s CEO, Sam Thompson.

The blog post reads in full:

We’re excited to announce that the time has come for the Cloud Party team to start our next adventure. We are joining Yahoo! The last two years have been an incredible experience for everyone here. We’ve been continually amazed by your creativity and the worlds you’ve built and shared with us.

Cloud Party will continue to run until February 21, 2014. We want to support our community during this transition. In the interest of preserving your extraordinary Cloud Party creations, we’ve added export tools and written this guide to help you export your content. If you have any questions, please contact us at support@cloudpartyinc.com.

We are privileged to have had so many wonderful users share ideas and creations. We are excited to bring our vision and experience to a team that is as passionate about games as we are. Thank you all for sharing in this journey with us, and we hope you stick around for what’s next!

Claudia222 Jewell is one of a number of well-known virtual world artists who has been involved with Cloud Party
Claudia222 Jewell is one of a number of well-known virtual world artists who has been involved with Cloud Party

While “closing” isn’t specifically mentioned in the post, an end-date for the service is clearly given – February 21st. This tends to indicate that this is more than a matter of Cloud Party simply transitioning to a new owner following acquisition, and that the platform is indeed going away. This begs the question as to what Sam and his team will be doing at Yahoo!, and will the experiences they’ve gained through running Cloud Party be part of whatever plans their new employers have?

Given that this is Yahoo!, who haven’t exactly covered themselves in glory with either the acquisition of Flickr or the overhaul of their own Yahoo! Groups, will anyone from the “old” Cloud Party be sufficiently motivated to sign-up to whatever does follow?

While it perhaps never attracted the volume of users it might, Cloud Party offered some intriguing concepts, many of which did attract a fair few content creators from the likes of Second Life, particularly given the ease with which mesh creations could be designed and imported into the platform.

So far, there has been no visible response to the announcement on the Cloud Party forums, although the word is spreading.

SL projects updates week 4 (2): server, viewer, webkit

Maestro Linden's disco-themed Server Beta meeting venue (stock)
Maestro Linden’s disco-themed Server Beta meeting venue (stock)

Server Deployments Week 4 Recap

As always, please refer to the deployment thread in the forums for the very latest news.

Server Deployments in Week 5

Details on the deployments for week 5 (commencing Monday January 27th) have yet to be finalised. However, it appears there will be a new server maintenance projects targeted at the RC channel, which Maestro Linden outlined during the Server Beta meeting on Thursday January 23rd:

We’ll have another small maintenance project going out next week which includes another crash fix and a fix to llModifyLand(), [where] the bug is that calling it in a child prim modifies the wrong land.

For example, if a child prim is offset by <8,4,0> from the root prim, then calling that function in the child prim will try to modify the terrain at <8,4,0>  of the region,  which may or may not work depending on who owns the parcel.

The fix is to make it modify the land underneath the child prim (which of course follows the same permissions rules – you can only modify land owned by the script owner.

Unless another project pops-up in the interim, it is likely this update will be deployed to all three RC channels in week 5.

SL Viewer Updates

A new Maintenance RC viewer appeared in the release channel on Thursday January 23rd. Version 3.6.14.285499 includes some 43 MAINT related fixes and updates, as listed in the release notes.

All other viewer RC, project and the release viewer remain unchanged, per my notes in part one of this week’s report.

HTTP Work – Monty Linden

Monty attended the Server Beta meeting to provide some more information on the HTTP project work.

“Basically, my hope is to move http operations to a domain where ping time has far less impact on experience as well as just doing HTTP better,” he said of the current work, the benefits of which are currently in an RC viewer – version 3.6.14.285253. “And that is happening.” (See Monty’s blog post on the subject.)

HTTP Pipelining

This work was slightly sidetracked as Monty got involved in issues around third-party libraries (see below). However, pipelining is seen as the first major step that will give the Lab some ping time independence, and it is likely that it will involve some server-side work.

“The server work will be small, a change in fairness policies,” Monty stated by way of a broad explanation, “and throttle implementation but that isn’t set in stone yet.”

Third-party Library Work

The work on the third-party libraries has been covered in a number of recent HTTP project updates. These are the used in building the SL viewer, including zlib, libpng, openssl, ares, libcurl, boost and SDL, all of which Monty has been rebuilding, as well as “tweaking” colladadom, openjpeg, Google-mock and llqtwebkit.

The aim is to ensure that these libraries are up-to-date, and are probably managed and maintained and correctly used throughout the viewer build process.  This work should help, longer-term with any move by the Lab to 64-bit viewer builds, and should be of benefit to those TPVs already building 64-bit variants of their viewers.

Webkit Woes

Webkit is a third-party library used within the viewer for a number of tasks. For example,  it powers the built-in web browser, and is used to display profiles (unless you’re using a viewer supporting legacy profiles). It is also used with like Media on a Prim (MOAP) and many in-world televisions.

There have been an increasing number of issues with Webkit. The libraries used within SL are out-of-date, for example, something which has caused the Lab and TPVs a considerable amount of pain.

More recently,  users have been encountering issues when trying to view YouTube videos via the built-in browser or MOAP, reporting that they are seeing an error message informing them that  “You’re using Safari browser on Windows that we’ll soon stop supporting” (BUG-4763 and FIRE-12642), or reporting they have sound but no video (FIRE-11057). An Adobe engineer has commented on the latter Firestorm JIRA, explaining the problem, and has indicated he has contacted Linden Lab as well.

It’s unclear as to how this matter will be handled going forward. While Monty has prodded at Webkit as a part of his additional work on third-party libraries, and overall fix may not be that straightforward. As such, it appears the way forward in dealing with the video issues is currently unclear.

To infinity …

Infinity Space
Infinity Space

A new installation by Betty Tureaud opens on Friday January 24th in Southern Cross, and it’s an excellent example of depth perception.

Infinity Space comprises a huge, multi-hued horizontal space overlaid with two grids, one above the visitor’s head and one below their feet, all of which recedes infinitely into the distance no matter where you stand – or how far you walk.

Infinitiy Sace
Infinitiy Sace

While it sounds a simple idea, the execution is highly effective; some of the prims used in the installation are phantom extenders, so you can reach the edge of the region and still appear to keep on walking (albeit it with a slight bouncing off the region boundary), while the parallel lines of the grid stretch away in front of you forever converging without ever touching, enticing you to try to keep on following them. This optical effect can be enhanced by operating in Mouselook – which is really the best way to appreciate the build.

Infinity Space
Infinity Space

There is also a little band of floating pyramids circling around the build, offering visitors a ride which lifts the experience even more. Just click on one of the small poseballs scattered around the arrival point and you’ll be delivered, seated, to one of the moving pyramids. Once there, slip into Mouselook. The effect now borders on the hypnotic as the colours above and below the grid flow and change and the grid slowly appears to rotate, the axes interchanging. Riding in this way immediately put me in mind of part of astronaut Dave Bowman’s trip through the stargate in Kubrick’s seminal 2001: a Space Odyssey, such is the effect – at least in part.

The installation opens at 14:00 on Friday January 24th with a performance by Ultraviolet Alter.

Infinity Space
Infinity Space

Related Links

RFL of SL Activities: initial outline of 2014 events

RFL of SL 2014 logo by Sunshine Zhangsun
RFL of SL 2014 logo by Sunshine Zhangsun

Nikki Mathieson, who is chairing the 2014 RFL of SL event season has circulated a note card in-world outlining some more information on this year’s theme and providing the dates for some of the key events.

The is the tenth year in which the event will have been run in Second Life, and already some $110,000 USD has already been raised. The hope is that 2014 will be another record-breaking year.

There are some differences in the timetable this years, with one major event already rescheduled (the home and Garden Expo, which will take place in September, rather than the usual May), and some familiar activities will not be taking place in quite the way they have in the past.

Initial Event  / Activity Dates

Note the following is not a complete list of all RFL of SL events taking place in 2014, just those for which dates are available.

February

  • Sunday 2nd: first 2014 broadcast for Relay Rap
  • Saturday February 8th:  Team Registrations open and the Paint SL Purple event. If you’ve not already started forming your team, now is the time to do so, and more information on forming teams will be available soon
  • Team Convio Challenge: back for another year, this will occur in the first week of February (exact dates TBC), allowing teams to increase their fundraising totals using the convio tool

March

  • Saturday March 8th / Sunday March 9th: Kick-off weekend. The official RFL of SL 2014 season kick-off ceremony will take place on Saturday March 8th as a part of a weekend-long, multi-region, multi-team celebration

April

  • Friday April 4th – Sunday April 13th: 2014 Fashion for Life

May

  • Thursday May 1st – Sunday May 11th: Fantasy Faire 2014
  • Sunday May 4th – Saturday May 10th: The Halfway There Journey – a week-long series of team events across multiple regions to celebrate RFL of SL and the teams who fundraise
  • Sunday May 16th – Wednesday May 26th: Fiction for a Cure

June

  • Sunday May 30th – Tuesday 8th June: 7th SL Sci-Fi Convention

July

The Relay Weekend Welcome Area (2013)
The Relay Weekend Welcome Area (2013)
  • Sunday July 6th – Sunday July 20th: Summer Breedables Fair
  • Saturday 19th – Sunday 20th July: Relay Weekend

August

  • Wrap-up party – dates TBC

September

The home and Garden Expo this year takes place in September
The home and Garden Expo this year takes place in September
  • Tuesday September 16th – Sunday September 28th: 2014 SL Home and Garden Expo
  • Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

December

  • Friday December 5th – Monday December 15th: 2014 Xmas Expo and Breedables Fair.

Additional Notes

There will be no Teams ‘R’ Us events in the 2014 season. Instead, multi-team events will be held during the kick-off weekend and the Halfway There Journey week. There may also be opportunities for team-funding at the various major events within the season (FFL, Fantasy Faire, the SF Conventions, etc.). If so, details will be announced as these events approach.

Relay Rap  / T1 Radio will again be the official broadcaster for the season, and can be found at  T1radio.com.  The first Relay Rap broadcast for 2014 will take place on February 2nd, as noted above. Those wishing to listen to broadcasts through the season can do so by adding T1’s stream (http://t1radio.serverroom.us:8242) to their land’s media settings or via their own media player.

Further updates to come as news is made available.

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