Lab to re-open the JIRA

secondlifeOn Friday February 28th, Linden Lab announced that the JIRA is to be re-opened to public scrutiny.

The changes will be occurring in week 10 (week commencing Monday March 3rd), and follow hard of the heels of a series of comments by Ebbe Altberg on the subject, made in a forum thread. welcoming him to Linden Lab.

The announcement, in a technology and tools blog post, indicates that:

  • All users will be able to see all BUG issues, all the time
  • All users will be able to comment prior to a report being triaged; post tiraging, reports will open to comment only by the original reporter, LL staff and those from the community (TPV developers and others selected by Linden Lab for having demonstrated skills in this area)
  • The “New Feature Request” is back.

The blog post points to a set of guidelines for participation that need to be followed when commenting on JIRA reports.

The announcement hails the re-opening by stating:

Today, we’re happy to announce some changes to our JIRA implementation – the system we use to collect, track, and take action on bugs reported by users. You’ll see these changes take effect next week.

Recently, this system was working in a way that wasn’t very transparent, and it frankly wasn’t a good experience for the users who care enough about Second Life to try to help improve it, nor was it the best set-up for the Lindens tasked with addressing these issues. So you can see why we’re happy to be changing it!

That the JIRA has been re-opened is welcome news, and that there has been an attempt to meet the needs of those wishing to comment on reports half-way is also to be welcomed. However, of equally good news is the fact that the new feature request capability has been returned to the system, again as the blog post states:

If you’ve got a great idea for a feature, you don’t need to slip it through the system disguised as a bug report – just select the “New Feature Request” category when you submit. Commenting for this category will work just like for bug reports, and submitting improvements through this category will make things much easier for the Linden team reviewing these.

There is also a reminder as to the purpose of the JIRA:

Please remember that JIRA is an engineering tool – it’s not meant for policy discussions and the like nor is it a replacement for the Forums, where you can have all kinds of stimulating discussions.

Those wishing to give feedback on the move can do so via a forum thread created specifically for this purpose.

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Drax Files 17: It’s a kind of magic

Zachh Barkley is the Master of Magic in SL, as revealed in the 17th instalment of The Drax Files. While it’s not clear from the video, he appears to have joined SL as a teen, and has since built up a successful brand within the virtual world specialising in the thing that most fascinates him: magic.

Spells, incantations and more are Zachh’s stock in trade, and LSL, particles, prims and more are his hallmark. It’s the extension of a childhood love which (I’m guessing from his chat with Drax) grew out of a love of Harry Potter and early experiments with build-you-own game environments and tools.

Zachh Barkley
Zachh Barkley

Which should not be taken to mean Zachh is the archetypal Second Life user beloved of certain elements of the media (i.e. someone lacking a life). It’s clear from the video that not only does he have a life outside of Second Life, he has shown friends and family that the virtual can give rise to real world benefits, such as an income.

Those who do tend to dismiss Second Life as a crutch for the less socially capable would do well to listen to Zachh’s disarming explanation of his time with the platform – building revenue-generating business, learning skills (such as coding) which are transferrable elsewhere, mastering digital content creation (another transferrable skill) … it all adds up to something rather unique and which offers potential for development and employment (as well as fun) well beyond the platform.

There are a lot of great moments in this segment, and Zachh’s disarming openness and honesty again demonstrate that those engaged in the platform really are the best ambassadors for it. This is something I really do wish the Lab would more fully appreciate: the opportunities for strong narrative marketing which are available to them for promoting the platform to a broad cross-section of different audiences. The stories don’t have to be constructed – they’re already here, waiting to be told.

All they lack is the reach of a constructive, progressive marketing campaign. And with all the improvement and updates made to the platform over the last two years, perhaps we’re approaching the time when such a campaign can enter the planning stages – so how about it, Ebbe? Are your marketing team ready to construct a narrative around the stories we have to tell?

And with that said, there can only be one … way to sign-off this article, and that’s with another video, not a million miles removed from this segment of The Drax Files or the essence of Second Life itself.

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Copyright and fair use for SL content creators: Agenda and Tim to reconvene

Update March 17th: The transcripts and audio of the presentations made by Tim and Agenda are now available.

On October 19th, 2013, Agenda Faromet and Tim Faith (SL: Yoss Kamachi), both real world lawyers, held an in-world legal panel (together with lawyer Juris Amat) to discuss the August 2013 changes to Linden Lab’s Terms of Service and matters of fair use, copyright and the Internet.

The event was well attended, and saw a host of questions asked, and not a few misconceptions dealt with.

Now Agenda and Tim are to reconvene for a meeting in a similar vein, marking their coverage of fair usage rights whichis also liable to be of interest to SL content creators (this particular meeting last having been held in February 2013).  This will take place at the Justitia Legal Resource Village from 10:00 SLT on Saturday, March 1st.

Fair use internet

Agenda comments on the meeting, saying:

We did this last year and it was really successful, so Tim and I are doing it again this year. Are you interested in learning more about what we mean when we talk about “fair use”? Would you like to hear some actual lawyers talk about what it really means, what the current state of the law is, and how it applies to content creation and use in SL?

Of course you would.

So if you’re still confused or concerned about things like the Terms of Service, IP rights and fair use, make a note in your diary and pop along!

For those who missed the ToS discussion panel, and wish to catch-up with what was discussed in that forum and perhaps formulate questions based on that, you can find the relevant information by following these links:

With thanks to Vaki / Agenda.

A Polish perambulation

Fairyland, February 2014Fairyland

Miro Collas is a good friend who is always on the look-out for places to point me towards, and a little while back he tweeted me about Fairyland, a region which appears to have been developed as a small Polish community, and which offers a rural setting for visitors to enjoy. Miro’s recommendations are never duff, so I headed over to take a look, and must say what I found was quite delightful.

A homestead region, Fairyland is described in the About Land floater as, “the only such place in Second Life where the animals are talking with each other more often than men”, and that as a result, there has been conversation there since 2007! There’s no set arrival point, so I pitched-up on a dirt track, one of several running through the region.

Fairyland, February 2014Fairyland

This is a very pastoral setting. Crops are growing in the fields, almost ready for harvest, cattle gaze peacefully, chickens strut, cockerels call and birds ride a late summer breeze. The land, surrounded by tall, grass flanked hills, appears to sit between a lake and the open sea, a river winding through it, connecting the two and with a series of wooden quays towards what I assume is the seaward end of its meandering, where a fishing boat with nets furled lays tied-up alongside, awaiting its next trip down river to open waters.

Fairyland, February 2014Fairyland

Where you go on arriving is entirely up to you; the main track runs beside sloping fields, and several house sit atop the slopes, paths leading up to them. Do keep in mind these may in fact be private residences, and take care around them. One the other side of the track, across the river, lay steeper slopes, a small vineyard occupying one of them, the others overlooking more crops. A country church and a small cemetery occupy the hilltops here, reached via a wooden bridge and a rough path which loops past a beautiful stone water-mill to  set of stone steps winding up the side of the hill.

Fairyland, February 2014Fairyland

Follow the track at the foot of the hill, passing below the church, and you’ll find your way to the wooden quays and a large warehouse.   If you get a tad thirsty in your wanderings, there is also a tavern where you can quench your thirst and catch a game of Greedy Greedy with friends, if you’re so minded.

Fairyland, February 2014Fairyland

Despite the claim that the animals talk more than men, there a is a small meeting place towards the middle of the region, where people gather and chat, including the region owner, Gocha Merlin.  I also understand that the region hosts various events as well, which I assume take place at the covered dance floor near the tavern; so it may get a little busy at times.

For my part, I found the region charming and inviting me to play with windlights while snapping, although (assuming I could paint), getting out an easel and oils also felt appropriate. Why not go see for yourself?

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SL projects update week 9/2: group bans update

Group Bans, or Group Ban Lists as I’ve tended to refer to them, as some people appeared confused by the term “group bans” and have taken it to mean banning groups from parcels or regions, is nearing a status where it will be ready for testing on Aditi.

“I’ve gotten the backend almost ready for release (I’m waiting on some builds at the moment),” Baker Linden said of the server-side element of his work, while speaking at the Server Beta Meeting on Thursday February 27th. Baker is hoping that the viewer code will be appearing in a project viewer in the course of the next week.

Recap on Functionality

Baker Linden has been working on the ability to ban people from groups for some 10 months
Baker Linden has been working on the ability to ban people from groups for some 10 months

While discussing the project status, Baker gave a recap of the new functionality:

I’ve talked many previous times about group bans, and now that it’s finally boarding the release train, I’d like to just do a quick overview of what known issues are and what it can do:

    • Group Ban provides the ability to permanently prevent a resident from joining your group.  Currently, the limit will be set to 500 bans per group
  • By default, only Owners will have this ability set
  • Owners must then grant the ability to the roles they want to have manage the ban list
  • You can ban members from the “Members” tab of the group panel, and pre-emptively ban residents through the new “Banned Agents” tab
  • The “Roles” tab will allow you to grant the “Manage Ban List” ability to a role.  when doing this, keep in mind that allowing this ability will also automatically grand the “Eject Members from the Group” and “Remove Roles from Members” ability
  • You will NOT be allowed to disable the “Eject” and “Remove Roles” ability while “Manage Ban List” is allowed
  • You will also be able to (hopefully) batch up bans in groups of 100 at a time (through the “Banned Agents” tab). [It’s the] same as inviting residents; it’s the same code, I just refactored it so I could use it for bans too.

In the initial release, group members can only be banned from within the group floater (right-click on a name and click the Ban button), it will not be possible to right-click on a name in group chat and ban the individual; however, this may be added in the future, as it is considered a relatively straightforward addition.

Group Ban will introduce a new tab to the Groups floater, called "Banned Agents"
Group Ban will introduce a new tab to the Groups floater, called “Banned Agents”, allowing group owners and designated roles to ban people from joining a group

A FAQ has been produced, purely for the purposes of testing on Aditi, but which also helps further explain the group ban functionality. This can be found here, but do note that:

  • The instructions apply to the yet-to-be-released project viewer
  • The final functionality of group bans may vary from that described in the FAQ as a result of bugs or issues arising during testing.

In order to function correctly, the ban ability requires that the Eject and Remove Roles are enabled, as Baker explained above. To make this clear, when a group owner grants a role the ability to ban people from the group, a pop-up will be displayed reminding them that Eject and Remove Roles will also be granted. Similarly, when the ban ability is revoked, a message is displayed confirming that both Eject and Remove Roles have also been revoked.

Known Issues / Initial limitations

  • There may be an initial issue with the new capability during initial deployment as the code starts to reach Agni, when there is the “new” and “old” server-side code running on different channels. This may result in someone being able to re-join a group after being banned, simply because the ban was executed on a simulator which does not have the new code. Obviously, once the code is fully deployed to Agni, this will no longer be a problem
  • There is a risk of some “overlapping” bans may not be processed as anticipated. For example, if two people have the ban role, and one bans users A,B, and C and the other C, D, and E at the same time, “C” should be banned, but there is a slight chance this may not be the case
  • If two (or more) people have the ban ability, then their own view of the group member list will not be updated to reflect bans made by others until such time as they refresh the list
  • The list will cap-out at 500 bans. When that limit is reached, someone with the ban ability must remove names from the list in order for new names to be added, otherwise further ban attempts will fail.

Group Bans represents some 10 months of work for Baker Linden, including a large amount of code refactoring on both the server and viewer sides. The capability still won’t be deployed to the main grid for a little while longer, but progress has now reached a point where more widespread testing should be taking place on Aditi, most likely starting in week 10 (week commencing Monday March 3rd). Deployment to the main grid will most likely remain a combination of resolving any unforeseen issues during the more widespread testing on Aditi and on how it takes for the viewer code to progress from project viewer to release candidate to release viewer.

Dryland: closing down

Dryland
Dryland

Dryland, Anita Wit’s full region art gallery, is to close.

Over the years, Dryland has been the home to a range of remarkable and entertaining exhibitions, and has been a popular destination for photographers and machinima makers.

My own first visit to the region was relatively late in the day, December 2012, even so I was immediately struck by the desolate splendour of the place. My last visit was in November 2013, for Ziki Questi’s Lost Second Life, which is still on display in the rear part of the gallery.

Dryland
Dryland

Anita has given notice of the closure in a snapshot posted to her Flickr stream. In it, she explains her reasons for letting the region go, and passes on her thanks to all who have been involved in the region as artists exhibiting their work, as photographers and machinima makers, and as patrons and visitors.

Dryland
Dryland

There is no set date for the closure, although Anita is looking to the latter half of March, advising those wishing to avail themselves of Dryland:

I thought I’d give you all a fair warning in case you have photos or machinimas to make that requires a Dryland background, or if you’d just like to hang out one last time before it’s all gone.

Dryland
Dryland

I’d like to add my voice to all those who are passing on thanks to Anita for all of her work in developing the region and curating so many exhibitions there. Dryland will be missed.

With thanks to Caitlin Tobias.