Zipping through the viewer installation process

secondlifeThe Lab has released a curious new project viewer on Wednesday March 26th.

Project Zipper (currently version 3.7.2.286810 is designed to speed-up the viewer installation process. A blog post on the viewer has also been released, which reads in full:

As we continue to work on improving the Second Life experience, one challenge we’ve been tackling is the length of the Viewer installation process. No one likes waiting, and now with Project Zipper, you don’t have to!

With the project Viewer available today, there’s really only one thing different – the installation is super fast. Rather than waiting for install to complete, you’ll quickly be in Second Life doing what you love.

Try out Project Zipper with the project Viewer here.

This is still a project Viewer, and if you find bugs while testing it out, please let us know by filing them in BUG project in JIRA.

To try-out the new installation process, I opted to run a clean install of the current release version of the viewer (3.7.2.286707) and a similar clean install with the Project Zipper viewer, and carry out a rough-and-ready timing between the two. I starting the stopwatch on clicking the Install button, and stopped when the Start Second Life Now prompt appeared. The results were:

  • Second Life release viewer 3.7.2.286707: 35.6 seconds
  • Second Life Project Zipper viewer 3.7.2.286810: 16.4 seconds.
the installer run faster, but don't expect to see any differences in the familiar on-screen messages
The installer runs faster, but don’t expect to see any differences in the familiar on-screen messages

Nothing has physically changed in what you see during the installation process, but the faster time is pretty clear (at least on my system – YMMV depending on CPU, disk speed, etc).

This seems to be an odd change to make, and I can’t help but wonder if it is indicative of something else coming down the pipe. Time will tell on that.

Those wishing to try out the project viewer, which I believe should be fully up to par with the HTTP updates in the release viewer, can do so by following the links above in the quoted LL blog post, or below.

Related Links

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Somato: create textures and shadows for sculpts and mesh

Over the course of the past year or so, I’ve covered several of the Kanae Project applications developed by Yuzuru Jewell and aimed at the Second Life content creator. Innovative, and easy-to-use, the Kanae products are a suite of applications which can be used individually or side-by side (and in the case of the Tatara tool, contain several of the other apps).

On February 23rd 2014, Yuzuru released the latest version of Somato (4.58, available for Windows in 32-bit and 64-bit flavours, and Mac OSX), and dropped me a line about it.

Somato is an application which allows the user to take an image or picture and project it onto a 3D model (sculpted prim or Collada object), specify the direction and strength of light (ambient or diffuse), and add the model’s natural shadow to the texture. The finished texture can then be baked and saved, ready to be uploaded and applied to the shape in-world.

The somato user interface
The somato user interface

Details on the tool and its capabilities can be found on the Kanae Project website, where a simple tutorial demonstrates how to apply an image and shadows to a complex sculpted prim. The tool itself can be downloaded for free on a three-day trial basis. This provides full access to all of the application’s capabilities, except that of being able to save finished textures, and should be sufficient for users to familiarise themselves with the application’s features. A full licence for the application can be purchased in-world at the Kanae Project store (L$4,750 at the time of writing).

There are a couple of warnings which come with the product (which I’ve sadly not had time to really play with), and these are:

  • It is possible that a texture modelled within Somato may not display on a sculpted prim in SL in precisely the manner shown within the application
  • Due to an issue with AMD/ATI graphics drivers, Somato may not operate correctly on systems using these drivers. Potential purchasers are advised to use the trail period to check the application against their AMD/ATI graphics.

As well as the written tutorial, Yuzuru has produced two videos demonstrating how to use Somato. In the first he takes users through creating a texture to be used with a sculpted prim. In the second, he demonstrates adding shadow effects to the texture. I’ve included the second video here.

Both videos are also very good demonstrations of his Keshiki (Landscape) screen capture utility, which I looked at in September 2013.

Related Links

Storyfest 4: Step forward and be heard!

storyfest-2014Branwen Arts and Stories Unlimited have announced a call for performers at the Fourth Annual Storyfest event, to be held on Sunday March 23rd, 2014.

StoryFest is a partnership between the Branwen Arts Coop, Seanchai Library and the Stories Unlimited, and produced by StoryFest Events. It will take place at Here Be Pictsies in Bran, commencing at 10:00 and running through until 17:00.

The event is held to mark World Storytelling Day, which celebrates traditionally told tales, and which this year falls on March 20th, with the theme of Monsters and Dragons. Storyfest will comprise a day of stories presented in a variety of live performance forms:  traditional telling, literature, theatre, dance, and so on.

Anyone who is currently presenting stories in Second Life in any manner of live performance (i.e. not pre-recorded readings / performances), are welcome – and encouraged – to apply. Performances should be timed to fit a 30-minute slot, although there are a limited number of 60-minute slots for more elaborate presentations. Multiple performers can share a single slot, so long as the organisers are aware of how many and who as a part of the application. Note that no streams will be available for individual performers.

The organisers are also seeking volunteer hosts to help organise and run the day’s events.

How to apply

Those wishing to participate as either a performer or volunteer host should contact either Caledonia Skytower or Dubhna Rhiadra via note card, giving their SL name and role (performer / host) they are interested in. Those wishing to help with hosting should provide times at which they can be available on the day. Performers should also provide the following:

  • Length of slot required (30 or 60 minutes)
  • An outline of your proposed performance / presentation, including technical requirements  (e.g. prim count for props, etc.) – please note that no stream will be available for individual performers / presenters
  • If the presentation involves multiple performers, please supply the number / names
  • A reference to what and where you present on the grid at present.

All submissions should be received no later than midnight SLT on Wednesday March 12th, 2014. successful applicants will receive confirmation by Tuesday March 18th March, and a schedule for the event will be published at that time.

Additional Notes

  • The organizers reserve the right to review the performers submitting and accept those performances & performers that they feel best fit the goals of the festival
  • While performers are welcome to use the theme from this year’s World Storytelling Day, “Monsters and Dragons” they  need not restrict themselves to just that theme
  • Questions on the event should be addressed to Caledonia Skytower or Dubhna Rhiadra by note card, as IMs do frequently get capped.

SL projects update week 9/1: server releases, viewer updates

Server Deployments: week 9

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread in the forums for the latest updates / changes.

Main (SLS) Channel

On Tuesday February 25th, the Main channel was updated with the server maintenance package previously on all three RCs, which comprises the following:

  • Fix for BUG-5034 “If an EM restarts a region and then teleports out immediately, the EM will disconnect just after teleport”
  • Fixed a rare case in which e-mails read by LSL scripts immediately after rez or region change would sometimes be missing the message body
  • Fixed some crash modes

Release Candidate Channels

On Wednesday February 26th, the Release Candidate channels should be updated as follows:

  • BlueSteel and LeTigre should receive an infrastructure update, with no functional changes
  • Magnum should also receive the infrastructure update, and in addition have the server-side AIS v3 code enabled (the code having already been rolled-out to the grid – see the AIS section of my week 7 report). This code requires viewer-side updates to work (currently available as a project viewer), and should Improve performance and reliability when changing outfits (see my AIS reports in this blog).

SL Viewer Updates

HTTP Viewer Promoted

The HTTP viewer, version 3.7.2.286707 was promoted to the de facto release viewer on February 25th. This currently leaves just two RC viewers in the release channel: the Maintenance RC (3.7.2.286708) and the Interest List viewer (3.6.14.285213), both of which should  be rebuilt using the HTTP viewer code base in due course.

Sunshine / AIS Viewer

With only two RCs in the release channel, it is possible the Sunshine / AIS viewer may be moved to release candidate status this week. Given that the server-side AIS code is starting to be enabled on the main grid, this viewer could be on course to reach a release status in week 11.

Group Ban Lists

Baker Linden is currently filing for the server-side code to be deployed to Aditi, which he hopes will happen by the end of the week. In the meantime, he describes the status of the Viewer code as, “testing it for compatibility with old viewers and such. Once that’s stable and I know I didn’t break anything, I’ll start filing for the viewer to become a release candidate.”

Other Items

Region Restart Oopsie

The new on-screen region restart warning, accompanied by a sound and camera shake
The new on-screen region restart warning, accompanied by a sound and camera shake

A slight issue has come to light with the recently implemented new region restart alert, now active in the SL viewer and in the most recent updates to a number of TPVs. Essentially, the sound accompanying the 5-minute countdown (and which is played alongside the camera shake at the top of each minute in the countdown) is actually played in-world rather than locally.

The result is that if there are several avatars close together who are using viewers with the new restart alert code, the noise can either be very loud or something of a mess (particularly if some of those users have opted to set custom warning sounds within their viewer).

The fix is relatively straightforward, and will doubtless be incorporated into an upcoming viewer release. In the meantime, the Firestorm team have implemented their own fix ready for the next release of that viewer due in early(ish) in March, which will be the first version of Firestorm to incorporate the new code.

Pocket Metaverse Users Inadvertently Blocked at Weekend

There were a number of reports over the weekend that users on the iOS Pocket Metaverse third-party client were unable to log-in to Second Life, as a result of their hardware being blocked. This caused a number of forum posts on the subject, such as this one and this one, and some upset on Twitter.

It turned out the client was apparently presenting the wrong information to LL’s servers, triggering the hardware block. On becoming aware of the problem, the Lab immediately set about reversing the blocks, and the matter appeared to be cleared-up by the end of the weekend.

The Pocket Metaverse issue caused some users to complain on Twitter, prompting a resonse from Ebbe Altberg
The Pocket Metaverse issue caused some users to complain on Twitter, prompting a response from Ebbe Altberg