SLeducate: a SL resource for educators, students and new users

One of the most common issues raised by virtual teachers in Second Life (SL) is how to get new students up to speed with the fundamentals. You know – walk, talk, navigate – that stuff. For those with little or no experience in 3D environments it’s not easy to pick up SL’s basics, however these are the skills that underpin everything we do in world. Needless to say a solid set of foundation competencies is vital to the success of any learning endeavour. The problem is that eradicating SL newbieness takes time – many would argue lots of time.

So opens a UWA blog post by Carmsie Melodie about a web-based resource she has put together which, while primarily aimed at the education sector, potentially has a broader reach when it comes to assisting those new to Second Life.

The SLeducate site, hosted by the University of Western Australia, essentially comprises three main parts:

  • The SL Basics Series section, which provides a set of resources designed to help newcomers get to grips with Second Life
  • The Virtual Educators section, which provides a central resource (documents, tools, videos) designed to help educators and teachers understand the benefits and potential of using Second Life as a medium for teaching and education
  • The SLictionary, a searchable glossary of Second Life terms, words, abbreviations, etc.

It is the SL Basics modules which are the focal-point for Carmsie’s blog post. In it, she covers the aims of the series, outlines the structure of the modules and their relationship with one another, etc,  and provides notes and thoughts on how the series can be delivered (e.g. as a series of self-teach modules, as a classroom-lead activity, or as a combination of the two).

While primarily aimed at educators and instructors, the introduction to the series notes it can be used by anyone new to SL, or who is interested in trying-out Second Life.

The 6 elements (including the introduction) of the SL Basics course provided as a part of SLeducate
The 6 elements (including the introduction) of the SL Basics course provided as a part of the SLeducate website

There are six modules in total – an introductory unit and five learning modules which take someone wishing to get started with Second Life from signing-up for an account, through downloading the viewer (Firestorm being the viewer of choice in the course), and on to the essentials of getting about in SL, and understanding camera controls, clothing, inventory, etc.

Each module comprises one or more interactive Adobe Captivate sessions, complete with embedded video and demonstrations, with supporting information such as PDF format “cheat sheets” and other handy documents, useful URLS and SLurls, additional optional videos and demonstrations, etc. Each of the Adobe Captivate sessions in turn covers a specific aspect of using Second Life, and can be allowed to run at its own pace, or users can step forward / back through it as needed, with an estimated maximum duration for any session of around 15 minutes.

To assist with using the modules for self-teaching or asynchronously, and to provide and in-world community around the SL Basics Series, Carmsie has created the SLeducate group in-world. This can be used by those following the modules to seek assistance, ask questions, exchange ideas, and so on.

Continue reading “SLeducate: a SL resource for educators, students and new users”

SL projects update 28/3: more server and viewer news

Banana Island - The Pilgrim's Dawn; Inara Pey, March 2014, on FlickrBanana Island, The Pilgrim’s Dawn, March 2014 (Flickr)

Server Deployments Week 28 – Recap

  • On Tuesday July 8th, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the server maintenance project that was previously on BlueSteel and LeTigre.  This project adds the ability for LSL functions to view and modify the render materials (normal mapspecular map, and diffuse texture alpha mode) properties on prims, via new prim parameters – release notes
  • On Wednesday July 9th, the RC channels were updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre received the same new server maintenance update to address a JSON-related bug, an interest list related race condition, and to improve L$ transaction logging for payments made by scripted objects
    • Magnum remained on the Experience Tools project, and receives the same updates as the Main channel, so LSL support for materials is now grid-wide.

 BlueSteel / LeTigre Updates

Commenting on the server maintenance update deployed to BlueSteel and LeTigre at the Server Beta UG meeting on Thursday July 10th, Maestro Linden explained one of the bug fixes (BUG-6466) and the L$ transaction update thus:

The LSL JSON bug fix, BUG-6466, just makes it so that numbers in the format “1.0e+2” get parsed as JSON numbers.  Previously, they’d be treated as strings (though “1.0e2”  would be treated as a number). The spec says that “+” is optional, so we added that support.  I’d be surprised if more than 2 people end up noticing that change 🙂 .

The one non-bug fix change in BS and LT is more verbose logging of certain L$ transaction types … Historically, a L$ transaction from scripted payment (llTransferLindenDollars or llGiveMoney ) would not include the name of the object that did the payment, when you viewed it in the “L$ Transactions” section of the website. However you would see that information if somebody had paid L$ into an object.

Previously, the entry would just look like this: Destination: Maestro Linden; Object Pays; Region: Morris.

But now, with the update to BS and LT, transactions in those regions will additionally include this line: Description: <Name of object which paid>. The page where you see the difference is Anyway, it could be useful for understanding which of your objects are paying out L$. Assuming they’re not all named “Object” :).

The remaining fix, “Temp Attachments are sometimes not removed on the viewer when detached from a region change event”, was related to a race condition, and explained by Simon Linden:

Updates were out-of-order there. Basically if your script took things off on the region change, anyone might get the updates out-of-order. It was worst on slow connections. For those who are curious, it went like this:  if the first update from the new region was slow, the “kill” message removing the object would happen first, and get ignored.

So in other words, items which should have been removed appear to remain in place, with Simon adding:

In this case you can’t detach it … because for the sim, it’s already gone. The viewers are the ones out-of-sync with the server. So you right-click and detach again and nothing happens.

The fix on BlueSteel and LeTigre should hopefully prevent this from occurring during a region change to regions on these channels.

SL Viewer

Maintenance RC Viewer

A new Maintenance RC viewer appeared late on Thursday July 10th. Version contains almost 40 MAINT fixes intended “to make your Second Life smoother”. The list of fixes include:

  • MAINT-3135 Cocoa Viewer: Mac: Maximizing the viewer leaves garbage on the screen
  • MAINT-3154 Alt zoom zooms way out when attempt to zoom in on Mac build running with external monitor
  • MAINT-3171 Alt-clicking while moving mouse can move the camera significantly
  • MAINT-2980 Reevaluate the 512 meg texture cap
  • MAINT-4216 Double clicking on anything in COF removes it from your avatar – including skin, shape, hairbase and eyes – results in bakefailed avatar
  • MAINT-4001 Received Folder is movable within Recent Tab – see my notes here on this issue
  • MAINT-3610 SL viewer partly ‘eats’ chat-message.


Please refer to the release notes link above, for the full list of MAINT fixes.

Library Refresh Project Viewer

The Lab issued a new project viewer on Wednesday July 9th, version, which contains a number of updates related to the third-libraries used by viewer. This viewer has grown out of Monty Linden’s ongoing HTTP work, which required the update of several essential libraries used by the viewer, and Monty took the opportunity to undertake a more extensive update of the libraries.

These library updates should provide better security, stability and consistency improvements to the viewer. However, an advisory to Mac users warns that the updated libraries in the viewer have been built with a minimum OS level of 10.6. Therefore, this viewer, and future viewers based upon it, will not run on OS X 10.5.

While the viewer is primarily intended for testing purposes, and doesn’t contain updates which are liable to be noticed by most LS users, it is thought that it might help those encountering very specific SSA-related issues, the release notes stating:

A few users have experienced problems with avatar appearance due to their very specific network configuration. Gray avatars are accompanied by ‘Transferred a partial file’ errors in the SecondLife.log file. Linden has not been able to reproduce this internally but a possible workaround is found in this release.

A list of related JIRA reports is also given, but none of these appear to have been switched back to public access at the time of writing. They are: BUG-3323, BUG-3770, BUG-3877, BUG-3879, BUG-3882 and SH-4375.

Other Items

SL AIS Viewer login / Attachments Issue

Users on the SL viewer using the AIS v3 viewer code are reporting issues with attachments when logging-in to Second Life.

Some of the issues are described as a user logging-in to find their hair or (mesh) foot / hand or other attachment incorrectly positioned, and the only way to rectify the situation is to re-log. Some have suggested that swapping between a non-AIS v3 viewer and the AIS v3-enabled viewer may trigger the situation.

Some bug reports (BUG-890 and BUG-2772, both unfortunately non-public at the time of writing) have been pointed-to as examples of the problem, and further reports have been requested should it be encountered, with Coyot Linden noting for those wishing to file a JIRA on the matter:

One way to get a grapple on that sort of thing is to start a test run and keep track of the login times and regions.  When you hit a fail, logout and do one more and see if it succeeds.  If you provide that and the viewer logs, it would be easier for someone to do some log diving to figure out what the problem is.

Coyot Linden Takes the Driving Seat

Maestro Linden is  taking a three-week vacation from the Lab and Second Life. In his absence, Coyot Linden will be occupying the driving seat for the Thursday Server Beta meeting.