SL project updates week 42/3: server, HTTP, CDN, issues

No Signal, MIC Imagin@rium, May 2014 - blog post
No Signal, MIC Imagin@rium, May 2014 – blog post

Unless indicated otherwise, the notes below are taken from the Server Beta meeting held on Thursday October 16th, 2014. The transcript is available here, and the support agenda notes here.

Server Deployments Week 42 – Recap

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for updates and the latest information.

  • There was no code promotion to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, October 14th – this follows from there having been no deployments to the primary RC channels in week 41
  • On Wednesday, October 15th, the primary RC channels were updated as follows:
    • Bluesteel received the CDN texture & mesh fetching capabilities – release notes
    •   LeTigre and Magnum both received a new server maintenance package,  which includes a crash fix and improves the delivery pipeline for abuse reports.

SL Viewer

HTTP Pipelining RC

On Wednesday October 15th, the Lab released the HTTP Pipelining RC viewer. Version 3.7.18.295372 brings with it:

  • Pipelined HTTP Operations for Mesh and Texture Fetches: this feature allows the viewer to issue multiple asset fetches on a connection without waiting for responses to earlier requests. This reduces the impact of a user’s physical location on scene loading and generally improves the experience for everyone
  • Inventory Fetch Improvements: Inventory folder and item fetches are getting some of the same treatment that textures and meshes did in previous releases. Initial inventory load should be quicker and more robust for all users.

A blog post from Monty Linden accompanies the release, which provides further information on the HTTP project alongside of the viewer release notes.

A blog post from monty Linden arrived with the Pipelining RC viewer, and explain how the viewer (and CDN) should generate further improvements in texture and mesh fetching operations
A blog post from Monty Linden arrived with the Pipelining RC viewer, and explain how the viewer (and CDN) should generate further improvements in texture and mesh fetching operations

Maintenance RC Viewer Removal

The latest Maintenance RC viewer,  version 3.7.17.294943,  has been withdrawn from the release channel due to significant issues and a range of attachment bugs which affect it (see my week 41 update from the TPV developer meeting, under “AIS v3 Issues”).

CDN

As noted above, use of the CDN service for texture and mesh data was extended to the BlueSteel RC in week 42, and there is some anticipation within LL that it could be deployed to all three of the primary RCs sooner rather than later.

An issue has been noted on some regions running on the Snack RC where people are seeing very slow parcel information updates (e.g. the name of the parcel taking up to a full minute to appear in the status bar, for music stream changes to occur, etc.).

The thinking from the Lab is that these problems are a result of the Snack sim hosts receiving a top-heavy load of regions with high traffic counts, resulting in possible resource contentions with certain data lookups as a result – contentions which may have actually brought the regions down had it not been for the CDN, as Maestro Linden commented:

In the cases I’ve seen so far, the slowness was due to a rapid rate of requests from all the users logged into the regions.  If the sim were serving all the texture and mesh requests as it traditionally would, the regions would have ‘fallen over’ before becoming that populated.

So this would seem to be an unintentional cloud with its own silver(ish) lining (at least the regions didn’t fall over). Nevertheless, the issue isn’t welcome. Given that BlueSteel has a more even distribution of regions across sim hosts (e.g. the servers are not all packed to the gills with high volume traffic regions),  It is hoped that the issue will not exhibit itself there. Checks (either by the Lab or residents or both) are likely to be carried out on busy regions on the RC to see if the problem does raise its head, which might indicate some further investigations might be required.

Assuming all goes well with the BlueSteel deployment, it is thought that CDN support will likely extended to the remaining RCs sooner rather than later. In the meantime, for those interested in seeing how use of the CDN works for them, a list of regions by RC can be obtained via Tyche Shepherd’s Grid Survey website, allowing BlueSteel regions to be easily located. Just click the RC Server Regions button (note the list will require a little cleaning-up, post download).

Continue reading “SL project updates week 42/3: server, HTTP, CDN, issues”

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“I believe I can fly”: the empowering freedom of virtual worlds

The single image Jay Jay
The single image Jay Jay Jegathesan used in his 3-minute presentation on his PhD research on community and collaboration through virtual worlds

I’ve frequently blogged about the work of the University of Western Australia in Second Life; with an active presence in SL since 2009, the University has gained a first-class reputation for sponsoring and promoting art in virtual worlds through initiatives such as the MachinimUWA competitions, and activities such as their current Transcending Borders challenge, the Freedom Project, and Project Homeless, as well as supporting the LEA’s Full Sim Art series, all of which I’ve had the privilege of covering in this pages.

The Freedom Project, one of many community-focused activities undertaken by the UWA within Second Life
The Freedom Project, one of many community-focused activities undertaken by the UWA within Second Life

The UWA’s involvement in Second Life came about as a result of PhD student Jay Jay Jegathesan (), who founded the University’s virtual campus in Second Life, which has grown to include academic teaching activities across Business, Law (including the use of SL machinima in a post-graduate degree course), the Arts, Anatomy, Physiology & Human Biology, and Education (including providing resources essential it helping educators and new users get started with SL).

In particular, as a result of Jay Jay’s work the University has become recognised as a world leader in global community development through virtual worlds technology. This in turn has encouraged Jay Jay to make the topic of global community development and collaboration through virtual worlds, particularly in reference to people with disabilities, the focus of his PhD thesis.

Currently, Jay Jay is participating in the UWA’s 2014 3-Minute Thesis competition, in which students were asked to speak for 3 minutes on their PhD research using no technology or props aside from a single image. His presentation, directly referencing the power of virtual worlds to help those with disabilities – indeed, all of us -, is both beautiful and direct; so why not take a moment to listen to his impassioned explanation of the empowering freedom virtual worlds offer?

I’d also like to take this opportunity of thanking Jay Jay for his generosity and kindness in sending me a copy of the Freedom Project book, which is a fabulous publication, lavishly illustrated with pictures of the works submitted to the project, biographies of the artists, and much more besides. It is very much a must-have for anyone with and appreciation of virtual world art. Copies can be obtained for L$5000 (around $20.00 US), shipped anywhere in the world. Those wishing to purchase a copy should contact Jayjay Zifanwe in-world for ordering information.

BOOStock and BOOFest: music and tales to chill the heart and Feed a Smile

Saturday October 18th and Sunday October 19th mark two special Halloween-themed events, both of which aim to help raise funds for Feed A Smile, the a programme run by Live and Learn in Kenya (LLK) to provide nutritious warm lunches for over 400 children in Kenya every day, paid for entirely from donations to the project.

BOOStock!

boostockFirst up, on Saturday October 18th is BOOStock! – Branwen Arts’ special mix of seasonal music and more to be held in a suitable venue floating above the estate.

Commencing at 14:00 SLT, the event will include:

  • 14:00 – Mavenn singing her Halloween set
  • 15:00 – The Frankentinies (aka Pitter Patter Dance company) doing a truly scary horror show
  • 16:00 – Songbird Sorbet, the tiny opera singer.

Admission is free, and all are welcome!

BOOFest!

Then, on Sunday October 19th, it’s time to enjoy the 4th successive year of BOOFest, a celebration of spooky stories told around a blazing autumnal fire.

BOOFest14Featuring a gathering of virtual story presenters at their spooky and scary best, this year’s BOOFest is being held at Lavender Fields, the home of Feed A Smile in Second Life, with all tips going directly to the work of LLK in Kenya.

Story sessions will include everything from classic authors of the ghostly to the macabre, from Bram Stoker and H.P. Lovecraft; through to contemporary writers such as Neil Gaiman. In addition, original works by SL authors Freda Frostbite, Dubhna Rhiadra, Caledonia Skytower, and Moon Aerandir will also be included.

Events such as this occasionally mean that the schedule may be subject to a few last-minute changes, but at the time of writing, the programme looked like this (all times SLT):

  • 10:00 – Dubhna Rhiadra
  • 10:30 – Shandon Loring
  • 11:00 – Bhelanna Blaze
  • 11:30 – BigRed Coyote
  • Noon – Dubhna & Caledonia reading works by Moon Aerandir
    12:30 – Gyro Muggins
  • 13:00 – Aoife
  • 13:30 – Corwyn Allen
  • 14:00 – Freda Frostbite
  • 14:30 – Crap Mariner
  • 15:00 – Caledona Skytower

Details of any changes to the programme can be found on the StoryFests SL website. Again, admission is free, and all are welcome!

About Feed A Smile

Feed A Smile is a programme run by LLK to provide nutritious warm lunches for over 400 children every day, paid for entirely from donations to the project. Over a third of the money directed at the programme comes from donations received through Feed a Smile in Second Life – and that’s a remarkable figure.

The money is raised through live music played at the Lavender Fields club, which stages around 5 or 6 events weekly and to which musicians donate their tips and visitors are asked to donate just L$100 ($0.30), which is enough to purchase a filling meal for a child in Kenya, a fact that within itself is quite mind-boggling.

About the Organisers

Seanchai Library (Shanna-key, which means “Storyteller” in Irish.) was born in March of 2008 as the West of Ireland Library and Cultural Center.  Nearly seven years and thousands of story session later, Seanchai Library remains dedicated to promoting the power of stories to transform and inspire through live voice presentations in Second Life and on the Hypergrid, as well as promoting the work of a variety of charitable organizations every year. “We bring stories of all kinds to life, in virtual worlds.” Contact Caledonia Skytower.

Branwen Arts Cooperative is a group of artists who work singly or together with other artists.  Their home base on Bran in provides a stage for performance and a gallery for exhibitions.  Branwen Arts is always looking for artists, visual and performing, who want their work to be seen and appreciated: writers, storytellers, dramatists, visual artists, dancers, musiciansContact Dubhna Rhiadra, Fae Varriale or Safi Farspire.