Among the Moles of Lumenaria

Meauxle Bureaux
Meauxle Bureaux – click images for full size

Ciaran Laval recently posted about the return of Lumenaria, Kayle Matzerath’s fabulous and whimsical build from Fantasy Faire 2013.Once the location of shops and stores, it now serves as home to the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works – so it’s become a kind of mole Town, you might say.

As a fan of the build, and of Kayle’s work in general – as anyone who has seen my SL garden knows! – I decided to fly over and take a look for myself earlier in the week. I say “fly”, as the region the Moles occupy can be reached directly from my house, via a flight across Blake Sea and then down the coast of Satori. So I hopped into G-NARA and headed south-east.

Meauxle Bureaux
Meauxle Bureaux

The last time I’d spent time in this part of the virtual world, it looked like the Moles were working on a little string of islands for Petites along Souverain, Laugier and Fernandes, just off the coast of Satori. These islands have long gone (or have possibly moved, I’m not sure which), and the “Mole Town” occupies a new region – Meauxle Bureaux – sitting alongside of Souverain and Fernandes, which offer waterside access to the town via the Mole marina in Fernandes and a jetty in Souverain. After landing on the waterway, I left G-NARA moored at the marina area (at least until auto return kicked-in).

The town is pretty much as it appeared at Fantasy Faire, the same twisty little streets leading up to the great hall, the same gaily coloured rooftops and the same formal park area – even the windlight is the same. However, the Moles are now in residence, as the signs outside the doors of many residences announce. They seem to be a healthy bunch; on the stone paved streets sit market stalls offering fresh fruits and produce, as well as flowers for the green-fingered … clawed …. Moles, and bicycles appear the be the prefered method of wheeled locomotion.

Meauxle Bureaux - rum, rum, rum, rum ...
Meauxle Bureaux – rum, rum, rum, rum …

However, all the good-for-you edibles doesn’t mean the Moles live a life of abstinence, as Ye Olde Abnor Mole Pub demonstrates. Here locals and visitors are offered the chance to sit down and enjoy a drink or three, play the odd board game or challenge each other to a friendly game of pool. Given the menu on the wall, I’ve little doubt that there may also be the odd bout of impromptu and Pythonesque singing breaking out should anyone happen to ask what’s available to eat. It starts out with fish and rum before proceeding through the likes of rum, apples, seagull and rum and fish, rum, rum, apples and rum, to eventually arrive at rum, rum, rum, rum, rum, rum, rum, bananas, rum, rum, rum, and rum, with a note that bananas are, in fact, off. Enjoy the greeting when visiting as well!

Meauxle Bureaux
Meauxle Bureaux

The humour continues out in the street, where an obelisk can be found, upon which is writ is letters large and golden, four of the Good Neighbour Commandments for Second Life Mainland, which may raise a smile when being read – click on the picture to the right for a sample.

LDPW builds are celebrated in the main hall, and clicking on the pictures will deliver a SLurl for those interested. There’s also a gallery of Moles to be found there as well. Lindens also have their spots in the town; Michael Linden, for obvious reasons, has a little place on the “quieter” side of town (in that some of the houses are still unoccupied), while the ever-charming Shaman Linden has a little studio tucked away near the marina entrance.

That the Moles have had homes in SL is not new – sail the waters around some of the mainland continents, for example, and you’ll likely bump into those belonging to Moles past and present. However, seeing a little town like this, where they can congregate and spend time away from the rigours of banging prims together and carving mesh, adds a lot to their presence in SL which, despite being oft critiqued, forms a valuable service. That the town is a re-use (with the creator’s full knowledge and approval, I might add) of a very popular build that may otherwise have lain forgotten and lost, makes a visit to Meauxle Bureaux doubly pleasant.

My only real complaint is that the rezzing areas at the marina and quayside seems to be restricted to land group members. I had hoped to re-rez G-INARA or possibly my Loonetta 31 and do a spot more flying or sailing in the area to see what else may have popped-up; unfortunately attempts left me informed that I didn’t have the right to do so, leaving me with no choice but to use the more boring method of teleporting back home. Nevertheless, a fun visit, and one I’ll doubtless repeat the next time I fancy a long-haul sailing trip!

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2014 Opensimulator Community Conference: tune-in

A fascinating Gource visualisation posted by nebadon2025 charting the growth of the OpenSimulator project by code commits from core developers up until the time of the 2014 conference

Saturday, November 8th, and Sunday, November 9th mark the 2014 OpenSimulator Community Conference, which is being jointly run by AvaCon and the Overte Foundation. The weekend promises to be packed with talks, presentations, workshops and more; and while in-world registrations have sold out, it is not too late to register for the livestream broadcasts of the conference events.

The full programme can be found on the conference website, however, the keynote events comprise:

Saturday, November 8th, 07:30 SLT – OpenSimulator Developer Panel: featuring: Mic Bowman, Planning Committee, Intel Labs; Michael Cerqoni; Justin Clark-Casey, Overte Foundation; James Hughes, Founder, BlueWall Information Technologies, LLC; Oren Hurvitz, Co-Founder and VP R&D of Kitely; Crista Lopes, Overte Foundation and the University of California, Irvine; and Melanie Milland, Planning Committee, Avination. Together they will discuss  the future of the OpenSimulator platform, covering a range of issues including: the future of the Hypergrid, content licensing and permissions, scalability, project maturity, and more.

Saturday, November 8th, Noon SLT – Philip Rosedale: “How will we build an open platform for VR over the internet?”  a presentation exploring the future of the Metaverse and the challenges that lie ahead.

Sunday, November 9th, 07:30 SLT – Dr. Steve LaValle: “Virtual Reality. How real should it be?” Although VR has been researched for decades, many new challenges arise because of the ever-changing technology and the rising demand for new kinds of VR content.  This talk will highlight some of the ongoing technical challenges, including game development, user interfaces, perceptual psychology, and accurate head tracking.

The OSCC conference centre from the inaugrual 2013 conference
The OSCC conference centre from the inaugural 2013 conference

The conference website also lists all of the speakers attending the event, who will be participating in the keynote events and in the various conference tracks which will be running throughout the weekend:

  • The Business & Enterprise track will feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to doing business in and with OpenSimulator, such as those by grid hosts, third-party developers, private entrepreneurs, in-world and enterprise businesses, as well as corporations and organizations using OpenSimulator for marketing, fundraising, product research, focus groups, and more.
  • The Content & Community Track will feature sessions about all of the wonderful things that happen in-world. Building and content creation includes large-scale immersive art installations, ballet, theatre, performance art, machinima, literary arts, clothing designs, virtual fashions, architecture, music performances and other cultural expressions.  There are also communities for nearly every interest, including role-playing groups, science fiction communities, virtual towns and interest groups, historical explorations, religious and spiritual communities, book clubs, and so much more.
  • The Developers & Open Source track will cover the technical side of OpenSimulator, encompassing servers, viewers, external components, grid architecture, development, administration – anything that is necessary for the installation, operation and use of an OpenSimulator system.
  • The Research and Education Track will explore the ways in which OpenSimulator has become a platform for computationally understanding complex problems, characterizing personal interactions, and conveying information. This track seeks presentations regarding OpenSimulator use towards research applications in computer science, engineering, data visualization, ethnography, psychology, and economics. It will additionally feature sessions that cover a broad range of uses related to teaching and learning in and with OpenSimulator.
  • The Learning Lab will provide conference attendees the opportunity to explore and practice their virtual world skills, share their best OpenSimulator strategies, and experiment and discover diverse ways to use OpenSimulator to support creativity, knowledge production and self-expression. If you are a gamer or game enthusiast, this is the track for you! The Learning Lab features interactive sessions where attendees get to practice and apply skills hands-on, either in design or to play a game.

All of the event tracks are colour-code within the main programme guide, and their respective pages on the conference website include their livestream feeds for those who are watching events.

OSCC-6There will also be a number of social events taking pace during the conference and, for those of a daring disposition, the OpenMeta Quest: “Your mission, should you be brave enough to accept it, is to find 12 hexagon-shaped game tokens across 7 sims while matching your MetaKnowledge for prizes. Look for the Adventure Hippo to begin your journey.”

For those who have registered to attend the conference in-world, don’t forget you can find your way there via the log-in information page. When doing so, do not that the organisers recommend not using the OSCC viewer which was made available for the inaugural conference in 2013. Singularity is the recommended viewer for this year’s conference.

As well as the conference venue, the OSCC Grid includes a number of Expo Zone regions, featuring conference sponsors and community crowdfunder exhibits; a  Shopping Centre region; exhibits created by speakers in the Content & Community, Research & Education, and Learning Lab tracks.

All told, this packed weekend should be informative, fun and educational.

2014 banner

About the Organisers

The Overte Foundation is a non-profit organization that manages contribution agreements for the OpenSimulator project.  In the future, it will also act to promote and support both OpenSimulator and the wider open-source 3D virtual environment ecosystem.

AvaCon, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the growth, enhancement, and development of the metaverse, virtual worlds, augmented reality, and 3D immersive and virtual spaces. We hold conventions and meetings to promote educational and scientific inquiry into these spaces, and to support organized fan activities, including performances, lectures, art, music, machinima, and much more. Our primary goal is to connect and support the diverse communities and practitioners involved in co-creating and using virtual worlds, and to educate the public and our constituents about the emerging ecosystem of technologies broadly known as the metaverse.

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Lab issues further CDN update – more improvements coming

On November 1st, 2014, the Lab blogged about improvements seen from their side of things as a result of CDN support deployment.  At the time the updates were being issued, the Lab was also asking for feedback from users as to how things were going for them.

As a result of this request for feedback, the Lab issued a further update on the improvements on Friday, November 7th,, and it is a tale of two halves.

The first part of the blog post re-states the core benefits that have been seen as a result of the CDN deployment for mesh and texture data, which is again split into two key areas: a considerable reduction in the load on some key systems on the simulator hosts, and a big performance improvement in texture and mesh data loading, resulting in users seeing faster rez times in new areas they’re visiting.

In the graphic released with the Lab's November 7th update on the CDN deployment,
From: An update on the CDN project, linden Lab, November 7th, 2014

However, the experience of some users hasn’t been so good, as reported in the forum thread, and it could not be put down to matters of distance from the CDN nodes vs. the Lab’s simulators, or to people experiencing slower load times as a result of being the very first to enter a region which had not been cached at the local CDN node.

This feedback encouraged the Lab into further investigation and data-gathering of specific situations, allowing them to engage with CDN supplier Highwinds in order to try to determine possible reasons for the poorer experiences. The second part of the blog post notes the outcome of these efforts:

We believe that the problems are the result of a combination of the considerable additional load we added to the CDN, and a coincidental additional large load on the CDN from another source. Exacerbating matters, flaws in both our viewer code and the CDN caused recovery from these load spikes to be much slower than it should have been. We are working with our CDN provider to increase capacity and to configure the CDN so that Second Life data availability will not be as affected by outside load. We are also making changes to our code and in the CDN to make recovery quicker and more robust.

The blog post also points out some of the risks involved when trying to deploy large-scale changes to a complex and dynamic environment such as Second Life:

Making any change to a system at the scale of Second Life has some element of unavoidable risk; no matter how carefully we simulate and test in advance, once you deploy at scale in live systems there’s always something to be learned. This change has had some problems for a small percentage of users; unfortunately, for those users the problems were quite serious for at least part of the time.

The post concludes by thanking all those who contributed to helping the Lab understand the nature of the problems being experienced and in taking the time to help provide data on their particular circumstances which helped with further investigations, and with a note that it is hoped that the changes that are to be made as a result of this work will reduce such problems, allowing more people to enjoy the benefits offered through the use of the CDN for asset data delivery.