SL project updates 2015 week 3: server, viewer, misc

SoHo New York; Inara Pey, January 2015, on FlickrSoHo New York (Flickr) – blog post

Server Deployments – Week 3

There was no Main (SLS) channel deployment on Tuesday, January 13th. As indicated in my last update, Wednesday, January 14th should see a new server maintenance package deployed to all three RCs.  This comprises:

  • A fix for BUG-8002 “Experience Tools] Allowed & Blocked experiences are lost with parcel subdivision”.
  • Crash mode fixes
  • Code clean-up around region crossing.

The region crossing improvements are for avatars only (not vehicles), and were described by Simon Linden, speaking at the Server Beta User Group meeting on Thursday, January 8th as, “all internal and pretty minor, so please don’t get hopes up for performance improvements,” and being about “clean-up and small polishing.”

Upcoming Deployments

Avatar Attribute Testing Fix

Oz Linden Linden chaired the Simulator User Group meeting, Simon being away on a skiing vacation
Oz Linden Linden chaired the Simulator User Group meeting, Simon being away on a skiing vacation

Note: no time frame has been set for the following, so it may not appear for another few weeks.

The Lab expects to have a server-side update running soon which, while perhaps not directly noticeable to users, should make it easier for testing new avatar attributes as they are being developed by the Lab.

In summary, the current approach means that when a new avatar attribute is being tested, the attribute must be understood by each region the avatar visited; if the avatar passes through a simulator that could not identify the attribute (e.g. the attribute is only supported on a server RC channel and the avatar testing it crosses into a simulator region running on the Main channel), the value assigned to the attribute is lost, and cannot not be easily recovered (simply crossing back into the simulator region with the necessary support, for example, would not restore the attribute value).

The new update will fix this issue and will thus make it easier to test new avatar features. Potentially, one of the first of these that will benefit will be the new avatar height offset capability.

SL Viewer

The HTTP Pipelining viewer, version: 3.7.24.297623, was updated to the de facto release viewer on Tuesday,  January 13th.  This viewer provides reduced pipelined texture and mesh fetching time-out so that stalled connections fail quickly allowing earlier retry, with the time-out value changed from 150 seconds to 60 seconds.

Mesh Import Project Viewer

Chairing the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, January 13th,  Oz Linden indicated that a project viewer is in the works which contains “a bunch of fixes” for mesh imports to SL. Details on precisely what issues are addressed weren’t given, but those interested might want to keep an eye on the Alternate Viewers wiki page, and I’ll of course have updates and information here as and when the viewer appears.

Webkit Replacement

Webkit is a third-party library used within the viewer for a number of tasks. For example,  it powers the built-in web browser, and is used to display profiles (unless you’re using a viewer supporting legacy profiles). It is also used with like Media on a Prim (MOAP) and many in-world televisions. However, it has been something of a problem for the Lab,  with out-of-date libraries and other issues.

During 2014, Monty Linden carried out work to improve things, but the aim has always been to replace it with the Chrome Embedded Framework (CEF).  However, this project got sidelined in the push to implement a new tool chain for viewer building, and implement a new autobuild process. This work is now very near to completion for both the Mac and Windows versions of the viewer (Linux is lagging behind, unfortunately), and the hope is that attention will again be focusing on the CEF work in the near future.

Z-offset Height Adjustment

The new "z-offset" adjustment means you'll be able to "fine tune" your avatar's height when sitting, standing, etc., in addition to general adjustments made using the hover capability
The new “z-offset” adjustment, once available, means you’ll be able to “fine tune” your avatar’s height when sitting, standing, etc., in addition to general adjustments made using the Avatar Appearance hover capability

This is intended to provide a means of on-the-fly adjustments to be made to an avatars height above the ground / objects and which can be used whether the avatar is standing or sitting, without the need to use the current Appearance hover slider. It will work in a manner similar to the old z-offset height adjustment found in some TPVs, and will likely comprise a slider access through the avatar right-click context menu.

As I’ve previously reported, Vir Linden has been working on this for a while, as a result of a direct proposal from TPV developers setting out the problem of avatar height adjustment introduced by the deployment of server-side baking and the avatar appearance “hover” parameter (which the new capability is designed to compliment, rather than replace).  The indication are that a project viewer with the new capability will be appearing “very shortly”.

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Getting a little Debonair

The DSA Debonair C33 with floats attached
The DSA Debonair C33 with floats attached

Not too long ago, I wrote about my acquisition of the DSA Beechcraft King Air C90 GTX.  At the time I reviewed it, I mentioned it was somewhat bigger than my “ideal” ‘plane. Well, if only I’d been a little more alert. Not that I’m in any way disappointed with the King Air, I hasten to add (other than the issue in getting it up ramps and out of the water when using the floats), but rather because DSA are, at the time of writing, currently running a special promotion on their Beechcraft C33 Debonair.

This is a variation on the famous Bonanza design, but with a more familiar vertical tail, rather than the latter’s V-tail. However, what matters here is the Debonair comes as a “combo” plane; like the King Air, it can switch between floats and conventional undercarriage with a single command, and is presented, fully-functional, under the promotional offer at the princely some of – L$200!

The Debonair in its default textures and, beyond it, my custom version (some may notice a certain similarity with King Air I recently purchased!)
The Debonair in its default textures and, beyond it, my custom version (some may notice a certain similarity with King Air I recently purchased!)

Obviously, at that price, the Debonair is an absolute bargain (so much so that when I told a friend, they leapt onto the Marketplace and bought two – one for their main account and one for their primary alt account), and I had to pick one up.  And what a bundle of joy!

This is an aeroplane that, given it likely runs the same scripts as the King Air, actually handles somewhat better, with very smooth region crossings for the most part (other than SL occasionally causing the camera to jump from the default view to one set a good ways back from the ‘plane) – no that the King Air was particularly rough. More to the point, with the floats in use and their wheels deployed, the Debonair can climb the ramp of most slips a lot easier than the King Air. I’ve tried my home ramp – although that’s now becoming redundant – the Hollywood airport slip ramp and Honah Lee Surf, and with a little power and a tap of the brakes, the Debonair took all three, where the King Air would frequently bury itself in the ramp / the terrain behind the ramp.

The DSA aircraft HUD, as presented with the Bonanza / Debonair
The DSA aircraft HUD, as presented with the Bonanza / Debonair

Being a smaller aircraft than the King Air, the Debonair only sits four, and is a bit of squeeze, but makes for a cosy flight :). As with the King Air, undercarriage options (wheels or floats) can be selected at any time, making landing options very flexible (although you can obviously make a runway landing with the floats attached, thanks to them having their own wheels.

Re-texturing the plane is pretty easy, as one would expect from a DSA plane. Download the maps from the DSA website (they’re labelled “Debonair” on the site, but the ZIP file and textures are all labelled “Bonanza”; this isn’t because they are the wrong files – as noted above, the Debonair is a variant of the Bonanza, and so uses the same texture files. the textures are supplied in .PSD, JPG and (some at least) X2 formats. However, I did note that float textures are currently absent the set (I simply re-used my King Air float textures).

The Debonair is a delight to fly and the DSA scripting makes STOL flights a joy
The Debonair is a delight to fly and the DSA scripting makes STOL flights a joy

You can use Local Textures in the viewer to carry out “test fits” of your own designs prior to uploading anything and incurring costs; just make sure you select the required face of the plane when doing so, obviously, and be aware that you’ll need to use the same texture a number of times to achieve a finished result (e.g. you’ll need to use the wing textures individually on the wings, flaps, ailerons, tail & rudder).

Those who read my article on the King Air will see that I went for a similar colour scheme with the Debonair, and the little ego touches! OK, so I now have THREE ‘planes with the same registration, but I think I’ll be OK with the CAA / FAA! 🙂

All told, the Debonair is a great little aeroplane, and one I’ve been having a great deal of fun with – and likely will continue to do so. Certainly, as while the promotional offer is running, it is a genuine bargain.

Comparing size: the C90 King Air (to the rear) and the C33 Debonair side-by-side, and me for a sense of scale
Comparing size: the C90 King Air (to the rear) and the C33 Debonair side-by-side, and me for a sense of scale

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