Lab says: “help decide the next meet-up location”

The group gathers for selfies at the Meauxle Bureaux fountain during the Wednesday, March 25th meet-up with Linden Lab folk
The group gathers for selfies at the Meauxle Bureaux fountain during the Wednesday, March 25th meet-up with Linden Lab folk

Linden Lab has resumed the habit of social get-togethers with SL users. It’s a welcome move, and the events tend to be very popular. Since getting things rolling again, the Lab has selected the venue – which so far has been “Mole Town”, aka Meauxle Bureaux (see my report on the last gathering).

However, for the next get-together, they’re looking to do things differently. In a blog post published on Friday, May 8th, Xiola Linden is asking for venue ideas from residents. The post reads in full:

It’s just about in-world meetup time, and since we’re in the habit of sharing some of our favourite spots from the Destination Guide, this weekend, we wanted to flip the script and find out from you what spot you think is one of the best to visit for our next in-world meetup.

Share your recommendations in this forum thread – links to Destination Guide entry or SLURLS are best – and we’ll pick one to have our next in-world meetup.

The next meetup is planned for Thursday, May 14th at 1 PM SLT, so get your recommendations in soon!

As always, if you have a region or location that you would like to show off – be sure to share it, and we always love to see pics of your adventures on the Official Second Life Flickr page.

A chic Alexa Linden and a very tall Torley at the last gathering
A chic Alexa Linden and a very tall Torley at the last gathering

While there are no guidelines on what might be considered acceptable, any venue put forward should probably be rated Moderate at best, or General. Ideally, it should also have plenty of space for people to mingle – so it’s probably best not to suggest your back garden (unless your back garden happens to be an entire region, of course!).

There can be upwards of 50-60 people wanting to attend, so full regions are really the best, and those which offer things to do  – dancing, music, a bit of exploring – might well be appreciated. And do keep in mind the potential impact having an army of Lindens and residents might have on the regular users of any venue, should they all suddenly turn up!

Of course – if you do have a great venue of your own to offer which could fit the bill, this could be an ideal time to drop its name and SLurl into the forum thread.

As Xiola points out, the next meet-up is scheduled for Thursday, May 14th, at 13:00 SLT – that’s just a week away, and the Lab will need a little time to select a place and get the word out – so if you’re going to make a suggestion, best to get it in sooner rather than later!

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Altas Obscura offers a clear-eyed image of Second Life

Second Life has been enjoying something of a positive resurgence in the media in recent months, and with May now passing us by, and June and SL’s 12th anniversary  sitting just over the horizon, it is inevitable that there will be more media coverage forthcoming on SL as the Lab’s media team crank things up.

Eric Grundhauser: touring Second Life with Ziki Questi
Eric Grundhauser: touring Second Life with Ziki Questi

One of the first out of the gate in this regard is an article in Altas Obscura, which describes itself as the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places. Penned by Eric Grundhauser, Forgotten Wonders of the Digital World offers a positive insight on SL with a novel twist.

Rather than asking a few questions of the Lab or relying on images grabbed from Flickr and cobbled together with a little staggering around in-world, Eric Grundhauser is, with the assistance of the Lab, able to gain none other than Ziki Questi, photographer and blogger (together with her partner Kinn), to act as his guide to all that is, and can be found, in-world.

The result is an engaging and informed piece which neatly encapsulates SL’s history, presents an assured view of the platform devoid of the usual clichés and asides, and which focuses on the rich tapestry of content which can be found in-world – role-play, art, personal spaces, with even the broader uses of the platform touched upon, such as the US Army’s use of SL (and OpenSim) to help service personnel deal with PTSD. What’s more, with some of the images supplied by Ziki, the article looks good as well (Mr. Grundhauser’s own snaps aren’t too bad, and kudos to him for taking them, rather than seeking to raid an archive from 2008 or so!).

Ziki and I are a lot alike in terms of taste, so for me it was good to see RocheA Petrovsky Flux and Haveit Neox’s City Inside Out referenced in the article, with Insilico, Kowloon and The Far Away – which Ziki herself rescued from oblivion and now curates – also getting a mention (and photographs).

Roche, a favourite of mine, and featured in the Atlas Obscura article
Roche, a favourite of mine, and featured in the Atlas Obscura article

Such is the impact of his time in Second Life exploring with Ziki and Kinn, Mr. Grundhauser willingly re-evaluates his thinking about the world, while remaining open and honest:

To be honest, when I decided to delve into Second Life, I half-expected to find a dying world of outsiders and bronies gleefully recreating pornographic impossibilities. But that simply doesn’t seem to be true. What I found, and mind you, I was only able to visit a strikingly miniscule portion of the available spaces, was that Second Life is still a fascinating and vital world that is constantly changing and pushing the boundaries of what a virtual space can be…

More telling I think, is the somewhat widespread perception that Second Life is no longer an active digital playground. The Grid is still a vital and evolving space that hundreds of thousands of users create and evolve each day.

Nor is “the sex thing” shied away from – kudos again to Ziki for being open on that subject as well, and the fact that – just as in the physical world and the Internet as a whole – there is an awful lot of it in SL. But as Eric Grundhauser demonstrates very ably – with or without established guides – just because there is a lot of sex in-world, it doesn’t bean it’s the be-all and end-all of the platform. As he notes when describing the diversity of activities and those using SL:

Doctors, universities, hobbyists, sci-fi fans, artists, and inexplicable curiosities can all be found operating in SL, by those willing to look.

Well done to him for making the effort to delve into SL and spend time exploring and getting to know at least a couple of residents, rather than simply taking the hoary old trail of slapping a few outdated headlines (and images) together in an attempt to underline a preconception.

All told, a good, light read.

Related Links

With thanks to Ziki Questi for the advanced notification that this article was upcoming.

SL project updates week 19: server, group chat, child agents

Ichi-go Ichi-E, Fantasy Faire 2015 Inara Pey, April 2015, on Flickr Ichi-go Ichi-E, Fantasy Faire 2015 (Flickr)

Server Deployments Week 19 – Recap

On Tuesday, May 5th, the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package deployed to all three RCs in week #18, comprising internal server logging changes  and a new flag for llGetObjectDetails()  – OBJECT_LAST_OWNER_ID; plus new data which can be requested  via llGetEnv(). These are:

  • “agent_limit”- get the maximum number of avatars normally allowed on the region (teleport home, and login to last location, are allowed to exceed this).
  • “estate_name”- returns the name of the estate (e,g, “mainland”, “Linden Homes”, “My Happy Estate”, etc. )
  • “region_cpu_ratio”- returns the number of regions per CPU for this region type (i.e. “1” or “4”)
  • “region_product_name” – returns the type of region this is: “Estate / Full Region”, “Mainland / Homestead”, “Estate / Openspace”, “Estate / Full Region – Skill Gaming” etc.
  • “region_product_sku” – returns the region’s product number as a string
  • “region_start_time” – returns the time the region was last (re)started, in llGetUnixTime format
  • “simulator_hostname”  – returns the simhost running this region. Same as llGetSimulatorHostname but without the script delay.

There were no planned RC deployments or restarts for Wednesday, May 6th.

Group Chat Failures

There are been a number of odd group chat issues recently, such as those outlined in see BUG-9130. Simon Linden has been investigating the issues, and gave his findings at the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, May 5th, “Basically the chat server gets stuck with bad info about where the avatar is. The normal ways that would get corrected aren’t working right … but trying to log off and back in, or leave and re-join the group might fix it.”

When asked if a re-start of the affected chat servers could clear the problem, he replied, “possibly … except one of the features of the chat servers is that they try to save everything and re-load it when they come back up.   That way everyone isn’t kicked out of all their group chats when it restarts. I’d have to check but I think they may save the bad info about [the affect avatar]. ”

Group chat messages are routed to you via the region you are in at the time the message is sent. However, if you have moved to another region during the conversation, the region will tell the group chat service you are no longer there, and the service then performs a look-up to locate you so that the messages can again be sent to you via the region simulator. “In this case, Simon explained the current issue, “it’s failing with a different error due to a change in the grid configuration, and not handling it correctly.”

With the cause of the issue now identified, the Lab hopes to get an update out to the chat servers to fix the problem very soon.

Attachment Failures

As has been noted in these updates, the Lab currently has a series of viewer-side fixes for problems relating to attachment issues (items detaching on region crossing / teleporting, items showing as attached when detached or vice versa, etc.) which are  at project viewer status (“Project Big Bird”) and  will be progress through the viewer channels in due course.

In addition to the viewer fixes, there are are some server-side issues with attachments the Lab is investigating. In particular, the Lab has identified that requests for multiple simultaneous attachments at or near the upper limit (38) to be attached at the same time will invariably overload the pipe, although why this is the case still has yet to be determined.

Experience Keys / Tools

Work continues with the back-end of Experience Keys / Tools, and Simon Linden has most recently been working on the key values database for the system (which can be used to store information relating to users who have been  / are engaged in an experience, such as their progress, items they may have collected / attached, etc.). Given the anticipated popularity of Experiences, and the fact that people have already identified other potential uses for the key value database, the Lab is trying to ensure it is robust enough to handle and and all uses it might be put to – and can deal with the potential of poorly-written scripts persistently polling / updating it more than is strictly required without necessarily impacting its performance.

Other Items

Agent Updates, Draw Distance and SL Performance

In discussing the group chat issues during the Simulator User Group meeting, the conversation turned to the matter of agents and child agents. While the region you are operating in has the main connection to your avatar (your agent), it may also be sending information to avatars on other regions, and you may also be receiving updates from surrounding regions.

The status panel (CTRL-SHIFT-1)  reveals how many child updates the region you are in is sending elsewhere (31 in this case). some of these might be unavoidable, others might simply be down to people 3 or 4 regions away with ridiculously high draw distances
The status panel (CTRL-SHIFT-1) reveals how many child updates the region you are in is sending elsewhere (31 in this case). some of these might be unavoidable, others might simply be down to people 3 or 4 regions away with ridiculously high draw distances

Simon explained things thus, “while you’re here, you’re also talking to the region next door; it will send you updates about what happens over there … it has a camera for you and knows what you can see, and sends you updates but it doesn’t run your scripts, for example.”

This tracking of what is going on in other regions is determined by an avatar’s draw distance and the direction in which they are looking, and the “camera” Simon referred to in his description is known as a “child agent”.

Child agents help with a number of tasks – the such as allowing you to see what is going on in a neighbouring region, as Simon mentioned, and also assisting with aspects of region crossings.

Obviously, there will be child agent updates going on between neighbouring regions as a matter of course. But when you have an abnormally high draw distance, the chances are that you are having an additional impact not only on the regions immediately adjacent to the one your in, but every region that falls within draw distance / view, as you are forcing them to send you updates as well, and you are forcing the region you are in to work that much harder to pass those updates to you.

Hence why it’s a good idea to keep your draw distance down to a reasonable level (say 256 metres or lower) for as much as you can. You’re not only helping improve your own experience (however powerful your own computer might be) – you’re showing courtesy to those active in the regions around you and who might also be affected by the region they are in having to take time serving data you may not need to your viewer.