Crazy Eights, desert islands and alien artefacts

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Sunday, January 31st

13:30: Seanchai Crazy Eights Official Opening

Seanchai Library’s new installation at LEA 9, Crazy Eights will run through until the end of May and offer a range of reading, activities and events throughout. You can keep up with all that is happening via the Crazy Eights web page

The paty through the Story Forest at Crazy Eights will lead you to literary discoveries, courtesy of Seanchai Library
The path through the Story Forest at Crazy Eights will lead you to literary discoveries, courtesy of Seanchai Library

The formal opening features the first in a series of story-based (or story-inspired) art displays which will take place at the Crazy Eights East Meadow., Don Quixote – Words and Images.

Join Derry McMahon and Bear Silvershade beneath a windmill as they read from the story of Miguel de Cervantes’s Gentleman of La Mancha and surrounded by pictures by Derry inspired by Don Quixote’s adventures, which are simply superb (and which I had the good fortune to review in 2014, when some formed a part of that year’s Fine Arts Tour).

Visit Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights.

18:00 Magicland Storytime: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

Caledonia Skytower continues reading E.L. Konigsburg’s novel.

Mied-up FilesWhen running away, it’s always handy to have some idea of where to run to. In Claudia Kincaid’s case, the ideal place is the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. As her younger brother has money, Claudia decides he should come with her to help on the finances front.

The museum proves an interesting place to settle into, but when the museum purchases what appears to be an early work by Michelangelo, a statue of an angel, for the unbelievable price of $225, Claudia and Jamie, her brother, find themselves taking on the role of investigators.

Is the statue genuine? Has the museum bought itself a bargain, or is the statue something else? Digging into the matter, Claudia and Jamie are led to the remarkable Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, former owner of the statue and the owner of some remarkable files which promise to led Claudia into some discoveries about herself.

Monday February 1st, 19:00: Peter Robinson

Gyro Muggins returns to the universe of Larry Niven’s Man-Kzin Wars.

Man Kzin XThe Kzinti, are a warlike race Niven first introduced to the world in his 1966 story The Warriors. They permeated many of his stories set in the Known Space series, and well as appearing in his Nebula and Hugo award-winning Ringworld. In his stories, Niven references a series of conflicts between Kzinti and humans, but did not write about the wars himself. Such was the demand for more information on the wars, however, he allowed the Man-Kzin wars to become a shared universe series, with the majority of the stories written by other science-fiction authors such as Hal Codebatch, Poul Anderson, Dean Ing, Jerry Pournelle, S.M. Stirling, Greg Bear and others.

Peter Robinson is a short story written by Australian author Hal Colebatch, and forms one of 18 stories he has written for the series. It first appears in Man Kzin X: The Wunder War, and is one of four stories, all by Codebatch, which make up the volume.

In it, an expedition by the Institute of Knowledge on Jinx, funded by the Puppeteers sets of to explore a recently detected slaver stasis box, an artefact of the ancient Thrintun (Slaver) Empire. Arriving at their target, the team of mixed races, including human and Kzinti, discover that it is nine miles in diameter, the largest box ever discovered.

Tuesday February 2nd 19:00: Pearl

PearlFaerie Maven-Pralou continue her reading of the first book in Lisa Pinkham’s the Doll Collection series.

Everything changes for Addy on her 12th birthday, when she receives a mysterious gift of a collection of dolls and an opal necklace imbued with magical powers.

Soon, Addy finds herself transported to a beach where she meets a mermaid, Pearl, and where she can swim with and talk to underwater fairies and enjoy the company of min-reading dolphins.

But all is not as safe as it seems; when Pearl vanishes and Addy’s magic necklace is stolen, Addy is left with no way home and without a friend – and she must confront the thief on her own, trusting that the magic which resides in her is enough to put things to rights.

Wednesday, February 3rd, 19:00: Silence of the Loons

While writers from the southern American states turn to tales of crime, inevitably the broiling heat of humid summer days is an ever-present backdrop. But when the stories of criminals and their ways are moved northwards to Minnesota, it is the brutal cold of hard winters which offers a frame for many of the tales.

In this collection, 13 of the state’s top crime writers present a series of tales of mystery, all of which are linked by the same 8 clues, which lead the reader through their dark twists.

Join Kayden Oconnell as he reads from this fascinating anthology.

Thursday, February 4th

19:00 On the Island

Shandon Loring opens the pages of the February book for Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eight’s Featured books reading, On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves.

on the islandAnna Emerson, a 30-year-old English teacher accepts s position as private tutor to 17-year-old T.J. Callahan, a young man who has been undergoing treatment for cancer. For Anna, it is a plum assignment, requiring as it does travelling to the Callahan Family’s summer rental in the Maldives with the teenager. T.J., however, is less than happy; with his cancer in remission, he’d rather stay at home with friends, and not carted off half-way around the world with the dead weight of lessons to catch-up on.

Before they can reach their destination however, the pilot of the charter plane taking them to the Maldives suffers a heart attack, the ‘plane ditching in the Indian Ocean. Making it to a deserted island well off the beaten track, Anna and T.J. must work together to survive as days turn to weeks, and weeks to months without sign of rescue. As the time passes, Anna realises that  her biggest challenge may not be caring for T.J. should his cancer return – but the fact he is growing into a young man.

Note: On the Island is also to be presented at Seanchai Kitely and Seanchai InWorldz. Check Seanchai session posts during the week for specific grid locations).

21:00: Seanchai Late Night

With Finn Zeddmore.

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Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for January / February is Heifer International, working with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.

Additional Links

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SL project updates 16 4/2: TPVD meeting

High Water; Inara Pey, January 2016, on Flickr High Water (Flickr) – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer (TPVD) meeting held on Friday, January 29th, 2016. At the time of the meeting, Second Life was experience voice issues, and so the meeting was held in text. However, the meeting was still recorded and is available here. The following notes have been taken from the chat log of the meeting.

Server Deployments – Recap

As always, check the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

On Tuesday, January 26th, the Main (SLS) channel received server maintenance package 16.01.16.310114, previously deployed to the three RC channels, comprising a simulator crash fix and feature request OBJECT_REZZER_KEY) for llGetObjectDetails(), which returns the parent_id (object or avatar) of any task in the region. The function only works for those objects rezzed in-world after the code deployment (objects in-world prior to deployment will return NULL_KEY).

On Wednesday, January 27th, the three RC channels all received a new server maintenance package,16.01.21.310177, comprising Internal simulator fixes and a fix for BUG-1313 “LSL llSetPos in root prim of attachment behaves differently at high altitudes – viewer does not show updates”, which can cause attachments to fail to update correctly at altitudes over approximately 1500 metres.

SL Viewer Updates

HTTP / Vivox

The HTTP / Vivox RC updated to version 4.0.2.310349 on Wednesday, January 27th, which sees the addition of MAINT-5977, “Create a MailDrop event pump”  to the list of resolved issues, and the removal of MAINT-6055, “[corehttp] Mac – voice does not stay connected on resume from sleep”.

Quick Graphics

The Quick Graphics RC viewer (currently version 4.0.2.310127, dated January 20th), is getting some fixes to more accurately account for Materials, and possibly some other tweaks to how Avatar Complexity is calculated. The update should be appearing in the release channel soon.

One problem yet to be fixed within this viewer is an issue whereby avatars will still appear as solid colour jelly babies even when the Avatar Complexity slider in the viewer is set to “no limit” (which in theory should render all avatars normally). Commenting on whether or not this will be fixed, Oz noted:

The problem with those cases is that there are 2 more factors that go into making the avatar a coloured impostor, and they’re not obvious enough. We will probably change the thresholds on those, and maybe make the response to them different somehow.

When asked if those who have suitable systems will have the means to disable Avatar Complexity from running in their viewer (i.e. never see jelly babies unless the capability is expressly re-enabled) should the above issue not be resolved, Oz indicated this is a possibility, but is still to be decided.

Maintenance RC

A further Maintenance RC viewer is on the horizon, with what is described as a “nice set of fixes”. This should also be appearing in the release channel in the near future.

Project Viewers

The Project Bento viewer continues to be worked on, and the Lab is trying to move things towards a “final” (for this phase of the work) selection of additional bones – see my separate report on the Bento project for details.

Work is all under way in updating the Oculus Rift project viewer, with an update expected in the near future. The indication is that this will be built to the 1.x SDK. Oz also indicated that the Lab is potentially looking at how many alternative HMDs they might be able to support with the viewer, including “taking a whack” at Google Cardboard support.

64-bit Viewer Builds

As noted in my last TPVD update, the Lab is starting work on 64-bit versions of their Mac and windows viewers. There is no time frame as to when the first project / TC versions might appear, but it does also mean that there will be a 64-bit viewer Havoc library made available to TPVs in due course. However, this may take a while to appear.

Mac Builds

Currently, the Lab is using OS X 10.10.5 and Xcode 7.x for Mac builds, but are working to resolve a cmake file issue in order to build on OS X 10.11.2 or greater. This requires the Lab to re-arrange the order in which the current build tests are run to ensure the required libraries can be located as the integration tests can be successfully run.

Vivox Exploits

There is still concern over Vivox voice exploits being employed by some users. One example of this is a user located on one region being able to listen in on conversations on another region without showing up on active speakers list for that region.

The problem here is that the weaknesses allowing these types of exploits tend to be within the code package supplied by Vivox, and over which LL has no direct control. They therefore require action on Vivox’s part to fix them. This is something Oz pointed out at the TPVD meeting, before going on to note that the Lab will continue to work with Vivox to get things corrected.

Other Items

Older Viewers

There are a number of changes which are being implemented throughout 2016 which will make older versions of viewers increasingly obsolete. These include further inventory improvements and the deprecation of outdated inventory messages which will impact older viewers and, most notably the switch to TLS 1.2, which is already available in the current release of the official viewer (and those TPVs adopting the CEF code base from the Lab).

As I noted (via a comment from Oz) in my last TPVD meeting report for 2015,  this switch-over is being driven out of compliance requirements, rather than for any technical reason. However, what it does mean that once it occurs – mostly likely in the spring – any viewer which does not support TLS 1.2 will be unable to carry out any interactions with the SL Cashier or anything that involves money, as there will be no back-end support.

Third-Party Viewer Releases

  • Catznip updated to release R10.0 for Windows only (at present) on Saturday, January 30th. This release brings Catznip back up to date with more recent code releases from the Lab, and I’ll have a review available shortly. Catznip users should note that R9 will be blocked from mid-February
  • Alchemy will be releasing an update “imminently”
  • Firestorm’s next release continues to look set for around early March.

 

Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights in Second Life

Dox Quiote - opens Seanchai Library's Crazy Eights series at LE9 on Sunday, January 31st, 2016
Dox Quixote – Words and Images opens Seanchai Library’s Crazy Eights series at LEA 9, 13:30 SLT, Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Opening on Sunday, January 31st is the latest chapter of Seanchai Library’s distinguished history of bring stories and literature to life in virtual worlds through the spoken word. Running through to May 31st, Crazy Eights is a full region installation located at LEA 9, where the Library will be presenting and hosting a range of special story telling events and readings from the world of literature.

The region has been beautifully landscaped by Caledonia Skytower with the support of Shandon Loring, to present a series of event areas, all distinct from one another but linked together and to the landing point by the Story Forest, where visitors walk between tall trees on a path apparently paved in the covers of books, and can discover more about stories, folk tales and more, as they stop at any of the 20 Story Stations lining the paths through the woods.

Walk through the Story Forest to visit the themed area of the region
Crazy Eights: walk through the Story Forest to visit the themed areas of the region, stopping at the Story Stations as you go

The “eight” of the title Crazy Eights, refers to this being Seanchai Library’s eighth year of operation. It was founded in 2008 by Derry McMahon, a Master of Library Sciences in the physical world, after she toured Second Life’s existing libraries and found that while many were inspiring builds, most were empty and seemingly little used.

Derry realised that with all the rich immersive opportunities available in-world, people were unlikely to log-in simply to sit down and read a story or poem or extract from a novel on a note card or from a web page; reading simply doesn’t require a virtual space. It was from this realisation that she established Seanchai Library (“seanchai” – pronounced shawn-a-kee – being is a traditional Irish storyteller/historian): a place where people could come together and read and listen to stories from around the globe and covering all possible genres, giving literature in-world a voice.

The island area
Crazy Eights: the Featured Book Area

Initially, Seanchai Library focused on gatherings which allowed this to happen, establishing a convivial atmosphere in which tales could be shared. But such is the nature of Second Life that it became obvious that more could be done to present literature as a living statement of the arts. Thus, Seanchai gave birth to Storyfests (now folded back into Seanchai’s core activities), which allowed staff and volunteers to organise special literary events, such as their Bard on the Beach and Halloween inspired Boofest series, without detracting from the Library’s core aim of brining stories of every kind to life.

Crazy Eights allows visitors to immerse themselves in both literature and traditional verbal story telling as an art form, and discover more about Seanchai Library itself. The Featured Book Area, for example, will be used to present a book a month through February to the end of May, using a 360-degree setting. The series launches on Thursday, February 4th at 19:00 SLT,  when Shandon Loring, Seanchai’s Chief Storyteller, presents On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves in a suitably tropical setting (see the image above).

Crazy Eights:
Crazy Eights: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson feature large, through Seanchai Library’s popular Tea Time at Baker Street sessions every Sunday at 13:30 SLT from February through until the end of May, complete with the opportunity to learn more about those who have played the leading roles in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories on stage, film, radio, and television down the years

Crazy Eights also present the opportunity for visitors to attend one of the Library’s most popular series of readings: Tea Time at Baker Street. Here, in a setting inspired set of the ITV Granada (UK) television series The Return of Sherlock Holmes, visitors can enter 221B Baker Street every Sunday and hear of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor John Watson. The first story, selected from the series will be The Adventure of the Empty House, the first story in the volume The Adventure of Sherlock Holmes, at 13:30 SLT on Sunday February 7th.

Southward from here lies the Library Island, home to the Information Centre. Here visitors can discover more about weekly events at the Library’s headquarters at Bradley University, and about major productions such as Explore the Great Gatsby. Just a stone’s throw from this is the Storyteller’s Workshop, will hosts the first session on Saturday, February 13th, at 13:00.

Crazy Eights: the lounge at 221B Baker Street stands ready to receive guests
Crazy Eights: the lounge at 221B Baker Street stands ready to receive guests

Crazy Eights officially opens, however at the East Meadow, an area devoted to stories based on  or inspired by art displays mounted in the meadow.

Here, on Sunday, January 31st, at 13:30 SLT, Derry McMahon and Bear Silvershade will present Don Quixote – Words and Images, where guests are invited to sit beneath a windmill and listen to the story of  Miguel de Cervantes’s Gentleman of La Mancha. On display around the meadow are pictures by Derry inspired by Don Quixote’s adventures, which are simply superb (and which I had the good fortune to review in 2014, when some formed a part of that year’s Fine Arts Tour).

Crazy Eights: the Story Forest path includes 20 story stations to be be discovered by visitors
Crazy Eights: the Story Forest path includes 20 story stations to be discovered by visitors

If you’re already familiar with Seanchai Library’s activities in-world, then you are going to enjoy exploring and spending time at Crazy Eights. If you’ve never attended an event or session by Seanchai Library, then Crazy Eights offers the perfect introduction to a group and their activities in Second Life and virtual worlds, as they keep alive the great tradition of story telling in voice.

SLurl Details and Links

 

Project Bento User Group update 3 with audio

Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones (e.g. 30 for the face, 30 for the hands (both of which can be seen inaction in the image above of an avatar by Matrice Laville), plus bones for wings, tails, additional limbs and ears / antennae
Project Bento extends the avatar skeleton, adding a significant set of bones (e.g. 30 for the face, 30 for the hands (both of which can be seen inaction in the image above of an avatar by Matrice Laville), plus bones for wings, tails, additional limbs and ears / antennae

The following notes and audio were taken from the weekly Bento User Group meeting, held on Aditi every Thursday at 13:00 SLT.

For details on each meeting and the location, please refer to the Bento User Group wiki page.

Bone Survey

The  Bento Bone Survey, intended to gauge the level of interest in various bone proposals for the Bento skeleton is now available. The Lab is requesting animators and content creators with a vested interest in Project Bento to rank the bone proposals to help with prioritising which additional bones people would like to see added to the Second Life avatar skeleton as a part of the Bento work.

If you are an animator / content creator with such an interest, and you haven’t already completed the survey, please ensure you do so as soon as possible, as it is likely to be closed on or shortly after Monday, February 1st.

The Lab notes they do not currently know how many additional bones we can reasonably add, or whether some of the associated bugs can be fixed.

Drax Files Filming

The final session of Bento filming for The Drax Files World Makers will take place on Monday,  February 1st at 11:00 SLT at the Bento Island region on Aditi. All those with an avatar developed using the Bento avatar skeleton extensions are invited to attend.

Deformed Avatars

Distortions with Altitude

Cathy Foil has been examining issues with deformations at altitude occurring in avatars using the Bento  skeleton. She first noticed the issue whilst Bento was in closed session and reported details to the Lab. However, efforts at pinning down he precise cause have been hampered up until recently by not being able to gather sufficient data from the skeleton and a lack of detailed comparisons between the effects as seen on various viewers utilising the Bento code.

Cathy has been addressing this using the most recent release of the Bento project viewer, and carrying out further detailed tests at various altitudes to document the severity of the issues more fully (they tend become noticeable at altitudes over 1000 metres). She has now passed her latest findings over to the Lab for their investigations.

Distortions and deformations in avatars using the Bento skeleton were noticed in the closed session Bento development cycle. Since then, Cathy Foil has been digging more deeply into the problems
Distortions and deformations in avatars using the Bento skeleton when at altitude (the greater the altitude, the more noticeable the issues, as seen left-to-right, above) were noticed in the closed session Bento development cycle. Since then, Cathy Foil has been digging more deeply into the problems

“Squished” Avatars”

Cathy has also been investigating the issue of avatars deforming as a result of using a mesh uploaded with different joint positions. This tend to result in avatars looking “squished” or otherwise deformed.

As she uses Maya, part of her investigations point towards possible issues with versions of the plug-ins used by Maya to convert .FBX format mesh files to .Collada .DAE (the format used by SL). Whether or not the plug-ins are the cause isn’t definitive as a cause, but may be a contributing factor. As Vir noted in the meeting, if this is the case, then it is unlikely the Lab can do much about it, but those using Maya affected by the issue may need to check the version of the Collada plug-in they are using, and make sure they have the most recent to see if this clears the problem.

If it is more of an issue with the mesh uploader, however (because the Lab have missed something, for example), then obviously, there is more of a chance of the Lab taking remedial action.

Cathy Foil discusses her investigations into avatar deformations at altitude

Joint Reset Issues

A long-term problem with Bento has been it is easy for joints to get into the wrong state and / or position when animating an avatar using the Bento skeleton extensions. It’s often not clear why this happens when it occurs, which can be somewhat random. Vir has started collecting data on the issue. Nothing definitive has been identified in terms of a cause or causes, but Vir will be continuing to work on the issue.

“First Frame” Animation / Default Avatar Pose Issues

Another issue which has been noted is that of a first frame of an animation begin played three times as the animation is run, and which may be connected to default avatar poses within Second Life. This is a fairly “old” bug, dating back as far as 2007 (see BUG-11194), and which seems to be more prevalent with Bento as a result of bones being used differently (e.g. arm bones being used as forelegs, etc).

Medhue demonstrates the forleg crossing using his wolf avatar. The issue is a lot more extensive than this, with the avatar sometimes looking as if it is standing with forelegs folded in the same way a human folds their arms
Medhue demonstrates the forleg crossing using his wolf avatar. The issue is a lot more extensive than this, with the avatar sometimes looking as if it is standing with forelegs folded in the same way a human folds their arms

Medhue Simoni demonstrated the issue using two of has non-human avatars, an elephant and a wolf, which saw both attempt to cross their front legs (as a human might try to fold their arms) when transitioning between animations.

A lengthy discussion followed on the problem, which might also involve a number of other issues, including poses “baked” into the default avatar skeleton, possible race conditions between the viewer and the server, and issues with animation prioritisation.

It may also be related to how Second Life handles transitions between animations (referred to as animations “easing out” and “easing in” when moving from one to another), which has had other problems reported against it as well – see also BUG-11122, for example.

As indicated in Vir’s comment on BUG-11194, and noted in the discussion, there is some initial concern from the Lab that if the playing in triplicate was an intentional change – and one made well before most developers currently at the Lab having joined the company – or if it requires symmetrical changes on both the viewer and the server, it might result in some content breakage without detailed analysis, although Vir has now started digging into the code to have a look.

Continue reading “Project Bento User Group update 3 with audio”