Second Life’s August 23rd woes by April Linden

secondlifeTuesday, August 23rd was not a particularly good day for Second Life, with an extended period of unscheduled maintenance with log-ins suspended and those in-world advised to refraining from rezzing No Copy objects, or making any LindeX related transactions, etc.

At the time of the problem, there was speculation that it might be due to further issues with the central database node (and kudos for Caitlyn for suggesting this 🙂 ). Writing in a Tools and Technology blog post on August 24th, Operations Team lead April Linden confirmed this was in fact the case:

Shortly after 10:30am [PDT], the master node of one of the central databases crashed. This is the same type of crash we’ve experienced before, and we handled it in the same way. We shut down a lot of services (including logins) so we could bring services back up in an orderly manner, and then promptly selected a new master and promoted it up the chain. This took roughly an hour, as it usually does.

Given this has happened in the relatively recent past (see here and here), the Ops Team are getting pretty good with handling these situations. Except this time there was a slight wrinkle in the proceedings. The previous failures had occurred when concurrency was relatively low due to the times they occurred. This time, however, the problem hit when rather a lot of people were trying to get into SL, so as April notes:

A few minutes before 11:30am [PDT] we started the process of restoring all services to the Grid. When we enabled logins, we did it in our usual method – turning on about half of the servers at once. Normally this works out as a throttle pretty well, but in this case, we were well into a very busy part of the day. Demand to login was very high, and the number of Residents trying to log in at once was more than the new master database node could handle.

Around noon we made the call to close off logins again and allow the system to cool off. While we were waiting for things to settle down we did some digging to try to figure out what was unique about this failure, and what we’ll need to do to prevent it next time.

It wasn’t actually until a third attempt was made to bring up the login hosts one at time that things ran smoothly, with services being fully restored at around 2:30pm PDT.

Now, as April notes, she and her team have a new challenge to deal with: understanding why they had to turn the login servers back on much more slowly than in the past. There is, however, a bright spot in all this: the work put into making the Grid Status feed more resilient paid off, with the service appearing to cope with the load placed on it by several thousand people trying to discover what was going on.

None of us like it when the go wrong, but it’s impossible for SL to be all plain sailing. What is always useful is not only being kept informed about what is going on when things do get messed up (and don’t forget, if you’re on Twitter you can also get grid status updates there as well), but in also being given the opportunity to understand why things went wrong after the fact.

In this respect, April’s blog posts are always most welcome, and continue to be an informative read, helping anyone who does so just what a complicated beast Second life is, and how hard the Lab actually does work to try to keep it running smoothly for all of us – and to get on top of this as quickly as they can when things do go wrong.

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A Chinese Garden in Second Life

A Chinese Garden
A Chinese Garden

There are many spiritual centres throughout Second Life offering a range of environments and opportunities for rest, spiritual comfort, recovery, teaching and more.

One such region is Qoheleth (Hebrew:  gatherer / assembler; an assembly). I’ve been drawn there a couple of times over the course of the last year – although admittedly not out of any spiritual want or needs – because the region is largely given over an oriental theme, something of which I’m rather fond. In particular, it includes A Chinese Garden, designed by Camryn Darkstone with the assistance of region holder Grath (Grath Helgerud), as it is this garden which has tended to attract me.

A Chinese Garden
A Chinese Garden

Surrounded by tall walls, through which circular gateways provide access to the rest of the region, A Chinese Garden offers visitors a place to wander under sky and along open-sided passages, look out over quiet waters, and generally relax and enjoy themselves away from the demands of the rest of Second Life. It is, in a word, a peaceful setting.

What makes it particularly attractive is not only that it works well under a range of windlight settings, but the outside of three notable building and things like handrails, almost all the structures within the garden have been designed and built by Camryn, thus harking back to the days when so much in SL was very much DIY, rather than prefabricated.

A Chinese Garden
A Chinese Garden

In an age where so much creative expression in Second Life has perhaps shifted towards being more about landscaping and object placement (which can be as creative and rewarding as gluing prims together, make no mistake), it is good to visit places like the Chinese Garden and be reminded of just what can be done with the humble prim and a little time.

The Sino-Japanese theme continues beyond the immediate walls of the garden, as does the broadly spiritual theme of the region, operated by the Psychoanalytic Round Table discussion group – about which I know little beyond that provided in an information note card. However, just outside of the immediate Garden grounds is a Chinese theatre, again designed by Camryn, and woodland tracks leading over bridges and under trees to other locations of interest, such as the Nanyangong Citadel, and the Stone Circle, where one can learn about Ubuunto – “what it takes to be human”.  There’s even a companion house sitting among the trees beyond the garden walls for those seeking company – although I have no idea how active it might be.

A Chinese Garden
A Chinese Garden

For those seeking spiritual rest or renewal, Qoheleth sits amidst three over regions with community / faith / spiritual leanings. These I have not explored, but leave it to those who might to do so. As someone who does enjoy oriental themed locations in SL (and I have a couple more lined-up for upcoming posts!), A Chinese Garden makes for a charming and relaxing visit.

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2016 SL project updates 34 (1): server, viewer, wiki

Binemust; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Binemustblog post

Things are still a little quiet, so not a lot to report at the start of the week.

Server Deployments

There are no scheduled deployment for week #34.

SL Viewer

No changes since my last SL project update, leaving the current official viewer list as:

  • Current Release version 4.0.7.318301, dated August 8th promoted August 11th – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer
  • Release Candidate viewers (refer to my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Visual Outfit Browser RC viewer, version 4.0.8.318686, dated August 17th – ability to preview images of outfits in the Appearance floater
    • VLC Media Plugin RC viewer, version 4.1.1.318504, dated August 15th – replaces the QuickTime media plugin for the Windows version of the viewer with one based on LibVLC
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Bento (avatar skeleton extensions), version 5.0.0.317597, dated July 14th – incorporation of final skeleton and slider updates from the test viewer
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

SL Wiki

As noted under a separate article, the SL wiki is currently locked from public editing due to spamming issues. There is currently no ETA on when it will be made generally available for access. Those with a definite need to have edit rights should raise a support ticket requesting access.

Second Life authors and writers: submissions for Quill and Pen 2 open

Click image to open Quill and Pen volume 1
Click image to open Quill and Pen volume 1

In June, Kultivate Magazine published the first volume of Quill and Pen, a new twice-yearly publication focusing on the work of writers and poets from across Second Life. It features short stories (including flash stories), non-fiction and poetry, and is published each June and December.

You can obtain  / read this first volume in a number of e-formats on-line and on mobile devices:

On August 22nd, 2016 Kultivate announced submissions for the second volume of the journal are now open, with the publication date set for December 5th, 2016. Writers and poets from across Second Life are invited to submit their work for consideration / publication, with submissions are welcome in the following categories:

  • Poems: one poem per page, single spaced and left justified, maximum of six pages
  • Non-fiction: one essay up to 3,000 words, double spaced, no extra space between paragraphs, white space for section breaks only
  • Fiction:
    • Full-length stories:  one story up to 3,000 words, double spaced, no extra space between paragraphs. White space for section breaks only
    • Flash fiction: up to 700 words, double spaced, no extra space between paragraphs. White space for section breaks only.

To submit your work, please complete the Quill and Pen submission form.

Please do not copy  / paste your work into the form when applying. All work should be made available via Google Documents or a similar service, with the link to its location included in the submission form. Kultivate will then download your work from the provided link, thus preserving formatting for publication. Thank you.