2016 SL project updates 34 (2): TPV Developer meeting

Arranmore; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Arranmoreblog post

The majority of the notes in this update are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, August 25th. The video of that meeting is embedded at the end of this update, and references to it are indicated through the use of time stamps in the paragraphs below. My thanks as always to North for recording and providing it.

This is not intended to be a transcript of the entire meeting, which featured discussions of some situations specific to individual region rather than SL as a whole. However, key discussion points have hopefully been highlighted.

Server Deployments

There were no scheduled deployments for week #34.

SL Viewer

Release Candidates

[00:15] Both of the current release candidates – the VLC Media Plugin replacement for Windows and the Visual Outfits Browser viewer, have elevated crash rates. Each is liable to receive a further RC update in week #35 (week commencing Monday, August 29th).

[00:53] There will be a new Maintenance RC viewer appearing as well.

64-bit Viewer

[00:58] Progress is being made on the 64-bit versions of the viewer, and these are expected to surface (Windows and Mac) as project viewer quite soon.

Bento Project Viewer

As noted in my Bento update #24, the Bento project viewer was issued in what is hoped will be the final project viewer iteration before it progressed to Release Candidate status. Version, released on August 25th, includes the following updates among its changes:

  • The latest viewer updates body size less frequently (starting / stopping an animation) so vertical height repositioning should be less jarring.
  • During mesh upload, SLM files are by default not created and not used. This can still be overridden by changing the debug setting MeshImportUseSLM
  • The show bones display has been modified to use colors differently, distinguishing between joints that are skinned to, joints that have position overrides defined, and all other joints.
  • Animation of collision volumes has been fixed.

Voice Updates

[02:17] The voice updates are progressing, but is not expected to appear in a project viewer soon due to some remaining issues which need to be resolved.

[03:56] There are some server-side voice updates currently on Aditi undergoing test. When these will be moved to the main grid is subject to further discussions with Vivox, which are due to take place in the forthcoming week. When these updates are enabled on the main grid, they will be gird-wide.

[33:10] Oz offered a reminder that in-world / region issues are unlikely to be related to / cause Voice issues in the majority of cases where the latter are being experienced, as the only way the simulator and its host server are involved in voice is when a user is initially connecting to Voice (the simulator provides the channel addresses to the viewer). After this, all communications are between the viewer (via the SLVoice plugin and the Vivox voice servers.

[34:10] As a part of the ongoing work to better monitor and control Voice, the Lab will be introducing improved logging on exactly what the viewer is doing when connecting to Voice.

Exceptions Handling, etc

[02:44] As noted at the last TPV Developer meeting, the Lab is going to be making some source code changes, including a clean-up of asserts in the viewer and how exceptions are handled (the latter to try to prevent the viewer crashing as a result of encountering an exception), and further rendering pipeline clean-up. These will be showing up in a project viewer at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Accessing Crowded Regions & Increasing Max Number of Users Per Region

[08:30] Trying to access a crowded region for an event is often a matter of pot luck. when full, you have no real choice but to get re-trying via teleport or crossing  a region boundary. As a result, the Lab has frequently been asked to add some form of access queuing system to regions.

While a queuing system has been considered, the Lab feels it brings with it may questions around how it work to present an optimal solution for users. As such, while they are open to proposals for a queuing system, optimally, they’d rather work towards trying to increase the number of avatars regions can support. This is something also being looked at from time to time (see my May 27th, 2015 SL project update as an example), although there is no work actively being carried out on it right now.

Abuse Report Categories

[17:00] As indicated in my last TPV Developer meeting update, the Lab will be introducing a new region capability to handle abuse report categories. Once implemented, TPVs will be able to adopt the use of this capability, rather than having abuse categories held within the viewer, where they may get out-of-step with the categories supported by the Lab.

There is also a reminder in the meeting that abuse situations should be reported ASAP after the event, so that the Lab can refer to the related simulator logs during investigations, and that there is a L$10,000 bounty payable on SEC JIRAs which identify actual or potential abuse vectors  / exploits which the Lab can act upon to close.

AMD Graphics Issues

[26:10] Many users with AMD GPU (notably the RX400 series) have been experiencing glitches and “tears” appearing in their world view  – see BUG-20057 and FIRE-16829. User Hurana Ugajin reports she is having a dialogue with AMD on the issue, and a solution may be forthcoming soon. When / if available, a request has been to post it to the SL technology forum.

Region Resource Allocations

[36:19] A question is asked on whether it would be possible to allocate simulator resources (script usage, etc), on the same basis as object land impact – thus allowing resources to be assigned / capped by parcel size, etc.

The Lab does not believe this can be done without significant changes to SL, as a lot of the underpinning resources are not location-based (e.g. scripts are run on the basis of where they are). Instead, the Lab is focused more on penalising individuals for excessive use of resources (e.g. if you run a script which abuses resources in a region, all your active scripts are throttled, not just the offending script). Such abuses can also be AR’d by those noting them.

Other Items

Aditi Access

[04:42] Some users are apparently being told that in order to access Aditi, they require Payment Information On File (PIOF) and to have completed a tutorial. These are actually part of the requirements to be able to upload mesh. No special requirements are required to access the beta grid other than your user name and password.

There is , however a problem with new user accounts not showing up on Aditi when they should, and a request has to be passed to support to enabled them. This is down to changes in how the Lab is handling account data, which has left Aditi in a state of flux, but a fix for this is in the pipeline.

Account Management

[06:22] The account work mentioned above is part of ongoing back-end work the Lab is carrying out related to personal data is handled and stored even more securely, and help resolve some account management issues. One outcome of this will be a single change to a user’s password will be applied pretty much immediately to both Agni and Aditi.

Large Texture Over-Use

[43:40] A continuing problem in SL is the over-use of large (1024×1024) texture on every surface, no matter how small. While this is a bad content choice, it has been suggested that to discourage this, LL should consider charging differently for different texture sizes. This has been discussed by the Lab, with the admission that given the already low cost for uploads (L$10 per item), there is a certain lack of conviction that introducing a nominal fee scale based on image size will do much to discourage the practice.

Avatar Complexity Calculations

[48:18] As noted at the last TPV Developer meeting, the Lab will be carrying out further refinements in how Avatar Complexity is calculated. A suggestion put forward at this meeting is that as well as having a per avatar limit, if a scene-wide limit could be defined / set. This is viewed as an “interesting” idea.

Immaculate perceptions and reflections in Second Life

Immaculate Perception - Immaculate Reflection
Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection

“There is no truth, there is only perception … immaculate perception,” Krystali Rabeni enigmatically states in her introduction to Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection. “What you see is what you thought before you looked … The immaculate perception of it is an immaculate reflection of the viewer. A very interesting abstraction proving that there is no truth, only perception.”

It’s a provocative statement leading the way into a surreal and thought-provoking setting, one complete with touches of abstract and the absurd – but one which is also compelling, given the artist’s statement. Across a watery landscape sits a host of vignettes drawn from multiple sources. Pieces in some of them will be familiar to visitors, others will be wholly new.

Immaculate Perception - Immaculate Reflection
Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection

All present some curious scenes: animals hanging from balloons, a pair of women in 50’s style clothing walking a pair of hot-dogs, skeletons watching TV, chess pieces from one side pinning the king from the other side under a net, a pat of flamingoes examining images of other flamingoes; pocket watches with starfish, the list goes on.

However, what is important here is not from whence they came or even, necessarily, what the artist may have intended each to represent – but how we perceive them, and how that perception may be informed by the shadows of our own thinking even before we see what is in front of us.  Of course, how we perceive and interpret any art is a matter of personal reflection, but it is generally a subconscious process; here we’re being asked to consciously think about that process – which in turn further influences our perceptions.

Immaculate Perception - Immaculate Reflection
Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection

In this, the track of thinking can become recursive: we question whether or not how much of what we’re perceiving in one vignette is shaped by our prior thinking, and then as we move on,  how much of that thinking is influencing our perception of the next vignette we see, which in turn calls into question our perceptions of the next vignette, and so on. Thus observation becomes as much introverted act, as it does a consideration of the art itself.
Within the installation, the potential recursiveness of our thinking  is perhaps enhanced by how the various vignettes are  placed. It is almost impossible to observe one without seeing two or perhaps three others, thus shifting our attention, directly or subliminally, influencing our thinking on the piece at hand, and thus influencing our perception of it.

Immaculate Perception - Immaculate Reflection
Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection

However, and with all that said, we can leave the deeper considerations about Immaculate Perception – Immaculate Reflection to one side, and simply approach each vignette entirely on its own. Each offers a scene captivating to the eye which can be enjoyed in its own right, regardless of what is informing our perception, whilst also allowing us to tease ourselves with possible allusions which may appear to be in some of them which might otherwise be missed in any deeper appreciation / introspection.

However you approach this installation, it offers plenty of opportunity for visual appreciation and / or considered speculation.

SLurl Details

Astralia, Second Life

Astralia; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Astralia – click any image for full size

Astralia is the name of the homestead region held by artist and blogger Oema, and which is currently featured in the August 26th Destination Guide Editor’s Picks. It is offered as a surreal landscape in which visitors are free to relax, roam, take photographs and view the art on display.

Surrounded on three sides by off-sim mountains, Astralia is a water bound place, waves gently foaming in from the surrounding mountains towards a calmer centre while a gentle breeze caresses wind chimes, filling the air with their gentle reverberations. The rich azure of the waters here is a perfect reflection of a cobalt sky flecked with cloud, beneath which a ribbon of aurora ebbs, rolls and curls.

Astralia; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Astralia

Across the region lie nine vignettes, each offering its own unique look and opportunities for photography or relaxation. Some of these feature buildings or structures, some form a small island of grass, some sit directly on the water. They all face or flank a crystal palace which also rises from the water, home to a small art gallery, while a further island sits in the air nearby, offering a further floating sanctuary.

By default, the region windlight presents Astralia as something of a watercolour painting, the surrealist element coming not so much from the watery setting, but from the globe of mighty Jupiter,  who marches around the region behind the mountains, Great Red Spot staring down like an ever-present eye, watching all comings and goings.

Astralia; Inara Pey, August 2016, on Flickr Astralia

For photographers, Astralia’s default windlight works well, whilst the region is well suited to a good cross-section of others as well – I used Annan Adored’s Tricoloured II for the images here. For those wishing to simply sit and relax, the region offers plenty of spots to do just that, and presents a smoothing piano audio stream ideal for putting the stresses of life out of your head and simply losing yourself in your surroundings.

SLurl Details