Second Life home page gets a revamp

While we’re all awaiting the arrival of the new Second Life Community Platform, Linden Lab took the opportunity to deploy an updated Second Life home page at secondlife.com.

Now, if you’re generally logged-in to your Second Life dashboard, you’ve probably not noticed. While I did notice while twiddling around waiting for the Community Platform, it didn’t exactly register with me for various reasons – so my thanks to Whirly Fizzle for the extra nudge, and to Pete Linden for confirming I wasn’t going entirely bonkers.

To see the new layout if you are normally logged-in to your dashboard (at secondlife.com), you’ll have to log out. If you don’t tend to log-in to your dashboard, you should see the updated layout by simply going to secondlife.com.

The layout itself has much the same look at feel to the community landing pages the Lab deployed and I blogged about back in December 2015 (see Landing pages: marketing Second Life), and share some commonality with the more recent Places pages (see: Places: a new gateway to your activities in Second Life).

A portion of the new secondlife.com home page (seen when you are *not* logged in to your dashboard!)

At the top is a set of banner images, which periodically change. These include the sign-up, log-in and language options in the top right corner, together with the SL logo and old strapline “Your World, Your Imagination” on the left. Beneath this, and changing with the images, is descriptive text together with a LEARN MORE button.

Depending on the banner image displayed, clicking LEARN MORE will either take you to the business or creators Community Landing Pages, or display the Destination Guide. Each banner also include a JOIN button which will launch the sign-up button.

Below this is a further section providing more insight into Second Life in the form of a set of tiled images – Creativity, Entertainment, Social, Real Estate, Education and Business. Four of these – Creativity, Social, Education and Business – again link to their respective Community Landing Page. Of the remaining two, Real Estate provides an overview of land “ownership” in Second Life, while hovering the mouse over the Entertainment tile will display a series of five category buttons. With the exception of the GAMES button, which goes to the Games section of the Destination Guide, these also all go to their associated Community Landing Page.

The Entertainment tile on the revamped homepage, displaying the five category buttons

Below this there is a further section linking to the Destination Guide, before a section displaying one of the Drax Files World Makers series, together with a link to YouTube channel for the series.

The entire design is fresh and clean and, as noted, has much in common with the Community Landing pages and the Places pages, helping to present something of a unified front end to the Second Life web spaces (although the Places pages do stand slightly apart, as they are designed to be customised by users).

While they have yet to be seen in the flesh, it would appear the new Community Platform pages may have something of a similar approach as well, although we will, at the time of writing, have to wait a while longer to see those.

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SL project updates 2017 10/1: server, viewer

NorderNey, NorderNey; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrNorderNeyblog post

Server Deployments

On Tuesday, March 7th the Main (SLS) channel received the server maintenance package previously deployed to the three RC channels in week #9. This includes:

  • Further improvements to off-line IM delivery when you log in.
  • Objects that are unable to enter a parcel now generate useful error messages.
  • IM to Email will no longer turn itself off.
  • Improved internal logging
  • Internal server changes.

There is no planned deployment to the RC channels on Wednesday, March 8th, and no restart planned.  Wednesday will, however, see a limited deployment to the Snack channel. There are no release notes associated with the deployment.

E-Mail to Snapshots

The deployment of the server maintenance package to the Main (SLS) channel means that at present, the ability to send snapshots to e-mail is broken across the grid. This is because changes made server-side mean that a viewer validation process for e-mails to snapshot will fail, breaking the ability to send them (see BUG-41443).

A viewer-side fix for the problem is on the way, but will take time to reach all viewers, once released.

Server Updates on Aditi

There are two new server versions currently on Aditi which will be making their way to the Main grid in due course.

DRTSIM-323: New Simulator Build

The DRTSIM-323 channel on Aditi contains a new version of the simulator code using the Lab’s latest build of the server operating system. The code is available on a number of regions, including:

  • Fire Ants
  • Bug Island
  • Mauve

(Remember, these are beta grid regions, on Agni (Main) grid regions.).

Commenting on the code, Mazidox Linden said:

We would ask for your help in testing on DRTSIM-323 servers as much as possible, because basically anything you can do in Second Life could be affected. We have a bunch of tests, both user facing a not, that we’re running for this, but we will never test 100% of testable things. It just can’t be done.

So, rezzing objects, building / modifying objects, scripting, testing scripts, uploads – just about anything you can think of needs testing & any noted / reproducible issues JIRA’d.

DRTSIM-341: HTTP Asset Fetching

The DRTSIM-341 channel, which should be deployed to Aditi in the near future, will contain the updated code for fetching landmarks, gestures, animations, shapes, sounds and wearables (system layer clothing) , via HTTP /  the CDN(s).  The Lab is hoping that people will again be able to help with testing but this will be dependent upon a new project viewer (most likely) appearing which has the necessary viewer-side code as well. There is currently no ETA on when that will appear.

SL Viewer

The Maintenance RC viewer was updated to version 5.0.2.324126 on March 3rd, and then promoted as the de-facto release viewer on Monday, March 6th.

The Love Me Render RC viewer containing rendering pipeline fixes appears to have been withdrawn. This leaves the rest of the viewer pipeline as follows:

  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy (LXIV), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.501863 for Windows and Mac, released on January 10
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712 on November 23, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • 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.

Community Platform

The transition to the new Community Platform is still in progress, I’ll have a review of it once things are live.

Deployments Schedule

Speaking at the Server Beta meeting on Thursday, March 2nd, Mazidox Linden briefly described the reason to the current slow-down in server deployments, saying, “As a general note: We’ve had several stability and performance fixes recently. While we can’t be more specific about timelines (or provide further details) they are taking up a large portion of our time to make a better Second Life.”

Sansar: new video from Linden Lab

Sansar from Linden Lab

On March 7th, 2017, Linden Lab issued the most insightful video thus far on Sansar, their next generation virtual environment platform. While it may not plumb quite the depths some might like to see, it offers far more in the way of glimpses and outright looks of what Sansar will look like and gives a teasing look at some of the capabilities currently present within it.

At just four seconds under the 2 minute mark, the video offers a narrative tour of the new platform, showing the runtime and editing environments, detailed shots of Sansar avatars, a look at the Sansar Marketplace – or Store – and more. It also touches on some of the market verticals and environments the Lab is hoping to attract to the platform, albeit with a clear slant towards education.

Sansar avatars. Credit: Linden Lab

Starting with the words, “Something is coming. Something revolutionary…”, over a slow, letterbox-style reveal of the platform, the video is polished, smooth and tantalising in what is shown. From scenes within Sansar we’ve witnessed before – the Golden Gate bridge, the fantasy realm with its enigmatic red door it flows to environments entirely new to the wider public eye. As such, it is an excellent piece of teaser advertising, clearly geared towards those the Lab hopes to being to Sansar’s worlds.

There is the inevitable pointer towards VR headsets – which is to be expected, given Sansar is primarily (although not exclusively) a platform for the fully immersed, consumer VR age, but it the video, by its nature, helps to demonstrate that Sansar can be used by those without head mounted displays (HMDs) as well.

A glimpse of the Sansar marketplace – or store. Credit: Linden Lab

For me, some of the points of interest in the video are the snippets of the UI we get to see, particularly when in the edit environment, and the first close-up looks of Sansar avatars offered to the world at large. While the latter may well still be in development, they are already impressive, and potentially a match in looks for Second Life avatars.

A closer look at a Sansar avatar. Credit: Linden Lab

Admittedly, the avatars shown in the video are all restricted to humans, so we don’t get to see the fully range of potentials, but again given that Sansar is being pushed towards the idea of “social VR”, where people are interacting with one another as humans, the emphasis shouldn’t be seen as negative. There’s also the fact that it’s unclear at the moment how far down the road the avatar system is when it comes to supporting non-human avatar types.

Voice syncing is also very cleverly indicated in the video, when the female voice used to narrate the piece is smoothly integrated with a Sansar avatar right at the end of the video, suggesting she has been our guide through this inside look.

A further point of interest for me is the video closes by adding a strapline to Sansar: Created Reality.

Back in September 2015, Ciaran Laval and I ruminated on a domain name filing made by the Lab around the time that the company was filing papers for “Project Sansar” and “Sansar” (see “Created Reality”- possible contender for Project Sansar’s name?). At the time we speculated whether “Created Reality” might be a possible alternative name for the Lab’s platform (still  at that time known only by the “internal” name of “Project Sansar”). Obviously, that didn’t prove to be the case – but it is still interesting to see the term, if not the domain, finding use in reference to the platform

And for those wondering when they’ll be able to step into Sansar, the video offers “Spring 2017”. But enough of the waffling. Here’s the video.

A Mystical Fae Forest in Second Life

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest – click any image for full size

Mystical Fae Forest, occupying the Homestead region of Elvenshire, is precisely what the name implies: a mystical realm caught in time and wrapped in the soft light of a winter’s eve. It’s a place those who love things fae and whimsical should appreciate; a place where magic floats in the air and a surprise awaits at very turn.

Designed by Zuma Fae Dust (Zuma Jupiter), the region’s timelessness is immediately felt on entering. The predominant shade is white, as if the trees are frosted and the ground covered in snow. But among the white flowers lay flashes, pools and sprinkles of colour, while fireflies drift on the air and tiny lights sparkle from branches. Beside the landing point, giant roses sit, their petals glowing a soft, translucent pink as if spun from glass, their stems links of silver chain.

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest

Paths wind through the flowers, leading away from the arched circle of the landing point. It matters not which you take and the wind between the tress and frequently fork. All of them will lead you somewhere, and often to the quite unexpected, while birds sing from branches overhead.

From the name of the region, you might expect the locals to be faerie folk, or perhaps have a touch of the elvish or hobbit about them. While the folk might definitely be on the small side, they are most certainly not hobbits; nor are they elves or fae folk. Rather, most are a mix of rabbits, raccoons, teddy bears and others, all going about their business or at play in the hazy light.

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest

Some are gathered along a little hamlet street, playing games, gathering around an ice cream stand or simply walking along the footpath. Some sit together as couples, one or two wander alone – two even hold up a banner directing people to a party. These scenes are scattered across the region, allowing visitors to come upon them by chance as they walk along the paths and under the trees.

I said “most” above, because there are others here to be found. This is a place where you can see a pink elephant if you choose the right path, or come across a delightful little scene featuring visitors from afar who have decided to drop in on the home of a flying saucer aficionado. I’m not sure they mean whoever it is any harm; going by the looks of three of them they appear to be on a sightseeing tour!

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest

Vignettes such as this add to the magic of the region, making a visit a genuine exploration. You’ll want to spend more time here than might otherwise be imagined, wandering the paths and making sure you’ve not missed anything. And in case you need a little rest or become enwrapped in the region’s enchantment, there are several cosy nests where you can sit or  curl up and enjoy time alone, or with a friend or share a cuddle or two – but again, I recommend taking the time to seek all of them out!

Mystical Fae Forest is a joy to wander, and I recommending seeing it under the default region windlight to truly capture the magic. Should you enjoy your visit, please consider a donation to help preserve the region for the others to enjoy: look for the magic tree roots along the footpaths as you explore (there’s one near the landing point, for example).

Mystical Fae Forest, Elvenshire; Inara Pey, February 2017, on FlickrMystical Fae Forest

SLurl Details

With thanks, as always, to Shakespeare for the pointer 🙂 .