SL project updates 2017 14/2: TPVD meeting, server updates

Maison de L’amitieblog post

The notes in this update are taken from the following sources:

  • Server Beta User Group meeting, held on  Thursday April 6th, 2017 at 3:00pm SLT – transcript here
  • The TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 7th, 2017 at 12:00 noon SLT.

A video of the TPV Developer meeting is embedded at the end of this update. My thanks as always to north for providing it. Timestamps in this report, where relevant, will link you to the point in the video where items are discussed (via a new browser tab).

SL Viewer

No changes to the current pipeline since part one of the week’s update:

  • Current Release version 5.0.3.324435, dated March 13th – snapshots to e-mail hotfix
  • Release channel cohorts:

    • Maintenance RC viewer version 5.0.4.325124, dated Monday, April 3rd  – review
    • Voice RC viewer version 5.0.4.324770 released on March 20th – several improvements to voice
  • Project viewers:
    • Project AssetHttp project viewer, version 5.0.4.324828 dated  March 30th – This viewer moves fetching of several types of assets to HTTP / CDN – overview
    • Project Alex Ivy (“LXIV”), 64-bit project viewer, version 5.1.0.503537 dated March 17th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer, version 4.1.3.321712 dated November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images – hands-on review
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847 dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

64-bit Build Instructions & Windows Crash Rates

[11:15] The Lab plan to update the viewer build instructions on the wiki to match the 64-bit build process once the 64-bit viewer reaches release status, and the build process is seen as stable.

[29:14] The 64-bit build is being tested across all versions of Windows back to Windows 7. While the current project viewer cohort of users is small, there is evidence that Windows 7 64-bit systems have a “significantly higher” crasher rate with the viewer than Windows 8 or Windows 10, with Windows 10 systems having the lowest overall crash rate.

SL Voice: Linux Updates and Blocking Older Versions of SL Voice

[0:49] Vivox, the company that provides the Voice back-end service and delivers the Voice plug-in for the viewer are no longer providing updates for Linux. This means there will no longer be any Voice updates for the Linux flavour of the viewer unless Vivox reverses that decision.

[1:42] The plans to block older versions of SL Voice to ensure  users are only using the most recent versions of the plug-in, first announced in the latter part of 2016 and placed on hold in December 2016, remain on the back-burner with Oz  Linden noting, “We don’t have any time line for disabling older Voice versions … We may or may not get to it.”

Region Access Changes

There are two changes to region access which are currently in progress.

Region Capacity and Access

[2:36] The first is the Improved Region Capacity and Access updates as reported by the Lab on Tuesday, April 2nd, and which are being rolled-out in stages. There has been some negative reaction to these change (some basic account users have been particularly vocal about the upper capacity to a very busy region being “reserved” for Premium members); however, the deployment which was placed on its own limited server channel (McRib),  appears to be going well and so will be rolled to a larger selection of regions in week #15 (commencing Monday, April 10th).

[3:28] The Lab will continue to look at avatar capacity within region types  as they continue to make other changes to the system, and if the opportunity arises to increase the numbers, they “probably will” (quote). Of course, increases to region capacity on the back-end can have a negative impact at the viewer end of the equation, where the viewer and client system potentially have to work than much harder.

Revised Region and Parcel Access Controls

[4:40] The Lab is revising how Public Access controls are set at both region and parcel access. This involved changes to both the back-end (already on RC) and a set of changes to the viewer UI. You can read more about this in my separate report here.

Simulator Operating System Update

[4:07] As noted in recent SL project updates in these pages, the Lab has been working on a new region simulator build using an updated version of Linux. These work has been on test on Aditi (the beta grid) for the last several weeks (on channel DRTSIM-323), and is due to move to an RC release in week #15, pending no last-minute show stoppers arise in final QA  / test.

This is an extensive back-end change to the simulator, which should be largely invisible to users. However, the Lab will be watching the initial deployment carefully, because as Mazidox  Linden commented at the server beta meeting, “It won’t change anything you should notice, and could change anything, at the same time.” This being the case, there is a standing request that as the update is deployed, those using regions running on the RC channel(s) on which it is running (see the week #15 server deployment notes in the Second Life Server forum, once published) to be extra vigilant and report anything untoward they may see / encounter.

Once this operating system update has been completed, the Lab will start work on a further update.

Other Items

Rendering Cost Calculations

[19:25] The Lab is running a background project to look at the cost of rendering a wide range of Second Life features across a range of different client systems running the viewer. The tests for this work have now been defined and are about to be put into use. Once sufficient data has been gathered, the Lab will use it to determine what might need to be done to improve the accuracy of the avatar rendering calculations with a view to making them more accurately reflect the real cost of rendering high poly count items. Changes will be communicated through forums such as the TPV Developer meeting ahead of any implementation.

[33:55] One potential project which might help with mesh avatar complexity is to allow system layer texture baking to be applied to mesh avatars. This has been the subject  of numerous discussions at the Content Creation User Group meetings (see here and here for more), and while it is still not officially adopted as a project by the Lab, they are continuing to take a detailed look at the idea,

Ban List Improvements

[28:00] This was first raised at the TPV Developer meeting held of Friday February 17th. Essentially, the region ban lists are seen as difficult to use, particularly where the ban list is extensive. There have also been requests that the upper limits for both region and parcel ban lists are raised.

Both subjects are still subject to discussion within the Lab, and while no project is currently on the cards to deal with either, it seems likely that were they to be addressed, they would be addressed together. It has been noted that one possible driver for change might be the upcoming changes being made to how Public Access is managed for regions where it is set (see above).

Windows 10 / Nvidia Shadowplay Bug

Whirly Fizzle has reported a bug which appears to have started with a recent Nividia driver update or a Windows 10 update. In short, launching the Nvidia GeForce Experience and enabling ShadowPlay on a Windows 10 system with Nvidia graphics, which tend to result in a viewer crash. See BUG-11530 for more, including a response from Nvidia on the issue.

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