Second Life Community Gateway Programme officially re-launched

In September 2015, I reported on the re-introduction, at least on a “beta” level of the Community Gateways,  a programme which had been discontinued in August 2010, with Linden  Lab citing several reasons for doing so, including issues around scalability and management oversight, together with question marks around the overall effectiveness of the programme.

Indications that the Lab were reconsidering the programme first surfaced at the “Meet the Lindens” events at SL12B, and following the hints, I was able to discuss the beta programme with Patch Linden in July 2015 while preparing that original piece.

Since that time, the beta Gateway Programme has been moving forward, and I’ve been able to visit a number – the London Gateway, Ayuda Virtual, catering to Spanish-speaking users, the Firestorm Gateway (touched upon in the article linked-to above, and Helping Haven, which formed the focus of its own report.

Helping Haven Gateway – one of the new Community Gateways which formed a part of the beta programme, 2015-2017

Somewhere in the region of 18 communities were involved in the beta Community Programme. However, the programme did have its share of hiccups along the way – such as with sorting through a registration process with would address both the Lab’s one legal requirements for data integrity and the needs of the Gateway operators themselves, some of which I documented in 2016.

All of the major hiccups have been addressed over the ensuing months, and the results of the beta programme appear to have been positive. I say this because on Wednesday, May 31st, 2017, Linden Lab announced that the new Community Gateway Programme is now officially open, with around 6-10 community-led gateways now operating in Second Life.

Part of the Firestorm Community Gateway, also a participant in the Community Gateway Beta Programme

In explaining the programme, the blog post offers an easy-to-grasp bullet point list of the what it is, and what it seeks to achieve:

This programme allows Second Life Communities to:

  • Create a new user experience and attract Residents to your specific community.
  • Assist those new Residents in beginning their journey into Second Life.
  • Lend a guiding hand in the creation of their new avatar personas.
  • Assist with increasing new user retention.

This powerful new tool will allow you to register new users right from your own community website and add them automatically to your group, thus helping your community to grow!

Part of the Ayuda Virtual Gateway

Communities within Second Life wishing to establish a Gateway of their own should refer to the new Community Gateway guidelines on the SL wiki. Requests to join the programme should then be made by filing a Support Case ticket under the Case Type Land & Region > Community Gateway Application.

Call To Gateway Operators

If you are a part of a group running a Community gateway, and would be interested in perhaps seeing it covered in this blog, please get in contact with me. You can do so via IM or (preferably) note card in-world, or via the Contact Form on this blog. Just include a brief outline of the gateway, its name and location and details of some of the coordinators behind it (if you’re not one yourself), together with preferred contact details, and I will get back to you. please refer to the Helping Haven article as a example of how such an article might look / read.

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SL project updates week 22/1: server, viewer

Meadow Rose III, Tyme; Inara Pey, May 2017, on Flickr Meadow Rose IIIblog post

Server Deployments

As always, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, May 23rd, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with a server maintenance package (#17.05.22.326523), containing a fix for BUG-100704, “[Server] If Anyone Can visit is selected after Allow Group was set only group members can enter”, related to the parcel overrides update.
  • On Wednesday, May 31st, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre should each receive the same server maintenance package (#17.05.26.326655), comprising “Tweaks to help with capability loss”.
    • Magnum should receive a server maintenance package (#17.05.26.326659) for the simulator operating system update, which does not contain and functionality changes.

OS Update Notes

Alongside the Server Deployment notes for Magnum, Linden Lab also state they are working on a fix for an issue addressed with 17.05.23.326524 from last week (BUG-100737 “Shoutcast receivers unable to relay on RC Magnum”). This has been diagnosed, and they are working on a solution which will require a simple update to affected scripts.

SL Viewer

  • Current Release version 5.0.5.326444, released on May 18th, promoted May 23rd – formerly the Maintenance RC viewer – overview
  • RC viewers:
    • Project AssetHttp project viewer updated to version 5.0.6.326593 on May 26th – This viewer moves fetching of several types of assets to HTTP / CDN – overview
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.5.325998, re-released on Friday, May 5th
  • Project viewers:
    • Project Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.505089, updated on May 11th
    • 360-degree snapshot viewer updated to version 4.1.3.321712 on November 23rd, 2016 – ability to take 360-degree panoramic images
  • 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.

Radegast – new website and updates

Radegast Rebranded

Radegast, the third-party Second Life / OpenSim client which has proven to be especially popular with those on low-end systems and / or those with visual impairments, now has a new home, and recently underwent a new update. As I’ve missed the last couple of cycles with this client, the following is intended to be a quick overview of its status and a brief look at the updates which have been made since my last review.

New Home

Radegast now has a new web presence, where details of updates are blogged, and which will see things like the wiki and user guide move across to it in due course.

As there is no means to access the “old” Radegast site, this remains available for legacy purposes.

The client itself, as I noted towards the end of 2016, is now being maintained by Cinder Roxley, who would welcome any support that can be offered in helping to maintain and develop Radegast and the website.Those interested in doing so code-wise, can find the source code, build instructions, and examples at https://bitbucket.org/cinderblocks/radegast.

In her first blog post on the site, Cinder also provides a brief summary of things:

So far, any updates have been Windows-based. This has allowed me to roll with the punches and familiarize myself with the codebase without getting mono too much in the mix. The roadmap for other platforms is as follows:

  1. Update LibreMetaverse to be compliant with .NET Core
  2. Update Radegast to be compliant with .NET Core
  3. Begin packaging .deb releases for Linux
  4. Begin packaging installers for MacOS
  5. Bring speech support to Linux and MacOS

Updates

There have been two updates to Radegast since my last review of the client (which essentially laid-out the updates Cinder had made to restore Voice capabilities reliably after Beq Janus provided a workaround for issues being experienced as a result of Radegast no longer being maintained as a result of Latif Khalifa’s sad passing).

The first of these updates, which saw Radegast increment to version 2.21, was released on February 12, 2017, and comprised:

  • RLV updates
  • Second Life Enhanced Skeleton Support (Project Bento)
  • Branding changes
  • Updates to
    • FMODStudio 1.08
    • SLVoice files
  • Swap of base system to LibreMetaverse
  • Many bug fixes.

Version 2.22, release on May 17th, 2017, comprises:

  • Updates to:
    • OpenTK 3.0.0-pre nuget
    • VS2017 .NET 4.5
    • LibreMetaverse 1.4.40
  • New build system
  • Fix Give Inventory menu item for screen readers
  • Many bug fixes

General Notes

An important note to remember with Radegast is that while it has a 3D scene rendering capability, allowing you to see the world around you, it is very experimental, therefore, the degree of success you may get with rendering things might be variable. In testing the client, I found Radegast had a hard time trying to render rigged mesh body parts, making it impossible to visually confirm the Bento support. However you mileage may vary.

Certainly, the fact that the 3D scene renderer is experimental and may hiccup shouldn’t put those who need / prefer Radegast off (I sincerely doubt it ever would). The bottom line is that with or without the rendering capability, Radegast is a superb lightweight client, and both the 2.21 and 2.22 updates are ensuring it keeps abreast of updates to the “full” viewer, and remains a useful tool for those who rely on it.

Links

with thanks to John Brianna for the note on the new Radegest website.

A little (Bento) horse riding at Calas Galadhon in Second Life

Out on the Calas horse trails, Caitlyn leading the way

I’m not a horse owner, but riding is something I’ve had the good fortunate to enjoy from time to time, and on both sides of the Atlantic. It’s also something I’ve occasionally enjoyed in Second Life, although I’m now long past the point, land-wise, where keeping a horse in-world makes a lot of sense. So, in the latter regard, my riding enjoyment is restricted to taking the opportunity in those regions where riding options are offered.

One such location is Calas Galadhon Park, which offers for Teegle and Breeder’s Choice horses and, since March of 2017, the Water Horse Bento horse. Although Ty Tenk of Calas dropped me a line about the Bento horses when they were added, we weren’t in a position to try things then, and to be honest, it just slipped my mind). However, the news that there’s a new Coast Trail for horse riding through the Calas regions gave Caitlyn and I just the excuse to hop over and try things out.

The Water Horse Bento horse makes for a very natural feeling ride, while the Coast Trail at Calas still takes you through the redwood forest

The new Coast Trail forms a circular route around several of the Calas regions. It nominally starts at the bridge linking Dimirill Dale to Calas Galadhon, then runs around the lake at Calas Galadhon and up through the redwood forest of Mirromere, before curving around the cliffs of the Misty Mountains and dropping down into the islands of Long Lake. From there it arcs down through Belegear, touches the Grey Havens, and so returns to Dimrill Dale. Along the way, it offers some stunning views over the Calas park lands and waters.

As we were commencing our ride further south, at the Bento horse giver in Glanduin, (another horse giver can be found at Mirromere), Caitlyn and I opted to start our ride from there – and do things “backwards”, looping up through Dimrill Dale to Belegear, and then swinging through Long Lake and down through the Misty Mountains and Mirromere, to reach Calas Galadhon.

The Coast Ride takes you through the wilds of Calas Galadhon Park, and past some of its picturesque landmarks, such as the Greek Village, a reminder of “old Armenelos”

The Water Horse giver is easy to use, with the instructions clearly visible on the sign. Follow them, and you really can’t go wrong. The supplied horse is provided as a temp attachment (so nothing in your inventory), and is a demo version with about an hour’s duration, after which it will be removed / deleted. As it is a demo version, I can’t offer a comprehensive review  of it here; but what I can say is that as a Bento extension to the avatar skeleton, the horse handles very naturally (just remember to turn off your AO!), and you do get the four motion speeds – walk, trot, canter and gallop. Given the lay of the land at Calas, there are plenty of opportunities to try all of them.

Being a demo with an hour’s duration, the horse provided by the giver isn’t as fully featured as the actual Water Horse Bento horses, so I can’t offer a review here. What I can say, however, is that it is more than enough to give you a basic feel for riding the horse, and to demonstrate just how well the horse works as an extension to your avatar. You do get the four speed options – walk, trot, canter and gallop, and the Calas trails provide plenty of places where each can be tired.

Trotting across a bridge

The trails through Calas are a joy to ride – whichever horse system you have / use – and are fairly clearly signposted throughout. As the newest, the  Coast Trail is beautifully picturesque, particularly if you tackle it clockwise, as we did. To do this, follow the track up from the horse giver and through the farm and across the covered bridge. Then follow the trail under the rock arch, and then bear left before the next bridge, following the water’s edge westwards towards the Grey Heavens, and over the marshes to Belegear’s slender peninsula.

Going around the trail this way really opens out the park’s fabulous beauty from the start, leaving the lakeside buildings of Calas Galadhon itself until last, where a well-deserved drink can be had. The hour-long duration of the demo Water Horse means there is plenty of time to take the trail without having to unduly hurry.

Resting in the saddle near the cliffs of the Misty Mountains

I’ve always enjoyed Calas Galadhon, whether on horseback or foot, and the new Coast Trail is a delight, bringing home the natural beauty of the parklands, whether riding a Bento horse or any other horse type available from the rezzers in the regions (and if you’re a member of the Calas group, yo can always hop along and ride your own, if you haven’t already).

My only regret with our little foray is that as my video software still isn’t playing nice with the viewer at times, leaving me unable to record our meanderings. Fortunately, Ty made this point moot, having produced his own video highlighting both the Water Horse Bento horse and the riding trails of Calas. So I’ll leave you with that instead 🙂 .

SLurls and Links

All Calas Galadhon regions are rated Moderate.

Viewer updates: Kokua 5.0.6 for Second Life and RLV 2.9.21.3

In week #21, both the Kokua viewer for Second Life and the Restrained Love viewer updated to achieve parity with the current SL viewer release (version 5.0.5.326444 at the time of writing).

Kokua for Second Life updated to version 5.0.6.41208 (release notes) on Friday, May 26th, 2017, while the Restrained Love updating to version 2.9.21.3 (release notes) on Thursday, May 25th.

As the core changes to both viewers are more-or-less the same in terms of their parity with the official viewer, this review provides a combined recap of these updates for both viewers, from the oldest to most recent. Kokua users please note that the documented changes do not necessarily apply to the Kokua OpenSim version.

Custom Folders for Uploads

Kokua 5.0.6.41208 for Second Life and Restrained Love 2.9.21.3 users can now select the inventory folders into which uploads – images / textures, sounds, animations and mesh models –  are saved by default (rather than having all textures + images go to Textures for example).

To set a custom folder for an upload type:

  • Go to Inventory and right-click on the desired folder.
  • Select Use As Default For. This opens a sub-menu of upload types (shown on the right).
  • Click on the type of upload you wish to always save to that folder.

Note that this only applies to uploads: images / textures, mesh models, etc., received via transfer or will still go to the their “default” system folders (so a texture received via transfer will still go to Textures, for example).

The folders set for uploads can be reviewed via the new Preferences > Uploads tab.

The new options shown for selecting a default destination folder for uploads (left), and the new Upload panel in Preferences, which lists the locations (right) – via Kokua, click for full size, if required

Block List Tally and Grid Status Button

Kokua 5.0.6.41208 and Restrained Love 2.9.21.3 now have display a tally of those blocked in the viewer (People Floater > Blocked), and include the Grid Status button which can be added to any toolbar position in the viewer window, providing direct access to Second Life grid status updates, which are displayed in the viewer’s built-in browser.

Avatar Complexity Rendering Updates

These releases of Kokua and Restrained Love include a number of improvements to avatar complexity rendering. Full details of these changes can be found in Second Life Maintenance RC: Avatar Rendering updates and more, and are summarised here.

  • The Options for how another avatar is rendered are now Default (i.e. in accordance with your avatar complexity threshold setting); Always (i.e. always render the selected avatar) or Never (i.e. permanently render them as a grey imposter). These options have also been moved to a sub-menu on the right-click Avatar context menu.
  • Following Firestorm’s lead, adjusted settings for avatar rendering will now persist across log-ins for the viewer, until either reset or your settings are cleared by a clean install or similar.
  • There are two new options for Avatar Complexity, located on the Preferences > Graphics tab.
    • The first is a check box, Always Render Friends, which is pretty much self-explanatory: when checked, friends will always fully render, regardless of the viewer’s Avatar Complexity threshold.
    • The second is an Exceptions button, which adds a further level of control for how other avatars – including friends – are rendered by the viewer.
Left: the new render options sub-menu in the Avatar context menu (seen when right-clicking on another avatar). Right: the new Preferences > Graphics tab options for avatar rendering (see below for the exceptions button). Images via Kokua – click for full size, if required

Note that Kokua’s pie menu does not display the “Default” option correctly when used on other avatars. Instead, the option is labelled as “>”. As per Nicky’s comment below, this is now fixed.

Rendering Exceptions

The Exceptions button described above enables named avatars to be either fully or never rendered by the viewer, regardless of any other avatar rendering settings. It comprises two new floaters: the exceptions list (Avatar Render Settings, below left) and the search floater (Choose Resident, below right), accessed by clicking the “+” button on the exceptions list and then selecting whether you want to always or never render the avatar you’re about to choose.

Rendering Exceptions allows you to select individual avatars (e.g. from those close to you or your friends list or via search) you always / never want to render, regardless of your other avatar complexity settings. Via Restrained Love Viewer.

It is possible to update how an avatar in the exceptions list is displayed by right-clicking on the avatar’s name and selecting the required option (Default, Always, Never) from the displayed drop-down list.  Note that “Default” will remove the avatar’s name for your exceptions list and display them in-world in accordance with your overall Avatar Rendering Complexity setting.

Changing how an avatar in the exceptions list is rendered. Via Restrained Love Viewer

Continue reading “Viewer updates: Kokua 5.0.6 for Second Life and RLV 2.9.21.3”

Flash Back / Flash Forward in Second Life

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Open from Monday, May 29th through until Monday, July 31st, 2017 at Split Screen’s temporary home*, is Giovanna Cerise’s newest installation, Flash Back / Flash Forward. This is a complex piece, rooted in both the artist’s own perceptions of creativity and in the notion  – or perhaps that should be the temporal nature – of time as we generally tend to perceive it.

The core of the installation is a large, fractured structure. This seems to rise in multi-faceted tiers into the sky, but contains only a single level, reached via teleport – the large daisy at the base of the structure and a short walk from the landing point.  This level is divided into disparate rooms and corridors to present something of a maze in which none of the spaces are connected to its neighbours but must be reached by passing through the walls themselves. within some of the spaces can be found certain artefacts  –   a suitcase and oversized key, an easel, a hat and rose, images –  which we are left to interpret for ourselves.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

There is no set root through these spaces, although a list of SLurls those containing objects is supplied in the descriptive note card. Instead, visitors are encouraged to wander. In doing so, moving through the room and along the corridors becomes something of an optical experience. Scenes flicker in and out of our perception, colours flick and change – white, red, white – perspectives shift; self-awareness fluctuates as our avatars flips through different states. sometimes solid, other times an outline reflecting the shapes and images contained within walls, sometimes a shadow.

It’s a slightly confusing, perhaps disconcerting effect, heightened by the longer one walks through the installation, as images and colours and outlines flicker in and out of existence or flip from one to another before our eyes, become discrete moments in time revealed only to us in our passing. And time – as noted, is the core of things here.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

Flash Back / Flash Forward is an examination of time at both the micro and the macro levels. On the micro, is an attempt to encapsulate the artist’s relationship with her work, from initial concept through development, to its completion, as seen trough the lens of time. The artist can only exist in the present, thus the development of a piece of art becomes an exercise in reflection and projection: the initial idea is reflected in the mirror of construction, which serves to project the work into the future, to its final state. There can be no viewpoint from outside the linear nature of time; no real ability of see the work as a fluid whole, from start to finish.

At the macro level, Flash Back / Flash Forward reminds us that our entire life is spent in “the present” – but “the present” is personal to each of us, an elusive, undefined space through which we each travel, sometimes overlapping with the space occupied by others. It is a space into which the past can intrude via memories which flicker, appear, vanish or even morph from point to point as our present is influenced by mood, desire, understanding, and so on. And always, the shifting nature of our present foreshadows what is yet to be, but never allows us to experience it until “the future” is our “present”.

Flash Back / Flash Forward – Giovnna Cerise

And so everything might be said to be chaotic, hence the form of the build and the random tumble of sights as we move through it. But within the chaos of the present are oases of calm; moments forever caught in time – and thus, the rooms Giovanna presents for us to find: The Dream; The Point of View; The Desire; The Lighteness; The Bird; The Impossible Choice.

This is a fascinating, intriguing installation, one which may require a careful reading of the supplied nots to fully grasp, but which is nevertheless beautifully executed.

SLurl Details

*For more on Split Screen’s situation, please read Split Screen Loses Its Home.