Kultivate Homes for Our Troops Fund raiser in Second Life

Homes for Our Troops fund-raiser Gallery

Kultivate Magazine will be holding a special fund-raising event in support of Homes For Our Troops on Saturday July 2nd through Tuesday, July 4th.

The event will feature live performers, DJ parties, a special flag hunt, and an art auction with proceeds going to Homes for Our Troops (HFOT), a privately funded 501(c) (3) non-profit organisation that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post – 9/11 veterans, enabling them to rebuild their lives after military deployments and war – see more below.

Homes for Our Troops fund-raiser outdoor art auction

The schedule for the event is as follows (all times SLT):

Saturday, July 1, 2017:

  • 08:00: Event area opens; art auction begins; hunt begins
  • 16:00-17:00:  Live performer Melenda Mikael

Sunday, July 2, 2017:

  • 12:00 noon – 14:00: the Red, White, and Blue Ball
  • 16:00 – 17:00: Live performer Lark Bowen

Monday, July 3, 2017:

  • 16:00-17;00:  Live performer J Lively

Tuesday, July 4, 2017:

  • 12:00 noon – 14:00: 4th of July Party (daytime)
  • 16:00-18:00: 4th of July Party (evening)
  • 18:00: Fireworks; art auction ends; hunt ends.

The Fund-raiser is taking place on Kultivate’s home region of Water Haven – but please note access may be restricted until the event opens at 08:00 SLT on Saturday, July 1st.

Homes for Our Troops fund-raiser part of the gallery space

The following artists are participating in the event: Booyakashaka Resident, captainofmysoul, Catalina Staheli, Eleseren Brianna, Eucalyptus Carroll, Ilyra Chardin, Isis Desmoulins, iSkye Silverweb, IthilwenRose Resident, Jamee Sandalwood, John Brianna, Karma Weymann, KodyMeyers, LailaKnight84, Meishagirl Resident, Miele Tarantal, mmorganwhitfield, Myra Wildmist, retroye resident, Sandi Benelli, Sheba Blitz, Solana Python, Syphera Inaka, talligurl resident, Veruca Tammas, Vivienne Darcy, wild Alchemi, and WrenNoir Cerise.

About Homes For Our Troops

HFOT builds homes as a departure point for Veterans to rebuild their lives, and once again become highly productive members of society. Despite their life-altering injuries, many Veterans have embarked on new careers, completed their college degrees, or started families.

Empowered by the freedom a mortgage-free and specially adapted home brings, these Veterans can now focus on their recovery and return to their life’s work of serving others. Many have embraced their roles as motivational speakers, sharing their messages of persevering through tragedy with groups and classrooms around the country; others take to a national platform to promote awareness of veteran suicide, homelessness and PTSD. Their incredible stories are the driving force for the work for HFOT.

For inquiries about Homes For Our Troops in Second Life, please contact Frets Nirvana

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SL project updates week 26/2: Content Creation UG

The Content Creation User Group meeting, at the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle (stock)

The following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group meeting, held on  Thursday, June 29th, 2017 at 1:00pm SLT at the the Hippotropolis Camp Fire Circle. The meeting is chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

Medhue Simoni live streamed the meeting via his You Tube channel, and I’ve embedded the video at the end of this article. Time stamps in the text below reference this video. Note, however, that items are presented by topic, not necessarily in chronological order. Audio extracts are also provided, but please not these may have been comprised to just the core points of discussion / statements (while avoiding any loss of context).

Rigging To Attachment Points

[1:11-8:45] There has been some discussion around this for the last couple of meetings. In essence, rigging to attachment points was used by some content creators in the past to overcome a shortage of bones. With Bento, it was decided that rigging to attachment points should not be supported in new uploads, but would still be allowed for older meshes using it, to avoid content breakage. However, it now turns out that there is a conflict between the simulator (which allows rigging to attachment points) and the viewer (which shouldn’t allow mesh rigged to attachment point to be uploaded – although some TPVs still do, by accident or design).

Vir is still looking into this to determine how best to handle things going forward. However, as it has been pointed out that there is legacy content which cannot be easily updated if uploads of meshes rigged to attachment points is blocked, and clothing cannot be made for mesh bodies using rigged attachment points, His current feeling is that the simulator behaviour will likely not be changed and that the viewer  – based on a JIRA he has raised – will be updated to be consistent with the simulator’s rules, although he made a request that new avatars are not made with meshes rigged to attachment points.

Note: the discussion on the video includes references to Firestorm (version 5.0.1 onwards) no longer accepting uploads for mesh rigged to attachment points due to an accidental breakage (the fix didn’t make the cut for the 5.0.7 release).

Animated Objects

Attachment Points on Animated Objects

[10:29-14:21] Animated objects will have attachment points as they use the avatar skeleton. However, the following should be kept in mind:

  • In relation to rigging to attachment points (above) – this should work for animated objects (so this could allow existing avatars rigged to attachment points and volume bones to be converted to animated objects, for example)
  • The Lab is undecided on including attachment points at this point in time in order to allow items to be attached to animated objects (or animated objects to one another). They are simply there as a part of the avatar skeleton.

General Status

[39:59-41:30] The animated objects (aka “Animesh”) project is progressing. Still no ETA on a project viewer. Vir is still working on getting the avatar skeleton to work with linksets of multiple meshes making an object.  Most of this is working, although the graphics pipeline still gets upset in places if changing objects from animated to static or vice versa at the wrong time.

Still to be done is evaluating the land impact of animated objects, deciding whether or not to implement support of attachment points now or in the future.

Given that objects already have a land impact, the current thinking is that when converted to animated objects, they will likely incur an addition LI overhead – although what this will be can only be determined in time. Hence, for the project viewer, once available, it may be an arbitrary figure, subject to adjustment.

Bakes on Mesh

[17:28-18:10] Anchor linden is making “good progress” on updating the Baking Service to support increased texture resolutions (512×512 to 1024×1024). Once this work is completed, the next step is to run performance testing on the baking service to assess how well it can support the increased resolution, and whether any additional hardware, etc., might be required in support of the increased loads.

Other Items

“Crazy Bone Scaling Animation”

[9:00-10:05] During the week #25 meeting, a bone scaling animation was demonstrated which could rescale an avatar  to huge proportions, as if it were being “blown up” / inflated. Vir looked at this and believes it is the result of storing animations in a way that’s “not normalised” and which are not being handle correctly for scaling. So while useful in the way it currently performs, the technique isn’t useful for accurately rescaling the avatar skeleton.

Hires Proxy Mesh Rigging

[16:33-16:49] This came out of the last meeting, and Beq Janus is working on a design outline for it, covering how it could supported in-world and protect mesh body creators’ intellectual property at the same time. She plans to offer the document via Google Docs, and those wishing to read it and provide feedback should e-mail her at beq.janus-at-phoenixviewer.com for access.

Mesh Uploader and LOD Options

[20:35-43:00] A suggestion was put forward to change the Level of Detail (LOD) buttons on the mesh uploader from the current “Generate” default to “Load from File” in an attempt to encourage creators to make their own, efficient, LOD files, rather than relying on the auto generation process – which is not always as efficient as custom LOD files.

Feedback was that changing the buttons would not help, but could encourage people simply to generate a single high LOD file and use that (a problem already evident when custom LOD files are used). An alternative suggestion was to remove the ability to adjust the LOD auto-generation process (so no spinners on the uploader) – so unless creators supply their own LOD files, they have to accept whatever the uploader generates for each level.

Suggested mesh uploader change that sparked a discussion

The core of the discussion in voice is below, but please refer to the video to hear it in full.

This led to a lengthy (primarily text) discussion about how to encourage creators to use their own sensible and custom LODs, which is interspersed with other topics. Some of the idea offered by users at the meeting were:

  • Making customer LOD uploads cheaper than if generating them through the uploader
  • Offering similar incentives to encourage creators reduce their high-end poly counts and not fudge their low-end LODs
  • Improving the preview option in the uploader to better represent LOD sampling
  • Adding a field on the marketplace similar to the Land Impact one but for Display Weight on worn meshes (on the basis that a high display weight can be indicative of poor LOD usage), and in theory encourage creators to be more efficient in their use / provision of LOD files
  • Have a render meta mode like physics, that shows the quality of the LODs as a colour map (e.g. look at the volumetric relationship between the LODs on the basis that a good LOD should hold volume)
  • Instructional videos from Torley – although Medhue Simoni has a 3-part series on LODs: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

In Brief

  • [14:52-15:36] The link on the SL wiki Rigging Fitted Mesh page to download the avatar skeleton is currently broken.
  • [19:04-20:22] Inverse Kinematics via LSL function with global position – this has been suggested a number of times. While noting it would be useful (it might, for example, enable an animation to make it appear as if an avatar is opening a door when standing before it), Vir stated it has not received in-depth thought at the Lab in terms of being implemented or how it would work, given the server currently doesn’t know where the joints in an avatar are, so it introduces a level of complexity as to how things would be handled.
  • As most people know, initially accessing Aditi is a case of submitting a support ticket. Inventory is now merged between Agni (the Main grid) and Aditi around 24 hours after initially logging-in to the latter (a merge process is run every day for all accounts which have been logged into since the last run). However, it now appears that changing your SL password can break your Aditi access, requiring a further support ticket.
  • [43:09-end] Discussion on copybotting, policies, banning, etc., which threads through to the end of the meeting, and split between Voice and chat.

Melusina’s Absences in Second Life

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

“Absence,” Melusina Parkin states in introducing her exhibition, Absences, at Nitroglobus Roof Gallery, “is a negative concept: it means that something should be there and it doesn’t. So, when we look at an empty place – a room, a seashore, a road or even a chair – we can’t avoid thinking of something or somebody who has been or will be there. That’s even more true when a world, including nature and landscape, is entirely made by humans, like Second Life.”

Absences is a set of twelve images on this theme, presented in Melusina’s familiar approach of offering a macro-like study, each scene a single point of focus – a beginning, not an entire story. Rather than the entire room, we are instead given an empty hanger on a hook, deserted chairs at a table, a glimpse of an empty couch facing windows without a landscape, the rumpled sheets on one side of the vacated bed, and so on. All suggest a story, of a presence lost but still felt; of  time when two were once one, but now only the one remains, the observer, the keeper of memories.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

But are the absences we see permanent – the result of the ending of a relationship or the passing of someone close to us? Or are they temporary –  the absence felt when a lover is away for an extended period, or who has just departed for a time and with the promise of reunion in the future? Or are they the absence created by changing circumstances – the empty room symbolic of possessions packed and gone, in transit to a new home while we remain, recalling all that has happened in the now deserted spaces – and the promise of new beginnings when next we see those possessions in their new home?

“I’m not completely aware of these thoughts when I take a photograph,” Melusina notes. “But when a detail, a colour shade, a light catches my eye and pushes me to freeze it in a photo, I think it happens ’cause they suggest me an atmosphere that any word, any human presence could better express.”

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

And here is where the power of these pieces resides. Because they are each so focused, so macro in content, there is no sense  that we are being particularly directed to view any of them one way or another. Instead, each is but an opening word or line, awaiting its story to be told.

In this, we become not so much observers of each image, but playwrights, sharing each canvas with Melusina, writing stories of ending and beginnings unique to each of us, filling the page she offers us through each image. Because, and as she notes, the blank page holds so much more power than the sheet upon which words have already been written. And so these images, as evocative as they are, are made even more meaningful to each of us through our involvement in the narratives that flow from them.

Nitroglobus Roof Gallery: Absences

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SL14B: in the quiet of the weekend

SL14B Community Celebration; Inara Pey, June 2017, on Flickr SL14B Community Celebration

The excitement and the entertainment of SL14B has come and gone – but the regions still there for a while, and there’s still a fair amount to see, if you haven’t taken the time to do so before now. What’s more the regions are all now a lot quieter, offering more chances to see things, enjoy the rides and take photos. This being the case, I thought I would, as with previous years, share a handful of the exhibits I enjoyed just in case they appeal to you as well.

I’ve already covered some of the art exhibits I particularly enjoyed in the regions in The Art of SL14B, so consider this a companion article to that piece 🙂 .

Cassini’s Grand Finale – Diamond Marchant / Leeward Cruising Club

Location: SL14B Beguile

Cassini’s Grand Finale – Diamond Marchant / Leeward Cruising Club

Regular readers of this blog can perhaps guess one of the reasons I’m selecting this exhibit – my love of space exploration (and a tenuous “personal” connection to the Cassini mission). But there are other reasons as well.

One is the use of connections between the Cassini mission, the SL14B theme and the sailing. NASA’s Cassini probe has been revealing the secrets of Saturn and his moons to us for the last thirteen years, in a mission which goes back two decades to its launch – and then a further 15 years prior to that. So now, as the mission draws towards its final conclusion in September 2017, is the time to celebrate all that it has revealed to us. At the same time, Cassini ventured forth into the great ocean of space just as mariners her on Earth have put to sea under sail, navigating its way via Venus, Earth and Jupiter to reach its eventual destination.

With links to NASA’s video and website on the Cassini mission’s Grand Finale, as well as to information on Leeward Cruising Club, this is a clean, elegant display – and one where you can catch a ride on Cassini itself. And that’s another reason to visit – Diamond’s recreation of the Cassini spacecraft is simply stunning in its level of detail.

You can also learn more about the Cassini mission in my Space Sunday series, which features regular updates on the mission, including an overview of the Grand Finale, and the first pass between the planet and its rings.

Virtual Railway Consortium – Qie Niangao

Location: SL14B Beguile

Second Life offers many means to travel – teleport, walking, running, driving, boating flying. One of the most fascinating ways to travel the Mainland is via the network of railway lines which cross-cross the lands. The Virtual Railway Consortium do much to promote and support this infrastructure, and Qie’s display at SL14B is a celebration of their work, presenting visitors with and opportunity to visit VRC locations across the mainland continents, visit their website and discover more about rail travel in SL.

Virtual Railway Consortium – Qie Niangao

Bay City Caranvanserie – Marianne McCann

Location: SL14B Spellbound

Bay City is one of the most active Mainland communities in Second Life, with Bay City itself a vibrant place to visit, with lots to see and do. Marianne McCann is one of the leading lights of the community and works tirelessly to promote it, and in bringing people together to host events from the Bay City anniversary parties through the Christmas and New Year events to the annual Mole Day – a festival focused on the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

Bay City Caravanserie – Marianne McCann

At SL14B, the Bay City exhibition invariably offers a rich insight into the community, its events and its members, and this year is no exception. Located in a design that encapsulates the community’s 1940s through 1960s theme, it’s a definite stop on any tour of SL14B. Step inside to discover more!

Venetian Masks Gallery – Shayla Sideways

Location: SL14B Spellbound

Occupying an original build by Shayla, the Venetian Masks Gallery is not alone at SL14B in celebrating the use of the mask at festivals and celebrations, but it is an informative look at the role of masks in Venetian carnivals. Inside, it encapsulates the importance of the mask, and offers some intricate examples used at carnivals and festivities, from harlequin style half masks through to intricate, full-face items. It’s another simple, elegant display set within a gorgeous design of the building which draws inspiration from the architecture of Venice.

Venetian Masks GalleryShayla Sideways

The exhibit is doubly fitting for SL14B: not only does it celebrate the use of masks in carnivals, it also reminds us that within Second Life, we have the mask of our avatar to offer us the freedom to express ourselves and our desires and creativity free from the demands of the physical world, allowing our imaginations to take flight as they will; unfettered and  – often times – in full career!

Continue reading “SL14B: in the quiet of the weekend”

Lab blogs on recent billing / transaction failures

On Monday, June 26th, 2017 many Second Life users encountered issues  when trying to purchase Linden Dollars or purchase goods via the SL Marketplace following a period of scheduled maintenance and updates to the billing system. These incidents were escalated to the Lab, resulting in a further period of unscheduled maintenance, during which time payment processing was suspended, which itself had some knock-on impact.

Some of these issues were still being felt on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017. However, Xiola Linden took time out to blog about what has been happening, in which she provides the following update on the situation:

After some intensive troubleshooting that – despite our best efforts – took longer than we’d have liked, the base cause of these failed transactions was resolved as of 3:51PM PDT on the same day. However, we still have the task of refunding the thousands of failed transactions to the impacted users ahead of us. A large number of Lindens across several departments have been coming in early and staying late between Monday and today to fulfil that responsibility to our users. Your patience is greatly appreciated, and we hope to complete the work as quickly as possible.

We’ll post an update to this blog as soon as we have more information to pass along. Our support agents on the phone lines and live chat do not have any additional information to provide at this time. Support cases which have already been submitted will be answered once this situation has been resolved.

Xiola goes on to note that as a result of the issues “Shrek ears” are being worn by Lab staff  – a reference to April Linden’s May 10th blog post about a bit of a SNAFU with Place Pages, in which April explains:

We encourage people to take risks and push the limits of what we think is possible with technology and virtual worlds. It helps keep us flexible and innovative. However… sometimes things don’t work out the way they were planned, and things break. What we do for penance is what makes us unique.

Around the offices (and in-world!) we have sets of overly sized green ears. If a Linden breaks the grid, they may optionally, if they choose to, wear the Shrek Ears as a way of owning their mistake.

If we see a fellow Linden wearing the Shrek Ears, we all know they’ve fessed up, and they’re owning their mistake. Rather than tease them, we try to be supportive. They’re having a bad day as it is, and it’s a sign that someone could use a little bit of niceness in their life.

At the end of the day, the Linden takes off the Shrek Ears, and we move on. It’s now in the past, and it’s time to learn from our mistakes and focus on the future … If you see a Linden wearing them, please know that’s their way of saying sorry, and they’re really having a bad day.

Posts of this nature, explaining what went wrong and why (and, where possible steps being taken to try to ensure there are no  – or at least few – repeats) are an important part of reassuring users and shining a light on just how complex a beast SL can be when things do go wrong.

In that vein, I’m still hoping we’ll get one of April’s informative blog posts on concerning the June 14th log-in issues (although I appreciate she and the Ops team likely have their hands full right now!).  but in the meantime, the “Shrek ears” notes remind us that those who work at the Lab are no different from the rest of us – something we can at times lose sight of in our own frustrations when things go wrong.

Second Pride: celebrating diversity in Second Life

Second Pride

Currently taking place through until Sunday, July 2nd, 2017 is the 12th edition of Second Pride, celebrating diversity in Second Life, and the LGBTQ, gay and straight communities – and “In Between or anything you want to be”, in the words of the organisers. This year’s event has the theme Resist, Rise Up, Be Proud.

Taking place on the Second Pride region, the event has plenty to offer: shopping, music, dancing, amusement rides, lounges and cafés, an oriental themed garden, and more, all in support of a number of charities and non-profits (donation kiosks can be found through the region, and there are two special non-profits donations stores in the south-west corner of the shopping area).

The shopping event includes home and garden decor designers Apple Fall, N4RS,  T L C Home Decor, Sources, RJD, Consignment, The Artist Shed, DJ/SF ( Shutterfield), InZane Design and Unkindness; fashion designers S’wear by Lapointe & Bastchild, GABRIEL, MIND, PowerDesign, RNR, RGDW, Jackhammer Gear for Men, DMG, [SM], RedAngel, and DnL. Many of the designers are offering discounted items to attendees, and there are also opportunities to pick-up various free items during the event.

Second Pride Gardens

You can catch-up with the schedule of entertainment any time of day, and find out more about the event through the following links:

With apologies for Kahvy Smith for my tardiness in getting this out.