SL project updates week 37/1: week #36 region return issues

Mother Road; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrMother Roadblog post

Server Deployments for Week #37

As always, please refer to the server release thread for updates and the latest news.

  • On Tuesday, September 12th, 2017, the Main (SLS) channel was updated with the same server maintenance package,17#17.09.01.508236, as deployed to the BlueSteel and LeTigre RCs in week #36. It is described as comprising internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, September 13th, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • LeTigre and Magnum should receive a new server maintenance package, 17#17.09.08.508350 containing some internal HTTP fixes, described by Rider Linden as being, “pretty deep in the internals mostly having to do with how the server handles callbacks. [They]  mostly have to do with an issues on the response event. There was a rare case that could cause a crash.”
    • BlueSteel (and the smaller Cake RC) should receive a new server maintenance package, 17#17.09.08.508343, comprising some internal simulator changes.

Week #36 Region Return Issues

Following the RC deployments on Wednesday, September 6th, a number of regions across the grid experienced widespread object returns, resulting multiple forum threads (see here for an example). While some of the reports pointed a finger at the Magnum RC deployment as the cause, issues were also experienced on regions on other simulator channels as well.

The returns were triggered by objects within the affected regions having their physics shapes changed. This resulted in many objects undergoing an increase in their LI, prompting the returns as they exceed region / parcel allowances (see BUG-134270, and BUG-134271) and also meant that some objects which remained in-world, or which were placed out again by their owners could not longer be navigated by avatars (e.g. doorways appeared to be invisibly blocked, stairways couldn’t be climbed).

Commenting on the issue during the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, September 12th, Oz Linden stated:

The problem is pretty well understood, and we’re working on it… it’s actually been around for a long time, but some bad luck has triggered it a couple of times lately it’s a timing thing, and the window where it can happen is narrow … It can happen on any restart, but only if there are other simultaneous back-end problems; fortunately, those are usually rare – or rather, they had some root causes in common.

We do have a change in progress that we think will prevent that kind of large-scale returns … or at least that particular way of triggering them.

One of the critiques in this situation has been the apparent lack of response to the issue by the Lab – and it is one that could have perhaps benefited from a blog post or a response through one of the forum threads to the effect that the matter had been noted and the underlying cause being looked into. Responding to similar criticism made during the SUG meeting, Oz also said, “Actually, I just came from a meeting in which we were discussing how to respond more quickly to things like that on the forums.” Hopefully, the discussions will result in more positive responses to major issues raised through the forums in future.

Week #36 Outage

Week #36 also saw a further significant outage with Second Life services involving the platform, log-in services and so on. So far, there has been no definitive explanation as to what happened, but hopefully a post-mortem blog post will be forthcoming from April Linden or one of the Ops team in the near future.

SL Viewer

On Monday, September 11th, the Maintenance RC viewer updated to version 5.0.8.328951.

The Wolfpack RC updated on Tuesday, September 12th to version 5.0.8.328990.  This viewer is functionally identical to the release viewer, but includes additional back-end logging “to help catch some squirrelly issues”.

The rest of the official viewer pipeline remains unchanged from the end of week #36:

  • Current Release version 5.0.7.328060, dated August 9, promoted August 23 – formerly the Maintenance RC
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Alex Ivy 64-bit viewer, version 5.1.0.508209, dated September 5
    • Voice RC viewer, version 5.0.8.328552, dated September 1
  • Project viewers:
  • 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.

Environment Enhancement Project

Rider Linden has recently been pulled away from the Environment Enhancements Project (EEP, aka “Windlight updates”). However, he notes that he is making progress on the viewer side of things. Commenting on his current work with the project, Rider said:

The changes I’m making right now are adding some new classes that can handle the .settings assets. I’m wiring them into the environment on the viewer side. I’m trying to clean up the entire environment manager and the location that the windlight parameters are used/calculated/stored as I go (currently it is spread across about 1/2 a dozen source files for skys alone.).”

He also noted that he has yet to start on the scripted support for EEP, and it is likely that both the new Windlight assets and a project viewer will appear before the new scripting capabilities make their appearance. Quite when the assets and viewer will appear isn’t certain, and Oz Linden noted that there is a certain amount of infrastructure work to be done in connection with EEP.

In Brief

  • There has been some criticism of the server release notes being somewhat vague (e.g. “internal fixes”), the reason given for this is that the Lab prefers to be obscure about some changes rather than offering potential clues on possible griefing vectors / fixes for griefing vectors.
  • The keen-eyed may have noticed that the number of server release packages has changed, from ##.##.##.3##### to ##.##.##.5#####. The “5” signifies the package has been built on the Lab’s new simulator build system, with the increase made to avoid possible collisions between build versions.
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Gentle Breezes in Second Life

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezes – click any image for full size

Having opened in August 2017, Rosy Highwater’s Gentle Breezes is the perfect antidote to inclement weather and the approach of winter – or if you’re in the southern hemisphere, the perfect promise of summer – and a chance to wander carefree, simply enjoying the freedom to be.

A Homestead region, Gentle Breezes has been laid out with an eye for detail, and love of nature. From the sandy beaches up through the wooded hills, everything is pretty much perfect for setting the mind at ease and encouraging feet (and camera lens!) to roam. It’s a place for the photographer, the romantically inclined and those seeking escape for life’s weight.

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezes

Surrounded by rolling hills and peaks which rise from sandy shores, Gentle Breeze presents itself as a small isle sitting in a channel between two larger islands. It is close enough to one of the latter to suggest that once upon a time, they may have been joined but overtime, the sea has had its way, cutting a path between them. Taken as a whole, the isle and hills around it – as high as some are – give the impression they may have all at some point in distant pre-history been the ring wall for the caldera of an ocean volcano which once pushed its head above the surrounding seas only to fall extinct and, over the aeons, have those seas erode away the weaker point of the crater walls, flooding the space within.

Visitors arrive towards the centre of the region, on the beach forming the lower part of the island, and which faces out to the west and south. Behind this, the hills of the island form a gentle curve from the east around to the north, casting rocky shoulders down to the sands below. The beach is split into three by channels running outwards from where water tumbles from the rocks of the hills, and it is on the central tongue of sand between the two channels that visitors initial land.

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezes

With waves lapping against it, the beach here offers an arc of places to sit and cuddle or chat looking out over the waters of the bay. Two wooden walkways reaching out over the waters separating it from the sands to the north and south. The latter is as big as the middle tongue of sand, and is home to a pier-top beach hut built over the waters, offering the active a little exercise in scrambling up to it it’s flat deck. Those preferring a more relaxed time can sit as watch from the rowing boat moored by the pier, or from the other cuddle and seating points scattered across the beach.

A path marked by wooden boards offers a way up the slope of the hills, leading to the first of the cottages and cabins which share the upper reaches of the island with trees and flowers. As it does so, the path passes between great slabs of rock reaching out from the hills like a protective wall, the sand within their arms gently giving way to grass, while a wind-bent tree offers a modest amount of shade to an old rowing boat converted into a lover’s lounger beneath its bent back.

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezes

The cabin at the top of the hill is cosily furnished and offers a taste of a simple life – bees for fresh honey, and an outdoor bath. A footpath runs southwards from the cabin, under an arch and to a lookout point overlooking the larger of the island’s two waterfalls and the hidden delight of a hot tub nestled at the foot of the cliffs. On the hill beyond the falls sit two more cabins, each simply furnished. More sitting and cuddle spots can be found spread between and around them, both in the open and under the shade of trees, while a second hot tub overlooks the southern end of the island.

The easiest way to reach the northern end of the island is over the board walk from the middle tongue of beach. This gives access to a set of wooden stairs which climb the cliffs to a brightly-painted beach house offering a grand view out over the island. A pair of wind turbines stand sentinel-like behind the beach house, and further away through the long grass, stone steps offer a way down to the foot of the smaller of the two waterfalls, and a raft floating gently on the water there.

Gentle Breezes; Inara Pey, September 2017, on FlickrGentle Breezes

Gentle Breezes is truly a beautiful location – even now I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the details awaiting discovery – keep an eye out, for example for Rosy’s use of a sculpture by Silas Merlin to represent children playing on the beach. The setting is completely by a perfectly balanced ambient sound scape and for those so minded, a nicely considered chill-out music stream.

But there is also something more here as well. With its rugged hills, gentle beaches and offshore lighthouse, Gentle Breeze offers a remind of Rosy’s equally stunning Black Basalt Beach, which was open from 2013 through 2016, and about which I wrote in August 2013. For those of us who recall the latter, Gentle Breeze further offers a wonderful sense of memory whilst very much remaining its own landscape.

With thanks, once again, to Shakespeare and Max for the tip-off.

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