Bjørn Laurin departs Linden Lab for HTC Vive

Courtesy of Linden Lab

Bjørn Laurin, the former Vice President of Product at Linden Lab, has departed the company to join HTC Vive, where he is involved with Viveport, the company’s app store for Virtual Reality experiences.

Bjørn joined Linden Lab in March 2015 – although it passed almost unnoticed at the time. I personally didn’t catch it until a passing comment from Don Laabs (Danger Linden), at that time the Lab’s Senior Director of Product, whilst he was being interviewed at SL12B that year. That led me to provide a very quick outline biography for Bjørn.

Whilst his remit as VP of Product covered all three of the Lab’s platforms and applications – Second Life, Sansar and Blocksworld – over the course of his roughly two-and-a-half years at Linden Lab, Bjørn perhaps became most closely identified with Sansar. He was generally present at physical world events where the Lab sought to promote the platform. He was also, for a time, one of the “regulars” from the Lab who would hop into Sansar to join community  meet-ups and product meetings there.

Bjørn Lauren, the Lab’s former Vice President of Product (l), and fellow Swede, Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg, in the basement of the Lab’s San Francisco office. Credit Dean Takahashi

In this latter capacity, he became one of the popular Lab reps (alongside Ebbe Altberg and Jason Gholston (Widely Linden)) for his willingness to offer broad-ranging views and comments on Sansar’s direction, upcoming releases and ideas being discussed for the platform back at the Lab.

Nor was his time restricted to meeting people in Sansar. Ahead of the launch of the platform’s open Creator Beta at the end of July 2017, Bjørn, together with  Jason (Widely Linden), sat down with Sansar and SL users to discuss the new platform and explain some of the thinking behind its evolution, as well as looking a little further down the road. It’s also not unfair to say that he has been an enthusiastic adopter of consumer-focused VR, something which tended to become very evident in even brief conversations with him, so his move to HTC Vive would appear to be a good fit.

I actually first became curious about Bjørn’s status at the Lab in mid-January, 2018, when I noticed his biographical notes had been removed from the Lab’s corporate website shortly after Peter Gray had dropped me a line to say he would be departing the Lab for pastures new.  At the time, I reached out to the Lab through various channels to try to ascertain whether Bjørn had left the company, but without success (someone – and my apologies to them as I forget who – had pinged me in late 2017 to ask if I knew whether or not he was still with that Lab – as there was no change in his status on the Lab’s corporate pages at the time, I took it to mean he was still with the company back then). According to LinkedIn, Bjørn took up his new position at HTC Vive some time around the end of January / beginning of February 2018.

Currently, there has been no nomination to the role of VP of Product at the Lab. However, it might be that Paul Chen, who has been with the company since the end of 2014, may have inherited Bjørn’s role. He is now listed on the Lab’s management page as Head of Product and Business operations – a role he moved to in October 2017, and which he describes in part as being, “Building and operating the next generation of virtual worlds, overseeing the development, planning and execution of Sansar.

Linden Lab’s senior management team, February 2018

While I didn’t know him particularly well, Bjørn always came over as very personable, friendly and with something of a wry sense of humour. He was always hugely enthusiastic about Sansar’s potential and Second Life’s future. I wish him all the best for his new role at HTC Vive.

 

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2018 SL UG updates #8/1: server, viewer

Flying Coyote River; Inara Pey, January 2018, on Flickr Flying Coyote Riverblog post

Server Deployments

As usual, please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest updates.

There was no deployment to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, February 20th, again leaving it on the same server release as weeks #6 and #7: 18#18.01.17.511913. as the channel was restarted in week #7, there was no rolling restart this week.

All three of the major RC channels should receive a new server maintenance package on Wednesday, February 21st. Release 18#18.02.12.512536 should hopefully improve (if not resolve) an odd viewer crash situation some users have experienced. At the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, February 20th, Simon Linden described it thus:

The server is doing some better checking on update data it sends to the viewer. We saw a very odd situation a week or two ago where the region was sending odd data and viewers would crash immediately. It went away after we restarted the region, and we think it was some memory corruption … FWIW, the server was sending a value of zero for a prim-code … which is totally invalid … There were also some other invalid data (like a zero’ed UUID) so my theory was memory corruption.

We didn’t have any other smoking guns. That region was fine after restarting, or when we tried our own copy. It was one of those mystery bugs, which we sometimes get since SL is so big and complex. We don’t know why it got that way, or how to make it happen again. we ended up making both the region and the viewer more robust. The underlying problem is still there and, assuming it happens again, will still cause problems.

(See also: BUG-214564.)

SL Viewer

There have been no updates to the viewer in the current official pipelines thus far, leaving them as per the end of week #7:

  • Current Release version  5.1.1.512121, dated January 26, promoted February 7 – formerly the Voice Maintenance RC.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Media Update RC viewer version 5.1.2.512574, February 15.
    • Nalewka Maintenance viewer version 5.1.2.512522, February 14.
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer version 3.7.28.300847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Region Crossing Issues Investigation

As noted over the last few weeks, user Joe Magarac (animats) has been digging into the viewer code handling region crossings in an attempt to improve avatar handing  when seated on objects and looking at the “partial unsit” issue (when the avatar becomes visual detached from a vehicle on a region crossing, but acts as if still attached (e.g. appearing seated, with any attempt to stand causing a viewer crash. Information pertaining to his effects can be found at the following location:

He now believes he has an extrapolation fix for unsits at region boundaries, which could be appearing in a future Firestorm release.

In addition, he believes he has now isolated the cause of the “partial unsit” issue as being a network bottleneck issue, and is confident he can recreate the problem simply by “overloading” his network connection by running multiple net-intensive operations in the background (resulting in packets being lost or arriving out-of-order), or by forcing packet loss.

Rather than using RLV(/a) to address this problem as a workaround, he’s now looking at using a “scripted seatbelt” – essentially a scripted attachment which can detect a partial unsit, and teleport the avatar to the last known “good” position for the vehicle, attempting to deliver the avatar 3m above the vehicle, which might make it possible for the user to then re-sit. It’s not a total solution, particularly if the vehicle has been handed-off OK and is continuing along its path, but as Simon Linden noted, at least it puts the avatar (hopefully) in the vicinity of the vehicle. And as was also acknowledged in the meeting, anything more direct is likely going to require the Lab find resources to bang on the region crossing code in both simulators and in the viewer.