2018 SL UG updates #12/1: Simulator User Group

Sanctuary; Inara Pey, February 2018, on FlickrSanctuaryblog post

Server Deployments

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

  • There was no deployment / restart to the Main (SLS) channel on Tuesday, March 6th, leaving it on server maintenance package 18#
  • The main RC channel should be updated as follows on Wednesday, March 21st:
    • The BlueSteel RC should receive a new server maintenance package. 18# is said to comprise “internal fixes”.
    • The LeTigre and Magnum regions should receive a new server maintenance package. 18#, comprising internal fixes, additional logging to help diagnose an issue with in-world HTTP servers returning HTTP 503 (BUG-214702); add two new capabilities: one to request IMs that were delivered to the requesting agent while the agent was off-line; one to request the most up to date list of abuse report categories.

New Capabilities

The new capabilities in 18# for Magnum and LeTigre are the first part of a set of server an viewer updates.

  • The new IM cap is to overcome of off-line IMs failing to be delivered when a user logs in. Currently, these are delivered via UDP, whether or not the viewer is ready to receive them. With the new capability (once grid-wide and implemented within the viewer), the viewer will request off-line IMs, which the server will package and deliver to the viewer via HTTP.
  • The new abuse report cap will replace the need for the viewer to have AR categories hard-coded into it. Once fully deployed, and a viewer update released, it will mean the view will request the current list of AR categories from the server when starting up, making the management of the list easier, and hopefully reducing the number of ARs filed under outdated categories.

SL Viewer Updates

There have been no updates to the current selection of official viewer at the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version, dated February 23rd, promoted March 1st – formerly the Nalewka Maintenance RC.
  • Release channel cohorts
  • Project viewers:
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Region Crossings

As noted over the last few weeks, user Joe Magarac (animats) has been digging into region crossings, particularly looking at the issue of avatars getting unseated from vehicles (See Firestorm JIRA FIRE-21915, this SL Forum thread, and this Google document, plus my last update here for more).

His latest approach involves adding a script to a vehicle effectively turns off physics and freezes the vehicle when received by a new region until it can confirm the associated avatar data has arrived (using llGetObjectDetails (avatar, [OBJECT_ROOT]) to check for the presence of avatars). On confirming the avatars are present, the script check the vehicle is allowed to resume.

“The typical freeze time is 40-120ms in addition to the regular region crossing delay, so you barely notice.” Joe told me in discussing the approach, which he has now made available to those wishing to test it using a simple motorbike build. “For double region crossings, the vehicle should slow down, although not by too much. I’ve also tried the same script in aircraft, and it seems to work.”

Joe continued, “Right now, I want to see if it ever fails. Issues are logged to an external server, so I can see what’s going on. I’d also love to get some of the SL motorcycle clubs involved in testing , so I’m giving out these test bikes. However, if anyone wants to test the script with their own vehicles, they can contact me for a copy, and I’ll be happy to work with them.”

Again, this workaround isn’t intended to solve all region crossing issues (e.g. it won’t stop “rubber banding” or address motion prediction – which the Lab sees as probably too aggressive), but it should help with full or partial avatar unsits; so those interested in given it a go are welcome to drop Joe a line.

Other Items

SL Messaging Layer

“I’m looking at the messaging layer; that seems to be the problem behind a lot of laggy things,” Simon Linden stated during the SUG meeting, revealing some of his recent work.

“There’s been a lot of learning. That code is complicated and there’s actually a lot of wisdom written into it, but I’ve found it doesn’t really do the best things when packet loss increases. The most basic thing I’ve found is that the estimated times based on pings used for time-outs can grow too fast: like on a 100ms connection, it can jump up to using 5-10 seconds. There’s a balancing act between resending data, and thinking it needs tons of time to get there.

“It really goes bad if a ping packet or the reply gets lost. SL just uses the same time-out for each retry – that’s another part that could be smarter.”

Defining this as an “interesting” part of the code, he’s reasonably certain it could be doing things better – and in doing so, could also help with region crossings and overall updates.

He also noted that also the SL bandwidth code is broken. This appears largely due to the volume of traffic going over the HTTP caps and via the CDN(s), which isn’t counted. “So I’m pretty sure we clog up a narrow pipeline more than we should,” he added.

The Isle of May in Second Life

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of May – click any image for full size

Update, November 26: Isle of May has re-opened for winter 2018 – read here for more.

Update, July 6th: Isle of May has “closed for now”. SLurl links have therefore been removed from this article.

Isle of May, located on the north side of the outer Firth of Forth, is a tiny island – less than 2 kilometres long and under half a kilometre wide – sitting 8 km off the Scottish coast. A rugged finger-like uplift of basalt, it has no permanent human residents today but is managed by Scottish Natural Heritage as a National Nature Reserve, and home to over 285 bird species, including puffins, kittiwake, guillemots, razorbills, shags and fulmars, and from October through Easter, is a home for seal pups.

It is also now the inspiration for a new region design in Second Life. Called, appropriately enough, Isle of May. Designed by Jade Koltai and her partner, Serene Footman (of FurillenKhodovarikha and La Digue du Braek fame), the region is a beautifully conceived and executed design.

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

Compressing something even as small as Isle of May into Second Life isn’t easy, but within this design, Jade and Footman have captured the essence of the island perfectly. As rugged as the original, it is similarly cut by deep gorges, and offers a hint of antiquity – the original had settlements dating back to the Bronze Age, and was the site of one of the earliest Christian churches in Scotland, was a site of pilgrimage and, in medieval times, home to a Benedictine community – through the ruins located on the north-western headland.

Some of the island’s famous landmarks are imaginatively represented. Its two lighthouses and unmistakeable fog horn, for example, have been combined into a single lighthouse and buildings on the north-eastern headland of the region (check the map of the island inside the building alongside the lighthouse). A little artistic license is also taken with the geography; this Isle of May is cut into three islands linked by wooden bridges. However, while the Rona peninsula of the original is almost separate from the rest, the physical Isle of May is but a single rocky mass.

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

This setting also has a lot of foliage in the form of trees and bushes than the original boasts (it being largely grassland atop its basalt rock plateaus). But the trees and bushes help to give the couple’s vision more of a unique look and feel – although at times, the foliage can make several of the paths winding down the cliffs a little hard to find when searching at avatar eye-level.

These paths offer multiple routes down to the islands’ rough coast. Some lead to shale and rock “beaches” and coves, others form paths down to shoreline buildings – here a cottage, there an old working hut on a pier, now converted into a cosy snug …

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

Jade and Serene note that while the original has no permanent human residents, they imaged their Isle of May to be home to a small community of artists and photographers – hence the large house dominating the main plateau, and the aforementioned cottage and converted pier hut. And it works perfectly.

Also well represented is the island’s avian communities are richly and diversely represented, from garden birds through to cormorants, guillemots and more, while the more usual seal pup population found on the island in winter months has been imaginatively substituted by the presence of sea otters, while dolphin and orca might be found off-shore, together with a passing trawler.

Isle of May; Inara Pey, March 2018, on FlickrIsle of May

“What we were searching for is something holistic and organic,” Serene and Jade note of the build. “For visitors, an immersive experience of being ‘in nature’ that is powerful and evocative.” With its natural look and feel, wrapped in a delightful sound scape and suited to a wide range of windlight settings, it is absolutely clear that they’ve succeeded.

With thanks to Shakespeare from dropping me the LM!


Fantasy Faire 2018: nominations for king, queen and chancellor

via Fantasy Faire

One of the features introduced to Fantasy Faire 2015 was the opportunity to nominate and then vote for the King and Queen of the Fairelands and their (strictly non-human) Chancellor. Nominations came from across all realms of fantasy, with the top five for the positions of king and queen (human or human-looking nominations only) and chancellor, went forward for a public vote-off during the course of the Faire.

The very first king, queen and chancellor of the Fairelands were, respectively, Havelock Vetinari and Granny Weatherwax and Greebo the cat, all of which marked a fitting tribute to the late Sir Terry Pratchett, who passed away in March 2015, just ahead of that year’s Faire.

In 2016 the honours went to The Goblin King, October Daye and The Last Unicorn.

In 2017, the Faire elected king Severus Snape, queen Leia Organa and Rhiow the Wizard Cat as chancellor.

The King, Queen and Chancellor of Fantasy Faire 2017

These last three have now lain down the insignia of their high office, and as Fantasy Faire 2018 approaches, Fairelands Folk are once again being asked nominate those they feel should be elected king, queen and chancellor for this year’s event. You can nominate your choices through the form below (or if you prefer, go directly to the same form on the Fantasy Faire website.

Characters should be chosen from works of fantasy – written, graphical texts or film, TV or radio. Fairy tales, high fantasy, steampunk, urban fantasy, vampire sagas (and others) will all be classified as fantasy. The only major requirements are that nominations for king and queen must be human (or human-type) characters, whilst nominations for chancellor are restricted to non-human (or non-human type) characters.

Note: the 2017 king, queen and chancellor are not eligible for re-election this year.

Nominations close at midnight SLT at the end of Saturday, April 21st.

How It Works

  • The top five nominees for each role – king, queen and chancellor – will be selected for a final vote-off.
  • During the Faire, people will have the opportunity to vote for their favourites.
    • There is a fee payable for voting, but all money raised will go to Relay for Life.
  • The winners will be announced at the Fantasy Faire Live Auction on Sunday, April 29th, 2018.

Additional Links

Within Storm’s Country of the Mind in Second Life

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

Untitled, the latest installation by Storm Septimus, is an extraordinary build. Deeply personal, a visit to is to take a journey into Storm’s Country of the Mind; a reflection of her thoughts and feelings around disability and illness.

Like The Void before it (see here), Untitled is something of a dark place – if not literally, then certainly in tone. As such, it may not appeal to everyone – but for those who visit, I urge patience; this is a build rich in symbolism and metaphor.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

A visit begins on a rocky platform high in the sky, home to a desk filled with syringes, prescription containers for pills, and – other items which might in certain situations be associated with mental illness: a knife and bottles of alcohol. A denuded (dead?) tree stands over the desk, which has a single flower, a small tractor and an old toy sitting with it; all of them metaphors for life and death.

An ornate mirror stands close by, a touch teleport offering the way to the second island (or to the Lower Garden – although I recommend a trip to the second island ahead of any jump to the Garden. Rising from a sea of roiling cloud, this island is a place of vivid symbolism, in places mindful of Invictus (see here). Central to it is a sea of blood surrounding a smaller island, home to the mirror teleport. Scattered around the rim of the island are expressions of illness: old-style hospital screens, wheelchairs, bed frames and theatre lights.  Elsewhere are the wrecks of ships, old watchtowers, trees twisted in the shapes of strange creatures, while atop a high plateau sit images of death – tomb stones, broken limbs of mannequins, all of which is crowned by a small chapel.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

The Lower Garden reveals that the landing point sits upon the shoulders and upper backs of four huge statues, semi-bound by chains – a further symbol of being held prisoner to illness and disability. A bridge spans the gap between this lower garden and the base of the second island, revealing that latter is in part held aloft by two huge creatures. Troll-like in form, they are held in place by great chains, hands locked in place in great cast iron restraints, further holding them in place. Between and either side of them, blood rises in three streams, feeding the pool above.

Scattered across these landscapes are diaries waiting to be discovered and read. They offer further personal insights into dealing with illness, disability, doubt and depression. There are also places to sit and reflect on what is being presented in the open, and for those who explore carefully, other teleport points. One of these, deep within the island, suggests a place of sanctuary – an inner sanctum of the mind, a place filled with small comforts: a favourite chair, a select of treasured books, and open vault of memories – although a little darkness remains in the form of a centipede wrapped around the glass bell containing the beauty of a flower.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

“I wanted to highlight the emotional effects of disability,” Storm says of the installation. “I know I could have gone so many ways with that [but] the build ended up being that lonely, desolate, hopeless place of despair in my mind.” And indeed, the emotional power contained within the installation is inescapable; it permeates throughout every element, presenting a powerfully immersive environment which, dark though it may be, offers considerable food for thought.

When visiting, there are a few things to keep in mind: firstly, you’ll need to have Advanced Lighting Model enabled in order to fully appreciate the more subtle touches in the installation – such as the reflections in the teleport mirrors. Also be sure to try touching things as you explore the installation; some – like the diaries – are interactive. Also, be aware this build has a lot going on, and viewer performance can be very variable throughout it.

Storm Septimus, Untitled – LEA 28

Storm has also passed an invitation to disability  support groups to display information about their work in the Lower Garden. So, if you represent such a group and would like  to have your information displayed there, please drop Storm a line.

SLurl Details