April Linden blogs the weekend’s DDOS

Graph showing “normal” log-ins over the course of a day compared with Sunday, October 28th. Credit: April Linden

In my week #44/1 User Group update, I noted that April Linden had indicated the issues Second Life users experienced with the platform on Sunday, October 28th through Monday October 29th, 2018 were the result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack.

April has now issued a blog post expanding on her original forum comments, with the full text of her post reading:

Hello amazing Residents of Second Life!

A few days ago (on Sunday, October 28th, 2018) we had a really rough day on the grid. For a few hours it was nearly impossible to be connected to Second Life at all, and this repeated several times during the day.

The reason this happened is that Second Life was being DDoSed.

Attacks of this type are pretty common. We’re able to handle nearly all of them without any Resident-visible impact to the grid, but the attacks on Sunday were particularly severe. The folks who were on call this weekend did their best to keep the grid stable during this time, and I’m grateful they did.

Sunday is our busiest day in Second Life each week, and we know there’s lot of events folks plan during it. We’re sorry those plans got interrupted. Like most of y’all, I too have an active life as a Resident, and my group had to work around the downtime as well. It was super frustrating.

As always, the place to stay informed of what’s going on is the Second Life Grid Status Blog. We do our best to keep it updated during periods of trouble on the grid.

Thanks for listening. I’ll see you in-world!

April Linden
Second Life Operations Team Lead

Shug Maitland kept an eye on the ups and downs of log-ins during the DDOS attack via https://etitsup.com/slstats/ through Sunday, October 28th, 2018 and into the early hours of Monday, October 29th, sending me the above screen capture

There not a lot more that can be added – DDOS attacks are an unfortunate fact of life, and while the Lab has learned to try to deal with them without impacting the normal flow of activities for Second Life users, it’s also unfortunate that at time this cannot always be the case.

Thanks once again to April for the update on the situation.

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Return to a Meadow Rose in Second Life

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose – click any image for full size

It’s been almost 18 months since my last visit to Meadow Rose, the evocative region designed by Rye Falmer. A lot has happened since then, so a return visit has been on the cards for some time.

The biggest change is that Meadow Rose has relocated. Rye had time away from SL, so the move may have been necessitated by that, but it has given him the opportunity to expand the estate with a second Homestead region directly adjoining it, which he calls Meadow Rose Glen. Surrounded by tall off-sim mountains, and with sandy roads and tracks, both Meadow Rose and Meadow Rose Glen offer a charming, beautifully landscaped setting that will easily please the eye and camera and offer the heart a touch of romance.

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose

There is much about the “new” Meadow Rose that draws upon previous incarnations that make a return visit as much a delight as a first-time discovery. Like returning to a place in which happy times were once spent, the region includes elements from past builds that stir memories and give a warm feeling of familiarity, even while the overall layout of the expanded estate offers much more than was previously the case.

This is perhaps most noticeable with the main dwellings within the region. Taking a distinct Tudor lean, they perhaps initially suggest a period setting. However – as I noted when writing about my previous visit to Meadow Rose, there is more than enough evidence surrounding them to make it clear that while the buildings are period, the setting is modern.

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose

Meadow Rose is also a place that is distinctly Adult in theme. D/s / BDSM is part of the estate’s offerings, although by-and-large this is not so in-yer-face as to put the sensitive off. Rather the reverse, in fact: with one or two exceptions, most of the Adult aspects of social interaction here and safely tucked out-of-sight, such as in the cellars beneath the manor house.

There are other elements here that remind those who recall Meadow Rose in its previous incarnation: the deer roaming among the wild flowers, the chapel, the castle ruins, the Romany cap and the stables. Although it should be pointed out that the latter now are part of the more adult nature of the region, offering a place where equestrian activities can be enjoyed without the use of ponies of the four-legged variety.

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose

Water played a significant role with prior designs for Meadow Rose, and this is perfectly reflected – and expanded upon here, with both Meadow Rose and Meadow Rose Glen encompassing natural inland water features whilst Meadow Rose  also includes a little coastal mooring area and boatyard. Meadow Rose Glen, meanwhile offers a counter to the old castle ruins, an intact castle setting (which again has some D/s / BDSM undertones).

Exploring the estate really is a case of arriving and then following the dusty roads and seeing where they lead. There’s no risk of getting lost, and the roadways are laid out in such a way as to carry the visitor right around and through the estate, revealing all the little touches, all the settings, all the places for sitting, dancing and romancing along the way.

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose

Back when I last wrote about Meadow Rose, I mentioned that one of the most striking aspects of the design was that it felt like a visit to one of the grand estates managed by the National Trust here in the UK, noting:

That is, lands held for generations by a family, bearing all the hallmarks of their long ownership during which the passing of time gave rise to different forms of house – castle to manor, for example – but which are now maintained for the wider appreciation of the general public, their gates and doors open to visitors to enjoy them in their natural splendour.

With the estate now expanded across two regions, this is perhaps even more true with it today; there is very much as feeling that This is the setting long occupied by a landed family that may have started life here in what are now the ruins of an old castle guarding the waters leading into the bay in which the island sits before moving eastwards to the slightly higher ground where the more imposing bulk of the intact castle lies, before moving back to the centre of the land to build the grand manor house – and then spreading outward from there as the generations passed.

Meadow Rose; Inara Pey, October 2018, on FlickrMeadow Rose

Impressive in its design, appealing in its beauty, expansive in its size, Meadow Rose is a treasure to visit. Should you enjoy your visit as much as I did, please consider making a donation towards the estate’s continuance in Second Life, and perhaps also consider contributing photos to the estate’s Flickr group.

SLurl Details

Sansar extends to Steam; Lab to end SandeX

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Tuesday, October, 30th, 2018, Linden Lab announced a significant set of changes to Sansar. In We’ve come a long way together. We can’t wait for what’s next, Landon McDowell, Linden Lab’s Chief Product Officer for Sansar, announced the Lab will, from around the start of 2019, be offering Sansar to users via the Steam gaming platform.

As Landon also goes on to explain, in order to achieve this goal, some significant changes are to be made to how Sansar operates, particularly with regards to SandEX, which is to be discontinued, and how  the process credit system work, with Landon noting:

These changes will also make the credit process for Creators far more consistent and predictable. The first change is that we will be discontinuing the Sandex as of December 4, 2018.

After that date, we will be moving to a fixed conversion rate model. Creators will continue to be able to sell their work for Sansar Dollars on the Store (and soon in experiences!). Eligible creators may convert some or all of their earned Sansar Dollar balance to US dollars at a rate of S$250 to $1, and then request a USD credit to be processed in 30 days. This matches Steam’s payment timeline.

We understand that this may have an impact on the amount of revenue returned to creators compared to the Sandex. However, we believe that in the long run our creators will significantly benefit from having access to the larger Steam user base. In addition, anyone who has created their Sansar account before December 31, 2018 will receive a legacy conversion rate of S$143 to $1 until December 31, 2019, after which the conversion rate for all accounts will be S$250 to $1.

Our automated Sansar Dollar Conversion page will not be available until January 2019. In the interim, we are committed to working with our Creators to manually process credit requests of Sansar Dollars through an email process, the details of which will soon follow.

These are significant changes which bring with them significant questions. While attempts have been made to address some of these through the Sansar Discord channel, Landon has indicated the next product meet-up, scheduled (at the time of writing) for Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 11:00 PST (not Friday, November 2nd, as quoted in the blog post) will be used as an opportunity to address and discuss questions and concerns directly.

Sansar is expanding to Steam – something LL tried with SL in 2012. Times have changed on since then, so will Sansar do better?

All told, this is an interesting move, one the Lab sees as in keeping with the aim – stated at the start of 2018 – that they wanted to start growing their consumer user base (as opposed to designer / creator users). While some have chosen to question it on the basis of Steam’s VR-capable user base (which would appear to be just 0.72% of Steam’s 90 million monthly active users), it’s important to remember that Sansar has a Desktop mode and – as Landon alludes to in his blog post – Steam users are liable to have the kind of hardware required to comfortably run Sansar.

Of course, whether or not Sansar really is ready for a consumer focused prime-time is highly debatable. It could rightly be argued that there is a lot of functionality that might be seen as essential to generating widespread user appeal that is still missing from the platform. It’s a view I’d actually agree with; but it is worth pointing out that Sansar has come a long way in the last 18 months, and some of the more recent updates, together with those planned for between now and the end of the year, stand to significantly improve Sansar’s usability even further.

2018 SL UG updates 44/1: Weekend issues

Little Havana; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrLittle Havanablog post

Unfortunately, the clock change in the UK / Europe meant I was unable to make the Simulator User Group meeting on Tuesday, October 30th.

Server Deployment Plans

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

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, October 30th, nor was the channel restarted. It remains on server release 18#18.10.04.520268, comprising internal fixes.
  • On Wednesday, October 31st, 2018, the RC channels should be updated as follows:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre will update to server maintenance package 18#18.10.25.521081, comprising internal logging fixes.
    • Magnum should be updated to server maintenance package 18.10.25.521075, also comprising internal logging fixes.
    • Snack will be updated to EEP release 18.10.24.521013.

SL Viewer

There have been two SL viewer updates to start the week:

The remaining viewers in their pipelines remain unchanged from week #43:

  • Current Release version 5.1.9.519298, dated September 5th, promoted September 26th. Formerly the Rakomelo Maintenance RC viewer – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts (please see my notes on manually installing RC viewer versions if you wish to install any release candidate(s) yourself):
    • Animesh RC viewer, version 6.0.0.520636, October 18th.
    • Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer, version 5.2.0.520057, September 28th.
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 5.1.9.519462, September 10. This viewer is functionally identical to the current release viewer, but uses BugSplat for crash reporting, rather than the Lab’s own Breakpad based crash reporting tools.
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 5.1.8.518751, released on August 20.
  • Project viewers:
    • Environmental Enhancement Project (EEP) viewer updated to version 5.1.10.520819, on October 19th.
    • 360 snapshot viewer, version 5.1.6.515934, June 6th.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status 29th November – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Weekend Issues

Shug Maitland kept an eye on the ups and downs of log-ins during the DDOS attack via https://etitsup.com/slstats/ through Sunday, October 28th, 2018 and into the early hours of Monday, October 29th, sending me this above capture

As most are aware, Sunday saw some significant issues with Second Life, with users in particular have log-in issues.

It appears the problems were directly the result of a prolonged / vicious distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack, as April Linden confirmed in the forums, stating:

Heya Folks.

I can confirm it was a DDoS attack, and yes, the folks on my team had a rough weekend.

We do our best to fight DDoSes, but this one took quite a bit more effort than normal.

I’m sorry people’s plans got interrupted over the weekend. It was a rough weekend for all of us… including those of us on this side of the grid, too.

I’ve no idea if there will be a more formal blog post on the matter or not.

In a KÖMA in Second Life

KÖMA

JadeYu Fhang has a reputation for being one of the most visually evocative artists in Second Life, her installations often plumb the depths of the human consciousness and psyche (examples: Roots and War, Everywhere and Nowhere and OpeRaAxiEty), and this is certainly the case with her latest installation, KÖMA (coma).

Billed as a “limited-time multimedia art installation”, KÖMA is at once intricate, dark, confusing, and  – perhaps ultimately – revealing.

The intricacy of the installation is apparent on arrival, as is the confusion. Panels around the sides of the region, one of them flashing and flickering slowly with individual screen-like patterns, towering high above the visitor and imparting a sense of insignificance. Clouds scurry across a void like sky, a basso rumbling filling the air. Alongside the landing point rises a strange structure, looking to be one part exotic lighting rig, two parts science-fiction drone. Screens at the base offer information on how to view the installation (in short: there’s no route or TP – you walk around the base level and level up to the upper level), while at the top is an armless female torso supporting another computer screen as its head.

KÖMA

Behind this, within the region are a set of surreal scenes. Two giant heads rise from the mirror-smooth base of the installation, a swirling mass of what appears to be rose petals caught in a frozen swirl around them to rise towards the upper platform of the installation. Supported by another of the strange devices, this platform is home to a tableau of female figures, sitting and standing amidst flicking, ghostly projections and with most facing a large screen. What appears to be filaments of lightning flashes from their eyes and arcs around some of their bodies. Below them, peculiar female forms, arms replaced by insect legs and heads by computer monitors, are arrayed while screens on the supporting device flicker with images that might be medical in nature or represent memories, while all around this scene is a further rolling booming of sound and a voice echoing a single word köma.

Central to the installation is a golden female form, apparently frozen in the act of being struck down. She is also surrounded by a pattern of rose petals, caught with filigrees of white lightning-like light, also in stasis, and few of which – perhaps tellingly – either commence or terminate in her head. On the mirror surface around her, patterns of vein-line lines drift endlessly outwards, while a close by a “rain” of flicking gold leaves falls, each one of which reveals itself to be a tiny, flicking screen when examined.

KÖMA

With the exception of the rose petals and the golden “leaves”, the majority of the installation in monochrome in nature, giving it – along with the portelling deep booms and rumbling – giving the installation its dark edge. It is also a scene reflected in the mirror-like base I mentioned, which around the kneeling figure is disturbed by drifting patterns of red lines looking like veins of blood.

But what do we make of all this? I think the clue is in the title. Comas are a medical condition filled with a certain mystique. We know what the external physical characteristics of a coma are – but what is actually going on within the victim’s head when they are within a comatose state – so often those surviving a coma and regaining their faculties suffer from post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) which affects their recall of memories – including anything their brains may have experienced whilst comatose.

KÖMA

In this light, many elements of the installation fall into place: the figures, the flashing images of figures and faces are perhaps the flicking memories or experiences the brain plays to itself whilst otherwise seemingly unresponsive to external stimuli; the strange devices become medical tech; the rose petals become blood corpuscles, vital in their role in carrying oxygen to the brain to keep it functioning and to life as a whole; the lightening-like filaments perhaps represent the flash of electrical links between synapses, and so on. So to does the figure falling to her knees perhaps represent the victim of a sudden event – a stroke or similar – collapsing, her situation triggering a comatose state as the rest of the strange figures and the echoing rumble and boom suggest the distant intrusion of medical on the comatose mind.

When interpreted in this way, the dark tones of the installation roll back, and we find ourselves immersed in an environment intended to evoke what it might be like to step into another’s coma and witness first-hand what is going on deep within the subconscious, well away from the accepted signs of neural activity and responsiveness.

KÖMA

But that is only my interpretation. You may find KÖMA speaks to you differently. It awaits your discovery.

SLurl Details

  • KÖMA (LEA 22, rated: moderate)

2018 Creepy Crawl in Second Life

Tagus Enchanted Forest; Inara Pey, September 2018, on FlickrTagus Enchanted Forest – one of the destinations for the 1028 Creepy Crawl (blog post)

Following their recent call for venues, Linden Lab announced the route for this year’s Halloween Creepy Crawl on Wednesday, October 31st, via a blog post by Xiola Linden.

The Creepy Crawl is a growing tradition whereby Lindens and Residents get dressed up in their best Halloween costumes and roam from spooky spot to spooky spot for music, dancing, and celebrating.

As Xiola has blogged, the event will take place between 10:00 and 14:00 SLT on Tuesday, October 31st, and will be moving through a number of selected venues:

So, if you fancy meeting some of those responsible for bringing us Second Life and having a little fun, conversation and maybe dancing along the way, keep this list of destinations handy on the 31st October, and drop in to any of the venues along the route!