2019 SL User Groups 9/2: Content Creation summary

Two Loons, Calas Galadhon; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrTwo Loons, Calas Galadhonblog post

The majority of the following notes are taken from the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting, held on Thursday, February 21st, 2019 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and agenda notes, meeting SLurl, etc, are usually available on the Content Creation User Group wiki page.

SL Viewer Updates

  • The BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.524670, was promoted to de facto release status on Thursday, February 28th.
  • The EEP viewer was promoted to RC status with the release of version 6.0.2.524683 on Wednesday, February 27th.

Projects

Animesh Follow-on

No update; Vir is still working on the clean-up following the inventory issues users experienced over the weekend of February 9th /10th.

Bakes on Mesh

Again, no update, other than a back-end Bake Service update is due (presumably to fix the “black skirt issue”. Once this is deployed, it should allow a resumption in progress with the viewer.

ARCTan

This is the project to re-evaluate object and avatar rendering costs to make them more reflective of the actual impact of rendering both. It has been stalled for some time and may remain so for a while.

The overall aim for this work to try to correct some inherent negative incentives for creating optimised content (e.g. with regards to generating LOD models with mesh), and to update the calculations to reflect current resource constraints, rather than basing them on outdated constraints.

In Brief

  • BUG-226427 “Root bone is not centred on avatar”: some content rigged to mRoot may appear broken in Animesh-enabled viewers. This appears to be a variation of an issue initially seen in Bento, and had been thought to have been fixed.  Vir has pulled this issue into his current viewer workload.
  • Animesh on the Marketplace: it is becoming difficult to locate genuine Animesh within the Marketplace Animated Objects category (which is being used for assorted items). A request has been informally made for a new, more Animesh-focused category / sub-category to be added, although this is more a request for the Web User Group.
    • It has also been noted that Animesh is becoming subject to keyword spamming.
  • Custom Pivot Points (BUG-37617): this had been awaiting further information, Vir to review.
  • Date of Next Meeting: The next CCUG meeting will most likely be in three weeks, on Thursday, March 21st, 2019.

A further ensemble at La Maison d’Aneli

La Maison d’Aneli: Kiana Jarman

La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, has opened its doors on its March ensemble exhibition, and once again presents the work of six very different artists, all of whom offer unique perspectives and styles.

As I didn’t manage to make a return visit to cover three of the artists in the February exhibition (the three I did write about can be found in Art and artists at La Maison d’Aneli), I’ll attempt to give a thumbnail look at all six appearing through to late March.

La Maison d’Aneli: Serena Parisi

Serena Parisi is a long-time Second Life photographer and explorer, who also appears to be well-travelled in the physical world, as the selection of her photography offered here more than demonstrates, and as she explains. “This exhibition is about my trip to Vietnam. Between smiles, laughs and emotions, my encounters with the population in an explosion of colour that characterises this country.”

Thus, across the upper level of the gallery space, and on the mezzanine above it, Serena offers 17 images of the people of Vietnam, the majority in colour  – although I did find the four presented in monochrome quite captivating. Focused on the women and children of the country, they offer fascinating portraits of work and play, happiness and, in some, that understandable wariness of having a camera pointed at you by a stranger. Tightly focused, they portray living individuals but, at the same time reveal a lot about the lifestyle of many Vietnamese people.

La Maison d’Aneli: jeaneos7

Across the lobby area on the same level, and also split between floor and mezzanine is an exhibition of avatar studies by Jean (jeaneos7), who also hails from France. The pieces here both collectively contrast and compliment Serena’s work. Contrast, simply because they are avatar studies, rather than physical world studies, and compliment in that they are also largely tightly focused on the subject such that we are drawn into the lives portrayed, even without the aid of the backdrop that some of the images additionally offer.

Avatars are also the focus of Kiana Jarman’s selection of work, located on the floor and mezzanine of the gallery’s lower level. She notes that, “Photography is like writing with light, making music with shades.” This is aptly demonstrated within many of her images; while they are focused on avatars, they provide a broader setting, offering a rich canvas on which a story or song might be written. I confess that I found some of her pieces vibrant with life and/or playfulness, and other so rich in tone and narrative, that my eye and camera were constantly drawn back to them.

La Maison d’Aneli: Kiana Jarman

Pointing out particular images in this respect is hard, and none of the pieces are titled. However, to the right of Kiana’s biography giver are two truly marvellous pieces, one above the other, that respectively offer a wonderful depth of narrative and capture the pure vitality of adventurous living. Further around the mezzanine, the sense of fun is reflected through a Queen Of Hearts like figure peering through curtains, while the elegance and beauty of the human body as reflected in the avatar is perfectly frame in the two images I’ve chosen to use as the banner image for this article.

Also on the lower level of the gallery is a mixed media presentation by Rofina Bronet, that presents her work both as an artist and as a machinima maker. This is the most eclectic of the selections presented within this exhibition, with the artwork split between expressive, almost abstract pieces, and those focused on specific avatar subjects: Bryn Oh and  Paris Obscur (JonathanDimitri Soderstrom). As well as the large images mounted on the gallery’s walls, Rofina has provided small view screens which, when clicked, will page through the images as well. To see the machinima offered as a part of the selection, make sure you have media streaming enabled in your viewer.

La Maison d’Aneli: Rofina Bronet

Rounding out this exhibition, and located in the end halls of both the upper and lower gallery spaces are displays be Reycharles and Oema.

The former presents a mix of his 2D and 3D art, the majority of which is wonderfully abstracted. While he often works with colour, manipulating it experimentally and seeing where it leads, the pieces Reycharles presents here are largely monochrome in tone. There is a wonderful feeling of some of the pieces – both 3D and 2D – having been extruded rather than being intentionly drawn / painted / formed; an organic feel that is itself utterly fascinating.

La Maison d’Aneli: Reycharles

Artist and blogger Oema, located on the lower level of the gallery, presents 14 pieces running from landscapes to avatar studies to original paintings.

I’ve always admired her work for its sense of fantasy / dream, and many of the pieces within this selection demonstrate this to the full. However, it is the studies to the right of the hall as you enter it that utterly captivated me. Each of them holds a unique beauty within what are very different styles when viewed one to the next. Each also – as with all of Oema’s work, is rich in both detail and expression of story.

La Maison d’Aneli: Oema

Taken together this is a richly diverse exhibition that is nevertheless drawn together by incidental, rather than deliberate themes, and which will be available through until late March.

SLurl Details

Maderia Springs in Second Life

Maderia Springs; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrMaderia Springs

Maderia Springs, a Homestead region designed by Thaihiti Baroque, is a curious place; so much so that while we visited it over the weekend at the suggestion of Shakespeare and Max, it’s taken me a few days to settle my thoughts and write about it. Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t be writing about it now had it not been for the fact the region I had been in the middle of blogging was summarily closed to public access by its owner literally just as I was finalising my write-up!

The reason for my having to settle my thoughts is that while Maderia Springs has plenty of photogenic elements to it, it doesn’t, at the the first glance, exactly have a feel of a cohesive whole. Oh, certainly, elements are nicely linked in places: the landing point, the waterside shack and the large central house for example, while the house across the water feeds into this setting rather nicely, as do the cattle and horses. But the region also has a feeling of being more a set of discrete vignettes, rather than an individual whole, the roads and tracks more a convenient means of connecting them rather than being part of a landscape.

Maderia Springs; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrMaderia Springs

Thus, I’ve found the region a little hard to quantify in trying to describe it. In the end I decided to treat it as it appears: a grouping of vignettes, each ideally suited to photography; sets, if you will, just awaiting their subjects. Which is not to say a wander through the region along its meandering roads is without reward. Rather the reverse, there is a lot of detail here to be enjoyed, whether it is around the aforementioned central house with its little gardens on either side and to the rear, or among the horses to the north or the wedding chapel up on one of the region’s two high points, or within the numerous little settings awaiting discovery.

Whether or not the chapel see any weddings is immaterial; its open sides and the tables and benches set with food and drink make for an ideal celebratory setting; the blossoms and doves  perfect accompaniments to the bunting and lanterns. All that is missing, perhaps, is a dance system.

Maderia Springs; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrMaderia Springs

Down from the chapel on the south side of the region are a couple of waterside settings. Both reflect a love of dogs that can be found throughout the region. One offers a simple picnic style setting with blankets and chairs and sun shades, the other is built around a small summer-house which, going by the easel and paints out on the deck stretching a finger over the water, would appear it be the getaway for an artist. This is in turn watched over from a little cottage sitting on a low hill to the west, a place where tea and refreshments can be partaken on the low-walled terrace, obtained via the van parked there.

The refreshments van reflects the fact that vehicles are very much another theme within the region. They are parked near houses, occupy some of the rutted tracks, and even provide a little lover’s nook among the bushes.

Maderia Springs; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrMaderia Springs

One of the aspects that adds to the attraction of Maderia Springs is the choice of windlight. It takes only some minor tweaks to frame images of the landscape pretty much perfectly. In this, the windlight environment is perhaps the thing that does brig the various elements within the region together as a cohesive whole; with those minor adjustments made, it is possible to see the region as a pastoral setting, a place of open countryside where cattle, sheep and horses roam, and farmers tend to them and the land; a place that is perhaps the location of holiday visits, with the large main house offering the perfect escape.

With a suitably rural sound scape, filled with the sound of birds, the occasional bleat of lamb or moo of cow, Maderia Springs does very much come to life as you explore it, while the scattered places where visitors can sit and relaxed offer a further incentive to tarry a while and enjoy the location.

Maderia Springs; Inara Pey, February 2019, on FlickrMaderia Springs

For those who do take pictures, a Flickr group is available should you want to share your views of the region, and should you enjoy your visit, keep an eye out for the little windmill donation points, and consider offering assistance towards the region’s upkeep so that other might enjoy it as well.

SLurl Details

Maderia Springs (Maderia Springs, rated: Moderate)

2019 SL User Groups 9/1: Simulator User Group

Endless; Inara Pey, January 2019, on FlickrEndlessblog post

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news.

  • There was no deployment to the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, February 26th, leaving it on server maintenance package 19#19.01.25.523656. As regions on the channel were restarted in week #8, there was no restart this week.
    • The planned deployment was cancelled due to a list minute issue being found, and also led to the planned RC deployment(s) being postponed.
  • No deployments are planned for Wednesday, February 27th, 2019, leaving the RCs on the following simulator versions:
    • BlueSteel and LeTigre: server maintenance package 19#19.02.16.524516 EEP).
    • Magnum: server maintenance package 19#19.02.16.524515, comprising further internal fixes.
    • Simon indicated at the SUG meeting that regions on the RC channels might be restarted, although this is unclear, as the channels have not hit the 14-day restart barrier.

SL Viewer

There have been two recent RC viewer updates:

  • On Tuesday, February 26th, the BugSplat RC viewer updated to version 6.1.0.524670.
  • On Friday, February 22nd, the Estate Access Management (EAM) RC viewer updated to version 6.1.0.524240.

The rest of the viewer pipeline remains as follows:

  • Current Release version 6.0.1.522263, dated December 5th, promoted December 13th. Formerly the Spotykach 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):
    • BugSplat RC viewer, version 6.1.0.524348, February 13th. 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 6.0.2.523177, January 16th.
  • Project viewers:
  • 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.

Inventory UDP Messaging Deprecation

The planned deployment to Magnum (cancelled for this week) should include the updated simulator code that removes all asset fetching UDP messaging from the simulator code. Once deployed, this will mean anyone using really old viewers that do not have HTTP asset fetching on regions running on the Magnum RC channel will no longer be able to obtain responses to asset requests – and this will increase as the code is deployed to the remaining channels.

It’s not clear yet if the two “legacy” viewers currently offered by the Lab (the Linux Spur viewer and Obsolete Platform viewer) will remain available after the update has been fully deployed, as both will be unable to fetch assets.  Those wishing to test older versions of viewers against the updated simulator code can do so on Mesh Sandbox 3 on Aditi.

The Question of Script Load

The core of the SUG meeting revolved around the question of scripts and simulator loads. The discussion started with a request to make scripts run % data accessible to SLS, so scripters might coder periodic, intensive scripts hold off loops of execution if they can see a region is busy.

This spun out to a discussion of making information on scripts (as seen at the region level via Top Scripts) available at parcel level. However, a concern here is the risk of unnecessary drama: if X on parcel Y can see top scripts across the region, and sees A’s scripts on another parcel gobbling script time, it could lead to an assumption (right or wrong) it is the scripts that are responsible for all issues X is experiencing, resulting in potential local drama.

Another idea put forward is to make script use tied to parcel size (as is the case with land capacity / impact) in an effort to make script usage fairer within a region (see BUG-225391). While potentially good in theory, such a “fair use” approach has some potential issues:

  • Script usage isn’t balanced by parcel within a region. It is possible to have multiple parcels using little or no script time, and one using more than its “fair share”. Currently, this means things can balance out within a region, but with a capped script use, the “high use” parcel could be penalised when there is no need. As Oz Linden noted, “We could do that, but suppose we did. In many places people would see a big script performance drop even though the region had lots of idle time.”
  • Scripts are the only thing that can impact local performance: Physics Time, for example, can be over-used and impact performance, leaving very little script time per frame.
  • There is a difference between in-world scripts and attached scripts, so there is a question of how would the latter be accounted for? Making them part of the parcel allowance isn’t necessarily fair, as the parcel owner has no direct control over others without something of a draconian approach (depending on parcel size) – upping the potential for drama / upset.

Simon Linden also pointed out that there is pretty significant overhead moving between the scripts versus running actual bytecode (that is figuring out what to run against actually running it), so monitoring everything could add more of an overhead than actually letting scripts run – although there have been discussions on how to improve this. But, he also cautioned that adding further checks would have to be a “real clear win”.

There are some reports that the percentage scripts run seems to be falling across Mainland, without a noticeable increase in script count, which if true, would indicate something is going wrong. But as pointed out at the meeting, without data, it is hard to tell what is going on. Is a slow-down a case of having too much useful stuff going on for the available resources, or is it a case of someone going compute-bound in their script, lagging a region.

This is likely to be a discussion that will continue.

Mainland land holders will soon be able to auction their land

Update, March 26th: user-to-user auctions are now live.

Update: Well, an Oopsie from me. Seems the user-to-user Mainland auctions aren’t *quite* live, but still in a testing phase. As such, this article has been revised.

In July 2018, Linden Lab overhauled the Mainland auction system – see Second Life land auctions get a face-lift and the official blog post A Face lift for Auctions.

The “new” auction system leverages Second Life Place Pages as the medium for presenting land for auction and for placing bids, together with a new “cover page” listing available parcels up for auction. which can be found at https://places.secondlife.com/auctions. At the time the system launched, it was restricted to land being auctioned by Linden Lab, with the promise (at that time) that Mainland land holders would be able to start adding their own parcels “soon”.

“Soon” took a step closer to becoming an reality on Tuesday, February 26th, when a new Knowledge Base article appeared, entitled Creating Your Own Auctions. It is designed to walk Mainland land holders through how to set a parcel for auction. According to Alexa Linden, who contacted me on the matter, the system is still in testing, but will likely be ready t go in the very near future.

The Knowledge Base article outlines a number of requirements for those wishing to auction their Mainland parcels:

  • The parcel must be owned by an individual resident; group owned parcels cannot be auctioned.
  • Auctions can only be created by the parcel owner, and the owner must have a verified email address.
  • Parcels for auction must be set for auction via their associated Place Page.
  • There is a 15% commission payable to Linden Lab on all successfully concluded auctions.
  • When you create the auction, the ownership of the parcel is transferred to a temporary holding account named AuctionServices Linden.
    • You will no longer be listed as the owner and will not be able to edit, cut, sell, or change the parcel in any way once you create the auction.
    • If you cancel the auction, or if the auction completes without any bids, then the ownership of the parcel returns to you.
    • Note: it is not clear what happens to any payable tier during this time, but I presume it remains payable until such time as the auction concludes.
Mainland auctions for user-to-user auctions are now very close to being launched

If you are not familiar with Place Pages, you can find out about them via my Place Pages tutorial. This will be updated to include the relevant information on setting a parcel for auction in the near future, once the service has been confirmed as being “live”. In the meantime, additional details on Mainland auctions can be found in the Second Life Knowledge base as follows:

Again, and for clarity, do please remember, the auction system is for Mainland only. Private regions or parcels cannot be offered through it.

Melusina’s Empty Spaces in Second Life

DiXmiX Gallery: Empty Spaces

Melusina Parkin makes a return to DiXmiX Gallery about a year to the date after her latest exhibition there (see Melusina’s Minimalism in Second Life), to present Empty Spaces, this time in the gallery’s Black exhibition hall.

Melusina’s work is often a fine blend of detail, space and minimalism, all carefully combined and crafted to present images that are elegant in their unique focus and rich in narrative and feeling. This is perfectly reflected in the twelve images presented in this collection which – if I might be so bold as to suggest – carry with them something of a thematic link to her previous exhibition at DiXmiX, Less is More (see link above), and perhaps more particularly to her June 2017 exhibition, Absences (see Melusina’s Absences in Second Life).

DiXmiX Gallery: Empty Spaces

As with that latter exhibition, Empty Spaces presents images that are perhaps notable for what is absent; rooms and hallways that are devoid of furnishing and décor – or, where furniture is present, it is noticeably absent signs of use; there is no-one seated on the couch or chair while the dresser appears unattended and the pool strangely sans water.

But where Absences offered a single point of focus within a room or setting – a chair, a coat hanger suspended from a hook, a ruffled bed – Empty Spaces in many respects takes a step back; while some images do offer sight of a couch or chair, a rag hanging from a hook,  most offer a much broader view; the focus is far more on the room, the space the image represents, than the object or item within it.

DiXmiX Gallery: Empty Spaces

Windows and doors, for example appear in many of the images – even those featuring a specific object – halls and open views can be seen, as at times, are hints of other spaces just out of our sight. Thus, the narrative many of these places is broader than that of Absences. What lies behind the closed door, is there something awaiting discovery around the corner of a hallway our in the spaces that lie between us and a distance doorway, hidden from our view by intervening walls? What might lie at the bottom of the empty swimming pool or beyond the opaque glass of windows, where shadows can only give hints – and perhaps deceive.

These are images that again allow us to become playwrights; we can write the stories they hint at; but so to is there the sense of something more within them. Are we looking at images that reflect the lives of others, vignettes of their times and presence-in-absence? Or are we in fact looking at spaces in which the echoes of our own times and actions might still be heard?

DiXmiX Gallery: Empty Spaces

And this is what I continue to love and admire in Melusina’s art; through it she offers both and theme and idea that is – by the nature of her having taken the image – her own, but leaves the story behind it entirely down to us to define and tell. Thus, her exhibitions are always engaging and thought-provoking delights.

SLurl Details