There was no deployment of the SLS (Main) channel on Tuesday, April 20th, leaving all regions on that channel on server update 19#19.04.22.526534 comprising performance improvements (possible fixes for teleport / region crossing issues) and additional internal logging.
On Wednesday, May 1st, all three main RC channels should be updated to server maintenance package 19#19.04.25.526669, primarily intended to correct the simulator-side EEP regressions that resulted of the roll-back of Thursday, April 18th. This update also includes a number of other internal fixes.
There have been no viewer updates at the time of writing this update, leaving the viewer pipelines as follows:
Linux Spur viewer, version 126.96.36.1999906, 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 188.8.131.520847, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7. This viewer will remain available for as long as reasonable, but will not be updated with new features or bug fixes.
My second Life has been down since the weekend of April 27/28th, 2019. This has affected all access to the site, the upload of snapshots and in-world web-based profiles.
The teleport disconnect issue is now being seen as a race condition,with Simon Linden commenting:
The TP issue looks like a race condition … we “fixed” 3 other bugs and made that worse.
To which Oz Linden added:
And we’ve already put in place a bunch of improvements to our RC monitors to help prevent a similar recurrence (with more coming soon) … Doubtless Murphy will find new ways to avoid our monitors from time to time, but one tries.
The Lab now feel they have investigated the issue and gathered sufficient data around it to be able to perform a post-mortem on the situation to (hopefully) reduce the likelihood of such an occurrence in the future.
Script Processing Issues
This was raised at the April 26th TPVD meeting as well. There have been numerous reports of script run time issues, with some reporting that problems only started occurring following the roll-back on April 18th, 2019. BUG-226851 outlines some of the problems.
As per the TPVD meeting, the Lab are not aware of anything that may have changed to impact script run time (particularly on Full regions); but the problem has been somewhat exacerbated by the issue being bounced between the JIRA and support (note how the above report has been closed, referencing the matter back to support).
It’s time to highlight another week of storytelling in Voice by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s home at Holly Kai Park, unless otherwise indicated.
Monday, April 29th 19:00: Paper Mage
Gyro Muggins reads Leah R. Cutter’s 2003 début novel.
Set in the Tang Dynasty of the Middle Kingdom (about the time of Charlemagne in Europe), the novel tells us of the adventures of Xiao Yen, a young woman training to become a paper mage, a sorcerer with the power to endow folded creations with the semblance of life.
Because her gifts are in demand for the protection they can offer, Xiao Yen must leave behind her beloved family and their village home and embark on a dangerous mission when she is hired to protect a caravan. Yet even as she departs, she has no idea that this looming adventure will shape the very woman she is to become.
The story follows two timelines, alternating chapters between the caravan journey, where one of her fellow travellers is a goddess who charges her with a dangerous quest, and the story of her childhood training, when she lay caught between her aunt’s plans and her mother’s plans to have her married off.
Tuesday, April 30th 19:00: TBA
Check the Seanchai Library website for updates.
Wednesday, May 1st 19:00: Kaleidoscope
When a brilliant young violinist dies in a horrific accident, Madame Karitska has only to hold the victim’s instrument in her hands to perceive the shocking truth. But when an insecure wife asks whether her husband will abandon her to join a sinister cult, Madame Karitska–as wise as she is lovely–chooses not to reveal all that she foresees. And when an attaché case is suddenly dropped into her lap by a man fleeing a crowded subway, she knows it’s time to consult her good friend Detective-Lieutenant Pruden.
A nine-year-old accused of murder, a man dying a slow death by witchcraft– for the hunted and the haunted, Madame Karitska’s shabby downtown apartment becomes a haven, where brilliant patterns of violence, greed, passion, and strange obsessions mix and disintegrate with stunning, kaleidoscopic beauty.
With Caledonia Skytower.
Thursday, May 2nd
19:00: Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Cave Girl
Waldo Emerson Smith-Jones was not overly courageous. He had been reared among surroundings of culture plus and ultra-intellectuality in the exclusive Back Bay home of his ancestors. He had been taught to look with contempt upon all that savored of muscular superiority, such things were gross, brutal, primitive. It had been a giant intellect only that he had craved, he and a fond mother, and their wishes had been fulfilled. At twenty-one Waldo was an animated encyclopedia, and about as muscular as a real one.
And so we are introduced to Mr. Smith-Jones, the unlikely hero of this novel, set within Burrough’s Lost World series. Swept overboard during a during a South Seas voyage intended to ease his ill-health, Waldo finds himself carried ashore on a primitive jungle island, where all his book learning can’t help him survive, particularly in the face of the terrifying ape-like throwbacks to mankind’s early evolutionary history who live on the island, and from whom he continually flees.
And then he encounters – rescues, even, albeit mistakenly – Nadara, the titular cave girl. Regarding him a hero, she teaches him the arts of survival and her primitive language, taking him back to her tribe – who turn out to be Paleolithic cave people. If he is to stay among them, Waldo must prove his worth by fighting the strongest. He opts to flee instead.
However, as he spend more time in the jungle, gaining in strength thanks to Nadara’s teachings, he finds himself unable to put her out of his mind. So much so that when a ship finds the island, he refuses passage aboard her. Instead, more sure of himself than at any point in his life, he sets out to find the cave girl who believes he saved her.
With Shandon Loring. (Also in Kitely grid.kitely.com:8002:SEANCHAI).
Currently open at The Eye art gallery, curated by Mona (MonaByte), is a stunning exhibition of avatar photography by Rofina Bronet. And it is a quite extraordinary collection of images.
Featuring what might be termed “traditional” style studies focusing on the head and face, these are pieces presented in the most marvellous of digital colour and backdrops: celestial skies, iridescent clouds, futuristic grids, and – in places – soft-focused “natural” backgrounds.
In addition, rather than presenting individual portraits of avatars, in places Rofina offers multiple images of the same person. These, together with the selected backdrops and digital elements against which they are posed adds considerable depth in capturing the personality of each study.
Also found within the gallery are media TV screens offering slide displays of the images on offer (click to page through the images), thought with other that may not be offered in large format on the walls. Larger, wall-mounted media screens feature You Tube recordings of some of the individuals featured within the exhibition, and offering further depth to the still images Peeter presents.
All of this makes for a remarkable and deeply engaging exhibition of art and photography, which words alone really do not do justice a visit to The Eye to see them first-hand is strongly recommended.
This summary is generally published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog.
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.
On Tuesday, March 26th, Vice President Mike Pence directed NASA to accelerate plans to send humans back to the Moon, moving the planned first landing from 2028 to 2024. That presents an incredibly short time frame for the US space agency, given all that needs to be done.
Rather than going to the Moon directly – as with Apollo in the 1960 through 1972 – NASA’s plans for a return to the Moon require the establishment of an orbital facility around the Moon – the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway – plus the development of the vehicle to get to and from it (the Orion MPCV), and a vehicle to get from it to the surface of the Moon and back. This, coupled with trying to develop a completely new and complex launch vehicle – the Space Launch System – capable of putting all this hardware where it needs to be, means NASA has a huge mountain to climb to achieve their goal and maintain things like operating the International Space Station – and will need a lot of funding to achieve it, something which doesn’t as yet seem to be forthcoming.
As it is, the SLS, as recently noted in these pages, has yet to fly, and has seen a number of programmatic changes in order to try to meet a time frame that was already tight before Pence give his March directive. Following the announcement of the shift to a 2024 landing, NASA actually wavered over using it, mulling the idea of using a commercial launch system instead (the Delta IV Heavy is capable of launching the Orion, for example) before deciding they would push to use SLS. However, in doing to, the agency then suggested they could cut the “green run” test of the SLS first stage, potentially shaving 6 months from the development / flight schedule for the first launch.
Viewed as a crucial pre-flight test, the “green run” would see the completed first stage shipped from the Michoud Assembly Facility, Louisiana, to the Stennis Space Centre, Mississippi, where its four RS-25 engines would be fired for eight minutes, simulating the actual flight of the vehicle prior to upper stage separation. It has been regarded as a crucial test, intended expose the untried first stage to the full force of a simulated launch to gather vital data on the stage performance and to see how the entire assembly stands up the rigours of launch and what might need to be re-worked, etc. The suggestion was that NASA skip it in favour of individual tests of the four RS-25 motors – potentially shaving 6 months off the SLS development schedule.
But on April 25th, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) met to discuss this idea and strongly advised NASA not to avoid the “green run”.
There is no other test approach that will gather the critical full-scale integrated propulsion system operational data required to ensure safe operations. Shorter-duration engine firings at the launch pad will not achieve an understanding of the operational margins, and could result in severe consequences. I cannot emphasize more strongly that we advise NASA to retain this test … as NASA evaluates different paths to potentially accelerate the EM-1 flight, it cannot lose sight that the ultimate objective of that flight is to mitigate risk and provide a clear understanding of the risk posture prior to the first crew flight.
– Patricia Sanders, ASAP Chair
NASA has yet to formally respond to the recommendation, but it would seem unlikely they’d go against the ASAP. This potentially means that SLS will be unlikely to make its first uncrewed flight – Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2020, and the ripples may spread further, affecting the time line for the first crewed test of SLS and Orion, and on onwards towards affecting the 2024 goal.
Another issue is that of how NASA will actually get to and from the Moon’s surface. Originally, the agency planned a “two-step” approach to lunar lander development: issue a procurement notice for the development of a lunar lander ascent vehicle, designed to lift a crew off of the Moon tat the end of their say, and a second notice for the transfer and descent stages of the vehicle – presumably allowing different companies to work on the various elements.
However, on April 26th, NASA altered the procurement notice to seek proposals for a fully integrated lander vehicle. The idea is to speed-up the lander’s design and development and potentially reduce issues of integration of elements built by different contractors.
Certainly, one company that could benefit from this switch is Lockheed Martin, prime contractors for the Orion vehicle, and potential major supplier of the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), the lunar space station seen as a pre-requisite to any crewed landings on the Moon. They first announced their concept for a fully integrated lunar lander in October 2018, and on April 10th, 2019, the company outlined changes to both their lunar lunar and LOP-G designs in response to the push for s 2024 landing.
Under their October 2018 plans for a lunar lander, Lockheed Martin proposed building a single, fully reusable vehicle, a 62 tonne (when fully fuelled) behemoth capable of taking 3 or 4 astronauts and a tonne of equipment to / from the lunar surface (by comparison, the Apollo lunar module weighed 16.4 tonnes fully fuelled).
This giant vehicle would support stays of up to 14 or 15 days on the lunar surface, prior to the entire vehicle returning to the LOP-G where the crew would use the Orion to fly back to Earth, while the lander refuelled itself from supplies shipped to the LOP-G and stored there.
However, such a vehicle presupposes the availability of a fully operational LOP-G, and there is simply no way such a facility could be designed, built, launched, assembled in lunar orbit and tested ready for operational use by 2024. This being the case, Lockheed Martin is now proposing a semi-reusable 2-stage lunar lander modelled along the same lines as the Apollo Lunar Excursion Module – although again, much larger.
In the revised design, the new lander would comprise a large descent and landing stage, only carrying sufficient fuel to get the complete vehicle onto the surface of the Moon and carrying various equipment lockers and bins. This would be topped by a combined command / ascent module that will would employ a modified version of the European-built Orion Service Module, complete with main motor and power generation systems, as its lower half. This would serve to propel the module and crew back up to the LOP-G at the end of a surface mission. The command section at the top of the module would include elements from the Orion vehicle for flight control, a dedicate lunar surface command deck and the necessary living space for a crew of around 3 for 14-15 days on the Moon.
Making the lander semi-re-usable means the Lockheed Martin do not need a fully operational LOP-G to support the fully re-usable version of their lander. Instead, a “bare necessities” LOP-G could be placed in orbit around the Moon – little more than a propulsion / power module and a docking adaptor – in order for lunar missions to commence. These could then proceed whilst the LOP-G is itself built-out to accommodate more advanced missions.
The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, April 26th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. This was a relatively short meeting, with several periods of audio silence and text chat. The key points of discussion are provided below with time stamps to the relevant points in the video, which will open in a separate tab when clicked.
[00:00-01:17] There have been no SL viewer updates this week, leaving the pipelines as follows:
Major effort has been put into trying to resolve the teleport disconnect issue – hence the multiple deployments this week.
In the process of developing and deploying the fixes, the Lab has significantly improved its ability to monitor teleports.
This improved monitoring / stats gathering will help baseline teleports for future reference, should further issues crop up.
It appears to suggest teleport success rates are now significantly better than prior to the updates being deployed.
The added monitoring has no appreciable impact on performance.
Attachment Loss on Teleport
Progress has continued with fixes for the issue of attachments coming off / becoming ghosted/ etc., as a result of a teleport / region crossing.
It will likely be a couple of weeks before these are deployed server-side, as the Lab will be keeping an eye on the teleport / region crossing disconnect issue to ensure the fixes that have been deployed really do help break down the issues that have been experienced.
Snapshots: Flickr Cap Fail and Withdrawal of Facebook Support
There is an issue with the snapshots to Flickr capability failing see BUG-226826). This appears to have perhaps been an unannounced change at the Flickr / Smugmug end of things, rather than anything the Lab has done, but investigations are still ongoing.
Update April 30th: the Flickr cap fail now appears to be fixed.
It was announced on Friday, April 19th, that support for uploading snapshots from the viewer to Facebook has now been completely withdrawn. As such, the viewer-side code is to be shortly removed, with the Lab noting:
Due to continued changes in the Facebook API, as of today the Second Life viewer will no longer be able to support Facebook Connect for sharing your in-world photos and posts. We apologise for this inconvenience and will be removing the UI from the viewer shortly. We will, of course, be happy to see your SL posts on Facebook going forward, and you can always say hello and check out what’s happening on our official page: https://www.facebook.com/secondlife.
Issues with script processing have been raised at a number of meetings recently, and were mentioned again at this TPVD.
Specifically, it was reported at this meeting that since the April 18th roll-back / update, some Full regions seem to have script run-time capped 12ms, so only around 60% of scripts are run, while some homesteads appear to only run around 20% of scripts..
As it was also reported that these affected regions were running OK following the initial deployment of the newer version of the OS, this issue appears to be specifically related to the changes made on April 18th.
The Lab is not aware of anything having been changed that might have impacted script run-time.
The newer version of the operating system (which is specifically required as a part of preparing the simulators to a cloud-based infrastructure) is due to be further deployed to simulators Agni (the main grid) in week #18. This should provide the Lab with a broader cross-section of simulator running both the older and newer versions of the OS, which will allow a more informed comparison of metrics from the two versions to be made, which could help determine if there is a more broad-based issue with scripts on the newer OS version.
The Lab is considering the possibility of no longer sending group notices to e-mail when a user is off-line.
Right now, if IM to e-mail is enabled for when a user is off-line from SL, it will allow both IMs and group notices to be forwarded to e-mail. This can result in message volumes / content being seen as spam.
As it is invariably the secondlife.com domain that is linked to such reports, this can lead to it being regarded as a spam site, degrading the ability for secondlife.com to deliver e-mails in general, as e-mail services mark the domain as an originator of spam.
This move is therefore intended to make e-mails from the secondlife.com domain for reliable.
Although other forms of messaging forwarded to e-mail can potentially add to the problem of spam labelling (e.g. object IMs to e-mail), group notices are seen as by far the biggest cause.
No decision on this has been taken either way, but disabling the ability for group notices to e-mail is easier than other options (such as requesting user go through all their groups and disable group notices).
Were this change to be implemented, then only IMs would be sent to e-mail; group notices received when off-line would be held until the user next logs-in, as is currently the case.
It has been suggested that increasing the limit on the number of messages that can be queued when a user is off-line might ease the blow of blocking group notices being sent to e-mail. While this idea is already under consideration, no decision has been taken either way.
[25:06-26:18] If this idea does move forward, it is hoped that changes being planned to the way SL events work will reduce the need for at least some group messages.
No specifics were available on the updates that are being planned for events, but it has already been suggested that the updates include an API to allow events to be properly listed on viewer log-in screens (see feature request BUG-226867).
[13:58-15:00] Following the release of a video on You Tube by a Lab employee, the question was asked about the Lab’s policy on staff using TPVs. In short:
Lab staff must use the official viewer on Lab equipment and/or their official Lab accounts.
Lab staff may use any viewer of their own choosing on their own hardware and when using their personal user account.
This was actually the case with the video in question: it was filmed and released via a personal account, not an employee account.
[31:43 (text)-35:30] Questions continue concerning LL’s support of 32-bit operating systems (it was mentioned that Microsoft will apparently stop supporting 32-bit “with the next [Windows 10?] update”). However, one of the reasons for LL’s continued support of 32-bit Windows is the number of users on less capable / 32-bt specific GPUs.
[35:40-36:25] At least some of the EEP regressions witnessed following the April 18th roll-backs / redeployments should hopefully be corrected with the simulator updates due in week #18.
[39:36-40:56] It’s often asked when simulator updates aren’t “more thoroughly tested” by the Lab. Simply put, such is the number of Agni (main) grid simulators coupled with the wide variety of ways people use Second Life (think of all the different in-world scripted object, or even all the purpose-built, custom windlights, for example), that replicating it all in a comprehensive test environment simply isn’t possible. Hence why the Lab use the release candidate channels: while testing is carried out (and the Lab is constantly trying to improve its test environments), the RCs provide a further means of “testing the water” before deploying updates grid-wide.
[42:39-43:11] video playback support (MP4): work is on the roadmap for this, but the Lab has yet to get to it.