SL16B Meet April and Oz Linden: summary with audio and video

Courtesy of Linden Lab
On Tuesday, June 254th, 2019 at the SL16B celebrations, the second of five Meet the Lindens sessions was held in the SL16B Auditorium. It featured the Lab’s Senior Director, Second Life Engineering, Oz Linden and April Linden, Systems Engineering Manager, Operations.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with audio extracts where relevant.

Note that there are three videos of this event that I’m aware of:

Table of Contents

When reading this summary, please note:

  • It is not a full transcript:
    • Discussion points have been grouped by topic, and not necessarily in the order raised during the session.
    • I have focused on those topics liable to be of the most interest to readers / generated the most informative answers, so this is not a summary of all comments. etc.,
    • Topics are give as bullet-point highlights for ease of reference.
  • Audio extracts are provided.
    • These have been cleaned-up in places to remove repetition or pauses, etc.
    • Audio extracts may concatenate comments on specific subjects that may have been made at different points in the discussion, and so do not always match the chronology of the video.
  • Timestamps to the part 2 of the SL4Live – TV video are provided for those who would prefer to listen to  comments “in the raw”. This video is also embedded at the end of this article.

About April and Oz Linden

April Linden

April has some 20 years of experience in systems engineering, and is genuinely passionate about Second Life. She first became involved in the platform in 2006, and is still extremely active as a resident.

I actually own a couple of regions, and I’m in-world probably way more as a resident than I am as a Linden. At the end of the day, I leave the Lab, go home, have some dinner and then log-in as a different account and spend my time in Second Life.

– April Linden, Meet the Lindens, June 25th, 2019

In this, April is one of a large number  – in difference to the hoary old claim that “Lindens don’t understand SL” because they’ve “never been residents” or they’re “never in-world” – of Lab employees who have joined the company from the ranks of SL users (in fact if you look at the list of those Lindens who have attended Meet the Lindens over the years, the many are former residents who have not only joined the company, but have also risen to senior positions within LL.

Joining the company in 2013, April worked within the systems engineering team, and was promoted to her current position of Systems Engineering Manager, Operations, some 18 months ago. For her, the great attraction of the platform has been, and remains, the empowerment it gives people to express themselves positively.

I come from a background – well, I’ll just be frank, where LGBT issues were not to be discussed, and it was through Second Life that gave me the power and the anonymity and the courage, really, to learn more about myself. And Second Life gave me the power to make my life so much better … This platform is so important to me, I work here to keep it going; It gave me the courage to be more than I was, and I really appreciate Second Life for that. 

– April Linden, Meet the Lindens, June 25th, 2019

The bunny and the wizard who bring us Second Life: April Linden (Systems Engineering Manager, Operations) and Oz Linden (Senior Director, Second Life Engineering). Credit; Strawberry Linden

Oz Linden

Oz is the Technical Director for Second Life. He joined the company in 2010 specifically to take on the role of managing the open-source aspects of the Second Life viewer and managing the relationship with third-party viewers. In his previous role, he had been responsible for leading the company his was working for in taking their product from closed-source to open-source and then managing the technical side of the product as a open-source project for a number of years.

Over the first two years of his time at the Lab, he was primarily focused on the open-source viewer work and in refining the overall viewer maintenance process, before his role started expanding to encompass more and more of the engineering side of Second Life. When work on Sansar started in earnest, he pro-actively campaigned within the Lab for the role he has now, with responsibility for managing all of the engineering side of the Second Life platform.

He came to Linden Lab out of a desire to do something “fun” after working in the telecommunication arena, notably with voice over IP systems (VOIP), which he defines as being “really interesting technology with some really fascinating challenges”, but in terms of it being fun, it really didn’t do what I wanted it to do.” He had actually signed-up to Second Life around three years prior to joining Linden Lab, but wouldn’t classify himself as a resident at that time as he didn’t have a particularly good computer and so couldn’t really do that much – although interestingly, he did use his SL account for around half of his interviews with the Lab, all of which were conducted in-world.

He classifies the attraction to working with Second Life as perhaps falling into three core areas: through the open-source nature of the viewer, he is directly involved with how SL users are using the viewer and what they do with it – which can often times take the Lab entirely by surprise; through the fact that the Second Life offers the challenge of trying to implement new technologies alongside of (rather than simply replacing) older technologies; and working with the operations team and others to ensure SL constantly evolves without (as far as is possible) breaking anything – a process he refers to and rebuilding the railway in front of a moving train.

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On Working at the Lab

[Video: 5:06-21:40]

  • Induction at the Lab is referred to as “drinking from the fire hose”, in that all new starters have an enormous amount to learn (although those who come from the ranks of residents may have it a little easier due to their familiarity with the platform as users).
    • Part of this used to include a series of Jira-based tasks new starters would be given, which they then had to come in-world and do.
  • Most employees at the Lab refer to it as a “fun” place to work  – and most are there a long time.
  • One of the appeals of working with Second Life is that it is a constant surprise: users make use of the platform and its capabilities in so many (often unique / unintended) ways, that seeing  / hearing about how the platform is used is something of a daily voyage of discovery.
  • Most rewarding aspects of the work:
    • Hearing about the positive impact Second Life can have on people’s physical lives.
    • Being able to run the platform and help / be with users.
  • Most challenging:
    • Oz: trying to introduce new features while maintaining backward compatibility, be it the way a function used to work, how it’s anticipated SL should work, how SL looks, or making it harder for people on older systems to use SL, and how user content works within SL.
    • April: trying to keep all of the SL services (not just the simulators, they are just a part of the story) running without interruption, be it from issues developing internally, or for outside influences such as DDoS attacks.
      • This complexity is increased at SL has continued to grow technically over 16+ years, so systems and subsystems can all behave differently to one another, which means root causes of issues can often be found in unlikely places.
      • Given SL is intended to run 24/7, it is not as if those working in the Ops team today can take a system down, figure out how it works and put it back together – they often have to do that as a part of trying to fix an issue.
      • Much of the work April’s team carries out is invisible to users: they are often in and fixing issues before the problems rise to the point of impacting users.
      • As a resident, April believes it’s important for users to understand what has happened when things go sideways, hence her honest (and appreciated) post-mortem blog posts on outages.

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The return of Last Names – a further update with audio

One of the most eagerly-awaited changes that is in the works – indeed, has been in the works for a long time (my last significant update on the subject was over a years ago!) is that of the “return of last names”.

During the Meet the Lindens event featuring Oz Linden, the Lab’s Senior Director, Second Life Engineering and April Linden, Systems Engineering Manager, Operations for Second Life, the subject inevitably came up, with Oz and April both explaining why the process of implementing  the capability is taking so long, and addressing questions on the subject (some of which have been asked in the past as well).

While I will have a summary of the entire Meet the Lindens session with Oz and April available shortly, I thought it might be easier for people to reference the project via an individual update, to follow-on from the one I provided in March 2018 (see The return of Second Life Last Names – update with audio).

The first thing to point out, although it has been stated in the past, is that this capability is not just about avatar LAST names – it includes the ability for users to continue to select their own first name – and to be able to change both that name and their last name as they wish (and according to their willingness to pay whatever fee will be applied to the service.

But why is it taking so long to implement? In March 2018, Oz indicated the Lab hoped to have the feature ready by the end of that year – and we’re already six months beyond that.

Well, the answer is – as with a lot of things within Second Life – pretty complicated, and goes to the very heart of how the platform and its systems were originally created and have been seen throughout their lifespan, as Oz explained:

[Bringing back] Last names would have been pretty easy. In fact, we still do last names; it’s just that we give everyone the same last name … The hard part is allowing you to change your name …  Every part of Second Life, absolutely everything, was built with the assumption that your name can never change. And that means that lots of things that can be treated as cached, and [that] the cache never needs to be cleaned-up and updated [now have to change], and we have to go back and find that assumption everywhere in Second Life; and that’s a lot of code…

You would have thought it was based on a [avatar] key, but it wasn’t always, and the trick is that while maybe it was not maybe the best way to be doing it – to be saving names in different places – it always worked, because names could never change.

– Oz Linden describing the major issue with offering changeable avatar names

Oz and April went on to note that this work is still going on, but is taking a lot longer than have been anticipated. It is also something that is complicated as it means that all these points were the avatar’s name may be used and / or cached, now not only must have the “name never changes” assumption removed – they actually have to each be hooked up to some mechanism that can track name changes (e.g. through association with the avatar key) to make sure the correct name is always surfaced where it is seen by users.

You can listen to Oz’s full explanation below.

Oz also went over some ground previously covered about the name avatar naming options, and which may well be familiar to many, but are again given here for completeness and for those who may not have followed that project closely:

  • First name selection will be free-form (pick any first name you like (within the bounds of LL’s ToS and the SL Community Standards).
  • Last names:
    • Will be selectable from a pre-set list. This list will change on some basis (TBD).
    • It may be possible for users to offer suggestions for new last names.
    • Currently, it is not planned to make previously used last names (e.g. Pey, Sideways, Starr, Rubble, etc.) available for re-use.
    • Users will, however, be able to change back to one of their own past names, if they wish.
  • Combinations of first name and last name must be completely unique (i.e. never used previously in Second Life).  They will have a maximum of 31 characters each.
  • The ability to change your name will likely be via a new page available through your account dashboard.

The event also saw a number of questions asked on last names. These are again summarised bellow and answers are supplied in the audio file (with questions relayed by Patch Linden):

  • Will incoming users be able to pick a last name when they are signing-up? – No, they probably will not. Incoming new users will continue to have “Resident” as a default last name.
    • This is because picking a last name was found to be a major blocker to users signing-up.
    • Incoming new users will, however, be able to change their name(s) like everyone else, once they are in Second Life.
  • Why is there a charge being applied to name changes? – Mainly to discourage people from frequently changing their names. These changes will have a impact right across the SL services, and this needs to be managed, and the Lab would prefer not to impose artificial limits (e.g. “you can only change one a month”), if possible.
  • Will friends of people who change their name be notified, or will they have to discover this for themselves? – Hasn’t been addressed, but potentially no reason why friends shouldn’t be notified.
  • Will people who change their names remain on a friends list? Yes; this is one of the systems the Lab has to parse through to make sure things behave as expected.
  • Will name changes be reflected in everything (the name of creators of object rezzed in-world, the owners’ names, etc)?
    • That is the goal, and again why it is taking so much time to get this feature to a point where it works as would be expected and then deployed.
    • However, there will likely be a some delays on seeing name changes, simply because they need to propagate and cached across multiple services.
  • How much will it cost to change names? – This will probably be one of the last things to be decided, as it only needs to be done when the capability is ready for deployment.

For those who prefer to listen to Oz and April’s comments as given directly during their Meet the Linden session, they can be found on the SL4live TV recording of the event at the following time stamps:

  • [28:20-32:35] Initial comments on the complexity of implementing the capability and what it will offer.
  • [38:04-47:59] Q&A with Patch Linden handling audience questions.

2019 SL User Groups 26/1: Simulator User Group

The Mill, Lemon Beach; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrThe Mill, Lemon Beachblog post

Server Deployments

Please refer to the server deployment thread for the latest news and updates on the week’s deployments.

  • On Tuesday, June 25th, the SLS (Main) channel was updated with server maintenance package 19# which contains a number of Environment Enhancement Project (EEP) fixes (see below), the long awaited (by some!) Animesh-specific constants for llGetObjectDetails() (see BUG-225815) and internal fixes
  • On Wednesday, June 19th, the main RC channels will be updated as follows:

EEP Fixes

As noted above, the SLS (Main) channel joins Magnum and LeTigre in having fixes to a number of EEP-related issues deployed to it. These are:

  • BUG-226815 [EEP] Since the grid was rolled to yesterday, region windlight is broken for all legacy viewers.
  • BUG-226252 [EEP] Please create an internal error code for llReplaceAgentEnvironment() & llSetAgentEnvironment() that distinguishes whether an agent does not have the experience allowed and if the experience is not allowed at their location.
  • BUG-226917 EEP Environment, New Sky should default to midday and not 6pm.

SL Viewer

At the time of writing, there have been no official viewer updates to mark the start of the week, leaving the pipelines as follows:

  • Current Release version, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer dated June 5, promoted June 18 – NEW.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Bakes on Mesh RC viewer temporarily withdrawn, June 18.
    • Love Me Render viewer, version, June 10.
    • EEP RC viewer, version, June 6.
    • Umeshu Maintenance RC viewer, version, June 5.
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version, released on June 5. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version, dated November 17, 2017 and promoted to release status 29 November 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version, May 8, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

General Notes


I’m cautiously optimistic about teleports … there have been some fixes. I asked for testing help in the Second Life Beta group and volunteers did a few thousand TPs and the results were pretty good .. it’s not perfect but very few disconnects.

– Simon Linden

Script Processing Issues

As I’ve noted in recent SUG summaries, there have been numerous reports of script run time issues. See  BUG-226851 and BUG-227099 as examples. These continue to be felt across the grid, and the Lab is continuing to investigate, with Rider Linden noting:

As far as the script performance I think I may have a few things coming in soon that will help.

BUG-225288 “llStopAnimation is stopping all animations on detach instead of only the one specified”

This is not a new bug, but it is an odd one. It seems to be particularly affecting those users with “high” avatar ID keys (e.g. those starting with “f” tend to encounter it a lot. There doesn’t appear to be a confirmed repro that this is the case, other than general observation. Nor has any apparent underpinning cause been found as yet.

The problem is that there literally isn’t a comparator for less than and greater than keys. It’s just not a thing that exists. I’ve dangled this in front of multiple devs and had them show me why that really, honestly can’t happen. And yet it does.

– Maxidox Linden