SL16B Among the Moles of Second Life

Courtesy of Linden Lab

On Friday, June 28th, 2019 at the SL16B celebrations, the last of five Meet the Lindens sessions took place at the SL16B Auditorium. This was a special session, featuring as it did members of the Linden Department of Public Works – aka, the Moles.

A veritable host of Moles surfaced for the session, along with Patch Linden, comprising Abnor Mole, Naughty Mole, Squeaky Mole, Missy Mole and Alotta Mole, all of who can be heard in the video. They were joined by Glowing Mole, Quartz Mole, Spiffy Mole, Lost Mole, Squishy Mole, Glamorous Mole, Ancient Mole, Garden Mole, Paranor Mole, Shimmy Mole and Magic Mole.

Meet the Moles: front row (l-to-r): Abnor Mole, Naughty Mole, Saffia Widdershins, Patch Linden, Squeaky Mole, Missy Mole and Alotta Mole, all of who can be heard in the video. Behind them (l-to-r) are: Glowing Mole, Quartz Mole, Spiffy Mole, Lost Mole, Squishy Mole, Glamorous Mole, Ancient Mole, Garden Mole, Paranor Mole, Shimmy Mole and Magic Mole. Screen capture via SL4Live – TV

The nature of the event, with so many people available to answer questions makes producing a summary a little difficult; instead, I offer an outline of what the Moles are, and the feedback of the key speakers on how they became Moles, and notes based both on comments during the session and the LDPW wiki page on how to become a Mole. For the rest, I recommend watching the video in full!

Who or What the Moles?

As surprising as it may seem, lot of SL users are not aware of what or who the Moles are.

Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) the Moles are SL residents from all over the world who have either applied to the Lab, or have been asked by the Lab, to work as paid freelance contractors. The LDPW is specifically geared towards enhancing the Mainland, as noted in the official wiki page, but they actually do a lot more than this.

The Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) is a programme focused on improvements related to the experience of living on, or visiting the Linden Mainland. The LDPW will organize teams of Resident builders, artists, and scripters (the Moles!) to create new content on Linden Lab’s behalf and to the benefit of all.

– From the official LDPW SL wiki page

Today, the nominal “home” of the Moles is Meauxle Bureaux, where you can – among other spaces – visit Ye Olde Abner Mole Pub

The LDPW initially formed in 2008, and so is now in its eleventh year, and many of those involved in the programme today were recruited back then. The team is managed be Derrick Linden, the Product Operations Manager for Second Life, who reports into Patch Linden, and the team includes a number of Linden staff as well, including Guy Linden, Madori Linden, Kona Linden and Izzy Linden.

Within the Mainland, the Moles are probably best known for their infrastructure work – the roads, the railway lines, general continent layout, and all the many elements thereto. There have also been responsible for the development on Mainland projects such as the infrastructure within Nautilus City and, perhaps more particularly, the development of Bay City – which in their honour hosts an annual Mole Day festival.

The Horizons Experience (November 2016) built and scripted by the Moles

Most recently, the Moles have been responsible for – and perhaps most visible with – the new Linden Homes continent, Bellisseria. They also produce the infrastructure for Lab-led events, including SL16B, the Lab-run shopping events, the town hall meeting spaces. But they also do far more than this, and work in many different areas, for example – and as a short list:

  • They produce content such as the Premium gifts.
  • The build and script the Lab-provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • Their work is often used as an example of what can be achieved in SL, particularly with regards new functions and capabilities.
  • They work with multiple teams at Linden Lab, such as Marketing and the engineering team (Moles participated in projects such as Bento, for example, producing test content used in the development of Bento capabilities and in testing the Bento skeleton).
  • Helping with QA activities.

As residents, how much time Moles spend on their resident  / personal accounts understandably varies in accordance with the work they’re engaged in. Some of the longer-serving Moles perhaps tend to focus predominantly on their Moles accounts / personas, while those who have more recently joined the team might spend more time split between their personal accounts and Mole accounts.

As freelance contractors, Moles also get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing tasks are completed on time. An advantage here is that as the Moles are based around the world, some projects can at times move forward on something of a round-the-clock basis.

Over the years, the Moles have to deal with a with a lot, starting with selecting their Mole name. For this, they have to put forward three preferences, and either are award the one that’s available, or get to pick from those that are available – although there can be opportunities for them to change their names. They also have to deal with the more unusual in Second Life, as Abnor Mole explained:

With the games, we’ve had a lot of people who try to find a lot of creative ways not to play the game as you’re supposed to … In the Paleoquest game [in which tasks must be completed against the clock] … at the end, where you’re supposed to take a giant swab and you have to go and find the dino DNA, and you do that with the giant cotton swab … we found that somebody was going around and they would always find the “good poop” to swab the very first time, and we were, “how are they doing this?” And we’re looking and we’re looking and we’re looking, and finally we realised there was a time stamp on the creation of the object that was a  little bit different on the “good” ones … they had gone that deeply into it to tell that that was how to do it [find the right item and complete the task]

– Abnor Mole on one of the weird things Moles sometimes have to deal with

Cape Ekim is an oft-overlooked Mole surprise in Second Life – although as it is on an “old” Linden Homes mini-continent, it might eventually disappear as those mini-continents are retired

How Did You Become A Mole?

Abnor Mole: read about the formation of the LPDW in 2008, put in an application – back then this could be done via the Second Life website (and later the wiki), was interviewed by Michael Linden, who at that time managed the LPDW, and was accepted – so has been a Mole for 11 years. Among his many roles as a part of the team, he produces some of the videos associated with the like of the Paleoquest game.

Naughty Mole: was approached by Jack Linden (who used to manage the SL land team) as the LPDW was being formed with the aim of improving the Mainland, and he asked her if she’d like to join. One of the first projects she worked on was Barney’s Bay.

Barney’s Bay, one of the first LDPW projects, and which also includes one of the first examples of trying to add a little “history” to the world in SL, with a statue dedicated to Captain Bernard “The Navibator” McSchnott (you can read how he got his nickname by visiting the statue! Note that like many LDPW locations across SL, Barney’s Bay is a destination you can also visit when playing the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches (read here for more on this)

Squeaky Mole: is one of the “youngest” Moles, having joined the LDPW just over a year ago. He was “discovered” as a result of exhibiting at SLB, and the Lindens visited his region after which he received an invitation from Patch to become a Mole – and initially thought it was a joke!

Missy Mole: is also one of the “younger” moles, having joined the LDPW on June 28th, 2018. Also like Squeaky, she was approach by Patch to join the team, specifically in taking photos in support of Marketing work. She and Squeaky are two of the Moles who have done a lot of the work on SL16B.

Alotta Mole: like Missy, was approached by Patch as a result of his in-world photography, and joined the LDPW initially in support of Marketing work.

What Does It Take To Become A Mole?

  • Drop your resume (note card) on Derrick Linden or in-world or to Patch Linden. Include your areas of expertise and any links you have where the Lab can see examples of your work (in-world, Flickr, You Tube, etc).
  • Fully rounded content creators are encouraged to apply, but the Lab will also accept specialists.
  • Be outgoing, communicative, willing to work within a team.
  • Have a genuine passion for SL.
  • Remember, it is an actual paid job, and is treated as such. You will be interviewed, you’ll be expected to have a résumé (c.v.), and be able to demonstrate your SL-related work.

Everyone on the team has their specialities, what they’re strong with … we do have Moles who specifically do scripting; we have moles who specifically so mesh content work and texturing or just texturing; we have Moles who do texturing and photography; we have Moles who do sound work, animation work. So, if you can think of each thing, or each area you can do content creation work for Second Life and in Second Life – we pretty much have to cover every single one of those areas, and in some of those areas we need more than one person.

There’s folk that specialise in terraforming, folks that do region décor work [trees, road, etc] … people who have got an eye for putting that stuff together and out there, being good with Land Impact … maybe they don’t have a lot of capability in making that stuff, but the other people in the team that make that content do that for them,  and then they’re the ones that carry through that next step.

– Patch Linden on Mole skills

Catch the rest of the session in the video below.

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The 2019 Blake Sea Raft Up for RFL of SL

The annual Blake Sea raft-up will be taking place on Sunday, June 30th, and SL residents are invited to go along and help raise money for Relay for Life of Second Life.

Now in it is 7th year, the event will take place on a special floating stage at Blake Sea – Haggerty, beneath the iconic floating racing grandstand. It will run from 09:00 through until around 15:00 SLT, and feature a host of activities, including music, a demonstration and spectacular raffle prizes.

The full schedule of events is as follows – all times SLT.

  • 09:00-11:00 – DJ Joy Canadeo
  • 11:00-13:00 – DJ Luke Flywalker
  • 13:00-14:00 – DJ Benny the Boozehound.

During his set, Luke Flywalker will narrate a special rescue demonstration by the Second Life Coast Guard (SLCG).

In addition, the event will feature raffles – all proceeds to RFL of SL – with a range of stunning prizes:

  • ANY bandit of the winners choosing.
  • ANY Mesh shop boat of the winners choosing.
  • 1 Endeavour barracuda.
  • 1 Endeavour Trident boat.
    • Paint of their choosing.
The 2018 Raft Up SLCG demonstration

This is always a popular event, and the advice is for those wishing to join the fun is, “Come early!” You can catch a video of the 2018 event via Flickr.

SLurl Details

2019 SL User Groups 26/3: TPV Developer Meeting

Atonement; Inara Pey, May 2019, on FlickrAtonement, May 2019 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on Friday, June 28th, 2019. A video of the meeting is embedded below, my thanks as always to North for recording and providing it. 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.

There are assorted text chat discussions scattered throughout the video covering various topics (e.g. Firestorm code that exposed a viewer setting to show the physics shapes of mesh objects, general discussion of LL hiring, avatar dot colours on the map, and opinions on a “lite” version of the viewer (remember the Basic viewer?), the technicalities of multi-threading, etc). These are not necessarily referenced in the notes below – please refer to the video.

SL Viewer

[1:30-7:00]

Recent Updates

  • As noted in my Content Creation summary, the Bakes On Mesh viewer is once again available with version 6.3.0.528495. This includes:
    • A new inventory icon for the “universal” wearable type.
    • A fix for a serious security issue type of bug.
  • The Love Me Render RC updated on Wednesday, June 26th to version 6.2.4.528505.
  • The Umeshu RC viewer updated on Thursday, June 27th to version 6.2.4.528492.

All of these RC viewer should now have parity with the current release viewer.

Note: at the time of writing, these viewers only appear on the Alternate viewers page; they are not listed on the the index of available viewers.

Viewer Pipelines

The remaining LL viewer list looks like:

  • Current Release version 6.2.3.527758, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer dated June 5th, promoted June 18th.
  • Release channel cohorts:
  • Project viewers:
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.2.3.527749, dated June 5th. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
  • Linux Spur viewer, version 5.0.9.329906, dated November 17th, 2017 and promoted to release status November 29th, 2017 – offered pending a Linux version of the Alex Ivy viewer code.
  • Obsolete platform viewer, version 3.7.28.300847, dated May 8th, 2015 – provided for users on Windows XP and OS X versions below 10.7.

Additional Viewer Notes

  • Currently the BOM and EEP viewers appear vying for promotion to de facto release status. A new EEP RC is anticipated in early week #27 (commencing Monday, July 1st). It is hoped that both viewers are now functionally ready for release, and that both will go through promotion to release status by the end of July. Of the two, the more likely for promotion first is BOM – but this is not an absolute.
    • [9:40] The potential closeness of BOM and EEP going to release status relative to one another may raise questions within some TPV groups as to how to best handle them (.e.g. individual release or a combined release with both).
  • It is hoped that other projects – notably the texture fetching / texture caching re-write project – can start to be carried forward once more, with project viewers surfacing as a result at some point.
  • If the texture fetching can be improved, the Lab might also look at inventory fetching, although the two are somewhat different. There is already some work going on with the inventory back-end, which could also lead to opportunities to work on the viewer side of inventory handling.
  • [10:55-11:50 and 46:00-47:25] The 360 Snapshot project viewer has been brought up to parity with the current release viewer, and is currently awaiting QA. It should hopefully be returning to the viewer list soon™, and work should resume on the 360 snapshot function itself in the near future.
  • [12:52-14:26] Apple OpenGL deprecation: the Lab is working on a strategy to deal with this, but it is “too soon” for detailed discussion, however, part of it is dependent on the Lab getting an additional graphics engineer hired to work on SL.

Viewer Build Process

An issue with the new viewer build process using Visual Studio 2017 / the latest Xcode has been identified and hopefully rectified. The process will therefore be going to QA. Providing all goes well, the build process will then be deployed to the viewer build farm.

Script Processing Issues

[26:14-26:50]

The simulator updates that will hopefully improve script run time issues (see  BUG-226851 and BUG-227099) mentioned in my Content Creation summary, are unlikely to be deployed until at least week #28 (week commencing Monday, July 8th).

Other Topics

  • [7:01-8:00 and 28:22-29:00] There will be no viewer releases at the end of week #27, nor will there be any simulator RC channel deploys on Wednesday, July 3rd, due to the July 4th break. Similarly, there will be a period at the end of July / start of August with no releases / updates, as the SL team will be having their summer planning summit.
  • {21:15-25:15] iOS companion app: work has started on trying to get the initial test versions through Apple’s test process. It’s not clear how long this will take.
    • As per my summary and audio of Oz and April Linden’s Meet the Lindens session, this will initially be a basic communications app, allowing users to chat to others (users won’t even have an in-world location, per se).
    • Obviously, it is planned to evolve the app over time.
    • It’s not clear if users in-world will be able to discern if a user is on the iOS client.
    • Once the test version is available, iPhone users will require TestFlight on their ‘phones to play with it (hopefully, it should also run on iPads as well, although there may be some configuration differences).
    • Some of the back-end infrastructure the Lab is building is support of the app might be applicable to use with a web application, but that is not on the current plans.
  • [26:53-27:50] The Lab believe they have identified one of the causes of performance collapse when avatars teleport into a region. This is being queued up to be worked on.
  • [28:00-28:18] The latest versions of simulator code changes to help with region crossing and teleport issues should be fully deployed across the grid following the SLS (Main) channel deployment in week #27.
  • [32:00-43:30 – chat] Problems have been reported with ASCII characters used in group names displayed by the avatar tag taking time to correctly display in busy regions, which are notably seen with the Firestorm viewer, but which are proving difficult to reproduce in the official viewer. See: BUG26338.
    • This topic kicked off a length chat discussion that rolled into avatar dot colours on the map, viewer updates for avatar tags, etc.
    • The chat further rolled into a discussion of “why no VR in SL?”. Short answer: performance isn’t consider good enough to deliver a really comfortable VR experience, although non-LL driven tests have continued.
  • Having trouble with texture loading? I could be your system, depending on its age, but it also might be your anti-virus software – try explicitly whitelisting your viewer cache in you AV software and see if that helps.