Currently open at Solo Arte is an art garden created by Terrygold and MelaniaBis that features the work of invited artists displayed in a series of pods. At the time of my visit, the garden featured the work of CioTToLiNa Xue, Dekka Raymaker, Annalisa Muliaina, and Terrygold, together and an exhibition of art by Magda Schmidtzau. These are individual exhibits, rather than a combined installation – Magda’s art being the most recent addition. As noted, Each artist has their work displayed in an individual pod, with the the pods either placed on, or close to, the garden’s lawn.
In this, the setting has something of a feel of the Explore and Enjoy exhibition from 2018, also designed and curated by Terrygold and MelaniaBis (see: Solo Arte: “explore and enjoy” in Second Life), albeit on a more modest scale. I have no idea if further pods will be added given the available space, although there appears to be room for more, if required. As it is, the four available at the time of my visit made for a contrasting group of 2D and 3D displays.
Truth be told, I don’t have too much to say about the individual exhibits, as they all tned to speak for themselves. CioTToLiNa offers New Trips, which carries something of an echo of her piece from Explore and Enjoy, while Terrygold presents a piece from her 2018 installation, Rusted Farm (see: A Rusted Farm in Second Life), while Magda’s 2D art is, as always, captivating in it richness of avatar studies.
However, the reality is these are art vignettes that should be seen for themselves – and in the case of Dekka’s, tried, as it is interactive – so I’ll leave you yo pay them a visit.
As I’ve previously noted, Linden Lab is working on an iOS client for Second Life, the first phase of which will be focused primarily on chat.
Keira Linden, who is now a Product Manager at the Lab, is heading up the project, and at a recent open-source developer meeting (held every Wednesday, but at a time I can rarely make), she offered some feedback on the upcoming app, with Oz Linden, the Technical Director for Second Life providing some additional comments on the Lab’s approach to mobile.
You can read an excerpt of the meeting’s transcript that encompasses the discussion in the forums – with thanks to Arielle Popstar for posting it – and the following is a summary of the comments made, grouped by topic.
Summary of iOS Specific Comments
The iOS app is to be deployed in stages, starting with – as previously noted – the chat capabilities. This will support IM and group conversations, and will likely include the capability to search for friends and non-friends alike.
It appears This initial release of the app will not support local chat, with Oz Linden noting:
Unlike other current apps, the plan is that your avatar will be in a separate space inaccessible to others, so it won’t just be standing somewhere not moving, so you won’t have a regular ‘location’ at all to chat in.
– Oz Linden, Open Source Dev meeting, August 14th
Presumably, this will change in later releases.
Further capabilities for the app are being discussed internally at the Lab, and these discussions include prioritising capabilities for release as the app is enhanced.
At some point in the development cycle, Keira will be reaching out to users to gain feedback on what are considered to be the important capabilities / options, in order to help the Lab prioritise future enhancement of the app.
Overall, the plan is to add as much functionality as possible as the app continues to be developed beyond the initial release.
There are no dates for when the app might be made available for testing – but the development work is considered a “high priority” by Keira and within the Product Team.
The precise framework for testing hasn’t been finalised, but will be announced via the forums when decided upon.
Side note: it had been previously indicated that when the app is made available for testing it will be through Apple’s beta testing environment for apps, and users wishing to test the app will need to have TestFlight installed on their iPhone (or iPad). It’s not clear if this is still the case – but given Apple’s requirements, I would assume so.
Currently, the Lab isn’t focusing on providing any graphics support (a-la the 3D world view in Lumiya), with Keira commenting:
We haven’t focused too much on the graphics side, as we’ve been working on chat and security, but I’ll be sure to include that consideration when we get there.
– Keira Linden, Open Source Dev meeting, August 14th
Summary of Overall Approach to Mobile
When starting the project, consideration was given to developing mobile apps in a multi-platform framework, but the decision was made to develop natively for different platforms was the better way to go.
The decision to go for iOS over Android for the first app was largely made on the basis that Android was better supported at the time (late 2018) by 3rd party apps (including Lumiya).
The Lab believe that by focusing on one platform at a time will, ultimately allow them to roll out individual apps and enhancements to those apps faster.
Once the Lab is happy with the status of the first app, they will consider porting it to “other platforms”.
Concerns have been raised over the potential of a mobile app to increase ad-hoc group chat griefing. Both Oz and Keira indicated there are various server-side means of cutting back on such griefing under consideration as a part of a broader project that’s not directly linked to mobile app development.
A browser-based streaming solution is currently excluded from consideration, purely on the basis of cost-effectiveness to users (e.g. considering the pricing model for Bright Canopy), with Oz Linden commenting:
We’ve done several experiments with streamed viewers, and are watching the evolution of the required server side costs and capabilities. So far, we don’t think there’s a viable business model (that is, we’d have to charge too much), but we expect competition and technology to eventually change that.
– Oz Linden, Open Source Dev meeting, August 14th
In addition to the above, and more recently – during the second segment of Lab Gab – Reed Linden indicated that the Lab has a number of initiatives related to mobile support, including optimising the SL Marketplace for use on mobile devices. Please refer to my summary (with video) of that session.
The Second episode of Lab Gab streamed on Wednesday, September 11th, hosted by Xiola and Strawberry Linden, and featuring special guest Reed Linden.
Running to just under 44 minutes, this was an informative segment, although there were a number of questions asked that where outside of Reed’s specific remit and which he was only able to answer in general terms (Land, Linden Homes, pricing, etc.). Most of these are not summarised below, and I refer people to the embedded video for comments.
About Reed Linden
Reed Linden, aka (at present) Penguin Fabuloso, has been with the Lab for just over eight years, having joined in August 2011. He started in the support team, serving there for three years, then moving to the Engineering team for a time. While there, Grumpity Linden, Director of Product for Second Life, selected him to join the Product team.
As a Product Manager, Reed has particular responsibility for the Lab’s Second Life web infrastructure – the Marketplace, Profiles, main domains like secondlife.com, and so on). He’s also been involved with Bakes on Mesh, and has knowledge of account management (including Premium), billing, and – given his time there – support.
He views his progress through the Lab as uniquely reflective of the manner in which knowledge of the platform is distributed: those who potentially know the most about SL are the users who put it to work every day, coding, building, uploading, texturing, creating, and so on. The next level of knowledge below that is the support teams who handle hundreds of user requests on a daily basis, and get to use the broad spread of the platform’s tools and capabilities. Then, after support come the engineering and product teams, who have sharply defined focuses on Second Life.
From this is should come as no surprise that he sees the community as his favourite aspect of the platform, together with the manner in which it can bring people together from around the world, and help them find a voice or outlets or connections – and even to find love. In this latter regard, he reveals that not only have SL residents built their physical world relationships out of a Second Life meeting (a-la the Love Made in SL series), but also that some LL staff have met their physical world partners through SL!
Web Properties – Project and Updates
As a part of his web infrastructure responsibilities, he has been running the work to bring Profiles back into the viewer. This involves two key elements:
Moving user profiles back to their own floater in the viewer, rather than pulling in the web profile. This element of the work is currently available for testing in the Legacy Profiles Project Viewer, which can be found on the Alternate Viewer Page.
A further aspect of the work is to move Profile Feeds into a dedicated tab within the Profile floater.
Reed also highlighted three recent updates to the Marketplace:
Notification of purchase – when you visit a Marketplace listing for an item you have previously purchased with the account you are using, the date purchased is displayed at the top of the listing.
Some of the upcoming Marketplace features touched upon include:
Optimising the Marketplace for mobile use.
Purchase notifications: store owners will receive a viewer notification of purchases made through their Marketplace stores. This will be an opt-in capability, so as to avoid those with popular brands from being constantly spammed with purchase messages.
Refunds: the ability for Merchants to offer refunds through the MP is being looked at.
Continuing work on quality-of-life capabilities within the MP, together with bug fixes.
Search is being strengthened right across all of the Lab’s web properties.
For the Marketplace, this will include listing top-selling products first within search results
Better granularity on searches will potentially be supported, together with better filtering
There are also projects in progress or on the horizon related to improving the Destination Guide and for Events (this has been mentioned in one or two technical user group meetings, but again without specifics being given).
Bakes on Mesh
As a Product Manager, he is very pleased with the take-up of Bakes on Mesh (BoM) – as is the Lab.
LL have been tracking take-up among mesh head / body makers, etc., and the gradual adoption of the BoM viewer code by TPVs.
There is an unofficial list for BoM support (last updated at the end of August) which may help those interested.
The hope remains that BoM will encourage more lightweight content in terms of graphics resources (e.g. less complex Mesh heads and bodies, plus the ability to bake down multiple textures into a single composite).
As a hobby, Reed enjoys painting model miniatures (D&D being specifically mentioned) and building dioramas.
Work on an iOS client was re-iterated. No new updates, as this is not one of Reed’s areas of work, so those interested can refer to a summary of comments by Kiera and Oz Linden on the work (including a link to a transcript of the comments), and my July mini-update on this project.
Last Names: yes, still being worked on, but a complex project. Again, see my June update, which includes the most relevant comments from LL.
An informative segment, with Reed providing a lot of hints – he touched very loosely on possible new Premium account options, for example – as well as outright information for those who do not attend the various in-world user group meetings or follow summaries of said meetings as provided on this blog and others of a similar nature.
Some of the questions did hit on the issue of keeping people aware of a specific guest’s area of expertise; even when warned Reed is not directly involved in viewer development, land management, etc., a number of questions on those subjects came up (and were dutifully asked). However, these fortunately did not interrupt the overall flow of the session to a great degree.
Voice quality continues to be an issue; I assume the participants are using the SL voice binary rather than hooking Skype or an alternative service into the mix. Hopefully this is something that will be addressed once the upcoming voice update viewer goes into circulation and Lab staff can use it.
No details on what the next segment will be about – so it’s a case of watch the official blog posts.