Firestorm: the future of OpenSim Support

On Wednesday, September 18th, and after some lengthy deliberation, Jessica Lyon issued a Firestorm blog post outlining the future of that viewer’s future support for OpenSim environments.

The post is going to make difficult reading for OpenSim users, but the reality is that for assorted reasons, the Firestorm team have to consider priorities and how to best support their two disparate user communities.

The most important point with the blog is that Firestorm is not about to abandon OpenSim: but there are certain hard realities that need to be faced.

The first of these is that Firestorm are struggling to meet the demands of OpenSim support. While it is easy to talk about OpenSim in the singular – as if it is a single network of grids running to the same overall framework of server code – this isn’t really the case, as Jessica notes:

So many grids and no standard specification. Grid features that vary from grid to grid. We fix an issue on one grid that breaks something on another. Compatibility with OpenSim is vastly more difficult than it is with Second Life. Add to that the fact that we have to continue to merge upstream code from LL on a regular basis. We just don’t have the human resources.

Resources in this case being a developer who not only has the time to devote to OpenSim development on behalf of the Firestorm Team, but also the depth of knowledge of the various OpenSim protocols required to implement viewer-side updates while avoiding many of the problems Jessica mentions.

To try to assist in matters going forward, Jessica outlines some of the steps that the Firestorm team will be taking:

  • Firestorm will no longer accept OpenSim viewer features without direct communication via viewer patch contributions, or better yet, some kind of reference viewer. Simply put, the team cannot expected to keep up with all developments in OpenSim, which features have been introduced in some grids and how they might impact others.
  • Firestorm can only include features compatible with the current recognised OpenSim version number – features based on in-development or upcoming server code cannot be accepted, particularly those that may work on one grid one way, but differently on another or not at all.
  • Firestorm can no longer guarantee keeping old / deprecated protocols active within the viewer indefinitely. Attempting to do so  simply increases many of the complexities involved in developing and maintaining a viewer – and Firestorm is already hard-pressed in keeping pace with updates rolling out of Linden Lab for Second Life and with the major updates and improvements being made to OpenSim.

This last point has particular relevance when it comes to upcoming major releases like Linden Lab’s Environment Enhancement Project (EEP), which will entirely replace Windlight.  This is actually what prompted Firestorm to try to split viewer development between different repositories  – one for OpenSim and one for Second Life – which in turn resulted in a lot of concerns being raised by OpenSim users that have, in part, informed the thinking leading up to this blog post.

Simply put, Firestorm cannot continue to support both Windlight and EEP, and will be focusing on EEP as that reaches release for Second Life, with the hope that OpenSim will find the means to adopt the EEP protocols in the future. Similarly, it is likely that projects such LL’s on-going Love Me Render work to improve viewer rendering, the Estate Access Management project and others may well impact Firestorm’s ability to support OpenSim.

So What Does This Mean?

Simply put, it means that if Firestorm is to continue supporting OpenSim to the fullest possible extent, it is going to need the help and support of the OpenSim community.

Part of this can be due through the likes of communication and viewer patch submissions and testing, as noted above. However, the most practical way to help Firestorm is for those within the OpenSim community who are competent viewer developers and who have – or can quickly understand – the Firestorm code, to volunteer their time and expertise.

To do so, drop the Firestorm team an e-mail providing your name, contact details and a brief outline of your experience in viewer code development, and how you believe you would be able to help.

So if you are that person – please do considered applying; or if you know someone who can help – point them towards the Firestorm blog post. In the meantime, OpenSim users who may read this blog are asked to follow the link to Jessica’s blog post to read her comments first-hand.

Visiting La Maison d’Aneli’s new home in Second Life

La Maison d’Aneli: Eylinea and Desy Magic

La Maison d’Aneli, curated by Aneli Abeyante, relocated mid-year to a new home in the skies of VeGeTal PLaNeT. In making the move, the gallery space has also been redesigned, the former two-level build giving way to a more labyrinthine space that retains the open plan nature of the former venue whilst also making one’s passage through it more interesting by splitting individual display spaces across multiple levels, both “up” and “down” relative to one another, linked by stairways and walkways, together with a number of individual display spaces – all of which work together to encourage exploration and discovery.

At the time of my visit, a new set of exhibitions was due to open on Wednesday, September 18th, featuring work by: Eylinea, Akim Alonzo, Desy Magic, Jolielle Parfort, Megan Prumier, Olympes Rhode, and Moki Yuitza, all of whom present a rich mixing of 2D and 3D art. While all are opening at the same event at 12:30 pm SLT, I have to admit that I was drawn to dropping in ahead of time after receiving personal invitations to see the exhibits by Akim and Moki.

La Maison d’Aneli: Akim Alonzo

Located in one of the individual galley halls, Akim presents The Matrix, a series of images he’s created based around his love of The Matrix movies. While some of them have previously been displayed at Akim’s own gallery (see: Water and a Matrix: reflections on life by Akim Alonzo), I was drawn back to them because of both their captivating nature and because they are so nuanced and layered. Not only do they offer an interpretation of the manifold memes on the shaping of reality as found within the films and as we can create for ourselves within SL; they also present a commentary on identification – that perennial theme common to Second Life -, as I noted back in April when writing about these images:

Within these pictures is a subtle reminder that, no matter how hard we might try to distance self from character within SL, no matter what the roles we play in-world, the backstories we build; the fact remains that facets of our own natures, our own identities, will be impinged on those characters. They are inevitably a projection of self into the virtual. What’s more, their daily encounters and experiences within the virtual realm equally reflect and inform upon our physical selves. Thus, we have a genuinely visceral intertwining between the “real” and the “virtual”.

La Maison d’Aneli: Moki Yuitza

Moki also has one of the individual gallery spaces to present a 3D installation entitled Ascension. This is a mobile piece offering an interpretation of the subject matter title – the ability for us to ascend our current state mentally, spiritually or potentially physically. Beautiful to witness, this is also an interactive piece, with poseballs available for those wishing to participate in the installation.

Within the more open areas of the gallery space, I found myself drawn to Eylinea’s 2D and 3D animated art; this being the first time – at least that I can remember – I’ve seen her work on public display. There are intricate and fascinating, drawing a number of approaches – geometric, fractal, and abstract to produce some fascinating pieces.

La Maison d’Aneli: Jolielle Parfort

When visiting the gallery, I do recommend following a certain order to progress through the exhibits. From the landing point provided, take the stairs (on the left as you look out over the gallery) down to the main hall space to visit the individual exhibition space housing Moki’s Ascension. After this, explore the open spaces on their various levels and the hall containing Akim’s The Matrix, before moving to the final individual hall, home to Jolielle Parfort’s always engaging art drawn from Second Life.

This route doesn’t give any deeper context for the exhibits – each stands on its own merits -, but it will offer a logical path through the gallery and the exit point tucked into the hall featuring Jolielle’s work. From there is is then possible to visit the other exhibition areas around la Maison d’Aneli, including region holder vroum Short’s visually captivating Mirror (which I’ve also previously written about). All of these spaces are equally worthy of a visit, but which will be subject for other articles in this blog.

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A Spoonful of Sugar 2019 in Second Life

via Spoonful of Sugar

Currently open through until the end of September 29th, is the 2019 Spoonful of Sugar festival, bringing together fashion, home and garden, breedable designers and creators, artists, DJs and live performers to help raise money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).

Also known as Doctors Without Borders, MSF was founded in Paris, France in 1971 as a non-profit, self-governed medical humanitarian organisation delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare around the globe, based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Since that time, MSF has grown to a movement of 24 associations, bound together as MSF International, based in Switzerland. Thousands of health professionals, logistical and administrative staff – most of whom are hired locally – work on programmes in some 70 countries worldwide. See the video at the end of this article for more on MSF.

Spoonful of Sugar is now in its fifth year, and has thus far raised US $40,000 for MSF as a part of the organisation’s Vital Pact Campaign – and hopes to take that total to at least US $50,000 in 2019.

Spoonful of Sugar 2019 – market town

Every year, Spoonful of Sugar selects a theme for its core event. This year, the focus is very much middle-eastern: a desert environment with out of which have grown four small “towns”, each an oasis of human life in which the streets form a souq and home to many of the merchants participating in this year’s event. Large sponsors of the event are to be found gathered around the oasis a short walk from the landing point.

But the setting is not simply about the romance of the desert and camel trains of traders; it actually underscores the focus for Spoonful of Sugar this year: the plight of refugees, which over the last several years has been brought sharply into focus by the crises that continue to rock the middle-east. World-wide, there are now a recorded 70.8 “forcibly displaced” people (only 20 million of who are officially designated “refugees”) who – however unwillingly – have had to flee their homelands due to war, political or religious extremism, gang violence, terror, or other life-threatening circumstances.

Spoonful of Sugar 2019

These 70.8 million recognised refugees make up a significant portion of MSF’s work – as the Spoonful of Sugar landing point reveals. And in an age when those of a certain political stripe repeatedly opt to demonize people who are fleeing their homelands – and often leaving behind friends and families – to escape death and destruction as “the worst people” and / or “rapists and murderers”, focusing on the huge humanitarian efforts performed by organisations like MSF is fully warranted.

I’m here to tell you that nobody wants to leave home. They love their cities, their neighbourhoods. They love speaking their own language. The people fleeing their home countries are running because their home countries aren’t safe. They are fleeing for their lives.

– Dr. Ahmed Abdalzarag, MSF neurosurgeon

Spoonful of Sugar 2019: the work of MSF

Thus, the landing point offers visitors an opportunity to look inside a typical refugee camp and witness the work that MSF carries out, from triaging injuries and illnesses to working the logistics of food, drinking water and other essential supplies to providing shelter. Information boards throughout outline the work and offer insight into MSF’s multi-faceted work. Yes, the setting may desert, but it could also so easily be the grasslands of Africa, the forests of South America – or any of the multitude of places around the globe where refugees are attempting to seek help and support; as such I do recommend that rather than hopping straight on to the teleport boards and going shopping, people spend a few minutes within the camp.

As well as the shopping opportunities, there is also entertainment taking place over the weekends of the event – with a schedule available via the Spoonful of Sugar website. Also forming part of the event is the gacha area and the event raffle, while updates and information can also be found on the Spoonful of Sugar website.

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