Chouchou set to remain in Second Life – and there’s more

Chouchou – to be preserved

Back in May 2019, I was one of a number of SL bloggers who wrote about the possible closure of the Chouchou regions (see: A Farewell to Chouchou).

Designed by Japanese pianist Arabesque Choche and vocalist Juliet Heberle, who together form the successful musical duet of Chouchou and managed by 10223 Resident (aka Tofu), the regions are among some of the longest running, practically unchanged private island environments, to be found in Second Life, and are an absolute delight for all who encounter them.

Following the news breaking on the potential closure (apparently the result of idiots repeatedly being idiots within the regions), there were attempts to try to get the regions preserved via the Lab’s Second Life Region Preservation Society, run by Patch Linden’s land team (I will toot my own horn here, in that I played a very small role in this, helping to bring the potential closure of the regions to Patch Linden’s attention). Contact was also made with Juliet Heberle on the matter (regions can only be preserved through the SLRPS with the approval of the region holders), but at the time she indicated it was the Chouchou team’s preference that the regions close be allowed to close.

However, the regions remained open well past the originally indicated closure date – and as it turned out, talks did commence in the background between Chouchou and Linden Lab. Now, and, as reported by fellow arts blogger, Oema, an agreement in principle between Chouchou and Linden Lab has been reached, allowing the Chouchou regions to remain in Second Life under the remit of the SLRPS.

Oema obtained the news via a Facebook post from Chouchou, which reads in part:

Regarding the closure of the region Chouchou (Chouchou sim, Chouchou V sim) in Second Life, we’d like to report some progress. As a result of our discussion with Linden Lab, we made a decision to maintain our region by joining The Second Life Region Preservation Society provided by Linden Lab …

Right now, we’re in the middle of exchanging contracts with Linden Lab, and it’s taking time for the contract procedures. We’re very sorry for the late announcement.

Chouchou – Memento Mori

Within the post, Chouchou note that it was the outpouring of support for the regions to survive  – see this forum thread as an example – that caused the change of heart on closure and to seek the assistance of Patch and his team through the SLRPS in order for the regions to be maintained in SL.

According to the post, the regions will continue to operate with the support of Linden Lab, but with 10223 Resident managing them. Nor is that all: the arrangement with Linden Lab also means an additional Chouchou region has been returned to Second Life, as the Chouchou Facebook post also announces:

And it is also decided that one of our sims, Chouchou XVI – The Babel – which was closed in 2013 will be back in Second Life thanks to Linden Lab’s kind arrangements.

At the time of writing, Chouchou XVI has been returned to the grid, but was not open to the public.

The three Chouchou regions – including Chouchou XVI – The Babel, last seen in-world in 2013 – once again together on the grid

The decision to allow the regions to continue is exceptionally welcome. As noted, the Chouchou regions have long been a part of Second Life and the Memento Mori build over Chouchou V remains one of the most stunning prim builds to be found in-world. Hence why I again include a short film of it below.

If you have not previously visited Chouchou,  Islamey and Memento Mori – I strongly recommend you do, and take the time to savour them now they look set to remain in SL. Follow the links after the video.

SLurl Details and Links

 

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Lab blogs on the SL Web Team’s work, including “last names”

(Copyright Linden Lab)

Early on October 1st, 2019, Linden Lab blogged a update on the work of the Second Life web team and to act as a reminder of the monthly Second Life Web User Group meeting.

The update – Web User Group And Updates! – provides insight into some of the major areas of work the Lab’s SL web team are involved in. The most visible element of this work – possibly the most visible of all of LL’s web services – is the Marketplace (MP). However, the team are involved in all aspects of Linden Lab’s Second Life web properties and services – and this includes the work to move them to AWS cloud services and preparing the ground from the re-implementation of Last Names.

To take the updates given in the official blog post in reverse order:

SL Marketplace

In terms of the Marketplace, the blog post offers a round-up of recent Marketplace changes – notably the introduction of MP Store Manager functionality (see: SL Marketplace: store managers introduced), that is currently being further refined based on feedback from store holders.

In addition, the post indicates a couple of capabilities referenced by Reed Linden, the Product Manager responsible for the Lab’s Second Life web infrastructure mentioned during his appearance on Lab Gab (see: Lab Gab episode 2 with Reed Linden – a summary). These are:

  • In-world purchase notifications: an opt-in system allowing store owners to receive a viewer notification of purchases made through their Marketplace stores.
  • The gifts received listing – allowing users to see the gifts they have received, who sold it, a link to their store, who purchased / sent it, and any accompanying message. Also included is an option to have the item to be redelivered.
Received Gifts (MP → Account Name → My Account Page → Received Gifts) allows users to review details of the gifts they have received, together with the ability (if applicable) to have a gift redelivered (arrowed). Click to enlarge, if required.

Cloud Migration

The work in migrating Second Life services to the cloud is continuing – but as I’ve noted in other reports on this, it is a long-term project; there are a lot of services that need to be translated from operations within the Lab’s dedicated co-location facilities to provisioning via the cloud well before LL reach the point of attempting to transition simulator servers.

Much of the work in moving these back-end services is being carried out by the web team, with the blog post noting multiple web services are now operated through the cloud while others are either being moved from third-party vendors to an in-house implementation or decoupled from their previous dependencies into stand-alone services ready to be migrated to the cloud.

Even so, as Oz and April Linden have indicated recently, there is still some way to go, and the Lab approaching this work from the perspective of not saying too much about which services have been moved, to avoid user reports of issues being swamped by subjective beliefs that problems “must” be the result of X or Y being transitioned or changed.

Names Changes (aka “Last Names”)

The term “last names” really is something of a misnomer for this project, given it offers users the freedom to choose (and change) any first name, and to select (and change) a last name using pre-defined (and routinely updated) lists of names.  Hence why the Lab’s blog post refers to thework as Name Changes

Within the Lab’s blog post, the following comment on the status of the project is offered:

We’re extremely pleased to say that in the last month we’ve made significant progress in laying the foundations for the long-awaited Name Changes feature.  All of our teams have been working hard on preparing the grid and all of our systems to accommodate account name changes, both first and last. We’re not quite ready to release all the details yet, but suffice to say that if you’ve ever wanted to change up your account name for whatever reason (and we know you have!) STAY TUNED.

This would appear to imply the project may be approaching the point where LL are ready to deploy it. In the meantime, those wishing to catch up on the Name Changes project can do so via these links:

Web User Group

The monthly Web User Group (WUG) meetings allow users to meet with members of the Second Life Web Team to discuss the various SL web properties and services, learn about projects related to them, ask questions, etc. The meetings are a combination of the Voice and text (you’ll generally need Voice to hear responses from the Web Team representatives – questions and comments can be made in local chat if preferred).

As noted in the official blog post, the next WUG meeting is on Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019 at 14:00 SLT. The meetings are held at Alexa Linden’s barn in SL, and the agenda, if set, is available on the WUG wiki page.

Note: you can also find out about all of the in-world user group meetings via the sidebar on the right of this blog and scrolling down to SL User Groups – hover the mouse over the links for quick information on each of them, or click the link to go to the relevant wiki page.

Firestorm 6.3.2: welcome to Bakes on Mesh

On Monday, September 30th, 2019, Firestorm released version 6.3.2.58052 of their viewer.

This release features the awaited support for Linden Lab’s Bakes on Mesh capability, together with a number of Lab-derived updates and updates from the Firestorm Team.

Please note that this update is for Second Life only – see below for more.

 

Table of Contents

As per usual, this article provides an overview of the more visible updates in the release. Please refer to the release notes for a full list of updates and all associated credits. Also, note that this update means that version 5.1.7.55786 will be blocked from logging in to the Second Life grid in the near future – check the Firestorm blog for updates.

Why No OpenSim Version?

Jessica Lyon, project lead for Firestorm, recently blogged on the situation regarding OpenSim, and some of the steps the team are having to reverse as well as to take in order to offer some level of support for OpenSim unless they can obtain an OpenSim developer to assist with the viewer. For details see OpenSim the Good, The Bad and the Ugly.

At that time, Jessica had been hoping to provide OpenSim support “as is” with future releases of Firestorm – and had planned this to be the case with this release. However, a major issue was found with this release that could result in OpenSim regions crashing.

This will take time to resolve – hence no OpenSim version with this release. Instead, Firestorm will continue to offer version 6.0.2.56680 for OpenSim users. As the 6.3.2.58052 release installs separately to 6.0.2.56680, both versions can be run side-by-side on the same computer for those wishing to access both Second Life and OpenSim.

The Usual Before We Begin

As per my usual preamble:

  • There is no need to perform a clean install with this release if you do not wish to.
  • Do, however, make sure you back-up all your settings safely so you can restore them after installing 6.3.2.
  • Please refer to the official release notes for a full breakdown and changes, updates and credits associated with this release.

Again, please refer to the Firestorm 6.3.2 release notes for details of specific Lab-derived fixes for this release.

Lab Derived Updates

The version of Firestorm brings the viewer to parity with the Linden Lab 6.3.1 code base, with some cherry-picked updates from upstream release candidate versions.

Bakes on Mesh

Simply put, Bakes on Mesh (BoM) allows system clothing layers as used with the “classic” Second Life system avatar – skins, tattoos, underwear, shirt and jacket layers – to be applied to mesh bodies and heads, and without (necessarily) the need for additional applier systems.

The system requires mesh bodies and heads to be “BoM enabled” – and many creators have already updated their products, or are in the process of updating their products to support Bakes on Mesh. In addition, some applier makers are producing applier systems that leverage Bakes on Mesh to apply wearables to mesh bodies and heads – although these may be limited in some respects due to differences between how skin textures and mesh bodies are made).

Through Bakes on Mesh, Linden Lab hopes:

  • Users can avoid the need to use appliers, but can add wearables to their mesh avatar directly from inventory.
  • Creators will be able to simplify avatar mesh bodies and heads by removing the need for some of the “onion” layers. This should – if done – reduce the rendering complexity for bodies and heads, thus hopefully improving people’s SL experience (as avatars won’t be quite so resource intensive or require quite so much “assembly time” when encountering them on logging-on or after teleporting somewhere).

Note that Bakes on Mesh support is required to both use the BoM capability and to correctly view mesh avatars using BoM.

Bakes on Mesh adds new options for applying suitable textures to the baking channels for application on a mesh body by the Bake Service

For more detailed information on Bakes on Mesh, please refer to the following links:

Linden Lab:

Creator-related BoM documentation:

Informative Bakes on Mesh blog post:

In addition, Firestorm has created their own Bakes on Mesh wiki.

External Note Card Editor

Note cards can now be edited using an external editor.  Firestorm has adopted this as follows:

  • Select your preferred editor:
    • Go to Preferences → Firestorm → Build 1 → External Editor
    • Click Browse alongside the External Editor text entry field.
    • Use the picker to navigate to your preferred text editor and select its .EXE / launcher.
    • Click OK
    • The path to the editor should now be displayed in the text field.
    • This generally only has to be done once, unless you opt to change your preferred editor.
You can now set an external editor when writing / editing note cards
  • To use the external editor:
    • Create / open a note card for editing.
    • Click on the Edit button in the bottom left of the floater.
    • Your external editor will open and load the text.
    • Edit the text as required, and save using the external editor.
    • The edited text will be uploaded to the note card and saved in it.

Notes:

  • There is no charge applied for the upload and saving to the note card.
  • Rich text editing (bold, italic, indentation, etc) used within the external editor will be ignored and the text converted to plain text for saving to the note card.

Other Lab Updates of Note

  • Ability to duplicate a group role – allows you to duplicate a group role so that the copied role has the same permissions and you can just give the copied role a different title (see: BUG-226986).
    • Open the group profile → Members & Roles → Roles → Left click on a role to select it → Click the Copy Role button
  • Animesh objects not being highlighted when viewing objects owned by users in About Land fixed (see: BUG-227240).
  • Animesh objects should now be easier to select (see: BUG-226860).
  • Depth mode snapshots no longer broken when snapshot size is set to anything above current window size (see: BUG-227191).
  • Scoreboards and visitor trackers broken by the last CEF update should not longer be broken (see: BUG-226704).
  • Viewer-side support for playback of sound files up to 30s in length
    • Note this feature is awaiting simulator support to work.
  • The ability to share photos & post to Facebook has been removed from the viewer (see: BUG-225205).
    • This has been broken at the Facebook end for some time, with no sign of being fixed.
  • Build → Texture → Align Planar Faces should now work on normal or specular maps (see: BUG-6489).
  • Under Help → Report Abuse, Gaming Policy Violation has been revised to Skill Gaming Policy Violation for clarity.

Firestorm Updates

Link to Discord

 6.3.2.58052 includes the ability to link your Second Life account with your Discord account. Once connected, Discord will show your Second Life on-line status & session length, and optionally, your user name and location in SL.

Discord floater

Notes:

  • This capability only works with the Discord client – it does not work with the Discord web pages.
  • To work, you must have the Discord client running when attempting to link to it from Firestorm.
  • Both Discord and Firestorm must be running with the same access level (note: it is not recommended you run discord in Admin mode).

To link you SL and Discord accounts:

  • Go to Comm → Discord …
  • The Discord floater opens.
  • In the floater you can opt to:
    • Automatically display you are using Second Life / Firestorm whenever you log-in to the viewer.
    • Display your Second Life user name.
    • Select whether or not you wish to display your location in Second Life, or, if opting to show your location, opt to only display it according to the maturity rating of the region you are in.
    • Create a list of region names you do not wish to have displayed by Discord when you are visiting them, regardless of any maturity rating set in the panel.
  • When you have set your preferences, click the Connect … button.
  • Once connected, you can disconnect from Discord at any time by displaying the panel and clicking Disconnect …

Avatar, Appearance and Inventory

Attachment auto-refresh: Firestorm 6.3.2.58052 adds a timer for automatically refreshing attachments when an attempt is made to kill them after a teleport / region change. It is designed to help resolve issues where your attachments are invisible to observers after a teleport or region change, and provides the same functionality as the manual Avatar → Avatar Health → Refresh Attachments (Alt-Shift-R).

Optionally, if the debug setting FSExperimentalLostAttachmentsFixReport is set to TRUE, Firestorm reports attachments that were attempted to get detached during a teleport or region crossing to nearby chat, followed by reporting “Refreshing attachments…” to nearby chat when the auto-refresh starts.

See FIRE-12004 and BUG-7761.

Profile Links to Force Appearance Change: it has been possible for users to put obfuscated links (e.g. “Photo of me in RL”) in their profile floater that, when clicked by another user, would replace outfit with one of the default outfits from the inventory library.

With this update, such links will no longer work, and the obfuscated link will display as “Wear Inventory Folder”. This matches a similar fix included in the Linden Lab Legacy Profiles folder. See also: FIRE-24262.

Fixes:

  • Removal of the restriction on adding system layers with identical asset UUIDs at the same time (see: FIRE-24334).
  • LookAt target clamping no longer causes your avatar eyes to cross (see: FIRE-24175).
  • The Firestorm Animation Overrider should now work correctly with child prim sits.

General Updates of Note

  • Movement at region crossing: this release fixes the issue of region crossing Predict option (Preferences → Move & View → Movement at Region Crossing) behaving like Stop (see: FIRE-24184).
  • The option Use HTTP For Receiving Textures has been removed from the SL-only version of the viewer’s Preferences.
    • This option forced the viewer to switch from UDP texture fetching to HTTP.
    • As Second Life no longer uses UDP for asset fetching (including textures), the option is no longer required for the SL version of the viewer, thus prompting its removal (see: FIRE-24256).
  • Payment confirmation is now skipped if paying yourself (e.g. paying your own tip jar) – see FIRE-24208.
    • Also fixed a case where the payment confirmation notification would not be shown if the amount would be exactly the remaining L$ balance.
  • FMOD Studio updated to version 2.00.03.
  • RLV updated to RestrainedLove API: RLV v3.2.1 / RLVa v2.2.0.58052.

Feedback

I actually don’t have a lot to report; I’ve been using the Bakes on Mesh betas for some time, and found the BoM functionality works fine after some early hiccups. One or two of the early beta gave some crashes for me, but the 6.3.2.58051/58052 versions (the latter including a minor update from 58051) have between them been stable – although I’ve only had the 58052 version installed for the time it has taken me to write this review.

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