Survivors of Suicide: Christmas Fair: seeking vendors, sponsors and more

Survivors of Suicide (SOS) is a peer to peer support group within Second Life dedicated to help those who have been impacted by depression, thoughts of suicide, or who have attempted suicide or have lost someone to suicide. The group offers practical support, as well as education and information on dealing with depression, suicide prevention and more.

Founded in December 2008, SOS is the longest running support group of its kind in Second Life, and celebrates its anniversary each year with a special Christmas Fair – and 2019 will be no different; but they need help to make it happen.

In particular the group is seeking:

  • Sponsorships:
    • Land Sponsors: the group would lot to hear from any individual or group willing to provide land on which the 2019 SOS Christmas Fair can be held.
    • Entertainment sponsors: if you have a favourite DJ or Live singer and would like them to appear at the Fair, would you be prepared to book them and pay for their time? If so, SOS would love to hear from you.
    • Photography contest: do you have items you’re willing to offer as prizes in the SOS Christmas Fair photo contest? The group are seeking things like cards, items from photography themed stores, etc., – even L$ amounts for the 5 prize slots in the competition.
    • Raffle items: donations of gift cards, transferable items, etc., for the fair’s closing gala raffle.
  • Entertainment: live singers, cover bands, DJ’s, spoken word artists, dance troupes – all are welcome to donate their time and talent.
  • Vendors / Merchants: SOS would like to have 35-45 vendors and merchants offer their goods at the Fair. Exclusive items are not required (but would be welcome!); all that is asked is that at least one item is offered for sale with 100% of proceeds going to SOS (or multiple items at a lesser percentage each).
  • Celebrity Elves: are you a “known” creator, fashion designer, blogger, etc., and are willing to spend a couple of hours at the Fair as a elf and available for people to take photos of themselves with you? If so, SOS would love to hear from you.
The SOS clubhouse

Full details on all of the above can be obtained from the SOS headquarters  – grab them from the 11th Anniversary Christmas Fair sign board outside of the main clubhouse for details and sign-up forms.

SOS wants to create a safe and fun place for everyone to go to over the holidays if they are feeling a little lonely or in need of some stress relief and we want you to be a part of it. Please stop by SOS and see how you can help make our 11th Anniversary Christmas Fair the absolute best it can be.

– The SOS team

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A closer look: Second Life viewer & simulator release processes

Part of the official viewer release process (see below for the full diagram). Credit: Linden Lab

Many of us are familiar with the Lab’s approach to viewer and simulator releases – but equally, many only have a passing understanding of what goes on. This was something reinforced to me as a result of in-world conversations I’ve had recently, so I thought I’d reach back to 2013, when I provided a guide to the viewer release process (see: New viewer release process implemented), and use that and some additional notes on simulator releases to try to provide and easy-to-follow overview of how the Lab manages official viewer releases and simulator updates.

The Viewer Release Process


Note: just to avoid any confusion, please remember these notes only apply to the official Second Life viewer supplied by Linden Lab (and which from the last Lab-derived comment on numbers (late 2016) I have could account for approximately 15%-20% of user usage).

The current viewer release process was introduced in July 2013 as a result of a number of issues occurring in 2012 that combined to produce a severe bottleneck in the Lab’s ability to make timely viewer releases and deploy everything from bug fixes to major new releases.

With it, the Lab can produce multiple versions of the viewer in parallel with one another, some of which may initially follow their own development / testing path independently of other versions, but which can, when they are ready, be tested for their suitability for promotion as the next de facto release viewer through direct monitoring of their performance and through comparison of that performance, one to the next.

The Viewer Release and Integration Process is intended to allow viewers to be better developed tested and prepared for release in parallel. Image credit: Linden Lab

Types of Official Viewer

The process achieves this by allowing viewers to be developed on a rolling basis, defined by project internally, and which eventually appear for public use in one of two “pre-release” versions, as it were: Project viewers and release candidate viewers.

  • Project viewers are generally viewers dedicated to a single new feature, capability or function within the viewer. They are essentially “first look” / experimental viewers designed to expose new features and capabilities (and any new viewer UI that might come with them) to users interested in them, who can then test and provide feedback (including bug reports) to the Lab, allowing the feature or capability to be refined and improved.
  • Release candidate (RC) viewers are viewers considered to be close to the point where they can be promoted as the de facto release viewer.
    • They might be former project viewers that have progress to a point where the Lab is considering formally releasing them, OR they might start as RC viewers in their own right without ever having been a project viewer.
    • It is these RC versions that allow the Lab to gather statistics on the behaviour of individual viewers in order to help determine their suitability for promotion to full release status.

Broadly speaking, whether a viewer starts its public life as a project viewer or a release candidate viewer depends on what it contains. A viewer containing a major new feature – such as Animesh, Bakes on Mesh or EEP, for example – will generally make an initial public appearance as a project viewer for the reasons noted above. Maintenance releases, hot fixes, and things like updates to the viewer rendering system will – in general – tend to appear directly as release candidate viewers.

No viewer ever goes directly from project status to a full release – all project viewers will go by way of progressing first to being a release candidate, then being judged as ready for promotion to full release status.

Where to Find Them and How They are Handled

Both types of viewer appear on the Alternate Viewers Page, but how they are handled is somewhat different – and this is one of the important aspects in understanding them.

  • Project viewers are largely “independent” viewer versions.
    • Users must opt to visit the Alternate Viewers Page and select, download and install one.
    • Each project viewer installs into its own dedicated location (although they share the same settings files and cache locations as the release viewer), so they can be run alongside the release version of the official viewer, if installed.
  • Release candidate viewers are considered as “alternative release viewers”.
    • Release candidates are assigned a “cohort number” the Lab believes will present a reasonable cross-section of users.
      • When a release candidate viewer is made available, the system automatically triggers the viewer update process among randomly selected users on the current official release viewer, moving them to the release candidate.
      • When the cohort number for a release candidate viewer is reached, it is no longer made available for automatic download / installation.
      • Once a user has been selected to receive a release candidate version of a viewer, they will continue to receive updates for that particular RC on a mandatory basis until it is promoted to release status – they will not be selected to receive other RCs (or updates to others RCs) until the RC they have been using in promoted to de facto release status.
      • The reason for doing this is to allow the Lab to monitor the performance of individual viewer release candidates and capture data on things like performance, stability, crash rates, etc. This data, together with bug reports, etc., filed by users is then used to determine an individual RC’s suitability for promotion to release status.
    • Alternatively, users can opt to manually install any RC viewer that interests them directly via the Alternate Viewers Page. Again, by default, any RC viewer installed in this way will overwrite any existing installation of the official release viewer (unless an alternative installation location is provided by the user), and the user will thereafter receive updates for that RC.
    • Note that users who do not wish to have RC viewers installed on their system can, if they wish opt out of the release viewer update loop from within their viewer, as shown below.
Users of the official viewer who do not wish to be involved in testing any release candidate viewers can opt out of the selection / download process by unchecking the Willing to Update to Release Candidates option in Preference. Note that having the option checked does not mean you will be subject to RC testing: users for each RC issued by LL are selected entirely at random from the poll of official viewer users.

How are Viewers Progressed to Release?

As noted above, project viewers follow defined path: they initially appear as a public project viewer, and then may go through multiple iterations of improvement, updates, added capabilities, bug fixes, etc., before they reach a point where the Lab determines they are ready for upgrade to release candidate status.

Release candidate viewers are more closely monitored by the Lab through their various cohorts, whilst similarly being subject to multiple iterations designed to remove bugs, help with performance, address further perceived shortfalls in functionality, etc., based on things like bug reports and feature requests from users.

While this approach means that multiple viewers can be developed, tested and readied for promotion to de facto release status, it often means that at any one time, there are several RC viewers vying for release. When this happens:

  • The Lab will select a viewer or promotion based on a number of factors, including stability, performance, number of remaining bugs / issues, the potential impact of said bugs issues, the urgency with which an RC needs to be released (e.g. an “late breaking” RC with a hot fix could well be promoted ahead of other RCs that have been available for longer) and so on.
  • Generally speaking, the Lab tries to promote no more than one RC to de facto release status every two weeks. However, depending on the overall state of individual RC viewers, the period between promotions can be longer.
  • Once a release candidate has been promoted to release status, the first order of business is to merge the code it contains into all over available RC viewers and then monitor them to see how they behave when built using the “new” release code, a process that also feeds back into determining which of them might next be promoted.

What this all Means in Summary

Simply, put, that official viewer and viewer updates can be produced on a rolling basis, with some starting as project viewers, others directly as release candidates, with the latter being objectively monitored both individually and in comparison with one another to determine which is best suited to become the next de facto release viewer.

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