2020 SL project updates week #12: TPVD summary

Florence at Low Tide, February 2020 – blog post

The following notes are taken from the TPV Developer meeting held on March 20th, 2020. These meetings are generally held every other week, unless otherwise noted in any given summary. The embedded video is provided to Pantera – my thanks to her for recording and providing it. Time stamps are included with the notes will only the video at the point(s) where a specific topic is discussed.

SL Viewer News

[0:07-4:35]

  • The Premium RC viewer,version 6.3.8.538264 dated March 12th, updated to de facto release status on Wednesday, March 18th.
  • The Zirbenz Maintence RC viewer, version 6.3.9.538719, was issued on Thursday, March 19th.
  • The EEP RC viewer updated to version 6.4.0.538823 on Friday, March 20th.

The rest of the upcoming official viewer remain unchanged as:

  • Release channel cohorts:
    • Love Me Render RC viewer, version 6.3.7.536179, February 10.
    • Camera Presets RC viewer, version 6.3.6.535138, January 24.
  • Project viewers:
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, December 9, 2019.
    • Project Muscadine (Animesh follow-on) project viewer, version 6.4.0.532999, November 22, 2019.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.3.2.530836, September 17, 2019. Covers the re-integration of Viewer Profiles.
    • 360 Snapshot project viewer, version 6.2.4.529111, July 16, 2019.

General Viewer Notes

Premium Viewer and Future Viewer Blocking
  • The Premium RC viewer contains new code to specifically handle benefits information related to benefits / limits applied to accounts based on subscription level (Basic, Premium or the upcoming Premium Plus).
  • Previously, this information can from a variety of sources, with some also hard-coded into the viewer, which made management of benefit changes etc., difficult.
  • With the future launch of Premium Plus and multiple benefits / limitations and associated values across multiple SL account types, all of this information will be provided directly by the server to the viewer at log-in, to make the on-going maintenance of such benefits and values (including the addition of new benefits / values) as used by the viewer easier to implement and manage.
  • Until Premium Plus goes live (there is no date at present for when this will happen, other than after Name Changes has been deployed), the changes in this viewer should not impact users. However, TPVs are being asked to adopt the code as soon as they can.
  • [0:39-0:54] At some point after Premium Plus has been implemented, Linden Lab will be blocking older viewers that do not have this code update, in order to encourage users to switch to viewer that utilise the code.
    • This step is being taken to ensure the viewer presents accurate information to users about their benefits / fees  / limitations, rather than being provided with out-of-date information that is hard-coded into their viewer.
  • [18:42-20:10] Benefits Service log-in failure messages: some people may have encountered an intermittent log-in failure messages similar to the one shown below over the past couple of weeks (I first encountered the problem on March 7th, 2020, others have been encountering it as recently as March 19th).
Benefits Service log-in failure, March 7th, 2020
    • The problems have apparently been due to “super brief” outages (and automatic recoveries) with the benefits service, which the Lab is still investigating for a root cause.
    • This is the type of message people will eventually see when trying to log-in to SL on viewers that do not have the code currently in the Premium RC viewer, once the Premium Plus service is live, and the switch to using the new benefits information service has been made.
EEP RC Viewer and Promotion

[1:03-1:50]

  • Depending on its time in an RC cohort and the nature of any issues found, EEP version 6.3.8.538264 could be the final version of this viewer, and destined for promotion to release status in the next few weeks.
  • It is unlikely any promotion will occur during week #13 (commencing Monday, March 23rd), because a) the viewer requires time in its cohort to check for issues / crash rates, etc.; and b) the week #12 promotion of the Premium RC viewer.
  • If the viewer performs well, and no significant issues are found with it or with EEP in general, it would seem likely the view will be promoted some time in the two weeks after week #13.
  • However, if problems remain with EEP, it is possible the tools update viewer (see below), when available, might be fast-tracked for promotion ahead of EEP.
  • The previous iteration of the EEP viewer reportedly had one of the lowest crash rates for any LL viewer.
Remaining RC and Project Viewers

[1:52-4:35; 7:05-7:31 and as timestamped below]

  • The love Me Render RC viewer is unlikely to be promoted until some time after EEP has reached de facto release status, so as not to have two blocks of rendering changes released one atop the other.
  • The Camera Presets RC viewer has an update, and should be appearing shortly, once merged with the new release viewer code. This will also not be promoted prior to EEP.
  • The first public viewer using the updated viewer build tools (VS 2017 and a recent version of Xcode for Mac and which uses the new Github repositories) is going through its “last massive rebuild”, and an RC version is expected to be made available in week #13.
    • This viewer will be functionality identical to the release viewer; there are no UI or other changes to it, other than bug fixes required by the move to the newer build tools.
    • This build has yet to address the notarising MAC application issue that results in warnings being issued by OS X “Catalina”. However, LL recognise this issue needs to be addressed , and will be doing so.
    • Depending on how this viewer fairs in RC compared to the EEP viewer, it might be fast-tracked for promotion to de facto release ahead of EEP.
  • [10:23-11:04] The Legacy Profiles RC viewer has a bug where under some circumstances it will display the profile web feed information in error, which needs to be addressed before the viewer progresses further (the web feed to the viewer will be turned off from the back-end once the Legacy Profiles viewer is promoted to release status).

In Brief

  • [17:15-17:36] There are some inventory operations (e.g moving a folder, renaming a folder, etc.) that are under UDP. There is a plan to move all such operations to AIS (HTTP), but this work will likely not be tackled until after the work on the cloud uplift has been completed.
  • [17:39-18:18] Because of the uplift work, and outside of major projects such as EEP, Name Changes and Premium Plus, the number of server / back-end changes that the Lab make will be “quite constrained” over the course of the next 12 months or so.
  • [20:15-21:53] The texture caching work in the viewer in on-going, alongside all other viewer-side work, as none of this conflicts with the cloud uplift work.
    • The first step will be to re-implement the VFS in a “simpler, cleaner way”.
    • After this, work will extend into revising the texture cache.
    • Also, “behind” the texture cache work, there is further work on texture fetching via HTTP2.
  • [22:02-26:25 (inlc. text chat)] BUG-227179 “All offline inventory offers from scripted objects are STILL lost” – LL are still “trying to figure out” the cause of this long-term issue. Firestorm reverted the problem, and requests have been made for LL to do the same, but the Lab would rather “fix” the problem – which doesn’t entirely help those who are victim to inventory loss resulting from it.

Sansar: looking at the apparent new owner – Wookey Projects Inc.

Courtesy of … Wookey Projects Inc (?)

News is buzzing on the Sansar Discord servers about a possible take-over / buy-out of Sansar by Wookey Projects Inc.

There has been no official word from Linden Lab on the matter as yet, however:

  • Sansar was removed from the footer links of Linden Lab properties earlier this week.
  • The Sansar web pages have all bee updated to assign Sansar as “©2020 Wookey” in the footer areas.
  • The Sansar Terms of Service  and Privacy Policy (which broadly remain the same as previous Terms of Service for the platform, have been revised to reference “Wookey Projects Inc (Wookey)”.
The Sansar Terms of Service and Privacy Policy both now refer to Wookey Projects Inc. (Wookey).

There are some hiccups evident in the change-over: when logging-in to Sansar via the web, users may get a log-in pop-up asking them to agree to the new Terms of Service, but I found the link still points to the Lab’s ToS page for Sansar, resulting in a 503 page error. Doubtless, issues like this will be smoothed out in time.

I first noted the absence of Sansar in the footer areas of Linden Lab related web pages (e.g. the SL Dashboard) earlier in the week of March 16th-20th, which first alerted me to possible changes coming in Sansar’s status

Who Are Wookey Projects Inc?

Information is scarce, but in a couple of hours of digging since seeing the Discord speculation, here’s what I’ve (hopefully correctly!) put together:

The address for Wookey Projects Inc is given as:

Wookey
765 Beach Street
San Francisco, California 9410

This puts it remarkably close to the Lab’s own stomping grounds at Battery Street.

But more particularly, and  going by the corporate logo, Wookey Projects Inc., appears to be either and offshoot of, or new operating name for Wookey Search Technologies (strapline “We removed the search bar from search”).

The latter’s place of address is given as 235 Montgomery Street Suite 912, San Francisco, CA 94104, so its not entirely clear if Wookey Technologies and Wookey Projects will operate as separate entities, or whether the latter’s address might signify a physical move on the part of Wookey Technologies. Certainly, both entities appear to share the same web domain of wookey.com.

Wookey Technologies was founded by Mark Gustavson, who serves as the Chief Financial Officer, with Garnet Chaney serving at the Chief Technology Officer, and Steve Moriya as the Senior VP of Marketing. The web page also gives Jonathan Fried as serving as interim CEO.

The Wookey Technologies Management Team: Mark Gustavson (Founder / CFO; Garnet Chaney (CTO) and interim CEO (r) Jonathan Fried.

Peeking behind the curtain of the company’s website, it appears that they are spreading their wings  and moving into the VR / AR environment, with the About Us page reading:

Wookey started from our own experience. Just like you, we saw the limitations of flat, one-dimensional internet interaction. With each experience, the frustration grew. It’s evident that algorithms are telling me what it wants, not hearing what I need.

What if we could create on-line experiences that were unbiased and arranged by relevance to us, not by advertisers or bias of company? We realized, with the right team and the right investors, we can.Wookey was born.

We endeavour to create a new generation of on-line AR/VR experiences that allows users the power of collaborative interaction through knowledge immersion.

Interestingly, and despite having been around since approximately 2016, the company describes itself as “approaching the beta stage of development”. Quite what this involves is unclear, but I assume it is in relation to their move to focus VR / AR. In this, and given the changes to the Sansar ToS and PP, it would appear likely they are seeking to keep the platform going in some active form, at least for the time being, possibly as a (further?) means of leveraging themselves into the VR space.

If this is correct – and keeping Sansar alive is certainly what Linden Lab have been hoping to achieve – it will be interesting to see if any of those formerly working on Sansar at the Lab might be involved in the shift of Sansar to Wookey, and whether familiar names might yet be seen to return to the Sansar fold. I speculate on this because, at the time it was confirmed the Lab would no longing be developing Sansar, Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg noted that the company was trying to keep former employees engaged in Sansar involved in discussions in the platforms future:

Yes, there were lay-offs today. A truly wonderful group of people. But as you can see Sansar is up and running. We are still in discussion about next steps. Including with the wonderful group of people. More to come.

– Ebbe Altberg, February 12th, 2020 (see: Sansar: lay-offs, rumours, and confusion) – emphasis added

In the meantime, we’re still awaiting official word on things from both Linden Lab and Wookey projects Inc. I hope to have more on this as and when something more official is available.