Mapping Second Life’s mainland railways

via Linden Lab

The Second Life Railroad network is one of the major features of Second Life mainland – notably Heterocera – with lines also to be found on south and east Sansar and on Bellisseria, with number smaller (and private) lines also to be found across Second Life (such as the system in Second Norway).

Much as anyone can operate a car on the roads in Second Life, any Resident may use this public facility for any purpose consistent with the Second Life Community Standards/TOS (and at times the Lab has provided automated rail services). However, finding your way around the network can be a tad confusing, so enter 由里子 (Rydia Lacombe).

Not only is Rydia the creator of the sci-fi themed Aoshima, a homestead region Caitlyn and I enjoyed visiting in February (see: Beaming in to Aoshima in Second Life), she is a SLRR enthusiast, and something of a cartographer. She recently sent me her most recent map charting the major Linden-supplied train routes across and around Heterocera, Sansar and Bellisseria – and it is an impressive piece.

Rydia is a keen SL rail-roader, something she noted to me as we chatted about the map.

It’s what keeps me exploring! Mostly it stems from the time the WARR started building in front of the Burns freebie warehouse. I made my first SLRR railway maps in 2013 / 2014. I don’t have a formal means of distributing the maps, except through the various groups. The Virtual Railway Consortium [VRC] distributed my previous maps, but they don’t appear to be quite as active now.

– Rydia talking about her SLRR map work

WARR is the West Atoll Railroad, an electric railway line founded by Hilto Meridoc in 2010 and operating in southern Heterocera Mainland. The line opened in stages, first from Neumoegen to Electra, then east to Hera and west to Elpenor, before eventually closing in 2013, although I understand a part of it reopened in 2019.

Click the map above to go to the full-size version which you can examine on-line or right-click and download.

Despite its age and need of upgrade or overhaul, the SLRR has remained popular over the years and can offer a unique way of seeing Second Life mainland. Such are the number of lines and routes in Heterocera alone, that having a map makes a lot of sense, and the version Rydia has produced is an extensive, impressive,  polished, professional, and informative piece of work.

As with a physical world railway map, the various lines are colour-coded, and the map includes all the major routes associated with the SLRR, form the SLRR Main Line through to the likes of the old WARR line,  the the Okemo, Nakiska, and Southern Railway (ONSR), the Great Second Life Railway (GSLR), as well as the smaller and the more metropolitan routes such as the Northern Branch or the East River City Metro, the Bay City Trolleys and the current routes available in Bellisseria. Stops for the likes of airports are provided, together with crossover stations.

Rydia’s 2014 map of the Second Norway system

Unsurprisingly, Rydia’s work has been positively received in the past, with her approach to maps being adopted in a number of mainland regions.

As well as the 2013/2014 maps and this new iteration that would add grace to any SLRR station, Rydia  has also produced maps for some private region transport network, such as the Second Norway system (also perhaps in need of a little TLC, depending on what eventually happens to that estate – see here and here for news).

There is a wealth of information available in the SL wiki about the SLRR – although I cannot vouch for how up to date it is – starting with the official page, and also covering the likes of the VRC, and from these, it’s possible to find out more about various lines and routes. Links from these pages also point to more technical discussions of the SLRR and Second Life vehicles. There are also various private estate lines (as with Second Norway), but these are currently outside the scope of the current map.

Despite some of the issues that can be encountered on the SLRR, if you’ve not tried it before, it’s certain worth exploring – even if only be reading about it initially. For my part, it’s something I’ve never actually blogged about per se in these pages, although I’ve ridden various trains and tracks.

Hmmm… so perhaps it might be time for an occasional series in these pages, something perhaps called From the Footplate or similar.

My thanks to Rydia for contacting me and for our chat.

April 2020 Web User Group: Name Changes et al

The Web User Group meeting venue, Denby

The following notes are taken from my recording of the Web User Group (WUG) meeting, held on Wednesday, April 1st, 2020. These meetings are held monthly, generally on the first Wednesdays of the month, with dates and details of the meetings available via the Web User Group wiki page.

When reading these notes, please keep in mind:

  • This is not intended as a chronological transcript of the meeting. Items are drawn together by topic, although they may have been discussed at different points in the meeting.
  • Similarly, and if included, any audio extracts appearing in these summaries are presented by topic heading, rather than any chronological order in which they may have been raised during the meeting (e.g. if “topic X” is mentioned early in a meeting and then again half-way through a meeting, any audio comments related to that topic that might be included in these reports will be concatenated into a single audio extract).

Name Changes

  • Deployment of the Name Changes capability is now “really, really close”.
  • As of the meeting, all of the major elements for Name Changes are with the Lab’s QA team for testing.
  • IF no significant issues / showstoppers or the like are uncovered by QA, it is probable that Name Changes will launch before the end of April.

Premium Plus

  • All of the required / update workflows for managing Premium Plus are in place, and the various web pages that will need to be refreshed with updated information have been prepared ready for the eventual Premium Plus launch.
  • All of the back-end work is in place.
  • LL are still “sitting on” all of the various values (fee, benefits, etc.), that are associated with Premium Plus.
  • No release date but said to be be “closer” – however, as I’ve previously noted, it will not come until some time after Name Changes have been made available.

Marketplace

  • Keywords and unlisting: if an item is unlisted from the MP for keyword use issues, the merchant will now get an automated e-mail notification.
  • Further improvements to the keyword system will be made over time.
  • There have been multiple fixes to the Marketplace, including:
    • Corrections for translations for non-English languages and alternate language descriptions on listings being incorrect or not displaying correctly.
    • Fixes for issues with the transaction e-mail settings.
    • Correcting the issue of some listings failing to appear in search results on Merchant’s Manage Listings pages.
    • Cleaned up the behaviour of received items.
    • Single sign-on session handling between the viewer and the Marketplace has been improved to prevent the system getting confused between which account a user was using to make a MP purchase if they were logged-in and using the MP from two accounts.

SL Marketing

  • Work has been put into refreshing a lot of the Second Life landing pages as a part of promoting Second Life.
  • This work includes the development of the enterprise / business micro-site, including the new explore page for the (at present) seven turnkey solutions.
    • I’m currently discussing with LL a possible article on this aspect of Second Life that will present a walk-through of the micro site and how interested parties can use it to engage with LL and progress through to using one of the region types.
    • The global MuseWeb 2020 conference is in progress at the time of writing, and has moved to an entirely on-line status as a result of the current pandemic. Portions of this event are being presented in or relayed through Second Life, using one of the enterprise turnkey solutions – see: MuseWeb: utilising Second Life in support of a global conference).
  • Internally to the Lab, one of the new consumer campaigns (yet to launch at the time of writing) is called the Comfort Campaign, promoting Second Life as a virtual social environment where people can meet, share times, enjoy the company of others (pretty much in keeping with the ideal of “stay safe, stay virtual”) during the current crisis, whilst at the same time avoiding the appearance of being in any way exploitative.

Two-Factor Authentication

  • Still being worked on.
  • First step will likely be sending out an e-mail notification when an attempt to log-in to a Second Life service is made from an unrecognised device.
  • More robust 2FA controls will be added, and will initially be opt-in before eventually becoming required.

It’s a very serious topic that we are working on in parallel to AWS work. Which means it made the cut of “what can we stop working on to make AWS go faster.

– Ekim Linden

In Brief

  • Website polls. People visiting Second Life web properties such as secondlife.com and the Marketplace may have noticed a pop-up poll appearing when they do so, asking if they would recommend SL to others.
    • Apparently, those responding at largely indicating they would (although obviously saying and doing aren’t the same).
    • At the same time, the poll also received a lot of negative feedback due to the annoyance factor (it would keep popping up on a user logging into any Second Life web property until responded to), and so has been turned off.
    • However, there are more such polls being planned, although how they are being presented might be reconsidered.
  • Web profiles and legacy profiles viewer: there are further fixes awaiting before this profile can roll forward, and these are queued behind other work at present.
  • Forum spamming. There has been an upturn in new accounts spamming the forums. It is possible that if this continues and gets worse, LL may consider some form of throttling / limits on the volume of posts that can be made by an individual account at a given time.