2020 SL Christmas Expo: of memories and merchants

via Christmas Expo

The 2020 SL Christmas Expo in support of the American Cancer Society, will take place between Friday, December 4th and Sunday, December 13th, 2020, inclusive. The theme for this year is that of Christmas Memories, with the organisers noting:

Christmas trees towering over your head while the Lionel train makes is journey around the base. Brightly wrapped gifts spread under the lowest boughs, as the aroma of sugar cookies and gingerbread drift in from the kitchen. Carols playing on the Victrola while the family gathers together to celebrate the holidays.  Christmas Memories of all shapes and sizes spring to mind each year as the holidays approach.

– Nuala Maracas, RFL of SL Christmas Expo co-ordinator

This year, the organisers plan to have:

  • 150+ merchants.
  • Breedables and one-of-a-kind auctions.
  • nearly non-stop musical performances / entertainment via the Holly jolly Café.
  • Gachas and hunts.
  • Christmas trees, ice skating, and a snowman building contest.
  • The 3rd annual Lights of Hope contest, featuring the best builders and teams of Lindens and Moles in a holiday home decorating competition.
  • The closing Live Auction with one of a kind items from Linden Lab and SL’s top creators and the annual Holidays of Hope Ball.
  • The Holidays of Hope Ball.
2019 Christmas Expo

Merchant and Auction Registrations

Second Life Region crossings update

Updated region crossing code on the main grid should improve travelling by vehicle across the main grid

As I’ve noted in recent Simulator User Group updates, the Blake Sea regions were cloned to Aditi (the beta gird) in late July, to give users the opportunity to test regions running on AWS services (“the cloud”). Among the more significant tests carried out (for many users) was for physical region crossings via vehicle.

Initially, things did not go well; it was almost impossible to complete more than two or three region crossings without encountering insurmountable problems – and some users (myself among them) couldn’t even get through a single crossing whilst driving a vehicle. Thanks to the data gathered, the Lab made some updates to the Aditi / Blake Sea region crossing code, and Simon Linden set-up the Blake Sea Challenge so that further data on region crossings could be obtained (see: 2020 Simulator User Group week #31 summary & the Blake Sea Cloud challenge).

Preparing for a high-speed run with my Foilstream with foils lowered…

All of this work resulted in a set of updates to the region crossing code for the Aditi regions, and on Tuesday, August 11th and Wednesday August 12th, these updates were included in the simulator deployments made to Agni (the main grid)¹.

So how are things now working?

Well, first and foremost, it is early days and less than 24 hours since the RC deployment. However, people are already reporting appreciable region crossing improvements with the updated code. While far from a comprehensive test, I took a number of my boats and aircraft out for a a series of runs across a total of 55 region crossings (east to west from Second Norway to Nautilus and around part of Blake Sea, then back again) to see how things faired. The vehicles I tested were:

  • Bandit 50/3 sailing cruiser.
  • Piaggio KV23H Foilstream (version 3.2c).
  • Spijkers MD900 Explorer
  • TBM Kronos (version 6).
…. And multiple regions later, still going at speed without loss of control, and able to orbit camera for photos 🙂

I selected these four as a mix of both medium and high performance craft. Both the Bandit 50/3 and the MD900 made the round trip without real incident. Crossings for both resulted in zero vehicle slewing, with the Bandit (always good on region crossings with 2 avatars on-board) being pretty much perfect throughout, and the MD900 making each crossing with control recovery in about a second, and only very slight camera issues.

The Foilstream was going to be a tougher proposition because of its sheer speed: when running with hydrofoils deployed and full throttle, it can cross a region in 7 seconds, so multiple back-to-back crossings inevitably lead to issues at some point, while even at lower speeds the boat was subject to loss of control on crossings lasting seconds and frequently subject to the camera slewing and becoming locked in the side of the boat. The Kronos is not particularly fast compared to other aircraft, but it is exceptionally manoeuvrable and aerobatic, so complex manoeuvres that cross regions have in the past led to issues of control loss and camera slewing.

Things still can go uncomfortably wrong – if you push too hard, as I did with repeated loops through a region crossing at speed

With both of these vehicles, region crossings were considerably improved, other than when carrying things to extremes.

The Foilstream managed so 25 region crossings at full speed with no real loss of control before I found myself on the sea floor sans boat (compared to about a dozen previously before running into problems  – loss of vehicle, camera slewing), while the only issue with he Kronos came with intentional aerobatics back and forth over a region crossing. In this latter case, I will say that when it did go wrong, it did so quite spectacularly, with total loss of control  and the ‘plane tumbling with no recovery at all, with the map showing it trying to continue forward.

Beyond my basic tests, others have been carrying out tests. One of these is colleague Luca lucagrabacr, who recorded her own tests using a range of craft and vehicles. Wo can catch her results in the video below.

Again, while it is early days, fresh after a restart of the entire grid, etc., so gremlins may still climb out of the woodwork, but on the whole, region crossings by vehicle should generally be a lot smoother and easier. Of course, the code doesn’t mean all region crossings are solved – if you push things really hard, things can still go wrong (as with me and repeated Kronos loops back and forth between regions at high speed.

  1. For clarity: this is a code update to the simulators within the Lab’s co-lo data centre, it does not mean Agni regions are now running in the cloud.